Bill Enacts Farmto-School Food Program

Nebraska Farm Bureau offered support this week for a bill (LB 396) to enact a Nebraska farm-to-school program where the goal would be to connect schools with local and regional farms to improve student nutrition through local food purchases. The program would also provide opportunities for hands-on student learning, like farm visits and school gardening. The Nebraska Department of Education and the Nebraska Department of Agriculture would jointly manage the program. LB 396 was introduced by Sen. Tom Brandt of Plymouth. Several County Farm Bureaus are already initiating efforts to help put local beef into Nebraska schools.

NEFB Backs Bill to Aid Nebraska Ethanol Production

Howard County Farm Bureau member Tim Scheer testified before the Legislature’s Revenue Committee this week, offering Nebraska Farm Bureau’s support for LB 595. Introduced by Sen. Joni Albrecht of Thurston, the bill would exempt enzymes, yeast, and related products used in making ethanol from Nebraska sales and use tax. Nebraska’s collection of the sales tax on these inputs places Nebraska ethanol producers at a competitive disadvantage with those in neighboring states. Nebraska currently ranks second in ethanol production producing nearly 2.2 billion gallons of ethanol each year. Nebraska’s ethanol industry represents a major market for Nebraska corn producers by utilizing nearly 500 million bushels of grain each year, while creating nearly 1,000 Nebraska jobs.

Bill Expands Tax Exemption for Farm Machinery 

Nebraska Farm Bureau offered support this week for a bill to update Nebraska’s sales tax exemption for agricultural machinery and equipment. Sen. Dave Murman of Glenvil introduced LB 672. The bill clarifies the state’s sales tax exemption would apply to tangible personal property used to cultivate or harvest a crop, raise or care for animals, protect health and animal welfare, or process agricultural products. LB 672 also specifies the exemption would include header trailers, header transports, and seed tender trailers. If signed into law, it’s estimated the bill would save Nebraska agriculture producers roughly $4 million during the state’s fiscal year of 2021-2022.

USTR Nominee Goes Through Senate Confirmation Hearing

President Biden’s nominee to serve as the next U.S. Trade Representative, Katherine Tai, laid out the administration’s goals when it comes to developing new markets and enforcing current trade agreements before the Senate Finance Committee this week. While Tai didn’t go into extreme detail, she did cover topics such as our trading relationship with China, possibly rejoining the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), as well as a possible new trade agreement with the UK. On China, she indicated a multilateral approach to deal with China’s trade issues were important but failed to indicate whether or not the administration plans to use new tariffs to deal with our ongoing trade battles, including intellectual property protection. On the topic of expanding markets, Tai expressed support for the U.S. joining the CPTPP, but expressed the need for more time before committing to a new agreement with the UK following their departure from the European Union. The Senate Finance Committee will vote on the nomination in the days ahead. 

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