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POLICY WATCH

FB Backs Bill to Boost Livestock Marketing Opportunities

Nebraska Farm Bureau offered support this week for LB 324. The bill would expand livestock marketing opportunities by allowing consumers to enter into agreements with livestock producers whereby the consumer could have an ownership interest in the animal or herd, and subsequently be able to take advantage of a custom exemption in the Federal Meat Inspection Act that is now available to livestock producers when processing livestock they own for personal consumption. The bill would also establish an independent processor assistance program to be administered by the state Department of Agriculture to create a roadmap for increasing local processing capacity and expanding market access for small producers. LB 324 was introduced by Sen. Tom Brandt of Plymouth.

NEFB Supports Continuing Beginning Farmer Tax Credit Act

Nebraska Farm Bureau State Board member Jason Perdue of York, shared Nebraska Farm Bureau’s support for continuing the Nebraska Beginning Farmer Tax Credit program this week. Introduced by Sen. Matt Williams of Gothenburg, LB 254 would extend the Beginning Farmer Tax Credit program through 2025. Without an extension the program will end in 2022. Perdue, who owns a contract poultry operation, also shared recommendations for improving the program. Making the program more reflective of the business relationships occurring in the livestock industry and reviewing the net worth limitations on young producer participation were among suggestions for modernizing the program.

Weighing in on Environmental Trust Appointees

Nebraska Farm Bureau offered support this week for a number of candidates selected by Governor Ricketts for appointment to the Nebraska Environmental Trust (NET). The members of the board are responsible for reviewing and approving conservation grants funded by state lottery dollars. Among those receiving Farm Bureau support for appointment this week were Jim Hellbusch of Columbus, Mark Quandhal of Omaha, and Rod Christen of Steinauer.

Wrapping Up…

Nebraska Farm Bureau weighed in on a slew of other bills this week including:

Support for:

  • LB 675 – to improve transparency in lobbying activities and expenditures by state and local entities funded in part or whole by tax dollars.
  • LB 73 – to direct a portion of proceeds from the Nebraska Racetrack Gaming Act to county agriculture societies.

Opposition to:

  • LB 60 – changes provisions to the community college levies and allows them to utilize a larger portion their property tax levies for capital improvements.
  • LB 589 – changes requirements for integrated management plans by Natural Resource Districts.

Neutral:

  • LR 5 – adopt the findings of the Healthy Soils Task Force.

Interested in getting Farm Bureau’s daily update from the state capitol? Contact Jay Ferris, Nebraska Farm Bureau director of political engagement and state policy at jayf@nefb.org.

Redistricting Committee Members Appointed

The Legislature’s Executive Committee has announced the senators who will serve on the body’s Redistricting Committee. The committee is a special committee authorized to introduce and exercise jurisdiction over legislative bills and resolutions relating to redistricting. Redistricting is on the legislative docket for the 2021 session, but there has been some speculation that legislative action might have to occur in a special or delayed session if final data from the U.S. Census Bureau needed to complete the job is not available until July or later in the year. Members of the Redistricting Committee include:

Sen. Carol Blood of Bellevue
Sen. Tom Briese of Albion
Sen. Tom Brewer of Gordon
Sen. Suzanne Geist of Lincoln
Sen. Steve Lathrop of Ralston
Sen. Lou Ann Linehan of Elkhorn
Sen. John Lowe of Kearney
Sen. Adam Morfeld of Lincoln
Sen. Justin Wayne of Omaha

Vilsack Gets Greenlight from Ag Committee

Tom Vilsack is one step closer to serving as the next U.S. Secretary of Agriculture. The U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee advanced Vilsack’s nomination for the appointment Feb. 2, setting the stage for final confirmation by the U.S. Senate. During the hearing, Vilsack shared his positions on numerous topics, including the importance of working with the U.S. Trade Representative’s office to promote trade and implement free trade agreements, while also offering support for a carbon capture program to provide economic incentives for farmers.

EPA Pick Pledges “Seat at the Table” for Farmers

President Biden’s nominee to lead the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Michael Regan, reinforced his desire to hear from the farming community during his confirmation hearing this week before the U.S. Senate’s Environment and Public Works Committee. Regan pledged an open-door policy and seat at the table for agriculture on many issues such as biofuels and water policy. Regan’s nomination has received support from numerous agriculture groups, including the American Farm Bureau, based on his reputation for making decisions guided by science that also take into account input from the people impacted.

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