Weekly Columns

Agriculture is Arkansas’s largest industry, adding around $16 billion to our economy annually and accounting for approximately one in every six jobs.

We are the top rice-producing state in the nation, number two in the nation in broiler chicken production and the third-largest producer of catfish in the United States. We could also clothe and shelter ourselves from fiber grown in Arkansas, as we are third in the nation in cotton production and the fifth-largest softwood lumber producing state. 

You could keep going down the list and you’d find Arkansas as one of the nation’s top ten producers of a number of agriculture commodities.

Clearly, ensuring that Washington helps create an economic environment that allows the agricultural industry to thrive is extremely important to our state.

When President Trump signed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act into law, his signature provided much-needed tax relief to America’s farmers.

More than ninety-four percent of the country’s farms are organized as pass-through businesses, which means they are impacted by the same tax provisions as individual filers. Lower tax rates across the board and a twenty percent deduction from their taxable income means immediate savings, which can be reinvested to help grow the operation. 

Ninety-seven percent of the farms in Arkansas are family owned, and the vast majority of them will now be exempt from the estate tax. This is a big deal. It will help keep those farms and ranches in the family for generations to come.

Finally, farmers and ranchers will be able to expense one-hundred percent of their capital investments, such as equipment, over the next four years.

In his recent address to the American Farm Bureau, the President called that the “sleeper” in the law. He’s right. There hasn’t been enough talk about how beneficial this provision will be for family-run agricultural operations.

The substance of the President’s Farm Bureau speech tilted heavily toward our efforts to bring stability and predictability to the economy. 

As we witnessed over the course of the previous administration, uncertainty is devastating to our economy. There are few industries that are inherently more affected by uncertainty than agriculture.

This is why we have taken steps to eliminate some of the punitive, needless regulations that create uncertainty for our farmers and ranchers.

It is also why my colleagues and I on the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, under the steadfast leadership of Chairman Pat Roberts (R-KS), are working hard to reauthorize the Farm Bill. Programs authorized by the Farm Bill are absolutely vital to farmers, ranchers and consumers. These programs will provide more certainty in rural America to address the challenges ahead.    

And finally, it is why we took great care to ensure that the agricultural industry would see the benefits of tax reform. Establishing a tax code that works for our farmers and ranchers, as opposed to against them, is vital to their ability to plan for the future and invigorate our rural economies.

I am proud of our efforts to pass this landmark tax reform law and I am confident that it will have lasting, positive effects on our economy.