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ACTION NEEDED: Defeat Packer Ownership, Defend Local Control

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Photo by Mitch Paine

***UPDATE***  LB106 has been delayed and will now be on the floor Monday, March 30th.  Please call as many senators as possible and urge them to vote against LB106.

Take Action

Your state senators need to hear from you now.  It is important that you contact your representative as well as many others in order to let the unicameral know that citizens do not support a government-facilitated corporate takeover of Nebraska agriculture.  For a directory of the state senators, click this link: http://nebraskalegislature.gov/pdf/senators/roster.pdf

To find your state senator, go to this link: http://nebraskalegislature.gov/senators/senator_find.php

Two bad Big Ag-friendly bills have made it out of committee and will likely see debate on the floor of the Nebraska legislature.  Your action is needed now to help prevent these bills from becoming law, which would have devastating consequences for our state’s family farmers and for anyone who cares about protecting local planning and zoning authority, protecting water quality, and keeping a viable family-farm agriculture system in place in Nebraska.

Defend Local Control–Oppose LB106

LB106 would virtually eliminate any semblance of local control over the regulation of livestock operations in Nebraska.  Under LB106, potential livestock operations that had permits denied in the county planning and zoning process could reapply for review by a governor-appointed state board, whose decision would ultimately override that of the county.  It is a blatant taking of the local control of county planning and zoning boards, and giving it to a panel which has no accountability to the local residents of a county who would be affected by the construction of new large livestock operations.

LB106 solves no known problem.  Many county officials are alarmed that the state would be taking such a drastic stance on livestock issues, since those issues are best resolved at the local level, by the people who live and work in the community, who know a county’s land and people better than anyone, who will have to live with the consequences of their actions.  LB106 did not come about from a demand on the part of any county zoning body.  It is a blatant attempt by corporate livestock operators to wrest local control away from citizens in order to exploit our state’s resources.  Texas and California are running out of water, and large livestock operations there are looking to relocate somewhere.  They have their sights set squarely on Nebraska.  LB106 would allow the livestock industry to operate in Nebraska as if it were the Wild West, with virtually no oversight or authority from local officials about what type or how many animal operations could be constructed.

Again, other states provide an example that Nebraska should not follow.  Again, in Iowa, unchecked corporate livestock growth has transformed the countryside and ruined the drinking water quality for many people.  Do we really want to relinquish the control of what happens in our communities and hand over power to a state board?

To read an opinion piece about LB106 by former state senator Matt Connealy, click this link: http://www.omaha.com/opinion/midlands-voices-reject-one-size-fits-all-ag-policies/article_dbf13c4a-a3fd-59dc-beff-8b0a39fb1c77.html

Defeat Packer Ownership–Oppose LB176

LB176, which would allow pork processors to own pigs in Nebraska, has been voted out of the agriculture committee.  This bill would hand over all market control to the meatpackers and reduce farmers to little more than contract growers for the corporations.  The bill would allow pork meatpackers to own hogs as long as they had production contracts with hog producers. This would have the same effect as a repeal of the ban on packer ownership because meat processors are no longer building and operating hog CAFO’s.  They now use contract production to achieve the same two benefits that ownership provides:  control, and primary economic benefits, while passing the risks and responsibilities associated with production along to the producer.  LB176 would in effect make the hog industry in Nebraska like the chicken industry, and would open the door to allowing meatpackers to own cattle, which would be disastrous for Nebraska’s independent family cattle ranchers.  What is further troubling about this is the fact that Smithfield, the largest pork packer in the world, is now owned by the Chinese company Shanghui International.  There is a constitutional ban on the foreign corporate ownership of farmland.  Why would we allow foreign corporations to own livestock?  This failed system has transformed the chicken industry into a captive supply for poultry packers and driven many producers into debt and bankruptcy.

Watch this movie about one farmer’s attempts to expose the poultry industry’s abuse of animals and farmers:

Unchecked growth of corporate-owned pork has allowed rapid expansion of confined animal feeding operations in states like Iowa, where such expansion has threatened drinking water supplies and has virtually eliminated the open market system of price discovery and competition among packers for market share. The United States has lost 91% of its hog producers since 1980.  Do we really need to continue down this path of allowing meatpacking corporations to prey on family farmers by locking them into a treadmill system of debt?

Take Action

Your state senators need to hear from you now.  It is important that you contact your representative as well as many others in order to let the unicameral know that citizens do not support a government-facilitated corporate takeover of Nebraska agriculture.  For a directory of the state senators, click this link: http://nebraskalegislature.gov/pdf/senators/roster.pdf

Support Organizations Fighting for Family Farmers:

 Much of the groundwork on these issues has been done by the Nebraska Farmers Union.  Since 1913, NeFU has been fighting for Nebraska’s Family Farmers and Ranchers.  You can learn more about the Nebraska Farmers Union at their websitehttp://www.nebraskafarmersunion.org  You can also donate or become a member.  Your support is needed to keep organizations like this working strong into the future.  Without them, family farmers lose their collective voice.

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BOLD Nebraska
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