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Farm Bill, Interstate Commerce, and Labor Top Issues for Nebraska Farm Bureau Visit with Congressional Delegation

LINCOLN, NEB. – Emphasizing the importance of protecting and even growing federal risk management programs with the next 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. March 11-13.

“Updating the farm safety net to help farmers manage risk is necessary and one of Nebraska Farm Bureau’s top priorities for the Farm Bill. We need Congress to pass an updated farm bill as much has changed since passage of the 2018 Farm Bill: a pandemic, record-high inflation, rising supply costs, and global unrest. It is critical that the U.S. make it a top priority to protect our food supply for the well-being and security of our nation,” said Mark McHargue, NEFB 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.

NEFB also urged the delegation to incorporate a legislative solution for California’s Proposition 12 into the Farm Bill. Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court up-held California Proposition 12, granting California voters the power to dictate food production methods to farmers and ranchers located outside of their state’s borders, including Nebraska.

“The Supreme Court ruling on Proposition 12 means that only Congress can fix a gap in the law that allows one state to dictate business practices for the entire nation. We’re currently at risk of states tangling up our whole system of interstate commerce by passing laws limiting or prohibiting the sale of any type of goods from other states. Without a congressional fix, consumers will face increased costs for goods and services. On state should not be allowed to dictate the business practices for an entire nation,” said McHargue.

Farm Bureau leaders also pushed for Congress to pass meaningful farm labor legislation. Due to continued declines in availability of a domestic workforce, the H-2A program has become a critical avenue to secure a reliable labor force across the country. Certified H-2A positions reached 378,513 in 2023 and just under 4,000 in Nebraska alone. Nevertheless, the Board informed the delegation that despite this growth, the program has become excessively complicated and costly due to unsustainable and unpredictable wage increases.

“Farmers and ranchers rely on their employees and are committed to paying a fair wage, but the mandated wage calculations make it hard for farmers to remain competitive. Changes in the rule have made it so complicated that it’s riskier for farmers to use the H-2A program because they are worried about unintentional missteps. We urge Congress to pass meaningful farm labor legislation to deliver the certainty farmers and ranchers need to continue producing affordable food for our nation’s families,” said McHargue.

The National Affairs Fly-In featured a session with House Ways and Means Chairman Jason Smith, a discussion with the Environmental Protection Agency’s senior advisor for agriculture, Rod Snyder, and meetings with the National Pork Producers Council and Renewable Fuels Association.

Those attending the Washington, D.C. Fly-In were:

  • Mark McHargue, president, NEFB – Merrick County  
  • Dennis Beethe, Southeast Region representative, NEFB Board – Johnson County
  • David Grimes, South Central Region representative, NEFB Board – Kearney/Franklin County
  • Brady Revels, Farm Bureau Member – Douglas 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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