The agricultural economy is seeing positive trends so far this year. That’s according to an analysis from Nebraska Farm Bureau Senior Economist Jay Rempe. Rempe reports financial conditions for the bulk of agricultural operations are better now compared to recent years. See his full breakdown in this week’s video.

NEFB Thanks Sen. Fischer For Year-Round E-15 Legislation

U.S. Senators Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), members of the Senate Agriculture Committee, reintroduced bipartisan legislature to expand the biofuels market and make sure consumers have access to higher blends of ethanol. The Consumer and Fuel Retailer Choice Act would extend the Reid vapor pressure (RVP) volatility waiver to ethanol blends above 10 percent and continue to allow retailers across the country to sell E-15 and other higher-ethanol fuel blends year-round. “The importance of ethanol to our state’s economy cannot be understated, and we hope Sen. Fischer’s legislative solution will secure the future of that industry for years to come,” said Mark McHargue, NEFB President.

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Nebraska ended its fiscal year with nearly a billion dollars more than expected in revenue. The latest report from the Nebraska Department of Revenue shows that state revenue numbers will boost property tax relief even more with the Property Tax Incentive Credit, nearly 3.5 times the amount Nebraskans received this tax year. “This is a big ‘win’ for property taxpayers who’ve been seeking relief,” said Mark McHague, NEFB president.

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Sen. Deb Fischer introduces year-round biofuel legislation, USDA announces details of program for farmers and ranchers who suffered losses from depopulation, and a Cedar County Farm Bureau member will talk broadband at the upcoming Governor’s Ag and Economic Summit. All this and more in this issue of Policy Watch.

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It’s hard to believe that right in the heart of Nebraska beef country, farmer Grant Jones is successfully raising shrimp. Jones started Chundy Aquaculture three years ago and is a manager and operator of Champion Shrimp.

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Crop producers face a multitude of decisions regarding marketing and hedging strategies and crop insurance coverages. New research looks at the influences of various hedging strategies and crop insurance coverages on average net farm income and income risk.

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Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA) Director Steve Wellman has announced the hiring of Cicely Batie for the position of assistant director. Batie, who has education and experience in agricultural economics, natural resources, and trade, began working at NDA in late June.

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Agriculture ranks among the most hazardous industries. Farmers and ranchers are at a very high risk for fatal and nonfatal injuries. Nebraska Farm Bureau wants to offer members peace of mind when it comes to accidents on the farm or ranch. Aflac is a new member benefit partner with Nebraska Farm Bureau!

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Agricultural producers and landowners in Nebraska can apply for the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) Grasslands signup until August 20. This year, the USDA updated signup options to provide greater incentives for producers and increase the program’s conservation and climate benefits, including setting a minimum rental rate and identifying two national priority zones.

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Livestock and poultry producers who suffered losses during the pandemic due to insufficient access to processing can apply for assistance for those losses and the cost of depopulation and disposal of the animals. Livestock and poultry producers can apply for assistance through the FSA until Sept. 17, 2021.

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A fire, pandemic, and cybersecurity attack have rocked cattle markets over the last two years. The risks inherent in cattle production are growing every day. Get a grip on price risks faced by cattle producers with the first of Nebraska Farm Bureau’s Inside Profitability Series. In this webinar, learn about Livestock Risk Protection (LRP) insurance as a tool to manage price risk from a Farm Bureau Financial Services expert and hear first-hand from fellow cattle producers on their experiences with LRP. The next webinar in this series will be Aug. 26 at noon CT and cover carbon credits.

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Dawson County Farm Bureau Member Shares Story to Protect Stepped-Up Basis

The preservation of stepped-up basis is of vital importance to Nebraska’s farm and ranch families. That was the message shared by Dawson County Farm Bureau member Don Batie during a recent meeting with Rep. Adrian Smith and Republican members of the House Ways and Means Committee. Batie explained to the members of the committee that without stepped-up basis his family would have been exposed to a substantial tax burden that would have likely led to the selling of pieces of the farm that has been in his family for 148 years. “The death of a family member does not give the federal government the right to take a substantial portion of what farm and ranch families have spent, in many cases, several lifetimes building. While some have continued to claim the loss of this tax provision only affects the super-rich, Mr. Batie’s story highlights the actual truth…farmers, ranchers, and rural communities would be devastated by this administration’s scheme to take what doesn’t belong to them,” Nebraska Farm Bureau President Mark McHargue said.

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Nebraska Farm Bureau President Mark McHargue, this week, attended an event with Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack at a small meat shop in Council Bluffs, IA. The event comes on the heels of the Biden administration’s announced plan to take executive action to make changes to livestock marketing rules, the “Product of the USA” label, as well as the ability of farmers and ranchers to fix their equipment. According to details released by the White House this week, the administration plans to introduce a series of new regulations aimed to “increase competition in agricultural industries, to boost farmers' and ranchers' earnings, fight back against abuses of power by giant agribusiness corporations and give farmers the right to repair their own equipment how they like.” The Biden administration’s, mode of operation has provided very few concrete details on proposals. As with any Executive Order or piece of legislation, NEFB will thoroughly examine and study the proposal as details become available. On the livestock marketing piece, NEFB is happy to see the administration’s focus on the livestock industry and livestock markets. At the same time, the administration should not squander this opportunity and bring back the failed 2010 “GIPSA Rule”, a rule NEFB ultimately opposed. The effort to reform the “Product of the USA” label is also a positive development as long as the administration works to ensure the integrity of the label by ensuring only livestock/food products are born/raised and slaughtered/processed in the United States. Lastly, NEFB has been a national leader in advocating for the ability for farmers and ranchers to have the right and ability to repair their own equipment if they choose. As is typical, Farm Bureau members have directed our organization at the state and national level to work on a private/non-government solution directly with the agricultural equipment manufacturers similarly to what has been done in the automotive industry.

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Dawson County Farm Bureau member testifies on stepped-up basis to House Ways and Means Committee members, the Nebraska Legislature sets dates for special session, and the Growing Climates Solutions Act is making its way through Congress. Get caught up on these stories and more in this issue of Policy Watch.

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Common Sense Nebraska, a coalition of organizations from across Nebraska have again joined together to ensure the federal government respects private property rights and the limits of federal regulatory authority following the Biden administration’s announcement that they would rewrite former President Trump’s Navigable Water Protection rule, which was written to replace former President Obama’s 2015 Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule. 

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Irrigation is in full swing for the North Platte Valley in the Panhandle of Nebraska. Nebraska Farm Bureau worked to bring more awareness to the tunnel collapse in 2019. How will tunnel repairs and Mother Nature affect irrigation for 2021?

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Since the 1950s, the Aksarben Foundation has been celebrating Nebraskan farm families with its tradition of awarding Pioneer and Heritage Farm Family Awards. Nebraska Farm Bureau is proud to be part of this long-standing program. These awards recognize the commitment to preserve and build Nebraska agriculture for future generations.

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With support from Lancaster County Farm Bureau, the Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation hosted eight Nebraska teachers and volunteers at the National Agriculture in the Classroom Conference “Field of Dreams,” June 29 – July 1 in Des Moines, Iowa.

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Reconnect with neighbors in friends at Nebraska Farm Bureau’s Northeast Regional Member Appreciation Night, Tuesday, July 20, 6-8:30 PM (CT) at The Beaumont in Wayne. Join us for a meal, door prizes, and more! Stay tuned for additional Member Appreciation Nights across the state.

Many Nebraskans recently experienced severe storms resulting in damaged crops. Estimating yield losses in these crops is helpful for determining future inputs such as water and nutrients. Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources shares how to estimate yield loss from defoliation in corn and soybeans.

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Nebraska FSA is implementing two programs in areas of the state impacted by ongoing drought conditions. Both the Livestock Forage Disaster Program and CRP Emergency Haying and Grazing have triggered based on conditions shown on the U.S. Drought Monitor. Contact your local FSA office before acting.

Livestock Forage Disaster Program

CRP Emergency Haying and Grazing

High property taxes continue to plague Nebraskans, especially farmers and ranchers. Part of the solution to the property tax problem is to control spending at the local level. That’s why Nebraska Farm Bureau has put together a toolkit to help you weigh in while your local governments and school boards work to set their budgets this summer. From an interactive map of property taxes levied, to a tool to track school spending, this toolkit has everything you need to engage in your local budget process.

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New Study Says Tax Changes Would Devastate Next Generation of Family Farms and Ranches

The Biden administration’s proposed tax changes could be costly for family farms. That’s the takeaway from a new report from Texas A&M University’s Agricultural & Food Policy Center (AFPC). AFPC’s study analyzed two bills: the Sensible Taxation and Equity Promotion (STEP) Act, which proposes to eliminate stepped-up basis upon death of the owner, and the for the 99.5 Percent Act, which would decrease the estate tax exemption. According to the study, if the STEP Act were to be implemented, 92 of AFPC’s 94 representative farms would be impacted with an average additional tax liability of more than $720,000 per farm. Together, the two bills would raise taxes an average of $1.4 million on 98 percent of AFPC’s representative farms.

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In a 7-0 decision, the Colorado Supreme Court ruled a potential 2022 ballot initiative that would ask voters to criminalize commonly accepted veterinary and animal care practices in Colorado violated the single subject rule. Nebraska Farm Bureau President Mark McHargue hailed the unanimous decisions as a “win” for animal agriculture. The proponents of the measure must resubmit another initiative to begin the process over.

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In this issue of Policy Watch we look at a new study which shows removal of stepped-up basis would be costly to family farms, the HAULS Act finds bipartisan support to move to the Senate, and senators hear testimony on reforming the way cattle are marketed in the U.S.

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As part of the Pandemic Assistance for Producers program, a USDA update indicated that the required rule-making for $6 billion of the funds has been completed and implementation of the associated programs will occur in the next 60 days. These programs largely target producers who were left out of previous rounds of assistance. 

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Nebraska Farm Bureau has identified 10 social media savvy student members to join The Crew. The Crew participants share their love of agriculture through social media and are selected from NEFB student members, who range in age from 16 to 23.

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Nebraska Farm Bureau Student Project Grants, supported by the Charles Marshall Fund at the Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation, were awarded to four deserving student Farm Bureau members in Clay, Knox, Chase, and Wayne counties. Each student was awarded one thousand dollars to be used to either begin or expand their 4-H project or FFA Supervised Agricultural Experiences (SAE) project.

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Reconnect with neighbors in friends at Nebraska Farm Bureau’s North Central region Member Appreciation Night, Tuesday, June 29, 5:30-8:30 PM (CT) at the Taylor Community Park in Taylor, Neb. Join us for a meal, yard games, door prizes, and more! Bring your own chair and relax while you catch up with friends and Farm Bureau. Stay tuned for additional Member Appreciation Nights across the state.

 

The Farm Service Agency (FSA) is accepting nominations for county committee members. Elections will occur in certain Local Administrative Areas (LAA) for these members who make important decisions about how federal farm programs are administered locally. All nomination forms for the 2021 election must be postmarked or received in the local FSA office by Aug. 2, 2021. Producers should contact their local FSA office today to register and find out how to get involved in their county’s election.

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