Release Date: 



Elisha Greeley Smith, Phone: (402) 687-2103 ext. 1007 Dan Owens, Phone: (402) 687-2103 ext. 1017
Lyons, NE – Today, March 12th, the Agriculture Committee in the Unicameral passed LB 1174 on a 7-1 vote. LB 1174 now awaits floor action by the entire Unicameral. Introduced by Senator M.L. “Cap” Dierks and co-sponsored by five other Agriculture Committee Senators, LB 1174 is 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.
“Family farmers, ranchers and all rural Nebraskans understand the importance of supporting Nebraska agriculture through appropriate corporate farming restrictions.  LB 1174 remains true to the original intent of Initiative 300 while addressing the legal issues raised by the federal court.  The Agriculture Committee’s 7-1 vote in favor of LB 1174 clearly shows the broad support for I-300 that still exists today,” said Dan Owens, policy organizer at the Center for Rural Affairs.

“Senator Dierks and the entire Agriculture Committee should be commended for their work on this important bill,” continued Owens.  “They clearly understand the importance of keeping mega-corporations whose only concern is the bottom line from owning Nebraska’s invaluable agriculture assets.”

In the fall of 2006, a federal judge ruled that I-300 discriminated against out-of-state individuals and business entities, thus violating the commerce clause of the United States Constitution.  LB 1174, introduced by Senator Dierks and supported by the Center for Rural Affairs, Nebraska Farmers Union and many other organizations, would be a very close copy of the text of the original I-300 amendment.  However, to meet the court’s objections, it would explicitly state that actively engaged farmers and ranchers in other states would be eligible to own agricultural assets in Nebraska.

“We can’t allow a federal court to overrule the clear majority of Nebraskans who supported Initiative 300 for decades,” said Owens.  “We fully expect the entire Unicameral to respect the will of Nebraska voters by passing LB 1174 in the coming weeks.  Additionally, LB 1174 addresses concerns raised by opponents by allowing five or fewer unrelated farmers and ranchers to work together in a farm operation.  These good faith compromises should allow LB 1174 to gain the support of all who care about the future of family farming, ranching and Nebraska’s rural communities.” 


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