Session Review: Agriculture

The Agriculture Committee this session advanced proposals to update the Livestock Brand Act and allow farmers and ranchers to offer livestock ownership shares to customers.

Under LB572, introduced by Sen. Steve Halloran of Hastings, the Nebraska Brand Committee may provide for electronic inspection of enrolled cattle identified by certain approved nonvisual identifiers, including electronic devices, nose prints, retinal scans or DNA matches.

The bill, passed on a vote of 47-1, creates an electronic inspection fee of no more than 85 cents per head and lowers the physical brand inspection fee to the same amount. The new fee schedule takes effect Oct. 1, 2021, and ends June 30, 2023.

LB572 also increases fees for new brand applications and brand renewals and authorizes the committee to charge for actual mileage incurred by an inspector to perform a physical inspection.

Additionally, the bill requires the committee to provide a certified bill of sale and a certified transportation permit to qualified dairies that sell or move calves under 30 days of age out of the brand inspection area. Dairies first must provide required information electronically to the committee.

LB572 also makes violations of several Livestock Brand Act provisions infractions enforceable by citation. The bill makes it a Class III felony to willfully or knowingly apply, remove, damage or alter an approved nonvisual identifier — or corrupt the information recorded on an identifier — if it is done to steal or falsely assert ownership of livestock.

Finally, the bill makes Nebraska Brand Committee appointments subject to confirmation by the Legislature.

Introduced by Plymouth Sen. Tom Brandt and passed 48-0, LB324 allows the acquisition of meat through an animal share — an ownership interest in an animal or herd of animals created by a written contract between a consumer and a farmer or rancher — under certain conditions.

Among other requirements, the animal share owner, or someone acting on their behalf, must receive the meat, and the farmer or rancher must provide the consumer with a description of their livestock health and processing standards.

A farmer or rancher who offers an animal share must be a Nebraska resident and maintain a record of each animal share sold. The name and address of each individual with an ownership interest in the particular livestock must be presented to the processor prior to slaughter.

LB324 also creates an independent processor assistance program that, if funds are made available, will provide funding to certain federally inspected, state inspected or custom-exempt slaughter and processing facilities in Nebraska that employ fewer than 25 people

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