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Nebraska Organic Farmer’s Letter Urges Senators to Protect Family Farms, Oppose LB 176

 

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(Photo courtesy Bernt family)

Dear Senator,

Hello, my name is Robert Bernt.

My wife and I, along with our 12 children own and operate Clear Creek Organic Farms.

We process the milk from our 60 cow herd into cheese, butter and ice cream in our on-farm processing plant. Along with this we have a herd of sows that we direct market. There has always been swine on our farm for the past five generations.

I oppose LB 176 because of the effects it will have on the reestablishing of small family farms in Nebraska.

We are very fortunate to be the only state that has been increasing in the number of small family farms. This is a win win situation for our towns, our communities, and in turn, our state.

One thing I credit this to, is being able to raise pork with a smaller start up cost and the fewer acres needed. In a state where packers haven’t owned hogs.

To start up, the producer will usually try to market them direct. However we all need the ability to sell our over run through sale barns. This will no longer be available to the small producer. This WILL hinder any future production from small producers, whether starting up, or already established. The packer will no longer buy hogs; they will already own their own. In the last year, I, myself, have sold replacement gilts for start ups to four different small family farmers in out state Nebraska. Never in my 40 years of raising pork, have I sold to this many “start ups” This is a promising sign!!

While passing LB176 will probably encourage larger operations and the possibility of being able to sell more corn. I ask you, at what price?

Our state has already been developed almost to the max for crop production. The only area that would attract development, would be the sandhills. Believe me, if price of corn and beans go up because a Smithfield hog feeding operation builds. The farmer will start bulldozing the trees out and the hills down. The last time this was done in the 1970s, the people south and east of the sandhills are now paying for this. Look at a map at the cities affected by nitrates in their drinking water. They lay in direct flow of the Ogallala aquifer. Luckily we have cut back and healed a lot of those foolish farming attempts on our sandhills. It has taken 30 years for the nitrates to reach the areas it has.

If packer ownership increases feeding of pork in the Nebraska like they said it would. If it will encourage corn sales and in turn cause more corn production in the sandhills. It will lead to the same problem, but much worse. Then I guess the senators from south east part of the state had better understand that their children and grandchildren will have a right to ask, “What were the damn fools thinking of!” as once said by a good friend of ours.

For the concerns of some senators about legality… first, if it is unconstitutional to keep the packers from owning their own hogs, why have they not contested it before now? Why go through the hassle, for three years to try to pass this bill or one similar? One would think that we would have been sued by now! Another thing to consider, according to the 1992 Earth Summit, precautionary principle 15, that was signed into law. We should always err on the side of caution. We know that Iowa has surface water contamination from these large hog units. This has been proven!! If our senators side with the foreign corporation that some of them have received money from, and NOT for what’s best for the people, the environment and our state, we could quite possibly be subject to a lawsuit brought on because of the precautionary principles.

PLEASE, I ask that you DO NOT side with a foreign corporation instead of your local constituents!!!

DO NOT let LB176 pass.

Sincerely,

Robert Bernt

Clear Creek Organic Farms
Producing Healthy Foods For Healthy Families

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The Bernt family, proprietors of Clear Creek Organic Farms in Spalding, NE. (Photo: Marty Steinhausen)

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