A Nebraska state senator is proposing a ballot measure to add a “Right to Farm” amendment to the state constitution.
Senator John Kuehn of Heartwell says the amendment would prevent the Nebraska legislature from imposing restrictions on crop and livestock production “without a compelling state interest”. It would also help protect farmers and ranchers from outside activists, he says.
“There comes a point in time where we simply cannot sit back and let outside groups continue to drive the discussion,” Kuehn says. “It’s time for us in agriculture to begin taking control of that discussion.”
Nebraska Farm Bureau president Steve Nelson says they are in the process of evaluating Kuehn’s bill. One concern, Nelson says, is whether the timing is right for such an effort.
“With all of the issues, particularly property tax, being a high priority this year—and a lot of senators seeming to want to work on that, coalesce around that—I sure don’t want to distract from that part of it,” Nelson says.
Nebraska Farm Bureau supports the general concept of “Right to Farm”, Nelson says.
“Certainly, if we go down that path, it’s something we want to be behind and we want to support strongly—and we want to win,” he says. “So I think it’s just really important that we look at this from what the right timing perspective is—and that’s what we’ll be doing as we take a look at Senator Kuehn’s bill.”
Kuehn, who is a veterinarian, says the response that he’s received from farmers and ranchers “is pretty exciting”.
“It’s about time, they’re telling me, that someone is standing up and we’re having an opportunity to have an open dialogue about protecting Nebraska’s farm interests,” Kuehn says.
If passed by the legislature, the “Right to Farm” amendment would be placed on Nebraska’s general election ballot in November.
Missouri and North Dakota have passed “Right to Farm” measures. Oklahoma voters will decide on a similar amendment this fall.
AUDIO: Senator John Kuehn
AUDIO: Steve Nelson