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NE Farmers Union blasts anti I-300 report

For Immediate Release (Tuesday, July 22, 2003 -- CropChoice news) -- From a news release.

Contact John Hansen at 402-476-8815; 402-890-8608

(July 21ó2003 Lincoln NE) Ė The President of Nebraska Farmers Union says the report released today by the Nebraska Department of Agriculture "The Agricultural Economy in Nebraska: Making Nebraska the Agricultural Leader of the 21 st Century" is strongly biased in favor of corporate agriculture. NEFU President Hansen quoted the language of the report itself to document the pro-corporate bias: " Nebraska needs to become and to promote itself as a corporate-friendly state, with pro-business policies and a pro business tax structure." Hansen said "Based on the Governorís comments about I-300 prohibiting producers from forming partnerships, I donít think he even understands what I-300 bans and what it does not."

Nebraska Farmers Union stands behind Initiative 300. "The primary causes for the continuing economic crisis facing family farmers, ranchers, and rural Nebraska are ignored in this report. The report assumes national farm and trade policy will stay the same, and agricultural markets will not be made more competitive, fair, open, or transparent. Instead, it focuses on all the impediments Nebraska has in place to impede the corporate take over of production agriculture like I-300 and local zoning."

Nebraska Farmers Union said the report itself was fatally flawed. It did not include a broad enough base of stake-holders in the first place. Nebraska Farmers Union, the second largest general farm organization in the state, for example, was excluded from the process. Hansen said, "Despite the fact they hand picked the group of ag players they wanted to talk to, they then minimized and downplayed the strong support for I-300 they got from their hand picked group. This report was not an objective fact finding effort, it was a political witch hunt to justify weakening I-300 and local planning and zoning."

Hansen went on to say, " Taxpayers had better be aware that this report also calls for more taxpayer financing of corporate welfare. They not only want to help facilitate the corporate takeover of production agriculture, they want us taxpayers to help further subsidize the corporate businesses that would be putting the independently owned businesses out of business."

Hansen concluded "We believe that Governor Johanns should be looking for ways to increase farm income, increase the value of our agricultural production, and grow our rural economic base. Instead, he is looking for ways to help corporations take over production agriculture. That is going in exactly the wrong direction."

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