September 12, 2014

Global food prices fall to lowest level in 4 years

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Global food prices fell to their lowest level in four years as all major food sectors declined during August with the exception of meat, the United Nations said on Thursday.

The UN's Food and Agriculture Organization said the food price index, which measures monthly price changes in cereals, dairy, meat, sugar and oilseeds, averaged 196.6 points in August, down from 203.9 points a month earlier. The drop was the fifth consecutive month of a decline.

The agency said its cereal price index, which includes grains such as corn, rice, oats and rye, averaged 182.5 points in August, down 2.8 points from July, and 24.2 points, or 11.7 percent, from August 2013. The index has been falling continuously since May following strong global production of wheat, corn and other commodities in the United States and around the world due to favorable growing conditions. The UN said it forecast global cereal production of 2.8 billion tons, just short of an all-time high.

Corn harvest between Dorchester and York. Aerial photography north of York. October, 11, 2010.  Photo by Craig Chandler / University CommunicationsThe United States is on track to harvest 14.395 billion bushels of corn and 3.913 billion bushels of soybeans, both records, the Agriculture Department said Thursday.

The monthly FAO index also showed evidence of the impact of the food and agricultural import sanctions imposed by Russia in July. Dairy prices in August fell to 200.8 points, down 11 percent from July and nearly 20 percent from the same month a year ago.

"Russia's prohibition at the beginning of the month on imports of dairy products from several countries helped depress prices, while slackening imports of whole milk powder by China (the world's largest importer) also contributed to market uncertainty," the agency said.

In the United States, food prices are forecast to rise 3 percent in 2014, with much of that increase coming from soaring prices for beef, pork and eggs, according to the USDA.

September 11, 2014

Corn Season Progressing

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For the week ending September 7, 2014, cool temperatures coupled with rain slowed fieldwork activities early and again late in the week, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. Moisture accumulations in most areas were less than an inch but enough to make hay harvest difficult. Irrigation was in the final stages and corn silage harvest began in southern counties. There were 5.0 days suitable for fieldwork. Topsoil moisture supplies rated 4 percent very short, 23 short, 68 adequate, and 5 surplus. Subsoil moisture supplies rated 8 percent very short, 27 short, 63 adequate, and 2 surplus.

Corn conditions rated 3 percent very poor, 6 poor, 19 fair, 50 good, and 22 excellent. Corn dough was 98 percent, near 97 last year and equal to the average. Corn dented was 75 percent, ahead of 69 last year, but behind 80 average. Corn mature was 15 percent, ahead of 4 last year, but near 16 average.



 For more pictures, check out the Nebraska Corn Board's Flickr page.

Data for this news release were provided at the county level by USDA Farm Service Agency and UNL Extension Service.

Nebraska's Golden Triangle Benefits Renewable Fuels

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September is Renewable Fuels Month!
Part Two of a Four-Part Series for Renewable Fuels Month

imageNebraska’s economic prosperity is deeply rooted in agriculture. Very few states can stake claim to the high rankings and diverse production that Nebraska consistently maintains year after year. Besides taking the top ranking in cattle on feed, in 2013 Nebraska also ranked first in popcorn and Great Northern dry edible bean production.

Last year, Nebraska ranked third in corn production and fifth in soybean production, accounting for nearly 12 percent of the nation’s corn bushels and almost 8 percent of the nation’s soybean bushels. Nebraska’s centralized location, access to water, and fertile soils make it a natural hub for crop, livestock and even biofuels production – all of which make up Nebraska’s Golden Triangle.

“The ability to grow a large corn crop, year after year, makes Nebraska a prime location to produce ethanol,” said Kim Clark, director of biofuels development for the Nebraska Corn Board. “Nebraska’s ranked second nationally in ethanol production and distillers grains in 2013. These production numbers clearly illustrate the interdependent nature of the biofuels and feed industries.”

Farmers have solid, established markets for corn – ethanol and livestock – while the two-dozen ethanol plants across state then provide renewable fuel and a feed ingredient for the livestock industry, giving cattle feeders in Nebraska more feed options and an advantage over feeders in other states.

Soybean acres in Nebraska are up nearly 13 percent from last year. Not only do soybean farmers expect a large crop, but they also expect to find a market for that large crop as well. Roughly 97 percent of domestic soybean meal goes to feeding poultry, hogs and other livestock.

The majority of the oil from soybeans continues to be used for human consumption, but biodiesel production has increased significantly over the last few years, helping to alleviate a glut of soybean oil that remained on the market. According to a study conducted by the USDA, the increased usage of biodiesel has returned nearly $0.74 per bushel to soybean farmers.

Terry Horky, a soybean farmer from Sargent and chairman of the Domestic Marketing Committee for the Nebraska Soybean Board, thinks Nebraska’s Golden Triangle makes perfect sense. “Agricultural production in Nebraska is part of a very dynamic system, a system in which soybeans, corn, and biofuels production can fit in perfectly with livestock production. We can market our crops locally, create jobs locally and keep some of these tax dollars in our communities.”

September 10, 2014

Make sure the corn you grow has a place to go

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Duracade Infographic March 2014_hires (2)The Nebraska Corn Board wants farmers to make sure that the corn they grow has a place to go.  In an effort to ensure the U.S. corn industry maintains important international trade markets, the Nebraska Corn Board is urging growers to follow stewardship protocols for U.S.-grown biotech hybrids yet to be approved in major export markets away from export channels.

Cutting-edge corn hybrids, such as Agrisure Duracade, a corn rootworm (CRW) control technology that has been approved in the U.S., are becoming more available options for farmers. While being approved in the U.S. and Japan, Agrisure Duracade does not have a synchronized regulatory approval in China –a growing market for U.S. corn - and having it enter the Chinese market would be detrimental.

At this point, China has closed its market to both corn and distillers grains from the United States due to traits that have not been approved by their government.  The lack of approval affects both Nebraska corn farmers and Nebraska ethanol plants.

“Farmers are in the most global business of anyone in our economy today. One out of every three farm acres planted in this country goes for exports,” said Tom Sleight, president and CEO of U.S. Grains Council. “It’s critical to our trading relationships that all corn producers heading in to harvest be mindful of the varieties they are growing and closely follow the stewardship agreements they have committed to.”

The Nebraska Corn Board is encouraging farmers to take three important steps this harvest season when it comes to marketing Agrisure Duracade:

  1. Re-read the stewardship agreement you signed to understand your obligations.
  2. Visit with your elevator or ethanol plant about their harvest policies.
  3. If your first purchaser has channeling requirements, follow them.  Deliver Agrisure Duracade to the right place—and make sure the corn you grow has a place to go.

There are more than 800 outlets accepting Agrisure Duracade. Elevators across Nebraska have been calling farmers to follow up on what they are growing and locations at which they are accepting this hybrid.

“Biotechnology has been a great thing for corn farmers—and will continue to be, so long as everyone in the chain from farmers to elevators follow the rules and do our part to be responsible stewards,” said Tim Scheer, farmer from St. Paul and chairman of the Nebraska Corn Board. “As we harvest this year's crop, know what you need to do to deliver Agrisure Duracade to the right place—and keep biotechnology working for all of us.”

September 5, 2014

Safety demonstrations with GSI, Inc at Husker Harvest Days

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4eec5cb579dcb.preview-300Headed out to Husker Harvest Days? You won’t want to miss the impactful grain engulfment demonstrations.

These demonstrations are very real – actual people are submerged up to their chest in corn. Experts from the Safety and Technical Rescue Association (SATRA) show how to use grain rescue tubes to save the individuals. While demonstrating, they explain just how easy it is for an individual to get themselves into a bad situation—and how common sense and proper safety protocols can help avoid a tragedy.

Each day, there will be rescue demonstrations held at the GSI booth (Lot #217) on 2nd Street. The demonstrations take place at 9:30 am, 10:30 am, 1:30 pm and 2:30 pm on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at the GSI booth.

The Nebraska Corn Board (NCB) and Nebraska Corn Growers Association (NeCGA) in partnership with GSI, Inc., will be hosting grain engulfment safety demonstrations throughout the Husker Harvest Days event, September 9-11, 2014. These demos tie with the theme, “Take a Second for Safety” that all of the commodities will be promoting in the Commodities Building (Lot #8) on Main Street.

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Over the past 50 years in the U.S., more than 900 cases of grain engulfment have been reported—and the fatality rate is 62 percent. With several grain bin accidents already reported this year in Nebraska, NCB and NeCGA want to advocate for more training and safety tubes to be available for local fire departments across the state.

These demos also show how important it is that local emergency responders have the proper equipment and training to manage a grain engulfment situation. While Husker Harvest Days participants are at the Commodity Building, they can register to win one of two grain rescue tubes which will be given to their local fire departments or emergency response organization.

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September 3, 2014

VIDEO: Kernels of Truth - GMO FAQ

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GMOs bring up several questions – and rightly so because it is a complex issue with no one simple answer. We’ve tried to help answer those questions in our three previous Kernels of Truth videos: What are GMOs?, GMO Safety, and Beyond Bt.

The last video in our series covers other common GMO frequently asked questions.

What is the difference between “genetic engineering”, “genetic modification”, “biotechnology”, and “GMOs”? Why don’t we label GMO foods?

Aren’t the herbicides used on genetically engineered crops dangerous to humans?

Watch GMO FAQs now:

Get more of your GMO FAQs answered on our website.

Watch all of our videos on GMOs:

Kernels of Truth - What are GMOs?

Kernels of Truth - GMO Safety

Kernels of Truth – Beyond Bt

September 2, 2014

Consumers have Choices with Renewable Fuels

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September is Renewable Fuels Month!
Part One of a Four-Part Series for Renewable Fuels Month

shutterstock_96735895Nebraskans have the choice of what type of fuel they put in their vehicle when they fill up. These options are available thanks to renewable biofuels such as ethanol or biodiesel. In September, Nebraskans can celebrate these choices with the recent proclamation of “September is Renewable Fuels Month” by Gov. Dave Heineman.

When consumers make the choice to put a renewable fuel in their fuel tank, they are choosing their energy future.  That future with renewable fuels looks like less reliance on the oil industry’s negative impacts on our environment. Also, by diversifying our fuel sources to positively impact America’s economic and national security, we can ensure a healthier future for the environment.

These choices of biofuels come in many different blends and can be found all over the country. Most vehicles can fill up with E10, while flex fuel vehicle (FFV) owners can fill up with flex fuel blends from E0 up to E85. Biodiesel blends can usually be found at levels of B5, B10 or B20.  Blend rates are identified by the number following the letter, so B20 is comprised of 20 percent biodiesel and 80 percent regular diesel fuel, whereas E85 is 85 percent ethanol 15 percent regular unleaded gasoline.

pic_2“We know that consumers have a choice when they come to the pump to fill up with fuel,” said Tim Scheer, farmer from St. Paul, Nebraska and chairman of the Nebraska Corn Board. “While there are so many choices when it comes to biofuels, consumers know that these choices are better for their engines.”

While biofuels are better for the environment, more importantly to many motorists is the fact that they are better for our engines. Evidence shows that ethanol keeps your engine clean by preventing build-up in the fuel injection system, reduces tailpipe emissions, and since it is water-soluble and has a low freezing point, it helps prevent your gas line from freezing up in cold weather.

Biodiesel also offers many benefits, such as added engine lubricity and reduced greenhouse gas emissions. Another benefit is that you do not need to modify your engine to run biodiesel. Whether you drive a car, truck, semi, or farm equipment, biodiesel is made to work in any diesel engine.

Yellow_GasCap (2)Finding the fuel choice for your vehicle is simple, said Kim Clark, director of biofuels development for the Nebraska Corn Board. “The main thing to know is if you have a flex fuel vehicle (FFV) or not. If you do have an FFV, you can fill up with any blend of ethanol up to E85. If you don’t have an FFV and it’s newer than 2001, you can fill up with any ethanol blend up to E15.”

Motorists can use this chart to help determine what blends of renewable biofuels they can use in their car.

What do you own?

E10

E15

Any blend from E0 to E85 (look for E20, E30, E50, etc.)

B1-B20 (Diesel Vehicles Only)

Vehicle Older than 2001

   

Vehicle newer than 2001

 

Flex Fuel Vehicle
(look for the insignia on your vehicle, a yellow gas cap or check your owner’s manual)

 

August 28, 2014

Proud to represent Nebraska in international agriculture

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By Bryan Brower, US Grains Council Intern

[Bryan%2520Brower%252C%2520USGC-DC%255B6%255D.jpg]I can’t believe that my summer with USGC has already come to an end. I had an absolutely fantastic time, I couldn’t have asked for a better overall experience. Interning for the U.S. Grains Council in their Washington, D.C. headquarters gave me a unique insight at how this international non-governmental organization operates and the industry and stakeholders they work to serve. I walk away from my summer with the Grains Council with my first experiences with agriculture and international trade. There is a certain sense of pride to represent a good portion of my fellow Nebraskans and advocate for their concerns and interests on the international level. Along with being able to check living in D.C. off my bucket list, I had an unbelievable experience.

IMG_1014There have been a lot of new developments and transitions at USGC since I have last posted. From USGC annual board of delegates meeting to one of my supervisor’s promotion, Marri Carrow, formerly the Director of Communications, promoted to Regional Director for Latin America. The Council has new leadership in Ron Gray along with a new set of delegates and of course the ever-expanding list of member organizations. All this on top of my special project, arranging for an 11-day, 3-state tour for a 9-person trade team from Taiwan, made for quite a hectic last month at the Council.

Ironically enough, the board of delegates meeting this time was in Omaha which allowed me to travel for the meeting, something other interns have previously not had the opportunity to do. Something all past USGC interns have shared in was all the work that goes into hosting a 300-plus annual meeting at a USGC Omaha BOD meetingconference center in a different city. Helping to coordinate the meeting gave me the opportunity to really see what all goes into maintaining positive member relations. Then having the chance to actually be in attendance for the meeting and learn about some of the emerging opportunities and potential threats and concerns really gave me, someone who before this summer had no real exposure to anything agriculturally related, both a broad and intricate understanding of the industry. After the Omaha meeting, I got the chance to work a couple smaller projects for the new Director of Communications, Melissa Kessler. As a new member of the USGC staff she brought with her new ideaIMG_1028s and a fresh perspective which translated into many new and sometimes exploratory initiatives. It was my job to conduct the first bit of feasibility research and sort of bring everyone up to speed, so to speak, on many of these new projects. This included everything from researching which communication tactics and mediums are most effective with farmers to how to conduct the best return on investment study for USGC. My special project also required quite a bit of my time, from planning meetings and tours to arranging for hotels and transportation.

On top of all this, I had a great experience being a young (semi)professional living in the nation’s capitol, the world’s center for everything politics. I can’t say enough about the adjustment to move away from all my friends and family and live in a new ciadrian smithty, one that is bigger than any I have ever previously lived in, I might add. The experience of finding your way and making new friends is a skill I am realizing to be extremely vital to an increasingly global and connected world. D.C. gave me a fresh perspective about what makes Nebraska special but what maybe was the most inspiring thing about my D.C. experience from what I gathered from talking with other ag-interns and young professionals in general. I see most people of my \ genuinely want to work together in a more altruistic way in the political and social sphere to enact meaningful change. Everyone seems to be on the same page that our generation will see tremendous change both domestically and internationally. There will be a number of issues that will require people coming together to overcome extreme sources of inertia. The world we live in will look drastically different over the next 50 years and we are the ones who will shape it in the best way possible.

August 27, 2014

Governor Heineman proclaims September as Renewable Fuels Month in Nebraska

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blenderpump_3The month of September has been declared as Renewable Fuels Awareness month in Nebraska by Governor Dave Heineman. Renewable Fuels Month aims to celebrate Nebraska’s renewable fuels industry and its positive contributions to Nebraska and our citizens.

The proclamation was coordinated through the Nebraska Corn Board and Nebraska Soybean Board. The two organizations will celebrate the proclamation with a campaign geared at educating Nebraskans about renewable fuels through a four-part series of news releases to be published during September.

“Nebraska is the Golden Triangle.  We grow the corn and soybeans, raise the livestock and produce the renewable fuels,” said Gov. Heineman. “Renewable fuels provide many benefits to our state including developing rural communities, creating jobs, providing a locally produced homegrown fuel for consumers, and more.”

In Nebraska, ethanol is blended with nearly 90% of all fuel and this number continues to increase each year.  There are over 180,000 flex fuel vehicles in the state and one in ten Nebraska motorists drives a flex fuel vehicle.  

Last year, renewable fuels reduced the nation’s need for imported oil by over 462 million barrels of crude oil - and 1.1 billion gallons of imported petroleum diesel. Biodiesel was named America’s first Advanced Biofuel and has continuously exceeded the production benchmarks set forth by the EPA.

DSC_0083One of the co-products from ethanol production is distillers grains, which plays a key role in the Nebraska agricultural economy.  “We are fortunate in Nebraska that livestock producers can use distillers grains co-products from ethanol production as a high-value feed,” said Tim Scheer, a farmer from St. Paul and chair of the Nebraska Corn Board. “Only the starch portion of the kernel is used to make ethanol. The protein, fiber, and fat portions still remain for the livestock.”

Terry Horky, a farmer from Sargent, Nebraska and chair of the Domestic Marketing committee for the Nebraska Soybean Board said as Nebraska farmers head out to harvest this year’s crops, over half will be fueling their equipment with a soy biodiesel blend.

“Farmers use renewable fuels like soy biodiesel because of the many benefits it has for engines,” said Horky. “But also because soy biodiesel is a renewable fuel produced by farmers right here in America.”

The four-part series to be released by the Corn and Soybean Boards during September will focus on: renewable, homegrown energy that can be used in food, fuel and feed; providing a consumer choice that is better for your engines and the environment; the “Golden Triangle”; and blend choices and where consumers can fill up with renewable fuels.

August 25, 2014

Water: Making every drop count

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 Corn field and center pivot irrigation in south central Nebraska. July, 2010. Photo by Craig Chandler / University CommunicationsNebraska’s diverse landscape progresses from lush, fertile crop ground in the east to the temperate Sandhills in the west. This change in scenery is attributed in large part to differences in the amount of rainfall and the water available to grow a variety of crops. Thanks to innovative agricultural practices, Nebraska corn and soybean farmers are making every drop of water count.

Since rainfall varies so much across the state, many farmers depend on irrigation during the summer months to help supplement moisture deficiencies. To help put the variation into perspective, the amount of rainfall changes more from Omaha to Scottsbluff than it does from Washington D.C. to Omaha.

Water for Food

Three quarters of the planet is covered by water; but less than one percent of the water on earth is available for human use. Water is critically important to farmers and ranchers. In fact, 70 percent of the water available to humans worldwide is used to produce food. Nebraska farmers irrigate nearly 8.5 million acres, more than any other state in the country. And new tools are allowing farmers to use water more efficiently, ensuring clean water for future generations.

“We know that many consumers have questions about the water it takes to grow crops like corn and soybeans,” said Drew Guiney, consumer relations specialist for the Nebraska Soybean Board. “We want people to know that farmers need water, but they’re also dedicated to continuing to improve their practices to ensure a clean, plentiful supply for generations to come.”

 

Smart Water

The purpose of irrigation is to supplement rainfall as needed. Many farmers are now adopting technologies that allow them to use less water. By pulling local weather data and installing water sensors in their fields, farmers can know not only when it’s time to irrigate, but also exactly how much water should be applied. Sustainable technologies like these are helping farmers produce more grain while using fewer resources and helping to keep the water supply clean and plentiful for you and your family.

Some of these technologies include the SoyWater and CornWater Irrigation Management Tools released by University of Nebraska-Lincoln. These programs are online, real-time decision support tools that help farmers determine when to irrigate fields in Nebraska. Both programs were developed with the help of the Nebraska Soybean Board and the Nebraska Corn Board.

To make irrigation recommendations, these tools evaluate several situations in the real-time, such as available soil water at different soil depths and possible water stress based on up-to-date weather data. Other factors include user-input crop information (including date of planting, hybrid maturity, plant population), and basic soil properties (including soil texture, soil water status at planting time, soil rooting depth, and soil surface residue coverage rate).

“Just as farmers adopted the use of pivots and sub-surface drip versus flood irrigation to increase efficiencies, they are now taking the next steps in conservation tillage, water mark sensors, and online decision support tools to continue in their quest to maximize the amount of yield per drop”, stated Kelly Brunkhorst, executive director for the Nebraska Corn Board.  “Farmers see this adoption of technology as just a step in their sustainability of producing corn and soybeans for food, feed, fuel and fiber.”

Center Pivot irrigation on soybean fields in York and Filmore counties on August 25, 2010.  Photo by Craig Chandler / University Communications