LINCOLN, NEB. – Bryce Neidig, the second longest serving president of Nebraska Farm Bureau, was remembered for being an articulate and popular president who was enthusiastic about the future of Farm Bureau and agriculture. He died March 22 at the age of 86.
“Bryce Neidig was a tremendous advocate for agriculture and Nebraska Farm Bureau. You will not find a stronger champion for agriculture and Farm Bureau policy. Bryce drove thousands of miles, crisscrossing the state to attend local Farm Bureau meetings and to build relationships with government officials and others throughout the state. If I could cite only one of Bryce’s accomplishments, it would be raising Farm Bureau’s public profile through his willingness to be a tireless spokesman for agriculture,” Steve Nelson, Nebraska Farm Bureau president said March 23.
Neidig grew up on a farm near Madison, where his family raised corn and soybeans. He was elected as Nebraska Farm Bureau President in 1981 and served through 2002. He saw the value of working cooperatively with the news media to inform the public and policymakers about Farm Bureau’s viewpoints on agriculture. As he built relationships with government officials from across the state, he achieved respect from both sides of the political aisle.
“Bryce was a quick study when it came to learning about issues; as a trained Toastmaster and winner of Toastmaster competitions, he was an excellent extemporaneous speaker. Bryce excelled at explaining complex issues in a short and easily understood manner, often with real life stories,” said Rob Robertson, Nebraska Farm Bureau chief administrator.
In the past, Farm Bureau had often been content to let things happen, and not make waves. “We have changed that into an attitude of action. Today, Farm Bureau is willing and eager to attack problems that are affecting our members with a 'let's do something about it' attitude," Neidig was quoted as saying. This action-oriented approach was the hallmark of the Neidig presidency and the growth of Farm Bureau's image as the state's most influential agricultural organization.
“Bryce always said to keep going in a straight line, you have to keep an eye on the horizon, just like when you're disking,” Nelson said.
Over the years he served as Nebraska Farm Bureau president, Neidig saw both a period of economic prosperity and uncertainty in the farm economy. He believed being a visionary would be the key to Farm Bureau and agriculture’s future.
“Bryce Neidig was a stark defender of Farm Bureau policy and agriculture. He was always ready to defend, interested in getting something done, and doing something positive,” Robertson said.
“He was a true visionary on water issues and always involved with farm policy nationally and school and tax policy in the state. For example, he was a leader in campaigns to get the State Constitution amended to value agricultural land on its productivity,” Robertson said.
Neidig was elected to the American Farm Bureau Board of Directors in 1988, on which he served until retirement, and represented Farm Bureau on a number of trade missions. He also accompanied Governors Nelson and Johanns on several trade missions to open and increase international markets with Nebraska.
“Many times, Bryce was called on by the American Farm Bureau to visit Washington, D.C. to present testimony before Congressional committees. Nebraska Senators Hagel and Kerrey also asked him to come to Washington, D.C. to present Farm Bureau’s perspective on pending agricultural legislation,” Nelson said.
Neidig married his wife Shirley in 1952 and is survived by her and their four children Neal, Kim, Kay, and Van. Neal and Van are the fifth generation to farm their Madison County land.
The Nebraska Farm Bureau is a grassroots, state-wide organization dedicated to supporting farm and ranch families and working for the benefit of all Nebraskans through a wide variety of educational, service and advocacy efforts. More than 61,000 families across Nebraska are Farm Bureau members, working together to achieve rural and urban prosperity as agriculture is a key fuel to Nebraska’s economy. For more information about Nebraska Farm Bureau and agriculture, visit www.nefb.org.