Rep. Bacon meets with constituents in Nebraska
Rep. Don Bacon visits with Clint Krehbiel and Dave and Brenda Masek at the Harsh Mercantile. Photo by Terri Licking
for The Fence Post
PURDUM, Neb. — March 29 to April 9 saw members of Congress take a hiatus from Washington, D.C., and travel to their home states to meet and greet their constituents.
Rep. Don Bacon, R-Neb., took a four-day trip away from his home congressional district 2 to travel the state. “I was elected by the voters of District 2, but I represent the whole state and wanted to get out and travel and see what is happening outside of Omaha and Lincoln,” he said.
His four- day travel began in Norfolk, seeing the happenings at North Central Community College. Then he and his support staff, Jim Wright, district director in his Omaha office, and Racheal Peace, his agricultural legislative aide from his Washington office came west and met with several ranchers during their busiest time of year, calving season. Also helping guide them on their travel was Clint Krehbiel, head of Animal Science at University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Bacon gave insight into his agricultural background, “I was the oldest of nine kids, grew up on a farm in Illinois, where crops were the focus, but we did have a herd of 50 cows, so agriculture is not foreign to me like some of my counterparts in Congress.”
Nebraska agriculture will have the support of both houses of Congress, as Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Neb., is on the Senate Ag Committee, and Bacon is on the House Agriculture Committee, a seat he has held since 2019. He recently has been named as ranking member of the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Nutrition, Oversight, and Department Operations. That subcommittee addresses policies and statutes relating to nutrition, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and domestic commodity distribution and consumer initiatives, as well as department agency oversight and special investigations.
Rep. Bacon, a 30-year service member in the Air Force, where he retired as Brigadier General in 2014, is also on the House Armed Services Committee.
The congressman saw firsthand the ranching operations of the Shovel Dot Ranch at Bassett, owned, and operated by brothers Homer and Larry Buell and their wives, Darla and Nickie. He met the Meeks family who own the Upstream Ranch at Taylor and ended his second day at the Bestol-Masek ranch at Purdum.
Though all are creating beef to feed the world, there are variants in each business that garnered him new insight into beef production and grazing, haying practices in Nebraska.
Bacon and his staff met Brenda and Dave Masek in their hometown of Purdum, at the village’s sign touting Purdum- the next five exits. The sign was erected as a parody when Lincoln boasted five exits years ago. One of those five exits in Purdum is the Harsh Mercantile, which sits by the closed Western Nebraska Bank building. (WNB opened a new branch in Thedford, closing the 106 -year banking business in the village last fall.) The owner of Harsh Mercantile, Mike Moody’s family owned the bank before they sold it several years ago. The Mercantile was once the original bank and still has the vault. Since the closest town with any amenities is Thedford, 20-plus miles away, Moody carries anything from groceries for people to groceries for livestock plus repair staples a rancher might need, such as belts, oil and fencing supplies. With an attentive audience, Moody gave insight into the struggles he is seeing in obtaining his supplies. “Covid really has hurt the supply chain. It is hard for me to get items, such as steel tanks, livestock feed or vaccines in on a timely manner,” he said.
From the Mercantile, the Maseks took the convoy to their ranch headquarters.
Brenda (Bestol) Masek will become the Nebraska Cattlemen president for 2022 at the NC convention in December. She and husband Dave gave the congressman and his staff a glimpse of their operation, which is mainly an Angus cowherd with Hereford and Balancer (Gelbveih/Angus cross) genetics for added hybrid vigor. Brenda’s dad Earl and his late wife, Claudia began the ranch with Earl’s parents in 1957. With Brenda’s guidance from her UNL education and keeping abreast of the beef research trends, she has increased the herd and the ranch’s acres. She utilizes AI (artificial insemination) in their replacement heifers, which they will begin doing at the end of May for the 2022 calf crop.
OFF FARM INCOME
Dave has a construction business, sells real estate and caters beef entrees when called upon with his homemade smoker/grill that can hold up to 200 pounds of beef.
The evening concluded with Bacon giving his views of the issues affecting the cattle industry, such as Biden’s plan to harm farmers and ranchers, as well as others with new tax laws. Bacon also got input from producers on issues, such as USDA meat inspectors for small plants. The Maseks had invited several area ranchers to meet the congressman, share their thoughts and enjoy Dave’s great prime rib steaks. The future NC president commended the congressman for staying in Congress and not putting his hat in the ring for Nebraska governor. “We need all the support we can get in Congress, and having Congressman Bacon out seeing our Sandhills’ agriculture first-hand this week will serve him and us (beef producers) well in D.C.”
The congressman and his staff ended the night staying at Gudmunson Sandhills Laboratory near Whitman, which they toured on Wednesday. Another stop before leaving western Nebraska, was visiting with R.J. Thomas, of Thomas Livestock, LLC, a pork producer near Broken Bow.
To connect with Rep. Bacon go to Bacon.house.gov. His Washington, D.C., office number is (202) 225-4155, his Omaha office number is (402) 938-0300. James Wright’s email is email@example.com.
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