Former ag secretary, Nebraska senator promoting tax credits, incentives in the ag industry | TheFencePost.com

Former ag secretary, Nebraska senator promoting tax credits, incentives in the ag industry

Mike Johanns

Mike Johanns, the former Agriculture secretary, Republican senator from Nebraska and governor of that state, joined Alliantgroup, a Houston-based tax consultancy to promote the use of tax credits and incentives in the agriculture industry.

Johanns told The Hagstrom Report he believes research and development tax credits have been underutilized in agriculture and companies and individual farmers figure out if they qualify for them.

"Here is the advice I would offer to producers out there: I think this is going to be a constrained farm bill," Johanns said in the telephone interview. He added he believes there would have been pressure on the farm bill budget no matter who was elected president.

That means, he said, farmers "have to be smarter to utilize what is out there," and he believes Alliantgroup can help farmers, co-ops, brewers, farm equipment companies and others in agriculture utilize the credits.

Farmers who have developed innovative ways to deal with environmental requirements, animal waste or have worked on plant and animal genetics may qualify, he said, but they have not "invested the time and effort" needed to qualify for the break.

Farm co-ops that ultimately benefit farmers and agronomists who work with farmers may be the "perfect" candidates to get the breaks, he said.

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Johanns said anyone interested in the tax credits can find out about qualifications by going to the Alliantgroup website.

The law on R&D tax incentives is supposed to help small and medium size businesses, Johanns said, but "(w)e know for a fact that millions and millions are not being claimed."

Johanns said Alliantgroup will work with a company and its regular tax consultants to identify whether its activities qualify for the incentives

Johanns characterized his work as "the chance to bring real economic opportunity back to rural America."

After serving as governor of Nebraska from 1999 to 2005 and agriculture secretary from 2005-07, Johanns ran for the Senate and served one term.

Johanns said he is not a registered lobbyist, and does not intend to become one.

The tax credits are already in place, he said, adding he believes their "nearly universal bipartisan support" will protect them in any tax simplification proposal.

Asked about the Agriculture Department in the Trump administration, Johanns said, "like every other part of the federal government, it is taking time to put the team in place."

He also said he remains a free-trade advocate and noted American agriculture has benefited from the agreements. Johanns said he understands "the desire to improve trade agreements for those involved in other industries," but agriculture needs to be represented in the discussions.

In addition to his new role with Alliantgroup, Johanns serves on the board of directors for Deere & Co. and on the board of managers for Burlington Capital and OSI Group.

He said he and his wife divide their time between Omaha, Neb., and Florida, but he travels to Washington for meetings of the board of the Millennium Challenge Corp., to which he was appointed by President Barack Obama and confirmed by the Senate.