Keep more food dollars in state

Most food travels hundreds or thousands of miles to reach our pantries or refrigerators.

While 1,300 Nebraska farms sell directly to consumers, with sales of $5.9 million, that's only 0.04 percent of the farm product sales in the state, according to a Center for Rural Affairs report. Currently, only about 10 percent of the $4.4 billion that Nebraskans spend on food annually is on products grown and processed in the state.

Why so little? It's a matter of simple economics; large, out-of-state producers and processors are set up to deliver product at lower prices, taking advantage of economies of scale and climates more conducive to fruit and vegetable production.

Perhaps Nebraska can't compete directly with vegetable production giants like California, Texas, Florida or Arizona, but with imagination, innovation and determination, we can shift more of our food dollars to friends and neighbors instead of sending them out of state.

- McCook Daily Gazette

Grand jury records public for reason

Nebraska state law requires that grand jury records be made publicly available in cases involving law enforcement officer-involved deaths. That requirement underscores the importance of keeping the public informed about law enforcement actions involving the most serious of consequences.

The Nebraska State Attorney General's Office had argued that the records should be sealed if a case was pending against an officer, but two district court judges and now the state Supreme Court have ruled otherwise, acknowledging the plain requirements under the relevant state law.

The case in question involved the testimony and exhibits that grand jurors reviewed before deciding on charges against officers in connection with the June 5, 2017, death of Zachary BearHeels, an Oklahoma man suffering from mental illness. That disturbing incident rightly spurred scrutiny of police procedures and operations. State law served the public interest by requiring transparency for the grand jury materials.

- Omaha World-Herald

Hemp has potential for farmers

A new global trend in agriculture, and an untapped market in much of the United States, may soon be a lucrative opportunity for farmers.

Hemp, a variety of the cannabis plant, is a multipurpose crop that has been growing in popularity. The global market for hemp in 2017 was estimated at nearly $4 billion and expected to continue growing over the next several decades.

And in the U.S., recent federal legislation has given hemp the legal go-ahead. Previously, hemp was considered a controlled substance because of its associations with marijuana.

However, new laws have removed that classification, and some believe that hemp is the future of American agriculture. Hemp can’t get you high – but it can be used to make thousands of products.

We hope lawmakers don’t let an antiquated misconception guide their thinking on this. Hemp and marijuana are not one and the same, and they shouldn’t be confused -- plus, hemp is legally sanctioned by the federal government.

- Casper (Wyo.) Star-Tribune

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