A Republican friend asked me last week how Congresswoman Kristi Noem’s work on the Trump tax cut bill might affect her campaign for governor.
The answer at the moment: negatively.
The Republican tax plan as it stands gets rid of Section 199, the Domestic Production Activities Deduction. Launched in 2005, Section 199 leaves as much as two billion dollars a year in farmers’ pockets. Land O’Lakes estimates Section 199 returned $113 million to its members.
Ag coops are up in arms. John Scott, president of Landus Coop in Iowa, says repealing Section 199 will raise taxes on Midwest grain farmers by more than 12%. Wheat Growers CEO Chris Pearson and National Council of Farmer Co-ops CEO Chuck Conner went to Washington to get South Dakota’s delegation on board with protecting Section 199, and while they say they got positive responses from Senators John Thune and Mike Rounds, they say self-professedly influential House Ways and Means member Kristi Noem didn’t have time to hear their concerns:
Pearson and Conner say that those provisions will not be enough to make up for the loss of Section 199. The two were unable to meet with Noem, even though Pearson said he modified the dates of his trip to be in Washington when her staff said she’d be available.
“In her run for governor she can’t say she’s done everything for farmers because she hasn’t in this case,” Pearson said [Victoria Lusk, “Co-ops: Tax Reform Could Hurt American Farmers,” Aberdeen American News, 2017.11.19].
Noem responds defensively:
“There has been nobody in that room that worked as hard for farmers and ranchers on this bill. I am a farmer, so of course I am going to have their backs,” Noem said. “At the end of the day, this bill is a huge win for agriculture and to look at one provision that isn’t there yet is unfair” [Lusk, 2017.11.19].
I suspect Conner and Pearson would like to remind Noem of the scientific definition of work: force applied over a distance. You can push all day, but if you don’t move Section 199 back into effect, you haven’t done the work the co-ops want, and that’s $2 billion a year in continued tax relief. (I also wonder if practicing agriculturalists would accept Noem’s claim that she is currrently farming, or if anyone can show any evidence of Noem doing any “farming” in the last eight years at any time when her campaign camera crew isn’t present.)
Kristi Noem claimed that abandoning her seat on the House Agriculture Committee would be good for South Dakota. Yet in her position on House Ways and Means, she was either unwilling to stop, unable to stop, or unaware of the effort to repeal Section 199.
Raising taxes on farmers—that sure doesn’t sound like a good campaign slogan for someone who wants to be South Dakota’s next governor.