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Drought already affecting Michigan farmers

Updated: Jun. 11, 2021 at 5:12 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - The drought is already starting to affect farmers and their crops here in mid-Michigan. That was one of the things farmers talked about with the Secretary of Agriculture during his visit to Mason today.

Farmers are already stretched thin and the drought is only making matters worse.

Rep. Elissa Slotkin said, “[It’s important to make] sure there is enough money in the coffer so that if a bunch of farmers apply because the drought is hitting so many people, we don’t use all the funds on the first few people that get there.”

But the farmers themselves told News 10 the drought isn’t the biggest problem they’re facing right now. They say taxes are a huge concern, specifically the capital gains tax.

One local farmer, Jeanie Igl, said, “That was a scary thought because if we have a $2 million capital gains bill that would put the farm in jeopardy. Even paying that over 10 years that’s $200,000 off the top. That’s an awful lot.”

AG secretary Tom Vilsack is pushing the Biden administration’s proposed “American Families Plan” that he says would protect most family farms from that tax.

“We’re confident in saying that 98.9% of farms in this country will not be negatively impacted from a tax perspective.” Vilsack said, “If the farm continues to be owned and operated by the family it will continue to stay in the family. It’s not going to be subject to any tax incident.”

Farmers say they also need the government to help manage the food supply chain, which got out of whack during the pandemic.

Another farmer, Jeanie’s husband Tony Igl, told News 10, “We have bounced back so quickly that the surge in demand has outstripped the supply briefly.” They see this as more than just an agricultural issue. They say farms are crucial to food security, and therefore national security.

The federal government has given roughly $6 billion dollars to farmers nationwide to help them come out of the pandemic. Agriculture Secretary Vilsack says several billion more will be coming soon as part of the Biden administration’s “build back better” program.

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