December 10, 2009

Legislative Ag Forum: We need to be able to tell our story

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The 21st annual Hamilton County Legislative Ag Form was held Monday in Aurora. It is put on by the Aurora Chamber of Commerce and the Hamilton County Corn Growers.

Brandon Hunnicutt (@cornfedfarmer), president of the Nebraska Corn Growers Association, drafted a summery from the session - and provided the photo:

Despite the cold weather and snow, turnout was exceptional.

With the help of Senator Dubas from Fullerton representing the 34th District and vice-chair of the Ag committee, there was a great lineup of speakers:
  • Senator Adams from York representing the 24th District is the chair of the Education committee. 
  • Senator Langemeier from Schuyler representing the 23rd District is chair of the Natural Resources committee.
  • Senator Utter from Hastings representing the 33rd District sits on the Revenue committee. 
  • Jack Moors and Mick Mines were there as the lobbyists for NeCGA.
  • Curt Friesen representing the Hamilton County Corn Growers.
With such a wide variety of senators the topics were wide spread from corn checkoff to the water resource cash fund to education to the taxes and the budget. It is always interesting to get the Senators' opinions on what has happened this past year and what to look forward to in the upcoming 2010 short session.

Senator Dubas mentioned she will be working with the different commodity checkoff groups to see how to best protect the checkoffs in the future. At the same time, Senator Langemeier will be looking at a way to improve upon and reintroduce LB 9 that was deemed outside the scope of the special session.

From the corn side there is much work ahead to make sure we are protecting the integrity of the checkoff for what is was intended for: research, education and market development.

Probably the main idea that came forth is that there is still work to be done on the budget. The special session was just stage one. There is much work to be done, because the projections of the state shortfall did get better after the special session but there will still be cuts that need to be done. We have basically trimmed off all the fat, the next stage will be cutting into muscle.

From the purely ag/rural side, we have much work to do. With the census in 2010, it is projected that the rural part of the state will lose two senators and urban will gain two.

With half of the state's population residing in roughly the eastern 50 miles of the state, it is going to be more important than ever to work with our urban counterparts. We need to be able to tell our story and relate it in terms that they understand.

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