Farm Bill, Ethanol, and Cybersecurity
Nebraska Farm Bureau President Mark McHargue spent time in Washington, D.C. this week for the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) Board of Directors meeting, reviewing policy resolutions submitted by state Farm Bureaus in advance of the AFBF Annual Meeting in Puerto Rico, Jan. 6-11.
McHargue also spent time meeting with Nebraska Sen. Deb Fischer about her introduced legislation to allow year-round sale of E-15. Fischer’s Consumer and Fuel Retailer Choice Act of 2022 would allow the year-round, nationwide sale of ethanol blends higher than 10%. Increasing the availability of biofuels like E15 would benefit the economy and the environment. This federal legislation would also end years of regulatory uncertainty and prevent a patchwork of uneven state regulations. The combined leadership of both Sen. Fischer as well as Congressman Adrian Smith over in the House are greatly appreciated.
McHargue also met with Rep. Don Bacon to talk about cybersecurity and issues that will be important to agriculture in the upcoming Farm Bill discussions. With the Farm Bill expiring next year, early discussions and negotiations have definitely commenced.
NEFB Tells Committee Reliable Broadband Critical to State’s Future
Nebraska Farm Bureau (NEFB) testified before the Transportation and Telecommunications Committee this week on an interim study related to the Nebraska Broadband Bridge Act. The interim study is focused on reviewing the distribution of grants under the Nebraska Broadband Bridge Act with special attention to grants for the second year; and considering the need for additional legislation governing the administration of the Nebraska Broadband Bridge Act and the need for legislation to implement the federal Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) Program and any other federal broadband assistance program.
Expanding rural connectivity to secure high-speed, high-quality internet access statewide is a top priority for Nebraska Farm Bureau. In its testimony, NEFB highlighted that Nebraska is home to our nation’s third largest agriculture industrial complex and that food production is our state’s number one industry. NEFB told the committee that precision agriculture and the data associated with it are key to ensuring our state’s future economic viability. Failure to provide the needed connectivity in rural Nebraska is one of the greatest barriers to Nebraska’s agricultural products reaching the consumer.
According to NEFB, solving the state’s broadband problem will not be accomplished by simply making sure grant funds are received and spent. As part of its testimony, NEFB encouraged the Public Service Commission (PSC) to submit a challenge to the FCC broadband coverage map to ensure Nebraska will receive funding that more accurately reflects the unserved and underserved areas of our state.
Nebraska Farm Bureau will continue its work to help solve this issue and looked forward to working with legislators in the upcoming Nebraska legislative session.