Sugarbeet Growers Talk Policy During Virtual Fly-In

Legislation to help Sugarbeet growers in all 11 beet producing states was one of the main topics during the American Sugarbeet Growers Association’s recent virtual fly-in. Luther Markwart, executive director of ASGA, said he and the organization worked to educate lawmakers about sugar policy and the issues impacting growers. Between the pandemic and the January 6th Capitol riots, ASGA did not host their typical fly-in.

“One of the challenges is the ability to be able to see and meet people in-person. Although we did it virtually, literally, over the course of two weeks we made 307 virtual visits with congressional staff, and that was very effective. Our growers got to talk to a lot of these staff members.”

Earlier this month, the Senate was expected to vote on the $1 trillion infrastructure bill, but that legislation has been sidelined. Markwart says ASGA has been focused on tax policy as it relates to that bill.

“If you’re going to do a massive infrastructure bill, you’ve got to have ways to raise revenue. Clearly, they look at stepped-up basis, capital gains, and all of that. We’ve been focused on that to make sure that our farmers are able to pass farms down to their family members without having to pay these exorbitant taxes, which you then have to sell off pieces of the farm, and then your operation really doesn’t work very well.”

Markwart added climate change has also been a major area of interest, saying ASGA is working to ensure that any change in policy is incentive-based and voluntary.

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