New checkoff program amended, advanced

Lawmakers advanced a bill July 20 that would create a checkoff program for Nebraska dry pea and lentil growers.

Sen. Dan Hughes
Sen. Dan Hughes

As introduced by Sen. Dan Hughes of Venango, LB803 would create the Pulse Crop Development, Utilization and Marketing Board.

Hughes filed an amendment on select file that would replace the bill. It instead would create the five-member Dry Pea and Lentil Commission to protect and stabilize the state’s dry pea and lentil industry and the economy of the areas producing those crops.

Hughes said the name change is meant to clarify which growers would be included in the checkoff program.

The commission would have the power to create general state policies and programs related to the discovery, promotion and development of markets and industries for the utilization of dry peas, lentils, chickpeas or garbanzo beans, faba beans or lupins grown in Nebraska.

It also could adopt an education and publicity program, make grants and enter into research contracts.

The commission’s members, who would be appointed by the governor, would have to be Nebraska residents who are dry pea or lentil growers with at least five years of experience, among other requirements.

The director of the state Department of Agriculture and the vice chancellor of the University of Nebraska’s Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources would serve as nonvoting members.

All voting members of the commission would be entitled to expenses while attending commission meetings or while engaged in their official duties.

Beginning July 1, 2021, a 1 percent excise tax would be imposed on the net market value of dry peas and lentils sold through commercial channels in the state. The tax would be levied and imposed on the grower at the time of sale or delivery. The first purchaser would collect the tax and remit it to the commission.

Senators voted 42-0 to adopt the Hughes amendment and then advanced LB803 to final reading by voice vote.

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