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Last year, I wrote a letter to the York County Board of Commissioners in support of their decision to designate York County as a “Livestock Friendly” county. The Livestock Friendly County program, known as LFC, was created in 2003 and recognizes Nebraska counties which support expansion of the livestock industry, and allows those counties to partner with the Nebraska Department of Agriculture to encourage industry development.
The LFC designation process provides a platform around which residents and elected leaders can build a conversation about the impact of existing livestock operations, the possibility of economic growth, and the local regulatory environment. Though zoning rules will still be upheld and enforced locally, achieving the designation provides a certain amount of predictability and confidence, and helps businesses make long-term investment decisions.
Nebraska is rich in resources, including an abundance of feed, affordable power, accessible water, and available processing, but we continue to lag behind neighboring states in livestock development. As a 2014 University of Nebraska study suggests, there is room to grow livestock production in Nebraska, and the potential economic impact, especially on local tax rolls, is tremendous.
While many communities and counties across Nebraska consider themselves “livestock friendly,” when businesses look to expand or relocate, it becomes clear that misconceptions about modern animal agriculture still exist. In the Legislature we are constantly working to reduce the regulatory burden of regulation on all small businesses, including our local livestock operations across the state. An LFC designation creates an easier avenue for livestock investment by creating an open process to follow for all parties involved.
As the Nebraska Department of Agriculture points out, at the very least, the LFC program provides a framework for discussion:
Pursuing the LFC designation initiates a conversation among county residents about the impact livestock has in the county, as well as how the industry is supported. The conversation becomes a self-examination of where the county is and where it wants to go with livestock and livestock business development. Designation means that the county has made a commitment to support the livestock industry in a socially, economically, and environmentally sound manner.
For these reasons and more, I support the LFC program not only in York County, but in all counties in Nebraska, including the other two counties in Legislative District 24, Polk and Seward.
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