The beginning of 2021 brought numerous changes. As a new U.S. president took office, the Nebraska Farm Bureau also transitioned its leadership, electing Mark McHargue of Central City to serve as its 16th president. But our core mission stayed the same – to enrich the lives of Nebraska farm and ranch families and enhance Nebraska agriculture through meaningful advocacy, education and leadership development.
“As are all of the Nebraska Farm Bureau presidents, Mark is a fourth-generation farmer. He hit the ground running by meeting with key stakeholders from across the state to reinforce the value of the work being done by our state’s farmers and ranchers and sharing the organization’s policy positions while finding areas to work together to advance and grow Nebraska agriculture,” Nebraska Farm Bureau Chief Administrator Rob Robertson said.
Understanding today’s political climate is important. Our elected officials need to have an appreciation for the role farmers and ranchers play in not just providing food, but in supporting our local, state and national economies. With the support of Farm Bureau members through the Nebraska Farm Bureau Political Action Committee (NEFB-PAC), 75% of NEFB-PAC endorsed candidates won their elections. Fourteen of the 18 endorsed candidates secured seats in the Nebraska Legislature, while all four of NEFB-PAC endorsed Congressional candidates also won.
“Preserving that rural voice, both within the state and Washington, D.C., is a top priority for Nebraska Farm Bureau. We appreciate the hard work of the Nebraska Legislature this year as senators came together to come up with new redistricting maps during a special session. While there is an ongoing shift in population from rural to urban population centers, our ask of the Legislature in the redistricting process was for the body to recognize the importance of maintaining rural voices in this effort, given the vital role agriculture and rural Nebraska play in our state. And while not perfect, the results of the Legislature’s efforts largely respected Nebraska Farm Bureau’s ask to maintain rural voices, for the betterment of the entire state,” Robertson said.
For many of Nebraska’s farmers and ranchers, the betterment of the state begins with lowering property taxes. In its second year, the refundable income tax credit established by LB 1107 is set to quadruple.
Property Tax Relief
“Nebraska Farm Bureau was instrumental in securing significant and meaningful property tax relief. This accomplishment is the largest investment by the Legislature in targeted property tax relief since the establishment of the Property Tax Credit Fund in 2007. Farmers and ranchers can get back close to 25% of the school property taxes they paid during 2021 because the amount set aside for the LB 1107 credits jumped from $125 million to $548 million,” he said.
Access to reliable, high-speed broadband is no longer a luxury … it’s a necessity. Nebraska Farm Bureau secured $40 million for the expansion of broadband in rural areas. Nebraska Farm Bureau also played a key role in ensuring the legacy and long-term sustainability of family farms. This year that sustainability was challenged with the proposal to eliminate stepped-up basis tax code.
“Nebraska Farm Bureau stepped in to protect stepped-up basis, sharing stories of how Nebraska farm and ranch families would be devastated if this tool was taken away, and urging lawmakers to oppose proposals to end stepped-up basis reaches far beyond agriculture. The work of Farm Bureau led to representatives leaving
the proposal to eliminate stepped-up basis out of a reconciliation budget bill. Nebraska Farm Bureau remains vigilant to preserve stepped-up basis, as it is vital to ensure the next generation of farmers and ranchers can continue feeding, clothing and fueling the world,” Robertson said.
Private property rights have always been an issue supported by Nebraska Farm Bureau. So, when the Biden administration created an executive order calling for conservation of at least 30% of U.S. lands and waters by the year 2030, Farm Bureau opposed the order.
“This became known as the 30×30 order, and it provided little to no detail as to how that goal would be achieved and raised numerous concerns about what the order could mean in terms of possible restrictions on private lands and federal land expansion. NEFB has pushed for answers and continues working to ensure expansion of federal authority over private property isn’t allowed to move forward,” he said.
Protecting and growing Nebraska’s livestock sector is a strategic priority at both the state and federal level for Nebraska Farm Bureau. This led to the development of the NEFB Cattle Markets Task Force, with the goal to create a road map for the long-term viability of the industry.
Growing future leaders is an investment Nebraska Farm Bureau takes to heart. Since its inception in 2007, Nebraska Farm Bureau’s Leadership Academy has seen 146 members complete the yearlong training program designed to produced strong and effective Farm Bureau leaders.
Some of those leaders have been part of the Young Farmers and Ranchers Committee. This year, the committee held its conference mid-pandemic, and it was well attended. The committee also met virtually with Nebraska’s Congressional delegation to discuss climate and environmental markets, taxes, market conditions within the cattle industry and international trade. The Collegiate Farm Bureau and The Crew members continue to be active and engaged in policy and on social media platforms promoting agriculture and Nebraska Farm Bureau.
The Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation continues to make progress toward engaging more youth, educators and the public about how vitally importance agriculture is in the lives of all Nebraskans.
“Through educational resources, scholarships and training for agriculture advocates, the Foundation is moving the needle and investing in the future of agriculture,” Robertson said.
Nebraska Farm Bureau continues to find success in its mission to enrich the lives of Nebraska farm and ranch families.