Session Review: Agriculture

Lawmakers considered many agricultural issues this session including livestock branding and management, climate change, livestock management and regulatory requirements.

North Platte Sen. Tom Hansen introduced LB435, passed 45-0, which allows out-of-state brand permits that authorize a one-time use of a brand registered with a state other than Nebraska to brand cattle for immediate exportation out of state.

The bill authorizes the branding of cattle with an out-of-state brand if:
• the cattle are purchased at a livestock auction market licensed under the Livestock Auction Market Act or another location approved by the Nebraska Brand Committee;
• the cattle will be exported immediately from Nebraska;
• the cattle are branded at the livestock auction market or other approved location; and
• an out-of-state brand permit has been obtained prior to branding the cattle.

Producers can obtain an out-of-state brand permit by submitting an application and corresponding fee to a brand inspector.

Hyannis Sen. Al Davis introduced LB647, which allows cattle to be imported into Nebraska without individual animal identification if they are:
• identified by a registered brand;
• accompanied by an official brand inspection certificate issued by the recognized brand inspection authority of the state of origin; and
• imported directly from a mandatory brand inspection area of any state.

The state Department of Agriculture can require imported cattle to have individual identification under LB647 if the director determines that:
• the state of origin recognized brand registration or brand inspection procedures and documentation are insufficient to trace an individual animal to its herd of origin;
• identification by brand alone is in conflict with a standard of federal law or regulation regarding identification of cattle moved into Nebraska; or
• the cattle originates from a location that is not an accredited tuberculosis-free state or zone or is not designated a brucellosis-free state or zone.

The bill continues to allow the state veterinarian to issue import orders imposing additional requirements, including identification requirements, for animals imported into Nebraska from any state, country, zone or other area.

Senators passed the bill on a 45-0 vote.

LB423, introduced by the Agriculture Committee, authorizes law enforcement officials to enter into an agreement with animal owners and custodians outlining interventions to be undertaken to avoid seizure of neglected animals. The bill allows for keeping seized animals on the premises of the owner or custodian.

The bill also expressly authorizes law enforcement to euthanize severely emaciated, injured, disabled, or diseased animals but would require officials to accommodate an owner’s request to have his or her veterinarian present when animals are assessed. Upon seizure of the animals, the law enforcement agency taking custody will have seven days to petition for a hearing before the district court, which will be scheduled within 10 days of the date of petition.

If a court determines that abandonment or cruel neglect has occurred, it may:
• order immediate forfeiture of animals and authorize appropriate disposition of the animals, including euthanasia;
• detail conditions that must be met to restore custody to the owner; or
• order a bond or other security, or direct installment payments to pay for the seizing agency’s cost for care of the animals.

If the owner or custodian is found not guilty, all funds paid by the owner remaining after actual expenses incurred by the seizing agency associated with the seizure and care of animals will be refunded.

The provisions of the bill cannot preempt any animal welfare ordinances of a city of the metropolitan or primary class. Currently, Omaha is the only metropolitan class city and Lincoln is the only primary class city.

Provisions of LB544, a bill originally introduced by Hansen, were amended into LB423 and prohibit an owner of a beef or dairy breeding bull infected with bovine trichomoniasis from selling or transporting the animal except for slaughter.

The owner also is required to report the diagnosis to the state Department of Agriculture within five business days of laboratory confirmation of the diagnosis and must notify all neighboring landowners of the infection within 14 days.

The bill passed on a 41-0 vote.

Two bills related to the dairy industry passed this session. Both were introduced by Sen. Ken Schilz of Ogallala.

LB70, introduced by Ogallala Sen. Ken Schilz and passed 45-0, prevents a decrease in the Nebraska Dairy Industry Development board’s membership below its current level.

Currently, membership on the board is proportional to the number of milk producers in the state. The formula in place designates one board member for every 40 milk production units.

Under LB70, if the formula results in fewer than seven members, the governor will appoint a member or members from nominees submitted by the board.

LB67 amends the Nebraska Milk Act by adopting the majority of the 2011 Grade A Pasteurized Milk Ordinance. Under the bill, all milk production facilities will be required to comply with Grade A dairy standards except that existing manufacturing grade dairies will be exempted provided they continue to meet manufacturing grade standards.

Senators passed the bill on a 46-0 vote.

Malcolm Sen. Ken Haar introduced LB583, passed 32-12, which requires the state’s Climate Assessment Response Committee to prepare a report on cyclical climate change in Nebraska by Dec. 1, 2014. The report will include possible impacts on the state’s agriculture, water, recreation and other economic sectors and provide conclusions and recommendations.

LB68, introduced by Schilz, updates provisions in the Plant Protection and Plant Pest Act.

Currently, commercial nursery licenses are divided into three categories under the act: growers, dealers and brokers. The bill consolidates all three types of licenses into a single nursery stock distributor license.

LB68 also changes existing fee schedules due to the creation of the new license. Applicants seeking a Nursery Stock Distributor license will be charged $115 for the first acre and $5 for each additional acre. The state Department of Agriculture is authorized to adjust fees to a maximum of $140 for the first acre and $6 for each additional acre. This is an increase from a $100 fee, regardless of size.

Senators passed the bill on a 41-0 vote.

Schilz also introduced LB69, passed 40-0, which removes the specialty pesticide designation from pesticide product registration.

Currently, pesticides classified as specialty are charged a registration fee of $160 per product while nonspecialty pesticides are charged a fee of $200. LB69 removes the specialty classification and establishes an annual registration fee of $160 for all pesticide products.

The bill makes several additional changes, some of which include:
• updating contaminant levels in drinking water under the Safe Drinking Water Act;
• updating a reference relating to the state Department of Agriculture’s authority with regard to designating pesticide applicator categories; and
• requiring that the renewal of an aerial pesticide business license is completed before the start of spraying operations each season rather than on January 1st as required under current law.

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