The Lincoln Star Journal reports Nebraska state legislators are considering a proposed constitutional amendment guaranteeing the right to “engage in farming and ranching practices.” The measure would also prevent the Legislature from passing new regulations without a compelling state interest. North Dakota and Missouri voters have approved similar measures, while Oklahoma voters will consider a “right to farm” amendment in their November general election.
The proposed amendment, measure LR378CA, did not initially advance out of the Agriculture Committee as some senators felt the measure was too broad. The committee revived the measure a day later and voted 5-2 to send it to the full Legislature for debate.
The constitutional amendment would prevent lawmakers from passing new regulations on farming and ranching technology, however, the latest version lets state and local governments regulate water. Critics contend the amendment does not define agricultural technology and Nebraska Farmers Union president John Hansen says his group opposes the measure. Hansen told the Nebraska Radio Network, ““When you got down to figuring out the mechanics of how it works, it was going to be in all likelihood a lot more helpful to big agribusiness interests who would be beyond the scope of regulation for their activities as they continue to take over agriculture than it would ever be helpful to average family farmers and ranchers.”
Nebraska lawmakers must approve the proposed constitutional amendment before it can appear on the statewide general election ballot in November.
A copy of the bill first introduced in January is available here.