Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Lobby Lookout: Turkey Trade Group Opposes Ethanol Tax Breaks (SFI; SEB)

Talking turkey:
Butterball was a J.V. between Smithfield and Maxwell Farms until September when Maxwell teamed up with Seaboard to buy SFI's 49% stake. Perdue is, of course, one of the 100 largest privately held companies in the country.
From Tax Analysts:

November 24, 2010
Lobby Lookout: Turkey Trade Group Opposes Ethanol Tax Breaks
by Meg Shreve
Summary by Tax Analysts®
Tax Analysts' Lobby Lookout reports on the latest efforts to influence federal tax legislation and policy.
Full Text Published by Tax Analysts®

As Americans sit down to Thanksgiving dinner this week, few will be thinking of tax policy, but as Congress returns to work November 30, lobbyists for the National Turkey Federation will be pushing for a rollback of an expiring ethanol tax incentive.

The biggest tax issue facing the National Turkey Federation, whose members include Perdue Farms and Butterball Turkey LLC, is the possible extension of the volumetric ethanol excise tax credit (VEETC) -- a move the group opposes, Joel Brandenberger, National Turkey Federation president, told Tax Analysts.
Why would a turkey industry trade group care about the future of an ethanol tax break?

It comes down to the cost of turkey feed, which is often made from corn, Brandenberger said. The group contends that governmental regulations, renewable fuel programs, and tax benefits have created an artificial market for corn-based ethanol and driven up the cost of corn-based feed for turkey farmers and distributors.
The group, which says it represents a $14 billion industry, is calling for the VEETC to be revamped and, eventually, completely rolled back, Brandenberger said. Ethanol supporters, who have long promoted ethanol as an important source of renewable energy, are hoping Congress extends the VEETC and the small ethanol producer tax credit (SEPTC) for another year.

Brandenberger, however, pointed to a July House Ways and Means Committee energy bill draft as an "encouraging sign" that lawmakers are serious about reworking the tax incentives.

As lawmakers mulled over a potential energy bill earlier this year, acting Ways and Means Chair Sander M. Levin, D-Mich., offered a discussion draft of a $25.1 billion energy tax title that included scaled-back, one-year extensions of the VEETC and the SEPTC. The draft would have cut the VEETC from 45 cents to 36 cents per gallon and the SEPTC from 10 cents to 8 cents per gallon. Despite introduction of the draft bill, the energy effort on both sides of the Capitol stalled before lawmakers left to campaign for the midterm elections. (For the draft energy bill, see Doc 2010-16629 or 2010 TNT 143-23 2010 TNT 143-23: Proposed Legislation. For prior coverage, see Doc 2010-17454 or 2010 TNT 150-6 2010 TNT 150-6: News Stories.)

The turkey industry does not oppose strong corn prices, Brandenberger said. Instead it opposes the artificial demand for corn that has driven up prices for the crop. After nearly 30 years, ethanol production is no longer a developing industry, and that makes ethanol tax incentives an "anachronism," he said. 
Watch the spokesman dance around the question of higher corn prices, trying to avoid alienating the row-crop lobby: