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POLICY WATCH

Nebraska Farm Bureau to Participate in Governor’s Property Valuations Working Group 

Following historic legislative successes in reducing the property tax burden on our agricultural producers, Nebraska Farm Bureau is pleased to be a part of Governor Pillen’s push to keep property tax reform a priority. Gov. Pillen announced the formation of a working group whose goal is to address the issues surrounding property valuations. Addressing valuations could result in the much-needed property tax reform that our farmers and ranchers demand. 

When looking at how important the governor’s prioritization of valuation reform is, the difference between relief and reform should be addressed. In the last three years, wins in the Legislature, heavily supported by Nebraska Farm Bureau, are leading to a 30% reduction in producers’ property tax burden through tax credits and increased education funding. However, actual property taxes continue to grow because of the increase in valuations.  

True reform of our property tax system requires a fix to how property is valued. The makeup of organizations that are at the table on the governor’s working group tells us that this effort is a true push to reform the way rural Nebraskans are taxed on their property.  

Policy Development Time is Here! 

As your County Farm Bureau gets together for annual meetings or separate policy development sessions, please remember that Nebraska Farm Bureau’s Public Policy Team is available should you have any questions throughout the policy development process. We encourage all members to attend our Issues Orientation meeting on August 10 in Kearney. Register for the event by clicking here. This event will offer members the opportunity to hear updates on a variety of potential policy development topics including valuations, livestock zoning, artificial intelligence, and more.  

Rep. Flood Co-Introduces the Sustainable Aviation Fuels Accuracy Act of 2023 

This week, U.S. Congressman Mike Flood, alongside Congresswoman Nikki Budzinski (D-IL), introduced the Sustainable Aviation Fuels Accuracy Act of 2023. This bipartisan bill aims to bring integrity to the standards required to meet the definition of Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). SAF is a renewable fuel used to power aircrafts that have similar properties to conventional jet fuel but with a fraction of its carbon footprint.  

“Nebraska is a leader in biofuels, growing and producing a significant portion of the nation’s supply,” said Congressman Flood. “The Sustainable Aviation Fuels Accuracy Act brings integrity to the definition of Sustainable Aviation Fuel and ensures that more Americans reap the benefits of a robust SAF. It’s an honor to co-introduce this bill alongside Congresswoman Nikki Budzinski, and we look forward to working with our colleagues in the Senate on passage of this important legislation.”  

The bill supports increased use of U.S. grown sustainable fuels, such as ethanol, in the aviation industry and update the regulations at the FFA to clarify the standards required to meet the definition of sustainable aviation fuel. Nebraska is one of the nation’s leading ethanol producers and this legislation would not only allow expanded use of sustainable aviation fuel but also support Nebraska’s farmers and biofuel producers. 

Fischer Introduces LAST ACRE Act to Boost Rural Connectivity for Farmers, Ranchers 

U.S. Senator Deb Fischer introduced the Linking Access to Spur Technology for Agriculture Connectivity in Rural Environments (LAST ACRE) Act. This legislation would create a new Last Acre Program at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Office of Rural Development aiming to expand network connectivity across farmland and ranchland. 

Existing Rural Development programs support “last mile” broadband deployment, which connects broadband networks to rural households or businesses. USDA lacks a program focused on extending connectivity across rural acreage, reaching the “last acre.” This last acre connectivity is critical for farmers and ranchers looking to use precision agriculture technologies in their operations. 

“It’s time for us to connect the last mile to the last acre. Producers looking to adopt precision agriculture technologies need network connectivity that extends far past their residences. They need to be able to make real-time decisions that increase yields and employ resources more efficiently. Our LAST ACRE Act will ensure that USDA has the strategy and resources needed to support last acre connectivity,” said Senator Fischer. 

The LAST ACRE Act would establish the Last Acre Program at USDA to expand high-speed broadband internet access. This access would support ubiquitous last acre coverage across eligible agricultural land, including farmland, ranchland, and farm sites. 

The bill would also direct USDA to update the Census of Agriculture to include questions that would discover insights into producers’ adoption of broadband internet access services. These updates would provide USDA with additional information about service speed and broadband usage purposes, including its use for precision agriculture technologies. 

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