Senator Thompson recognizes that Tennessee farmers work hard to produce outstanding agricultural products. With approximately 80,000 farms covering 43 percent of the state, Tennessee is a major producer of agricultural commodities such as cattle, lumber, dairy products, tobacco, cotton, nursery products, soybeans, poultry, and hogs.
During his tenure in the Senate, Senator Thompson has been a strong proponent of trade policies that open foreign markets for our farmers goods. He supports Trade Promotion Authority and other policies that will open new export markets for Tennessee's agricultural products.
Senator Thompson believes that excessive taxation prevents farmers from keeping more of their income and saving for the future. He has been a supporter of fundamental tax reform that will create a simpler and fairer tax system. In 2001, Senator Thompson voted to eliminate both the marriage penalty tax and the death, or estate, tax. The death tax forced farmers who worked hard over their lifetimes to face tax rates as high as 55 percent if they wanted to pass their farms on to their children. The Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act signed by President Bush eliminates the death tax by 2010.
Senator Thompson also believes that farmers have suffered from burdensome and often unnecessary federal government regulations. In 2000, Senator Thompson cosponsored the Truth in Regulating Act to promote Congressional oversight of proposed federal regulations.
While Senator Thompson has fought for general improvements to assist farmers, he also realizes that Tennessee's farmers have continued to face unique challenges in recent years. This year, he worked to ensure that 31 Tennessee counties were eligible to receive federal agricultural disaster assistance. Farmers in these counties experienced setbacks in production caused by extreme weather conditions, flooding, and insect infestations in 2001.
Tennessee's farmers feed millions of Americans, preserve the rural way of life, and provide high-quality products to consumers all over the world. Senator Thompson will continue to work with his Congressional colleagues to assist Tennessee's farmers.
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