Farm Policy News

Rural Americans as Climate Champions

Several years ago, I had the opportunity to spend about 18 months in Tanzania - a country in East Africa where about 80 percent of the population relies on farming as a primary occupation. One day I was relaxing in the lobby of a YWCA and struck up a conversation with a young Tanzanian man who came from a farm family in the nearby foothills of Mt. Kilimanjaro. He described how his community relies on annual snowmelt from the mountain to provide drinking water and to irrigate their crops. He also described how, year after year, the snowcap on Kili was shrinking and causing a corresponding decrease in food and water security. What would they do, I asked, when the snowcap disappeared altogether? I will not forget the look on his face as he responded, “we don’t know.”

Taxing our future dreams

We are not working hard enough to make dreams come true in Nebraska. As a result, we complain about taxes. I want to write about legislators in Nebraska and surrounding states who have started to talk about drastically cutting or eliminating income taxes during the next legislative session.

It seems they have already done this in our neighboring state of Kansas with negative results. Kansas and Nebraska have many similarities including median household income, number of acres under agricultural cultivation and proportion of the population living in rural areas. That is why the Center for Rural Affairs put out the report “Kansas’ Self-Inflicted Budget Wound Continues to Bleed Out, Providing a Cautionary Tale for Nebraska.”

Kansas, A cautionary tale for others

State governments across the nation are looking to cut income tax rates. We are paying close attention to legislators in Nebraska who are publicly discussing their plans for cutting income tax rates. Some say efforts should be coupled with property tax reform. Pairing the two would break the state’s budget at a time when we are projected to face a greater than $350 million shortfall in the next budget cycle. Nebraskans only have to look to our neighbors to the south to see the folly of such imbalanced plans.

Fight for Fairness for Farmers and Ranchers

Tuesday’s election has distracted most of us from, well, just about everything. We have a lot to do in working with the transition team of the new administration, and getting to know new members of the House and Senate.

However, we still have some work to finish in the waning days of the current administration and with the current Congress. USDA has only 72 days before this administration ends to finish absolutely crucial rules intended to protect the rights of farmers and ranchers who raise poultry and livestock.

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