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POLICY WATCH

LB 863 (Restricting Game and Parks Land Ownership)

Nebraska Farm Bureau offered support this week for LB 863. Introduced by Sen. Dan Hughes of Venango, the bill would limit land ownership by the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission (NGPC).  Nebraska Farm Bureau believes conservation and economic productivity are enhanced by private land ownership. Currently, NGPC owns, leases, or manages just short of 287,000 acres at around 360 sites across the state. While NGPC makes payments in lieu of taxes, its land is assessed based upon the use it had at time of acquisition by the Commission, not including any improvements either before or after the purchase. In testimony, NEFB noted that public land ownership should not come at the expense of private landowners, who in many instances will be responsible for making up lost tax dollars and dealing with the bureaucracy of bordering publicly managed land.

LB 803 (Pulse Crop Checkoff)

Nebraska Farm Bureau offered support this week for LB 803, a bill to establish a checkoff for pulse crops like chickpeas, lentils and peas, and other versatile crops. Nebraska Farm Bureau policy supports commodity producers’ right to establish state checkoff programs when there is broad-based support for such checkoff from those paying it. In offering support, NEFB noted that the bill should ensure that any adjustment in the checkoff rate should occur only after having gather input from producers and encouraged the Committee to consider an amendment to require, at a minimum that a public hearing be held, prior to any rate change. Sen. Dan Hughes of Venango introduced the bill.

LB 857 (Review of State Regulations)

A bill mandating state agencies review rules and regulations 10 years after they were enacted received support from the Nebraska Farm Bureau. In a letter of support for LB 857 NEFB stated that Nebraska needs a regulatory system which is fair, transparent, involves sound science in rulemaking, coordination between agencies, and cost/benefit considerations. NEFB said the bill was an important step toward comprehensive regulatory reform, the organization did ask the Legislature’s Government Committee to consider requiring agencies to report back to the Legislature in a timeframe shorter than 10 years. Sen. John Lowe of Kearney introduced the bill.

LB 1070 (Sales Tax Exemption Ag Machinery/Equipment)

Header trailers and head haulers would qualify for the sales tax exemption on agricultural machinery and equipment under a bill backed by Nebraska Farm Bureau. Sen. Dave Murman of Glenvil introduced LB 1070 in response to the Nebraska Department of Revenue failing to recognize those items as qualifying for the state’s sales tax exemption on purchases and leases of depreciable agriculture machinery and equipment. State law does not indicate what items do specifically qualify for a sales tax exemption. The statute only indicates what does not qualify for the exemption, leaving the actual implementation up to the regulatory interpretation. Sen. Murman also has introduced an amendment to clarify seed tenders would also exempt from sales tax.

Industrial Hemp

Earlier this week, the NE Department of Ag was notified that the state’s hemp plan was approved by USDA. The finalized plan can be found HERE. License applications for 2020 will be available on the NDA website beginning on Monday, February 3.

Canal Collapse

The Governor’s proposed adjustments to the state’s budget includes $3.8 million for emergency repairs to reimburse the Gering Ft. Laramie Irrigation District for the Ft. Laramie Canal failure on July 17, 2019.

EPA Review: Glyphosate is Safe

EPA has concluded its regulatory review of glyphosate, issuing an interim decision, concluding that there are no risks of concern to human health when glyphosate is used according to the label. EPA further reaffirmed that glyphosate is not a carcinogen. To reduce glyphosate resistance, EPA is requiring additional mitigation measures to help farmers better target pesticide applications to the intended pest. EPA uses interim decisions to finalize enforceable mitigation measures while conducting other longer-term assessments.

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