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Nebraska state senator promises to reintroduce Right to Farm

Senator John Kuehn

Senator John Kuehn

A Nebraska state senator says he plans to reintroduce a Right to Farm bill in the 2017 Nebraska legislature.

Senator John Kuehn of Heartwell sponsored legislation in this year’s session that would have placed a Right to Farm constitutional amendment before Nebraska voters. However, he withdrew the bill following a contentious first round floor debate.

Kuehn tells Brownfield he’s more convinced than ever that Nebraska needs Right to Farm.

“If you look at what’s transpired in the last few months with regards to agriculture, whether we’re talking about some of the issues associated with expansion of poultry facilities—and continued concerns with the Vermont GMO labeling laws coming into effect and what that’s going to mean in terms of our impact on not using science-based information when making ag policy,” Kuehn says.

In this past session, Kuehn was unable to enlist the support of Nebraska Farm Bureau, the state’s largest farm organization. Kuehn says he’s been talking to Farm Bureau leaders to better understand their concerns with his bill.

“It seems to be more of an opposition (based) on their ability to control the legislative agenda rather than actually the concept, or what the bill itself does,” he says. “That’s part of politics—understanding where all the stakeholders lie in terms of their ability to influence the process.”

Animal rights groups, led by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), have vigorously fought Right to Farm efforts in other states and would likely do the same in Nebraska. But Kuehn says that’s not a reason to back down.

“Certainly the opponents to science-based decisions in agriculture are not backing down–so we need to rise to meet that challenge.”

Missouri and North Dakota have passed Right to Farm laws. Oklahoma voters will consider a Right to Farm amendment this November.

Brownfield visited with Kuehn at the recent meeting of Nebraska Cattlemen in Broken Bow.

  • When reviewing Farm Bureau leaders statements, I’m confused as their statement ran more along the lines of wishing for more comprehensive language in the bill and not opposition to the idea itself. A bill that doesn’t cover every available angle would increase the risk to Nebraskas Agricultural families. It seems as if Senator Kuehn is pushing his amendment at the Nebraskan Ag groups without consideration of their concerns with its wording and then blaming them for not backing an amendment which doesn’t protect them adequately.

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