The American Soybean Association (ASA) is applauding Senate passage of the "Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010," and urges prompt House passage of the legislation.

The Senate bill makes the biodiesel tax incentive retroactive for 2010, and extends it through 2011.

"ASA thanks the Senate for passing this legislation, which is crucial to the economic viability of the U.S. biodiesel industry," said ASA President Alan Kemper, a soybean farmer from Lafayette, Ind. "Biodiesel is a major market for U.S. soybean oil, and has been a key factor in supporting domestic soybean prices in recent years."

The bill, which now moves on to the House for a possible vote later this week, provides for an expedited process for U.S. biodiesel producers to claim retroactive 2010 credits. In 2009, the U.S. biodiesel industry produced 545 million gallons of biodiesel. Based on August and September production levels, 2010 production is expected to be 345 million gallons, a decline of over 35 percent from the previous year.

"Many biodiesel plants in the U.S. are either idle or are producing at less than their overall capacity," Kemper said. "If the House does not pass this legislation, continuing absence of the biodiesel tax credit will cause further job losses and undermine our ability to increase production of domestic renewable biodiesel."

Estate tax provisions

In addition to the biodiesel tax credit extension, the bill contains estate tax provisions that raise the exclusion level to $5 million per spouse and lower the tax rate on estates exceeding the exclusion to 35 percent. If this legislation is not passed by the House, a $1 million exclusion and 55 percent tax rate will take effect on Jan. 1, 2011.

"With farmland in many regions selling for $5,000 per acre, it takes only 200 acres to reach the $1 million exclusion level," Kemper said. The state of the U.S. economy, coupled with the uncertain nature of estate tax liabilities, makes it difficult for family-owned farms and ranches to make sound business decisions. Allowing estate taxes to be reinstated without an exemption and rate that protect family farms puts many operations at risk and threatens succession to the next generation of farmers.

"ASA’s farmer-leaders recently participated in a press conference on estate tax legislation, as well as a biodiesel fly-in to Washington, D.C., to gain passage of these top soybean priorities," Kemper said. "I encourage all agriculture supporters to press their representatives in the House to pass this legislation, which is of critical importance to U.S. soybean farmers."

ASA represents all U.S. soybean farmers on domestic and international issues of importance to the soybean industry. ASA’s advocacy efforts are made possible through the voluntary membership in ASA by over 22,500 farmers in 31 states where soybeans are grown.