Historic 2022 Legislative Session
Described by Governor Ricketts as “one of the Nebraska Unicameral’s finest,” Nebraska Farm Bureau and our allies were extremely effective in delivering victories for rural Nebraska in a historic 60-day session which ended on April 20. The following are some of the more notable accomplishments. More information about these and other developments is being cultivated by Nebraska Farm Bureau staff and will be forthcoming.
- Individual and corporate income tax rates lowered.
- Expansion of Broadband Bridge Act.
- $2 million per year for five years for precision ag infrastructure grants.
- Increased tax incentives for retailers that carry E-15 and E-25 fuel.
- Expansion of Livestock Modernization Act tax credits from $1 million to $10 million annually, and increased cap from $150,000 per application to $500,000.
- $10 million for the Independent Processor Assistance Program, targeting small and medium-sized meat processing facilities.
- $23.1 million to the Gering-Fort Laramie Irrigation District for tunnel and canal construction and repairs.
- $20 million for meat processing site development, targeted toward the Sustainable Beef processing plant near North Platte.
- $129.5 million in rural and urban workforce housing grants to help attract new talent.
- $75 million to support community college capital projects, as well as workforce development and dual-credit programs for high school students.
- $36 million for apprenticeship and customized workforce training programs.
- $25 million for an Agricultural Research Service National Center to jumpstart innovation and aid technology transformation.
- $50 million for the Perkins County Canal Project to begin engineering and research into water. storage and canal projects along the South Platte River on the Colorado border.
- Modification of Animal Health and Disease Control Act relating to catastrophic livestock mortality.
Biden Administration Opens Up E-15 for Year-Round Use
Friday, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued an emergency fuel waiver to allow E-15 gasoline, gasoline that uses a 15 percent ethanol blend, to be sold during the summer driving season. Nebraska Farm Bureau has long supported making E-15 available to consumers year-round and has supported legislative efforts, including those introduced by Congressman Adrian Smith (NE-3) and Senator Deb Fischer. To make E-15 available in the summer, the EPA has issued a national, emergency waiver. Without this action, E-15 cannot be used in most of the country during the summer. According to EPA, this action was taken to counteract Russia’s war against Ukraine and the profound impact on global and domestic energy markets. EPA and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) have been actively monitoring market supply disruptions caused by Russia’s war in Ukraine. The Clean Air Act allows the EPA administrator, in consultation with DOE, to temporarily waive certain fuel requirements to address shortages. Currently, in roughly two-thirds of the country, E-15 cannot be sold from terminals starting on May 1 and at retail stations starting on June 1. EPA is providing relief by extending the 1-psi Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP) waiver, which currently applies to E-10 gasoline, to E-15 gasoline. This will enable E-15 sales throughout the summer driving season in these areas, if necessary. This action only extends the 1-psi waiver to E-15 in parts of the country where it already exists for E-10. E-15 can already be sold year-round in parts of the country that have a Reformulated Gasoline (RFG) program. EPA’s emergency fuel waiver will go into effect on May 1 when terminal operators would otherwise no longer be able to sell E-15 in the affected regions of the country and will last for the statutory maximum of 20 days. EPA will continue to monitor the supply with industry and federal partners, and the agency expects to issue new waivers effectively extending the emergency fuel waiver until such time as the extreme and unusual fuel supply circumstances due to the war in Ukraine are no longer present.
Cattle Market Reform Hearings Take Center-Stage in Senate and the House
During the week of April 26, both the House and Senate Agriculture Committees held hearings regarding the cattle and meat processing industries, as well as legislation introduced to make reforms to cattle marketing regulations. The Senate Agriculture Committee’s hearing on S. 4030, the Cattle Price Discovery and Transparency Act introduced by Nebraska Senator Deb Fischer, Chuck Grassley (IA), Jon Tester (MT), and Ron Wyden (OR), took center stage along with S. 3870, the Meat and Poultry Special Investigator Act of 2022 introduced by Sens. Tester, Grassley, and Mike Rounds (SD). The Cattle Price Discovery and Transparency Act is an updated version of previously introduced legislation from Sen. Fischer which would create a cattle contract library, codify several USDA beef reports, require packers to submit a 14 day slaughter schedule, and would establish regional minimum negotiated cash trade for cattle purchased by the four largest meat processing companies. A summary of the legislation can be viewed here. Sen. Tester’s S. 3870 would create the “Office of the Special Investigator for Competition Matters” within the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Packers and Stockyards Division. The House Agriculture Committee’s hearing, while not focused on any single piece of legislation, had two panels with the first consisting of producers and ag economists and the second being the CEOs of the four largest meat packing companies. To view videos of the hearings, please click here (Senate) or here (House).
Proposed SEC Rule Could Reach Nearly Every Farmer and Rancher
The American Farm Bureau Federation joined 119 other agriculture organizations in sending a letter to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) asking for an extension of time to comment on its proposed rule, “The Enhancement and Standardization of Climate Related Disclosures for Investors.”
The SEC – whose primary purpose is to protect investors, maintain efficient markets and facilitate capital formation – now wants to require public companies to report data about their entire supply chain. Nearly every farmer’s and rancher’s products eventually touch a publicly traded company, meaning that farmers and ranchers could be forced to report personal information and business-related data. This unprecedented overreach could create onerous reporting requirements for even small farms and ranches with few or no employees.