Tax Cuts and Jobs Act provides opportunity, challenges for producers
Worland – At the end of 2017, Americans were left optimistic at the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, but the intricacies of the act and how they impact farmers and ranchers were largely ambiguous.
“There are changes for individuals, as well as for farmers and ranchers,” said Wendy Tejada, Enrolled Agenta of SBW & Associates, P.C., and accounting firm in Worland.
Tejada and Certified Public Accountant Gary Wantulok, also of SBW & Associates, P.C., overviewed changes in tax law as they relate to ag businesses during WESTI Ag Days on Feb. 15 in Worland.
With some big wins and other concerning factors, Tejada and Wantulok said that overall, producers should see some tax breaks moving forward.
“When we do the 2017 tax returns, we also plan ahead for 2018,” explained Tejada. “We can project what numbers will look like in well as looking at cost saving versus revenue streams, the cuts experienced by WLSB made it difficult for the agency to meet its statutory requirements.
“Decreases in expenditures are hard to find because 93 percent of our brand inspection expenditures are for inspectors,” True said. “If we decrease the number of inspectors, the increase in mileage paid and potential overtime payments make it a wash. Plus, a decreased number of inspectors inhibit producers’ ability to do commerce.”
He emphasized, “We’re trying to maintain our program, and these offsets will capture most of the cuts we’ve taken to allow us to operate our program in a similar fashion to 2016 for brand inspection.”
The second part of the fee increase is the maintenance of brand recording increase made in 2017.
“Brand recording fees will remain at $330,” said True.
Currently, True notes proposed rule changes have been submitted to Gov. Matt Mead’s office, kicking off the rulemaking process. An announcement will be made soliciting public comments.
“These increases will offset cuts to within 10 to 15 percent of our previous funding level,” True explained. “The board looks to offset the remainder of those cuts.”
Currently, the Board is analyzing how to offset the remaining 10 to 15 percent.
“The Board is looking at changing the fee structure of in-state and out-of-state range permit programs,” he continued. “These changes will be subject to producer review and conversations.”
Before making any changes, though, True emphasizes WLSB will accept public comment on range permits and will gladly accept invitations to have conversations at local producer group meetings.
Initial discussions have proposed a model using a tiered-structure to start the conversation.
“For example, a price structure for 400 head or less and 400 head or more would be differentiated,” he explained. “The discussion will extend to the number of tiers and what the pricing structure will look like.”
These changes, according to True, require a statutory change, which must pass through the Wyoming Legislature for approval.
“We would like to offer a concept to the Joint Agriculture Committee and draft some legislation to enact those changes by 2020,” he said. “The board will carefully consider this effort, but we’re also going to move promptly.”
Several important topics arose during animal health discussions, including the recent quarantine as a result of Equine Herpes Virus-1 (EHV-1) and swine import requirements.
“We had a very well-controlled isolated incident of Equine Herpes Virus-1 Neurologic Syndrome, which is better known as Equine Herpes Myeloencephalopathy,” Logan explained. “The bottom line is, four horses confirmed positive, and two of those horses were euthanized as a result.”
The four affected horses were owned by four different people, and as a result of the diseases, four premises and approximately 40 horses were quarantined.
“Since that time, two of those premises have been released, and we anticipate the other two premises will be released this week,” Logan said.
Logan emphasized that, as a reportable disease, veterinarians are obligated to report EHV when it shows up in their area, and as a result, he says, “We were able to take quick action and address this incident in a manner that allowed us to isolate the disease.”
“One of the things that was a concern for producers was our Chapter Eight rule,” Logan explained. “This was an import rule signed into effect last fall.”
The rule went out for public comment, and WLSB received no comments during the process.
“When we sent a reminder to swine exhibitors early this year, reminding them of the change in identification requirements as well as requirements for pseudorabies and brucellosis testing, we saw quite a bit of pushback,” Logan explained.
The concern leading to the rule’s promulgation was that pigs raised outside of confinement may be exposed to both diseases as a result of feral swine contact.
“Commercial swine are exempted from the rule because they are raised indoors,” Logan added, noting that other classes of swine required testing for import.
“After conversations, the Board opted to amend the rule and ask the Governor for emergency rule status,” he explained. “The added language would allow us to work with other states to determine which states we would accept pigs from without testing.”
At the same time, WLSB will begin promulgating rules to formalize the proposed emergency rule for WSLB’s Chapter Eight.
Saige Albert is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Board. Send comments on this article to firstname.lastname@example.org.