NeFU Hails LB886 as Big Help for Volunteer Emergency Responders

For Immediate Release                                                        

Contact:  John Hansen 402-476-8815

john@nebraskafarmersunion.org

 

Nebraska Farmers Union Hails LB886 as a Big Help for Volunteer Emergency Responders

 

LINCOLN (April 28, 2016) – Nebraska Farmers Union (NeFU) lauds the passage of LB886, the Priority Bill of Senator Al Davis. The bill passed on Final Reading with no dissenting votes on April 12th and signed by the Governor April 18th.

“Thanks to the efforts and leadership of Senator Davis, the Legislature has helped offset a portion of the substantial financial costs incurred by our volunteer Emergency Responders,” said John Hansen, President of NeFU.  “Our volunteer Emergency Responders have their own businesses and farms to run.  When they are helping their neighbors in their time of medical need, they are doing so at a considerable personal cost to themselves or their employers.”

LB886 provides for a $250 tax credit to volunteer EMTs, rescue squad members, and volunteer firefighters. To qualify, recipients of the tax credit must first meet certain criteria certifying their status as a volunteer emergency responder. This criterion is drawn directly from the Volunteer Emergency Responders Recruitment and Retention Act, which was passed into law in 1999. The criteria is used by volunteer emergency responders to earn points for participation in activities such as emergency response calls, training courses, participation in drills, and fire prevention education activities.

“Rural Nebraska depends on volunteer Emergency Responders to provide services 24-7 and in all places in Nebraska. Even though the state does not have a Voluntary Emergency Responders group, these folks from all over Nebraska have been known to provide services and fight fires on state property.  The state should be providing funding for this important incentive. Were it not for our volunteers and their employers donating their time, rural Nebraska would either go without emergency services, or be forced to pay for these expensive services with higher property taxes,” said Hansen.

Senator Davis recruited 27 co-sponsors for his bill. The bill was also supported by Nebraska State Volunteer Firefighters’ Association, Nebraska Professional Firefighters’ Association, Nebraska Emergency Medical Services, NeFU and many other groups supporting rural issues.  “After 10 years of working this issue, Sen. Davis was finally able to get the ball over the goal line,” Hansen said.

“I am glad to see that Nebraska state senators understand how important it is that we recognize our volunteers with this tax credit. In rural Nebraska, we rely heavily on our volunteers. Often, these brave men and women leave their homes, families, and jobs at a moment’s notice in order to keep their communities safe. This is just a minimum recognition of the work that they do,” Senator Davis said.

Nebraska Farmers Union is a general farm organization with 4,000 farm and ranch family members dedicated to protecting and enhancing the economic well-being and quality of life for family farmers and ranchers, and their rural communities. Since 1913, Nebraska Farmers Union has helped organize over 445 cooperatives.

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NeFU Says Vic Jensen Sentencing Decision Confirms Need for Legislative Review

For Immediate Release                                                         

Contact:  John Hansen 402-476-8815

john@nebraskafarmersunion.org

 

Nebraska Farmers Union Says Vic Jensen Sentencing Decision Confirms the Need for a Legislative Review and Changes to Nebraska’s Livestock Animal Welfare Act

                       

Nebraska Farmers Union (NeFU) said Judge C. Matthew Samuelson’s April 26th sentencing of Vic Jensen, a fifth-generation Burt County livestock producer, confirmed their worst fears about the inherent flaws in the Nebraska Animal Welfare Act.  In addition to a $1,000 fine and 45 days in jail, Judge Samuelson banned Vic Jensen from owning or possessing livestock for 10 years for two first-time misdemeanor convictions of animal mistreatment.

 

“Vic Jensen is a trained veterinary technician, a military veteran, a lifetime livestock raiser, and is a nationally known and respected breeder of top quality quarter horses,” said John Hansen, NeFU President. “If this could happen to Vic Jensen, all Nebraska livestock producers are at risk. That is very alarming.”

 

“NeFU opposed the current law during its passage because it failed to provide an adequate medical fact finding process needed to distinguish between neglect and complicated medical situations,” said Hansen. “It also failed to provide due process protection for private property rights, subjecting livestock producers to a complaint driven process vulnerable to malicious misuse by animal advocacy groups, competitors, or neighbors with a grudge.”

 

Another problem NeFU predicted with current law is its failure to provide adequate guidelines for sentencing.  “We feared a livestock producer could be put out of business for a first-time misdemeanor, and that’s exactly what’s happened in this worst case situation. That is not a ‘Livestock Friendly’ or reasonable approach,” Hansen said.

 

NeFU complimented the Burt County Sheriff for working with Vic Jensen to develop an appropriate management plan to resolve his herd health problem.  Tragically, the herd was well on its way to improved health when the Burt County Attorney disregarded the signed agreement and chose to prosecute Vic Jensen to the fullest extent of the law. That was a terrible mistake. The problem was compounded when Judge Samuelson failed to force the County Attorney to produce the full, signed agreement between the Sheriff and Vic Jensen at the trial.

 

Hansen said his organization supports responsible livestock husbandry practices and does not condone either neglect or abuse of livestock. “The Vic Jensen case amounts to an established livestock producer who unknowingly purchased toxic contaminated hay resulting in a complicated medical problem for his herd, and he was unjustly put out of business despite his best efforts to deal with his medical problem in a responsible manner. After all, Vic Jensen is a Vet Tech.  Neither justice or common sense prevailed in this case,” said Hansen.

 

Hansen said his organization believes that each herd health situation should be considered as one charge, not individual charges for each animal in the herd impacted.  “When there is a herd health problem, it makes no sense to bring charges by the head, especially when the majority of the animals in the same pen are doing fine.”

 

NeFU is hopeful the Legislature’s Agriculture Committee will study and reexamine this law this summer and fall. “It is too bad Sen. Schilz’ LB393 did not get sent to the floor for consideration this session.  When our livestock producers are facing a major herd health problem, they need and deserve professional help, not legal efforts to put them out of business. The Nebraska Animal Welfare Act needs to be reviewed and amended,” Hansen concluded.

 

Nebraska Farmers Union is a general farm organization with 4,000 farm and ranch family members dedicated to protecting and enhancing the economic well-being and quality of life for family farmers and ranchers, and their rural communities.  Since 1913, Nebraska Farmers Union has helped organize over 445 cooperatives.

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Nebraska Farmers Union PAC Announces Primary Endorsements

Nebraska Farmers Union PAC Announces Primary Endorsements 

For Immediate Release

Lincoln, NE. NEBFARMPAC, the political action committee of the Nebraska Farmers Union, Nebraska’s second largest general farm organization with over 4,000 farm and ranch families announced its Primary endorsements for the Legislature, State Board of Education, and Public Power Districts.

NEBFARMPAC Secretary John Hansen said “This year we have 5 Nebraska Farmers Union members running for Legislature, one for State Board of Education, and one for Omaha Public Power District.  We encourage our members to become educated on the issues and be constructively engaged in the public policy process. We are always pleased when our members step up and assume the risks and responsibilities and run for public office. We encourage them to consider serving at all levels of government.  Public service comes with good citizenship.”

Based on their position on family farm and ranch issues and input from county and district officers, the NEBFARMPAC Board of Directors announced the following endorsements for candidates for the Primary election with NeFU members in bold:

 

Nebraska Legislature:

Carol Blood in Legislative District 3; Mike McDonnell in Legislative District 5; Tony Vargas in Legislative District 7; Sara Howard for Legislative District 9; Jake Seeman in Legislative District 13; Joni Albrecht in Legislative District 17; Larry Scherer in Legislative District 21; Jerry Johnson in Legislative District 23; Kate Bolz in Legislative District 29; Dan Quick in Legislative District 35; Bill Armbrust in Legislative District 39; Al Davis in Legislative District 43; and Sue Crawford in Legislative District 45.

 

State Board of Education:

Lisa Fricke in District 2 and Rachel Wise in District 3.

 

Nebraska Public Power District:

Gary Thompson in Subdivision 8 and Zak Hookstra in Subdivision 10.

 

Omaha Public Power District:

Rick Yoder in Subdivision 4 and Craig Moody in Subdivision 5.

 

NEBFARMPAC will make additional endorsements after the Primary Election.

 

NEBFARMPAC is the political action committee of the Nebraska Farmers Union, which is a non-partisan, not-for-profit general farm organization founded in 1913 with a mission to protect and enhance the quality of life and economic well-being of family farmers and ranchers and their rural communities.  NeFU is the respected voice of family farm and ranch agriculture with more than 4,000 family memberships.

12 Nebraskans Attend NFU 14th Anniversary Convention in Minneapolis

 

NeFU President Hansen Re-elected NFU Treasurer

12 Nebraskans Attend NFU 14th Anniversary Convention in Minneapolis, Minnesota

 

For Immediate Release

Contact:  John Hansen 402-476-8815 Office or 402-580-8815 Cell

www.nebraskafarmersunion.org

 

Lincoln, NE – Nebraska Farmers Union (NeFU) President John Hansen was re-elected National Farmers Union (NFU) Treasurer by the NFU Board of Directors at the 114th Annual National Farmers Union Convention held March 5-8 in Minneapolis, Minnesota at the Radisson Blu hotel on the Mall of America.

 

12 NeFU members attended the NFU Convention.  NeFU President John Hansen said:  “The hotel was attached to the Mall of America, so in addition to the excellent local tours, attendees enjoyed their convention free times.  The speakers and program were excellent.  As always, when our conventions are in driving distance of our members, they attend.  Our grassroots driven organization is always well served when more of our members can attend.”

 

The NFU Convention delegates from Nebraska were:  Merlin Friesen, Filley; Gus Von Roenn, Omaha; Vern Jantzen, Plymouth; Graham Christensen, Lyons; and NeFU President John Hansen.

 

Other members attending were Stan Brown and Jeremiah Picard, Lincoln; Paul Poppe, Scribner; John & Mardelle Goeller, Pilger; Jeff Downing, Elkhorn, and Ben Gotschall of Raymond.

 

NFU Convention highlights included a keynote address from United States Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack; Four Star General Wesley Clark; Minnesota’s U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken; and Governor Mark Dayton.  When Minnesota Department of Agriculture Director and former NFU President Dave Frederickson was introduced, he received a standing ovation.

 

In addition to updating NFU’s policy, the 136 delegates adopted 10 Special Orders of Business:

 

Full text of the adopted policy manual will be available soon at www.nfu.org.

 

The 2017 National Farmers Union Convention will be held at Catamaran Resort Hotel & Spa in San Diego, California March 5-8, 2017.

 

Nebraska Farmers Union is a general farm organization with 4,000 farm and ranch family members dedicated to protecting and enhancing the economic well-being and quality of life for family farmers and ranchers, and their rural communities.  Since 1913, Nebraska Farmers Union has helped organize over 445 cooperatives.

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NeFU Completes Specialty Crops Producer Training

Nebraska Farmers Union Completes Specialty Crops Producer Training

 

Contact:  Jeremiah Picard

402-476-8815 Office or 402-570-3746 Cell

For Immediate Release

 

Lincoln, NE – Nebraska Farmers Union (NeFU) recently completed another food safety training session for specialty crops producers of vegetables, fruits and nuts.  The training was the latest in a series of educational sessions designed to enhance the capacity and profitability for small to midsized specialty crop producers in Nebraska.

 

The training featured nationally recognized expert Atina Diffley of Family Farmed, with a focus on food safety including the recent changes in FDA’s (Food and Drug Administration) FSMA (Food Safety Modernization Act) regulations.  The participants developed and created Food Safety Action Plans needed for sales into new markets, such as schools and grocery stores.
Thanks to the uplink capacity of Southeast Community College, producers were able to participate via the Internet. Prairie Plate, a farm to table restaurant run by Renee and Jerry Cornett, catered the locally sourced food.  Big Red Worms, a local vermicomposting operation, provided a zero waste event, with a 90% reduction in food waste going to the landfill.

 

Jeremiah Picard, NeFU Outreach Director who organized the workshops said, “This training focused on developing solutions to food safety issues faced by small to medium specialty crop producers. The new FDA FSMA regulations impacts most farmers raising specialty crops, so these early trainings early gives producers a running start to find workable solutions. These types of targeted trainings are designed to help insure that our local food and specialty crop producers continue to grow and thrive as they gear up to meet the increasing consumer demand for locally grown foods.  We will be announcing new trainings in the coming months, thanks to continued funding by the USDA AMS. ”

 

One attendee had this to say about the workshops: “Great workshop & speaker. Loved that everything could be composted.”

 

NeFU President John Hansen said “The workshops were designed to increase the economic viability of the participants by providing them with the tools necessary to access new profitable markets including schools, restaurants, grocery stores and other wholesale markets. Thanks to the funding of USDA Agriculture Marketing Service’s “Local Food Promotion Program”, we hopefully helped grow the financial capacity of our local food producers to help them meet the growing needs of food consumers.”

 

Nebraska Farmers Union is a general farm organization with 4,000 farm and ranch family members dedicated to protecting and enhancing the economic well-being and quality of life for family farmers and ranchers, and their rural communities.  Since 1913, Nebraska Farmers Union has helped organize over 445 cooperatives. www.nebraskafarmersunion.org

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NeFU Sponsors College Students Attendance to College Conference on Cooperatives

Nebraska Farmers Union Sponsors College Students Attendance to College Conference on Cooperatives

 

For Immediate Release

Contact:  Jeremiah Picard

402-476-8815 Office  or 402-570-3746 Cell

 

Lincoln, NE – 10 agricultural students and their professors from 3 different Nebraska Colleges traveled to Minneapolis, Minnesota for the 2016 College Conference on Cooperatives under the guidance of Nebraska Farmers Union.  The participating colleges included Northeast Community College at Norfolk, Southeast Community College at Beatrice, and Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture at Curtis.  The College Conference on Cooperatives brought more than 110 attendees from the multiple states including the Midwest and East Coast.

 

The Cooperative Conference participants learned how cooperative businesses are adapting to changing environments and heard from cooperative experts from across the nation on why member-owned businesses are thriving in industries ranging from senior housing to healthcare. They also toured the CHS (Cenex Harvest States) Headquarters, housing coops, food coops, a food hub and the Mill City Flour Museum. “Cooperatives organized by farmers and ranchers play an important role in strengthening rural and urban economies across the country. CCOC engages tomorrow’s leaders through a unique platform that teaches them about cooperative business principles and the opportunities available through the cooperative model,” said NFU President Roger Johnson.

 

Students heard from cooperative leaders, farmers and government experts who explained current challenges they face. Presenters ranged from members, directors, employees and managers of traditional and value-added agricultural cooperatives to representatives of housing and worker-owned co-ops, as well as consumer cooperatives such as REI outdoor goods and natural foods co-ops. These professionals offered insights on cooperative development here and abroad.

 

The conference evaluations revealed that most of the students in attendance were from farms or ranches, with a large percentage from small towns, and about 10% were urban. Picard said, “The College Cooperative Conference helps make students aware of options and tools that can be used to create the economic opportunities needed to help our rural youth stay in their communities.   Learning directly with Coops also enhances the future career opportunities for students. We are pleased to partner with these Nebraska colleges to help send Nebraska kids to this Conference.”

 

The annual College Cooperative Conference is co-sponsored by the CHS Foundation in cooperation with the National Farmers Union Foundation.  Nebraska Farmers Union was awarded a grant from the CHS Foundation to help defray the attendance costs for the Nebraska participants.

 

Nebraska Farmers Union is a general farm organization with 4,000 farm and ranch family members dedicated to protecting and enhancing the economic well-being and quality of life for family farmers and ranchers, and their rural communities.  Since 1913, Nebraska Farmers Union has helped organize over 445 cooperatives.

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“Say YES To Wind Energy in Lancaster County” petition campaign

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

For more information contact:
Chelsea Johnson, Deputy Director
Nebraska League of Conservation Voters
Nebraska Conservation Education Fund
402-274-7623 chelsea.johnson@nlcv.org

 

Community Leaders to Launch Wind Energy Petition

Millions of dollars at stake for Lancaster County

 

With millions of dollars in new economic investment and increased property tax revenues at stake, a group of business, labor and civic leaders are launching a petition campaign to show that residents of Lancaster County support local, renewable energy development.

The campaign will be gathering signatures on a petition which can be found at www.lancasterwind.org and reads “I support local, renewable energy. As a resident of Lancaster County, Nebraska, I support balanced policies that allow wind development in my county.”

Kicking off the petition campaign with an 11:00 a.m. Friday morning, February 26th news conference at the County-City Building, the community leaders will address the stakes of the current ban on wind energy development in Lancaster County.

The petition campaign is in response to the Lancaster County Board’s November 10, 2015 vote that established restrictive sound standards, creating setbacks that make it impossible to build a commercial wind energy project in Lancaster County. The petition is intended to demonstrate that Lancaster County residents disagree with the County Board’s decision and want the County commissioners to get behind wind energy development.

Nebraska Public Power District Director Mary Harding noted that the County Board’s decision was contrary to the wishes of the majority of county residents. “During my last election, I spoke with thousands of households in rural Lancaster County. Overwhelmingly, these voters want to see more wind developed, for cleaner energy and economic opportunity,” Harding said. Polling numbers in the state have repeatedly confirmed Harding’s assertions, with anywhere from 65-95 percent of respondents supporting wind development in the state.

“The Lancaster County Board,” Nebraska Farmers Union President John Hansen lamented, “had a golden opportunity to say yes to local economic development and job creation, yes to new sources of income for family farmers, yes to new property tax base, yes to property tax relief, and yes to clean burning sustainable energy for the future. Instead, the County Board slammed the door on renewable energy development in Lancaster County.”
John Markey, Business Manager for International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 265, stated that working people in Lancaster County understand the economic development potential of green energy—particularly wind energy. “Throughout the country”, he said, “wind energy is creating good-paying jobs and providing employment opportunities for local construction
workers and contractors and full-time permanent jobs once the wind farm is operational. Banning the development of a new growth industry like wind energy,” Markey warned, “sends the worst possible message to potential investors. It says we’re ‘anti-business.”

“Renewable energy represents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to attract a new multi-billion dollar industry to Nebraska,” said David Levy of Baird Holm. “The wind and the sun are some of our greatest natural resources, and electricity is a commodity. Using our resources to generate this commodity will create billions of dollars in private investment, and result in tens of millions of dollars in new property tax revenues and landowner payments every year for the foreseeable future. Renewable energy generation competes in an open regional marketplace. So far we have not competed well against our neighbors. This is a finite opportunity. We must act now, or lose this opportunity entirely.”

Gregory Schwaninger, a Lancaster County farmer and landowner, said, “As a farmer you never know if it is going to rain, hail, or freeze. Ag commodity prices go up and go down as they are now. As a farmer, I want the opportunity to harvest my wind energy resources to help stabilize my family farm operation. Given our ever increasing property taxes, I welcome the new tax base and tax revenue that comes with wind energy development, and the opportunity for me to benefit from my farm’s natural wind resources.”

The County Board’s ban on wind development is costing Lancaster County money exactly when local government is hurting for additional tax revenue to provide essential services. State Senator Ken Haar (District 21) commented, “Wind development in Lancaster County could generate millions of dollars in much needed tax revenue over the next 20 years, money that could be used to hire teachers, replace failing bridges and repair miles of roads. The County Board,” he said, “needs to be promoting wind development—not erecting barriers.”

The Bluestem Group of the Nebraska Sierra Club enthusiastically supports the campaign to show citizen’s desire to welcome wind power to Lancaster County. “As a clean renewable energy source for our county and our country,” spokesperson John Atkeison said, “wind power will help us avoid the worst climate changes by helping us phase out fossil fuels like coal and even gasoline. Our health and our children’s health will benefit from breathing less of the pollution that comes with dirty fossil fuels.”

This petition is about taking a stand and making sure that every resident of Lancaster County has their voice heard. “Development of wind energy brings with it a future of cleaner air and water sustainability,” said Chelsea Johnson, Deputy Director of the Nebraska League of Conservation Voters. “This petition is important because it will demonstrate that Nebraskans care about our state’s natural legacy.”

Sponsors of the petition include Nebraska State Senator Ken Haar, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 265, Nebraska Sierra Club, Bluestem Group of the Nebraska Sierra Club, BOLD Nebraska, Nebraska Farmers Union, Lancaster County Farmers Union

NeFU Supports LB1032 to Meet the Medical Needs of 77,000 Nebraskans

For Immediate Release                                                               

Contact:  John Hansen 402-476-8815

john@nebraskafarmersunion.org

 

Nebraska Farmers Union Supports LB1032 to Cost Effectively Meet the Medical Needs of 77,000 Nebraskans 

 

LINCOLN (February 10, 2016) – Dr. Merlin Friesen of Filley testified on behalf of Nebraska Farmers Union (NeFU) before the Legislature’s Health and Human Services Committee in favor of LB1032 that would use an innovative market oriented approach to help provide cost effective medical care to 77,000 Nebraskans currently without good medical care.

 

“Dr. Friesen is particularly well-suited to present our testimony on this issue because he is an emergency room doctor and knows first-hand that what our state is doing now provides extremely poor crisis-only medical care in the most expensive possible fashion,” said NeFU President John Hansen.  “Dr. Friesen understands both the medical and financial importance to develop a path forward for Nebraska to take advantage of the federal funding other states already use to cost effectively expand the use of Medicaid to provide coverage for folks who either go without medical care altogether, or end up using the emergency room when they have reached a medical crisis, many times as the direct result of the lack of good ongoing medical care.”

 

Dr. Friesen said, “Our current emergency care medical system is simply not set up to provide routine health care services, and is being overloaded with expensive medical emergencies that result when people do not have proper routine health care.  That is bad for the patients, and the rest of society that pays for this very expensive and mostly inappropriate process to provide medical services.  Our current system is costing Nebraska medical users and taxpayers a lot of money because we are picking up the expensive tab for our state’s failure to utilize federal monies dedicated for this purpose.  It sure looks like partisan politics is preventing our state from expanding Medicaid as other states are already doing.”

 

Hansen praised LB1032 as an innovative market based way to improve medical services to people that need it while saving medical users and taxpayers millions of dollars of money on an annual basis.  “It is time to set aside partisan politics and move our state forward.  The failure of our state to help our own citizens in need of medical services when by doing so with LB1032 we could save ourselves money is at a minimum foolish, and more likely downright mean,” Hansen concluded.

 

Nebraska Farmers Union is a general farm organization with 4,000 farm and ranch family members dedicated to protecting and enhancing the economic well-being and quality of life for family farmers and ranchers, and their rural communities.  Since 1913, Nebraska Farmers Union has helped organize over 445 cooperatives.

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NE Legislature Votes For Chickenization of NE Hog Production

For Immediate Release                                                         

Contact: John Hansen 402-476-8815

john@nebraskafarmersunion.org

 

Nebraska Legislature Votes For Chickenization of Nebraska Hog Production

 

LINCOLN (February 5, 2016) – Nebraska Farmers Union (NeFU) said that Legislature’s 34-14 support for LB176 on final reading was consistent with the history of most corporate farming issues in the Nebraska Legislature over the last 50 years.  “As usual, the view of a majority of the folks back home and the citizens who weighed in on this issue was trumped by the power of corporate money and the lobby”, said NeFU President John Hansen. “This was a basic fight about the future.  Our state will not be well served by the chickenization of pork production.”

 

NeFU President John Hansen said “The majority of food consumers consistently prefer to buy food for their families from other families that farm rather than from corporate farms.  Direct marketing and the Local Foods movement continues to grow.  Yet, the Legislature voted to help Chinese government owned Smithfield Foods, Inc. take over hog production in Nebraska by allowing them to directly own the hogs.  That vertically integrated packer controlled system of one-sided take-it or leave-it contracts with no cash markets or competition is similar to the poultry system that has victimized broiler producers across the nation.  It is a sad day for family farm agriculture.”

 

NeFU distributed a letter to the Legislature from Mike Weaver, President of the Contract Poultry Growers Association of the Virginias detailing the deplorable financial condition of most poultry growers who have not received an increase in their base pay for nearly 20 years despite the 300% plus increase in their operating costs.  In material provided by NeFU, according to the 2015 Successful Farming “Top 25 U.S. Pork Powerhouses” data, Smithfield already owns 894,000 sows in the U.S., and a total of 1,135,000 sows worldwide.  Smithfield is also the nation’s largest pork processor.  “I am at a loss why a Nebraska State Senator would feel it is their job to help a Chinese government owned hog processor intent on taking over U.S. hog production take over Nebraska hog production at the expense of hog markets and family farmers.”

 

“Just when our nation’s livestock markets are crying out for more effective anti-trust enforcement to expand competition, and market access and limit punitive retaliation against producers and non-competitive marketing practices, the Legislature votes to partially gut Nebraska’s “Competitive Livestock Markets Act” that has been the most effective state competition act in the nation.  Instead of bringing water to a fire that is burning down domestic livestock markets and rural communities, 34 Nebraska State Senators poured gasoline on a fire that will eventually chickenize hog production in our state.  We should never intentionally make a bad situation worse,” Hansen said.

 

NeFU praised State Senators Bloomfield, Bolz, Brasch, Chambers, Cook, Crawford, Davis, Groene, Haar, Hansen, Howard, McCoy, Morfeld, Schnoor, and Sullivan for standing with family farm agriculture and opposing LB176.  “They did the right thing for the right reasons.  They did an outstanding job of standing up for family farm agriculture.  We are also proud of the many farm, rural, environmental, labor, religious, and social justice organizations that helped us with this historic battle.  A friend in need is a friend indeed, and NeFU had many good organizational friends who helped spread the word to their members and help us.”

 

In conclusion Hansen praised his Nebraska Farmers Union members.  “Our members are smart, well-informed, and constructively engaged in the process.  They did their job as citizens are supposed to do.  Our members continue to be the heart and soul of rural communities and our organization.  They set our policy that supports family farm agriculture, and healthy functioning agricultural markets and the opportunities they provide, and then help get it implemented.  We came up short this time, but there will be a next time.

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NeFU Asks State Senators to Return Smithfield PAC Donations, Declare Conflict of Interest, or Not Vote on LB176

For Immediate Release                                                               

Contact:  John Hansen 402-476-8815

john@nebraskafarmersunion.org

 

Nebraska Farmers Union Asks State Senators to Return Smithfield PAC Donations, Declare Conflict of Interest, or Not Vote on LB176 

 

LINCOLN (January 20, 2016) – Nebraska Farmers Union (NeFU) released a copy of the letter they circulated to State Senators asking them to consider returning their Smithfield Foods, Inc. contributions to their campaigns, file a conflict of interest form, or to simply not vote on LB176 scheduled for debate tomorrow, Thursday, January 21st.

LB176 is the bill sponsored by Sen. Schilz that is being strongly lobbied by Mueller Robak who has a $5,000 per month contract beginning in January of 2015 to represent Smithfield Foods Inc. the nation’s largest hog producer and processor that would allow hog processors to directly own hogs in Nebraska.

The data Nebraska Farmers Union obtained from the Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Commission revealed that 20 State Senators have received a total of $12,200 in recent political campaign contributions from Smithfield Foods, Inc. with all of the contributions coming in early January 2016 with the exception of one $1,000 contribution to Senator Ken Schilz in 2015.

Three State Senators have received $1,000 political campaign donations from Smithfield Foods, Inc.:  Sen. Ken Schilz in 2015 and Senators John Murante, Chairman of the Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee and Jerry Johnson, Chairman of the Agriculture Committee in early January.

Four Senators received $750 each in political campaign donations from Smithfield Foods, Inc.: Senators Rick Kolowski, Tommy Garrett, Jim Scheer, and Dan Watermeier.

Twelve Senators received $500 each in political campaign donations from Smithfield Foods, Inc.:  Senators Nicole Fox, Curt Friesen, Tyson Larson, Mark Kolterman, Heath Mello, Joni Craighead, Dan Hughes, Patty Pansing Brooks, Laura Ebke, Brett Lindstrom, Adam Morfeld, and Burke Harr.

Senator John McCollister received a $200 political campaign contribution from Smithfield Foods, Inc.

NeFU President John Hansen said “Given the history of large amounts of corporate ag money being invested in political campaigns and high priced lobby firms, we are simply saying that in order to protect the public perception of the objectivity of the Legislature, we hope that many of the checks are returned.  If the checks are kept, we suggest that at a minimum, a conflict of interest filing should be considered.  Another simple option would be to vote “Present” but not cast a yes or no vote on LB176.  Our organization has been and continues to be a strong defender of our unique unicameral system of government and the hard working men and women that make the sacrifice to serve.  NeFU has also been a long-time supporter of transparency and clean government measures.”

Hansen noted that Smithfield’s Accountability and Disclosure filing was sought after several Senators had noted in recent meetings on LB176 that the proponents were getting good sized campaign contributions.  “$11,200 of campaign contributions to support corporate pork legislation in one month is not chicken feed,” he concluded.

Nebraska Farmers Union is a general farm organization with 5,671 farm and ranch family members dedicated to protecting and enhancing the economic well-being and quality of life for family farmers and ranchers, and their rural communities. Since 1913, Nebraska Farmers Union has helped organize over 445 cooperatives.

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