LINCOLN, Neb. – Nebraska farm and business leaders say the Legislature’s passage of a bill allowing Nebraska-based pork processors to own hogs in Nebraska is a win for farmers, but also for the state’s broader economy. Nebraska lawmakers gave final approval to Legislative Bill 176, Fri., Feb. 5, with a 34-14 vote. The measure eliminates a ban that was put in place in 1998 to prevent pork processors in Nebraska from owning hogs in the state and in turn prevent them from entering into agreements with Nebraska farmers to feed and care for processor owned hogs. The practice is common in other states and Nebraska is the last in the U.S. to prevent pork processors from owning hogs.
“This bill has always been about giving farm families the opportunity to partner with Nebraska pork processors to produce pigs here at home. For far too long, Nebraska farmers could only watch their neighbors in surrounding states take advantage of these opportunities. This is about opportunities for Nebraska farm families and giving them the tools to compete in today’s world,” said Al Juhnke, executive director of the Nebraska Pork Producers Association.
“This is an important step forward for Nebraska agriculture,” said Nebraska Farm Bureau President Steve Nelson. “Pork production is a critical part of our state’s agriculture economy, but our pork sector has struggled to keep pace with neighboring states because we’ve limited these type of opportunities. We have to provide opportunities for future generations and this bill does that for pork producers. ”
Current state law already allowed pork processors with facilities located outside of Nebraska to own hogs in the state, meaning the restrictions on pork ownership only applied to Nebraska processors.
“This is a common sense measure that evens the playing field for Nebraska companies. It’s critical that we don’t tie the hands of Nebraska-based companies relative to their competitors in other states. These are companies who pay Nebraska taxes and employ Nebraskans,” said Barry Kennedy, Nebraska State Chamber of Commerce and Industry president.
“We have farmers who are looking to diversify their operations and custom feeding hogs is a popular way for that to occur. LB 176 allows Nebraska processors to own hogs, which means they can participate in those types of agreements. That only furthers opportunities for investment in Nebraska businesses,” said Richard Baier, Nebraska Bankers Association president and CEO.
A number of agriculture and business organizations support the bill citing the numerous positive impacts of expanded pork production in the state.
“On behalf of the Nebraska Pork Producers Association, the Nebraska Farm Bureau, the Nebraska Corn Growers Association, Nebraska Soybean Growers Association, Nebraska Bankers Association and the Nebraska State Chamber of Commerce and Industry, we thank all of those in the legislature who have helped moved this initiative to the Governor’s desk.”
LB 176 was introduced and prioritized by Sen. Ken Schilz of Ogallala. Senators voting to support LB 176 included: Baker, Campbell, Coash, Craighead, Ebke, Friesen, Garrett, Gloor, Hadley, Harr, Hilkemann, Hughes, Johnson, Kintner, Kolowski, Kolterman, Krist, Kuehn, Larson, Lindstrom, McCollister, Mello, Murante, Fox, Pansing-Brooks, Riepe, Scheer, Schilz, Schumacher, Seiler, Smith, Stinner, Watermeier, Williams.