Restriction on Corporate Farming Rejected in Nebraska Legislature

Contact(s): 

Contact: John Crabtree, johnc@cfra.org, Phone: (402) 687-2103 ext. 1010 or Chuck Hassebrook, chuckh@cfra.org, Phone: (402) 687-2103 ext. 1018
Lyons, NE - Today the legislature killed LB 1174. On a vote of 27 opposed to 20 in support the legislature rejected the committee amendment that addressed opponents concerns about the legislation by allowing unrelated farmers to form farm corporations. LB 1174 itself was withdrawn from debate after the amendment failed.
"While this vote is deeply disappointing, it is only the first round. We will be back. Nebraskans understand the importance of family farms and ranches, as well as corporate responsibility," commented Dan Owens, policy organizer for the Center for Rural Affairs.

On March 12th, the Agriculture Committee in the Unicameral passed LB 1174 on a 7-1 vote.  Introduced by Senator M.L. "Cap" Dierks and co-sponsored by five other Agriculture Committee Senators, LB 1174 was a legislative replacement for Nebraska's anti-corporate farming constitutional amendment, Initiative 300.  I-300 was ruled unconstitutional by a federal court in the fall of 2006.  

"Senator Dierks made significant concessions to address the concerns raised by I-300 and LB 1174 opponents.  Unfortunately, those opponents simply oppose any and all corporate farming restrictions.  They are committed to protecting favorable terms for corporate, investor-controlled agriculture rather than providing a level playing field for Nebraska family farms and ranches," continued Owens.

LB 1174 expressed the public interest in supporting owner-operated farms and ranches in Nebraska, reflecting voluminous research both in Nebraska and across the United States. This research has shown that owner-operated farms and ranches produce better social and economic outcomes for rural communities, healthier environmental outcomes, and superior stewardship of natural resources.

Unlike I-300, LB 1174 contained a compromise to allow five or fewer unrelated family farmers and ranchers to form a corporate entity. Addressing the foremost objection of long-time I-300 opponents, this compromise would allow true family farmers and ranchers to join together, pool capital and ease the transfer of farms between generations.

"We would particularly like to thank Senator M.L. "Cap" Dierks for his leadership on this critical issue.  Additionally, it must be noted that six of the eight members of the Unicameral Agriculture Committee co-sponsored LB 1174 and seven committee members voted in favor of the bill out of committee.  They showed true leadership and a dedication to support Nebraska's family farms, ranches and rural communities," concluded Owens.

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