Bills and Hearings
Nearly 500 legislative bills and resolutions have been introduced so far in the 2021 legislative session. Bill introduction will continue through January 20. Nebraska Farm Bureau has flagged numerous bills of interest. Click below to review the Nebraska Farm Bureau legislative bill watch list. In other news, Speaker of the Legislature Mike Hilgers began outlining how public hearings will be handled this session. Each bill introduced is given a public hearing. Public hearings on bills will begin Monday, Jan. 25. Due to COVID-19, the Legislature will modify the normal hearing format by holding all-day committee hearings with morning hearings beginning at 9:30 a.m. and afternoon hearings beginning at 1:30 p.m. Sometime next week, Speaker Hilgers will announce expanded options for citizens to testify at hearings without having to sit in the committee hearing rooms.
AFBF Establishes 2021 Policies
Farmer and rancher delegates to the American Farm Bureau Federation’s 102nd Annual Convention have adopted policies to guide the organization’s work in 2021. Key topics ranged from farm diversity to farm labor and dairy policy to livestock marketing. For the first time in AFBF history, delegates met and voted virtually due to COVID-19.
Names to Know
The Biden administration has announced nominations for several key cabinet positions. Here are some of the names Farm Bureau leaders will want to know, as well as what agriculture leaders are saying about them.
Tom Vilsack – Secretary of Agriculture
Bio: Former governor of the state of Iowa and current CEO of the U.S. Dairy Export Council, Vilsack served as USDA Secretary through both terms of the Obama administration.
“We would like to congratulate Tom Vilsack for again taking up the leadership of the United States Department of Agriculture. While there are many tough policy issues facing agriculture, we have always appreciated how Secretary Vilsack approached issues with both honesty and integrity. Nebraska Farm Bureau had a strong working relationship with him and his team for eight years, and we hope to continue that relationship in the years ahead.” – Mark McHargue, Nebraska Farm Bureau president
Michael Regan – Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator
Bio: Former staffer in EPA’s air office, employee of the Environmental Defense Fund, and currently serving as Secretary of the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality.
“AFBF congratulates Michael Regan on his nomination to lead the EPA. As secretary of North Carolina’s Department of Environmental Quality, he reached out to farmers and ranchers to better understand the challenges facing agriculture. He has a reputation for making decisions guided by science that also take into account input from the people who would be impacted the most. If confirmed, we hope he brings that same openness and science-based approach to the EPA. We look forward to working constructively together to achieve the goals of sustaining a vibrant agricultural economy while building on our progress of instituting climate-smart practices.” – Zippy Duvall, American Farm Bureau Federation president
Katherine Tai – U.S. Trade Representative
Bio: Served as the chief counsel on China trade enforcement at the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR), prior to current service as the chief trade counsel for the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee.
“We’re pleased President-elect Biden will reportedly nominate Katherine Tai to be the next U.S. Trade Representative. Ms. Tai has deep trade experience and a solid understanding of the need to enforce existing trade agreements while working with our trade partners to expand market access for America’s farmers as they lead the world in growing healthy, affordable food.” – Zippy Duvall, American Farm Bureau Federation president
Deb Haaland – Interior Secretary
Bio: Has served one-term in Congress and currently serves as vice chairwoman of the House Natural Resources Committee. Haaland is a former chairwoman of the Democratic Party of New Mexico. The Interior Department includes the Bureau of Land Management, which oversees 245 million acres of land; the Fish and Wildlife Service, which enforces the Endangered Species Act and manages wildlife refuges; and the Bureau of Reclamation, which oversees water projects across the West.
“This administration that we’re currently in (Trump) opened up Bureau of Land Management grazing regulations for the first time in many years. That was a much-needed due process. It’s going to be a matter of what happens now that we have the transition.” – New Mexico Farm and Livestock Bureau CEO Chad Smith said his group will be watching how Haaland handles those updates.