By Rose Oswald Poels
During the first quarter of this legislative session, tax reform and liability reform are seeing significant movement with the potential to impact the agricultural industry in Wisconsin and beyond, specifically as it relates to the Enhancing Credit Opportunities in Rural America (ECORA) Act.
The end of the 2019-20 congressional session saw a bill introduced on this topic, though it ultimately did not move forward. In February of 2021, Kansas Governor Laura Kelly signed the Kansas Bankers Association-supported SB 15 into law. This state-level tax equity and economic recovery package contains language very similar to the federal ECORA Act and allows Kansas banks to soon benefit from the same tax-exempt status at the state level currently enjoyed by the Farm Credit System.
Continuing the necessary push toward this reform, Wisconsin Rep. Ron Kind and Iowa Rep. Randy Feenstra introduced ECORA legislation that would remove taxation on income from certain farm real estate loans made by community banks, allowing banks to lower loan rates and more efficiently serve these borrowers. WBA is working on similar legislation to benefit farmers and preserve local access to credit in Wisconsin.
WBA is proud to announce our support of this legislation as many members of the ag sector continue to deal with the evolving challenges of the pandemic. We have released the attached statement applauding Rep. Kind on the introduction of this bipartisan bill. This legislation has the opportunity to benefit our farmers through better rates and loan terms, and boost local economic activity by ensuring that the agricultural industry will receive increased access to low-cost credit from banks that farm credit institutions are already able to provide. We commend those who have also taken part in supporting this legislation and anticipate the introduction of its companion bill in the Senate very soon.