Governor Dave Heineman has signed LB229, a move welcomed by the Nebraska Corn Growers Association. The bill creates a funding mechanism for the Water Resources Cash Fund.
“Developing a balanced funding mechanism for the Water Resources Cash Fund was one of the Nebraska Corn Growers Association’s priorities heading into the current legislative session,” said NeCGA president Carl Sousek, a farmer from Prague, in a news release. “We are thankful to Senators Chris Langemeier, Deb Fischer, Tom Carlson and Ken Schilz for providing leadership on this important issue, and appreciate Governor Heineman signing the measure.”
The Nebraska Corn Growers said its membership believes the Water Resources Cash Fund is an obligation of the entire state because water issues impact all of Nebraska. As such, contributions to the fund should be broader than just agriculture or rural communities and instead include all stakeholders.
“We were committed to working with all stakeholder groups to develop an equitable funding mechanism and believe LB229 is a well-balanced approach,” he said.
LB229 allows for the Nebraska Department of Natural Resources to apply to the Environmental Trust Fund for a $3.3 million grant each year for three years for the Water Resources Cash Fund. Each annual grant would then be matched by the state’s general fund. If benchmarks are met, the DNR can apply for a second three-year grant funding cycle.
“The signed bill will allow the Water Resources Cash Fund to support water-focused projects in fully appropriated basins while also keeping the Environmental Trust Fund’s grant process in place,” Sousek said.
The Nebraska Corn Growers also support LR218, which will create a task force to review and make recommendations for a longer-term, sustainable funding mechanism for the Water Resources Cash Fund.
“We will take an active role in the task force, and we are pleased to work with other stakeholders to address this issue as a state-wide investment,” Sousek said. “The Nebraska Corn Growers Association and corn farmers are appreciative of the progress made in addressing water issues and look forward to further discussions that will, long-term, benefit everyone.”