Traveling the Third
May 11, 2022
While traveling in the Third District in recent weeks, I have been encouraged by the expertise and creativity our communities possess and sobered by the challenges we face. We have much to be thankful for, but there is also no shortage to the adversity we must overcome.
After closely monitoring the recent severe wildfires across southern Nebraska, I joined Governor Ricketts, Nebraska National Guard Adjutant General Daryl Bohac, and other local officials earlier this week to survey the devastation to farms, homes, and communities.
According to the Fire Weather and Avalanche Center, approximately 86,000 acres in Nebraska burned in the last month. At one point the Road 702 fire in Red Willow and Furnas counties was the third largest active wildfire in the nation.
It is devastating to see such wide-spread destruction. The brave responders and residents who joined together to fight the fires deserve our deepest gratitude, and we mourn the tragic losses of retired Cambridge fire chief John Trumble and Elwood Volunteer Fire Chief Darren Krull. I will continue to stay in close touch with state and local officials, and I will do everything I can at the federal level to support efforts to rebuild and recover.
Despite recent precipitation, the U.S. Drought Monitor classifies ongoing drought conditions in much of the Third District as either “severe” or “extreme.”
I encourage producers impacted by these events to contact their local United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Service Center in a timely manner to report losses and learn more about programs which may assist recovery from crop, land, infrastructure, and livestock losses and damages. USDA staff will work one-on-one with landowners to make assessments of the damages and develop methods which focus on effective recovery of the land.
My office also stands ready to assist with federal agencies. As the potential for more wildfires continues through the coming months, I encourage all Nebraskans to stay vigilant, follow fire safety and drought mitigation directives from entities like the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency, and stay tuned to updates from their local authorities. Nebraskans have always come together in difficulties like these, and I will do everything I can to support efforts to rebuild and recover from the recent disasters.
I have also recently seen firsthand the many good things happening in our ag community. From Alliance’s Thompson Seed Potatoes Inc. and the Krause family’s Table Top Meats in Hemmingford, to the corn and soybean operation near Wood River run by Nebraska Corn Growers Association Treasurer Michael Dibbern, I have enjoyed the opportunity to hear how they are impacted by ag and trade policy issues and their priorities for the upcoming Farm Bill.
The recent approval of summer E-15 sales is another promising development for Nebraskans, especially those in the agriculture industry. Everyone is feeling the pain at the pump cause by high inflation and fuel prices. As co-chair of the Congressional Biofuels Caucus, I have long supported year-round E-15, but the administration must continue to unleash more domestic energy resources to ease Americans’ pain at the pump.
It has also been a privilege to personally present this year’s Third District Congressional Art Competition winners with their awards at their respective high schools. First place recipient from Orleans, Brianna Jorgenson’s outstanding portrait titled “Vennsia” will be displayed in the halls of the U.S. Capitol for one year. Other honorees include Carlee Wissing of Hastings, Charli Wells of Holdrege, and Caden Holm of Mason City. Their pieces will be displayed in my offices in Nebraska and Washington, D.C.
It is incredible to see the artwork young Nebraskans submit for this competition each year, and I am especially thankful to all the teachers who encourage students to exercise their talent and creativity. This week I was also honored to deliver the commencement address for the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture in Curtis.
After spending time with so many young Nebraskans, I am more convinced than ever that the future of Nebraska is bright.