Western Governors want ESA Changes; Conaway on Farm Bill
**The Western Governors’ Association is calling for changes to the Endangered Species Act, including giving the states a bigger role in deciding when animals should be listed, and when they can be delisted.
The resolution approved at last week’s WGA annual summer meeting was not unanimous, as Democratic governors Jerry Brown of California and Jay Inslee of Washington, who did not attend the conference, refused to sign on.
Wyoming Governor Matt Mead praised the ESA for the protection it’s provided for iconic animals like the bald eagle and grizzly bear, but noted the 1973 legislation needs improvement.
**House Republicans looking for a way to offset the cost of reducing corporate and individual tax rates have their eyes on ending a tax benefit critical to farmers, the deduction for interest expenses on everything from production inputs to equipment, land and buildings.
But Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady says farmers will be protected because small businesses would still be able to write off interest expenses and borrowing costs on land could be deducted as well. The size of the small business exemption has not been disclosed.
**House Ag Chairman Mike Conaway is expressing confidence he can get a new farm bill enacted despite a potential cut to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. The size of the proposed cut has not been disclosed, but it has raised fears among farm bill watchers that singling out SNAP could fracture the urban-rural coalition that’s traditionally been needed to pass farm bills.