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Candidates for Senate discuss issues of interest to farm families at forum

LYNCHBURG—U.S. Senate candidates George Allen and Tim Kaine pledged support for U.S. agriculture and forestry July 27 at the Agriculture and Forestry U.S. Senate Candidates Forum.

The event was hosted by the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation Young Farmers Committee and sponsored by Farm Bureau, the Virginia Agribusiness Council, the Virginia Forest Products Association and the Virginia Forestry Association.

Both candidates are former Virginia governors. They addressed topics such as agricultural programs and education, environmental policy, farm transitions and estate taxes, and federal health care policy.

On the issue of farm transitions and the federal estate tax Allen said he believes “the death tax should get the death penalty.

“Death shouldn’t be a taxable event. The sale of an asset ought to be the taxable event. To quote Patrick Henry, ‘No taxation without respiration.’ Farmers and those with forestry property are often the ones who are most affected by this, and passing on a business or farm to a son or a daughter matters a lot.”

Kaine noted that he worked to get rid of Virginia’s estate tax but has not taken a position on the national estate tax.

“I believe in reforming estate tax so we don’t trip up the meaningful transition of farmlands within families,” he said. “Whether looking at thresholds or safe harbor passage of real estate, especially when it’s passing on farms and forest, I’m really open to those forms of reforms. I’m open to helping farmers.”

Regarding federal health care policy, Kaine said he would not vote to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act but he is in favor of amending it.

He said the act already is benefiting many Americans, including those on Medicare, young adults who are able to stay on their parents’ health insurance policies, and rural communities and federal community health centers that are receiving funds to expand their services.

“So I would not repeal it; I absolutely would not. I do not want to see insurance companies using the club of preexisting conditions,” Kaine said.

Allen said he would vote to repeal the act. “I’d like to be the 51st vote to repeal it,” he said.

Allen added that he, like Kaine, is in favor of allowing children to remain on their parents’ policies until age 26. “This is the worst job market for young people since World War II. Young people are either underemployed or unemployed and won’t be able to get health insurance.”

Allen said he favors the use of health savings accounts to cover major medical bills, as well as allowing states more flexibility in running the Medicaid program.

Contact Martha Moore, VFBF vice president of governmental relations, at 804-290-1013.

 

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