Getting to know Jim Pillen
Republican gubernatorial candidate Jim Pillen (at the podium) was the “overwhelming choice” for the Nebraska Farm Bureau endorsement based on the results of organization’s grassroots selection process, which involves gathering input from local county Farm Bureaus across the state. Behind Pillen, the Nebraska Farm Bureau Board of Directors shows its support.
On Feb. 1, the Nebraska Farm Bureau endorsed Jim Pillen for governor. Pillen is seeking the Republican gubernatorial nomination in the May 10 Nebraska primary election. According to Nebraska Farm Bureau Political Action Committee Chair Sherry Vinton, Pillen was the “overwhelming choice” for the endorsement based on the results of Nebraska Farm Bureau’s grassroots selection process, which involves gathering input from local county Farm Bureau’s across the state.
Nebraska Farm Bureau News sat down with Pillen to share with Farm Bureau members who he is, what his vision is for Nebraska and why he is running for governor.
Q. Jim, can you tell me about yourself and why you want to be governor of Nebraska?
A. I’m a Christian conservative, a husband, father, and grandfather, and a proud Nebraska livestock producer and veterinarian. I’m the son of a Platte County tenant farmer, and I grew up working on the farm alongside my dad and brothers. After I played football for Coach Osborne at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and earned my doctorate of veterinary medicine, I partnered with my dad, Dale, to raise pigs on a dirt lot on our home farm. In 1993, I founded what is today Pillen Family Farms, a family-owned, family-run livestock business. We’ve created over 1,000 Nebraska jobs in our rural communities. My wife of 42 years, Suzanne, and I have been blessed beyond belief with four amazing children and seven grandchildren. Nebraska gave me the chance to live out my dreams here, and I want all our children and grandchildren to be able to do the same. I’m running for governor to fix our broken tax code, strengthen agriculture, grow our economy, keep more of our kids here and preserve our commonsense, conservative values. That’s how we’ll keep Nebraska great for future generations.
Q. What is your vision to make Nebraska great?
A. When you look at what makes Nebraska such an amazing place to live and work, I think a lot of it comes back to agriculture. It’s the economic engine of our state, responsible for one in every four jobs. It’s not just our heritage—it’s our future. When farmers, ranchers and rural communities do well, all Nebraskans do better, wherever they live in our state. With pro-growth policies that generate opportunity throughout Nebraska, in rural and urban communities, we can create a rising tide that lifts all boats. That’s why fixing the property tax problem is so critical. My vision for Nebraska is pretty simple: I look to the exciting opportunities of the future and the wisdom of our past. The values that built this state and made it great, like faith in God, family, frugality, self-reliance and hard work, are the same that will guide us forward. Those timeless, commonsense values will be my compass as governor.
Q. What is your plan to address high property taxes in Nebraska?
A. Our property tax problem doesn’t impact only farmers and ranchers—it’s hurting all Nebraskans. That’s why I believe transformative property tax reform is more possible now than ever before. Gov. Ricketts has worked
with the Legislature to provide historic property tax relief, and we need to build on that strong foundation with significant reforms. Property taxes are levied and spent by local government, so we need to better control the
growth of local spending. Next, the property-tax leg of Nebraska’s “three-legged stool” has grown way too long, and we need to saw it down to size. We need to adopt income-based assessment to more fairly value agricultural
land. Finally, we need to overhaul the TEEOSA formula so that the state of Nebraska supports public K-12 education for every student, not just those in larger school districts. State aid to public schools is not distributed fairly today, and that needs to change.
Q. Let’s talk agriculture for a minute. If elected, what would be the focal points of agriculture in your administration?
A. Nebraska ag producers are the best in the world, and we can compete against anybody. My focus will be pushing our competitive advantages. Fixing the property tax problem is critical because it’s burdening our ag producers and driving too many out of our state. With value-added agriculture, we have tremendous opportunities to retain more of the value of what we produce in our rural communities. We need to continue to expand trade partnerships and help our farmers and ranchers access new markets and customers. In the face of far-left attacks on production agriculture, like the “Green New Deal,” we have to fight back and get big government out of our way. As governor, I will work every day to fix our broken tax code, support new investments in value-added agriculture, expand and strengthen trade partnerships, cut red tape and regulations, and fight back against those who want to put Nebraska agriculture out of business.
Q. What separates you from the other five republican opponents in this race?
A. I am the only candidate in this race who has spent my life and made my living every single day in Nebraska agriculture. I’m the only candidate who has built a business from the ground up and created over 1,000 Nebraska jobs. That real-world experience equips me to tackle the challenges Nebraska faces and keep our state the best place in the world to live, work and raise a family.
Q. If you could leave our readers with one message, what would it be?
A. I believe there’s truly no place like Nebraska, and we cannot take it for granted. The next decade is going to be crucial for our state. Nebraska has three gifts that are unparalleled: Its people, our land base and the pot of gold we call the Ogallala Aquifer. Together, those are the three things that are the future of Nebraska and will allow us to grow and feed the world. I’m deeply honored and thankful to have the endorsement and support of Nebraska Farm Bureau, and we’re going to continue working hard to earn the trust and votes of Nebraska Farm Bureau members. Thanks for all you do to keep Nebraska great.