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POLICY WATCH

Legislature Off and Running

It was a busy week at the Capitol with public hearings getting underway and Gov. Jim Pillen giving his first State of the State address. Pillen spoke on several topics, including his tax cuts through his proposed budget, education funding reform, and agricultural land valuation.

“Nebraska Farm Bureau supports the governor’s vision and his efforts to say ‘no’ to overspending and shrink state government. We continue to support the governor’s focus on giving money back to Nebraskans via historic property and income tax cuts. We also appreciate him recognizing that Nebraska’s valuation system of property for tax purposes is a concern and must be addressed,” said Nebraska Farm Bureau President Mark McHargue

This week, McHargue testified in support at the appointment hearing for Sherry Vinton to become the director of the Nebraska Department of Agriculture. In his testimony, McHargue highlighted Vinton’s vast knowledge of agricultural issues and her willingness to work hard to represent farm and ranch interests. Vinton has served Nebraska Farm Bureau (NEFB) for many years most recently as First Vice-President on the State Board of Directors. NEFB also testified in support of the appointment of Jim Macy as director of the Department of Environment and Energy and the appointment of Tom Riley as the director of the Department of Natural Resources.

Jim Stewart, a Lancaster County Farm Bureau member, testified on behalf of Nebraska Farm Bureau in support of LB 206. The bill seeks to allow partnerships to file an amended tax return and pay all Nebraska income tax associated with the amended return. In his testimony, Stewart explained how the bill would bring Nebraska’s tax rules more in-line with the federal rules. This would allow a partnership to have the option to pay the adjusted Nebraska income tax, rather than passing the tax obligation out to each of its partners. This would help eliminate the need to file multiple amended returns and provide simplicity to Nebraska taxpayers by allowing the partnership to make one payment on behalf of its partners.

Nebraska Farm Bureau also submitted a letter in support of LB 124, a bill that would extend the County Bridge Match Program to June 2029. Through this program, if a county needs to repair a bridge, the state matches their cost. The program is due to sunset this year unless action is taken by the Legislature.

AFBF Board Adopts Strategic Action Plan

Following the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) Annual Meeting, the AFBF Board of Directors met on Wed., January 11. Nebraska Farm Bureau President Mark McHargue has served on the AFBF Board of Directors since 2021. Among other items, the Board discussed the Strategic Issues Action Plan for the coming year. After discussion and additional direction to staff, the Board adopted the plan, which places an emphasis on agricultural labor, regulations, farm policy, trade and the supply chain.  AFBF will work on all issues covered by AFBF policy as they arise but will continue to give priority to issues designated by the Board.

Pete Ricketts Sworn In As Nebraska’s New U.S. Senator

Former Governor Pete Ricketts was sworn into the U.S. Senate this week following his selection by Gov. Jim Pillen to replace Ben Sasse who resigned to become President of the University of Florida. Nebraska Farm Bureau (NEFB) Chief Administrator, Rob Robertson and Sr. Director of National Affairs, Jordan Dux were in attendance at the swearing in ceremony in Washington, D.C. NEFB looks forward to working with Senator Ricketts in the years ahead. Also while in Washington, Robertson and Dux also met with the rest of Nebraska’s Congressional Delegation and staff, American Farm Bureau Leadership, and Rod Snyder, EPA’s chief agricultural advisor. The next Farm Bill, USDA’s proposed animal ID regulation, and EPA’s new WOTUS regulation were all topics of discussion throughout the trip.

AFBF Finalizing 2023 Farm Bill Priorities

The farm bill is a critical tool for ensuring our nation’s food supply remains secure. Funding for this comprehensive package, which could more accurately be called a food and farm bill, includes risk management tools for farmers, access to nutrition for low-income families, conservation programs, and investments in agricultural research. AFBF’s Farm Bill Working Group has been meeting since August 2021 in preparation for the 2023 Farm Bill. Nebraska Farm Bureau’s (NEFB) Sr. Director of National Affairs, Jordan Dux, serves as a member of the working group. After lengthy discussion on the delegate floor, AFBF finalized our priorities for the Farm Bill which is set to expire later this year.

Engage with Senators with a County Farm Bureau Day at the Capitol

There is strength in numbers. The more Farm Bureau members we have engaged with their state senator, the more voices we have committed to solutions, and the larger voice we have on local, state, and national issues. Nebraska Farm Bureau encourages County Farm Bureaus to sign up for a County Farm Bureau Day at the Capitol.

Below is a sample schedule and planning guide for your trip to Lincoln. County Farm Bureaus will be responsible for any needed lodging and transportation to and from Lincoln.

To schedule your County Farm Bureau Day at the Capitol and plan specific details, Contact Whittney Kelley, at (402) 421-4760.

Sample Schedule

9:00 a.m.Arrive at the Nebraska Farm Bureau state office building (5225 S. 16th Street, Lincoln, NE 68512) for a tour of the office and an opportunity to meet with Farm Bureau staff.
10:00 a.m.Carpool to the Capitol and receive a tour of the building, a legislative briefing, and watch the floor debate from the gallery or the Rotunda.
11:00 a.m.Meet with your state senator.
12:00 p.m.Lunch near the Capitol with Nebraska Farm Bureau staff and your invited state senator.
1:30 p.m.Return to the Capitol to attend a legislative hearing.
3:30 p.m.Return to the Farm Bureau state office to return home.

Day at the Capitol Planning Guide

  1. Schedule and plan your County Farm Bureau Day at the Capitol. Contact Whittney Kelley at (402) 421-4760 for all the details.
  2. Prepare for the meeting (please dress in business attire). You are representing your County Farm Bureau and Nebraska Farm Bureau, so you should be prepared to make a good impression on your legislator(s). Farm Bureau staff will provide background information on relevant legislative issues.
  3. Follow-up with a thank you note. Upon your return home, be sure you mail a nice thank you note to your state senator. This is a must. *Also, if you do a press release for your Day at the Capitol that is published in your local newspaper, mail a clipping to your senator as well – especially if the clip mentions your meeting with him or her.
  4. Stay in touch. Remember your legislators serve your district. Be sure to invite them to your banquets or events showcasing your County Farm Bureau or agriculture in your county. Day at the Capitol is a great way for you and your County Farm Bureau to establish or build upon a positive relationship with your elected official. Let them know they can call on you if they need anything as well. It is a two-way street.

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