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POLICY WATCH

Nebraska Ag Leaders File Brief to Protect Rural Voice

As a lawsuit to alter the signature-gathering requirements works its way through the courts, Nebraska Farm Bureau as part of the Ag Leaders Working group, which represents eight Nebraska agricultural associations, filed a brief in support of the state’s long-standing signature requirements for ballot initiatives. Nebraska requires that a referendum needs signatures from at least 5 percent of registered voters in 38 out of the state’s 93 counties to get on the ballot.

Nebraska Farm Bureau is concerned this change on signature requirements would essentially silence the rural voice, consolidating political power to urban cities of Nebraska. In May, ACLU of Nebraska and Nebraskans for Medical Marijuana filed a lawsuit alleging that the state’s signature requirements to get on the ballot are unconstitutional and in June a federal judge agreed, issuing a stay that ordered the Nebraska Secretary of State to not enforce the 38-county rule. Earlier this month, the U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals issued a stay on the lower court’s injunction, reinstating enforcement of the signature requirement.

Now, the ACLU is trying to overturn the ruling of the Court of Appeals. To protect the rural voice, the Ag Leaders Working Group is weighing in by filing an amicus brief to protect Nebraska’s rural voice. While not taking a position on the Nebraskans for Medical Marijuana ballot measure itself, the lawsuit filed with respect to that measure would sweep the rural vote under the rug. Changing the signature requirements in Nebraska could essentially open the door to endless ballot initiatives from outside groups that could threaten farm and ranch families across the state. With the largest portion of Nebraska’s economy generated from agriculture, it is wrong to silence the voices of those who contribute so much to the state and who are the reason for many jobs in urban areas.

Nebraska Farm Bureau will continue to follow this lawsuit and work to protect the voice of our members.

Broadband Stakeholders Urge Governor to Secure Federal Dollars

Expanding rural connectivity to secure high-speed, high-quality internet access statewide is a top priority for Nebraska Farm Bureau and recently we took steps to ensure that our agricultural producers were at the table during these discussions. Earlier this month, Nebraska Farm Bureau, along with several broadband stakeholders, sent a letter to Gov. Pete Ricketts outlining the critical need for broadband and the potential benefits from substantial federal funding under the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

Ideas offered for consideration include:

  • BEAD program.
  • necessary service.
  • enable the Broadband Coordinator facilitate applications for the Middle Mile program.
  • laws, guidelines, and other restrictions that impede broadband deployment.

This week, Gov. Ricketts replied to Nebraska Farm Bureau’s letter thanking the stakeholders for their ideas regarding federal broadband funding. The Governor’s Office has directed the formation of a broadband working group that meets biweekly to ensure all federal application deadlines are being met and to develop a plan to ensure the state best utilizes the funds available.

Nebraska Farm Bureau will continue push for expanded broadband as it is critical to growing Nebraska, especially rural areas of our state.

Increased Tariffs on Key Fertilizer Product Rejected

American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall commented on the U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) vote to reject anti-dumping and countervailing duties on imports of urea ammonium nitrate (UAN) from Russia and Trinidad and Tobago.

“AFBF is pleased the U.S. International Trade Commission did as we asked by rejecting the Commerce Department’s proposal to impose tariffs on imports of UAN, a key fertilizer. Skyrocketing supply costs are already forcing some farmers into the red. The cost of fertilizer increased more than 60 percent from 2021 to 2022 and that’s not sustainable.

“We appreciate the commission’s recognition that adding unnecessary import costs would have made it difficult for farmers to access an affordable supply of this crucial nutrient at a time when America’s farmers are being called on to meet growing demand here at home and abroad.”

Read the AFBF letter to USITC here.

The State Of – August Recess 2022

“All politics is local,” former Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill said in summing up the direct link between a politician’s success and his or her ability to understand and influence the issues that matter most to their constituents.

Farm Bureau has a long-standing commitment to actively work with lawmakers on the issues affecting farmers, ranchers, and rural communities. The August Recess period is a prime opportunity for grassroots engagement as legislators return home hoping to hear directly from the voters they represent.

For 2022, members of the House of Representatives are scheduled to be in the district for 45 days – from July 30 to September 13.  And your Senators will be in the state from August 6 to September 6.  These weeks help to shape the political direction for the fall months and provide the best opportunity to weigh in on legislative actions while trying to shape future ones.

August recess is a critical time for your engagement. Learn how you and other Farm Bureau advocates can influence members of Congress this August recess.

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