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Farm Bill, Trade, and Regulations Top Issues for Nebraska Farm Bureau Visit with Congressional Delegation

LINCOLN, NEB. – Stressing the importance of the upcoming Farm Bill, Nebraska Farm Bureau’s (NEFB) agricultural leaders met with Nebraska’s congressional delegation and other elected officials during a national affairs fly-in to Washington, D.C. Feb. 27-March 1.

“Many people are unaware of the benefits of the farm bill and how important the piece of legislation is for all Americans, but it is especially important to our farmers and ranchers. While only a small percentage of the dollars allocated in the farm bill aid farm and ranch families, those dollars are vital to funding risk management programs that help farmers deal with the volatility in agricultural markets, while also assisting farmers and ranchers impacted by catastrophic floods, rain and hail, droughts, and other natural disasters beyond their control,” said Mark McHargue, Nebraska Farm Bureau president.

Members of the NEFB Board shared NEFB’s farm bill priorities with the congressional delegation, which includes protecting the federal crop insurance program, opposing any tie of climate focused practices to federal crop insurance programs, and reforming USDA disaster programs to provided better flexibility in the event of a natural disasters, among other priorities.

Last year, Farm Bureau was successful in pushing back against a proposed rule by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) that would require publicly traded companies to provide certain climate related information in their annual reports, including potentially invasive information about farms and ranches. Now, NEFB is throwing its support behind the Protect Farmers from the SEC Act and thanked Nebraska’s congressional delegation for cosponsoring the important legislation.

“Farmers and ranchers got a preview of what a potential environmental, social, and governance (ESG) regulation could look like when the SEC introduced regulations that would have made farmers and ranchers subject to new and complex reporting requirements. Farmers and ranchers are the best stewards of our environment, asserting subjective standards on producers will have meaningful consequences on the ability of farmers and ranchers to produce food, fiber, and fuels,” said McHargue.

Improving trade rations with China was also a heavily discussed topic during the national affairs visit. The growth of agricultural trade remains a top issue for Farm Bureau. NEFB strongly encouraged the delegation to support new free trade agreements with the EU, UK, Kenya, and joining the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), as well as working on a multi-year expansion of Trade Promotion Authority.

“To date, little to no significant action has been taken on many of the largest trade issues important to farmers and ranchers, including Mexico’s proposed GMO White corn ban. This ban continues to cause great concern for Nebraska farmers. Mexico must not be allowed to move forward with this blatant violation of the U.S., Mexico, Canada Agreement,” said McHargue.

Farm Bureau leaders also pushed for clarity on many regulation proposals affecting livestock producers, including the USDA cattle and bison ID program. The Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is proposing to amend its animal disease traceability regulations to require both visually and electronically readable ear tags for interstate movement of cattle and bison.

“This proposal leaves many unanswered questions for Nebraska’s farmers and ranchers. USDA must clarify the role of brands, the day-to-day operations of the program, data privacy, and interstate grazing rules in the final rule,” said McHargue.

NEFB Board members also urged the congressional delegation to oppose the Biden administration’s new Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule. NEFB is concerned that the new proposed rule will profoundly affect everyday farming and ranching activities through increased permitting requirements, expand federal jurisdiction exceeding limitations set by Congress, and lead to potentially unlimited jurisdiction.

“Nebraskans care about clean water and environmental stewardship. This new rule is vague and creates uncertainty for Nebraska’s farm and ranch families, even if they’re miles from the nearest navigable water. This uncertainty will likely require landowners to hire costly consultants and attorneys to understand if their property has a WOTUS,” said McHargue.

Those attending the Washington, D.C. Fly-In were:
Mark McHargue, president, NEFB – Merrick County  
Katie Olson, first vice president, NEFB Board – Holt County
Dennis Beethe, Southeast Region representative, NEFB Board – Johnson County
David Grimes, South Central Region representative, NEFB Board – Kearney/Franklin County
Martey Stewart, Northeast Region representative, NEFB Board – Dixon County

The Nebraska Farm Bureau is a grassroots, state-wide organization dedicated to supporting farm and ranch families and working for the benefit of all Nebraskans through a wide variety of educational, service, and advocacy efforts. More than 55,000 families across Nebraska are Farm Bureau members, working together to achieve rural and urban prosperity as agriculture is a key fuel to Nebraska’s economy. For more information about Nebraska Farm Bureau and agriculture, visit www.nefb.org.

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