May 11, 2012

One Great Experience!

It is hard to believe that it has been a year since I started interning with the Nebraska Corn Board and my time as an intern is about to come to an end. Words can’t even describe the type of experience I have had, which has ranged from learning about all the different issues facing corn farmers to seeing the opportunities that are available for future generations. It was also a great experience being able to serve over 23,000 Nebraska corn farmers who participate in the corn checkoff along with working for a great board and staff! For my last blog post on the Nebraska Corn Kernels, I would like to share with you some of the things I learned and also where I think the future of agriculture is heading.

First, the most important thing I learned while being an intern with the Nebraska Corn Board (NCB) is the need for a checkoff program. Before being an intern, I knew a little bit about the corn checkoff but never really understood the role it played in the corn industry. However, that quickly changed as I began my internship. I started learning the different things the corn board was doing to add value to Nebraska’s corn. This ranged from promoting the usage of ethanol to creating new products that can be made from corn, such as cups, golf tees, and yes, even clothes!

I also learned that the NCB works closely with the different livestock groups to insure that livestock producers are getting a high quality product that can either come from corn grain or distiller grains. The NCB also educates the public about the sustainability of corn farmers by using social media and doing other promotions around the state.

 Some of the other things I learned more about throughout the year were the importance of ethanol, how to use social media effectively, and how different policies can have an impact on the corn industry. Before interning with the corn board, I didn’t know much about ethanol and didn’t realize how important it is to Nebraska’s economy. I never realized how beneficial it can be to both drivers and the environment. I also learned that we do have the chance to decrease our dependence on foreign oil and buy a fuel made right here in America that is both cheaper and environmentally friendlier.

Not only did I learn about the importance of ethanol, but I also learned how important social media is to the agriculture industry today. It is a great way for farmers and ranchers to share their story about what they do and it helps close the growing disconnect between the farm and the plate. Along with learning more about social media and ethanol, I also learned how different policies can have a major impact on corn farmers. One of the policies that I heard a lot about this last year was the expiration of the VEETC (Volumetric Ethanol Excise Tax Credit), which would remove the blenders’ credit for ethanol. There was a lot of debate on whether or not this would end up hurting the ethanol industry, which could in turn end up hurting corn farmers. VEETC did expire and as of right now, it doesn’t seem to be having too much of an impact on corn farmers.

As I close out on my last blog, I just want to leave you with my opinion on where I think the future of agriculture is heading, especially the future of the corn industry. While I truly do believe agriculture does have a bright future, there is no doubt in my mind that farmers are going to face challenges on many different levels. These challenges will range from a growing disconnect between the consumer and the farmer to much more volatile markets. Farmers will overcome the challenge of the growing disconnect between them and consumers by being more open on what they do and put a face to their products. Consumers want to know who is growing their food, and if farmers start putting their face on the products they grow, consumers will become more confident in the food they purchase. When it comes to volatile markets, farmers are going to need to know how to manage risk. It won’t be like how it was 10 years ago or even today where farmers can get away without managing risk. Overall the future of agriculture looks to be bright!

You can follow Lance on his new blog called “A Growing Passion”.

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