NEFB Newspaper

President’s Column – June/July 2023

Grassroot advocacy, drought and plenty of policy successes to celebrate

Nebraska Farm Bureau has been fighting for property tax relief for farmers and ranchers for what seems like an eternity. But the breakthrough conversation started with former Farm Bureau President Steve Nelson more than 10-years ago when he began to talk about school funding in a different way, sharing that it was unfair that not all school districts received state aid. He got the legislature thinking in a different way. Over the last three years we have gradually gotten more property tax relief and this session was a breakthrough that lowered Nebraskans property and income tax burden. These efforts have paved a path to reduce farmers and ranchers property and income tax burdens by roughly 30% each year through 2030. This session also brought increased state funding for all K-12 schools and community colleges. That’s historic relief for hard working Nebraskans! I am grateful for Steve’s guidance and leadership in this area.

In addition to tax relief and school funding reforms, bills passed to incentivize biodiesel and E-15 ethanol sales, increase tax credits for livestock development, modernize the Beginning Farmer Tax Credit program, preserve special valuation of agriculture land annexed by municipalities, support broadband expansion, support development of nuclear and hydrogen-based energy, allocate dollars for water quantity and quality projects, and allocate funds for county bridge repair and replacement. This year’s legislative session has been a very successful one for agriculture. I am excited for our Farm Bureau members and our Farm Bureau team to see this progress and what we can do in the future. (See front page story.)

In a major “win” for agriculture, the U.S. Supreme Court hammered EPA and clipped its ability to use “Waters of the U.S.” to expand its regulatory authority. (See story on page 6.) We appreciate the Supreme Court justices for their careful consideration of the implications of Sackett v. EPA. The EPA clearly overstepped its authority under the Clean Water Act by restricting private property owners from developing their land despite being far from the nearest navigable water. In a “loss” for agriculture the U.S. Supreme Court upheld California’s Prop-12 ballot measure effectively allowing California voters to dictate farming practices to producers across the country. California should not be able to tell Nebraska farmers how to run their farms. A federal legislative fix will be needed to address the Prop-12 ruling and Nebraska Farm Bureau is working on solutions. (See story on page 6.)

Nebraska Farm Bureau has been working to provide farmers, ranchers and rural Nebraskans with high speed reliable internet access. In an announcement in June Nebraska Farm Bureau is reaching to the stars with Starlink. This broadband concept delivers high-speed, low-latency broadband internet capable of faster downloads, faster online commerce and easier use of smart technology in agriculture.

For farmers and ranchers, real-time access to weather information is crucial. Farmers need to be able to automatically water livestock or turn pivots on and off from anywhere. This type of “smart farm” would help farmers automate much of their operation, meaning lower costs and higher productivity. Starlink is a game changer and I am excited to see where this benefit takes our members. (See the story on page 5.)

Farm Bureau signed another memoranda of understanding (MOU) with agricultural equipment manufacturers, CLAAS, AGCO and Kubota, providing farmers and ranchers the right to repair their own farm equipment. (See story on page 9.) The MOUs, follow similar agreements with John Deere and CNH Industrial Brands (which includes Case IH and New Holland), earlier this year. Combined, the five MOUs cover approximately three quarters of the agricultural machinery sold in the United States. Your Farm Bureau team has been busy promoting and protecting agriculture and our Nebraska Farm Bureau members.

As Nebraska’s drought tightened its grip on the northeast and eastern part of the state, we send up prayers for rain. Cattle producers are looking for grass and crop producers need more soil moisture to get their crop started. We have seen some timely rains, but some have come on fast and hard. We need slow and gentle. Farming and ranching is a tough but rewarding way of life. One trait all farmers and ranchers share is optimism and hope for the future. Always know that Nebraska Farm Bureau has your back promoting your successes, providing you with options that improve your bottom line and protecting your right to farm and ranch in Nebraska.

Stay safe and be well!

Mark McHargue, President

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