LB 366, introduced by Sen. Tom Briese [NE-41], is currently waiting for debate in the Nebraska Legislature. This legislation makes several improvements to the Nebraska Advantage Microenterprise Tax Credit including an increase in the maximum credit amount, removing unnecessary restrictions on eligible individuals, increasing transparency of program data, and extending the program for 10 additional years.
As the only tool designated to the smallest businesses in Nebraska, it has helped entrepreneurs in every corner of the state. We encourage you to contact your state senator in support of LB 366.
The COVID-19 pandemic exposed the many challenges faced by Iowa’s small meat processors. On main streets and in rural communities across the state, these small operations are often without the resources they need to expand their businesses, hire more local employees, take on more orders, or finance physical upgrades to their buildings.
House File (HF) 857, sponsored by Rep. Chad Ingels, aims to assist these local entrepreneurs as they seek to grow their businesses.
As a whole, HF 857 would:
- Establish a Butchery Innovation and Revitalization Program to be administered by the Iowa Economic Development Authority. The program would provide financial assistance in the form of grants, low-interest loans, and forgivable loans to eligible small meat processors to expand or refurbish existing, or to establish new:
- State-inspected and/or federally-inspected small-scale meat processing businesses;
- Licensed custom lockers;
- Mobile slaughter units that operate in compliance with the most current mobile slaughter unit compliance guide issued by the United States Department of Agriculture;
- And, to rent buildings, refrigeration facilities, freezer facilities, or equipment necessary to expand processing capacity, including mobile slaughter or refrigeration units used exclusively for meat or poultry processing.
- To be eligible for these funds, the businesses must:
- Be located in Iowa and not have been subject to any regulatory action related to federal, state, or local environmental, worker safety, food processing, or food safety laws, rules, or regulations within the last five years.
- Only employ individuals legally authorized to work in the state.
- Not currently be in bankruptcy.
- Employ less than 50 individuals.
- Establish an Artisanal Butchery Program Task Force within the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship to explore the feasibility of establishing an artisanal butchery program at a community college or university governed by the Board of Regents in Iowa.
Will you make your voice heard? We urge you to contact your state legislators in support of the legislation. You can engage one of the following ways:
- Click here to send your state legislators a customizable email asking them to support House File 857.
- Click here to find your state legislator’s phone number and give them a call.
- Email Policy Associate Cody Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org and let us help you spread the word about this bill by writing a letter to the editor for your local newspaper.
Thank you for your commitment to rural Iowa.
For cattle producers like Ty Walker, owner of Broken Arrow Cattle Co., direct sales are one way to generate sustainable profits and keep up with the increased demand for local products.
But, when outbreaks of COVID-19 forced production to pause at many regional packing plants last year, implementing that business model became more difficult, as large-scale beef and pork producers turned to local processors to fill the void. That created a debilitating bottleneck at every local meat locker in the state and left the family farms in our growing direct sales industry without a crucial partner. Before this year a typical producer scheduled locker dates 4-6 weeks in advance. Now, the wait time is 20-24 months. This means reservations must be made more than one year before the animal is even born.
The bill would make it easier for the consumer to purchase individual packages of meat directly from the producer or processor and allow the producer and consumer more flexibility when deciding where their meat is processed. It also creates the Independent Processor Assistance Program, which provides a roadmap for increasing local processing capacity and expanding market access for small producers.
Senators need to hear directly from their constituents on this important issue. Please contact your senator today and ask them to support LB 324.
If you have questions about the bill, please reach out to me by email at email@example.com.
With your support, we can create new markets for small livestock producers, like Ty, help local processors expand their capacity, and give consumers more options.
P.S. For more on LB 324, watch our Rural Rapport.
The Nebraska Legislature is considering an improvement to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). If you are involved in grocery, have benefitted from SNAP, or are interested in advocating on food access issues, we could use your help.
This proposed change to the SNAP program before the Legislature (Legislative Bill 108) would make the program more effective by allowing it to reach more families who need it, by preventing it from discouraging job advancement, and by allowing more funds to reach grocery stores. It would do this by raising the income eligibility threshold to 185% of the federal poverty line, which would allow beneficiaries to keep their SNAP benefits until they make enough money on their own to replace the benefit.
Grocers, especially rural grocers, rely on SNAP dollars for anywhere between 10-30% of their revenue, making that funding essential for keeping the doors open. SNAP money also plays an important role at farmers markets and in supporting local producers.
Rural areas have the highest need for SNAP, and we would like to include rural voices in support of this upcoming bill.
If you are a grocer or food retailer who benefits from SNAP/EBT money, if you have benefitted from SNAP as an individual, or if you are interested in engaging on this issue, please fill out this short form or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to support the bill. We will follow up if you indicate that you would like to be involved.
Senior Policy Associate
The future of Iowa’s solar industry is on the line at the Iowa Legislature and we need your voice to make sure it’s a bright one. House File (HF) 221, a bill introduced by Rep. Jarad Klein, would help farmers, small businesses, and homeowners across rural Iowa generate a long-lasting return on investment when they purchase solar energy.
The bill would:
- Double the state-imposed cap on the Iowa Solar Tax Credit from $5 million to $10 million beginning in 2021 to promote the long-term growth of our state’s solar industry.
- Allocate an additional $7 million in 2021 to pay down the years-long backlog of farmers, small businesses, and homeowners who have already purchased solar energy systems and have been waiting to receive their credit.
- Bolster Iowa’s clean energy leadership by decoupling the Iowa Solar Tax Credit from the federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC) and set the state credit at 15% of total project costs. Currently, the credit is written to be 50% of the federal ITC, leaving Iowa’s clean energy future at the mercy of an unpredictable federal government.
- Set a Dec. 30, 2030 expiration date for the Iowa Solar Tax Credit.
- Will you make your voice heard? We urge you to give comments at the subcommittee hearing in support of the legislation.
You can engage one of the following ways:
- Click here to send your state legislators a customizable email asking them to support House File 221.
- Click here to find your state legislator’s phone number and give them a call!
- Email me at email@example.com and I'll help you spread the word about this bill by writing a letter to the editor for your local newspaper.
Thanks for supporting rural Iowa.
State and national policy directly impact how we live. We always need advocates to speak up for rural America.
We work on a variety of issues, from rural development, to clean energy, to conservation and climate. When we work with supporters, we use the same general tools to advocate across our issues. This page outlines some general resources about tools and tactics we have found to be effective.
Are you willing to take action today? There are three ways you can help right now.
- Make your voice heard—Call, email, or write your elected officials. Keep their contact information handy. Legislation can move fast; be ready at a moment’s notice.
- Step up and take action—Write a letter to the editor. Speak out in your community. Attend a listening session. Testify at the state capitol. Tell us how you’re ready to step up to build a stronger, brighter rural future.
- Pitch in to support the effort—Your donation today helps ensure we have the resources to share your values with representatives in Lincoln and Des Moines, or maybe at your statehouse.
Don’t forget to display confidence, enthusiasm, credibility, and commitment. One way to display credibility is telling your representative where you live, so they know you are a constituent in their district.
Sign up for our newsletter and email alerts—We’ll keep you in the loop with action alerts, and steps you can take to advocate for timely policy. If you live in Nebraska, Iowa, or South Dakota, we’ll also send you biweekly legislative updates from our staff working at your state capitol during session.
How will these actions create change? The people you are reaching out to are lawmakers who need your vote to become elected or stay in office. As your representatives, their job is to shape policy on behalf of your interests.
If you would like to be involved in any of these activities: make phone calls, host meetings, meet with elected officials, write letters, or testify on important legislation, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Your advocacy ensures your voice is heard on issues that matter most to you. Remember to always show respect to legislators and their staff members, regardless of where they stand on the issue.
For more information on how to be an advocate: