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Is there hope for small businesses in agriculture today?

In a hearing on Capitol Hill on Tuesday, lawmakers discussed the opportunities for small businesses in today's volatile economy.

In a prepared statement at the hearing, entitled "Creating Opportunities for Small Businesses in an Economic Recovery," Richard Brown expressed his concerns to the committee for small businesses in the U.S. obtaining credit during the present economic crisis. Brown, who chairs the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) Small Enterprise Committee, cited one example: A business person from rural South Carolina who "had an operating line of credit with (a bank) that was secured by a stock portfolio, but with the unraveling of the market their line was frozen...Now (he) is spending most of his time trying to resolve the issue when he should be working to secure orders in this down market."

Brown pointed out that the crisis is also now hitting agriculture. "The economic foundation for countless small businesses on thousands of Main Streets throughout the country is agriculture," he said. "The tightening of the credit markets is coinciding with a rapid rise in the cost of agricultural inputs, such as fertilizer, seed, chemicals and fuel."

According to an AEM report, Brown recommended to the committee that Congress pursue the following items:

  1. Extend the Bonus Depreciation and Enhanced Expensing provision.
    These provisions were originally in the Economic Stimulus Act of 2008 and will help multiple sectors purchase tools and equipment, with modern technology, that can increase their productivity.

Invest in infrastructure.
This investment will increase equipment demand, create good jobs and improve our nation's competitiveness by making badly needed repairs and upgrades to our aging infrastructure, especially transportation and water infrastructure.

Help small businesses export.
As an example, passage of pending Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) will eliminate tariffs and boost American companies' competitiveness in the global marketplace, thus helping companies remain operating to provide jobs and contribute to local, state and national tax bases.

Help control rising health care costs.
These costs greatly impact manufacturers' ability to stay in business.

Continue the government's commitment to renewable fuels.
Such a commitment benefits the environment, national security and the health of rural communities dependent on agriculture.

In a hearing on Capitol Hill on Tuesday, lawmakers discussed the opportunities for small businesses in today's volatile economy.

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