Some of the leading issues facing farmers and ranchers in the nation’s capital including tax increases, climate policy, trade policy and the McGirt ruling were highlighted during Oklahoma Farm Bureau’s recent online meeting with Rep. Tom Cole held Thursday, April 29.
Representing Oklahoma’s Fourth Congressional District across parts of southwest Oklahoma, Rep. Cole shared his perspective on current and upcoming policy discussions that could impact the state’s agricultural producers.
Tax increases on farmers and ranchers
Many Farm Bureau members are concerned by a number of proposals that could result in significant tax increases for farmers and ranchers. The proposed tax policy changes include the repeal of stepped-up basis and increases in the capital gains and income tax rates, which could threaten the livelihoods and long-term economic sustainability of Oklahoma family farms and ranches.
Cole said he does not support increasing taxes, especially to those transitioning their farms and ranches to younger generations. With the proposed tax increases, many Oklahomans inheriting the operations will not be able to pay the taxes.
“Anyone involved in business knows how challenging it is to transfer a business generationally,” Cole said. “If you have a business, farm or ranch and as long as your children want to do it, they should not be penalized. It is not as if we have not been paying taxes all along, we have.”
The role of farmers and ranchers in climate discussions
As farmers and ranchers understand the need to care for the environment, they continually find ways to implement conservation practices on their operations because they rely on the soil, air and water to produce commodities.
“There are not better people who are stewards of the land and water than people in agriculture,” Cole said. “Their livelihood depends on conservation and the appropriate development of resources.”
While many conversations at the Capitol have been centered around climate programs, Cole said he believes the programs will be most successful if participation is incentivized rather than mandated.
“If we incentivize good behavior, we will receive it,” he said. “If we try to regulate it or legislate it, you won’t receive it.”
The Biden Administration’s approach to trade
Because Oklahoma farmers and ranchers produce agricultural products for consumers across the nation and around the globe, Farm Bureau members always are concerned with open trade to other markets.
Rep. Cole said he does not know what the president is going to do in regards to trade, but Cole understands the importance of open markets and will continue to share the voices of his constituents to ensure commodities can be exported around the world.
The impact of the McGirt ruling
Last year’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the McGirt v. Oklahoma case has created confusion and uncertainty surrounding state and tribal jurisdiction in criminal, regulatory and taxation issues. OKFB supports working cooperatively with state, federal and tribal leaders to address the issues created by the ruling.
Cole said he thinks the state and the tribes of Oklahoma need to work together to create jurisdictional boundaries.
“I think the people in Oklahoma sometimes look to Congress, but really what we need is an agreement in Oklahoma,” Cole said. “This is one where Congress is not likely to act if the tribes and state governments don’t agree.”
He added Oklahoma’s delegation has been communicating with tribal leaders and law enforcement to resolve the continual questions created by the ruling.
The meeting with Cole was the first in a series of OKFB meetings with Oklahoma’s congressional delegation. The organization will host a meeting with Rep. Markwayne Mullin on Wednesday, May 12 at 4 p.m. Find more information on the congressional conversations on the OKFB website.