U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue was in upstate New York Monday. He was joined by local lawmakers to hear from grain and dairy farmers.
Perdue joined Republican Congressmembers John Faso of the 19th House District, Elise Stefanik of the 21st, and Claudia Tenney of the 22nd. They toured the King Brothers dairy shop in Schuylerville and WestWind Agricultural supply in Schagticoke.
The representatives took questions from residents and local farmers, which covered a range of topics from school lunches to tax reform. Here’s Secretary Perdue.
“Farmers are very concerned about the estate tax, how they plan to move these farms to the future generations. They’re concerned about rates, which becomes a major expense for them," Perdue said. "And then the expense of accountants and lawyers to help them deal with that. There are a lot of issues out here and we heard all of them.”
First-term Congressman Faso says his constituents are very interested in tax reform. House and Senate Republicans are working on separate bills to modify the country’s tax code.
“We want simplification, we want to help our small businesses especially our farmers in upstate New York," Faso said. "So obviously, we do have concerns in New York about the SALT, State and local tax deductions, and we’re hearing from people loud and clear on that.”
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York and the state’s governor, Andrew Cuomo, both Democrats, have criticized the state’s Republican representatives for considering the elimination of state and local tax deductions as part of the tax plan. Cuomo has said eliminating the deductions would be a “dagger in the heart of New York.”
According to Congresswoman Stefanik, a repeal of the estate tax is necessary to help small farmers.
“So from the farmer’s perspective, we heard consistently this morning about the need to repeal the death tax, to repeal the estate tax, particularly when you hear about these tenth generation, seventh generation farms, making sure that they continue to thrive and grow from one generation to the next," Stefanik said. "That’s something in the tax proposal that I’m very supportive of.”
President Donald Trump has said he wants Congress to pass a tax bill by Thanksgiving, and be able to sign it by Christmas. When asked about Trump’s tentative deadline, Faso said “We should get something done, for tax relief for the American people so they can feel it in 2018.”