By Governor Pete Ricketts
October 15, 2018
Official photo here.
With new technology and innovative farming techniques, modern day agriculture is more critical than ever to growing opportunities in Nebraska. Whether you work in a biotech lab, operate a combine in a field, or refinance loans at a bank, agriculture reaches into nearly every aspect of our economy, accounting for about a quarter of the jobs in Nebraska. Right now, Forbes ranks Nebraska the fourth best state for business and fourth best state for regulatory climate. Building on this strength is key to continuing the momentum we have experienced in growing Nebraska. To this end, I have been working to make state government more customer friendly for our farm and ranch families and to cut red tape at the federal level.
This week, the Nebraska State Patrol, Nebraska Department of Agriculture, ag leaders, and I unveiled new livestock hauling guidelines. These guidelines were created to help give greater predictability to livestock haulers who are complying with the rules of the road. It also provides for a system to rapidly address situations in which a livestock hauler is taken off the road for being out of compliance with weigh limits or a variety of other reasons. This will help ensure that drivers on the road remain safe, and that livestock are off loaded and receive proper care if they are taken off the road.
In recent years, my administration worked with leaders in agriculture to create a new vehicle designation to allow Nebraska’s farmers and ranchers to move certain farm equipment around their farm or ranch operation without obtaining a commercial vehicle driver’s license (CDL). This designation exempts some vehicles utilized in or on a farm operation from certain laws and regulations, which previously required drivers to obtain a CDL. Vehicles that may meet these requirements include trucks, hay grinders, manure spreaders, and numerous other pieces of equipment utilized in farm operations across Nebraska. This makes it easier for family farms to operate the way that they have over the years – with everyone lending a helping hand.
Since President Donald Trump took office, we have been working with the federal administration to roll back job-killing regulations put in place under President Barack Obama. For example, President Trump has ordered the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to repeal the Waters of the U.S. rule. The version implemented by the Obama Administration had sought to exert federal control over bodies of water as small as ditches and large puddles. For our farm families, regulating small bodies of water could have triggered onerous regulatory reviews and crippled their ability to smoothly run their operation.
Over the last few years, Nebraska had also been fighting to repeal President Obama’s so-called “Clean Power Plan” (CPP). Under the CPP, Nebraska would have been required to show a 40 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in less than 10 years. This would not only be nearly logistically impossible, but also expensive for Nebraskans who enjoy low utility rates thanks to our unique public power system. It takes longer to plan new power transmission lines and new sources of power than the Obama Administration was willing to give states for compliance. Furthermore, Nebraska would not have received credit for unique clean power projects we are already undertaking. I applaud President Trump’s move to repeal this rule, which would have been a burden on the entire Nebraska economy – from farming to manufacturing to homeowners.
Last week, President Trump took another step to loosen regulation around the sale of higher blends of ethanol. The President announced that he had directed the EPA to modify regulations to allow the sale of E15 all year long. As the second largest ethanol producing state in the nation, this is a big win. Right now, E15 can be marketed September 16th through April 30th, limiting our ability to sell more ethanol during the critically important summer driving months. Year-round sale of E15 is especially important for Nebraska and our farm families as we continue to work to meet the challenge presented by low corn and soybean prices. The EPA also recently approved a request I have been making to do a pilot program to study the use of E30 in conventional state vehicles. This will allow us to study whether higher blends can be marketed more broadly down the road.
These are just a few examples of the many ways we are working to get government out of the way so our farm and ranch families can grow Nebraska and feed the world. If you have ideas on how we can continue to cut red tape and make government more effective and efficient, I hope you will write me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 402-471-2244.