Session Review: Agriculture

Livestock producers will operate under new procedures implemented as a result of legislation heard by the Legislature’s Agriculture Committee.

Livestock management

Ogallala Sen. Ken Schilz introduced LB768, which codifies practices used by the Nebraska Brand Committee for calculating annual inspection fees for feedlots and dairies participating in a voluntary registration program. The registration fee shall base the calculation on capacity only upon an initial application. The annual average inventory will be used to calculate the fee for subsequent renewals.

The bill incorporates provisions of LB846, a bill originally introduced by Hyannis Sen. Al Davis. It establishes that the brand inspection service area includes any Nebraska county, or portion thereof, immediately adjacent to the mandatory brand inspection area. Brand inspection is a service available upon request within the brand inspection service area at the same costs as imposed for mandatory inspections within the brand area.

The measure also requires that the amount of federal beef checkoff collected under the Federal Beef Promotion and Research Order be enumerated on a bill of sale.

The bill passed on a 49-0 vote.

LB941, introduced by Schilz, calls for the state Department of Agriculture to provide a report examining Nebraska’s milk production and processing, marketing and expansion opportunities, productivity comparisons and trends and efforts to recruit dairies and stimulate investment.

The report will study the capacity of instate processors to increase their use of milk produced in Nebraska and examine the potential for expansion of self-processing and direct marketing of Nebraska milk and dairy products. Additionally, the bill allows the department director to recommend ways that state government could stimulate milk production and markets.

The deadline for the report is Nov. 15, 2014, with the intent that it receive a public hearing by the Agriculture Committee.

The bill passed on a 46-0 vote.

North Platte Sen. Tom Hansen introduced LB884, which adopts the Exotic Animal Auctions or Exchange Venue Act and requires organizers of exotic animal auctions or swap meets to obtain a permit before holding such events. The bill also requires that organizers retain or contract with a licensed accredited veterinarian to be available during each sale.

The bill defines an exotic animal as those species or breeds not commonly sold through auction markets but required to be licensed pursuant to the Livestock Auction Market Act, such as miniature cattle, horses and donkeys. Exotic venues are no longer limited to the types of sheep and goats that may be sold and are exempt from the requirement that they be licensed as a Livestock Auction Market when sheep, goats and bovine, camelid and porcine species are sold there, provided an accredited veterinarian is on site and each animal that changes ownership is accompanied by a Certificate of Veterinary Inspection. An inspection could be issued on the sale day or written within 30 days prior to the sale date.

Further, LB884 requires verification that a permit applicant has contracted for the services of an accredited veterinarian. The department may deny a permit based on an incomplete application, previous violations of the act or an applicant’s inability to fulfill the responsibilities of a permit holder.

The bill passed on a 44-0 vote.

Environmental regulation

The committee advanced one of two bills introduced by Malcolm Sen. Ken Haar pertaining to the Climate Assessment and Response Committee.

LB1008 requires the committee to produce a climate change report derived from reports and recommendations submitted to it. The final report is due Dec. 1, 2014.

The bill stems from LB583, passed in 2013, which directed the climate committee to produce an original report to the governor on the impact of climate change on the state and to facilitate communication between stakeholders to address those impacts and response strategies.

The bill passed on a 44-1 vote.

LB882 would have directed the committee to redefine “cyclical climate change” as information and research that includes all climate influences considered relevant by scientists, including human influence.

LB882 failed to advance from committee.

Haar also introduced LB696, which would have prohibited the manufacture, sale or distribution of a reusable food container containing Bisphenol A (BPA) as of Jan. 1, 2015. Beginning January 1, 2016, BPA would be prohibited in food packaging for foods consumed by or marketed to children under 12 years old and food packaging containing BPA would have been required to carry the following warning: This package contains Bisphenol A, a chemical that may harm fetal development, which can leach into the food.

LB696 was indefinitely postponed by the committee.

Other measures

O’Neill Sen. Tyson Larson introduced LB597, passed 43-0, which expands the use of an agricultural society levy to include purchase of equipment.

The bill requires that a society receive consent from the county board before buying, selling or entering into long-term leases with society-owned real estate. Consent will not be required for short-term leases of 90 days or less.

LB673, introduced by Omaha Sen. Ernie Chambers, would have repealed the Black-Tailed Prairie Dog Management Act of 2012, which prohibits the uncontrolled spread of colonies of black-tailed prairie dogs and authorizes county boards to administer efforts to control them.

LB673 failed to advance from the committee.

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