Each of the following bills and programs impacts livestock growth and the strength of animal agriculture in Nebraska.
A county may require livestock operations to obtain a permit from the County Planning Commission or County Board of Commissioners for the expansion of an existing livestock operation. Legislative Bill 106, which was introduced by Sen. Dan Watermeier and signed into law in 2015, directs the Nebraska Department of Agriculture to develop an assessment matrix which county officials may voluntarily adopt to determine whether to approve an application for a livestock siting permit. The goal of this legislation is to grow livestock production in Nebraska using scientific, objective criteria to best protect communities and natural resources.
The Director of Agriculture has appointed a committee of experts to advise the Department on development of the matrix. Once the committee completes a draft matrix which is approved by the Nebraska Department of Agriculture, the matrix will be posted on the Department’s website and available for public comment. Following assessment and incorporation of public comments, the Department intends to run a “pilot program” to test the workability of the matrix and ensure that it is a viable tool for Nebraska counties.
Earlier this year, Nebraska lawmakers gave final approval to Legislative Bill 176 (LB 176), introduced by Sen. Ken Schilz, which eliminates a ban put in place in 1998 to prevent pork processors in Nebraska from owning hogs in the state. This ban prevented processors from contracting with Nebraska farmers who feed and care for the hogs, and any family operation which owns hogs from processing and selling their meat, practices legal in every other state. Especially damaging, before LB 176 was signed into law, processors with packing facilities outside Nebraska could to own hogs in the state, meaning the restrictions on pork ownership applied only to those processing in Nebraska – tying the hands of Nebraska-based companies relative to their competitors in other states.
The Nebraska Livestock Friendly County (LFC) program is a voluntary program which recognizes counties that actively support the livestock industry. The designation indicates to livestock producers and value-added businesses a county wants economic growth and will support their industry for years to come.
To learn more about the program visit: http://www.nda.nebraska.gov/promotion/livestock_friendly/index.html