February 15, 2017

Livestock Production Tied Closely to Per Capita Income

Adding livestock numbers to a county doesn’t just add animals and jobs. It adds real money to the bank accounts of people who live in that county.

“The Nebraska counties that have the highest percentage of livestock production tend to be about 10 percent higher than average in per-capita income,” said Ken Lemke, economist for Nebraska Public Power District. “For every 100 jobs in livestock production, there is a minimum of 30 to 100 additional jobs created within the county.”

Quoting a study by the Bureau of Business Research at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lemke noted that the impact of livestock is pervasive across the state. “Even in Omaha and Lincoln metro areas, the agricultural complex in Nebraska accounts for 20 to 25 percent of the sales in employment. That percentage, of course, is even higher in other areas of the state,” he said.

“The purpose of economic development is to improve the lives of people living within the county or the area – and livestock production is definitely an economic development strategy for Nebraska,” Lemke said.

February 14, 2017

Without Corn: Brown Lettuce Leaves

In a World Without Corn...
Corn and products made from corn improve the lives of Americans in thousands of little ways. Often, consumers don't even know corn is present, let alone know the role it plays. But if corn and its products weren't available, many common products would be less useful, more expensive, even unavailable. Here is an example of a little annoyance and bigger problem Americans would face without corn:

Brown Lettuce Leaves
Many fruits and vegetable start to turn an unattractive brown once they're cut and exposed to air. Citric acid, recognized as a safe food ingredient, can prevent browning...and much of the U.S. supply of citric acid is made from corn sweeteners!

February 13, 2017

Omaha-Council Bluffs area dangerously close to air quality consequences

The Omaha-Council Bluffs metro area has an average ozone level of 67 parts per billion (ppb), very close to the recently-tightened 70 ppb limit set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). If the region exceeds this limit, it will go into “non-attainment”, an extremely punitive EPA designation that has long-term consequences on a region’s ability to grow and prosper.

Ground-level ozone is particularly problematic during summer months. That’s why the Metropolitan Area Planning Agency (MAPA) conducts an annual consumer information campaign during the summer to help citizens make choices that can keep Omaha’s air clean.

Included in MAPA’s Little Steps Big Impact campaign is a recommendation to choose cleaner-burning renewable biofuels such as ethanol and biodiesel. “Beginning last year, we really started highlighting the benefits of cleaner-burning biofuels such as American Ethanol as one of the little steps people can take,” said Greg Youell, MAPA executive director. “In some other metro areas, we’ve seen a correlation between the increased adoption of biofuels and a reduction of ground-level ozone levels. So we’re urging people to take a little step of choosing biofuels at the pump that will yield big impacts that help all of us have cleaner air to breathe and enjoy every day.”

Other Little Steps Big Impact recommendations include carpooling, use of public transit and walking or biking to work.

Youell said it’s paramount that the Omaha region avoid exceeding the EPA air quality standards. “If a region goes into non-attainment, it is very difficult to get out of it,” Youell added. “Once you’re designated, it can take up to 20 years to get out even if your air quality improves and you don’t have any more violations.”

Youell said that going into non-attainment has serious consequences on a community. “It would have a dramatic effect on industry and growth in the Omaha metro area. Any industry that has emissions would not be able to expand – and any new industry coming to town would be prevented from doing so without going through a permitting process that requires them to identify how their emissions will be offset,” he said. “Non-attainment really hinders economic development, and that has a ripple effect through the area in terms of job growth, tax revenue and economic vitality.”

We are dedicated to being proactive in order to maintain our clean air quality status and we strongly believe that increasing the use of biofuels such as American Ethanol is a sensible and simple strategy to help us do just that,” Youell said.

February 8, 2017

Without Corn: No Fresh Bread!

In a World Without Corn...
Corn and products made from corn improve the lives of Americans in thousands of little ways. Often, consumers don't even know corn is present, let alone know the role it plays. But if corn and its products weren't available, many common products would be less useful, more expensive, even unavailable. Here is an example of a little annoyance and bigger problem Americans would face without corn:

No Fresh Bread!
Corn syrup prevents waste and saves consumers money by keeping bread fresh longer. By retaining moisture, corn syrup keeps baked goods from drying out too quickly and going stale.

Nebraska's Livestock Friendly Counties

You’ve probably seen one of the signs as you cross a county line in Nebraska – welcoming you to a “Livestock Friendly County.” What does that mean anyway?

“It’s a way for a county to say that it’s open for business when it comes to livestock development,” said Steve Martin, ag promotion coordinator for the Nebraska Department of Agriculture.
“A lot of counties are starting to realize that, in attempting to control who comes into their county, they have limited the opportunities to producers who already live in the county – and in some cases, have driven them out,” Martin said. “The reality is that most of the growth we’re going to see is going to happen within the community.”

The impetus for Livestock Friendly designation must come from the counties themselves; the Nebraska Department of Agriculture does not “recruit” counties to apply for the program. In fact, some of Nebraska’s largest livestock-producing counties are not officially designated.

It’s a simple process, according to Martin. “A public hearing of the county board, supervisors or commissioners is held to discuss whether or not the make application for designation. If they resolve to apply, they submit the application and we evaluate it based on six main criteria,” he said.

The program is making a difference. “We are fortunate that two of the four counties we serve have received Livestock Friendly designation,” said Dave Behle, key accounts and economic development manager with Dawson Public Power in Lexington. “We’ve been able to get support from the elective bodies as they have seen the importance and positive impact of agriculture on their communities.”

Knox County saw immediate results when it achieved designation. “The day after we adopted our new regulations to become livestock friendly, two operations began working with me on applications to expand their feedlots,” noted Liz Doerr, Knox County zoning administrator. “We’ve focused on siting livestock operations in our primary ag district, while also protecting the lake and river areas that are critical to tourism in our area.”
“The program is not necessarily about making it easier to site new livestock facilities; it’s more about adding clarity and consistency to the process,” Martin said. “That process is still a public process, but there are clear zoning and permitting guidelines that officials can use to make a determination – and that producers can use to prepare a proposal that meets those standards.”

February 6, 2017

In Nebraska, Agriculture and Economic Development are the Same Thing.

Determine what you do best, and then find ways to do more of it.

That’s a pretty good formula for success, especially when it comes to economic development.

Agriculture – growing crops and raising animals – is what Nebraska does best. Agriculture accounts for more than $22 billion of the gross state product of Nebraska. More than one-fourth of Nebraska’s economy can be attributed to the ag production complex. Nebraska is among the national leaders in crop production, livestock production and biofuels.

Bottom Line: In Nebraska, Agriculture = Economic Development.

“Nebraska has a world-class agriculture system and that’s a clear advantage that we need to leverage in every way possible,” said Ken Lemke, economist for Nebraska Public Power District. “There’s no doubt in my mind that the best ag technology, the best livestock technology and the best producers in the world are in Nebraska, and we need to keep it that way.”

“The sheer volume of commodities we produce. A plentiful water supply. The reputation of our workforce. The fact that we’re within two days trucking distance of 90 percent of the nation’s population.  These are all Nebraska advantages that can help us leverage our state’s strength in agriculture production and processing for statewide economic vitality and growth,” said Courtney Dentlinger, director of the Nebraska Department of Economic Development.

As Nebraska looks for ways to generate economic vitality, increase its tax base, and retain young talent, there is no question that our strength in agriculture is an important foundation on which to build.

January 30, 2017

What is Ozone?

The difference between good ozone and bad ozone.

Ozone is a compound that occurs naturally in Earth’s atmosphere but is also formed by human activities. In the stratosphere, ozone prevents harmful solar ultraviolet radiation from reaching the Earth’s surface. That’s the “good” ozone.

Near the surface, however, ozone is pollution that’s harmful to people, pets and plants. More than half of the ground-level ozone comes from common daily activities, especially driving. This “bad” ozone has significant human health implications including asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Renewable fuels such as American Ethanol reduce ground-level ozone levels and reduce the amount of particulate matter in vehicle emissions.

Ozone an asthma trigger in kids.
High levels of ozone are especially a problem for children with asthma. Reducing asthma triggers inside the home is a key focus of Omaha Healthy Kids Alliance, a non-profit organization focused on helping families improve the health of the in-home environment for children.

“It’s hard enough to control the in-home environment let alone what happens outdoors,” said president and CEO Kara Eastman. “But choosing the right fuel is a pretty simple action everyone can take to reduce ozone in our city. It’s especially easy to make that choice since fuel with American Ethanol is typically the lower priced choice at the pump.”

January 25, 2017

Dozens of new flex fuel pumps coming to Nebraska

Up to 80 new flex fuel pumps will be installed across Nebraska in the next few months as part of a national effort to expand consumer demand for American Ethanol.

The flex fuel pumps will offer a wide range of higher blends of American Ethanol including E15, E30 and E85. E15 can be used in all vehicles model year 2001 or newer, while all American Ethanol blends can be used in flex fuel vehicles.

The placement of new flex fuel pumps in Nebraska will primarily occur in metro areas and along Interstate 80.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture created the Biofuels Infrastructure Partnership (BIP) which targeted $100 million toward the expansion of the flex fuel infrastructure across the nation. The award of federal dollars requires a dollar-to-dollar match from states, private industry and other sources. In Nebraska, more than $6 million has been dedicated to this effort – including contributions from the Nebraska Corn Board, Nebraska Ethanol Board and Chief Ethanol Fuels. The Nebraska Energy Office is serving as the lead administrator of the program.

According to David Bracht, director of the Nebraska Energy Office, sales of mid-level American Ethanol blends have increased 45 to 55 percent at Nebraska stations that have installed flex fuel pumps.

David Bracht, director of the Nebraska Energy Office, states, “Building out our flex fuel infrastructure will make it even easier for consumers to take advantage of the many benefits of higher blends of American Ethanol and exercise their freedom to choose from a wide range of fuels.”