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Pass soil conservation bill

Unconventional cultivation methods have taken root in a number of Nebraska farms. These methods, such as no-till farming and use of diverse cover crops, are praised for their promotion of soil health. A bill to create a state task force to promote it, introduced by Creighton Sen. Tim Gragert, went before the Legislature's Agriculture Committee last week.

Such production methods also reduce the runoff of nitrates into nearby streams, which is the key water quality challenge for Nebraska. These agricultural methods aren't easy, however, and they're used at present by a minority of Nebraska producers.

Farmers, of course, have the right to decide for themselves how best to manage their operations. At the same time, a range of Nebraska organizations say that no-till and cover crops can be viable options for more agricultural producers if they're properly informed about the benefits and the ways to make the practices work, including use of government financial incentives.

Regenerative farming offers major benefits, and it likely can prove a viable method for considerably more Nebraska producers. A coordinated educational and support effort would serve the state's best interest.

- Omaha World-Herald


Loosen Airbnb restrictions

Nebraska lawmakers should resist pressure from the lodging industry and "not in my backyarders," and support a bill that would prevent local governments from banning private homeowners from earning a little extra cash by offering travelers and occasional visitors a place to stay other than a motel or hotel.

In some municipalities, it's unlawful for homeowners to rent extra rooms because bans have been passed with backing from the lodging industry. Hotel operators argue that Airbnb operators are stealing their business. Other opponents of home-sharing fret that guests at Airbnbs might steal parking, be too loud and find other ways to disrupt their neighborhood.

Yes, home-sharing represents competition and may be an occasional threat to serenity, but home-sharing also represents an alternative for travelers to enjoy new experiences. Staying at an Airbnb means meeting new people, spending time in unique places and making memories they might not receive in commercial lodging.

If Nebraska lawmakers believe restrictions are appropriate, we urge them to exercise restraint and limit the scope of laws to true health and safety concerns. Otherwise, stay out of the way and allow homeowners to use their property as they see fit.

- Kearney Hub


Climate change is no joke

We understand why, in the face of last week's bone-chilling weather, "global warming" seems like a joke.

But just to make sure no one is confused about where the joke ends, let's get one thing straight: Short-term changes in the atmosphere (weather) are not the same as shifts the average weather over long periods of time (climate).

Some specifics of this particular weather system, if you're interested: The polar vortex is the name for the winds in the Arctic, which typically keep the coldest air way up there. Sometimes it shifts south. But now, unusually, the polar vortex has broken into two systems, one of which made its way down to North America.

A number of scientists studying the phenomenon believe this is related to climate change.

These patterns are complex, and even researchers don't yet have all the answers. But even those who don't want to believe in climate change ought to be paying serious attention to it, because the ramifications are huge.

- Manhattan (Kansas) Mercury

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