Agribusiness Report Interview: Iowa Farm Bureau President Craig Hill

David Geiger: "Now Craig, let's get right into tax reform. That's one of the big issues agriculture is looking at right now on the federal level. What is the Iowa Farm Bureau's position on what they're looking for in tax reform? Especially since the House looks to be coming out with something next week."

Craig Hill: "Well, we have a favorable outlook for tax reform, of course farmers need some tax reform in order to lower rates, of course. But there are interest deductions, and there are machinery deductions, we want to maintain those deductible items as well as some estate tax relief. You know, estate tax has been a big concern for farmers and we see some relief in this reform bill. So we have some optimism, we know it's a very fluid negotiation. It's only in the House today, there'll be many amendments in the Senate and we'll see a lot of discussion going forward. And we'll be very watchful as farm bureau and try to engage in this major reform. It is needed, it is warranted, we need a more simple tax and a more fair tax system.

DG: "Now moving along to something a little more closer to home in terms of trade. Iowa depends a lot on agricultural trade specifically and there's been a lot of posturing going on on the federal level in terms of NAFTA and some of our trade deals. What are you guys seeing and what are you looking for?"

CH: "Well, we're very concerned, we're very nervous. Withdrawal from NAFTA would cause immediate and irreparable harm to agriculture. In Iowa, our commodities that are grown here are duty free and tariff free going to Mexico and Canada. Those are the partners that we have in the North American Free Trade Agreement. So, this is a trilateral discussion, it needs to be one that we communicate well and the negotiators will meet again in November in about a week. They'll have another session of negotiation. We want to keep the communication going. We want to keep the dialogue going. We certainly don't want to see a withdrawal or immediate reduction in our ability to transfer goods across borders freely. This is a great economic concern to Iowa. We're very watchful. And I think, as I stated, nervous about these negotiations."

DG: "Finally the last thing I want to talk to you about is on the federal level, we do have our Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey, who have been nominated as an Under Secretary, but that's been put on hold by Senator Ted Cruz. What is the Iowa Farm Bureau's thoughts on that and what are you guys hoping to do in terms of mediation?"

CH: "Bill Northey is just a great candidate for Farm Production and Conservation as an Under Secretary of Agriculture. His interest in agriculture, his experience and the work he has done, has been phenomenal for Iowa as our secretary. He's a great candidate and we look for that confirmation come soon. But Ted Cruz, unfortunately, has taken a single issue, and put a hold on Bill Northey. That being a member of the same party, being contrary to the law, the RFS law as it's written, contrary to the Trump Administration, putting a hold on Bill Northey is very unfortunate and very disappointing."

DG: "Craig, thank you so much for spending the time to talk to me, and talking about the issues looking at Iowa agriculture."

CH: "Certainly, it's a great day, David, I'm glad you're here."