LINCOLN — The Nebraska Farmers Union Board of Directors met April 13th for their spring board meeting. They spent a good deal of time reviewing bills before the legislature. Their list of legislative positions is below.
1. Property tax reform and relief. NeFU reaffirmed their strong support for the efforts of Nebraskans United Coalition to broaden the sales tax base, eliminate income tax exemptions, and more fairly fund K-12 education. Efforts to undo the one billion shift from state income and sales tax based education funding to property taxes over the last 25 years must be addressed this session. There must be immediate and substantial property tax relief.
2. Take full advantage of the 2018 Farm Bill’s decriminalization of industrial hemp. The board reaffirmed their longstanding support for Senator Lathrop’s LB457 that removes industrial hemp from the scheduled drug list and Senator Wayne’s LB657 that authorizes 2019 hemp production under the rules and regulations still in place under the 2014 Farm Bill, and authorizes the development of state rules and regulations that accommodate the USDA guidelines that will authorize production under the 2018 Farm Bill. They welcome the prospect of adding a new profitable crop as an option for farmers to consider.
3. Expansion of Cottage Foods. The board reaffirmed their support for Senator Crawford’s LB304 that expands the opportunity for people to sell non-potentially hazardous “cottage foods” already allowed at farmers markets from their homes or at certain events. Many of these cooks are farm women.
1. Efforts to radically change Right to Farm protections. The NeFU board took strong opposition to Senator Hughes LB227 that undermines Nebraska’s Right to Farm’s traditional protections for agricultural activities and neighbors. It would provide carte blanche nuisance exemptions for one neighbor who dramatically changes or expands their operation at the expense of their neighbors, most of whom are also farmers. The clear intent of this bill is to proactively provide nuisance exemptions for Costco poultry growers and other mega CAFO livestock operations. Everyone in rural Nebraska should use good neighbor practices and be responsible for the well-being of their neighbors. LB227 picks one winner at the expense of all their next door neighbors who will be the losers.
2. Efforts to undermine Nebraska wind development. The NeFU board strongly opposes Senator Brewer’s LB155 and LB373 and Senator Bostelman’s LB700. All these bills are unnecessary, and intended to discourage wind development in Nebraska. Wind development has brought $3 billion of new capital investment and tax base and millions of dollars additional income landowners and local and state taxes. These bills are intended to yank the Nebraska “Welcome Mat” for clean burning renewable energy that uses no water, emits no carbon, and uses only willing buyer/willing seller landowner easements. Only willing landowners have wind turbines on their land.
Nebraska Farmers Union is a general farm organization with 3,500 farm and ranch family members dedicated to protecting and enhancing the economic well-being and quality of life for family farmers and ranchers, and their rural communities. Since 1913, Nebraska Farmers Union has helped organize over 445 cooperatives.
— Nebraska Farmers Union
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