Regardless of whether you’re getting ready to put seed in the ground or waiting on that last cow to finish calving, spring is a busy time of year for everyone in agriculture. I’m guessing you’ve got a lot on your minds with much of it revolving around the day-to-day issues and challenges of keeping your operation moving forward. While I know it’s busy and the to-do lists are long, I’d ask each of you to consider adding just one more thing.
On May 13 (just a short month from now) Nebraska will hold its primary elections. It’s the first step in putting a new face in the governor’s mansion and sending someone new to represent farmers and ranchers in the U.S. Senate. The election also marks the start of turning over nearly one-third of the senators in the Nebraska Legislature, and several other key state positions are up for election as well.
There’s a lot at stake for those of us with rural addresses. We need farm-friendly elected officials who understand agriculture and more importantly, elected officials who will go to bat for farm and ranch families not just with their words, but with their actions. Knowing where candidates stand on key farm issues is an important thing to put on our to-do lists.
The issues in agriculture are many. Case in point, EPA just released a new proposal that would vastly expand their power over land use on farms and ranches. This truly is a big one. If the Affordable Care Act was this administration’s legacy of creating government controlled health care, this EPA proposal is the land management equivalent.
We’ve still got much work to do in Lincoln. The Legislature took some steps forward on tax issues this session, but the reality remains that property taxes on agriculture land remain out of line for Nebraska farm and ranch families. We can no longer afford to account for three percent of the population, and pick up 25 percent of the statewide property tax bill.
Who gets elected will have much to do with how successful we are in turning back the advances of EPA and other ill-conceived ideas affecting agriculture. It will also set the stage for just how much will get done on issues like tax reform and tax relief in the future.
Farm Bureau’s Political Action Committee (PAC) has made several endorsements. You’ll find those inside this edition. There are some seats where no endorsement has been made.
I encourage you to do your homework and ask the tough questions of those who are asking for your vote. For good or bad, these elections will play a role in the future of your operation and opportunities for prosperity in agriculture.
Until next month,
Steve Nelson, Nebraska Farm Bureau president