September 26, 2023

WASHINGTON — Following the Farm Bill for Nebraska listening tour with the entire Nebraska delegation, U.S. Sen. Pete Ricketts has announced his support for two key pieces of legislation that had been raised by producers — the EATS Act and the HPAI Act.

“Agriculture is the heart and soul of what we do in Nebraska, and we need to protect it at all costs,” Ricketts said. “(The) EATS Act would ensure far-left states like California don’t get to tell Nebraska agriculture how to run their business. The HPAI Act would ensure our poultry producers receive assistance when their areas are impacted by highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) outbreaks like we saw last year.

“I’m proud to support these bills and grateful for the critical input we received from Nebraska farmers and ranchers last week.”

The Ending Agricultural Trade Suppression (EATS) Act, introduced by Sen. Roger Marshall (R-Kan.), would preserve the right of states and local government to regulate agriculture within their jurisdiction — free from interference of other jurisdictions. The bill would prevent efforts like California’s Proposition 12, which requires meat products raised outside the state conform to the radical animal rights standards adopted by California under the guise of “public health.” The Supreme Court recently upheld Proposition 12 in a devastating blow to producers across the country.

Al Juhnke, executive director of the Nebraska Pork Producers Association, said the state’s pork industry generates more $600 million for the state’s economy.

“Adding more rules and regulations like California’s Proposition 12 would drastically change the trajectory and potential of our pork producers,” Juhnke said. “We thank Sen. Ricketts for co-sponsoring the EATS Act to protect our way of life and this critical Nebraska industry.”

The Healthy Poultry Assistance and Indemnification (HPAI) Act, introduced by Senators Chris Coons (D-DE) and Roger Wicker (R-MS), would expand payment eligibility to all growers in the USDA-determined “control area” who are forbidden from growing flocks until the virus is contained. USDA now covers only the indemnification of birds in highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) infected flocks.

“The growth of Nebraska’s poultry industry is one of the biggest agricultural success stories in all of Nebraska agricultural history. At the same time, threats such as highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) threaten the economic future of that industry,” said Mark McHargue, president of Nebraska Farm Bureau Federation. “The Healthy Poultry Assistance and Indemnification (HPAI) Act helps ensure our nation’s poultry producers are financially protected should an HPAI outbreak occur.”

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