WAWG member testifies on cap and trade and capital gains tax hearings

Jim Moyer, a grower from Columbia County and a WAWG board member, testified in front of the Senate Ways and Means Committee on SB 5126, a Climate Commitment Act (implementing a cap and trade program), and SB 5096, a capital gains tax. Here is his testimony:

SB 5126

Good morning Chair Rolfes, Ranking Member Wilson and members of the Committee:

For the record, my name is James Moyer. I am here representing the Washington Association of Wheat Growers who are opposed to SB 5126 because of concerns that farmers and people living in rural areas are going to be disproportionately impacted by this legislation. Agriculture is simply an energy intensive industry. It relies on energy for tractor fuel, fertilizer, livestock feed, and more. Any increase in petroleum and natural gas prices would have a direct effect on the cost of production.

Unlike other industries, when the cost of doing business goes up, farmers cannot simply raise the pricetag on our product. The price for most agricultural products is set by the global market, over which we have no control.

Any higher cost we’re faced with — like higher fuel prices caused by cap and trade — is a financial hit that my farm is expected to absorb somehow. It’s a struggle because we’re already operating on a thin profit.

Wheat farmers across the state are committed to decreasing our carbon footprint because our livelihood depends upon a healthy environment and so does our future. We would like to work with you on adopting carbon policies that will not put Washington at a competitive disadvantage and recognize agriculture as a valuable climate solution. However, we believe this proposal needs more work to understand. We welcome the opportunity to discuss and explore the benefit that agriculture and forestry play in carbon sequestration. Thank you for your time today in hearing our concerns.

The hearing can be viewed here.

SB 5096

Good morning Chair Frame, Ranking Member Orcutt and members of the Committee:

For the record, my name is James Moyer. I am here on behalf of the Washington Association of Wheat Growers opposed to Engrossed Substitute Senate Bill 5096.

Early versions of this bill had exempted agricultural property and qualified family-owned small businesses from the tax. However, the bill voted on the Senate floor removed the agricultural land exemption in place of an exemption on the sale or exchange of “all real estate.” However, the definition of real estate excludes individual ownership or beneficial ownership in a pass- through entity that owns real property. It is very common for farmland to be owned in multiple business structures since farmers often buy up portions of the farmland over time, often from family members.

The new language is very confusing and farmers across the state are unsure of how it will be interpreted. We urge you to make it clear whether all agricultural land, whether owned by an individual, an LLC, S corp or other type of partnership is owned.

The hearing can be viewed here.