Nitrate reduction incentive bill amended, advanced to final round

A bill that would provide Nebraska farmers with incentives for reducing their synthetic, commercial fertilizer use and incorporating innovative technology into their farming practices was amended and advanced by lawmakers April 4.

Sen. Teresa Ibach
Sen. Teresa Ibach

LB1368, sponsored by Sumner Sen. Teresa Ibach, would adopt the Nitrogen Reduction Incentive Act, which would implement a program to incentivize farmers to switch from synthetic fertilizers to sustainable alternatives.

The bill would provide an annual incentive of $10 per acre to qualified farmers who verify a reduction in commercial fertilizer rates of either 40 pounds per acre or 15% by incorporating a qualifying product into the farm’s nutrient plans. The incentive program would be capped at $5 million annually and would terminate Dec. 31, 2029.

As amended on general file, LB1368 would fund the program through a one-time $5 million transfer from the state’s Cash Reserve Fund to a newly created Nitrogen Reduction Incentive Cash Fund.

Ibach offered a select file amendment, adopted 42-0, to strike that provision and instead authorize a $1 million transfer from the accrued interest on the Water Resources Cash Fund. The amendment also would allow, but not require, the state Department of Natural Resources to promulgate rules and regulations and apply for any state, federal or private grant funding to carry out the bill’s provisions.

Columbus Sen. Mike Moser also offered an amendment to include provisions of his LB1199. The provisions would eliminate certain fees collected by the state Department of Natural Resources for performing administrative duties, including those for certain surface and groundwater use permit applications.

Moser said the bill would eliminate rarely used, insignificant fees collected by the department and reduce administrative and accounting costs.

Following the 36-0 adoption of Moser’s amendment, senators advanced LB1368 to final reading by voice vote.

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