Nebraska Cattlemen Midyear Meeting succeeds by all measures
The Nebraska Cattlemen (NC) Midyear Meeting held June 17-18 in West Point, Wisner and Beemer, NE, was successful by any measure, NC leaders said. Weather cooperated for all the outdoor activities which included golf, an industry tour, and children’s activities. Strong sponsorship from area members and businesses and a large amount of volunteer help from area cattlemen’s groups allowed programs to remain on schedule despite crowds at all events and meetings. In addition, a cattlemen’s campaign to benefit the West Point Area Food Pantry collected two pickup loads of food and raised $4,230 which will be used for beef certificates at local grocery stores. West Point Area Food Pantry Directors Tim and Michelle Ulrich said that the drive will help keep the pantry going strong through the rest of the year.
At the midyear meeting, the NC Natural Resources and Environment Committee hosted speakers on four subjects: the ongoing groundwater monitoring project, the fate and transport of nutrients in soil near a LWCF, wind energy development challenges and opportunities in Nebraska, and carbon capture and sequestration in deep geologic formations.
Two policies were revised at the meeting and the NC Board will consider them during an upcoming meeting. The first one says NC is committed to ardent stewardship of all natural resources, specifically the land, water and air. Also, concern over greenhouse gases is leading to probable legislation and regulation. Also, nitrous oxide and methane are considered powerful greenhouse gases and are produced by many biological systems. In response, NC will work with lawmakers and regulatory agencies to ensure agriculture is not a regulated sector. Also, NC supports policy that allows for the sale of offsets from the reduction or sequestration of greenhouse gases from current management practices and those from emerging technology as part of the solution to problems associated with greenhouse gas emissions.
Regarding wind energy, the proposed revised policy states that Nebraska is rated as the fifth best state in the nation for wind energy potential, and yet is only ranked eighteenth in the nation for wind energy development. One reason for this is that public power in Nebraska is unable to use the Federal Production Tax Credit available to private wind energy development companies. Also, the private development of wind energy will add to the local tax base, provide jobs for rural areas, and create an additional source of income for farmers and ranchers. In response, NC recommends Nebraska state agencies and public utilities create a plan for wind energy development including generation and transmission. NC supports the Nebraska Energy Office to fully examine the potential of capturing “green energy” in the form of wind and exporting it out of state at premium prices. NC will work to shape Nebraska policy for wind energy that will benefit landowners and the electric rate payers of the state.
The NC Education Committee hosted State Sen. Greg Adams for his update on the recent legislative activities concerning education issues, specifically LB 545, the state aid bill. Chairman Homer Buell reviewed recent activities of NC’s University of Nebraska-Lincoln Task Force, including the recent Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources (IANR) support letter sent to the state’s Appropriations Committee during the state’s budgeting process. Shelia Scheideler, Animal Science interim department head, presented to the committee recent activities occurring in the department and Alan Moeller, assistant vice chancellor, IANR, reviewed the budget process and recently approved budget for the university and the institute. Finally, Rich Katt with the Nebraska Department of Education discussed agriculture education in Nebraska schools and reviewed a current project to revise the current agriculture curriculum taught in Nebraska schools.
After presentations from guests, the Taxation Committee approved a directive for staff to seek a meeting with Sen. Abbie Cornett to discuss potential legislation regarding state sales tax reform. In a second directive, the committee requested that NC President Todd Schroeder establish a task force to determine if new NC taxation policy is needed to address potential state legislation prior to NC’s annual convention.
Cornett, Revenue Committee chair, reviewed key bills introduced this year and gave an overview of issues Nebraska faces in relation to tax generation and challenges facing the Legislature if tax reform is to be achieved. LB 385, introduced by Sen. Rich Pahls of Omaha, would basically do away with sales tax exemptions to generate revenue for the state. Cornett reported that Nebraska collects roughly $1 billion of sales tax annually but exempts almost $2 billion. Cornett shared that efforts are underway to possibly bring a bill next year.
Gerry Oligmueller, budget administrator for Nebraska, gave an update of Nebraska’s portion of the Federal Stimulus package. For further details of the comprehensive package to Nebraska, go to www.Recov ery.Nebraska.gov.
The Brand and Property Rights Committee heard presentations on how some feeders in the inspection area see brand inspection fees as a burden, and another on the importance of inspection trails in discovering ownership of cattle. After discussion, the committee approved a directive that states NC is supportive of the Nebraska Brand Committee’s work to recover, and return to the owner, lost or stolen cattle. Also, the Nebraska Brand Committee is a cash-funded agency and needs fees to remain viable. Also, it is perceived that some segments of the industry receive more benefit from inspection fees than others. In response, the NC Brand and Property Rights Committee directs staff to work towards the establishment of a task force made up of persons from the industry, the Nebraska Brand Committee, a select number of senators to the Unicameral, and other industry partners. This task force should make recommendations on the fees and assessments schedule of the Nebraska Brand Committee in time for the next committee meeting scheduled in December 2009.
During the NC Research and Education Foundation Luncheon, 14 producers and businesses and two sponsors were recognized for donating a steer to the Retail Value Steer Challenge (RVSC) in each of its 10 years. This year’s RVSC included 70 donated steers and raised nearly $43,000. Top three winners in three categories received a total of $6,000 in prize money. Also during the luncheon, recipients of seven foundation scholarships were recognized.