Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack issued the following statement on the package of tax provisions being signed into law by President Obama:
"The bipartisan vote on middle-class tax cuts is a major victory for America's families, businesses, farmers and ranchers, and for our nation's economic recovery. Members of both parties came together to get this done and now middle-class families in rural America and throughout the country no longer have to worry about a massive tax hike this year. As President Obama signs this important legislation, he is bolstering efforts underway to rebuild and revitalize rural America and promoting job creation in rural communities.
"The tax packages signed today by President Obama will reauthorize ethanol tax credits and reinstate the biodiesel tax credit, which will help bolster efforts to transition our country to a clean energy economy. Ethanol and biodiesel production is critical to continuing the growth of our domestic fuel industry that is reducing our dependence on foreign oil while creating green jobs from renewable sources and adding opportunities for people in rural communities throughout the country.
"The tax package will also extend tax incentives through 2011 for farmers, ranchers and forest owners who voluntarily conserve their lands through donation of a conservation easement. Providing this tax incentive will increase conservation of our working lands and, in so doing, support our rural economy. As part of the President's America's Great Outdoors Initiative, USDA, the Department of Interior, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Council on Environmental Quality held listening sessions across the country to hear Americans ideas on what we could do to advance conservation in this country. Providing tax incentives for working lands conservation was one of the ideas that we heard repeatedly from landowners and conservationists during those listening sessions. I am pleased that the bill the President is signing today provides these incentives and I know America's farmers, ranchers and forest owners will respond positively."