Weekly Column

President’s budget proposals would hurt rural America

Details on President Trump’s 2021 budget plan were released recently and, as it has in the past, this administration continues to put forth proposals that undercut rural communities.

Among the proposed cuts we strongly oppose are those to the Conservation Stewardship Program, administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and authorized by the farm bill. This program offers invaluable support for farmers and ranchers to build on their existing conservation efforts and the cuts would block an important path they rely on to improve their soil health and water quality.

Grant funding available for producers looking to diversify their operations 

Agricultural producers interested in diversifying and taking on a new element to their operation are encouraged to apply for a Value Added Producer Grant (VAPG) through the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

USDA Rural Development has $37 million in grant funding available for this program in 2020. Individuals and groups of producers can apply for grants up to $75,000 for planning, and $250,000 for implementation and working capital.

Renewable electric grid making economic impact in rural areas

The last decade has seen a drastic shift in the way the U.S. generates electricity.

We have shifted from relying primarily on fossil fuel burning power plants to a thriving clean energy industry that supplies renewable, low-cost electricity to consumers. A combination of demand from customers and diminishing technology costs have helped wind and solar projects sprout up across the country, and with them has come a range of economic benefits.

Weigh in on changes to Environmental Quality Incentives Program

As it works to implement changes to the 2018 farm bill, the U.S. Department of Agriculture continues to accept public comments on its rule addressing the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).

EQIP is one of the nation’s largest conservation programs. As of 2018, 13.7 million acres were covered under active and completed EQIP contracts. EQIP helps producers implement conservation practices on their operations that preserve soil, water, and other natural resources.

Small business matters in Nebraska

Nebraska is home to 145,000 businesses with five or fewer full time-equivalent employees,  accounting for 86 percent of all enterprises in the state. 

From Omaha to Imperial, approximately 24 percent of Nebraskans are employed by these operations. 

With the Nebraska Legislature expected to resume debate this session on Legislative Bill 720, which would create a new batch of business tax incentives for large employers, a much different conversation is taking place inside the Revenue Committee.  

Pages