Republican Candidates for Governor Debate in Broken Bow - KHGI-TV/KWNB-TV/KHGI-CD-Grand Island, Kearney, Hastings

Republican Candidates for Governor Debate in Broken Bow

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Eight people are vying to be Nebraska's next governor, including Democrat Chuck Hassebrook and Libertarian Mark Elworth, Jr. The other six are all Republicans, which means the field will be much smaller after the May primary.

Before that, however, they're meeting in debates.

Prison reform, education, and medical marijuana were issues raised to the six candidates during a 90 minute debate put on by the Nebraska Republican Party and Nebraska Farm Bureau in Broken Bow on Sunday.

But one topic on the minds of Farm Bureau officials is how to grow the livestock industry after a report that Nebraska has surpassed Texas in cattle on feed numbers.

Some candidates for governor say a key to growing Nebraska's number one industry starts with protecting a resource other states can't boast.

"They don't have the water resources down there to raise the feed that they need to have, so it's coming our way and that's a real opportunity," says Tom Carlson, candidate for governor and current state senator. "Another indicator of how important our water management is across the state."

"Water challenges, crop challenges in Texas, but it's also because we've worked together with our livestock producers with livestock friendly county designations, with the ability to grow livestock production in a way we never have before," says Beau McCoy, also a state senator seeking the governor's office.

Others say the state cannot afford poor livestock development.

"If livestock development is healthy in this state, the overall economy is going to be healthy, so that's one of the reasons the governor and I filed the lawsuit against HSUS to make sure our livestock producers could be successful, get those HSUS guys out of the way," says candidate and Attorney General Jon Bruning.

"We've got to keep the momentum going and make sure that we've got ample opportunity to export all of our livestock," says candidate and State Auditor Mike Foley. "We've got tremendous slaughter capacity here in Nebraska, let's take full action of that, let's keep this momentum going."

Issues that could hinder farm, feedlot, or processing development are a big concern for others running for governor.

"Working with local communities on zoning, certainly want to respect local control, but if you look at – we send 2.5 million hogs every year out of the state and then bring them back to processing, let's try and keep them here – that'll help grow the economy," says candidate Pete Ricketts, a 2006 Senate nominee.

"We need to get our arms around some zoning issues, we need to get our arms around some regulatory issues, and then we've got to attract some capital to invest in new businesses in Nebraska and that also means getting the tax rates down," says candidate Bryan Slone, an Omaha tax attorney.

The Nebraska Farm Bureau has not yet endorsed a candidate for governor. First, Vice President Mark McHargue says they're surveying their counties right now, and when those results come in, their political action committee will decide what to do.

The next time these six Republicans will square off again will be at another debate in Norfolk in April. Click HERE to find more information.

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