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September 16, 2013
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Ag Notebook: More tax talks coming, cheese plant leaving Nebraska

Nebraska’s Tax Modernization Committee sets public hearing schedule

State Senator Galen Hadley, Chair of the Tax Modernization Committee, has released the agenda for the public hearings to be held by the Committee during September and October.

The Committee was created during this past legislative session by Legislative Resolution 155, which requires the Committee to hold five public hearings across the state on topics of tax reform.

The public hearings will take place on:

• Monday, Sept. 23 — Harms Advanced Technology Center, Western Nebraska Community College, Scottsbluff, 4–7 p.m. (Mountain Time)

• Tuesday, Sept. 24 — Mid Plains Community College, North Platte, 1:30-4:30 p.m.

• Thursday, Sept. 26 — Northeast Nebraska Community College, Lifelong Learning Center, Norfolk, 1:30 – 4:30 p.m.

• Friday, Oct. 18 – State Capitol Building, Room 1113, Lincoln, 10 a.m.–1 p.m.

Leprino Foods to close Nebraska cheese plant

Leprino Foods will close its string cheese factory in Ravenna, Neb., in November and relocate the operation to the company’s Fort Morgan location, a Leprino spokesman announced Friday.

The company — headquartered in Denver — told employees at the Ravenna plant, where 173 people work, of its decision on Thursday.

Leprino is currently making upgrades at the Fort Morgan plant to add the capability to make string cheese.

NFU disappointed by OK of selling Smithfield Foods to China

“Today’s ruling by CFIUS on the proposed acquisition of Smithfield Foods by Shuanghui Intl. is a disappointment for family farmers and ranchers across the United States. The deal represents the sale of one quarter of U.S. hog processing to a quasi-state-owned Chinese enterprise and is a dangerous precedent, in terms of food security and market competition.

USDA announces support for producers of advanced biofuel

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced this month that the U.S. Department of Agriculture is making payments to support the production of advanced biofuel.

USDA is making nearly $15.5 million in payments to 188 producers through the Advanced Biofuel Payment Program. USDA Rural Development Acting Under Secretary Doug O’Brien made the announcement on Vilsack’s behalf in Omaha, Neb., at the National Advanced Biofuels Conference.

The funding is being provided through USDA’s Advanced Biofuel Payment Program, which was established in the 2008 Farm Bill.

Under this program, payments are made to eligible producers based on the amount of advanced biofuels produced from renewable biomass, other than corn kernel starch.

Examples of eligible feedstocks include but are not limited to: crop residue; animal, food and yard waste; vegetable oil; and animal fat.

Judge refuses to block new meat labeling rules

A federal judge has refused to block new rules that require the meat industry to include specific information about the origin of their products on labels, also known as County of Origin Labeling, or COOL.

But industry groups, according to an Associated Press report, say they’ll continue fighting.

The new rules took effect in May.

They require that labels for steaks, ribs and other cuts of meat include clear information about where animals grown for the meat were born, raised and slaughtered.

A judge refused to issue a preliminary order Wednesday that would’ve blocked the rules, though he didn’t decide the overall lawsuit.

The American Meat Institute said Thursday it plans to appeal. It says the rules are too costly and don’t provide any health benefits. The trade group represents meat packers, processors and suppliers.

Poll: Rural Nebraskans believe climate change real, but feel less urgency

Most rural Nebraskans believe global climate change is real, that human activity is at least partially a cause and that changes must be made to contend with it, but they’re not as passionate on any of those points as they were five years ago, the Nebraska Rural Poll shows.

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln team that conducts the poll speculates rural Nebraskans’ ardor on the issue may have cooled as concerns about energy security have diminished, as they’ve measured real current costs versus uncertain future benefits, or perhaps out of suspicion that scientists seem to blame apparently contradictory weather conditions on climate change.

The 18th annual University of Nebraska-Lincoln poll was sent to 6,320 households in Nebraska’s 84 nonmetropolitan counties in March and April.

Results are based on 2,317 responses.

The key climate change findings, and how they’ve changed since the last time the issue was explored by the poll, in 2008:

• 73 percent of respondents believe to some degree that climate change is happening — 48 percent “somewhat” and 25 percent “definitely.” Only 13 percent say it’s definitely not happening, and 14 percent said they didn’t know.

• 54 percent agreed with the statement that “human activity, including industry and transportation, is a significant cause of climate change.” That’s down from 65 percent in 2008.

• 41 percent agreed that “global climate change is something people can control,” down from 51 percent five years ago.

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The Fence Post Updated Oct 16, 2013 02:41PM Published Sep 16, 2013 01:45PM Copyright 2013 The Fence Post. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.