Did you miss out on the virtual workshops held as part of the American Farm Bureau Federation’s (AFBF) Virtual Annual meeting? Are you interested in keeping your farm or ranch profitable? No worries! We’ve got you covered! Newswire will highlight AFBF workshop presentations over the next several weeks. In this week’s video “Pivoting Your Business: Generating New Revenue Streams”, you’ll hear from farmers who have diversified their operations based on market conditions, consumer demands, and regulatory environment.

Bills and Hearings

Nearly 500 legislative bills and resolutions have been introduced so far in the 2021 legislative session. Bill introduction will continue through January 20. Nebraska Farm Bureau has flagged numerous bills of interest. Click below to review the Nebraska Farm Bureau legislative bill watch list. In other news, Speaker of the Legislature Mike Hilgers began outlining how public hearings will be handled this session. Each bill introduced is given a public hearing. Public hearings on bills will begin Monday, Jan. 25. Due to COVID-19, the Legislature will modify the normal hearing format by holding all-day committee hearings with morning hearings beginning at 9:30 a.m. and afternoon hearings beginning at 1:30 p.m. Sometime next week, Speaker Hilgers will announce expanded options for citizens to testify at hearings without having to sit in the committee hearing rooms.

NEFB Legislative Bill Watchlist

List of All Introduced Bills

Each year the Nebraska Farm Bureau Board of Directors adopts priorities providing guidance to ensure the bulk of the organization’s policy and advocacy efforts are focused on the most critical issue areas. On January 12, the NEFB State Board of Directors adopted the 2021 policy priorities. Priorities, in no specific order, include:

  • Expand rural connectivity to secure high speed, high quality internet access statewide.
  • Expand rural economic development opportunities to grow rural Nebraska and enhance profitability for farm and ranch families.
  • Reduce Nebraska’s overreliance on property taxes and seek a more balanced system to fund education.
  • Ensure environment and climate initiatives work for farm and ranch families.
  • Support animal agriculture production and policies to enhance growth.
  • Grow markets, domestic and international, for Nebraska agricultural products.
  • Ensure regulations and programs work for farm and ranch families.

Nebraska Farm Bureau President Mark McHargue has been elected to serve on the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) Board of Directors. McHargue was elected to the position by delegates from Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, and Wisconsin during the Jan.13 Midwest Region Caucus of the AFBF Annual Convention.

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Nebraska Governor Peter Ricketts delivered his State of the State address Jan. 14, unveiling his legislative and budget priorities. Among the priorities are two issues of high importance to Nebraska Farm Bureau; securing property tax relief and expanding broadband access. The Governor’s proposed budget would deliver $1.36 billion in property tax relief over the two-year budget cycle, including $550 million in direct relief through the State’s Property Tax Credit Fund and more than $596 million in relief through the Farm Bureau supported and newly enacted LB 1107 refundable property tax credit. The Governor’s proposal also includes measures to limit the growth of local government property taxes to 3 percent. The Governor is also proposing $20 million over the next two years to help 30,000 additional households get broadband connectivity.

10 Things to Know About Gov. Budget

Governor's Full Address

Delegates to the American Farm Bureau Federation’s 2021 Virtual Convention adopted a handful of policy positions recommended by Nebraska farmers and ranchers during the Nebraska Farm Bureau annual meeting last December. Nebraska proposals related to reform in cattle markets were among those adopted by AFBF delegates, including specific policy to expand cash sales to increase price transparency. Other Nebraska policies adopted included support for very small, small, and medium sized meat processing facilities to expand marketing opportunities for Nebraska livestock producers. AFBF delegates also adopted Nebraska initiated proposals to provide USDA more tools to enforce the Packers and Stockyards Act.

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Don’t miss out! The 2021 Young Farmers and Ranchers Conference will be held in-person Jan. 29-30 at the Holiday Inn in Kearney. Network with other young producers from across the state and join for fun, information, and inspiration targeted to helping move your operation in the right direction!

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Farm Bureau has pulled together it’s legislative bill watch list based on the first few days of legislative bill introduction at the State Capitol; the American Farm Bureau has set priorities for the new year; and Farm Bureau shares a few of the names farmers and ranchers should know as the Biden administration rolls out its nominations for cabinet positions. Get all the details in this week’s Policy Watch

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What should farmers and ranchers know about the reopening of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans for first and second draws? Certified public accountant and business advisor Paul Neiffer has developed a narrative flowchart to help farmers walk through the process in his most recent Agribusiness Blog “Farm CPA Today”.

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The University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Department of Agriculture Economics’ Farm and Ranch Management team is hosting a series of webinars focusing on management, profitability, economic outlook, and farm survival. The first in the series entitled “Preparing for Loan Renewal” was held this week. The webinars offer education on financial statements, ratios, record keeping, understanding costs of production, and more.

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Webinar Series Information

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will provide additional assistance through the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP), expanding eligibility for some agricultural producers and commodities as well as updating payments to accurately compensate some producers who already applied for the program. Producers who are now eligible and those who need to modify existing applications due to these updates can contact USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) between Jan. 19 and Feb. 26. Some of these changes are being made to align with the recently enacted Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 while others are discretionary changes being made in response to ongoing evaluation of CFAP. This additional aid is entirely separate from the COVID-19 assistance package passed by Congress last month, which also targeted contract growers, cattle producers, and row crop farmers. Details on that assistance is forthcoming.

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County Farm Service Agency offices across the state are accepting applications for general Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) acres through Feb. 12, 2021. Signup for CRP Grassland acres follows, from March 15, 2021, to April 23, 2021. Both programs are competitive and provide annual rental payments for land devoted to conservation purposes. CRP signup informational resources, including an educational video and the opportunity to sign up for online, live question and answer sessions, are available HERE. The sessions are scheduled for Jan. 19, Jan. 20, and Jan. 21. For more information on CRP, call your county FSA office to schedule an appointment.

Find Your Nearest Office

Livestock producers who suffered grazing losses due to drought in 2020 may be eligible for participation in the USDA Farm Service Agency’s Livestock Forage Disaster Program (LFP). The deadline to apply for LFP for 2020 losses is Feb. 1, 2021.

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The University of Nebraska Extension is holding 2021 Crop Production clinics throughout January that offer opportunities for pesticide applicator recertification. Most clinics are being held via Zoom with some in-person options available at different locations. Clinics will focus on regional needs for the Western, Central, and Eastern part of the state.

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Place your own free classified ad today on Nebraska Farm Bureau’s (NEFB) online Exchange. View the NEFB Exchange today!

NEFB Exchange

Taxes, broadband, livestock issues, and the environment will be at the center of Nebraska Farm Bureau’s efforts to enrich the lives of Nebraska’s farm and ranch families during the 2021 legislative session which kicked off Wednesday, Jan. 6.

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New Faces Join Legislature  

The first session of the 107th Nebraska Legislature got underway Wed., January. 6. The 90-day legislative session is tentatively scheduled to run through June 10, barring any COVID-19 related interruptions. Eight new senators were sworn in Wed., including:

  • Ray Aguilar of Grand Island (Dist. 35)
  • Eliot Bostar of Lincoln (Dist. 29)
  • John Cavanaugh of Omaha (Dist. 9)
  • Jen Day of Omaha (Dist. 49)
  • Mike Flood of Norfolk (Dist. 19)
  • Terrell McKinney of Omaha (Dist. 11)
  • Rich Pahls of Omaha (Dist. 31)
  • Rita Sanders of Bellevue (Dist. 45)

Senators Aguilar, Flood, and Pahls, have all previously served in the body.

Nebraska Farm Bureau is focused on achieving policy outcomes that better the lives of Nebraska’s farm and ranch families. With 2021 bringing significant changes to the leadership in Washington, D.C., Nebraska Farm Bureau takes a closer look at what changes could mean for Nebraska agriculture.

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Gov. Ricketts and health officials provided an update on COVID-19 vaccination rollout this week. Vaccinations are being distributed in phases by groups. Phase 1A rollout has focused on health care and long-term care residents. Citizens aged 75 and older will be the priority for Phase 1B, with Food and Agriculture interests included later in the Phase 1B rollout tentatively targeted for mid-January to mid-March distribution (tentative timeline here). Vaccinations will be accomplished through multiple methods such as community vaccine clinics with the health departments, healthcare providers, and pharmacy partners. The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (NDHHS) will be introducing a website in the coming weeks for individuals to register for vaccinations helping them identify when their individual priority group will be ready to be vaccinated. The state will be moving through the phases asynchronously, meaning some areas of the state may still be finalizing on 1A groups, another area may be starting on Phase 1B populations.

COVID-19 Vaccination Information

Nebraska Farm Bureau is among several state Farm Bureaus and other agriculture organizations co-signing a letter urging Congressional leaders to address shortcomings in aging Western agriculture and rural water infrastructures as part of any future COVID-19 recovery package. The groups specifically called for support for federal investment in water conservation, recycling, watershed management, ground and surface water storage, as well as calling for monies that would aid in the repair of projects similar to that of the 2019 canal collapse in Wyoming that impacted irrigators in western Nebraska.

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Join farmers and ranchers from across the country and take part in the American Farm Bureau’s Virtual Convention Jan. 10-13. Engage in a series of captivating workshops targeted to helping you increase your operation’s profitability in 2021!

Complete Workshop List

Read More and Register

Don’t miss out! The 2021 Young Farmers and Ranchers Conference will be held in-person Jan. 29-30 at the Holiday Inn in Kearney. Network with other young producers from across the state and join for fun, information, and inspiration targeted to helping move your operation in the right direction!

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Eight new faces joined the 2021 Legislature; Hilgers elected new Speaker of the Legislature; New chairs for a few legislative committees; and bill introduction is underway. Get all the Legislative details in this week’s Policy Watch.

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As of November 13, 2020, farmers hauling seasonally harvested commodities can exceed the legal weight limit by up to 15 percent when hauling from stockpile or farm storage to market or factory without first having to obtain an overweight permit. The passage of the Farm Bureau initiated LB 931 during the 2020 Legislative Session builds on the previous seasonal harvest overweight permit exemption for farmers, effectively allowing the exemption to be utilized year-round in the transport of commodities from farm to market provided certain requirements are met. The exemption applies only to transport where the destination is within 70 miles of the point of origin. Haulers must have documented origin and destination information with them during transport. The exemption does not apply to trucks hauling over the federal Interstate system. The Nebraska Farm Bureau has updated its overweight harvest permit exemption form to reflect the changes and aid farmers in documenting origin and destination during transport.

Overweight Permit Exemption Form

Livestock producers who suffered grazing losses due to drought in 2020 may be eligible for participation in the USDA Farm Service Agency’s Livestock Forage Disaster Program (LFP). For the 2020 LFP program year, 27 counties in Nebraska have met drought ratings that trigger eligibility for livestock disaster assistance. The program is available in these counties: Banner, Box Butte, Burt, Cheyenne, Colfax, Cuming, Dawes, Deuel, Dodge, Douglas, Dundy, Garden, Hitchcock, Keith, Kimball, Madison, Morrill, Perkins, Pierce, Platte, Scotts Bluff, Sheridan, Sioux, Stanton, Thurston, Washington, and Wayne. The deadline to apply for LFP for 2020 losses is Feb. 1, 2021.

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The University of Nebraska Extension is holding 2021 Crop Production clinics throughout January that offer opportunities for pesticide applicator recertification. Most clinics are being held via Zoom with some in-person options available at different locations. Clinics will focus on regional needs for the Western, Central, and Eastern part of the state.

Learn More

Place your own free classified ad today on Nebraska Farm Bureau’s (NEFB) online Exchange. View the NEFB Exchange today!

NEFB Exchange

In a year like no other, Nebraska Farm Bureau has been there every step of the way to offer assistance and support to farm and ranch families across the state and meet its vision of achieving a great quality of life and prosperity for Nebraska’s farm and ranch families.

Alliance Shares Recommendations to Guide Climate Legislation

The Food and Agriculture Climate Alliance, co-chaired by American Farm Bureau, has shared 40 recommendations for lawmakers to consider as they draft climate change legislation. The overarching goals of the climate recommendations are to support voluntary market and incentive-based policies that are based in science with the overarching goal being to do no harm to farmers and ranchers and do no harm to rural communities. Other recommendations include supporting the development of and overseeing private sector markets for carbon credits and increasing federal investment in agriculture, forestry, and food-related research. The policy recommendations have six areas of focus: soil health, livestock and dairy, forests and wood products, energy, food loss and waste, and research. Other alliance members include the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, National Association of State Departments of Agriculture, and more.

Nebraska Farm Bureau released its agricultural trade priorities for the Biden administration this week. Recommendations for addressing China, expanding international markets, and fixing the World Trade Organization were among the priorities.

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Trade Agenda 2021

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