The $900 billion tax package negotiated by the White House and Republican leaders has passed a lame-duck Congress. The bill’s passage came with a generous dose of rancor.

Many House Democrats were unhappy when it was revealed the deal included another two years of Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans along with generous estate tax revisions (providing a $5 million exemption and maximum rate of 35 percent). An amendment to pull the estate tax portion of the legislation failed on a 233 to 194 vote.

On the Republican side, legislators anxious to cut government spending, and goaded by the Tea Party, were displeased with the bill’s Obama-pushed stimulus spending. In the end, the bill passed the House 277 to 148.

“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,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “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.”

For many agriculture groups, passage of the “Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010” was welcome.  Besides the aforementioned estate tax changes, the bill also provided extensions of biofuel tax incentives (lobbied for heavily by corn, soybean and ethanol interests) and included lower capital gains and income taxes.