The two Kansas farmer-directors of cooperative CHS Inc., are urging Congress to preserve U.S. agriculture’s strong position in the world economy by maintaining a level trade, infrastructure and business playing field.

“Agriculture remains one of the strongest sectors of the U.S. economy, but without action and investment, we risk losing our competitive advantage to other nations,” said Steve Riegel of Ford, Kan., and C.J. Blew of Hutchinson, Kan.  “Congress must act swiftly to ensure that we have the free trade agreements, funding to preserve our inland waterways and the tax and business laws that keep American farmers in the game.”

The 17-member CHS Board – which represents 1,000 member-owned cooperatives and 350,000 farmers and ranchers nationwide -- spent March 28-31 on Capitol Hill, sharing their positions with nearly 100 members of Congress. The directors of the leading energy, grains and foods company have been calling on Congress annually for more than two decades. During this year’s visits they urged Congress to:

  • Pass Free Trade Agreements with South Korea, Panama and Colombia to maintain vitally needed competitive access to key global markets for agriculture and other U.S. business sectors.
  • Enact the Inland Waterways Capital Development plan to preserve and enhance locks, dams and other infrastructure essential to our nation’s global economic competitive position.
  • Preserve the economic viability of agriculture and the energy sector that serves it through fair treatment under a wide range of tax and accounting rules currently under consideration. These include reform, but not abrupt elimination of, current tax assistance for renewable fuels production, removal of the onerous burden of the Form 1099 reporting requirement for transactions over $600 currently included in the 2010 health care law, preserving the Section 199 manufacturer’s tax credit, and maintaining the ability of small businesses and farmer-owned cooperatives to use the last-in, first-out (LIFO) accounting method.

During their week in Washington, CHS Board members also met with U.S. Department of Agriculture staff on a wide range of agriculture and energy issues.  During the annual CHS banquet for agriculture and energy organization leaders, U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) who discussed the prospects for the CHS legislative priorities as well as the 2012 Farm Bill and other issues on the congressional docket.