Dr. Jeffrey Gold, the chancellor of the University of Nebraska Medical Center, was the featured speaker on Nebraska Farm Bureau’s “COVID-19 and Rural Health” Facebook Live event this week. How real is the risk to rural Nebraskans? What challenges will rural health providers face? How can I lower my risk of being exposed? Dr. Gold provided answers to those questions and many more. Missed it? We’ve got you covered!

Congress Passes $2 Trillion COVID-19 Relief Measure

Congress passed a massive $2 trillion COVID-19 aid bill this week. The U.S. Senate approved the measure Wednesday, March 25, followed by U.S. House action on the bill Friday, March 27. Nebraska Farm Bureau President Steve Nelson called the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act “an important first step” in providing relief to Nebraska farm and ranch families whose operations have been harmed financially by the COVID-19 outbreak. Earlier in the week, Nebraska Farm Bureau sent a letter to members of Nebraska’s Congressional Delegation outlining the organization’s priorities for COVID-19 relief actions. All five members of Nebraska’s Congressional Delegation supported the measure and Nebraska Farm Bureau thanks them for their efforts. The CARES Act was signed by President Trump this afternoon. Overview below for full details.

Watch NEFB’s Bill Review Here

The Nebraska Legislature passed $86 million in emergency funding earlier this week to help the state respond to COVID-19 and Congress followed suit passing a $2 trillion COVID-19 relief measure opening the door for financial stabilization assistance to Nebraskans, including Nebraska’s farm and ranch families. Get the full details in this week’s Policy Watch.

Read Policy Watch

Watch NEFB Policy Review -Congress Aid Bill

Nebraska Farm Bureau has developed a COVID-19 webpage specifically to provide resources to Nebraska farmers and ranchers. The page contains several resources to help navigate the coronavirus outbreak, ranging from information on personal health to getting your farm or ranch COVID-19 ready.

COVID-19

COVID-19 Farm and Ranch Preparedness Checklist

More than 400 Farm Bureau members from across the state joined a live Telephone Town Hall this week hosted by the Nebraska Farm Bureau to gather information from members regarding the impacts of COVID-19 to their families and agricultural operations. Among the wide range of concerns identified during the call were commodity prices, manipulation in cattle markets, operation financing, potential ethanol and processing plant shutdowns, trucking issues, pesticide applicator renewals, broadband connectivity, rural healthcare, mental health, and general well-being of businesses in rural communities, in addition to numerous others. The feedback provided is being used to help in Farm Bureau’s COVID-19 response efforts.

Listen to Telephone Town Hall

NEFB President Steve Nelson joined Governor Pete Ricketts and State Director of Agriculture Steve Wellman for a proclamation signing and news conference for National Agriculture Week, highlighting the critical role Nebraska farmers and ranchers are playing in providing a stable supply of food in the United States during the COVID-19 crisis.

Watch Here

Agriculture can be a difficult business, particularly in times like these. When faced with uncertainties, managing stress can be challenging, but there are many things you can do to help yourself and others.

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The Nebraska Agriculture in the Classroom (AITC) program is offering virtual at-home learning resources for teachers, students, and parents during the COVID-19 outbreak. The new virtual and at-home learning resources include live experiences, self-guided opportunities for students, and activity guides to aid parents and teachers.

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Now is the time to apply! With school out of session for many students across Nebraska now is the time to apply for scholarships, there are numerous scholarship opportunities that are available for high school and college students.

County Scholarships

Collegiate Farm Bureau Scholarship Form

Student Project Grant Application

Hall County Farm Bureau Scholarship

Kenneth E. Schwartz Memorial Scholarship

Nebraska Farm Bureau is advising farmers, ranchers, and other rural Nebraskans to not underestimate the risk posed by the spread of COVID-19. In this week’s Newswire video, NEFB President Steve Nelson is urging all Nebraskans to take precautions and encouraging farmers and ranchers to prepare for possible impacts to their rural communities and agricultural operations.

Legislature Back Next Week?

The COVID-19 outbreak has put the Nebraska Legislature on hiatus. The body recessed March 12 and ultimately did not return this week due to COVID-19 concerns. It’s rumored state senators might return to Lincoln next week to pass emergency funding to address the outbreak. Lawmakers return would likely be brief and limited to that subject matter. Property tax relief, business incentives, and other issues are unlikely to be discussed. No official announcement regarding the body returning has been made.

As Congress prepares to address the pandemic, Nebraska Farm Bureau has asked members of Nebraska’s Congressional delegation to make sure actions address several key areas of concern for Nebraska agriculture. In a letter to the delegation, Nebraska Farm Bureau shared its hope that Congress provide some level of stabilization payments to agriculture producers, including cattle producers who’ve taken the brunt of the recent market downturns. In addition, the organization asked the delegation to keep in touch with Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) over concerns about potential market manipulation in cattle markets. Farm Bureau also highlighted the need for Congress to work with USDA to ensure meat packing and dairy processors remain operational in the face of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Read Letter Here

Nebraska Farm Bureau has developed a checklist of items for farmers and ranchers to consider as the potential spread of COVID-19 could further impact the day-to-day operations of Nebraska agriculture operations. The checklist covers topics from personal health to operational preparedness.

Read More Here

The Legislature is on hiatus but could be back in Lincoln next week to take care of some special business. COVID-19 response measures were on the docket this week for Farm Bureau at the state level and in Washington, D.C. Read about these topics and more in this week’s Policy Watch.

Read Policy Watch

Yes…toilet paper has become a hot commodity, but Governor Ricketts assured Nebraskans this week that food shortages aren’t a concern. In a press conference with the Nebraska Grocers Association and Nebraska Restaurant Association, representatives assured Nebraskans there is no food shortage and the food supply is stable. A surge in grocery purchases by Nebraskans over the last week may have emptied shelves, but officials say the gaps in products will be closed over time.

Watch News Conference

As we celebrate National Agriculture Week, March 22-28, Americans are being reminded just how important a safe and abundant food supply is. That supply starts with the work of our nation’s farm and ranch families. People from across the country and the world depend on a viable American agriculture and that means keeping farmers and their families healthy. Learn how do just that with guidance from the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).

DHHS COVID-19 Guidance

Property tax discussions continue and lawmakers take up revisions to the state budget this week. Check out details on key bills below and click HERE for an updated version of Nebraska Farm Bureau’s complete Bill Summary.

Farm Bureau members looking to engage with their state senator will need to communicate digitally or make a phone call due to new restrictions enacted by the Legislature in response to the COVID-19 spread. Moving forward, the balcony and chamber of the Legislature will be closed to visitors and senators will no longer be allowed to leave the Chamber to visit with constituents in the Rotunda, as has been common practice. The schedule for the Legislature is also in flux after the Speaker of the Legislature, Sen. Jim Scheer of Norfolk, announced the remaining days of the 60-day session will be dependent upon community spread of COVID-19. The body adjourned for a four-day recess Thursday, March 12. They are expected to return to the Capitol Tuesday, March 17, but that could change. While Nebraska Farm Bureau will no longer be hosting County Farm Bureau Days at the Capitol, County Farm Bureau leaders wanting a legislative update can still request a update phone call by contacting Whittney Tiedeman at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

In response to the COVID-19 outbreak and in the interest of public safety the Nebraska Farm Bureau has cancelled several upcoming events. Canceled events include:

March 16 – Legislative Dist. 1 District Evaluation Committee (DEC) Candidate Interviews
March 24 – Property Tax Day at the Capitol/Burgers, Brats, & Brews
March 26-27 – Meeting of the Nebraska Leadership Academy
March 26-27 – Meeting of the Nebraska Young Farmer and Rancher Committee
March 30 – Legislative Dist. 30 District Evaluation Committee (DEC) Candidate Interviews

The Nebraska Farm Bureau Board of Directors meeting scheduled for March 25-26 and the Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation Board of Directors meeting scheduled for March 23 will be held via conference call.