School Funding Reform, Property Tax Reduction, Growing Nebraska’s Livestock Sector Top Farm Bureau’s 2016 Legislative Priorities

LINCOLN, Neb. – Reforms to how Nebraska funds schools, reducing property taxes and growing Nebraska’s livestock sector are among the top legislative priorities for the Nebraska Farm Bureau heading into the 2016 legislative session, said Nebraska Farm Bureau President Steve Nelson, Jan. 6.

“Addressing the imbalance in how Nebraska funds schools is vital to moving Nebraskans toward meaningful reductions in property taxes. We’re committed to working with Nebraska lawmakers to find ways to continue quality education opportunities for Nebraska students and doing so in a way that doesn’t rely so heavily on Nebraska property tax payers to shoulder that responsibility,” said Nelson.

To balance how Nebraska funds schools delegates, at Nebraska Farm Bureau’s annual meeting in December adopted policy supporting efforts to limit property tax collections to 40 percent of an individual K-12 school district’s general fund expenditures, leaving the rest of the school’s funding to come from other sources.

“We’ll be focused on finding ways to move toward the 40 percent target. Addressing school funding and property taxes is our top priority for the 2016 legislative session,” said Nelson.

In addition to addressing tax issues, Farm Bureau will also focus on efforts to bolster Nebraska’s economy by supporting work to promote growth and expansion of Nebraska’s livestock industry.

“Livestock production is a cornerstone of our state’s economy. We can do more to improve the climate for farm and ranch families who want to use livestock as a means to diversify and strengthen their operations. We’ll focus on legislation that gives livestock producers the tools to grow and to keep Nebraska competitive with other livestock producing states, including expanding opportunities for custom livestock feeding arrangements between farmers and livestock processors,” said Nelson.

Farm Bureau’s other priorities for the session include ensuring Nebraska continues to work toward water use and water management policies that recognize the importance of water resources to agriculture.

“The continued efforts of Nebraskans to find win-win solutions in managing our water resources is vital to agriculture. While other states have struggled to manage this vital resource, Nebraska continues to lead on water initiatives. Issues related to water management will continue to be a priority for us this session to make sure farmers and ranchers are well represented and have a voice in water legislation discussions,” said Nelson.

Nelson also pointed to agriculture transportation issues as another priority area for Farm Bureau in 2016.

“We need sound state policies that recognize the realities of modern agriculture. Farm machinery and equipment has become larger over the years and it’s vital that Nebraska rules and regulations related to farm equipment and machinery are keeping up with the changes in agriculture and needs of our members. We’ll be working on transportation legislation targeted to keeping Nebraska farmers and ranchers competitive with their counterparts in neighboring states when it comes to agriculture transportation issues,” said Nelson.

The Nebraska Farm Bureau Federation 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 nefb.org.