August 28, 2015

Fact Friday: 10 years of Renewable Fuel Progress


Since the passage of the Renewable Fuel Standard in 2005, the biofuels industry has grown by leaps and bounds. In turn, the United States has seen significant benefits to our economy, environment and national security. 

Here are some renewable fuel facts by the numbers:

August 27, 2015

Corn Condition Rates 20% Excellent

For the week ending August 23, 2015, rainfall of an inch or more occurred during the first half of the week and covered much of the eastern third of Nebraska, according to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service. However, the rain missed much of the southwest as well as south central counties. Temperatures averaged well below normal, lessening stress on livestock and dryland crops.

Photo Courtesy of David City FFA Chapter
There were 5.8 days suitable for fieldwork. Topsoil moisture supplies rated 5 percent very short, 28 short, 63 adequate, and 4 surplus. Subsoil moisture supplies rated 5 percent very short, 24 short, 69 adequate, and 2 surplus. Corn condition rated 1 percent very poor, 4 poor, 18 fair, 57 good, and 20 excellent. Corn dough was at 85 percent, near 87 last year and the five-year average of 89. Dented was at 37 percent, near 41 last year, but ahead of 23 average.

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.

August 26, 2015

From Working on the Farm to Working for Farmers

By Samantha Schneider, Nebraska Corn Growers Association Intern.

Hey everyone! I’m Samantha Schneider, and I’ll be a senior this fall at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln majoring in Agricultural Communications.  I grew up south of Cozad, Nebraska on the family farm where we raise corn, soybeans, popcorn and cattle.  This summer I decided to branch out, and I have an amazing internship with the Nebraska Corn Growers Association (NeCGA) where I am the communications intern.

My first day as an intern, was the day Morgan and I started planning our big summer event, the 5th Annual Corn Grower Open.  Corn Grower Open was held at Meadowlark Hills Golf Course in Kearney, Nebraska on July 29th.  I enjoyed getting hands on experience planning an event that reached out to our local corn grower members and members of the agricultural industry as well.  During the Corn Grower Open, we held a silent auction. The proceeds went to support the Food Banks of Lincoln and Kearney. With the help from our sponsors and corn grower members, we were able to raise over $1,000 to donate. I enjoy working with an organization that likes to help people in need.
It was a beautiful day at Meadowlark Hills Golf Course for the 5th Annual Corn Grower Open.

Growing up on a farm you get used to working outside, luckily I got to spend plenty of hours outside promoting the use of American Ethanol.  The NeCGA has a summer tradition of traveling across Nebraska to promote Ethanol Night at the Races.  The first race was held on May 30th at Junction Motor Speedway in McCool Junction. This was a great start to the summer! Morgan and I got to ride in the pace car and hold the American Ethanol flag to wave out the window.  The next race was on June 28th at I-80 Speedway near Greenwood.  Our next stop was at the Dawson County Raceway in Lexington on July 19th.  At both these races, the Biofuels Mobile Education Trailer and American Ethanol Show Car were in attendance.  It was fun to see people taking pictures with the show car and learning more about ethanol.  The last race was held at Beatrice Speedway on August 7th, it was kid’s night so we handed out corn and ethanol coloring books.  At each race we passed out promotional items and during intermission we asked trivia questions about ethanol to educate the crowd.
 Morgan and I getting a ride around the dirt track at Junction Motor Speedway in a Mustang!

I also had the opportunity to help with American Ethanol promotions at Kum and Go gas stations.  Every Thursday throughout the summer, customers could get E85 for 85 cents from 10:00 am – 2:00 pm at the different stations in the Omaha metro area. This was a great opportunity to educate people about ethanol and about the current issues the industry is facing. We would encourage people to leave a comment to protect the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has lowered the amount of corn based biofuel used to supply our nation’s renewable fuel, this could have a severe impact on our corn production next year. I was proud to promote ethanol this summer and encourage people to protect this industry. 
Austin Dillon's American Ethanol Show Car
I have had endless opportunities this summer to work with people in the industry I am passionate about.  Through this internship I have made connections and learned new skills that I wouldn’t have known or had otherwise.  I love being a part of an industry that is always changing allowing me to never stop learning. I look forward to continuing my internship with NeCGA through my senior year at the University. 

August 24, 2015

Upcoming Nebraska Corn Grower Events

While summer is slowly winding down, Nebraska Corn Grower events are just getting started! Below is a full list of upcoming events. If there is an event in your area, we encourage you to attend. Don’t miss out on the working the Beef Pit at the Nebraska State Fair - or attending and volunteering at Husker Harvest Days!

Schedule of Events:

Colfax Dodge Summer Meeting
The Colfax Dodge Growers are having their summer meeting on August 25th from 6:00 pm-9:00 pm.

Saunders County Plot Tours
The Saunders County Plot Tours will be on August 26th.

Nebraska State Fair
The Nebraska State Fair is on August 28th - September 7th. The Nebraska Corn Growers will be working in the Beef Pit on September 2nd from 8:45 am-3:15 pm

Hamilton County Field Day
The Hamilton County Field Day is on September 9th from 11:00 am-1:00 pm.

Dawson County Field Day
The Dawson County Field Day is on September 9th from 2:00 pm-6:00 pm.

Husker Harvest Days
Join us at Husker Harvest Days September 15th-17th

Saunders County Bus Tour
The Saunders County Plot Tours will be on December 2nd.

Please visit the Nebraska Corn Growers' website to keep up to date on upcoming events. 

August 20, 2015

U.S. Grains Council Wrap Up

By Amanda Clymer, US Grains Council Intern

Friday, August 14 was my last day in the U.S. Grains Council Washington D.C. office. For those who may have forgotten, I interned in the global programs department planning for international trade teams, consultants and missions that travel overseas. Planning for the Taiwan DDGS survey team was my individual project this summer. This team spent some time in Nebraska visiting corn farms, ethanol plants and local elevators. I worked with the Nebraska Corn Board office to plan this portion of the trip. The Taiwan group also visited the Chicago area and a Seattle export facility.

Taiwan DDGs Survey Team picture
During the summer I communicated often with the Taiwan country director, Clover, as well as the other nine country and regional offices of the U.S. Grains Council. This was meaningful to me because as people in American agriculture we always discuss the goal of feeding the world. I was able to see firsthand work of developing markets that would eventually provide food for people in China, Japan, Tanzania or Southeast Asia. Besides this connection, the opportunity to export corn and other grains matters to farmers. I think the video below from the USGC sums it up.

After my summer at the U.S. Grains Council I have developed a great appreciation for the work done in developing markets and enabling trade to improve lives. Now more than ever, I believe that feeding the world is a collective effort and real work is being done to overcome challenges facing agriculture. I truly appreciate the Nebraska Corn Board for allowing me to represent 26,000 Nebraska corn farmers in Washington D.C. this summer at the U.S. Grains Council.

August 18, 2015

Greetings from Nebraska!

By Kaydee Caldwell, US Meat Export Federation Intern

I have been home for a few days; my last day at USMEF was July 31. I had an amazing summer full of experiences that are simply invaluable. These last few months have been unforgettable. To start off my internship I attended the USMEF Board of Directors meeting in San Antonio, TX. The meetings I attended and speakers I was able to listen to made for a very enlightening experience. The first few weeks of my internship were filled with such a gain of knowledge that I can’t wait to apply to my classes at school, as well as my future career.

My big project for the summer was to put together a pork book showcasing the cuts that we export around the world. To start off the project, I emailed all of our international offices to find out which cuts were most popular in the different regions. The next step was to contact a photographer and packing plant and get everything lined up to get pictures of the cuts. 
Travis and I being meat beauticians at the pork photo shoot.

Once we were done with the photo shoot we contacted the graphic designer and had a meeting about the layout and talked about the time frame of the project.  Once we got all the pictures from the photographer, we found plated shots of poplar meals in each region and created a layout of the book to give the graphic designer an idea of how we wanted the pictures laid out. Before I left, we got our first proof back and I couldn’t be more excited about how this book is going to turn out!! I would like to give a quick shout out to Travis, Cheyenne, Lindsey and Paul for being so helpful when it came to this project. Their knowledge was very much appreciated and I truly enjoyed working with them.

Another project I had was to scout out different nations export associations and figure out exactly what we were competing with on a monetary and advertising basis. I looked up numerous annual reports, advertising campaigns and looked through the different members of their associations to figure out exactly what we are up against. Australia is by far one of our biggest competitors in the beef industry and although we have some of the best beef product in the world, they are able to get their product into way more countries. Their budget just for beef export promotion is $136 Million; our budget isn’t near that. I was just truly shocked, a major difference is while we give $1 to our checkoff program here in America, in Australia where their herd is bigger they give $5 a head, and look at the difference!! I gained some serious insight on competitors and had a great time feeling like a detective of red meat! Once I got done researching I printed out some of the information that was more useful and created a binder of our biggest competitors for future use.

There is a lot of transition going on at the office in Denver so I go to spend a few weeks playing receptionist and pretending to be Pam off “The Office”. I had a great time working with the lovely people of the USMEF Denver office and hope to keep in touch with them. I would like to thank John Hinners for doing a great job of keeping an eye on me and making sure I was well taken care of - he was a great boss and I really appreciated everything he did for me. Janel Domurat was another amazing co-worker of mine that I always enjoyed chatting with, she has an amazing sense of humor and I know that if I would have needed a mother figure during my time there she would have been more than able to take care of me! Joni Costa was also spectacular to work with, right away when I started she made sure I knew where everything was in the office, ensured I had quality housing and did a great job of making me feel needed! Paul Clayton and Dan Halstom are the last two that I want to give a shout out to, they are such champs when it comes to me giving them some good of Husker smack talk! They were also able to dish it right back, along with John, trying to convince me of Iowa State’s superiority.

My last two days at the office I was treated to lunch dates and had a wonderful time with everyone! On Thursday John, Paul, Travis and Cheyenne took me to Hop Daddy, it was very delicious. Then Friday for lunch I went out with Janel, Tammy, Joni and Angela. They took me to a lovely Italian restaurant where we had some excellent conversation. They embarrassed and entertained me as much as my mother does when they said, “Oh, let’s take a selfie!” I honestly couldn’t have turned redder. I really did enjoy my time with everyone in the office and look forward to seeing them all again.

Finally, I would like to thank the Nebraska Corn Board to sending me to Denver and giving me the opportunity to meet all these amazing people this summer. I had a wonderful time and gained so much knowledge of the red meat industry, found a new perspective of the beef and pork sector that as a producer I had not been exposed to before, and also for giving me the ability to form connections further in the industry with people who could be vital to my career success. I really did enjoy my time in Denver, but I was very excited to come home!

Thank you to everyone at the US Meat Export Federation for your hospitality, I hope our paths will cross again!

Here are some pictures from my summer! 
Last day of work lunch date with some of the fabulous
 ladies in the office! Angela, Janel, Joni and Tammy.
This was my first summer of enjoying the pool and not getting a farmers tan!
First day home and I HAD to go and visit my old show heifers!
And my first Monday back I enjoyed spending the day in the office I’m used to!

August 17, 2015

Social Soil: Twitter

*Welcome to Social Soil - a series of social media posts for farmers. Whether you're a seasoned social media veteran or just trying to start, we want to help farmers with their "ag+advocacy" skills ("AGvocacy") so together we can promote Nebraska corn and agriculture.*

Twitter is a funny beast. When it first came out, people said, “It’s just a fad.” Today, however, Twitter is a different story. It is becoming more popular than Facebook for many demographics, especially youth and millennials. As of the second quarter of 2015, the microblogging service averaged at 304 million monthly active users. At the beginning of the 2014, Twitter had surpassed 255 MAU per quarter.

Many ag groups and individuals are doing a great job on Twitter, using its 140-character limit by maximizing the potential with hashtags, photos and links. “Hashtag??”, you ask?

Yes, a hashtag is a word or phrase preceded by a hash or pound sign (#) and used to identify messages on a specific topic. When you put a # in front of a word, that word becomes linkable and searchable. So you can click directly on that word and it takes you to what everyone else is saying about that topic. For example, if you put a # in front of the word, “water” like #water, it shows you what the Twitterverse (aka, everyone on Twitter) is saying about water. So you might want to get more specific and put #wateruse or #waterefficiency if you’re going to talk about irrigation and the efficiencies you’re seeing.

This allows for short, concise content and the ability to grasp a person’s very short attention span.

CropLife came out with a great list of the 20 must-follow Twitter accounts for agriculture, so if you want valuable agronomic advice, practical tips or breaking news, they’ve got you covered – check them out here. When you see a person's name - or handle - on Twitter, it will start with "@".

A couple of important points to know with Twitter is that any Tweet that you see from someone you follow, you can Retweet. This is basically like forwarding on a message to all of your followers. So whatever you Retweet, the people that follow you will see. You can also Direct Message (or DM) someone that you follow if you wanted to send them a personal message that no one else can see - much like an email. But this too has to be 140 characters.

If you're just getting started with Twitter, we recommend you following the great people on the CropLife list. Then of course follow the Nebraska Corn Board, @NECornBoard, and Nebraska Corn Growers Association, @NeCGA! Then try using Twitter to share what you're doing on your farm or issues that are important to you. Nebraska Corn Board member and Tweeter-Extraordinaire, Brandon Hunnicutt is a great example, be sure to follow him at @cornfedfarmer.

Read other Social Soil posts here!

August 14, 2015

Cattle, Corn and Co-Products – Feeding Cattle in Nebraska

Livestock is one of the corn grower’s most important customers, consuming more than 41 percent of all U.S. corn, including the supply of distillers grains, which are produced by corn ethanol plants.

In Nebraska, livestock production is the engine that powers the state’s economy. The multiplied impact of the $6.5 billion in cattle sales each year is $12.1 billion. Cattle-related employment means income for businesses up and down main street in towns and cities across the state. In short, the beef cattle industry has an unmistakable impact on other economies in Nebraska.

About 16 percent of the Nebraska’s corn crop is fed to livestock within Nebraska, with the bulk of that (more than 70 percent) going to beef cattle. See complete breakdown.

In total, though, about 40 percent of the corn grown in Nebraska is fed to livestock somewhere in the United States or around the world.

Another major user of corn is ethanol – but one-third of every bushel used in ethanol production comes back as distillers grain, an outstanding feed ingredient. Nebraska ethanol plants only use the starch portion of the kernel, returning the other components to the livestock industries as a high protein feed ingredient.

Nebraska has more than 5,000 feedyards willing to work with cow-calf producers interested in retaining ownership or partnering on their feeder cattle. They offer competitive feeding rations from the quality feedstuffs available in the state. You can can get an up-close view of the cattle feeding industry in Nebraska, thanks to this six minute video, “Consider the Possibilities – Cattle, Corn and Co-Products – Feeding Cattle in Nebraska,” Watch it and share this with your cow/calf friends considering where to send their calves!

August 13, 2015

Time to celebrate or not?

Last week we celebrated the ten year anniversary of the original Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) that was passed by Congress and signed into law by then President George W. Bush. Our own Governor Pete Ricketts in a tweet proclaimed August 8th as Renewable Fuel Standard Day. Others celebrated with a press release or op-ed. When the original RFS was being discussed, Congressional leaders knew we needed a change in the Nation’s path for transportation fuels. We needed to reduce our reliance on foreign petroleum, increase our demand for our crops and produce a fuel that was renewable and greener than oil. 

Check. Check and Check. Now it’s time to celebrate…or is it??

What Congress and the President supported, the EPA has now taken away. Yea, you read that right.  The agency that is tasked with providing cleaner air and supporting initiatives that improve the environment, is proposing to slash the very program that has been successful in these areas. 

Just a couple of months ago, EPA proposed requirements that would slash Congress’ intentions of blending more renewable and cleaner burning ethanol in the nations fuel supply. They proposed to take the ole Texas two-step backwards in becoming more self-sufficient in our transportation fuels. And more importantly, proposed a plan that will ultimately cost consumers money.

By blending ethanol into our fuel supply, consumers are saving money each time they fill up. Whether it is on American Ethanol blends that everyone can use, such as E10, or on higher blends of American Ethanol such as E15, E30 and E85, biofuels has saved consumers money

So while we should be celebrating our path forward, EPA has popped the balloons and allowed the cake to become stale to the detriment of consumers across the nation.  

August 11, 2015

Corn Silking at 98%

For the week ending August 9, 2015, temperatures averaged one to two degrees above normal with an inch or more of precipitation across much of the State, according to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service. Irrigation slowed in many south central and southwestern counties after rainfall of two or more inches was received. Aerial spraying of fungicides on corn was active. Seasonally hot, humid conditions stressed livestock.
Photo Courtesy of Imperial FFA Chapter
There were 5.5 days suitable for fieldwork. Topsoil moisture supplies rated 5 percent very short, 25 short, 66 adequate, and 4 surplus. Subsoil moisture supplies rated 5 percent very short, 23 short, 69 adequate, and 3 surplus. Corn condition rated 1 percent very poor, 4 poor, 18 fair, 59 good, and 18 excellent. Corn silking was at 98 percent, equal to both last year and the five-year average. Dough was at 43 percent, behind 59 last year and 54 average. Dented was at 5 percent, equal to last year, but behind 13 average.
Photo Courtesy of Shickley 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.
Photo Courtesy of Heartland FFA Chapter