OCTOBER 23, 2013 Nebraska Farm Bureau News
week or so ago I had the opportunity to testify before the Nebraska Legislature’s Tax Modern-ization Committee. It’s not the first time I’ve testified before a Legislative Committee, and I suspect itwon’t be the last. But this testimony was different thanany other I’ve given on behalf of Nebraska Farm Bureausince being given the opportunity to serve as presidentof this great organization.The testimony I gave wasn’t a “we support” or “weoppose” type of testimony in favor of or opposing alegislative bill. It was testimony that gave the NebraskaFarm Bureau the opportunity to think big and talk aboutmuch need changes to Nebraska’s tax structure andhow that structure is really affecting the well-being of the farm and ranch families that make up the NebraskaFarm Bureau.Our testimony laid out a bold, three-year plan thatprovided a road map for the Legislature to bring balance to Nebraska’s tax system – a system that today relies far too much on property taxes to fund schools and govern-ment services. I won’t go into much detail of the plan weunveiled (you can read all about that in this month’s cover story on page B1). But, the fact we were able to lay outsuch a plan is a prime example of how members working together through the Farm Bureau organization are mak-ing a difference for Nebraska agriculture.
TAKING THE LEAD
It was just 10 months ago that farmers and ranch-ers across the state were holding tight to their pocketbooks as word spread about a legislative proposal thatwould have put new sales taxes on agriculture inputs,machinery and equipment as a way to eliminate thestate’s income tax. I remember it well. The tax reform talks initiated by the proposal did not speak to prop-erty tax reform, a key element to meaningful reform for agriculture, but more importantly the proposal wouldhave directly harmed farm and ranch families throughnew taxes. Issues like these are exactly the reason FarmBureau exists.Fast forward to today. Tax reform is still a focal pointof the Legislature, but the tone of the discussion is en- tirely different. The idea of putting new taxes on farm-ers and ranchers to achieve tax reform is all but off the table. Income tax reform is still in the mix, but property tax reform and relief have been thrust squarely into thespotlight of reform talks. That kind of a swing doesn’thappen overnight, and it doesn’t happen without the ef-forts of Farm Bureau members.
FARM BUREAU MEMBERS ENGAGE
When the income tax proposal hit, we asked Farm Bu-reau members to engage. And they did. In a big way. Weasked members to share how sales tax on inputs wouldaffect them, and that information became the foundationof Farm Bureau’s message at the capitol. We asked mem-bers to contact their state senators and the governor toreinforce that message, and they did. Those efforts helped turn back the proposal and put us on the path for havinga broader tax discussion that didn’t focus solely on new taxes for agriculture.But Farm Bureau members didn’t stop there. When theLegislature decided to continue the conversation on taxreform this fall Farm Bureau members made sure agricul- ture’s voice was heard. They weighed in through letters to the editor. They made time to take part in publichearings. They took part in our internal tax committee toprovide insight and recommendations on Farm Bureau’s tax policy. They participated in every facet of NebraskaFarm Bureau’s “Join the Drive” campaign to help steer Nebraska taxes.The cumulative effect of all those actions is that we’resetting in a position today where Farm Bureau isn’t talk-ing about what we don’t want to see happen, but rather helping push forward for meaningful reform that we want to see happen. That’s a lot different than where we were10 months ago. Members working through NebraskaFarm Bureau took what could have been a very bad situa- tion and turned into a much better one.Certainly, we still have a ways to go on tax reform.There’s still work to be done. But I’m confident we’ll doit together, because together we’re stronger. That’s thestrength of Farm Bureau.Until Next Month!
By Steve Nelson, PresidentNebraska Farm Bureau Federation
Tax Reform Talks ShowcaseBest of Farm Bureau, Members
VOLUME 31 ISSUE 9October 23, 2013USPS 375-780 ISSN 0745-6522
Official publication of Nebraska Farm Bureau Federation
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NEBRASKA FARM BUREAUFEDERATION
Steve Nelson, president (Axtell)Mark McHargue, first vice president(Central City)Rob Robertson, chief administrator/secretary-treasurer (Lincoln)
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Sherry Vinton, second vice president(Whitman)Nathan Bartels (Elk Creek)Andy DeVries (Ogallala)Del Ficke (Pleasant Dale) Jason Kvols (Laurel)Myles Ramsey (Kenesaw)Scott Moore (Bartley)Kevin Peterson (Osceola)Tanya Storer (Whitman)Shelly Thompson (Whitney)
NEBRASKA FARM BUREAU NEWS
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Top 4 Waysto Advocate
Farm Bureau’s Agri-cultural Contact Team(FB-ACT) is the NebraskaFarm Bureau Federa- tion’s grassroots actionnetwork. When we reachout to state lawmakers or Congress, we impact thedecisions they make.FB-ACT advances agri-cultural and rural interestsby connecting electedofficials to those peoplewho matter most – their constituents.Passing legislation thatsupports our issues is achallenging process thatrequires active participa- tion by our members. Youcan make a difference by:
As a con-stituent, your lawmakersand political appointeesknow that you are the key to their understanding of issues important to you.They want and need tohear from you on issuesyou consider important.
When youneed to getin touch withyour lawmaker immedi-ately, and don’t have the time to craft a letter or email, that’s when it’s time to use the most commonmethod of communicatingwith your lawmakers – make a phone call!
By far, themost effec- tive way to articulate your views to your elected of-ficials and positively affect the outcome of legislationand of policy debates is to speak with lawmakersface to face.
You cansend a letter to the editor to many news-papers via email rather thanhand-writing them. Go toour online Legislative ActionCenter to find media outletsin your area, and send thema message. It only takesa minute.For more informationabout getting involved inFB-ACT visit nefb.org or call 402-421-4409.