Agriculture

Proposals to create a new checkoff program and update the Nebraska Hemp Farming Act were among those considered by the Agriculture Committee this session.

LB803, introduced by Venango Sen. Dan Hughes and passed 44-0, creates a checkoff program for Nebraska dry pea and lentil growers.

A five-member Dry Pea and Lentil Commission may 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.

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

Lawmakers voted 44-3 to pass LB1152, which updates the Nebraska Hemp Farming Act to harmonize it with new federal regulations.

The bill, sponsored by Hastings Sen. Steve Halloran, requires the state Department of Agriculture to receive and process all completed license applications and issue licenses to qualified applicants. It also requires licensees to maintain a record of hemp shipments sent from or received by the licensee.

Additionally, LB1152 references a federal definition of “acceptable hemp THC level” and requires testing laboratories to measure the total THC in a hemp sample and report a measurement of uncertainty along with the test results. The bill clarifies that the lot represented by a hemp sample must be harvested within 15 days.

A proposal to make a violation of state law regarding food labels a deceptive trade practice failed to advance from general file.

Under LB594, as introduced by Sen. Carol Blood last session, advertising, promoting, labeling or selling plant-based, lab-grown or insect-based foods as meat would violate the Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act.

A committee amendment would have removed the definition of meat and the accompanying deceptive trade practice proposed in the original bill. It instead would have made a violation of “any provision of the Nebraska Pure Food Act relating to the labeling, packing or packaging, or advertising of food” a deceptive trade practice.

The Legislature adjourned before voting on the amendment or the bill. Speaker Jim Scheer of Norfolk later put a hold on LB594 at Blood’s request.

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