Session Review: Agriculture

Licenses for cropdusters, grants for electronic scanners at farmers’ markets, clarifications to division fence statutes and changes to livestock laws were addressed in bills reported by the Agriculture Committee this session.

LB254, offered by Fullerton Sen. Annette Dubas and passed 44-0, requires those applying pesticides via aircraft or aerial spraying to obtain an aerial pesticide applicator business license. The license is regulated by the state Department of Agriculture and will cost $100 to $150. Proceeds from the fee will be remitted to the Pesticide Administrative Cash Fund.

Commercial applicator license holders may apply pesticides via aircraft under the direct supervision of a Nebraska aerial pesticide business license holder. Licensees are held liable for the actions of persons applying pesticides under their supervision.

LB986, introduced by Lincoln Sen. Danielle Conrad, expands acceptable uses of Agricultural Opportunities and Value-Added Partnership Act grants to include purchases of electronic scanners and point-of-sale devices that enable those receiving federally subsidized food and nutrition benefits to purchase food at farmers’ markets.

The bill passed 46-0.

Senators passed a bill affecting division fence law.

Under previous statute, adjoining landowners were required to maintain and construct a “just proportion” of division fence, but no statutory definition was provided for just proportion.

LB667, introduced by Cedar Rapids Sen. Kate Sullivan, defines just proportion as an equitable allocation of the portion of the fence line that each landowner must construct and maintain, or an equitable financial contribution. An equitable allocation shall result in an equal burden unless otherwise specified in law or by an agreement between landowners.

The bill passed 46-0.

Introduced by Holdrege Sen. Tom Carlson, LB909 would have allowed landowners access to adjacent land owned by another person to remove or trim vegetation within and in the immediate proximity of the fence line. Current law allows limited access to carry out other fencing activities — such as construction, maintenance and repair — but it expressly prohibits access for the purpose of tree removal without the adjacent landowners’ consent or a court order.

The bill was not advanced from committee.

The committee also heard bills regarding livestock that were approved this session.

LB882, introduced by Tekamah Sen. Kent Rogert and approved 48-0, affords ranchers more options for livestock disposal. The bill permits an owner to bury or incinerate an animal or incorporate it into a compost facility on the premise where it died or on an adjacent property owned or controlled by the animal’s owner.

The bill permits a rendering company to transport a carcass to a licensed landfill that accepts carcasses and removes a 600-pound limit on carcasses that may be incorporated into a composting facility.

The bill also permits a veterinary clinic or veterinary diagnostic laboratory to use alkaline hydrolysis to dispose of carcasses.

LB882 takes effect Oct. 1, 2010.

Finally, lawmakers voted 43-2 to enact a bill to diversify the funding source for the state’s inspection program under the Commercial Dog and Cat Operator Inspection Act.

LB910, introduced by Carlson, requires that a $1 fee be collected at the time a dog or cat is licensed. Jurisdictions will retain 3 cents of the fee as administrative reimbursement.

The bill also adds a licensure category for animal rescue organizations and adds license fee categories in 50-animal increments up to 500 animals, with a fee of $2,000 for licensees with more than 500 animals.

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