For Immediate Release: Senator’s Property Tax Relief Plan Has Strong Support from Ag & Education Coalition

Nebraskans United for Property Tax Reform & Education

NEWS RELEASE – January 21, 2019

 

Senator’s Property Tax Relief Plan

Has Strong Support from Ag & Education Coalition

Group Says LB314 Creates Balanced and Fair Tax System for Nebraska 

 

A broad-based coalition of Nebraska ag and education groups is supporting legislation that would provide more than $700 million in property tax relief while protecting essential public services such as education, services for the elderly, health care, highways and roads. Organizations in the coalition are each calling on their own members as well as all Nebraskans to show their support for real property tax relief by contacting state lawmakers in support of LB314.

 

LB314 is the result of two years of work by the Nebraskans United for Property Tax Reform and Education coalition and Albion Sen. Tom Briese to develop a responsible route to property tax relief.

 

LB314 would reduce the current over-reliance on property taxes and support K-12 education in Nebraska. It also adds $468 million to the Property Tax Credit Fund – which would bring that direct property tax relief fund total to $692 million. The bill also calls for a much-needed study to review the current system of funding K-12 education in Nebraska. LB314 would close several sales tax exemptions, add a surcharge to income over $250,000, increase the state sales tax by half a cent, and increase the tax on cigarettes and alcohol.

 

Nebraskans United Coalition members comments regarding LB314:

 

“We appreciate Senator Briese introducing legislation that reduces the state’s overreliance on property taxes and balances the tax system to fund education and other services.” – Robert Johnston President, Nebraska Soybean Association.

 

“This is the only bill that provides real property tax relief, adequately and fairly funds education, and creates a more fair and balanced state tax system. We will be asking our members and we ask all Nebraskans to show their support for real property tax relief by participating in hearings, making phone calls, sending emails, and writing letters to their State Senators.  The voice of citizens wanting real change must be heard.” –  John K. Hansen, president of the Nebraska Farmers Union.

“Any property tax solution which doesn’t ensure the replacement of revenue for public schools is fiscally irresponsible. Senator Briese’s LB 314 offers immediate solutions to address an unfair burden currently placed upon property owners.” – Michael S. Dulaney, J.D., Ph.D., Executive Director of the Nebraska Council of School Administrators.

 

“LB 314 is long overdue legislation to correct the tax shift of funding education by property owners. As a locally elected school board member, there hasn’t been one decision made by our board that didn’t try to balance the needs of our students while being fiscally responsible to our taxpayers. LB 314 reflects this balance of fiscal responsibility by modernizing our tax code and generating the revenues needed to meet the state’s obligation to support public education.” – Dave Welsch, farmer and ag land owner, 20-year member of the Milford School Board, and member of the Center for Rural Affairs.

 

“This proposal will deliver property tax relief while still providing the children of Nebraska the high-quality education which will allow them to become the leaders of tomorrow. LB314 is the result of two years of hard work and study by a broad-based, bipartisan coalition and Sen. Briese. It will move Nebraska away from its over-reliance on property taxes and toward adequately funding education in the state.” – Jenni Benson, president of the Nebraska State Education Association.

“LB314 will provide sorely needed relief for property owners, especially those in the ag sector. It provides for not only the reduction of property taxes, but also a method to pay for the recommended distribution of revenues. Almost all the revenue generated in the bill would come based on taxpayer use or on elimination of exemptions that have hampered the state’s ability to generate revenues in the past several years.  It pulls some of the focus away from property taxes which are fairly regressive. And it would ensure that more state funding reaches ALL school districts in the state regardless of size or location.” – Jack D. Moles, Executive Director, Nebraska Rural Community Schools Association

 

“This bill recognizes and honors the importance of both agriculture and education to Nebraska’s economy. We support LB314 and its guiding principal that we need adequate and sustainable funding for high quality K-12 education because it is imperative for the future of Nebraska.  It also provides a much-needed reduction in our over-reliance on local property taxes to ensure the tax system is fair to all Nebraska taxpayers.” –  Dr. Aaron Plas, Superintendent at Lakeview Community Schools on behalf of Schools Taking Action for Nebraska Children’s Education (STANCE).

 

“LB 314 will also protect public safety and help reduce economic costs resulting from excessive drinking. Raising alcohol taxes for the first time since 2003 will lead to fewer alcohol-attributable deaths in our state from drunk driving, alcohol-related crimes and certain cancers. The bill will also help to reduce the $1.2 billion in economic costs our state experiences each year.” – Chris Wagner, Executive Director, Project Extra Mile

 

“The Nebraska State Grange commends Senator Briese and the Nebraskans United coalition for their dedication to finding a compromise solution to resolving the long-standing impasse surrounding REAL and long-lasting property tax relief. Politicians have perennially promised solutions but have always fallen far-short on delivery. LB 314 may not have all the answers, but it provides the Legislature with a very real opportunity to achieve permanent and substantial property tax relief without pulling the rug out from under our local schools and government subdivisions. We support LB 314.” – Kevin Cooksley, Nebraska State Grange

 

“Sen. Briese understands how special education funding benefits all schools across the state and we appreciate his hard work and support.” – Stephanie Summers, Nebraska Association of School Boards Legislation Committee member, David City Public Schools Board of Education

 

 

NEBRASKANS UNITED FOR PROPERTY TAX REFORM AND EDUCATION


Nebraska Farm Bureau

Nebraska Council of School Administrators

Nebraska Corn Growers Association

Nebraska State Education Association

Nebraska Rural Community Schools Association

Nebraska Farmers Union

Nebraska Women Involved in Farm Economics

Nebraska Soybean Association

Gage County Property Tax Group

Nebraska Pork Producers

Independent Cattlemen of Nebraska

Greater Nebraska Schools Association

Center for Rural Affairs

Project Extra Mile

Milford School Board

Holdrege Public Schools

Nebraska Wheat Growers

Nebraska Association of School Boards

Nebraska State Grange

Boyd County Schools

Stand for Schools

Schools Taking Action for Nebraska Children’s Education

Rep. Fortenberry Receives Golden Triangle Award From NeFU

For Immediate Release                                                        

Contact: John Hansen 402-580-8815

john@nbraskafarmersunion.org

 

Representative Jeff Fortenberry Receives Golden Triangle Award From Farmers Union

LINCOLN (September 26, 2016) – Nebraska Farmers Union (NeFU) presented Representative Jeff Fortenberry with the Golden Triangle Award, National Farmers Union’s (NFU) highest legislative honor.  The award was presented recently as part of the annual NFU fall Fly-In that brought 275 Farmers Union members from across the country to Washington, DC to share their views and concerns with their elected officials.  Fortenberry was one of 44 House and Senate members honored this year.

Ten Nebraskans participated in the NFU Fly-In meetings with members of Congress and their staffs.  In addition to Hansen, Nebraska participants from all 7 NeFU Districts included John Maser and Mike Sarchet of Minatare, Terry Kirby of Central City, David Mohlman of Red Cloud, Amanda and Lillian Fritch of Beatrice, Jeff Downing of Elkhorn, Paul Poppe of Scribner, and Art Tanderup of Neligh.

The Golden Triangle is an annual award presented to members of Congress who have demonstrated leadership and support policies that benefit America’s family farmers, ranchers, fishermen and rural communities.

“The Golden Triangle Award represents outstanding leadership and tireless effort on the issues that are important to our industry and organization. It is our honor to recognize the efforts of these Congressional champions and friends of family farming and ranching,” said NFU President Roger Johnson.

The Golden Triangle, first presented in 1988, symbolizes the core principles of the Farmers Union organization: education, cooperation, and legislation. This year’s Golden Triangle honorees were selected for their leadership and contribution to several issues important to family farmers and ranchers.

Representative Fortenberry’s award was presented by NeFU President John Hansen and David Mohlman as other Nebraska team members were headed to the airport for flights home.  “We appreciate Representative Fortenberry’s continued leadership on renewable energy, conservation, rural development, and family farm and ranch issues,” said NeFU President John Hansen.  “Representative Fortenberry understands the issues in depth, and is a respected advocate of family farm and ranch agriculture.”

Yasser Reda, Ambassador of the Arab Republic of Egypt was scheduled next to meet with Rep. Fortenberry and was very interested in meeting representatives from American agriculture.  A very interesting discussion followed, and he enthusiastically participated in the photo of Rep. Fortenberry accepting his award.  NeFU President Hansen said “Wheat sales to Egypt came quickly to mind.”

 

Nebraska Farmers Union is a general farm organization with 4,000 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.

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9th Annual Nebraska Wind and Solar Conference Returns to Lincoln

9th Annual Nebraska Wind and Solar Conference Returns to Lincoln

Will Include a Visit to LES’s New Solar Facility

For Immediate Release: September 26, 2016

For More Information Contact:  Nicole McDermott (402) 637-4455

LINCOLN- The Ninth Annual Nebraska Wind and Solar Conference will be held at the Cornhusker Marriott Hotel, 333 S. 13 Street in Lincoln, NE Monday, November 7 – Tuesday, November 8. This year’s conference will include updates from wind and solar experts, public power utility CEO’s, Nebraska State Senators and others. The conference will be preceded by a tour of Lincoln Electric System’s (LES) SunShares Community Solar Project on Sunday, November 6.

On Monday, sessions include a series of panel discussions.  Nebraska State Senators will discuss recent wind and solar legislation and issues first thing Monday morning.  After break, a panel will discuss the benefits of solar energy for rural communities.  Monday noon, the CEO’s of Nebraska’s three largest public power utilities will share their views.  Monday afternoon, panels will discuss wind and solar zoning regulations; operating and planning of the electric grid during turbulent times; and community solar.  All sessions allow time for questions.

Tuesday’s schedule includes an update on Nebraska Public Power Districts “R-Line;” a discussion about the effects of renewable energy on rural agriculture economy; and solar for farms, businesses and residential.

“The conference includes knowledgeable experts covering topics that will appeal to anyone interested in wind and solar energy,” said John Hansen, conference co-chairman. “We are also going to be addressing some of the myths about renewable energy that have been in the news lately.”

On Sunday, conference attendees will be able to participate in a tour of LES’s nearly five-megawatt facility near West Holdrege and Northwest 75th Streets.

“We are pleased to work with LES and to allow access to the solar project for our conference attendees,” said Dan McGuire, conference co-chairman. “This solar array is the largest in Nebraska and includes 15,333 solar panels. It will be impressive to see.”

Registration is $125 until October 8 and student Registration is $65. Rooms at the Cornhusker Marriott Hotel are $114 per night until October 8, which includes free parking. Registration information is available on the conference website http://nebraskawindandsolarconference.com/.

Find us on Facebook fb.me/NEWindandSolarConference

Find us on Twitter @NE_WindSolarCon

To view last year’s presentations, go to http://www.neo.ne.gov/renew/wind-working-group/2014conference/2014conference.htm.

OCM Annual Conference Press Release & Agenda

Organization for Competitive Markets Announces 2016’s 18th Annual Conference Theme, Location, Dates and Agenda
“Preserving Independent Family Agriculture through Competitive Markets”

For Media: OCM Pres. Mike Callicrate—(785) 332-8218 or John Hansen VP—(402) 476-8815

For Conference and Registration Information: Pat Craycraft—(402) 327-8390 or (402) 416-5731

LINCOLN, NE. Mike Callicrate, President of The Organization of Competitive Markets (OCM) announced that OCM is holding its 18th Annual Conference, August 19-20, 2016, at the Doubletree Hilton, Downtown Omaha, Nebraska. This year’s program features keynote presentations by four nationally recognized champions of family agriculture and competitive markets:
Roger Johnson, president of the National Farmers Union, will the noon keynote speaker:
“Concentration, Trade, and the Future of Family Farming.”
Michael Stumo, CEO of the Coalition for a Prosperous America and national expert on trade policy and TPP will be the afternoon keynote speaker:
“We are Winning the TPP Battle, But How Do We Win the Trade Policy War?”
Barry C. Lynn, a senior fellow in the New America Foundation’s Economic Growth Program, and widely read author on market concentration will keynote the Friday evening banquet on his latest book:
“Cornered: The New Monopoly Capitalism and the Economics of Destruction”
Diana Moss, president of the American Antitrust Institute will provide a keynote presentation on the recent acceleration of major ag input mergers under consideration which has the rural sector wondering about their future in a system with no competition or choices:
“Merger Mania Continues in the Ag Input Sector”
OCM President Mike Callicrate said, “We are pleased to move our annual OCM Conference back to Nebraska and Omaha this year. We are really excited about the top notch set of speakers we have with us this year who will focus on the all-important issues of agricultural markets and trade policy. We encourage food producers and food eaters to attend and interact with our national experts. If you care about the future of family farm agriculture, you should attend this year’s annual meeting.”
OCM Vice President John Hansen called on the OCM members in Nebraska, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, South Dakota, and Minnesota to drive to Omaha for this year’s conference. “This year’s OCM speakers are the national experts you always wished you had the opportunity to listen to and meet. Omaha is centrally located, and affordable. Registration fees are $50 and room rates are $99 if you register by August 5th. In addition to the outstanding national speakers, we will have panel discussions on the proposed Costco Poultry project, Right to Repair, legislative updates and checkoffs,” Hansen concluded.
For conference registration, call Pat Craycraft at:(402) 327-8390 or (402) 416-5731 or go to: www.competitivemarkets.com
For Lodging Reservations: Call Elaina (402) 636-4906 by August 5th at $99 or http://doubletree.hilton.com/en/dt/groups/personalized/O/OMAH-DT-OCM-20160817/index.jhtml

 

“Preserving Independent Family Agriculture

Through Competitive Markets”

 

Doubletree Hilton Omaha Downtown

August 19-20, 2016

AGENDA

Friday, August 19

7:30 – 8:30:     Registration

 

8:30     Introductions, Opening Remarks . . . . . .Mike Callicrate, President OCM

Invocation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ……Judy Heffernan, Secretary OCM

Welcome to Nebraska . . . . . . . . ………. John Hansen, Vice-President OCM

 

8:45    Collaboration Work & Introductions…Joe Maxwell, Interim Executive Director OCM

Sarah Bell, Eleventh Hour Project/AARC (Animal Agriculture Reform Collaborative)

Louisa McCune, Kirkpatrick Foundation

 

9:20    A New Level of Vertical Integration:  Costco Enters Poultry Production in Fremont: An Opportunity for Improvement, Or An Alarming Sign For the Future?

Moderator:                  John Hansen, VP OCM, and President Nebraska Farmers Union

The Local Efforts:       Graham Christensen, GC Resolve

Grower Education:     Mike Weaver, Director OCM & President of the Contract Poultry Growers of the Virginias

Poultry Practices:        Don Stull, Treasurer OCM, Professor Emeritus of Anthropology, University of Kansas, Author of “Slaughterhouse Blues”

 

10:30   Refreshment Break

                                                          

10:40   Community Initiatives to Halt Vertical Integration

Moderator:      Don Stull, OCM Treasurer

Local Opposition Success:    Chris Petersen, OCM Director

11:00   Emerging Consolidation Issues

Moderator:      Mike Callicrate, OCM President

  • Sustainable U.S. Global Round Table…Vaughn Meyer, Director, OCM & CBB
  • Right to Repair…John Hansen, President Nebraska Farmers Union & VP OCM

 

11:35   OCM Collaboration Reports – Joe Maxwell, Interim OCM Executive Director

 

12:00   Lunch

 

12:30   Luncheon Keynote Speaker:  Roger Johnson, President of National Farmers Union

“Concentration, Trade, and the Future of Family Farming”

 

1:00:    “We are Winning the Trans-Pacific Partnership Battle, But

How Do We Win the Trade Policy War?”

Michael Stumo, CEO, Coalition for a Prosperous America

1:20:  Panel Discussion Examining Trade Policy’s Far Reaching Impacts on Competition, Antitrust

                        Enforcement, Domestic Laws, GNP, Manufacturing, Agriculture, and Sovereignty

  • Joe Logan, President Ohio Farmers Union, OCM & CPA Board Member
  • Roger Johnson, President, National Farmers Union
  • Michael Stumo, CEO, Coalition for a Prosperous America
  • Barry Lynn, Director of the Open Markets Program and Senior Fellow at

New America

 

2:00:  The Beef Checkoff:  A Failed Program That Compels Cattlemen to Fund

                                  the Destruction of Their Business and Way of Life

Moderator:  Mike Callicrate, President OCM

  • Fred Stokes…A brief history
  • Vaughn Meyer, Director OCM…….What we get for our checkoff
  • David Wright, President, Independent Cattlemen of Nebraska Board Member of Cattlemen’s Beef Board……………The Beef Checkoff; Rife with Corruption
  • Matthew Penzer, Lead Attorney on the OCM  USDA FOIA lawsuit and

related checkoff litigation………….An Update on the OCM lawsuit

  • Dudley Butler, J. D. Butler Farm and Ranch Law Group PLLC & past USDA GIPSA Administrator……………..Where do we go from here?
  • Q & A

 

3:30:   Refreshment Break  

 

3:45:    Merger Mania Continues in the Ag Input Sector

Diana Moss, President, American Antitrust Institute

Moderator:  Don Stull, Treasurer, OCM

 

4:45     Legislative Update…Joe Maxwell, Interim Executive Director OCM        

           

5:15     Mixer (Cash Bar)

 

7:00     Banquet…Master of Ceremonies:  Mike Callicrate, President OCM

 

Helmuth Award Presentations

 

Banquet Keynote Speaker: Barry Lynn, Director of the Open Markets program, a

Senior Fellow at New America, and author of:

 

“Cornered: The New Monopoly Capitalism and the Economics of Destruction”

 

Saturday, August 20, 2016 – 8:00 AM

 

OCM Membership Meeting:  All Members Encouraged to Attend

  • Business & Financial Reports
  • Election of Officers

NeFU Brings 10 Members to DC to Represent Family Farmers and Ranchers

For Immediate Release                                                        

Contact: John Hansen 402-476-8815

john@nebraskafarmersunion.org

 

Nebraska Farmers Union Brings 10 Members to Washington to Represent Family Farmers and Ranchers

 

LINCOLN, NE  (August 10, 2016) – Nebraska Farmers Union (NeFU) President John Hansen announced today that ten NeFU members will participate in the fall National Farmers Union Fly-In scheduled for September 11-14.  Hansen said this year is particularly important because this is the third year in a row of below cost of production ag commodity prices.

Hansen said “Production agriculture is facing a major financial crisis as grain prices continue to sink, grain inventories build, exports are flat, and ag production costs stay at or near historic all time high levels.   We are in year three of a grain price collapse that looks to either continue or get worse.  The meat sector is not much better.  We think the best way for our elected officials to understand the size and scope of the financial hardship farmers and ranchers are facing is to talk directly with the farmers and ranchers themselves.  That is why this Fly-In will be an important one for families that farm and ranch.  We are extremely pleased that we have 10 Nebraskans willing to share their stories with our elected officials.”

The top four issues for the NFU Fly-In will include:

  • The financial crisis in agriculture, short term financial assistance ideas and the need for a much better Farm Bill.
  • The Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and why especially now with sinking commodity prices why domestic consumption and utilization is so critical.
  • The Trans Pacific Partnership and other trade issues that continue to over promise and under deliver while continuing to drive up the U.S. balance of trade deficit.
  • The massive consolidation in the ag supply sector and ag processing sector, the continued vertical integration of food production, growing market consolidation, shrinking competition, and a completely inadequate response by Congress and our federal anti-trust agencies.

Hansen said “It is up to those of us who care about family farm and ranch agriculture to sound the alarm bells because the financial situation facing agriculture has not received proper attention from the press or elected officials.  The current price levels of ag commodity prices are far below the costs of production.  Something needs to be done.  Congress needs to respond.  All farmers are hurting financially, especially young and beginning farmers.

Hansen said each of Nebraska Farmers Union’s seven districts that cover the state of Nebraska are sending at least one representative to this Fly-In.  “It is our responsibility to help family farmers and ranchers tell their stories, especially in this time of financial crisis.

Nebraska Farmers Union is a general farm organization with 4,000 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.

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OCM 2016’s 18th Annual Conference Theme, Location, Dates and Agenda

For Immediate Release

Organization for Competitive Markets Announces 2016’s 18th Annual Conference Theme, Location, Dates and Agenda

Preserving Independent Family Agriculture through Competitive Markets

For Media: OCM Pres. Mike Callicrate—(785) 332-8218 or John Hansen VP—(402) 476-8815

For Conference and Registration Information: Pat Craycraft—(402) 327-8390 or (402) 416-5731

LINCOLN, NE.  Mike Callicrate, President of             The Organization of Competitive Markets (OCM) announced that OCM is holding its 18th Annual Conference, August 19-20, 2016, at the Doubletree Hilton, Downtown Omaha, Nebraska. This year’s program features keynote presentations by four nationally recognized champions of family agriculture and competitive markets:

  • Roger Johnson, president of the National Farmers Union, will the noon keynote speaker:

Concentration, Trade, and the Future of Family Farming.” 

  • Michael Stumo, CEO of the Coalition for a Prosperous America and national expert on trade policy and TPP will be the afternoon keynote speaker:

We are Winning the TPP Battle, But How Do We Win the Trade Policy War?

  • Barry C. Lynn, a senior fellow in the New America Foundation’s Economic Growth Program, and widely read author on market concentration will keynote the Friday evening banquet on his latest book:

Cornered: The New Monopoly Capitalism and the Economics of Destruction

  • Diana Moss, president of the American Antitrust Institute will provide a keynote presentation on the recent acceleration of major ag input mergers under consideration which has the rural sector wondering about their future in a system with no competition or choices:

“Merger Mania Continues in the Ag Input Sector”

OCM President Mike Callicrate said, “We are pleased to move our annual OCM Conference back to Nebraska and Omaha this year.  We are really excited about the top notch set of speakers we have with us this year who will focus on the all-important issues of agricultural markets and trade policy.  We encourage food producers and food eaters to attend and interact with our national experts.  If you care about the future of family farm agriculture, you should attend this year’s annual meeting.”

OCM Vice President John Hansen called on the OCM members in Nebraska, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, South Dakota, and Minnesota to drive to Omaha for this year’s conference.  “This year’s OCM speakers are the national experts you always wished you had the opportunity to listen to and meet.  Omaha is centrally located, and affordable.  Registration fees are $50 and room rates are $99 if you register by August 5th.  In addition to the outstanding national speakers, we will have panel discussions on the proposed Costco Poultry project, Right to Repair, legislative updates and checkoffs,” Hansen concluded.

For conference registration, call Pat Craycraft at:

(402) 327-8390 or (402) 416-5731 or go to: www.competitivemarkets.com

For Lodging Reservations:  Call Elaina (402) 636-4906 by  August 5th at $99 or http://doubletree.hilton.com/en/dt/groups/personalized/O/OMAH-DT-OCM-20160817/index.jhtml

Reclaiming the agricultural marketplace for farmers, ranchers and rural communities.

Farm groups say priority for state agriculture is property tax reform

Omaha World Herald

 

6 major farm groups say priority for state agriculture is property tax reform, not right-to-farm measure

By Martha Stoddard / World-Herald Bureau

7.21.16

LINCOLN — Leaders of six major farm organizations have joined forces to declare property tax reform, not constitutional protection for a “right to farm,” as the key priority for keeping Nebraska agriculture strong.

The Nebraska Ag Leaders Working Group released a statement Wednesday saying that any effort to enact right-to-farm protections should be done in state law, not the state constitution.

The group also said that other issues are more important to the “viability and growth” of agriculture.

“We are united in our belief that protecting our members’ interests and the future of agriculture isn’t about a single ballot measure or initiative,” said Steve Nelson, Nebraska Farm Bureau president.

He said the joint statement was the product of considerable research and discussion among the six groups in recent weeks.

The statement represents a change of heart for most of them — and a major hurdle for future efforts to enact a right-to-farm proposal.

During the recent legislative session, four of the six backed a right-to-farm measure introduced by State Sen. John Kuehn of Heartwell.

The four were the Nebraska Corn Growers Association, Nebraska Cattlemen, Nebraska Pork Producers Association and Nebraska Soybean Association.

The Farm Bureau took a neutral position, but raised several questions about the measure’s potential effects.

Legislative Resolution 378CA made it out of committee but faced a filibuster and was tabled for the year.

On Wednesday, Kuehn said he plans to keep pushing for a constitutional amendment despite the six groups’ lack of support.

He said it could take several years and several versions of a right-to-farm proposal to get something passed. But he argued that a state law would not offer enough protection because it could be changed by the next Legislature. “We will work through the process of what seems best,” Kuehn said.

A spokesman for Gov. Pete Ricketts, who had backed the right-to-farm proposal this year, offered a more noncommittal response to the ag leaders’ statement.

“Gov. Ricketts continues to support agriculture as an industry against outside extremist groups that oppose animal agriculture and spread misinformation about ag technology,” said Taylor Gage, while adding that the governor has heard about the priority of property tax relief.

John Hansen, president of the Nebraska Farmers Union, which is sometimes at odds with those involved in the new working group, praised their new statement.

He said the Nebraska Farmers Union had opposed Kuehn’s right-to-farm measure and, like other ag groups, considers property tax reform its top priority.

“These are the guys who are usually on the opposite side of us on all the corporate farming issues,” he said. “I am very pleased they have taken what we believe is an appropriate position.”

Nelson said the new working group represents a new venture by the six organizations, which have often worked together but never developed joint policy positions.

He said a couple of major concerns led to their position on right-to-farm protection.

First, ag leaders from states that have passed or considered right-to-farm protections urged extreme caution with such measures, he said. They warned that constitutional amendments must be worded carefully to avoid unintended consequences, which are difficult to correct.

“All the way across the board, we were cautioned to go slow on the issue,” Nelson said.

Right-to-farm measures passed in North Dakota in 2012 and Missouri in 2014. Voters will weigh in on a measure in Oklahoma in November.

Secondly, he said, the Nebraska leaders concluded that other issues are more pressing for farmers, ranchers and livestock feeders, and attempting to pass right-to-farm protection would take away from efforts to address those concerns.

“Our efforts are targeted to immediate challenges, such as making sure high property tax burdens aren’t the reason families are pushed out of agriculture,” Nelson said.

Barb Cooksley, president of Nebraska Cattlemen, said other concerns include access to new technology and biotechnology, sound regulations and better communication with customers.

According to their statement, the ag leaders’ goal will be to work together in addressing those concerns, along with opposing “anti-agriculture and non-scientific legislative, regulatory and public relations agendas intended to impose unsubstantiated animal rights, environment or social codes” on agriculture and agri-business.

To improve your agriculture and farming techniques check out various farming tools from Matador Corporation.

Contact the writer: 402-473-9583,martha.stoddard@owh.com

NeFU Welcomes Two Checkoff Reform Bills in Senate

For Immediate Release

Contact:  Richard Oswald: 660-787-0222 mofarmersunion@gmail.com

John Hansen: 402-476-8815 john@nebraskafarmersunion.org

 

Missouri and Nebraska Farmers Union Welcome Two Checkoff Reform Bills in Senate

Presidents of Missouri and Nebraska Farmers Union issued a joint press release in response to the filing of two Bills in the U.S. Senate that deal with commodity checkoff reforms.  Senators Lee from Utah and Booker from New Jersey co-sponsored S.3201, the Commodity Checkoff Program Improvement Act, that provides a basic set of provisions that all commodity checkoff programs would have to comply with. Those reforms would restrict using vendors who lobby, reduce conflict of interest within programs, prevent checkoff money from being used to disparage other commodities or products, increase public transparency, and require full program audits every five years.

Senator Lee introduced S.3200, the Voluntary Checkoff Program Participation Act that would make all federal check-off programs voluntary.

Richard Oswald, President of the Missouri Farmers Union said “When checkoff programs are producer controlled and keep their focus on research and full utilization of domestic production, they get high marks from farmers and growers. When commodity program board members who are political appointees fail to use standard competitive business bidding practices for vendors, primarily fund one particular commodity organization that engages in political speech and lobbies for policies that a large number of farmers oppose, they get low marks from farmers.  Those perceptions are what you would expect. Farmers focused on getting ahead don’t like their hard earned money being used against their own best interests, especially when most checkoffs today are mandatory.”

John Hansen, President of the Nebraska Farmers Union referred to the National Farmers Union (NFU) policy set by the elected delegates at the March 2016 NFU Convention:  “We support a voluntary checkoff, with producer participation determined at the point of sale.  Our support for producer-financed commodity research and promotion programs like is determined by the extent to which producers who are actively involved in production agriculture control the programs.”

Both Oswald and Hansen said that the difference in the operation and functioning of federal commodity programs was dramatic, and the perception of individual farmers reflected that wide diversity.  They also agreed that USDA oversight needed to be increased to insure that checkoff  programs were being operated as they were intended and, given the wide range of commodity program structure and operation and corresponding perceptions on the part of farmers, more appropriate uniform federal guidelines that applied to all checkoffs was in order.

Oswald pointed out that checkoffs are taxes paid by farmers; “Checkoffs are a form of involuntary excise tax collected at the point of sale by all the mandatory checkoff programs.  That means the checkoffs ought to be as transparent and accountable as any comparable form of representative democratic government,” he said.

Hansen thanked Senators Lee and Booker for their thoughtful efforts.  “We hope that these two bills can begin a conversation in the country and also in Congress about the best way to insure that our commodity checkoffs are structured and operated in a fashion that is consistent with the highest standards of transparency, accountability, and ethical conduct.  For too long, Congress has failed to do a top to bottom review of the federal checkoffs they created.  Oversight is not just a good idea, it is an obligation incurred when federal programs of any kind are created.”

 

NeFU Says 4 Public Poultry Contract Info Meetings Were Good Start

For Immediate Release

Contact:  John Hansen

402-476-8815

john@nebraskafarmersunion.org

 

Nebraska Farmers Union Says Four Public Information Meetings on Poultry Contracts Were a Good Start

                       

Nebraska Farmers Union (NeFU) President John Hansen reported that the four public information meetings his organization co-sponsored with the Organization for Competitive Markets, Farm Aid, Nebraska Communities United and GC Resolve last week were well attended and constructive.  A total of two hundred people attended the meetings held in West Point, Columbus, Wahoo, and Arlington.

“Farmers, bankers, and members of the community came together to hear from two nationally recognized experts on poultry contracts.  Lynn Hayes has been providing legal assistance to contract poultry growers in trouble for 25 years.  Very few lawyers have that amount of background and experience.  Mike Weaver is a long-term contract producer and President of the Contract Poultry Growers Association of the Virginia’s.  His honest, straight-forward approach is well respected.

The well-known and long-standing problems with traditional poultry industry contracts were identified and discussed.  “Hopefully, the more problems that are identified, the more remedy is possible,” Hansen said.  “It is essential that contract producers understand all the risks and obligations that go with poultry production so those issues are properly addressed in the binding contracts they will be asked to sign.  Our goal was to help farmers gather more information so they could know more about what goes with poultry production issues and poultry contracts.”

Hansen noted that Costco’s good reputation was cause for optimism, but based on the history and practices of the poultry industry, openly sharing the particulars to be addressed in the contracts is warranted.  “The contracts determine all of the production particulars, liabilities, obligations, and revenues.  “What might be a good deal for the ag bankers might not be such a good deal for the farmers,” Hansen said.  “This would not be the first time our banker friends shopped around ventures that worked far better for them than it did for farmers.”

“The draft pro forma financial documents being circulated are far from complete or accurate.  They do not include costs for labor, a litter storage building, a shed for the electrical generator, specialized equipment for the bedding, or the professional costs for obtaining as well as farmer costs for complying with local zoning permits and state Title 30 livestock waste permits,” Hansen said.  “The rate of return to farmers drops quickly when including those costs.”

“These meetings were designed to start the conversation in the ag community on what farmers need to have and need to avoid in poultry contracts. Since there is no broiler market, the poultry market determines how much farmers get paid for their work, risk, and capital investment.  Hopefully, farmers will work together to share information for their mutual benefit.  Since our farmers have little or no experience with poultry contracts, information sharing is essential,” Hansen said.  “NeFU has experience in working with landowners with wind contracts and oil pipeline easements.  The more farmers work together and share information, the better it is for everyone.  Our organization is a service organization for farmers.  We are glad to be of assistance.”

Nebraska Farmers Union is a general farm organization with 4,000 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.

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Nebraska’s Energy Future: A Community Conversation

Nebraska’s Energy Future: A Community Conversation
June 22nd on UNK’s Campus, Copeland Room 140, 6:30-8:30 P.M.
Free Coffee and Pie Served
Nebraska’s Public Power system is unique in that it is the only publicly owned state run electric utility system in the nation. This means we all should have a say when it comes to the decisions involved in keeping our lights on. Right now the State’s Energy Office, Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality, and our Public Power Districts are planning for Nebraska’s energy future. The State Energy Office and these agencies have been tasked with putting together a comprehensive State Energy Plan that looks at the cost of fuel, future customer growth, where we currently get our power from, future generation options, and environmental regulations. The final plan will likely include recommendations for future energy investments and other decisions regarding our public power system. These decisions will affect all Nebraskans. Customers from around the state should be a part of this discussion so community members from around the state have decided to host several community conversations on this topic. Nebraskans share many concerns and interests like our state’s changing utility rates, federal environmental regulations, future changes in our infrastructure, and the shifting costs of renewable energy and efficiency options. Nebraska faces many challenges when planning our energy future and this forum allows customers to ask questions of their local elected leaders, utility folks, and energy advocates on a range of topics relating to public power and Nebraska’s energy future. These conversations will take place in communities around the state throughout the year, so stay tuned for a conversation near you.
The Panelists;
 Community Action Partnership. Our coalition believes programs that emphasize reducing and conserving our energy consumption like commercial and residential weatherization projects, especially for low income families that struggle to keep their lights on, are good for the environment and our pocket books, and therefore should be a large part of our state’s energy plan. For this reason we have invited Community Action Partnership to be a part of the conversation on June 22nd.
 Kearney Mayor, Stan Clouse. Kearney is doing it’s part to keep your lights on and your utility bills low. Join in the conversation with Kearney’s Mayor, Stan Clouse, as we learn about the new city solar project and all of the other great sustainable things the city is doing.
 Nebraska Wildlife Federation Director, Duane Hovorka. The Federation has been Nebraska’s voice for people who love wildlife and wild places since 1970, and Hovorka has been part of a state-wide initiative to move Nebraska’s electric utilities towards clean energy solutions.
Our Format is all about hearing from you! After our panelists speak on a range of energy topics feel free to grab some coffee and pie and join in the conversation.
This event is being hosted by a coalition of environmental and energy advocates like the Center for Rural Affairs, League of Conservation Voters, Nebraska Wildlife Federation, League of Women Voters, BOLD Nebraska, Nebraska Famers Union and the Sierra Club. Our goal is to gain feedback from customer-owners like you that we can take back to our state’s capital and discuss with law and policy makers in our legislature and other state agencies.
Questions or comments? Email graham.jordison@sierraclub.org