Farmers and ranchers from across the state set Nebraska Farm Bureau policy for the coming year and re-elected leaders as part of the organization’s 100th Annual Meeting and Convention held Dec. 3-5 in Kearney. Delegates discussed a wide range of agricultural policy issues to provide direction for the organization.
“Property taxes are a major concern for our members, and that was reflected in our voting delegate discussions,” said Steve Nelson, Nebraska Farm Bureau president.
Among the measures adopted by delegates was support for the use of income tax credits as a means of delivering property tax relief; a concept under consideration by state legislators heading into the 2018 legislative session. Delegates also voiced support for reducing local property tax burdens by having state general funds play a larger role in the funding of K-12 education.
County leaders also expressed support for utilization of the Nebraska Universal Services Fund, in partnership with federal and private monies, to support expanded broadband service into underserved areas of Nebraska.
“Farmers, ranchers, and rural businesses are becoming more dependent on technology in their operations. High quality and high-speed internet access is critical to helping improve the way they manage their operations and natural resources. Broadband access is key to the future of Nebraska agriculture,” said Nelson.
Expanding access to international markets for Nebraska agriculture commodities was also front and center for delegates.
“Our members adopted resolutions supporting U.S. re-entry into the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement, as well as a resolution opposing the placement of sunset provisions into free trade agreements,” said Nelson.
President Trump pulled the U.S. out of the TPP last January. Nebraska Farm Bureau had supported the agreement as it was expected to provide a major boost to Nebraska agriculture; increasing cash receipts and net exports from Nebraska by $378.5 million and $229.2 million per year respectively, while adding more than 1,700 new jobs to the state’s economy.
Delegates also discussed numerous issues related to livestock production. Members adopted a resolution allowing extended service duty hours for truck drivers that transport livestock, as well as backing a resolution to eliminate electronic logging devices. Livestock transportation has been a point of concern in the light of recent U.S. Department of Transportation electronic logging device regulations that failed to adequately recognize the uniqueness and challenges of transporting lives animals.
“Our members also advanced a resolution supporting genomic editing in livestock. Gene editing technology presents tremendous potential for the livestock sector, including the possibility of eliminating certain disease risks for livestock, which potentially would mitigate needs for antibiotic treatment,” said Nelson. Resolutions related to national policy will be discussed and voted on at the American Farm Bureau Federation Annual meeting held on Jan. 5-10 in Nashville, Tenn.
A resolution supporting the development of labeling requirements to restrict the use of terms such as “meat” to market and promote non-livestock or lab produced products from plant-based production methods, also advanced.
In addition to taking policy positions, delegates also conducted elections for positions on the Nebraska Farm Bureau Federation board of directors.
Steve Nelson was re-elected to the position of Nebraska Farm Bureau President. Nelson has been a Farm Bureau member for 41 years, producing corn, soybeans, and hi-bred seed corn with his son Scott, near Axtell.
Martey Stewart of Dixon County Farm Bureau was re-elected to represent Dist. 3, which includes Antelope, Cedar, Dakota, Dixon, Knox, Madison, Pierce, Thurston, and Wayne counties. Stewart operates a cattle operation near Dixon.
Bill Baldwin of Scotts Bluff County Farm Bureau was re-elected to represent Dist. 8, which includes Arthur, Banner, Box Butte, Cheyenne, Dawes, Deuel, Garden, Keith, Kimball, Perkins, Scotts Bluff, Sheridan, and Sioux counties. Baldwin operates a hay, row crop, and cow/calf operation near Mitchell.
Dave Nielsen of Lancaster County Farm Bureau was re-elected to the At-Large seat on the board of directors. Nielsen operates a corn, soybeans, and hay operation near Lincoln.