Yesterday, Illinois' major statewide candidates discussed
agricultural policy at a forum hosted by the Illinois Farm Bureau. U.S.
Rep. Mark Kirk, whose website boasts
that he "will fight for Illinois farmers and expand opportunities for
our state’s agriculture industry," advocated for several policies that
could end up hurting small farmers in the long-run.
For starters, Kirk reiterated
his support for a budget-busting estate tax repeal, which he said could
lower taxes on some family farms. Like the GOP's gubernatorial
candidate, Kirk is greatly exaggerating the impact of the estate tax on
farmers. The Tax Policy Center found that just .003 percent
of all estates both qualify for the tax and have significant small
business or farm assets. The average farmer in Illinois won't have to
pay more taxes if it's repealed ... except those needed to help pay
down the debt the tax cut will cause.
Kirk also criticized the U.S. House climate bill that he helped pass last year, but has since dismissed as too costly. The legislation as written, however, was extremely forgiving
to farmers. Not only was agriculture exempt from the cap-and-trade
system but farmers were promised subsides to adjust to energy cost
increases. On top of that, the bill would have provided a needed
boost to wind and solar industries from which farmers could benefit
while protecting Illinois crops from the worst effects of climate change.