Detasseling measure clears second round

Lawmakers amended and advanced a bill March 7 meant to clarify how seed corn companies solicit bids for contract labor for roguing — eliminating undesired corn plants — and detasseling in Nebraska.

Sen. Steve Erdman
Sen. Steve Erdman

The federal H-2A temporary agricultural program allows employers who anticipate a lack of available domestic workers to bring foreign workers to the U.S. to perform temporary or seasonal agricultural work including detasseling and roguing.

LB844, sponsored by Bayard Sen. Steve Erdman, would amend the state Farm Labor Contractors Act to require seed corn producers who contract for detasseling and roguing services to solicit bids from local contractors before employing H-2A workers.

As amended during general file debate, producers who contract for detasseling and roguing labor must report the number of acres of hybrid seed corn produced, in addition to other information, to the state Department of Agriculture. The department would be required to publish an annual report of that information, beginning Sept. 30, 2025.

Sumner Sen. Teresa Ibach offered an amendment on select file, adopted 29-0, which would require that the information contained in the report be aggregated. She said the change would protect seed corn producers’ proprietary information and ensure that identifying company data not become public record.

“Without this language, important private information of seed companies will be provided to competitors — including competitors from other states — that will then use this information in order to pursue customers,” Ibach said.

Sen. Mike Jacobson of North Platte offered an amendment to remove a provision that would make violations of the bill’s provisions by a seed corn producer a Class IV misdemeanor. He said producers in most cases contract with detasseling companies and should not be held liable if such a company violates the law.

Erdman said it was “disappointing” that stakeholders who had concerns about LB844 did not testify against it at the public hearing or contact lawmakers until after the first round of debate. Even so, he said he considered both amendments to be “friendly” and not harmful to the bill’s primary goal of protecting Nebraska youth who want to participate in detasseling.

Following adoption of the Jacobson amendment on a 30-0 vote, senators advanced LB844 to final reading by voice vote.

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