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Asia fast-food chains pull meat off menus as Brazil scandal deepens

Major fast-food chains in South Korea and Hong Kong have pulled chicken, beef and pork off their menus as they scramble to reassure customers about food safety as Brazil's meat scandal crisis intensifies. The drastic steps by Burger King and Mom's Touch in South Korea, and Hong Kong's top fast fo...

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Asia fast-food chains pull meat off menus as Brazil scandal deepens

Major fast-food chains in South Korea and Hong Kong have pulled chicken, beef and pork off their menus as they scramble to reassure customers about food safety as Brazil's meat scandal crisis intensifies. The drastic steps by Burger King and Mom's Touch in South Korea, and Hong Kong's top fast fo...

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Man pinned under gates on Stanton County farm

STANTON, Neb. (AP) -- Authorities say a man has been injured in an accident on a Stanton County farm. Norfolk radio station KNEN reports that medics and deputies were sent just after noon Wednesday to the farm about 10 miles southeast of Stanton. The Stanton County Sheriff's Office says 60-yea...

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MF Global, PwC Reach Settlement

Bankrupt brokerage MF Global, run by former New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine, has reached a settlement with its former accounting firm, PwC, ending a potentially multibillion dollar dispute between the companies. Terms of the settlement were not disclosed. MF Global sued PwC, also known as Price...

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White House Working to Ease Agriculture Concerns about Trade Policy

The Trump administration is working to allay the concerns of some in the agriculture industry that new trade deals negotiated by the White House could leave U.S. agriculture exports behind. Ray Starling, special assistant to the president on agriculture, agricultural trade and food assistance, said...

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Corn and Soybean Acreage Estimates Come Pouring In

The U.S. Department of Agriculture will release its Prospective Plantings Report on March 31. In the days leading up to it, several organizations are making predictions as to what the report will show. An Ag Web Dot Com article says Met Life Agricultural Finance is the latest to do so. Met Life i...

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Crops

College Students Discover Opportunities at Kansas Corn Careers Events

Kansas Corn continued its Careers in Corn college tour with a recent stop in at Kansas State University. The tour's purpose is to connect current students with professionals and possible future employers in the Kansas corn industry. The tour stops, sponsored by Kansas Corn and co-sponsored by Western Plains Energy, LLC and Farm Credit Associations of Kansas, provide relaxed, social atmospheres where industry professionals can share their career stories and students can ask questions about their career paths. The Careers in Corn tour is part of Kansas Corn's Collegiate programs. K-State student Halle Sparks recently changed her major from biology to food science and attended the event looking for information about possible careers. "This is a really new field for me. I don't come from an ag background. Tonight, I just want to network with people. I want to know where they come from and how they are involved in Kansas corn," she said. "Hopefully I can use information from what I've learned tonight to help me better determine my career path." Derek Peine, CEO of Western Plains Energy, LLC, is one of the industry professionals highlighted through the program. He spoke with students at the Colby Community College and Fort Hays University tour stops earlier this year. "I believe that the Careers in Corn Program provides students with a unique opportunity to hear first-hand from professionals from various industries related to the agricultural community," Peine said. "The discussions are centered around how agriculture encompasses a wide range of technical and professional roles.  As Kansans, most of us are involved, either directly or indirectly, with the ag sector.  This program hopefully shows students that they can pursue the college studies of their choice and apply those learnings in a professional career that allows them to maintain their connection to agricultural." Peine said that from an industry standpoint, he believes one of the greatest benefits of the program is the chance to interact directly with young adults who have an interest in the ag sector. "We get to share our passion for our various industries," Peine said, "and the discussions will hopefully engage the students in a way that will help them to want to stay in Kansas, remain active in our ag community, and maybe even join our industry." The Careers in Corn tour has also stopped at Hutchinson Community College and Pratt Community College. To continue the spring tour, Kansas Corn will visit Fort Scott Community College on April 25 and Allen County Community College on April 26. The Careers in Corn program is component of a larger Kansas Corn Collegiate Program which offers more opportunities for students across the state to get involved in the corn industry. The first opportunity is a student membership rate. For $25, students can become members of both the Kansas Corn Growers Association and the National Corn Growers Association and receive the regular membership benefits as well as some additional benefits. Student members of KCGA will be eligible for the Next Generation Scholarship program. This new scholarship program is available by application and is focused on students who are currently enrolled in college in the spring of 2017 and planning to be enrolled in the 2017-2018 school year. Scholarship applications are now available and will be awarded in February 2018. Students with KCGA memberships will also receive the chance to participate in the new Kansas Corn Collegiate Academy. The program encourages college students to dive deeper into the corn industry and gives them insights into the opportunities and hurdles that lie ahead of the corn industry and how their future career paths may fit in the corn industry. Participating students will create a capstone project that will relate the information they have learned back to their area of study. Students will participate in a day at the Statehouse in Topeka and Corn Congress in Washington DC. Applicants must be currently enrolled in post-secondary school and still in school through spring semester 2018. This program is now receiving applications through October 31, 2017. For more information about any of Kansas Corn's collegiate programs or to download applications please visit www.kscorn.com/collegiate

Corn and Soybean Acreage Estimates Come Pouring In

The U.S. Department of Agriculture will release its Prospective Plantings Report on March 31. In the days leading up to it, several organizations are making predictions as to what the report will show. An Ag Web Dot Com article says Met Life Agricultural Finance is the latest to do so. Met Life is predicting that farmers will increase their soybean acres 3.3 percent over last year. If that comes true, it would raise U.S. soybean acres to 87 million. That number is a bit lower than Allendale’s projection of 88.8 million acres and USDA’s Agricultural Outlook Forum prediction of 88 million acres. A Met Life report says, “Cyclically low agricultural commodity prices have led to declining financial conditions in the sector, and planting soybeans requires less working capital than corn and cotton.” As an example, the report cites 2015, when the average per-acre operating costs for soybeans was $171 per acre, compared to $334 for corn and $497 for cotton. Other highlights from the Met Life report include an expectation that farmland values won’t start a recovery until 2019. The report also advises a cautious approach to 2017 because political uncertainty can cause market volatility. INTL FCStone also released their farmer survey estimates yesterday which showed we will plant 91.6 million acres of corn and 87.3 million acres of beans.  

Nebraska Part of National Research Initiative to Improve Cover Crops

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln is part of a $6.6 million research initiative to promote soil health through the development and adoption of new cover crops across the United States. The initiative was launched March 22 by the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research and The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation, which is the lead institution. The initiative, made possible by a $2.2 million grant from FFAR, will bring together representatives from the seed industry, the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service and Natural Resources Conservation Service, a producer network and multiple land-grant universities including Nebraska. Cover crop is a term applied to a number of plant species that farmers, ranchers and landowners may plant to help manage soil erosion and fertility, preserve moisture content, and control weeds and diseases. The focus of the initiative will be to identify cover crop germplasm with the greatest potential to improve soil health across a broad geographic area. Germplasm improvement will focus on species within three groups: small grains (wheat, rye, oat and triticale), annual legumes (hairy vetch, winter peas and clovers), and brassicas (turnips, radishes, kale and mustards). "Once The Noble Foundation identifies superior germplasm of these cover crop species, the role of the trial site collaborators is to test their regional adaptation," said John Guretzky, associate professor in the Department of Agronomy and Horticulture and co-leader of the project. "We'll be evaluating the germplasm to see how it performs in different environments." Nebraska will be the Northern Plains trial site for the cover crop evaluations. Trials will also be conducted in Maryland for the Northeast, North Carolina for the Southeast, Oklahoma for the Southern Plains and Missouri for the Midwest. "These sites have experience in cover crop evaluation and will allow us to effectively screen each species and variety for its effectiveness, its role with other crop mixes and its range of adaptation," said Twain Butler, Noble Foundation research agronomist and project manager. "These sites will also illustrate the use and effectiveness of cover crops for the purpose of sharing our findings with agricultural producers." The project is not limited to traditional breeding and evaluation. Engaging both producers and industry, researchers will also seek to identify and introduce key traits that can improve crop performance and soil enhancement. Additionally, scientists at the Noble Foundation will utilize advanced breeding techniques – which have traditionally been limited in application to high-value, row-crops – to bring new and value-added characteristics to cover crops. The short-term goals of the research are to identify the best cover crop species and varieties currently available through evaluation and screening, promote them to farmers and ranchers, and increase effective options within the marketplace. "I expect that this project will generate a lot of performance data for producers, which should lead to better adoption of the new cover crop varieties," Guretzky said. Researchers from this project will share results with the public through national meetings and peer-reviewed publications. Certain outcomes, including molecular markers, will be made available through publication and publicly accessible databases.

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Livestock

NDA MAGAZINE TELLS STORY OF NEBRASKA AGRICULTURE

LINCOLN – The Nebraska Department of Agriculture’s (NDA) weeklong celebration of National Ag Week continues with the release of the fifth edition of the popular magazine, Nebraska Agriculture and You. The magazine,  available in print and online, highlights agriculture as our state’s number one industry and strives to help consumers better understand the extensive role agriculture plays in their day-to-day lives. “This magazine is a great place to share information about how diverse and expansive the agriculture industry is in Nebraska,” said NDA Director Greg Ibach. “We’ve included stories about Nebraska families who operate and maintain some of the more than 48,700 farms in the state. Farm families work hard to provide us all with nutritious, affordable and safe food.” The magazine will be distributed to several locations throughout the state including office waiting rooms, banks, libraries, county extension offices, chambers of commerce, etc. The magazine is also available online at nda.nebraska.gov by clicking on the magazine cover on the right side of page. “Nebraska’s agriculture industry goes far beyond the farm gate, and this magazine helps highlight the numerous contributions agriculture makes to our state,” said Ibach. “It’s a great communications tool to tell the true story of Nebraska agriculture.”

Even One Infected Chicken Could Have a Global Impact

LAUREL, Miss.-- With the USDA's confirmation of Avian Influenza in southern Tennessee, Alabama, and now Kentucky, the virus has struck the United States for the fourth year in a row. Since the first reported case in 2014, over 40 million chickens and turkeys have died or been euthanized across 15 states in the U.S. Until recently, the last highly pathogenic bird flu was found in a commercial turkey flock in Indiana in January 2016. According to the World Organization for Animal Health, 13 strains of Avian Influenza were detected in 77 countries between January 2014 and December 2016. After the outbreak two years ago, Mexico and Canada introduced state or regional bans on U.S. broiler exports, and China imposed a national ban. With news of the recent outbreak, Hong Kong, South Korea and Taiwan have all halted import of U.S. poultry. "Even one infected chicken house could have a global impact," said Mark Leggett, president of the Mississippi Poultry Association. "One of the worst impacts from the bird flu in the U.S. is the impact on global trade. We export a large percentage of poultry products to other countries around the world." The USDA's National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) cautioned the public that the strain of Avian Influenza experienced in Tennessee is not the same as the H7N9 virus that has impacted poultry and infected humans in China and across Asia. "Fortunately, there have been no reported cases of strains of Avian Influenza affecting humans in the U.S. as a result of the recent outbreak. In fact, all poultry flocks in the United States are tested prior to processing to make sure they are healthy and free of any virus," Leggett continued. "American consumers have a high degree of confidence in the safety of our food supply, and that confidence is well placed." When outbreaks of Avian Influenza occur, state and federal agencies, as well as industry representatives and wildlife experts, work together quickly to review and modify biosecurity methods that are in place. "Within every state that we operate, Texas, Georgia, Mississippi and North Carolina, there are both state and federal plans in place in the event of a reported infection," said Dr. Phil Stayer, Corporate Veterinarian for Sanderson Farms, the country's third largest poultry producer. "All state plans must meet the federal minimum standard; however, Sanderson Farms goes well above and beyond the federal minimum standard." Since 2014, Sanderson Farms has been sending frequent communications to its employees and growers to remind them of the risk of bird flu and stress the importance of strict adherence to the company's biosecurity measures. Many companies within the industry have taken great strides to ensure the strictest biosecurity methods and precautions are in place to protect flocks from infectious diseases. "Previously, we thought the virus was primarily spread by coming up the driveway, transmitted from farm-to-farm by service vehicles and on equipment. Now, we realize it's spread as waterfowl fly overhead, meaning it can easily be picked up by simply walking across the yard through duck droppings," said Stayer. "This means we have had to change our entire mindset from farm-by-farm, to house-by-house.  All of which means much tighter security." Understanding how the virus is transmitted has played a major role in establishing biosecurity measures and developing response plans. "This particular strain of bird flu affects all bird species who contract the virus and most birds that get it will get sick and die. However, waterfowl like geese and ducks don't necessarily get sick and can carry the virus for longer periods of time and from place to place as they migrate," said Dr. Kenneth Angel with USDA's Veterinary Services for Louisiana and Mississippi. "Other birds can get the virus, but they don't spread the virus long distances because they get too sick to fly, while some are able to spread the virus on their feet or feathers without actually becoming sick. "We know that waterfowl are the main carriers of the virus, so that is where we are concentrating our efforts. We also know the virus does not survive well in hot temperatures, which accounts for why we do not see large outbreaks during the summer months in the southern portion of the U.S." Houston Havens, Mississippi Department of Wildlife Fisheries and Parks Waterfowl Program Leader, said, "The South is just starting to see some of the early migrants. Migration varies by species and other variables. Weather will play a large role in the intensity of migration. Birds can tolerate the cold, but long periods of extended cold weather up north, and snow that covers food and other resources, will cue up more birds to head south to overwinter." According to the CDC, "humans can be infected with avian and other zoonotic influenza viruses, such as avian influenza virus subtypes A(H5N1), A(H7N9), and A(H9N2) but infections are rare and acquired through direct contact with infected animals or contaminated environments, but do not result in efficient transmission of these viruses between people. There is no evidence that avian influenza viruses can infect humans through properly cooked food." State and federal ag officials say the strains of bird flu that have sickened the Tennessee chickens do not pose a threat to the food supply.

Asia fast-food chains pull meat off menus as Brazil scandal deepens

Major fast-food chains in South Korea and Hong Kong have pulled chicken, beef and pork off their menus as they scramble to reassure customers about food safety as Brazil's meat scandal crisis intensifies. The drastic steps by Burger King and Mom's Touch in South Korea, and Hong Kong's top fast food chain Cafe de Coral are aimed at avoiding a customer backlash after Brazilian police accused inspectors in the world's biggest exporter of beef and poultry of taking bribes to allow sales of rotten and salmonella-tainted meats. The chains are seeking to restore the confidence of consumers sceptical of food producers, retailers and restaurants after a series of food scares in Asia involving tainted products from baby formula to cooking oil. Removing the menu items will add to plummeting demand for meat, with poultry particularly hard hit this year by the global spread of the deadly bird flu virus, and potentially damage Brazil's massive meatpacking industry. China and Hong Kong are the top two importers of Brazilian meats, last year buying nearly one-third of the $14 billion worth of meat that Latin America's largest economy exported. In South Korea, Mom's Touch, a fried chicken and fast food franchise, on Wednesday stopped selling chicken nuggets at its 1,000 stores even after the government lifted a ban of chicken meat from Brazil's BRF SA, the world's largest poultry exporter, a day earlier. South Korea ended the ban after just one day after Brazil assured Seoul that shipments did not contain tainted products. Even so, the fear of a consumer backlash forced Mom's Touch to take the drastic steps after retailers removed Brazilian meat from their shelves, said Heo Jun-gyu, a company spokesman. "It's dealing a blow to small-and-medium-sized companies like us. It felt like we might be stigmatised if we didn't follow the suit," he said. The chain uses BRF chicken for its nuggets and meat from Brazil's third-largest pork and poultry processor Aurora Alimentos for its chicken burger patty. Burger King Korea stopped selling their Crunch Chicken, which uses both domestic and Brazilian meat, due to consumer fears, a company spokeswoman said. "We are not sure for the moment when we will start selling it again and whether we will replace it with a new menu," she said. In Hong Kong, Cafe de Coral wiped some of its top-selling items - baked pork chops with fried rice, grilled chicken and wings - off its menu, to reassure customers. It did not say if it uses Brazilian meat. China on Thursday urged Brazil to hand out harsh punishments to those involved in the tainted meat scandal, but offered no time frame for lifting a ban on imports from the South American country. Top Chinese retailers in the country removed Brazilian beef and poultry from their shelves. Hong Kong, Japan, Canada, Mexico, Switzerland and South Africa have announced partial or all-out bans on Brazilian meat imports this week, following measures similar to those taken by China, the European Union and Chile. The issue is particularly sensitive for Beijing as it tries to improve a poor record on food safety after scandals including decades-old "zombie" meat and recycled "gutter oil" for cooking.

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Technology

Kansas Leopold Conservation Award Program Seeks Nominees

Sand County Foundation, the Kansas Association of Conservation Districts (KACD) and the Ranchland Trust of Kansas (RTK) are accepting applications until June 2 for the 2017 Leopold Conservation Award. The $10,000 award honors Kansas farmers, ranchers and other private landowners who voluntarily demonstrate outstanding stewardship and management of natural resources. Given in honor of renowned conservationist Aldo Leopold, the Leopold Conservation Award inspires other landowners and provides a visible forum where farmers, ranchers and other private landowners are recognized as conservation leaders. In his influential 1949 book, “A Sand County Almanac,” Leopold called for an ethical relationship between people and the land they own and manage, which he called “an evolutionary possibility and an ecological necessity.” “The Leopold Conservation Award Program provides a valuable opportunity to recognize the outstanding accomplishments of Kansas agricultural landowners who are committed to strong conservation practices and effective stewardship,” said Jim Krueger, Executive Director of the Kansas Association of Conservation Districts. “We are proud to be a partner in the Leopold Conservation Award Program in Kansas,” said Bill Eastman, Chair of the Board at RTK. “The private landowners we honor play a critical role in caring for the natural resources we all depend on." Applications for the award must be postmarked by June 2, 2017 and mailed to KACD c/o Jim Krueger, 1008 2500 Avenue, Abilene KS 67410. Nominations may be submitted on behalf of a landowner, or landowners may nominate themselves. The award will be presented on November 20, 2017 at the KACD Annual Convention in Wichita. The Leopold Conservation Award Program in Kansas is made possible thanks to the generous support of Clean Line Energy Partners, Ducks Unlimited, ITC Great Plains, Westar Energy, Kansas Forest Service, Kansas Department of Agriculture, Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism, and USDA NRCS Kansas. For application information, please visit www.leopoldconservationaward.org

CPNRD to Take Action on Crop Evapotranspiration Study with UNL

The Central Platte Natural Resources District’s board will take action on an agreement with UNL on the Nebraska Water and Energy Flux Measurement, Modeling and Research Network (NEBFLUX) with UNL at their monthly meeting on March 30, 2017. The Project measures actual evapotranspiration rates of various vegetation surfaces by utilizing advanced techniques to measure surface energy fluxes, microclimatic variables, plant physiological parameters, soil water content, surface characteristics, and their interactions for various vegetation surfaces in the CPNRD. The NRD has funded the project since 2007 to seek scientific-based research for the NRD’s water management programs.  The amendment would extend the project through June 2020 in the amount of $343,259.  

Data Coalition, Growers Join to Launch Ag Data Cooperative

A cooperative of growers and an agricultural data nonprofit have agreed to combine their technology platforms and create a vital resource for data-driven agriculture - a neutral, secure and private data storage repository controlled by growers. The combined platforms will be known as AgXchange and will be an independent data repository commercially available through the Growers Ag Data Cooperative (GADC) where producers can control, store, view and share their farm data assets. The effort resulted from dialogues between Grower Information Services Cooperative (GiSC), a grower-formed data warehouse and sharing cooperative, and Agricultural Data Coalition (ADC), a nonprofit corporation formed by 14 founding members, including universities, industry organizations, agricultural groups and companies. The two organizations have been in communication since the ADC announced its mission to help farmers better control and manage their electronic data and facilitate noncommercial research. Realizing their common vision and missions based on grower-controlled data, GiSC and ADC have agreed to combine their efforts and create more synergy between the two organizations and their members. GiSC will rebrand and become Growers Agricultural Data Cooperative, and the two organizations will work closely to provide producers, universities and others a platform to securely store, control and, if they choose, share their data. "After meeting with each other, we realized we were working toward the same end goal, though from slightly different approaches. It was quickly clear that combining efforts would provide substantial benefits and move us all toward the objective of a grower-controlled, independent data storage repository," said ADC President Ben Craker. AgXchange is a platform developed through the collaboration of GiSC and ADC. GiSC has a working data storage and visualization platform. ADC developed a data storage and sharing pilot repository, featuring data connections to several precision farming data platforms. The two entities will integrate their complementary platforms to improve functionality and value, improve grower control over their data and allow growers to share their data with universities and other researchers, in addition to other service providers, if the growers choose to do so. "The central idea was to use the capabilities and resources of the diverse members of the ADC to establish a centralized, dynamic, but completely neutral, resource," Craker said. "Any time a grower who has an AgXchange account wants to share their data with a service provider, researcher or other business interest, they will be able to grant permission if they so choose." "GiSC, now recognized as GADC, will fill a need many growers may not have recognized yet - neutral and secure data storage," said Billy Tiller, the founder of GiSC. He explained that many growers do not currently maximize the opportunities to use their data, while others may use third-party services to do it for them but often unknowingly grant perpetual rights to use their information to the service providers. "Growers not only need to be able to maximize the use of their data through capturing and sharing data, but they also need to be able to control the use of that data generated on their operations. When a grower gains complete control of his/her data, the grower will then be able to maintain complete control of his/her operation from the present to the future," said Jason Ward, CEO of GiSC. Announced just one year ago, the ADC is the result of years of planning and coordination by AGCO, Agri-AFC, the American Farm Bureau Federation, Auburn University, CNH Industrial, Crop IMS, Ice Miller LLP, Iowa AgState, The Ohio State University, Purdue University, Mississippi State University, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Raven Industries and Topcon Positioning Group. Grower Information Services Cooperative, GiSC, is the only grower-owned data cooperative in the United States. GiSC is made up of growers across all geographies, commodities and demographics. The coop, and the data that resides within the organization, is governed by a board of directors composed of the growers' peers. GiSC works to protect growers' data rights as well as provide a secure place to warehouse and share growers' data. Growers interested in learning more about data collection should visit www.GiSC.coop, and organizations interested in joining ADC's efforts, should visit www.AgDataCoalition.org.  

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Ag Policy

U.S. biodiesel industry calls out illegal trading

Jefferson City – Today the National Biodiesel Board filed an antidumping and countervailing duty petition, making the case that Argentine and Indonesian companies are violating trade laws by flooding the U.S. market with dumped and subsidized biodiesel. The petition was filed with the U.S. Department of Commerce and the U.S. International Trade Commission on behalf of the National Biodiesel Board Fair Trade Coalition, which is made up of the National Biodiesel Board and U.S. biodiesel producers. “The National Biodiesel Board and U.S. biodiesel industry is committed to fair trade, and we support the right of producers and workers to compete on a level playing field,” said Donnell Rehagen, National Biodiesel Board CEO. “This is a simple case where companies in Argentina and Indonesia are getting advantages that cheat U.S. trade laws and are counter to fair competition.  NBB is involved because U.S. biodiesel production, which currently support more than 50,000 American jobs, is being put at risk by unfair market practices.” Because of illegal trade activities, biodiesel imports from Argentina and Indonesia surged by 464 percent from 2014 to 2016. That growth has taken 18.3 percentage points of market share from U.S. manufacturers. “The resulting imbalance caused by unfair trade practices is suffocating U.S. biodiesel producers,” Rehagen explained. “Our goal is to create a level playing field to give markets, consumers and retailers access to the benefits of true and fair competition.” Based on NBB’s review, Argentine and Indonesian producers are dumping their biodiesel in the United States by selling at prices that are substantially below their costs of production.  This is reflected in the petition’s alleged dumping margins of 23.3percent for Argentina and 34.0 percent for Indonesia.  The petition also alleges illegal subsidies based on numerous government programs in those countries. This is not the first time that Argentine and Indonesian biodiesel producers have been charged with violating international trade laws.  In 2013, the EU imposed 41.9 to 49.2 percent duties on Argentina and 8.8 to 23.3 percent duties on Indonesia.  Just last year, Peru imposed both antidumping and countervailing duties on Argentine biodiesel. The National Biodiesel Board is the U.S. trade association representing the biodiesel and renewable diesel industries, including producers, feedstock suppliers, and fuel distributors.

Analysis shows LB338 would dramatically slow the rate of growth in ag property tax valuations

WEST POINT – Today, Governor Pete Ricketts unveiled a new analysis of LB338, an ag land property tax reform proposal introduced by Senator Lydia Brasch of Bancroft.  The analysis shows that total ag land valuations statewide would have grown about $61 billion less over the last 10 years if this proposal had been in place. “This analysis confirms that the Agricultural Valuation Fairness Act would provide long-term, structural reform,” said Governor Ricketts.  “The massive spike we’ve seen in ag land valuations has been a key driver of high property taxes.  Controlling the growth of valuations will protect Nebraska’s farm and ranch families, and build a bright future for Nebraska’s number one industry, agriculture.” Since 2007, ag land valuations have increased 251.83 percent.  The analysis conducted by the Nebraska Department of Revenue shows that ag land valuations would have only grown 36.29 percent had LB338 been in place.     “As an ag producer, I have prioritized LB338 because it will make structural changes to property taxes to help grow agriculture in Nebraska,” said Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Lydia Brasch of Bancroft.  “Nebraskans who want to see meaningful property tax reform this year should reach out to their senators to share their stories with them.” LB338 proposes to change the way ag land is valued for taxation purposes, moving from a market sales valuation system to one based on income potential.  Learn more about LB338 by clicking here.  Information on how to contact your senator can be found at www.NebraskaLegislature.gov.

White House Working to Ease Agriculture Concerns about Trade Policy

The Trump administration is working to allay the concerns of some in the agriculture industry that new trade deals negotiated by the White House could leave U.S. agriculture exports behind. Ray Starling, special assistant to the president on agriculture, agricultural trade and food assistance, said the White House has been meeting with representatives of the industry over the past two weeks to discuss concerns over the U.S. withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal and the proposed renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). "I think a lot of people on the ag front feel like what we got out of our NAFTA was generally good and that we certainly don't want to regress on any of the gains that we made there for ag," Starling said after a "National Ag Day" event organized by the Agriculture Council of America. Agricultural trade is one of the bright spots in U.S. exports and has largely benefited from the reduced trade barriers created by NAFTA. The U.S. exported about $38.6 billion in agricultural goods to Canada and Mexico in 2015, according to USDA. More than 25 percent of all U.S. agricultural goods are shipped overseas. The U.S. exported about $38.6 billion in agricultural goods to Canada and Mexico in 2015, according to USDA. More than 25% of all U.S. agricultural goods are shipped overseas. Starling said the White House was aware of concerns by some in the agriculture industry that new trade policies on major agriculture trading partners like Mexico and China could hurt U.S. crop exports. "We understand the angst in the ag community based on some of the things they may have read or seen related to trade," Starling said. "So the last couple of weeks we've been cycling ag groups in and out of the White House to sort of make their case and talk about what their number-one priorities are." Starling said some of the provisions in TPP that benefited agriculture could resurface in future trade deals. The proposed deal would have reduced tariffs and promoted U.S. access to some foreign markets. "I hope we don't retreat from any of that and I don't get the sense that we will, that many of the things we worked on in TPP and many of the things that we got will now hopefully become a bit of a floor as opposed to a ceiling," he said.  

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