Disregard for Taxpayers Apparent in SCC Board Action

Steve Nelson1By Steve Nelson, farmer from Axtell, Nebraska and Nebraska Farm Bureau president

 

Can you hear me now? You’ll recall that catchphrase from the popular Verizon ad campaign promoting the company’s prowess in ensuring cell phone customers could connect from virtually anywhere. If only the Southeast Community College’s (SCC) Board of Governors had such a reliable network.

Last November, taxpayers from across the 15-county SCC area sent a message to SCC. It was loud and clear. It came in the form of voters overwhelmingly defeating a $369 million SCC bond measure with nearly 70 percent of the vote. The voters message; show restraint, don’t push massive property tax increases that we can’t afford. Despite the clarity of the message, it apparently never got through, or worse, was ignored by the SCC Board of Governors.

Despite the call for being cautious in taking more taxpayers dollars, in late September the SCC Board acted to increase their tax levy. Instead of a slight increase, the Board opted to take the maximum allowable levy authorized by the state for building construction. The Board’s action will effectively raise property taxes on SCC taxpayers and, in the process, appears to show complete disregard for the message sent by voters.

Partners in the Vote NO 369 coalition, which formed in opposition to SCC’s bond, had warned voters leading up to election day that passing the bond measure was too risky, given that should the bond pass SCC would still have the ability to raise their property taxes even more, by using the building construction levy authority.

Less than 12 months from the vote of the people, that’s exactly what the SCC’s Board of Governors did, pushing forward with their plans, and in the process showing how determined SCC was to take more taxpayer money and how easy it is to ignore the wishes of those who have to fund SCC expansion.

As a partner in the Vote NO 369 coalition, we’ve received numerous calls from angry taxpayers outraged by the SCC’s Board action. They believed, like so many others, that SCC should have gotten the message last fall. Their concerns are well founded. If a 2-1 vote against boosting taxes won’t get their attention, what will?

The smart move, and what we are encouraging the SCC Board to do, is to reconsider their action. While the heart of the matter is about the money, in the vein that SCC is intentionally and actively taking more from those who’ve signaled they aren’t ready to give it, the reality is SCC is breaking public trust, a trust that when taxpayers speak, the public entities accountable to them will listen.

We understand the SCC Board has a responsibility to juggle the needs of students and taxpayers. But we also know that strong public and private relationships are important for building educational opportunities; that includes having a relationship with taxpayers. There’s no denying SCC and the other community colleges have an important role to play in helping grow Nebraska. To keep those relationships strong, SCC’s Board would be best suited over the long-run in taking a step back at this time and recognize the needs of taxpayers. After failing to respond to their initial message, taxpayers across the area are wanting SCC to demonstrate they heard the message so they can stop asking, “Can you hear me now?”

Property Tax Credit Averages $2.28 per Acre . . .

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The property tax credit for 2017 under the Property Tax Credit Act will reduce taxes on agricultural land an average $2.28 per acre.  To put the figure into context, property taxes levied on agricultural land for 2016 averaged $26.07 per acre.  The total amount of tax credit provided to agricultural land owners for 2017 will equal almost $105 million, or 8.7 percent of the total taxes paid in 2016.  In other words, without the credit, property taxes paid on agricultural on agricultural land for 2017 would be 8.7 percent higher.
The total credit amount for all real property owners will equal $224 million, an increase of $20 million over the previous year as provided in LB 958 passed in 2016.  LB 958 also provided that additional weight be given to agricultural land in distributing the credit monies.  In absolute dollar terms, Custer County agricultural property owners will receive the most credit at just over $2.95 million, followed by Holt County and Platte County property owners.  In percentage terms, the credit provided to Keya Paha County agricultural property owners will equal 14.6 percent of 2016 taxes paid, 13.6 percent for Loup County owners, and 13.2 percent for Wheeler County owners.   The map below plots the credit as a percentage of 2016 taxes paid on agricultural land in each county.  The more yellow or red the county spot, the greater the percentage.  For exact figures for each county, click here.
 

Prop Tax Credit 9-26-17

Source: Nebraska Department of Revenue

 

 

Jay RempeJay Rempe is the senior economist for Nebraska Farm Bureau. Rempe’s background in agricultural economics, years of experience in advocating at the state capitol, and firm grasp of issues allow him to quantify the fiscal impact of a regulatory proposal, and provide in-depth examination of key issues affecting Nebraska’s farmers and ranchers.

Precision Technology and Profitability . . .

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Research by Mike Castle, Brad Lubben, Joe Luck and Taro Mieno of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln shows the adoption of precision technology on farms is associated with profitability, but the researchers couldn’t definitively answer whether precision technology adoption led to increased profitability.  The researchers sought to answer the question of whether the adoption of technology drives increased profitability, or whether increased profitability drives technology adoption.  Using survey data gathered from members of the Nebraska Farm Business, Inc. (NFBI), estimates of adoption rates for various precision technologies since the 1990s were developed.  Technologies examined included global positioning system (GPS) guidance, automated section control, telematics, yield monitors, site-specific soil sampling, variable rate application of inputs, and crop imagery.

Figure 1 shows the adoption rates of various technologies by NFBI producers.  The researchers found yield monitors (YM), grid soil sampling (GSS), GPS-based guidance and auto-steer (AS) have been widely adopted with 70 percent or more of the NFBI members surveyed saying they have adopted the technology.   Over one-half of the NFBI members surveyed said they use GPS-based automatic section control (ASC) and variable-rate application of fertilizers and seed.  Only small percentages of producers have adopted the remaining technologies.  The adoption rates for NFBI producers are substantially higher than those reported in a USDA ARMS survey.  The researchers attribute the higher adoption rates to the fact producers in the NFBI program are more concentrated in crop production and are likely to be more progressive and management-oriented than average crop producers.

 

tech and profit

Source:  Precision Agriculture Adoption and Profitability, Cornhusker Economics, June 21, 2017

The researchers’ initial analysis found the adoption of technology was associated with higher net farm income. However, association alone does not prove causation.  A more in-depth analysis showed positive effects on net farm income of technology adoption, but the results were not conclusive enough to determine definitively whether the adoption of precision technology had a positive effect on net farm income.  The analysis also showed the profitability of technology adoption increases over time as producers’ experiences with the technologies mature.

The research concluded the overall economic impact of technology adoption remains unclear.  Clearly more research is warranted to study the economics surrounding the use of precision technology.   Experience in the field would suggest there are benefits of technology, or their adoption would not rise over time.  Further research will help illuminate these benefits.  For more information on the research, Click Here.

 

Jay RempeJay Rempe is the senior economist for Nebraska Farm Bureau. Rempe’s background in agricultural economics, years of experience in advocating at the state capitol, and firm grasp of issues allow him to quantify the fiscal impact of a regulatory proposal, and provide in-depth examination of key issues affecting Nebraska’s farmers and ranchers.

Meet the 2017-2018 Class of The Crew!

Nebraska Farm Bureau has identified eight social media savvy student members to join our Crew. The Crew is a group of Nebraska Farm Bureau student members who enjoy agriculture communication and social media. Together, The Crew will work on reaching a larger audience with pro-ag messages and will help put a face to agriculture through social media in conjunction with Nebraska Farm Bureau. Members of The Crew have access to unique training sessions, such as exploring social media strategies on Capitol Hill.

NFBF is excited to introduce our Crew members to you! For the next year these students will help promote agriculture and rural America through their work on social media!

 

Mekenzie Beattie

Mekenzie Beattie

Hi! I’m Mekenzie Beattie! I am the sixth generation on my diversified family farm where our main focus is swine! I am an active member in 4-H and FFA and am excited to serve as the SEM FFA’s chapter president this upcoming year! I enjoy showing livestock, especially cattle! I also play volleyball and basketball and relieve my stress by playing the piano. I love to work on the farm and be involved daily in the Agriculture Industry. I have developed a thrilling passion for agriculture throughout my childhood and will continue that in my future! I am planning on attending the University of Nebraska-Lincoln after my high school career! I hope to double major in Ag Business and Ag communications! I thrilled to be a part of The Crew and to share my love of agriculture with the world!

 

 

 

Halie Andreasen

Halie Andreasen

Hello everyone! My name is Halie Andreasen. I will be a senior this year at Boone Central High School in Albion, Nebraska.  I live on a family farm where we have a small feedlot, cows, and raise corn and soybeans. I love spending time with my spunky corgi, Charlie, and drinking all the sweet tea I can get my hands on. My passion for agriculture started at a young age and was inspired by my love of showing cattle. From then on, I have been extremely involved in 4-H, FFA, and other extracurricular activities within my school. I have found that the best way to positively influence the future of agriculture is by developing young leaders and encouraging them to find their voice and advocate for our future. Because of this, I plan on attending the University of Nebraska-Lincoln while majoring in agricultural education in hopes of inspiring youth to take a stand in their love of agriculture.

 

 

Rebel Sjeklocha (2)

Rebel Sjeklocha

Hello all! My name is Rebel Sjeklocha and I will be a senior this fall at Maywood High School. I live on a farm and cattle operation with my family east of Hayes Center. I have one little brother, Jett, who will be entering the eighth grade and keeps me on my toes. Agriculture has played an integral role in my upbringing, and I would not change this for the world. My mom is a veterinarian and my dad owns a commercial hay grinding business. My parents are my biggest role models, and have shown me what it means to truly be passionate about what you do.

I am active in the Maywood FFA Chapter where I compete in a variety of contests, ranging from livestock judging to ag communications and ag sales. In addition, I am also a proud member of Hayes County 4-H. In 4-H, I show cattle and horses, and do a variety of other projects as well. I have served as an advocate for rodeo and agriculture as the 2016 Elwood Rodeo Queen. I also competed in the Miss Teen Rodeo Nebraska pageant in June held in conjunction with NEBRASKAland Days in North Platte.

I am looking forward to gaining new perspectives and serving as a spokesperson for ag by being part of The Crew. I cannot wait to see what this year has in store!

 

Kelsey Phillips

Kelsey Phillips

My name is Kelsey Phillips and I am the sixth generation in my family to ranch north of Mullen, Nebraska – a small town in the heart of the Sandhills. I am a 2016 Mullen High School graduate and am currently a sophomore studying animal science with an emphasis in beef reproduction. My family has a commercial cow-calf operation and we retain ownership of our feedlot steers. I have my own small beef herd and hope to one day return to my family operation. We raise our own corn and hay on our 240-acre pivot. I am a certified Artificial Insemination Technician and help my parents breed our own cows and with our custom A.I. business. My family has a small two-acre vineyard and as a hobby my dad makes a variety of fruit wines.

Growing up I was very active in 4-H where I did various projects, but particularly loved showing large and small animals. I spent many years showing swine at the Nebraska state fair and continue showing in FFA. I especially enjoyed my many years at the Nebraska State 4-H camp near Halsey, as both a camper and a counselor. As a high school senior, I had the privilege of attending National 4-H Congress as a youth delegate. Throughout high school I attended the Nebraska State Youth Range Camp where I learned to evaluate range conditions and identify plant species. From that experience, I was selected to give a presentation at the National Society for Range Management conference in California. During my FFA career I was involved in numerous competitions including public speaking, livestock and rangeland judging, and food sciences. I am currently an officer for my collegiate FFA chapter, a member of Nebraska Cattlemen, an Ag in the Classroom Pen Pal, and volunteer during the school year at the humane society.

Through these many experiences and opportunities, I have developed valuable life skills and found my passion for agriculture. By being a part of the Nebraska Farm Bureau’s Crew I hope to advocate for agriculture and share my love for this industry.  I am looking forward to learning about new communication tools and ways that I can be a positive voice for farmers and ranchers.

 

Kathlyn Hauxwell (2)

Kathlyn Hauxwell

My​ ​name​ ​is​ ​Kathlyn​ ​Hauxwell​ ​and​ ​I​ ​am​ ​very​ ​excited​ ​to​ ​be​ ​a part​ ​of​ ​this​ ​year’s​ ​​Ag​ ​Crew!​ ​

My interest​ ​in​ ​agriculture​ ​quickly​ ​developed​ ​as​ ​a​ ​young​ ​child​ ​growing​ ​up​ ​on​ ​our​ ​5th​ ​generation family​ ​farm​ ​and​ ​ranch​ ​in​ ​southwestern​ ​Nebraska. ​ ​We​ ​primarily​ ​raise​ ​cattle​ ​and​ ​grow​ ​commodity crops​ ​such​ ​as​ ​corn, ​wheat,​ ​and​ ​soybeans.​ ​My​ ​passion​ ​for​ ​agriculture​ ​developed​ ​further​ ​when​ ​I reached​ ​the​ ​age​ ​to​ ​be​ ​involved​ ​in​ ​4-H.​ ​As​ ​I​ ​started​ ​working​ ​with​ ​my​ ​show​ ​steers,​ ​and​ ​attending different​ ​clinics​ ​and​ ​camps,​ ​I​ ​definitely​ ​found​ ​myself​ ​at​ ​home​ ​being​ ​around​ ​the​ ​animals​ ​and​ ​the responsibilities​ ​that​ ​comes​ ​with​ ​them.​ ​I​ ​began​ ​to​ ​also​ ​show​ ​horses​ ​at​ ​a​ ​competitive​ ​level​ ​at​ ​the age​ ​of​ ​13,​ ​traveling​ ​all​ ​over​ ​the​ ​country​ ​to​ ​compete.​ ​In​ ​doing​ ​so​ ​I​ ​discovered​ ​a​ ​completely​ ​new facet​ ​of​ ​agriculture​ ​that​ ​I​ ​now​ ​account​ ​some​ ​of​ ​my​ ​best​ ​qualities​ ​for​ ​today.​ ​In​ ​the​ ​seventh​ ​grade​ ​I joined​ ​my​ ​school’s​ ​FFA​ ​chapter​ ​and​ ​the​ ​rest​ ​is​ ​history.​ ​As​ ​the​ ​years​ ​progressed​ ​I​ ​discovered more​ ​and​ ​more​ ​about​ ​the​ ​agriculture​ ​industry,​ ​way​ ​more​ ​than​ ​I​ ​thought​ ​even​ ​existed.​ ​I​ ​found myself​ ​to​ ​be​ ​in​ ​love​ ​with​ ​speaking​ ​events,​ ​working​ ​with​ ​other​ ​members,​ ​and​ ​also​ ​getting​ ​in​ ​the dirt​ ​by​ ​being​ ​on​ ​the​ ​livestock​ ​judging​ ​and​ ​vet​ ​science​ ​team.​ ​This​ ​year​ ​I​ ​will​ ​continue​ ​my​ ​FFA career​ ​as​ ​a​ ​senior​ ​and​ ​FFA​ ​President​ ​at​ ​McCook​ ​High​ ​School.​ ​After​ ​I​ ​graduate​ ​I​ ​aspire​ ​to​ ​attend the​ ​University​ ​of​ ​Nebraska​-Lincoln​ ​and​ ​start​ ​the​ ​process​ ​of​ ​becoming​ ​a​ ​veterinarian​ ​with​ ​majors in​ ​animal​ ​science​ ​and​ ​biochemistry.​ ​I​ ​can’t​ ​wait​ ​to​ ​see​ ​what​ ​this​ ​year​ ​holds​ ​for​ ​the​ ​​Ag​ ​Crew 2017-2018!

 

Amanda Most

Amanda Most

Hey, agriculturalists! That is, hey as in hello, not hay like the stuff you feed cattle.

My name is Amanda Most and I am a senior at Ogallala High School in western Nebraska. After graduation, I hope to attend the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and major in Agricultural Communications. I am involved in a large variety of extracurricular activities, but there is one that easily makes the top of the list: FFA. I am currently serving as the President of my chapter and am excited to be competing in the Vet Science competition at National FFA in October.

One of my favorite songs just happens to be “Farmer’s Daughter” by Rodney Atkins, because that’s exactly what I am: a farmer’s daughter. I live on my 5th generation family farm southeast of Ogallala where we raise corn, soybeans, peas, wheat and a herd of cattle. Growing up on a farm that is rooted so deeply within my family has given me a greater appreciation for food production and all that farmers do. From a young age, I have even played a role in production agriculture. I have raised and shown livestock since I was around 6 years old and I continue to show hogs and cattle. Even though I am mainly involved at a local level, I have found my voice in agriculture by being a livestock producer. I have seen the negative effects that can occur when consumers are uninformed and I personally have been challenged about the intent of the agricultural industry. These instances have only fueled my passion for serving in an industry that is crucial to our state, but more substantially, for feeding the world. It is more important than ever that we as agriculturalists stand up and advocate for ourselves and our livelihoods.

My passion for the agricultural industry and love for public speaking and writing will be put to work as I join “The Crew.” I am excited about being a member of The Crew because it is the perfect place for me to connect with others who share my passion for agriculture. Together, we will grow as agriculturalists and use our skills to serve as voices for agriculture. Let’s agvocate!

 

Miranda Hornung

Miranda Hornung

Hello Everyone! My name is Miranda Hornung and I live in Davey, NE population 157. As my journey as a member of the Crew begins, I am extremely excited to share my passion for agriculture with a wide audience.

I will be a senior for the upcoming school year at Raymond Central High School where I participate in a variety of activities including SkillsUSA, Student Council, Spanish Club, FCA, and of course FFA. I also have a knack for music, as I enjoy singing, play the flute, and have taken classical piano lessons since I was in kindergarten. I work part-time for a local bank, crop insurance agency, and for my family’s grain truck and trailer agribusiness.

While I have always been involved in agriculture and FFA since 7th grade, my interest for ag communications has only recently been sparked. Through public speaking contests, currently serving as a two-year president for the Central FFA Chapter, and entering an ag blog competition, I have developed an undeniable passion for “agvocating.”

I hope to continue to grow this passion through the upcoming year as a member of the Crew and in my future as I plan to attend UNL in the fall of 2018 and major in agricultural education with minors in leadership, communication, and entrepreneurship.

 

Jaclyn Frey

Jaclyn Frey

Hi everyone! My name is Jaclyn Frey and I live on our family farm just outside of Albion, Nebraska. From an early age a passion for agriculture was instilled in me. Hard work and dedication were just a couple of the traits that I learned to value through agriculture. I grew up caring for animals around the farm and riding in the tractor with my dad. That passion quickly grew as I became involved in 4-H and FFA. These organizations offered many opportunities for me to explore the agricultural industry and to see that agriculture reaches people from all lifestyles, not just those who live on a farm. Showing cattle has allowed me to connect with people, from across the state, who share the same passion as me. By retaining show heifers and purchasing cows from local producers, my cow herd has reached around thirty head. I also rent eighteen acres of dryland and raise corn and soybeans. I am a freshman at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, majoring in Agricultural Education. Advocating for ag is something that is really important to me so I can’t wait to share my story with you all!

Nebraska County Export Values . . .

 

Economic Tidbits logoInternational trade and foreign markets are critical to Nebraska agriculture.  To get a sense of which Nebraska counties are most reliant on international trade, the Nebraska Department of Agriculture has created a map showing export values by county for select commodities (see below).  Commodities included are beef and beef products, corn, dairy products, distillers grains, ethanol, pork and pork products, pulses, sorghum, soybeans and soybean products and wheat.  The map was created using 2015 Nebraska cash receipts data and attributing shares to counties based on county production data.  Platte County topped the state with export values of $245 million.  Custer, Holt, Boone and Cuming Counties fall in the next tier with export values between $125-$150 million.  Most counties in Nebraska generate at least $25 million in export values, which no doubt contributes significantly to their local economies.

The top counties stand to gain the most from increased access to foreign markets.  Free trade agreements with Mexico, Canada, Korea, Colombia and others, while benefitting all counties, have been particularly beneficial to these counties.  An analysis last year of the benefits of the TransPacific Partnership (TPP) by Nebraska Farm Bureau showed many of these same counties would have benefited from the $378 million in increased receipts Nebraska was projected to receive under the agreement.  The map clearly demonstrates it is in the interest of Nebraska agriculture to continue to press for more open international markets in agricultural products.
county exports

 

Jay Rempe is the senior economist for Nebraska Farm Bureau. Rempe’s background in agricultural economics, years of experience in advocating at the state capitol, and firm grasp of issues allow him to quantify the fiscal impact of a regulatory proposal, and provide in-depth examination of key issues affecting Nebraska’s farmers and ranchers.

2017 Agricultural Land Assessed Values Stay Flat

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The taxable value for agricultural land in Nebraska declined .15 percent in 2017 according to a preliminary analysis released Friday by the Nebraska Department of Revenue.  The slight decline marks the first time the assessed value of agricultural land statewide has shrunk from one year to the next since at least the early 1990s, and perhaps as far back as the late 1980s.  Taxable value for all real property increased 3.34 percent over last year, with residential and recreational property value growing 6.5 percent, and commercial and industrial property growing 5.82 percent. The figures come from reports filed by county assessors with the Department of Revenue.  Notices of valuation changes will be sent to property owners on or before June 1.

The changes for agricultural land varied considerably across the state (see map below).  In Sarpy County, the value of agricultural land fell 9.38 percent, while in Hooker County it increased 19.28 percent, a difference of almost 30 percentage points.  Other counties seeing significant declines were Nuckolls and Douglas Counties with drops in value of greater than 8 percent.  Other counties with large increases included McPherson at 18.68 percent and Thomas at 10.76 percent.  In all, 43 counties saw decreases in agricultural land values (counties in red and orange on map), and 50 counties reported either no change or increases in total values.

Ag Land Valuations 2017

The variations across counties reflect the differences in the timing of price movements in the cattle and crop markets.  The run-up in cattle prices, and subsequently prices for grassland, started and peaked later than the run-up in corn and soybean prices and prices for crop ground.  Because assessed values are set using prices from 3 years’ prior land sales, counties made up primarily of grassland are still seeing the higher land prices reflected in the setting of assessed values.  What do the value changes mean for property tax levied?  The answer will be dependent on local government spending and budgeting decisions later this year.  Local governments must approve final budgets by September 20 and tax levies will be set before October 15.  Suffice it to say, that in some counties, the values changes might result in a slight shift in taxes levied from agricultural land to other property sectors.  For other counties, the trend of agricultural land carrying a greater share of the local tax burden will continue.

 

Jay Rempe is the senior economist for Nebraska Farm Bureau. Rempe’s background in agricultural economics, years of experience in advocating at the state capitol, and firm grasp of issues allow him to quantify the fiscal impact of a regulatory proposal, and provide in-depth examination of key issues affecting Nebraska’s farmers and ranchers.

Top 10 Agriculture Earth Day Facts

Today we celebrate Earth Day across the nation, but Earth Day is every day for farmers and ranchers and anyone involved in agriculture. That’s what we are sharing the top 10 agriculture Earth Day facts.

Earth DayArtboard 2

Earth Day Fact 1: Nebraska farmers and ranchers are the original environmental stewards who take great pride in caring for our state’s land, air and water. Nebraska farmers are growing more food with less – less fertilizer, less chemicals, less water, less land and less of an impact on the environment.

Earth Day Fact 2:  Protecting the environment is something farmers and ranchers always have on their mind. They protect the environment because they want to pass it onto future generations and because it is the right thing to do.

Earth Day Fact 3: America’s farm and ranch families are dedicated to caring for our planet. They are ethical caretakers of the land and water resources that help make our nation’s bounty possible.

Earth Day Fact 4: In addition to their ethical dedication to protecting the land, it is in the economic interest of farmers and ranchers to care for natural resources. America’s farmers and ranchers take their commitment to land stewardship very seriously.

Earth Day Fact 5: Through modern conservation and tillage practices, farmers and ranchers are reducing the loss of soil through erosion, which protects lakes and rivers.

Earth Day Fact 6: Today, it is possible for farmers and ranchers to produce more food, fiber and fuel than ever before on fewer acres with fewer inputs.

Earth Day Fact 7: Such modern production tools as global positioning satellites, biotechnology, conservation tillage and integrated pest management enhance farm and ranch productivity while reducing the environmental footprint.

Earth Day Fact 8: Farmers and ranchers are proven and committed environmental stewards, but they are justifiably concerned about the regulatory overreach of the Environmental Protection Agency. At the very time agriculture’s environmental footprint is shrinking, EPA has ramped up its regulatory force.

Earth Day Fact 9: More regulations in the face of clear progress could lead to unintended and negative consequences for the environment.

Earth Day Fact 10: Since the 1970s, hog farmers have achieved a 35 percent decrease in the carbon footprint, a 41 percent reduction in water usage and a 78 percent decrease in land needed to produce a pound of pork, according to a study published in the Journal of Animal Science/Journal of Dairy Science. Those reductions have come largely through production efficiencies, including improvements in swine genetics, housing – moving pigs indoors – manure management and feed rations.