January 18, 2017

Vehicle Emission Dangers Well Documented

Some recent research clearly outlines the health dangers of vehicle emissions:

  • Almost 16,000 babies arrive early each year due at least in part to air pollution, according to a recent study led by Dr. Leonardo Trasande, an environmental health researcher at New York University School of Medicine. The research concluded that approximately 3 percent of preterm births in the U.S. can be attributed to air pollution, based on data from the Environmental Protection Agency, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Institute of Medicine. A build-up of toxic chemicals in the blood can cause immune system stress that weakens the placenta and shortens the amount of time the baby can remain in the womb. (Reuters, March 29, 2016)
  •  A study available from the National Institutes of Health found that urban air with high levels of cancer-causing benzene and ultrafine particulate matter (both found in vehicle emissions) are associated with DNA damage in people living near high-traffic areas.  More HERE. 
  • A study by the Environmental Protection Agency found that climate change will likely lead to higher levels of ground-level ozone, which in turn can lead to increased rates of premature death, allergic sensitivity, lung cancer, and cardiovascular disease. More HERE. 
  • A study conducted by Tufts University School of Medicine and Boston University School of Public Health focused on Boston residents who live or spend a significant amount of time near Interstate 93 and the Massachusetts Turnpike. The study, which included blood sample analysis, found that those living within 1,500 feet of a highway have increased chances of suffering a heart attack or stroke due to increased exposure to microscopic metals and chemicals spewed from vehicles. More HERE.
  • According to information from Dr. Michelle Hoffman with the University of Utah Department of Pediatrics, proximity to traffic is a key component in the level of danger posed by vehicle emissions. Much higher exposures to traffic-related air pollutants occur within 30 meters compared to greater than 200 meters. Some 11 percent of U.S. households are located within 100 meters of four-lane highways. Near highway pollutants may pose greater health risks than ambient air pollutants. Because of their common source (vehicle emissions) the levels of ultrafine particulate matter, nitrous oxide, carbon monoxide and black carbon (soot) are highly correlated. More HERE.

 The American Lung Association of the Upper Midwest (ALAUM) strongly recommends the use of higher blends of American Ethanol as a way to improve air quality and reduce the human health threats posed by toxic vehicle emissions. “Every time you pull up to the pump, you make a choice. So choosing fuel with American Ethanol is a pretty easy way to help reduce air pollution – and make the air cleaner and safer for you and your family,” said Angela Tin, ALAUM vice president for environmental health. “American Ethanol is clearly the clean air choice.”

January 16, 2017

NAYC Connects UNL Ag Students with High Schoolers


For 45 years, Nebraska has had a group of college-aged agricultural ambassadors who help tell the story of agriculture to high school students and consumers across the state.

The Nebraska Agricultural Youth Council (NAYC) is sponsored by the Nebraska Department of Agriculture, with financial support from the Nebraska Corn Board and other ag stakeholders.

Morgan Zumpfe from Friend, Nebr., has been a member of the NAYC for three years. This past year, she served as one of two head counselors for NAYC. Morgan is a senior at UNL majoring in Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Communication and also a past intern with the Nebraska Corn Board.

“In essence, we serve as the youth outreach team for the Department of Ag,” Morgan said. “Becoming a part of NAYC involves a competitive interview process. From there, 23 college students are selected to share their passion for agriculture with others, especially with high school students.”

Morgan Zumpfe

The Nebraska Agricultural Youth Institute (NAYI) is the largest NAYC event of the year. The five-day institute is held on UNL’s East Campus and is attended by high school juniors and seniors. “The intent is to expose high school students to the wide range of careers in agriculture,” Morgan said. “Attending NAYI as a high school junior and senior was a big reason I chose to come to UNL and pursue a career in agriculture.”

NAYC is very involved in youth outreach throughout the year, and even arranges farm tours for elementary students in the Lincoln Public Schools. The organization also participates in promotional and educational activities at AKSARBEN, the state FFA convention and other events to help raise awareness of and appreciation for agriculture.

During her college career, Morgan has had four internships. “My internship in the Nebraska Corn Board offices started it all off,” she said. “They took me as an intern when I was a sophomore and gave me great experiences for an entire year. I’m really blessed that the Nebraska Corn Board offered me that internship, and it convinced me that a career in agriculture was right for me.”

When she graduates in May 2017, Morgan will begin her career with Cargill Animal Nutrition in the company’s junior management program.

Morgan says that pursuing a career in agriculture does not require growing up on a farm or ranch. “I strongly encourage people with different backgrounds to consider a career in agriculture—from finance to business to engineering,” she said. “We have a big world to feed, and it’s going to require a wide range of experience, talent and ideas in order to help us meet the challenges ahead of us.”

January 11, 2017

Automakers scaling back on FFV production.

Just at the time the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is helping America build out a larger infrastructure for flex fuels, U.S. automakers are cutting back on the production of flex fuel vehicles (FFVs) that can use higher blends of American Ethanol.

FFVs are specially designed to run on regular unleaded or any ethanol fuel blend up to 85 percent (E85). Special on-board diagnostics “read” the fuel blend, enabling you to fuel your FFV with E10, E15, E20, E30, E40, E50 or any ethanol blend up to E85, or ordinary unleaded if ethanol-blended fuel is not available.

The automakers say nobody is asking for FFVs, but the truth is that the fuel economy credits automakers receive for manufacturing them are being phased out.

According to Ethanol Retailer, Chrysler Corporation, Ford Motor Company, General Motors, Nissan and Toyota all offer flexible fuel engines as standard equipment in certain vehicles – at no additional cost to consumers. Each FFV comes with the same factory warranty as its non-FFV counterpart.

“Losing FFVs means eventually losing the opportunity to purchase higher blends of American Ethanol at the pump,” said Roger Berry, director of market development for the Nebraska Corn Board. “We’ve invested in building the ethanol industry and in expanding the flex fuel infrastructure. We need to make sure that automakers continue to make the vehicles that can use higher levels of clean-burning American Ethanol.”

Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts
 fills up a customer's car with E85
 during a recent promotion at
Sapp Bros. in Omaha
Tell automakers to keep making FFVs!

Visit FlexMyChoice.com to discover more and follow the prompts to make your voice heard.

The Nebraska Corn Board also has pre-addressed postcards for each of America’s automakers, which consumers can simply fill out and mail.  Call 402.471.2676 for your copy.

January 9, 2017

Without Corn: No low-fat diets!

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 low-fat diets!
Many low-fat foods depend on corn-derived starches to provide qualities that used to come from fats. Examples include everything from low-fat salad dressing to baked goods and meat products.

Building Career Skills Beyond the College Classroom


Successfully preparing for a career in agriculture is not The Leaders Conference includes a progressive series simply about meeting the academic requirements in of intense four-day workshops that focus on key success college. It’s also about making the most of one’s college experience through involvement and engagement, while also developing the soft skills needed to become a leader, collaborator and productive employee.

That’s the objective of AFA—Agriculture Future of America.

“AFA invests in young men and women that share three characteristics – they are talented, passionate and committed to a career in agriculture. We deliver the
programs, experiences and connections that stimulate leader development and fuel passion in order to equip tomorrow’s leaders to shape agricultural innovation for the betterment of the world,” said Mark Stewart, CEO of AFA.

AFA’s flagship program is its annual Leaders Conference, which features a four-track leadership development program. Students must apply to attend the conference. Some 700 students are selected from across the nation to participate annually.

Mark Stewart
AFA Leaders Conference areas—from professional skills development to time management, from problem solving to conflict resolution. Qualified students move through four tracks over the course of their college years.

“We’re not redundant with the students’ college education. Instead, we’re focused on personal development training that enhances their college experience and prepares them for success in the workplace and in life,” said Mark Stewart, CEO of AFA. “We want to challenge their perspectives and help them hone the skills they need to work collaboratively in a diverse and challenging environment.”

AFA also offers specific institutes focused on key areas such as policy, leadership, crop science, animal agriculture and food. Programs for young professionals who have already begun their careers are also available.

The Nebraska Corn Board provides scholarships for qualified Nebraska college students to participate in the AFA. “By supporting AFA, the Nebraska Corn Board
Emma Likens
is making it clear that they believe in the personal development training we offer students,” Stewart said.

Emma Likens, a UNL graduate from Swanton, Nebr., went through three of the four AFA Leaders Conference tracks and participated in many other activities. “If you are passionate about rural agriculture, entrepreneurship, and personal development—and you have a real drive to get connected with other students and career professionals from across the nation—AFA is definitely for you,” she said. “It gives you a larger, more diverse perspective than you’ll get on campus. I learned about everything from strawberry farming to pecans from the connection I made with other AFA students—things I would have never thought of as ‘farming’ if I hadn’t had the chance to network with students from those backgrounds.”

For more information on AFA, visit: www.agfuture.org.

January 5, 2017

Nebraska Corn Kernels 2016 Blog Spotlight

We are onto a new year; eager for a reliable planting season, a generous growing season and bountiful harvests to look forward to in 2017.

We have a lot to look back on and learn from in 2016. Looking at this year in review, here are the Top 12 posts of 2016 on our Nebraska Corn Kernels blog - the best of each month. We want to thank our readers for your continued support. We write for you and appreciate feedback and conversations from what we put together. Now is your time to read the most popular posts if you missed them!

January - Cumming Family Farm Spans 122 Years in St. Edward
February -Animal Advocacy: Articulating Your Story
March - The Changing Role of Women in Nebraska Agriculture
April - Harvard Family Welcomes Fifth-Generation Daughter Back to the Farm
May - The Voice: agriculture-style
June - Nebraska Corn 2016 Internships Announced
July - Nebraska Corn Board Welcomes Bentzinger on Staff
August - How to talk about Sustainability
September - My Summer with USMEF
October - Nebraska Corn is Now Accepting Applications for Seven College Internships
November - Nebraska Corn 93% Harvested
December - Throwback Thursday from the Intern's Desk

Here's to a prosperous 2017 for Nebraska Corn!

January 3, 2017

Nebraska Corn Board invests in ag leadership and literacy development


The Nebraska Corn Board was the first ag organization to commit funding for Raising Nebraska, the award-winning interactive experience on the grounds of the Nebraska State Fair in Grand Island. Open year round and staffed by a full-time Nebraska Extension educator, Raising Nebraska helps students, adults and consumers discover more about their food and the families who grow it. In 2016, the Nebraska Corn Board provided additional funding to create the interactive quiz game which features a competitive learning experience about GMOs.
The Nebraska Corn Board supports Ag in the Classroom, a flagship program of the Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation. Ag in the Classroom connects farmers and ranchers with elementary students, provides state-approved ag curriculum for Nebraska teachers, and presents dozens of educational programs across the state.

Corn checkoff funds support the LEAD program in Nebraska. Now in its 36th year, LEAD is a two-year experience for those involved in farming, ranching, agribusiness and related industries who wish to hone their leadership skills and become even better advocates for agriculture on a local, state and national level.

The Nebraska Corn Board donates a flex fuel van for use by Nebraska’s State FFA Officers as they travel across Nebraska visiting FFA chapters and participating in leadership training and educational activities.

DC Leadership Mission
Young farmers and students take part in the annual DC Leadership mission to our nation’s capital to meet with policy makers, learn about key agricultural organizations and see how the legislative process works. The mission is sponsored in part by the Nebraska Corn Board.

Corn & Soy Mentor Program
Each year, ten students are selected from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln to take part in the Corn and Soy Collegiate Mentoring Program jointly funded by the Nebraska Corn Board, Nebraska Soybean Board, Nebraska Corn Growers Association and Nebraska Soybean Association. A two-day industry tour is a highlight of the program, during which the students visit virtually every link along the food production chain—livestock operations, crop farms, seed genetics facilities, truck and rail transportation, and grocery retailers. Through the mentor program, students also learn about state and federal policy issues, the role of checkoffs and commodity membership organizations, and the breadth and scope of agriculture careers in Nebraska. They also are prepared to become well-spoken “agvocates” for Nebraska agriculture.

December 26, 2016

Platte Basin Timelapse Project Features Pivot Irrigation

NET Television’s Platte Basin Timelapse Project is an innovative multi-year initiative designed to help people better understand the impact and importance of this critical watershed.

Some fifty cameras are stationed along the Platte River, from its sources in Colorado and Wyoming to the point at which it spills into the Missouri River. These cameras provide a fascinating look at how the river changes throughout the year and from year to year. Educational materials have been developed that focus on the environmental aspects of the river— and producers of the program knew that the next chapter needed to focus on the relationship between the Platte River and agriculture.

The initial phase of the agricultural track is co-funded by the Nebraska Corn Board and Nebraska Soybean Board. Other funders include NET Television and the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. The Nebraska Association of Resources Districts has also provided funding.

The first step in the agriculture track was to install timelapse cameras on pivot irrigation systems—one on Brandon Hunnicutt’s corn field near Giltner and another on a soybean pivot at Greg Greving’s farm near Chapman. The cameras captured images during the 2016 growing season as they moved around the field. Eventually, a series of educational videos and curriculum will be developed in partnership with UNL and shared with schools in Nebraska and across the nation.

“The Platte River is central to the livelihood, economy and success of the people who depend on it,” said Michael Farrell, NET Special Projects Manager. “We wanted to include the impact of the Platte on agricultural production in Nebraska and help people better understand how farmers and ranchers are managing this precious resource—and helping maintain the delicate balance needed to serve everyone and everything that depends on this river.”

To learn more or see live shots visit: current.plattebasintimelapse.com/hunnicut-pivot/