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A big congratulations to Anna Zeleny, who testified in support of my bills LB324 and LB755, the recipient of the Center for Rural Affairs’ 2021 Citizenship Award. It is well-deserved and anyone who has heard Anna testify knows that she passionately and articulately explains the situation for meat lockers in Nebraska. Read more about Anna and the award from the Center’s full coverage. Here is a snippet:
“Not only were we educating the public, but we were educating lawmakers,” Anna said. “Not everybody understands what we are going through.”
LB 324, which created the Independent Processor Assistance Program (IPAP), and made it easier for consumers to buy meat directly from producers or processors, was unanimously approved by the Legislature in 2021.
Earlier this year, Anna returned to Lincoln to join other processors to testify before the Appropriations Committee in support of a bill to provide $10 million to IPAP from the state’s allotment of funds from the American Recovery Program Act.
Having spent days writing her testimony the first time around, Anna said she decided that this year, it was best to leave the statistics to others and just speak from her heart.
“My role was advocating for us on a personal level,” she said. “I didn’t even write my testimony on a piece of paper. It was how I was feeling and what we are personally experiencing. I told myself, ‘Anna, nobody knows what you are going through and this is the only way to show them right now.’”
She also brought a new perspective to the discussion, one that could be beneficial as longtime owners look to retire.
“So many lockers have closed down lately because nobody will take them over,” she said. “To be able to be a female advocate and also bring the youth and family aspect of it was important.”