July 17, 2017

Japanese Bioethanol Media Team Experiences the Good Life

Japanese Bioethanol Media Trade Team Experiences the Good Life
July 12, 2017

This past week, a Japanese Bioethanol Media Team got to experience the “Good Life” here in Nebraska. I was fortunate enough to ride along with the team one for the days. It was a great learning experience! The U.S. Grains Council worked with the Nebraska Corn Board to host the delegation and demonstrate the positive impacts of the ethanol industry in Nebraska.

The team consisted of delegates that were media professionals, university professors and a microbiologist. Tommy Hanamoto, a Director for the U.S. Grains Council selected these delegates because of their ability to influence their communities.

Currently, Japan is not using corn ethanol. The Japanese government has only allowed Brazilian sugarcane as a biofuel option because of its high greenhouse gas reduction capabilities. However, the Japanese government leaders are looking to revise the policy and use corn ethanol in the future. This team was here to learn and then return home to provide industry data to the public and government officials.

Tommy said, “Our main focus is to get them really educated and broaden their understanding,” said Hanamoto.

David Schuler, an intern with the U.S. Grains Council was also part
of this tour. He is a student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, grew up on a farm in Nebraska and was a part of planning this trip.

“Being a citizen from Nebraska, I am excited to work for the U.S. Grains Council this summer and specifically to show our Japanese media team the numerous benefits of American Ethanol with Nebraska based companies,” said Schuler.

It is exciting to see young adults involved in these discussions about ethanol, trade and the future. The diversity of minds and ideas are what make it possible for this industry to constantly improve. David worked with Nebraska Corn Board staff to plan a variety of visits that would answer questions and make clear how corn, ethanol and distillers grains benefit our communities in many different ways.

The day started with a great question and answer series at Green Plains headquarters in Omaha, Nebraska. The team was able to see the ethanol trade floor and learn the ins and outs of the company. It was great to see the team’s excitement as Jim Stark, vice president, and Brandon Thomas, trader, shared how the value of this product has been realized.

Jim shared with the group that the world will experience a protein and octane shortage in the future.

The team visited Siouxland Ethanol in Jackson, Nebraska. This plant recently celebrated its 10 years. Seven hundred investors in the area own the plant, and they have each made good on their investment by supporting ethanol, producing corn and using distillers grains.

Nick Bowdish, CEO of Siouxland Ethanol told the media team that he is looking for the headline to read, “we should buy U.S. ethanol” when the delegation returns to Japan. This brought many smiles and laughter to the conference room.

Time spent at Siouxland was filled with great conversations about how ethanol started, where it is going, its efficiencies, challenges and many statistics. What made these discussions so great was that everyone had a personal investment. The trade team wants what is best for their country and the Nebraska producers were sharing their personal experiences and successes from working with ethanol.

In addition to the roundtable discussion, the team was shown the plant facilities. The trip around the plant showed the trade team how field corn can be used in so many different ways, making the most out of a bushel, all while helping the environment and providing jobs.

We left the plant and headed to Jackson Express, a gas station that uses ethanol directly from Siouxland Ethanol.

“Ethanol is a superior fuel,” said Bowdish. Now, the team was able to see it at the pump, how it is blended and why it appeals to consumers.

Another stop made was at Alexander Feedlots. The team had seen the business of ethanol, the plant, a fueling station and now a feedlot using distillers grains. Alexander Feedlots had a great family history and stories that had everyone’s attention on the bus. The farm had been destroyed by a tornado, was completely rebuilt and is still going as strong today as it was in the 1940s when it started.

This feedlot used Siouxland Ethanol distillers grains so it was a great tie into the rest of the day and the team was able to experience the great smell of Feedlot that Nebraskans are all too familiar with.

This is a review of just one day of their visit. By the end of this day it was clear that ethanol is a standard commodity and is valued just as much as any other, if not more.

Time Fly's When You're Having Fun

July is half way over and there is about a month till school starts. I cannot believe how fast the summer is flying by, but I guess that is what they say… “Time fly’s when you’re having fun.”

My summer has been filled with laughter and learning, what else could I ask for? When I started, everyone kept telling me that I would meet so many people and that I would be working with a great group of people. I underestimated how true that would be. I have been busy doing a variety of different jobs over the past month.

Board Member Visits 
I have been able to get out to board member John Greer and David Bruntz’s place since my last blog. John represents district two and lives in Edgar, Nebraska. David represents district one and lives in Friend, Nebraska. Both are places I had never been and it was great to visit! Nebraska is beautiful and so were these board members farms. It was great to hear their stories and I look forward to sharing them with the Nebraska Corn Board audience. I am so glad that I chose to do this as a project. I have loved meeting all of the board members and seeing more of the state that I grew up in. I can’t wait to meet the rest of the board members!

Greenwood I-80 
This was my fourth ethanol night at the races and it was probably my favorite! My family came to check out what I get to do for work and others from the office decided to visit as well. The night was a success, all of the giveaways we had brought had been given away and I had talked to numerous people about American ethanol! That was the last Ethanol Night at the Races and I am sad that it is over, but it was a wonderful experience. This was the best way for me to learn about ethanol because I got to talk to others about it and answer their questions. On top of the great people and conversations, Greenwood I-80 is home of the state’s best pork tenderloin sandwich, a title it absolutely deserves!

Japanese Bioethanol Media Team 
This is probably one of the best and most unique experiences I have been a part of at the Nebraska Corn Board. I was able to tag along with the Japanese Bioethanol Media Team that visited Nebraska. David Schuler, the intern in D.C. was the one who planned the trip as part of his project. The team was here for a whole week learning about Nebraska corn, ethanol and distillers grains. I was able to go with the team to the Green Plains Headquarters in Omaha where we learned about their ethanol plants and other projects. We then headed out to Jackson, Nebraska to Siouxland Ethanol Plant. I was just as amazed as the team we were with, this was my first time visiting an ethanol plant. It was a wonderful learning experience. Next, the U.S. Grains Council, Nebraska Corn and the team stopped at Jackson Express, the gas station in town. We had followed the corn to the ethanol plant and then to the gas station so our next stop was a feedlot that uses distillers grains. We visited Alexander Feedlots in Pilger, Nebraska. This was also my first time visiting a Feedlot! I have driven by many but, never stopped. So I was learning just as much as the team once again. This was a wonderful opportunity and I am so thankful! While I was riding along I got to put my photography skills to the test and took photos for Nebraska Corn, U.S. Grains Council and the places we visited to use!

NAYI Career Fair
I attended NAYI so when I found out that I would be able to help with it as an intern I was pumped! What made this even more exciting is that when I went to NAYI I heard about the internship I am currently in and was dead-set on applying. It sounded like something that I would love and learn from, and here I am! It was great to share this story with all of the NAYI participants as they visited our booth. It was also fun to be back on campus and see everyone! It was great to be surrounded by all of the positive attitudes and energy that the NAYI members brought. They had great questions and I hope to see some of them apply for these internships in the future. Kurtis and I definitely had the coolest table with fun music and awesome giveaways.

Outside of work I am taking a quick weekend trip to Mt. Rushmore! I have never been before and I am very excited! We are also stopping at Chimney Rock and a few other sites. My roommates and I are going on a trail ride through Custer State park while we are there too! I am ready to go, have a blast and cross this off my bucket list!

I was thinking about how the summer was almost over the other day and was sad for a second, then I remember the office is stuck with me through the school year! Each day I love my job more and more. I can’t wait to see what the rest of the year brings!

Summer is almost over! Enjoy it while you can!

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

July 11, 2017

Exploring the World of Corn

The more time I spend at NCGA, the more I am impressed by the collaboration that happens in this organization. States work together. Different commodity organizations and companies share research and ideas. Diverse coalitions tackle solving challenging problems. I could work here for a year instead of just a summer and still not be aware of all the people NCGA works with inside and outside of the agricultural industry. There are always new, innovative ideas being shared and implemented.

A few weeks ago I attended meetings where collaboration was key as state and national staff got together to discuss agriculture nutrient management, water quality, and ethanol. I learned about state programs, government programs, and online tools that promote more sustainable farming and make nutrient management practices more financially feasible for farmers. I also learned about predictions of future market trends, opportunities for new markets for ethanol, government ethanol policy, coalitions, fuel pump infrastructure, and the health benefits of ethanol versus gasoline. As part of these meetings we toured research farms that were studying different nutrient management practices. We also visited the Funk Prairie Home museum which is a restored 1864 farm house on one of the first corn farms in Illinois.

The main project I am working on this summer is a social media campaign. This project has given me the opportunity to learn about different NCGA programs. Of course, I also learned about growing corn and some unique uses for corn. Like the National Corn Growers Association Facebook page to see some of my posts!

My work learning about communicating with consumers has reached farther than my social media project. I have seen examples of ways to teach agriculture in schools, have witnessed the beginning of a successful consumer engagement campaign, and have seen how agricultural communicators are planning ahead to explain new technology to consumers in the future.

Weekends in the city have lead me to the top of the Arch, into an art museum, to a museum of sculptures that double as a playground, and to a musical at the oldest outdoor theater in the country. I have eaten the most delicious Italian food, gelato, and barbeque I have ever tasted. I have also discovered a love for some regional favorites like fried ravioli and gooey butter cake. So far my time in St. Louis with NCGA has been full of learning and fun. I look forward to continuing to explore the world of corn.

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

June 28, 2017

A Mile in my Shoes, or Seven

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?

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

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?

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]
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

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

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!

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!

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

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