April 18, 2014

“Welfare Rancher” ad aims at Fischer, but irks Farm Bureau (AUDIO/VIDEO)

A Democratic television advertisement aimed at Republican United States Senate candidate Deb Fischer seems to be causing collateral damage.

It didn’t take long for the Nebraska Farm Bureau to register its displeasure with the TV ad that characterizes Fischer as a “Welfare Rancher”.

“We are extremely disappointed in the Nebraska Democratic Party’s latest television ad that unfairly portrays farmers and ranchers who participate in the Federal Bureau of Land Management’s grazing program as ‘welfare recipients,’” Nebraska Farm Bureau President Steve Nelson said in a written statement.

The ad charges Fischer maintains a double-standard by campaigning against welfare recipients while benefitting from federal grazing rental prices. Democrats claim Fischer saves $125,000 a year by taking advantage of the federal government’s below-market value lease agreements. Democrats contend Fischer, a state senator from Valentine, has saved nearly $3 million since 1973 through an arrangement first made by her husband’s family on 12,000 acres in north-central Nebraska.

Nebraska Democratic Party national committeeman Vince Powers is quoted in a release issued by the Nebraska Democratic Party as saying, “Welfare Rancher Deb Fischer refuses to support an amendment to the Farm Bill that would put public grazing prices in line with private sector prices. She thinks her welfare program should be exempt from cuts, even as we face a $1.1 trillion dollar deficit.”

It’s the “Welfare Rancher” tag that upsets the Farm Bureau.

Nelson, in an interview with Nebraska Farm Network, said the ad smears all ranchers who lease federal grazing land.

“We really do see this as kind of an attack on all of agriculture and so that’s the primary reason for our reaction,” Nelson said.

Nelson said while he understands the ad targets Fischer, it clearly leaves the impression that participation in such programs amounts to accepting “welfare”. Nelson insisted ranchers who rent federal land actually perform a public duty by adhering to stringent lease arrangements that require ranchers to make improvements to the land.

AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:40]

AUDIO: Brent Martin interviews Nebraska Farm Bureau President Jerry Nelson about Fischer ad. [6:30]