President’s Column – December 2022
NEFB brings value to many
It’s hard to believe another growing season has come to an end. The drought and rising costs in agriculture continue to impact our bottom line. That’s why we are working so hard to ensure you get value out of your dollar from being a Nebraska Farm Bureau member and that you see value from your donations to our NEFB-PAC.
I think we can all agree that elections matter. Last year, we held a gubernatorial candidate forum. Fast forward to 12-months later, and we have elected a Farm Bureau-endorsed candidate for governor, a farmer named Jim Pillen. Sherry Vinton, former first vice president of Nebraska Farm Bureau, is preparing to be the next state director of agriculture in the Pillen administration. What a difference a year makes.
One of the most important things we do as an organization is to help get people who support Nebraska agriculture and farm and ranch families into positions of influence. This year nearly one-third of the Legislature will be new, and we could see a similar amount of change over in 2024. It’s important that Farm Bureau continues to be a leader in this space, so thank you for the work you’ve done and the work we’ll do together moving forward.
While we had great success in getting farm- and ranch-friendly candidates into office, we’ve also had good success on the policy front. Let’s start by talking about tax relief because rising property taxes are still big deal in Nebraska.
I think it’s important that you know we have made progress on providing tax relief. That relief grew again with a refundable income tax credit for the property taxes you paid for K-12 schools that we worked to secure for 2021. We were able to expand that tax relief program during the 2022 legislative session to include tax relief for property taxes paid to community colleges.
Clearly, there is still work to do to reform the tax system. You and I both know that. More importantly, our new governor knows that, and so do the candidates we’ve supported for office. Nebraska Farm Bureau looks forward to working with Gov.-elect Pillen as part of his School Finance Reform Committee. Currently, of our 244 school districts, only 86 receive any state aid, and many not receiving aid are rural in nature. As Gov.-elect Pillen points out, the committee, which will be made up of experienced educators, policymakers and stakeholders, including NEFB, will come up with recommendations on how we reform TEEOSA, so that we can come together and create a system that invests in every Nebraska student.
Nebraska Farm Bureau has a seat at the table on many state and federal issues, and through it all we will be vigilant in making sure your farms and ranches are protected. (Read more on NEFB successes on page 9.)
I want to thank you again for the opportunity you’ve given me to represent you. Because organizations know I represent your interests, I’ve found myself in numerous conversations and been invited to discuss not only emerging issues for agriculture, but also tough issues facing our industry in the future. These include:
Being part of a group of Nebraska leaders and the Nebraska Public Power District looking at big-picture, long-term opportunities for agriculture surrounding new and inventive ways to produce value-added fuel sitting at the table with leaders of the carbon pipelines to not only share our general support for pipeline development to create opportunities for our ethanol industry, but also to talk about the need to respect property rights and landowners in the process; developing strategy with leaders from the FBI who are increasingly concerned about external threats to agriculture and food production, including threats to our cybersecurity; and working with leaders from the University of Nebraska, the University of Nebraska Medical Center, Natural Resources Districts, the Department of Agriculture and the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality to discuss challenges related to environmental protection, water quality and rural health.
All these interest groups reach out to Farm Bureau because they know we’re able to help lead and influence outcomes for the betterment of Nebraska agriculture.
As we head into the heart of the holiday season, I wish you and your family a merry Christmas and happy New Year!