Omaha World Herald: Sponsor of ‘right-to-farm’ amendment says more than 65% of Nebraskans who were polled support proposal
Where does the primary economic threat to production agriculture come from? From the agribusiness sector that seeks to replace our traditional system of independent family farm and ranch owned and operated agriculture with meat processor owned and controlled, vertically integrated agriculture. Sen. Kuehn voted to help the Chinese government owned and world’s largest pork processor Smithfield dismantle Nebraska’s ban on pork processor direct ownership of hogs LB176 as they seek to chickenize the hog sector. And yes, he took their campaign money, and he used it to buy the poll below that offered no language or explanation of consequences.
Senator Kuehn’s bombastic and bullying approach to those farm organizations that do not support him tell us a lot about what kind of person he is. He had no problem ignoring the overwhelming opposition to LB176 in his district when it suited his personal political agenda.
All the best,
John Hansen, President
Nebraska Farmers Union
402-476-8815 Office 402-476-8859 Fax
402-476-8608 Home 402-580-8815 Cell
1305 Plum Street, Lincoln, NE 68502
Sponsor of ‘right-to-farm’ amendment says more than 65% of Nebraskans who were polled support proposal
Posted: Thursday, March 24, 2016 12:00 am | Updated: 12:14 am, Thu Mar 24, 2016.
By Joe Duggan and Emily Nohr / World-Herald Bureau
LINCOLN — Inserting a “right to farm” into the Nebraska Constitution faces a tall hurdle in the Legislature if a couple of votes during first-round debate Wednesday are any indication.
Supporters of a resolution that would ask voters whether to protect farming and ranching in the Constitution defeated attempts to kill the measure. But they did so with fewer than the 33 votes they would need to defeat a filibuster and advance the resolution to the second round of debate.
State Sen. John Kuehn of Heartwell, the sponsor of Legislative Resolution 378CA, said he would continue working to sway votes to his side. More debate on the measure is expected Thursday.
Among those not supporting the resolution is Sen. Jerry Johnson of Wahoo, chairman of the Agriculture Committee. He has introduced his own measure calling for a detailed study of the issue during the interim.
Kuehn said he introduced the resolution to defend the state’s top economic engine against activist groups that want to impede agriculture, especially livestock production.
“It’s not going to be with a broad sword and bold strokes, it will be incrementally,” he said of their efforts. “One regulation, one law at a time.”
More than 65 percent of recently surveyed Nebraskans said they would vote for such a constitutional amendment if an election were held today, according to a poll commissioned and paid for by Kuehn.
The pollsters told participants that the proposed amendment would protect the rights of farmers and ranchers and prevent the Legislature and environmental groups from imposing restrictions on crop and livestock production.
The telephone poll of 600 likely voters did not specify what type of restrictions could be prevented. It was conducted in early March by Optimus, a consultant based in Washington, D.C. It had a margin of error of 4 percentage points.
The proposal has the support of Gov. Pete Ricketts and some grain and livestock groups, but the Nebraska Farmers Union opposes it. The Nebraska Farm Bureau, the state’s largest ag group, has taken a neutral position.
Kuehn said he spent $2,000 from his campaign on the survey because he suspects there’s a disconnect between what the groups think and what voters think.
“I think it’s important to distinguish between what the Farm Bureau’s executive staff wants and what Nebraska farmers and ranchers want,” he said.
Farm Bureau President Steve Nelson disputed Kuehn’s characterization.
“Every policy position taken by our organization comes from our farm and ranch members, not from our staff,” he said. “While Sen. Kuehn may not like the position taken by our organization, his assertion of what’s driving our position is off-base and factually inaccurate.”
Nelson said the bureau supports the concept of “right to farm,” but said members have concerns about whether a constitutional amendment is the right approach.
Omaha Sens. Ernie Chambers and Burke Harr, both members of the Agriculture Committee, spoke against the resolution. They argued that such language doesn’t belong in the constitution of a state like Nebraska, where agriculture is central to the economy and the culture.
“This Legislature is not going to undermine agriculture,” Chambers said.