June 28, 2017

A Mile in my Shoes, or Seven

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Some of you may know that most people in D.C. don’t drive and that most interns, myself being included, don’t bring our cars for the summer. At home we measure most things in minutes, rather than miles (a trusty measurement) and one hour, four, you name it—we’ll drive it. Rewind to June 3, my first day in the District, and I was missing my car within 24 hours. I bet I covered 7-8 miles my first full day in town, and my calves and legs were killing me. I don’t really know what point I am trying to make, but as much as I’ve missed the flexibility (and physical relief) that my car lends me, public transportation has its perks too. When it comes to work, I walk a quick 6 minutes to hop on the bus and after 15 minutes am dropped off right next to the office. No wasted time parking or paying for parking, and I’m free to go about my work day.

Lately with the NCGA I’ve been trying to keep track of the priority policy issues which includes keeping pace with Sam Willet on the Farm Bill and keeping issues of trade and research on my radar. My first week I attended a House Ag hearing on food aid and international development. After 2.5 hours of sitting, frantically writing notes and pulling up faces of Congressmen on my phone playing a matching game, I was affirmed that I am in the right place. Despite the length, the hearing moved quickly for me and I enjoyed listening to the bipartisan conversation around food aid and the importance of assisting other nations. If you’re a reader, I really enjoyed reading through a report released by the Farm Journal Foundation titled Enhancing United States Efforts to Develop Sustainable Agri-Food Systems in Africa. One of the contributors, T.S Jayne, testified at the hearing and pulled many of his points from this report.

When not at work, I’m back to burning through the soles of my shoes and exploring the District. Highlights so far have been the Congressional baseball game and Nat’s game (really just there for the sunshine), walking the National Mall, taking advantage of free bluegrass music in the park along the Potomac river, attending the 25th Giant National Capital BBQ Battle and arriving home to our dear “stray” cat (it has a collar, not sure about the owners) that hangs out on our steps. There’s much to do here, and in the meantime before my next blog post, we are in full planning mode for Corn Congress in July. (Excited to have some of you here!)

All for now!


Jacy Spencer
National Corn Growers Association, Washington D.C. Office
20 F Street NW
Suite 600
Washington, DC 20001
Office: 202-628-7001

June 22, 2017

CornsTalk: What Happens When Trade Agreements are Renegotiated?

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U.S. agricultural exports have been larger than U.S. agricultural imports since 1960, generating a surplus in U.S. agricultural trade. This surplus helps counter the persistent deficit in non-agricultural U.S. merchandise trade. 

At the same time, leaders in Washington, D.C. have made trade a hot topic as they propose to rethink America’s current trade agreements and participation in trade talks.

Chris Novak, CEO of the National Corn Growers Association, said there is some value in taking a second look at trade agreements to ensure that the U.S. is getting a fair shake. But there is a downside, especially when it comes to breaking apart multilateral agreements involving several countries and, instead, negotiating one-on-one with individual nations.

 “You’re more or less going back to Ground Zero, but now, instead of one negotiation, you have a dozen or more,” said Novak. “History has shown us that these negotiations are not something you can hammer out overnight. It can take three to five years or more—even with a bilateral deal.” 

Tom Sleight, president and CEO of the U.S. Grains Council agrees. “You can’t use the words ‘fast’ and ‘trade agreements’ in a sentence at the same time,” he said. 
In the meantime, the U.S. stands the risk of losing valuable market share. “Not having trade agreements in place is going to provide an advantage for many of our competitors during a time when we’re fighting for access to every bushel of demand here at home and around the globe,” Novak added.

“If the U.S. is not part of a trade agreement, somebody else will fill that vacuum,” said Sleight. “A great example is the TransPacific Partnership (TPP) that the U.S. recently decided to exit. Obviously, China wants to fill that void with their own version of TPP and capture that rapidly growing market in Southeast Asia and the Pacific Rim.” 

Q: If we don’t have a trade agreement in place, can we still sell ag products to other countries? 

A: Not having a trade agreement in place does not totally shut out the U.S. from doing business with a nation. But if there is no trade agreement, countries can establish quotas on the amount of product they import from any single country or impose duties and tariffs. If the U.S. has to pay a duty or tariff to ship its corn into a country—and a competitor such as Brazil, for example, does not—that puts the U.S. at a price disadvantage.

 To read more about trade in Nebraska click here to view the whole Spring 2017 CornsTalk publication.

CornsTalk: Global Market and Niche Products

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Key International Cooperators Promote Nebraska Ag in Global Markets

 Through their corn checkoff, Nebraska corn farmers support the international activities of two major cooperators focused on developing export markets. Nebraska checkoff funds are leveraged with those from other states and stakeholders to obtain funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture through its Market Access Program (MAP) and Foreign Market Development (FMD) program.

Niche products offer opportunity for Nebraska producers 

“A key to global growth for Nebraska ag products lies in identifying specific consumer preferences or expectations in a marketplace and matching our producers and our packers to supply that demand chain,” said Greg Ibach, director of the Nebraska Department of Agriculture. A great example is in Hastings, where WR Reserve, a beef processing company, has been approved by the Israeli government as a source for kosher beef for import. WR Reserve is the only Israeli-approved kosher beef facility in the U.S. and as a result, the company is planning a $4.5 million expansion that will add approximately 100 jobs to the Hastings area.

Officials celebrate the announcement of shipments of kosher beef to Israel from the WR Reserve facility in Hastings. From left: Dave Rippe, executive director of the Hastings Economic Development Corporation; Lt. Gov. Mike Foley, Fischel Ziegelheim, managing partner of WR Reserve; Greg Ibach, director of the Nebraska Department of Agriculture.

To read more about trade in Nebraska click here to view the whole Spring 2017 CornsTalk publication.

CornsTalk: How Important is Mexico to Nebraska Agriculture?

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The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is a trilateral trade agreement between the U.S., Canada and Mexico that was implemented in 1993. “NAFTA has been a significant boon to Nebraska agriculture,” said Alan Tiemann, a Seward, Nebraska, farmer, Nebraska Corn Board Director and former chairman of the U.S. Grains Council. “It makes sense that we have free and open trade with our neighbors to the north and south.”

Since 1994, U.S. corn exports to NAFTA partners have increased by a factor of seven!

“The U.S. has a logistical advantage in terms of serving the Mexico market,” said Tom Sleight, President and CEO of the U.S. Grains Council. “We can ship by truck, rail or water—and our proximity provides for lower transportation costs. We have a better grading system and a reliable supply of high quality corn.”
Top 5 Nebraska Exports to Mexico 

1. CORN [$287 million]
2. SOYBEANS & SOYBEAN PRODUCTS [$190 million]
3. BEEF [$148 million]
4. SUGARS & SWEETENERS [$68 million]
5. DISTILLERS GRAINS [$43 million]

 Nebraska is especially well-positioned to serve the Mexico market. Several grain elevators and cooperatives have shuttle trains that go directly to livestock producers and food processors in Mexico.

To read more about trade in Nebraska click here to view the whole Spring 2017 CornsTalk publication.

June 21, 2017

CornsTalk: Trade Matters to Nebraska's Economy

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With the productivity of U.S. agriculture growing faster than domestic demand, U.S. farmers and agricultural firms rely heavily on export markets to sustain prices and revenues. And while most of the corn produced in Nebraska stays in the state to be processed through livestock or ethanol plants, exports are still a critical factor in the economic success of Nebraska’s corn farmers.

“At the end of the day, a bushel of corn that leaves the U.S. for a foreign marketplace is a bushel of corn that adds value to the corn we grow and process right here in Nebraska,” said David Merrell, a St. Edward, Nebraska, farmer and chairman of the Nebraska Corn Board. “About 1 in 3 bushels of U.S. corn is exported in some form. Without exports, that corn would stay here in the U.S., creating a huge surplus and depressing prices all across the country, including here in Nebraska.”

“Corn producers in Nebraska are especially well positioned to benefit from international trade,” said Philip Seng, president and CEO of the U.S. Meat Export Federation. “You have an abundant and reliable supply of corn, and you’re a top producer of red meat. More than one-fourth of your pork and about 14 percent of your beef is exported, allowing Nebraska to capitalize on the world’s growing appetite for high-quality red meat.”

This track record of abundance is a key reason behind Gov. Pete Ricketts’ increased emphasis on international trade missions. Since he took office, Gov. Ricketts has led missions to Japan, China and the European Union.

 Gov. Ricketts has placed a high priority on leveraging Nebraska’s global leadership in agriculture production and creating export opportunities for the state’s farmers and ranchers. “Our goal is to add value to every bushel of Nebraska corn we grow by transforming it into ethanol, distillers grains, biochemicals, and protein such as beef, pork, dairy and poultry,” Gov. Ricketts said. “These trade missions are focused on positioning Nebraska as a preferred provider of these products and creating sustained demand to keep our state’s top industry thriving.”

“Relationship building continues to be important, but we’ve shifted our primary focus during these missions to activities that have an immediate or near-term impact on demand and sales,” said Greg Ibach, director of the Nebraska Department of Agriculture. “We’re aggressively asking for the business, and it’s making a measurable impact. The China mission alone resulted in nine purchase agreements for Nebraska beef and pork exports to that nation.”

In Europe, the market share for Nebraska beef has grown from 5 percent in 2015 to 50 percent today, according to Ibach.


To read more about trade in Nebraska click here to view the whole Spring 2017 CornsTalk publication.

June 20, 2017

Nebraska Corn: Week Six

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I cannot believe I have been the Nebraska Corn Board Communications intern for six weeks now! Time is flying! The last six weeks have been fun filled and full of educational opportunities.

Ethanol Night at the Races 
A major highlight of the past few weeks has been the American Ethanol Night at the Races. These events are my favorite because I not only get to talk to so many people about how great American Ethanol is, but I also get to explore Nebraska. I am from Omaha, Nebraska so heading outside of the metro area was a rare occasion for me. This internship has provided me with opportunities to visit Albion, Columbus and Beatrice. At these races, I met some of the growers in Nebraska and they are a great group of people! Everyone is so friendly and just as excited as I am to teach the public about ethanol and all that it offers. There is one race left at Greenwood I-80 on July 7th! Come visit Nebraska Corn!

Day-to-Day 
Everyday I have a list of tasks that I plan to accomplish, some are daily and some are a surprise! No matter what, I know I will be kept busy. A lot of what I do includes working on social media. We are trying to increase the amount of people we reach on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram so if you haven’t yet, go like our pages! I have also really enjoyed being able to go out at take pictures of different cornfields in Nebraska. In my daily meetings with Kurtis, I am given a variety of jobs, this is the best because that means no day is the same. I am constantly learning new things, putting different skills to the test and striving to do better. I look back at my to-do lists from each day over the past six weeks and I am amazed by the amount and variety of work I have accomplished. I hope the next six weeks are just as busy and diverse!


Projects
Each Nebraska Corn intern is to complete a project. My project is focused on updating the CornsTalk: Kids Edition. This is a brochure with fun, education activities for youth to do and learn about corn! I have gotten to be creative and learn more about corn in the process! I have also been using Photoshop. This was a program I was not familiar with before and this project has helped me become more familiar. This is a skill that will come in handy in a number of projects, school and career. I am eager to see how the finished product looks!

I'm also working to develop a series of videos that will be posted to the Nebraska Corn YouTube page. These videos highlight each of the members of the Nebraska Corn Board. I shot my first video with Brandon Hunnicutt recently, and I am working on editing that together. I look forward to meeting each board member through this process throughout the summer!

Looking Forward 
While most internships are about halfway over, I am only one-fourth through. My internship is a yearlong! So while my summer might be flying by I am looking forward to the time I have left with the Nebraska Corn Board. Being on the corn crew has be a blast so far! Reflecting I have developed a better understanding of myself and applied what I have learned in the classroom. Looking forward, I am ready to take on new projects, meet even more amazing people and continue laughing with my coworkers. The positive environment I am surrounded by is one of the best parts of my job, tied with all of the educational opportunities I experience everyday.

Enjoy your summer! It’s flying by! 

Catherine Jones
Marketing and Communications Intern
Nebraska Corn Board
301 Centennial Mall So.
Lincoln, NE 68509
Office: 402-471-2676

June 14, 2017

Adjusting to Mexico

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Waking up at 6:00 AM to the of sweeping of brooms across pavement, judging the day’s pollution based on how blurry the mountains are (today I can’t see them), hearing “blonde boy” in Spanish as often as my name – it’s clear that I’m not in Nebraska. My name is Stephen Enke and my internship has led me to Mexico City. Mexico City is a vast metropolitan jungle inhabited by over 21 million people. Traffic is a nightmare, and it’s common to commute long hours for better work opportunities. Living in Polanco, one of the wealthiest districts, it’s easy to see the stark difference in Mexican life.

While trying out a local coffee shop (Mexico has really good coffee), I met an employee named Ariel. He’s 23 years old, a university student, and contagiously optimistic. When not in class, Ariel works in Polanco, hopping from buses to subways for over two hours from his poor neighborhood on the outskirts of the city. He serves people with very different lives than his own (like myself), and he does so with constant enthusiasm and happiness.

For a couple of weeks now, I struggled to understand how someone in Ariel’s circumstances can be so happy. I’ve seen wealth and opportunity in Mexico City that rivals any U.S. city I’ve visited. I’ve also witnessed poverty and living conditions that are difficult to comprehend until you’ve seen them firsthand (and even still, I’d be na├»ve to believe I truly understand it).

In the wake of NAFTA negotiations, the U.S. Grains Council (USGC) Board of Directors held their meeting in Mexico City. During their visit, I met Alan Tiemann, a former chairman of the USGC and current board member of the Nebraska Corn Board. One evening after discussing his travels to over 25 countries and his specific love for Mexico, he summed up his experiences. Mr. Tiemann said, “No matter what country I’ve been in and how different we may appear, I’ve never found anyone who hasn’t lit up when I show them a picture of my kids or grandkids, and they show me pictures of their own family.” Alan went on to provide this little kernel of knowledge “… and that’s what this life is about. We’re all here trying to provide for our family. We’re trying to give a better life to our children.”

It struck me that this may be the secret to Ariel’s constant supply of enthusiasm; he’s trying to create a better life for himself while providing for his family. Perhaps there is no greater purpose or unifying bond to humanity than the love for family and the desire provide for those around us. It describes a lone barista in the sea of over 21 million faces. It describes the farmer back home, growing seemingly endless waves of corn to provide food security for the world, but also (and maybe more importantly), for their family. And in the wise words of Mr. Tiemann, “that’s what life is about.”





Stephen Enke
U.S Grains Council
Jaime Balmes No. 8-602 "C"
Col. Los Morales Polanco
Mexico, D.F., Mexico 11510




Office: 011-52-55-5282-0244

From the Panhandle to D.C. Sprouting from my roots

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For those reading at home, I am David Schuler and I am a Senior Animal Science Major at UNL. I grew up on a cow calf operation in the Scottsbluff area near Chimney Rock and also have pivot irrigated corn fields and hay ground. I found myself every day growing up entangled and enthralled with day to day operations of our ranch, which has yielded a passion of mine to learn from every situation. That mental process has now led me in to a classic row apartment 2 blocks east of the United States Capitol building. My neighbors are nice. They call them the U.S. Supreme Court Building and the Thomas Jefferson Library of Congress.

This summer, through the support of the Nebraska Corn Board, I am interning at U.S. Grains Council in Washington, D.C. Their mission is to develop and mature commodity markets overseas through partnerships of corporate agricultural businesses, corn check-off programs, and government funding. So in short, we can thank them for their work of increasing exports and creating demand for our products we produce. I have only been in the city and in the job for a couple weeks, but I can tell this will not be my ordinary summer.

Up to this point in my life, you could find me, every summer of my existence, having a “job” on my family’s ranch. I’ve loved every bit of it. Learning day-to-day operations to strategic planning operations to managerial thinking, they have all been essential and meritable to what my future will entail. Yes, there were times I had other obligations and responsibilities, such FFA state office and agricultural conventions. But every time, I returned home to the 24/7 job of a family ranch. So you can say this experience at the U.S. Grains Council is a new as it gets, and I am SO okay with that.

If you look up the definition of “internship,” you get the results of “to gain work experience” or “to fill a qualification.” While this is true, there is so much more, especially for any agricultural internship. I am gaining relationships and finding my truest passion, while learning how to be a valuable asset on a team that performs and achieves tasks that I, myself, have greenhand experience. Which promotes growth. Seeing the other side of the agricultural industry will provide more perspectives for me moving forward. My passion for international markets was launched after my study abroad experience in South Africa last year, and this experience will help me understand foreign trade policies and regulation to an even higher extent. For instance, one of my main projects here in the office is to help set up Japan Media Teams coming to Nebraska and Missouri to take records of biotechnology and ethanol production this summer. Right now, I am setting up transportation, hotels and confirming the agenda of the trip with the help of the Nebraska Corn Board. I am happy I can use my Nebraska roots and the Midwest help consult to find the right farms and ethanol plants to visit. They will then use this material to promote United States ethanol and biotech crops in their home country. Can’t say I do that on the ranch.

Part of this internship experience will be memorable because of location (duh!) and people. In one week I have made numerous new friends from intern networking events and apartment mates (the “being on my own” feeling was gone within one hour of setting
my bags down). I have visited the National Mall, where the monuments are located, every moment I get, and my desire to learn has kicked in full force to hear and see the history the monuments have to offer. Even the transportation system has been a learning experience! But make sure if you ever come to D.C., label your personal items and don’t leave your new, one week old camera in a Taxi...Don’t worry mom, I got it back.

In summary, I am thankful to Nebraska Corn Board for allowing me this opportunity. I look forward to grow the scope of my knowledge and build on my college experience that will be purposive and genuine for rest of my adult life. So I better get to work!

Hello, Nebraska Corn Growers!

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Hello, Nebraska Corn Growers!


I am Brooke Tempel, your new Nebraska Corn Growers Association intern for the next 2017-2018 year. I am going to be a senior at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln this coming fall, where I am majoring in Agricultural Education with minors in Agribusiness, Ag Economics and Horticulture. I grew up on an acreage west of Seward, NE. Growing up I was involved in 4-H and FFA. These programs sparked my interest in agricultural and persuaded me to pursue a career in agriculture. Although I never had the opportunity to grow up on a farm myself and personally experience the farm firsthand, I understand the impact that our local farmers and ranchers make in our community and world. I am excited to be able to advocate for our local producers and share their story through this internship.

In the first month of working here at the NeCGA office, I have learned a lot. My first week started off by attending an E85 American Ethanol Promo at the Kum & Go Station in Gretna. We teamed up with the Nebraska Ethanol Board and the Nebraska Corn Board. Governor Pete Ricketts also joined to help pump fuel and educate consumers on ethanol. I learned that many consumers lack an understanding of the benefits that ethanol provides to our environment and our producers, or they are skeptical of using something they are not familiar with.

In the past few weeks, I have had the opportunity to go to American Ethanol Nights at the Races, which is a blast! It is has been a great opportunity to get out there and promote our local producers. People either know a lot about ethanol or very little and that is when we as interns get to shine!

I have also been busy helping Morgan contact potential sponsors for the annual Corn Grower Open, July 24th in Kearney at Meadowlark Hills Golf Course. I am excited to take on this project and can’t wait to see the final product of getting everything organized and ready to go! If you are a NeCGA member you can still register your team by July 14th!

Other highlights of my internship have been getting to meet local corn growers at numerous events and supporting Domino’s Pizza for standing up for agricultural practices by saying “We will never tell a farmer how to farm. We will never tell a rancher how to raise his or her animals,” said McIntyre. “What we believe is they’re the experts. They have the most vested interest in raising their livestock. It’s not just a job, we recognize that. It’s a life and we appreciate that—and we’re not afraid to stand up and say it.” – Tim Mclntyre EVP of Communications Domino’s Pizza



It has been a fun-filled month here at NeCGA and I looked forward to the adventures ahead. I have learned considerably a lot about NeCGA and Nebraska Corn. Everyone here has been very welcoming and I could not ask for better people to work with.


Brooke Tempel
Nebraska Corn Growers Association
1111 Lincoln Mall #308
Lincoln, NE  68508
Office: 402.438.6459

June 12, 2017

My New Summer Home: National Corn Growers Association - St. Louis, Missouri

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Hi! I'm Ranae Sieck, I grew up on a farm in southeastern Nebraska. It’s safe to say I was nervous moving to a city whose metropolitan area has one million more people than the combined population of my home state. Honestly, it took a while to get used to taking a five-lane interstate to work. I don’t
know if I will ever be used to the traffic jams and sitting completely still in places the speed limit is actually 60. But after three weeks in St. Louis, I can easily say that I am enjoying my new summer home.

I spent my first week here in the office learning about the different teams that make up the staff and
what the responsibilities of each are. This was a great opportunity to ask questions and learn what projects were happening here at NCGA. Week two was a very busy week on the public policy side of the organization because of the release of the President’s FY 2018 budget. This caused the beginning of new projects in the communications team where I work.

During my time here I have had the opportunity to write news of the day articles, design social media posts, do research for articles, create interview questions, and brainstorm ideas for my summer projects. I learned about the communications strategy of the organization, new and exciting research being done, partnerships being created with other organizations, and the effects of certain policy on the corn industry. I am very excited to continue doing these things and others as the summer continues!

This blog wouldn’t be complete without bragging a little bit about how amazing my coworkers are. They have been extremely helpful not only learning about NCGA but also giving me all sorts of great suggestions of unique foods (like Imo’s pizza with provel cheese and pork steaks) and must-see tourist attractions in the city. They are welcoming, fun, and supportive and I am thankful to have been given the opportunity to work with all of them.

Outside of the office I have had a wonderful time exploring the city with new friends. I have met interns from different companies in the city who live at the same apartment complex as me. This has given me the opportunity to become friends with people from the east coast, west coast, and everywhere in between. We have gone to the zoo, explored Forest Park, and played a lot of sand volleyball. I can’t wait to see what other adventures will come during the rest of my summer with NCGA!

Ranae Sieck
National Corn Growers Association, National Office
632 Cepi Drive
Chesterfield, MO 63005
Office: 636.733.9004