The week kicked off Tuesday, June 6,in Wayne where the Nebraska Cattlemen Board of Directors received a report from its Building Task Force. After a discussion about the proposed building project, the NC Board voted to proceed with purchasing land and building an office near Interstate 80 in northwest Lincoln. "We appreciate the work the Task Force members have done to thoroughly explore several options during the past two years," NC President Troy Stowater said. "We have been saving for this opportunity and are looking forward to investing in a facility members can be proud to call the Lincoln headquarters for Nebraska Cattlemen."
The Task Force and Board will continue to refine plans and have set a goal to complete the office building by August 2018, concurrent with the end of the existing office lease. The remainder of the day was filled with activities including a golf tournament and an area tour, ending with a steak dinner and live music at the Wayne County fairgrounds.
The Nebraska Cattlemen membership gathered on Wednesday, June 7, in West Point for policy meetings, and numerous important topics were discussed. Two topics seemed to generate the most attention: the recently filed lawsuit regarding Nebraska brand statutes and the continued burden of property taxes on members.
The NC Board has been and will continue to be fully engaged in the brand policy process with its members, the Nebraska Brand Committee (NBC), the Nebraska Legislature and other associations in finding solutions for all beef producers.
NC policy supports brand recording, inspection and investigation, as well as modernization of the registered feedyard program. Clear evidence of NC's commitment to the strength and stability of the NBC was never more evident than during the just concluded 105th Legislature, 1st Session. The Appropriations Committee attempted to sweep $500,000 from NBC funds due to the state budget shortfall. NC members and staff worked with state senators to restore all the funds, maintaining NBC financial stability as it works to be more efficient in the near future.
NC has recognized, since the merger of the Nebraska Stock Growers and Nebraska Livestock Feeders, the brand issue is a passionate one to many within its membership. Respect has been maintained through numerous policy debates and the Association has worked vigorously in finding solutions surrounding this complex issue. "We are committed to the policy process and the strength of the entire membership especially during this time of legal challenge to the state's brand statutes," stated NC Brand and Property Rights Committee Chairman, Terry Cone.
With regard to property taxes, Nebraska Cattlemen members received an update on the 2017 legislative session. Since adjournment of the session, there has been talk of a proposal to put a question on the 2018 ballot for voters statewide to weigh in on property tax relief. Secretary of State John Gale addressed the NC Taxation committee on the mechanics of the ballot process and discussed the various steps and criteria that must be met for a question to qualify and be approved for the ballot. Nebraska Cattlemen has robust policy on tax relief and reform, and will remain actively engaged in discussions during the interim period leading up to the 2018 legislative session and elections.
Repeal of the Electronic Logging Device (ELD) mandate is also a top federal priority for Nebraska Cattlemen members. An ELD synchronizes with a vehicle engine to automatically record driving time. Absent a delay, the U.S. Department of Transportation will require all motor carriers to install and use an ELD no later than December 18, 2017. The ELD mandate and existing hours of service regulations pose significant consequences for the livestock industry. Nebraska Cattlemen recently adopted policy opposing the mandate and is working on a permanent fix at the federal level.
It was a busy week of discussion for Nebraska Cattlemen members and the association will continue striving to support its members across the state.