Property Taxes, Broadband, and Beginning Farmer Credit Discussed at State Capitol

It was another packed week at the Nebraska Legislature with full-day committee hearings continuing. Nebraska Farm Bureau (NEFB) spent time this week meeting with the Ag Leaders Working Group and several senators to work through many agricultural related proposals.

Reducing Nebraska’s overreliance on property taxes and seeking a more balanced system to fund education continues to be a top policy priority for Nebraska Farm Bureau. A trio of bills taking aim at tax relief came before the Revenue Committee this week; Legislative Bills (LB) 242, 243, and 244 (Briese), which NEFB testified in support.

LB 242 (Briese) will increase the school district property tax credits provided by the Property Tax Incentive Credit Act, sometimes referred to as the “1107 credits” and eliminates the allowable growth percentage of 5 percent currently in statute. For taxable year 2024, the credit percentage would be set so that the total amount of credits would be $1 billion. For taxable year 2025 and after, the credit percentage would be set so that the total amount of credits for such taxable years would be the maximum amount of credits allowed in the prior year increased by the allowable growth percentage.

LB 243 (Briese) seeks to increase the minimum amount of relief granted under the Property Tax Credit Act from $275 million to $700 million for taxable year 2024 and after, plus a percentage increase equal to the percentage increase in the total assessed value of all real property in the state from the prior year to the current year as determined by the Department of Revenue.

LB 244 (Briese) will provide an additional tax credit under the Nebraska Property Tax Incentive Act on all real property taxed and does not currently have a tax credit in place, such as community colleges and public schools. For taxable year 2024, the total amount of credits would be $200 million. For taxable year 2025 and after, the credit is to be set so that the total amount of credits would be the maximum amount of credits allowed in the prior year increased by the allowable growth percentage.

NEFB testified in support of LB 116 (Brandt) which will change provisions of the Beginning Farmer Tax Credit Act through the NextGen Program. The bill makes more young farmers eligible by increasing the net worth threshold from $200,000 to $1 Million, which accounts for the industry where net value oftentimes lies in equipment and land. It would also eliminate retirement funds from the net worth calculation and remove the 10-acre minimum requirement, which will create a more inclusive program for various sectors of agriculture. NEFB thanked Sen. Brandt for championing LB 116 and encouraged the members of the Agriculture Committee to advance the bill to the floor.

Expanding rural connectivity to secure high-speed, high-quality internet access statewide is a policy priority for Nebraska Farm Bureau. To advance that policy, NEFB testified in support of LB 683 (Transportation and Telecommunications Committee) which will create the Nebraska Broadband Office and create a Director of Broadband, appointed by the governor. The intent of the bill is to ensure that all federal, state, and local government funding for broadband infrastructure and services in Nebraska is leveraged to ensure that all Nebraskans have access to affordable, reliable broadband services before January 1, 2028. In our testimony, NEFB said the rapid increase in the need for utilizing precision agriculture technology is a driving force in needing to make Nebraska the “smartest” ag state in the country to secure a competitive edge and meet consumer’s expectations of transparency and traceability of their food. NEFB said establishing the Nebraska Broadband Office and the position of Director of Broadband is long overdue.

Another bill NEFB supported this week was LB 318 (Bostar) which would enact childcare tax credits to assist with childcare facilities, companies delivering childcare benefits, and parents who use childcare. NEFB policy supports expanding childcare options in the state and in its testimony, NEFB said LB 318 helps key stakeholders in rural communities have the capability to create viable childcare options.

NEFB also testified in support of Steve Stroup’s, a rancher from near Benkelman and current NEFB State Board Member, appointment to the Nebraska Brand Committee.

The end of this week saw day 26 of the 90-day session. As always, reach out to the Public Policy Team with any questions or concerns.

FDA Rules on Livestock Antibiotic Use Moving Forward

As a reminder to livestock producers, the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Center for Veterinary Medicine is moving forward with their rule to require a veterinary prescription for all medically important antibiotics including penicillin and oxytetracycline. This change will take effect in June 2023. While producers won’t be required to purchase the products from their vet or be required to show animals to the vet in order to receive a script, they will have to have a veterinary-client-patient relationship, or VCPR. How VCPR is defined varies slightly from state to state, but it basically means a veterinarian knows an animal and/or the operation well enough to diagnose and treat a medical condition. Since 2020, NEFB has been heavily engaged with the FDA concerning this rule and submitted comments expressing concern when it was up for public comment.

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