October 2, 2015

Nebraska Corn Urges Farmers to Take a Second for Safety During Harvest!

It’s that time of the year again, the leaves are turning, the roads are busy with farm equipment and farmers are racing the unpredictable weather to get their crop out of the field. The hectic harvest season is upon us and as farmers enter the fields and travel the roads, Nebraska Corn is urging them to use extra precaution and take a second for safety.

Agriculture remains one of the more dangerous occupations in North America, but exercising caution, getting rest and being safety-minded can go a long way toward making it safer for everyone involved.

“There are a lot of moving parts at harvest time and farmers are working hard to get the crops out of the fields,” said Dave Merrell, farmer from St. Edward, Nebraska and chairman of the Nebraska Corn Board. “Working long hours in the field or on the farm could cause a chance for error where an injury or fatality could be prevented by taking appropriate precautions or simply taking time.”

Merrell also cautioned motorists driving on rural roads during harvest. These roads see additional traffic during harvest, which increases the chances for accidents to occur between slower moving farm equipment and vehicles moving at highway speeds. Rural intersections will have heavier-than-normal travel and dusty conditions may limit visibility, as can sun glare in the morning and evening. Standing crops in the field may also block a clear view of oncoming traffic.

Nebraska Corn encourages farmers to pay special attention to the safety features of their equipment, and encourages everyone to keep an eye toward safety on the highways and byways this harvest and year round.

Some things to consider for farmers and farm workers while on the farm this fall:

  • Stay alert. Take breaks to help avoid fatigue — get out of the cab and walk around every few hours. Keep your cell phone charged so you can communicate as needed with family members and employees.
  • Use extra caution around PTO’s. Check that PTOs are well protected to avoid contact with clothing or people during operation. And never step over a rotating PTO—a few extra steps to walk around the tractor are worth the effort.

  • Shut down before working on a machine. If the combine becomes clogged, shut off the motor, not just the header, before attempting to unplug it by hand.
  • Be aware of your surroundings. Know where your co-workers and family members are at all times and always be aware of power lines that you can come in contact with while moving equipment and augers around grain bins. Visibility can be especially poor around large machinery and at night.
  • Grain Bin/Handling Safety. Grain bins deserve special attention and caution when grain is being loaded and removed. Never stand on grain that is being or has been moved. Safety measures should be put in place to avoid any risk of entrapment and suffocation.
  • Move Machinery Safely. Make sure your Slow Moving Vehicle emblems are in good condition and properly mounted. If you must move machinery on a roadway after dark, have all necessary working headlights and flashing front and rear warning lights. The better you can be seen the less likely you are to be hit by motorists.
  • Develop Safety Rules. Have a set of safety rules for everyone to follow – and enforce them. Protective eye and ear wear is important in many situations. It is also important to equip tractors and combines with a fire extinguisher, as dry crop residue is fuel for a fire. Finally, ensure that trained family members and employees are operating powerful equipment—if kids want to be involved, give them age appropriate jobs.

“While we all recognize the excitement and fast-pace of harvest, staying focused and resting regularly are two proactive steps in keeping things safe around the farm for everyone, including family members and employees helping to harvest the crop,” said Larry Mussack, farmer from Decatur, Nebraska and president of the Nebraska Corn Growers Association. “Harvest and fall field work is truly a thrill for Nebraska farmers, but please remember to be careful and take a second for safety.”

Growing Nebraska Through Trade

Nebraska and its role in the international market were on the forefront of discussions this week as Nebraska Congressman Adrian Smith hosted the “Growing Nebraska Through Trade” seminar on Tuesday at Raising Nebraska in Grand Island. Trade of agricultural products is an ever-important issue to Nebraska corn producers as markets for our products rely on international customers.

“With more than 96 percent of the world’s customers living outside our borders, trade provides tremendous opportunities to grow our rural economy,” Smith said. “As our work on trade negotiations moves forward, I am committed to helping expand access to thriving international markets for Nebraska producers, manufacturers, and consumers. I hope everyone who joined us today gained valuable knowledge and connections to help drive their businesses toward greater success in the global marketplace.”

The seminar featured Nebraska native and Chief Agricultural Negotiator in the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, Ambassador Darci Vetter. AgView talked with her about a busy week ahead, progress on TPP and the continuing process of the Country of Origin Labeling dispute, watch here:

Topics at the seminar included state-level efforts to grow the agriculture economy, rural growth and value-added agriculture, and ongoing efforts to open markets to Nebraska and U.S. agriculture products. Other featured speakers included Vice-Chancellor of the University of Nebraska Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Ronnie Green; and speakers from state and federal agencies as well as business and education leaders from the Third District.

Dr. Green emphasized that Nebraska plays a pivotal role in international trade, and the University of Nebraska also has many programs which helps develop ideas into goods and services for a growing world.

Learn more about how international trade is important to Nebraska corn farmers at our website, www.nebraskacorn.org.

*Pictures and video from AgView.net.

September 30, 2015

Renewable, Homegrown Fuels Provide Energy Independence

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

Biodiesel and American Ethanol, two energy sources made from Nebraska soybeans and corn, that are homegrown, locally produced and contribute to our energy independence and security. To wrap-up Renewable Fuels Month this September, Nebraska farmers can celebrate these homegrown renewable fuels and the economic benefits they provide.

Last year, Nebraska farmers raised nearly 289 million bushels of soybeans and 1.6 billion bushels of corn – numbers they expect to grow in coming years. From these two crops, renewable fuel sources and distillers grains co-products are created right here in Nebraska.

These homegrown, renewable fuels and co-products greatly contribute to the economic vitality in Nebraska and across the United States. More than 1,500 people in rural Nebraska and more than 850,000 people nationwide are employed in the renewable fuels industry, according to a 2014 economic impact study released by the Fuels America coalition.

The economic report tells the story of an innovative, advanced biofuels industry that is benefiting America’s economy. Part of the effort contributing towards an expanded biofuels industry is attributed to the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). “The data is in: The RFS is driving billions of dollars of economic activity across America,” the report concludes. “This is the result of years of investment by the biofuel sector to bring clean, low carbon, renewable fuels to market.”

“There are some rural communities in Nebraska that probably wouldn’t have the opportunities they do today if it wasn’t for renewable fuels,” said David Merrell, farmer from St. Edward, Nebraska and chairman of the Nebraska Corn Board. “Renewable fuels support the local farmer and provide as much as $3 million in tax revenue for the state of Nebraska.”

The RFS program was expanded in 2007 to include biodiesel, increasing the amount of fuel required to be blended into transportation fuel to 36 billion gallons by 2022, created new categories of renewable fuels including advanced, cellulosic, and conventional.  The program also evaluated the lifecycle of greenhouse gases to ensure each category was meeting a minimum threshold.

With the help of the RFS, renewable fuels now represent more than 10% of America’s fuel supply and have helped reduce U.S. reliance on foreign oil to the lowest level in years.

“Each year we continue to produce more renewable fuels in the United States. In 2014, we reduced our imported crude oil by 512 million barrels and 1.75 billion gallons of imported petroleum diesel—that’s a clear sign the RFS is doing exactly what it was intended to do,” added Merrell.

The RFS is reducing our dependency on imported oil, providing a homegrown, locally-produced renewable fuel, creating jobs, providing tax revenue, and more.  Renewable fuels are a win-win situation for the farmers, rural communities and consumers.

September 29, 2015

Seed and High Moisture Corn Harvests Continue

Photo Courtesy of Imperial FFA Chapter
For the week ending September 27, 2015, temperatures averaged six to eight degrees above normal with an inch or more of rain common across a wide swath of central and eastern Nebraska, according to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service. Silage cutting was coming to a close. Soybean harvest gained momentum but was slowed due to wet soil conditions. Seed and high moisture corn harvests continued as soils dried. Dry conditions in many western counties allowed winter wheat seeding to progress, as did dry bean and millet harvests. There were 4.5 days suitable for fieldwork. Topsoil moisture supplies rated 7 percent very short, 24 short, 63 adequate, and 6 surplus. Subsoil moisture supplies rated 6 percent very short, 25 short, 66 adequate, and 3 surplus.

Photo Courtesy of Imperial FFA Chapter
Corn condition rated 2 percent very poor, 5 poor, 19 fair, 54 good, and 20 excellent. Corn dented was at 96 percent, near 97 last year and 99 for the five-year average. Mature was at 65 percent, near 61 last year and 69 average. Harvested was at 10 percent, near 6 last year, but behind 16 average.

Data for this news release were provided at the county level by USDA Farm Service Agency and Nebraska Extension. Access the National publication for Crop Progress and Condition tables HERE. Access the High Plains Region Climate Center for Temperature and Precipitation Maps HERE. Access the U.S. Drought Monitor HERE.

September 28, 2015

Renewable Fuels Are Better for Our Environment

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

Nebraska’s air is more dangerous than it looks thanks to toxic cancer-causing particles that enter our lungs and bloodstream when we put fuel in our vehicles. The good news is that we have a sustainable, home-grown renewable solution: biofuels.

When consumers pull up to the pump, they may believe they are just filling their tank with fuel—what most don’t realize, however, is that they are also filling the air with dangerous toxics that threaten our health. Oil companies have added a deadly combination of toxic carcinogens known as BTX (benzene, toluene, xylene) to our fuel to enhance octane.  Similar to the now banned octane boosters, lead and MTBE, which oil companies used in the past, the health threats of BTX are growing with every research study. These carcinogens do not completely combust in the engine, and as a result, ultrafine toxic particles leave the tailpipe and enter the air we breathe. These particles are linked to serious health problems such as asthma, heart disease and lung cancer.

Fortunately, Nebraska farmers produce a sustainable, renewable solution that is not only non-toxic, but also a clean burning source of octane. Renewable-biofuels, made from corn and soybeans that are produced right here in Nebraska, burn cleaner and improve air quality compared to conventional fuels. When drivers use American Ethanol and biodiesel, they’re improving air quality and reducing serious health problems not only for themselves, but also their children and grandchildren. These renewable fuels lower the level of toxic, cancer-causing emissions in vehicle exhaust—reducing air pollution, improving human health, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Greenhouse gas (GHG) emission standards have been a hot topic over the last few years, which is good news for renewable fuels such as American Ethanol and biodiesel. The ethanol industry is producing fuel that is up to 59% lower in GHG emissions than regular gasoline. While biodiesel reduces lifecycle GHG emissions by up to 86% compared to regular diesel fuel.

“It’s easy to see that home-grown corn and soybeans have a positive impact on our environment, especially when it comes to using them in our vehicles,” said Dennis Gengenbach, farmer from Smithfield, Nebraska and vice chair on the Nebraska Corn Board and vice chair of the National Corn Growers’ Ethanol Committee. “The more we learn about the dangerous effects the exhaust from petroleum has on the environment and our health, the more we need to encourage the use of clean-burning fuels such as American Ethanol and biodiesel.”   
Many consumers are beginning to change their purchasing decisions as they realize the clear-cut benefits of using renewable-biofuels. As a result, automotive manufacturers have recognized the growth in this demand, and have brought several new models of fuel efficient diesel vehicles to the market in recent years. They have also made flex fuel vehicles, which can operate on any blend on American Ethanol and gasoline up to E85, abundant for consumers to purchase.

Everyone can make the individual choice to make our air cleaner and healthier. By making the simple decision to fuel up with American Ethanol or biodiesel, consumers can make a very big difference in our air quality and for the health of our families.

Soil's Preservation is Essential for Food Security

2015 International Year of the Soils

Soil is a finite resource, meaning its loss and degradation is not recoverable within a human lifespan. As a core component of land resources, agricultural development and ecological sustainability, it is the basis for food, feed, fuel, and fiber production and for many critical ecosystem services. It is therefore a highly valuable natural resource, yet it is often overlooked. The natural area of productive soils is limited--it is under increasing pressure of intensification and competing uses for cropping, forestry, pasture/rangeland and urbanization, and to satisfy demands of the growing population for food and energy production and raw materials extraction. Soils need to be recognized and valued for their productive capacities as well as their contribution to food security and the maintenance of key ecosystem services.

Soil degradation is caused by unsustainable land uses and management practices, and climate extremes that result from various social, economic and governance drivers. Today, 33 percent of land is moderately to highly degraded due to erosion, salinization, compaction, acidification and chemical pollution of soils. The current rate of soil degradation threatens the capacity of future generations to meet their most basic needs. Current demographic trends and projected growth in global population (to exceed 9 billion by 2050) are estimated to result in a 60 percent increase in demand for food, feed and fiber by 2050. There is little opportunity for expansion in the agricultural area, except in some parts of Africa and South America. Much of the additional available land is not suitable for agriculture, and the ecological, social and economic costs of bringing it into production will be very high. Sustainable management of the world's agricultural soils and sustainable production have therefore become imperative for reversing the trend of solid degradation and ensuring current and future global food security.

Key Facts:

  • By 2050, agricultural production must increase by 60 percent globally, and by almost 100 percent in developing countries in order to meet food demand alone.
  • 33 percent of soil is moderately to highly degraded due to erosion, nutrient depletion, acidification, salinization, compassion and chemical pollution.
  • A shortage of any one of the 15 nutrients required for plan growth can limit crop yield.
  • In most developing countries, there is little room for expansion of arable land: virtually no spare land is available in South Asia and the Near East/North Africa.
  • Where land is available, in sub-Saharan Africa and Latin American, more than 70 percent suffers from soil and terrain constraints.
  • More efficient use of water, reduced use of pesticides and improvements in soil health can lead to average crop yield increases of 79 percent.

How can we save our soils?

The sustainable use and management of soils is linked to many different areas of sustainable development--poverty reduction, hunger eradication, economic growth and environmental protection. Promoting the sustainable management of soils can contribute to healthy soils and thus to the effort of  eradicating hunger and food insecurity and to stable ecosystems. There is an urgent need to stop land degradation in its various forms and establish frameworks for sustainable soil management systems. The Intergovernmental Technical Panel on Soils of the Global Soil Partnership recommends the following actions:
  • Provide suitable technologies, sustainable and inclusive policies, effective extension programs and sound education systems so that more is produced with less;
  • Include soil protection and reclamation and sustainable land management projects in the current emerging markets that provide an economic value to those actions that produce ecosystem services;
  • Recognize the increasing need to preserve soils and have governments make corresponding investments;
  • Promote management practices for climate change adaption and mitigation, and resilience to changing weather patterns and extremes;
  • Promote strong regulations and effective control by governments in order to limit the accumulation of contaminants beyond established thresholds for human health and eventually to remediate contaminated soils;
  • Increase the area under sustainable soil management practices, enhance the restoration of degraded soils, and promote "sustainable production intensification" through adapted biological resources, increasing soil fertility, water use efficiency, ensuring sustainable use of inputs and recycling of agricultural by-products;
  • Support the development of national soil information systems to assist decision-making on sustainable land and natural resource uses;
  • Increase investment in sustainable soil management by overcoming obstacles including tenure security and user rights, access to knowledge and financial services;
  • Strengthen the implementation of capacity development and education programs on sustainable soil management.

Clean Fuels Omaha Promoting Renewable Fuels

Increasing the use of clean burning renewable fuels such as American Ethanol and biodiesel is the focus of a growing coalition of organizations working to improve air quality in the eight-county Omaha metro area, which includes counties in neighboring Iowa. Clean Fuels Omaha is a public/private coalition focused on the use of alternative fuels as a strategy to improve human health and the quality of the air we breathe. Clean Fuels Omaha involved a wide range of participants including the Nebraska Corn Board, Nebraska Ethanol Board, Nebraska Soybean Board, the Urban Air Initiative, Green Plains, Iowa Corn, SIRE, Douglas County Health Department, Omaha Public Power District, the Clean Fuels Development Coalition, the Metropolitan Area Planning Agency (MAPA) and other clean air and health-focused organizations and advocacy groups.

The use of renewable fuels such as American Ethanol and biodiesel are part of the "Little Steps, Big Impact" campaign led by MAPA. MAPA brings local government officials of the region together to address mutual and overlapping concerns in the areas of transportation, solid and hazardous waste, community and economic growth and development, air quality, energy, and data. It also works to promote and preserve the public health, safety and welfare of the citizens in the MAPA region. MAPA is promoting the use of American Ethanol through social media an its ozone awareness and education campaign.

So far, the Omaha metro area has been able to avoid what the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) calls "nonattainment status." Nonattainment means that the area does not meet the national air quality standards for any component considered to be a pollutant. If Omaha were to slip into nonattainment status, the consequences would be severe. For example, there would be additional regulations for industry--and serious pollution reduction regulations would be put in place.

MAPA Executive Director Greg Youell said that his organization has incorporated consumer information on renewable fuels in its "Little Steps, Big Impacts" campaign, which helps citizens learn how they can easily make a difference in the quality of life in their city. "The more we learn about the dangerous effects of vehicle exhaust on human health, the more we need to encourage the use of clean-burning fuels such as American Ethanol and biodiesel," Youell said.

September 25, 2015

Nebraska Cattle on Feed up 4 percent

The USDA Cattle on Feed Report is a monthly publication that reports data on the number of cattle in U.S. feedlots, the number of cattle being placed in feedlots, and the number being marketed for slaughter.

Why is this important to corn producers and consumer? 

Livestock is our number one market - and beef being the majority of livestock that is fed corn - so being aware of how many cattle on are feed in Nebraska and across the U.S. helps us know about the market for our corn.

Nebraska Cattle on Feed up 4 percent

Nebraska feedlots, with capacities of 1,000 or more head, contained 2.20 million cattle on feed on September 1, according to the USDAs National Agricultural Statistics Service. This inventory was up 4 percent from last year.

Placements during August totaled 410,000 head, down 4 percent from 2014.

Fed cattle marketings for the month of August totaled 400,000 head, down 9 percent from last year. Other disappearance during August totaled 10,000 head, down 5,000 from last year.

Cattle On Feed Up 3 Percent In The U.S.

Cattle and calves on feed for the slaughter market in the United States for feedlots with capacity of 1,000 or more head totaled 9.99 million head on September 1, 2015. The inventory was 3 percent above September 1, 2014.

Placements in feedlots during August totaled 1.63 million head, 5 percent below 2014. Net placements were 1.57 million head. During August, placements of cattle and calves weighing less than 600 pounds were 395,000 head, 600-699 pounds were 215,000 head, 700-799 pounds were 362,000 head, and 800 pounds and greater were 660,000 head. Placements are the lowest for August since the series began in 1996.

Marketings of fed cattle during August totaled 1.59 million head, 6 percent below 2014. Marketings are the lowest for August since the series began in 1996. Other disappearance totaled 60,000 head during August, 9 percent below 2014.

September 24, 2015

Nebraska Among First to Adopt American Ethanol Labels

If you're a NASCAR fan, the new labels coming to Nebraska fuel pumps will look familiar. For the past four years, American Ethanol has been the fuel of choice for NASCAR in the form of E15. The American Ethanol brand is on the green flag at the start of every race and appears prominently on cars and promotional materials on the NASCAR circuit. Now the American Ethanol brand is making its way to the consumer marketplace through a nationwide pump laving initiative--and Nebraska is one of the first states to implement it.

"The American Ethanol brand labels will help consumers more easily identify this clean-burning, homegrown fuel at the pump," said David Bracht, Director of Nebraska Energy Office. "Once this brand is implemented nationwide, consumers will be able to find American Ethanol virtually anywhere they travel."

The American Ethanol labels will identify higher ethanol blends including E15, E30, and E85. E85 can be used in 2001 and newer vehicles, while ethanol fuels such as E30 and E85 can be used in flex fuel vehicles. Flex fuels vehicles can operate on any combination of ethanol and gasoline up to 85 percent ethanol (E85). About one in seven Nebraskans is driving a flex fuel vehicle.

"For more than seven million miles, NASCAR has proven that American Ethanol is a reliable, high-performance fuel," said Dennis Gengenbach, a Smithfield, Nebraska farmer and Director on the Nebraska Corn Board. "Bringing the American Ethanol brand to your local retailer will provide even further assurance that this is a fuel we can all count on for performance and cleaner air."

September 22, 2015

Corn Harvested at 5%

Photo Courtesy of Imperial FFA Chapter
For the week ending September 20, 2015, Nebraska experienced temperatures two to eight degrees above normal, according to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service. Most of the State received up to an inch of rain. The warm conditions helped boost crop maturity and facilitated the dry down process. Preparations for harvest were ongoing, with soybean and high moisture corn harvest underway in some areas. There were 6.1 days suitable for fieldwork. Topsoil moisture supplies rated 8 percent very short, 29 short, 60 adequate, and 3 surplus. Subsoil moisture supplies rated 6 percent very short, 27 short, 65 adequate, and 2 surplus.
Photo Courtesy of Imperial FFA Chapter
 Corn condition rated 2 percent very poor, 5 poor, 19 fair, 54 good, and 20 excellent. Corn dented was at 93 percent, equal to last year, and near 97 for the five-year average. Mature was at 47 percent, equal to last year, and near 48 average. Harvested was at 5 percent, near 3 last year and 9 average.
Photo Courtesy of Imperial FFA Chapter
Data for this news release were provided at the county level by USDA Farm Service Agency and Nebraska Extension. Access the High Plains Region Climate Center for Temperature and Precipitation Maps HERE. Access the U.S. Drought Monitor HERE.