December 31, 2013

Podcast: Speak up and comment on EPA's proposal

Share:
In this podcast, Joel Grams, president of the Nebraska Corn Growers Association, shares about the proposed cut-back on the 2014 corn ethanol requirements in the Renewable Fuel Standard from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). EPA proposes a 1.4 billion gallon reduction in corn ethanol—and that is already having an impact on corn prices. A reduction of this nature will have a negative effect on agricultural in general—and on the rural communities that depend on a strong ag economy.

There is a comment period open until January 28th to let EPA know how this will hurt Nebraska corn farmers and the state's economy.  When you submit your comment, make it personal. Tell EPA what the renewable fuels industry has meant to your farm and your community. If you have a child returning to the operation, tell that story. If you have a specific example of how a healthier ag economy has helped your hometown, share it.

This isn't just for farmers to comment. It affects everyone in the state, so get others in your community to submit comments as well—bankers, school board members, county commissioners, economic development staff. Every sector of Nebraska's rural economy has benefitted from a robust ag economy in the state. We need all of them to send a comment to the EPA. We have just a few weeks left to tell the EPA how we feel. Don't delay. Please visit NebraskaCorn.org today to comment on EPA's proposal.

Listen for more!

Nebraska Corn Kernel podcasts are also available on iTunes! Click here to subscribe.

December 16, 2013

The Day Nebraska Invaded Utah - by Curt Tomasevicz

Share:
Everyone knows that Nebraskans are passionate about sports, especially football. But that passion was taken to a new level and a new sport during the first weekend of December. Some drove, some flew, some took a bus, but all battled nasty weather that included ice, snow, and bitter cold temperatures. In total, near one hundred people made the trek from Nebraska to Park City, Utah for the second World Cup bobsled race of the 2013-2014 Olympic season.

I was floored when I heard the number of people adventuring west. About two months ago, I sent out an email to some friends and family and invited them to come to the 4-man bobsled race in Utah because I knew that many wanted to see the Olympic race that will be held in Russia in February. But because of distance, time, and financial situations, very few could make it. The second best place to watch a live race would be Park City, Utah. I called home a week or two after sending the emailed invitation with time to let it circulate. I thought maybe there would be a dozen or so people that would respond. Instead I was told that my home town of Shelby, Nebraska would be chartering a bus to make the trip!

The weekend’s schedule included a 2-man race, two women’s bobsled races, and the grand prix event, the 4-man race. I would only be competing in the last event. But I wanted to have time to talk to and greet all those that came. So I reserved the party room at the Park City Ruby Tuesdays near the bobsled track for the night before the 2-man races. However, when I made the reservation, no one knew that the bus would lose its heat and force its passengers to spend an extra 12 hours in Kearney, Nebraska. So the initial reception was limited to only those that flew into Salt Lake City or those that drove separately.


I briefed everyone that could attend on what to expect at the races and what to look for. I not only wanted to have the usual passionate and boisterous Nebraska fans. I also wanted the educated fans that the Huskers are accustomed to on football game days. I told those at the reception about start times and down times, about start order and second heat protocol, and about the favorites and the underdogs of the race. I also warned them that, as many already assumed, it would be cold.

That night, at about 3 a.m., the bus finally arrived in Park City giving the passengers a short night before the 2-man race the next day. Because I was not pushing in the 2-man race, I was able to mingle with friends and family during the race and give as many hugs and handshakes as I could.

On Saturday, despite snowy conditions and temperatures reaching only about 10 degrees, the 4-man race was held in the late morning. My team drew first, meaning we were the first ones off the hill at the 11:04 a.m. start time.

The moment was exactly how I would have dreamed. It was one of the loudest starts I can remember, next to the Olympic Games. The one hundred crazy fanatics screamed, yelled, and rang cow bells like they had been bobsled fans all their lives. After the first heat, we were in a three-way tie for first place, a tie to the hundredth of a second. Needless to say, I have never been a part of a closer contested race.

The second heat was going to break the tie with the German team and the Russian team. With the other two teams going before us, we were the last sled off the hill that day. Again, the chants of “U-S-A, U-S-A” gave us the needed fire to have the fastest push of the race. And we were able to pull away from the other two teams. We won the World Cup race by over a third of a second (a big time win in bobsled). That was the icing on the cake.

The best part of the day was after the race. Winning the gold medal was great, but the pinnacle was after the award ceremony when I was able to celebrate with everyone that made the trip. I was incredibly moved by the support that I felt. My yet-to-be-born cousin, my 80 year old great uncle, and everyone in between that came to Park City reminded me what every Olympian should know… competing for the USA is the greatest honor any athlete could ever experience. Each person at that race as well as those that could not attend, shared in that victory. I can only hope that I can be a part of the team that stands on top of the podium again in February in Russia.

Thank you Nebraska and everyone that has helped me be able to bobsled for the past decade!
Most of the 100+ Nebraskan's that attended the race in Utah

After the award ceremony

December 12, 2013

December Corn Product Spotlight: Packing Peanuts

Share:
With the holiday season here shopping is on everyone’s mind. Whether or not it’s that new TV you’ve had your eye on, or the sweet treats that you plan on sending to your sister out west, there is one thing that will be used to keep most of our precious gifts safe. That one thing is packing peanuts.

Now, packing peanuts might not be your favorite part of the holidays but most children seem to enjoy them. I can still remember as a young child, dumping the box of packing peanuts out all over the tile floor and either stepping on them or ripping the peanuts into shreds. A big box of packing peanuts could keep me entertained for at least half an hour. As I sit here and think back on my younger years I realized that I didn’t even know corn was the main ingredient in those fun little toys.

In the early 1990s the starch-based packing peanuts that are used today were developed as a more environmentally friendly option compared to the regular foam packing peanuts. Even though the first biodegradable packing peanuts were made from grain sorghum the majority of starch-based packing peanuts are now made from corn. This means that even though the peanuts are not recommended for eating, they are nontoxic if ingested. Also during the manufacturing process all the nutritional value is removed from the starch so eating starch-based packing peanuts will not help you meet your daily carbohydrate intake.

Sadly, there are some drawbacks to this product. The starch-based packing peanuts are more expensive to use and they don’t hold up as well when dealing with large weights. But they can be broken down with water, so instead of having to throw them away, you can simply wash them down your sink!

So next time your kid takes a bite out of a starch-based packing peanut, you can feel safe that they didn’t just eat a toxic substance and you can relax and let them entertain themselves with the packing peanuts, instead of the gift you just spent your Christmas bonus on!

U.S. Grains Council develops exports of corn

Share:

DSC_0211No other organization in the United States can do what the U.S. Grains Council does, said Alan Tiemann, farmer-director on the Nebraska Corn Board from Seward, Neb., as well as Secretary/Treasurer of the U.S. Grains Council Board of Directors.

"With the council's public-private partnership we're doing great things around the world to develop exports of our products," said Tiemann.

Tiemann has a unique perspective on his 15 years of council experience. Beginning in 1997, he represented the Nebraska Grain Sorghum Board for six years. Then, after a break, he moved to Nebraska's corn checkoff board in 2005, becoming an at-large director on the USGC board and, last summer, the council's secretary/treasurer.

Tiemann, Alan - NEW"One of the biggest changes I've seen in my years at the council is in structure from a board of delegates to a board of directors," he said. "It's allowed the council to become more efficient than when they had three huge meetings each year."

He urges members to maximize the benefits of council membership by being involved.

"Even if you're not named to an advisory team (A-Teams), the best thing you can do is show up at the meetings and visit as many A-Teams as you can," he said. "Find out where your skill set fits with the council's work and get involved.

"The council has such a diversity of teams that there's something for everybody to get passionate about."

Tiemann's own passion is new markets. "We're still working to expand China, but markets are constantly evolving from where they were 20, 15, even 10 years ago. Will the next opportunity be Africa? India?

"That's what I'm excited about at the council."

The uncertainty of a Farm Bill is also a concern for the U.S. Grains Council who utilizes FMD/MAP funds to develop these foreign markets, as well as funds from corn, sorghum and barley checkoffs. One more reason we need a Farm Bill Now!

December 11, 2013

Nebraska commodities join to urge farmers, comment on EPA ethanol-reduction proposal

Share:

farmer-computerThe leaders of Nebraska’s commodity groups and membership associations have joined in an urgent call to action to Nebraska farmers to get vocal—and angry—about recent action by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that would reduce the nation’s commitment to renewable fuels.

In a joint statement, the Nebraska Corn Board, Nebraska Corn Growers Association, Nebraska Grain Sorghum Board, Nebraska Grain Sorghum Producers Association, Nebraska Soybean Association, Nebraska Wheat Board and Nebraska Wheat Growers Association expressed great disappointment and concern regarding the recent proposal from the EPA to reduce the required amount of conventional biofuels (mainly corn and sorghum based ethanol) in the nation’s fuel supply.   EPA proposes to adjust the conventional biofuel requirements in Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) passed by Congress downward by some 1.4 billion gallons for 2014.

The groups also strongly urged Nebraska crop farmers to submit comment to the EPA expressing their displeasure with the proposed renewable fuels reduction.  The 60-day comment period began on Friday, November 29, 2013.

A portal has been established on the Nebraska Corn Board website at NebraskaCorn.org, which links directly to a comment submission form and suggested verbiage on the National Corn Growers Association’s website.

rfs

“Agriculture was placed in this unstable position by EPA when they released their proposed cuts of the RFS,” said Tim Scheer of St. Paul, chairman of the Nebraska Corn Board.  “It is absolutely imperative that farmers get engaged during the 60-day comment period if we have any prayer of getting EPA to rescind this proposal.   All the work and investment that Nebraska corn farmers have put into building the ethanol industry is at risk.   We’ve already seen corn prices drift downward—almost to the cost of production.”

Nebraska Soybean Association president Ken Boswell of Shickley said, “This proposal plays right into the hands of the oil industry, which has been pulling out all the stops to prevent loss of market share to renewable fuels such as ethanol and soy biodiesel,” he said.  “By weakening our nation’s commitment to sustained growth of renewable fuels, EPA is saying that increased energy security, cleaner air, domestic jobs and consumer choice don’t matter as much as oil company profits.”

Dayton Christensen of Big Springs, president of the Nebraska Wheat Growers Association, said the robust rural economy for the past few years—spurred in part by the RFS—has been good for all sectors of agriculture. “It doesn’t matter if you grow corn, wheat, sorghum, soybeans or sugar beets, the RFS has helped create greater demand for ag products, improved on-farm profitability and helped rejuvenate rural communities,” he said.  ” We’ve seen young people returning to participate in this rebirth of agriculture—and farmers are able to invest in more technology to grow even more with less to meet global demand.”

Don Bloss of Pawnee City, president of the Nebraska Grain Sorghum Producers Association, said, “It might be expected that farmers would be upset about this—and we are—but every American should be angry as well,” he said.  “The RFS is federal policy that has actually done exactly what it was supposed to do—and we should stay the course in order to increase the diversity of our nation’s transportation fuel supply and help keep down costs at the pump.”

Last week, three Nebraska corn farmers were among those testifying at an EPA hearing on the proposal.   Nebraska Corn Board vice-chairman Curt Friesen of Henderson, Nebraska Corn Growers Association (NeCGA) president Joel Grams of Minden, and NeCGA member Brandon Hunnicutt of Giltner all spoke in opposition to the EPA proposal.

“The economic vitality that the RFS has spurred in rural America extends well beyond my farm. I see the impact of increased tax revenue for our county to build roads and provide services. I see main street businesses with customers in the aisles. I see entrepreneurs starting new ventures— many of which are based in agriculture and food production,” Friesen said during his testimony.  “And I have seen young farmers returning to agriculture, such as my daughter and son-in-law.”

December 4, 2013

Beef cow herd to turn around?

Share:

It appears that the pieces are all in place to finally turn around the U.S. beef cow herd, according to a recent report from The Daily Livestock Report.  There are a number of important pieces but two are critical:

  • Strong calf prices.

imageIn the chart to the right, calf prices are bumping into record levels once again as stocker operations look to place cattle on wheat pasture and feedlots try to secure their share of the tight calf supply.

The supply of cattle outside of feedlots was estimated to be slightly larger last January 1 but much of that 0.6% increase was likely due to delayed placements due to high feed costs. A beef cow herd that was 2.9% smaller, yr/yr, on January 1 has almost certainly produced about that many fewer calves this year and ongoing heifer retention has tightened things even more. No wonder calf — and feeder — prices are this high.

  • Plentiful grass.

NOAA’s U.S. Drought Monitor map for November 26 shows only 13.8% of the U.S. having drought conditions rated as severe or worse. That compares to 34.7% one year ago and 35.2% on January 1, 2013. Just three months ago (late August), nearly 30% of the U.S. was in droughts rated as sever and worse. It is clear that some cow-calf areas (western Kansas, Nebraska, California) are still quite dry but much of the critical cow-calf country
from Texas northward through Missouri and eastward all the way to Florida are in pretty good shape. The Livestock Marketing Information Center reports that as of October 27, the date of USDA’s last crop and pasture conditions ratings for 2013, states with only 15.1% of the nation’s beef cow herd had 40% of their acres rated in either poor or very poor condition. One year ago that number was an astonishing 70.8%. States with nearly 48% of the nation’s beef cows had at least 40% of their acres rated in good or excellent conditions this year. That number was only 21% one year ago. Improved pasture conditions go hand in hand with lower grain and protein supplement costs to leave production
costs significantly lower than last year.
image

What cow-calf operators want to do from a economic standpoint and what Mother Nature allows them to do are frequently two different things — but not this year. A strong profit incentive and sufficient resources are driving beef herd expansion!

November 25, 2013

Corn Exports Critical to Nebraska

Share:
In the not-so-distant past, the prospects for Nebraska’s corn farmers hung on the political whims of nations using trade as a power play. A grain embargo implemented by Russia, for example, could throw grain markets into a tailspin. While trade is still used as a bargaining chip among nations, its impact on grain
markets has been lessened somewhat through U.S. corn farmers’ focus on adding value domestically through livestock production, biofuels and industrial uses for corn—creating greater demand across a variety of sectors. Still, exports remain an important component of the U.S. corn market portfolio. “The equivalent of one in six rows of corn in Nebraska is exported,” said Alan Tiemann of Seward, a member of the Nebraska Corn Board and secretary-treasurer of the U.S. Grains Council (USGC). “There is no question that corn prices are enhanced by the demand in the international marketplace.”

Through their checkoff, Nebraska corn farmers support the efforts of the U.S. Grains Council in building demand for corn around the world.

Global competition in corn exports has grown significantly over the past four years, driving the U.S. share of the market down to about 50 percent. Since 1990, the amount of corn grown outside the U.S. has increased from 11 billion bushels to nearly 22 billion bushels in 2012.

“Brazil and Argentina are formidable competitors, but other areas such as the Black Sea region, Paraguay, South Africa, Thailand and China are emerging as well,” Tiemann added. “We’re using more and more corn domestically, which is creating opportunity for other nations to fill the void. That’s why it’s even more important that we redouble our efforts to maintain and build international markets for our product.”

As emerging nations become more prosperous, their appetite for protein—poultry, pork and beef—grows as well. USGC is working around the world to help farmers grow their flocks and herds, which in turn increases demand for feed grains such as corn. From water buffalo in Morocco to turkeys in Canada to pigs in South Korea, USGC has been extremely successful in demonstrating the outstanding feed value of American feedgrains.

As the ethanol industry has grown in Nebraska and the U.S., so has the supply of distillers grains, a high protein value animal feed that is a co-product of ethanol production. As a result, USGC has also begun building international markets for dried distillers grains (DDG). A shining example is China, which four years ago imported no DDG—and today is the number one customer in the world for DDG from the U.S. Mexico ranks second.

“Instead of simply shipping raw corn overseas, DDG is a product that adds value here at home,” Tiemann said. “DDG exports help build markets for Nebraska ethanol producers as well, and that helps create profit opportunities to keep these plants running and energizing our rural economy.”

Tiemann said it’s critical that Nebraska corn farmers continue to invest in international market development. “We’re going to have more than nine billion people to feed by 2050, and Nebraska can and should play a big part in meeting that demand,” he said. “By encouraging fair trade and staying in front of international customers, we can make sure we feed the world—and create economic vitality right here in Nebraska.”

TOP U.S. CUSTOMERS FOR CORN
Country           Metric Tons      % of U.S. Exports
Japan                11,748.6                31.0% 
Mexico                9,537.5                25.2%
China                  5,174.1                13.6%
Korea                  3,635.3                  9.6%
Venezuela            1,280.1                 3.4%
Taiwan                 1,265.4                 3.3%
Costa Rica             575.7                  1.5%
Guatemala             549.1                  1.4%
Egypt                     544.9                  1.4%
Canada                  487.2                  1.3%
Others                 3,117.1                  8.2%
TOTAL               37,915.0
2011/12 Marketing Year Ending August 31, 2012

November 22, 2013

3 Things Every Nebraskan Should Know About the Farm Bill

Share:
Without a Farm Bill, it’s difficult for Nebraska farmers and ranchers to plan for their business. And since agriculture is Nebraska’s largest industry, this Congressional inaction has a direct effect on our state’s economic success.

The Farm Bill is vast and complicated. But here are three things you should know:

1 About 80 percent of the Farm Bill’s cost is for nutrition programs, primarily the Supplemental Nutrition     Assistance Program (SNAP)—which was commonly known as “food stamps.” (Maybe it should be called the “Food Bill”?)

2 The Farm Bill includes funding for foreign market development and market access programs that enable groups such as the U.S. Meat Export Federation and U.S. Grains Council to do their jobs in building global demand for U.S. red meat and grain.

3 Crop insurance is a cost-share arrangement, with the federal government paying a portion of the insurance premium and the farmer paying another portion. Without government backing, it’s unlikely that any insurance company would offer the coverage—and the nation’s food and commodity supply would be at risk. Additionally, the payments are made to crop insurance companies, n
ot to farmers.

November 20, 2013

Nebraska corn farmers building beef demand in Middle East

Share:

Thanks to Nebraska corn farmers and their checkoff, the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) is deepening its ties with a key Middle East beef importer.

Leading Middle East beef importer and gourmet retailer Kaylani Food Center is working closely with USMEF to introduce a new generation of customers in Jordan and beyond to high-end U.S. beef products.

Headquartered in Amman, Jordan, since 1991, Kaylani Food Center has developed a reputation for distributing premium, gourmet quality beef products, ranging from Japanese Wagyu to Australian grain-fed to high-end Brazilian cuts. Now that list has expanded to include chilled Certified Angus Beef (CAB) from the United States.

mef meat master JordanA primary outlet for these top-tier products is The Meat Master Gourmet Meat Store, a Kaylani-owned operation that prides itself on offering its customers hard-to-find fresh meats and imported specialty products.

“The Meat Master targets a diverse clientele that has a passion for marbled, high quality U.S. beef,” said Dan Halstrom, USMEF senior vice president for global marketing and communication. “The addition of chilled U.S. Certified Angus Beef is a perfect fit with their commitment to offering only the finest beef.”

In addition to high-quality beef patties produced on-site from primal cuts such as chucks and briskets, The Meat Master also sells a range of high-quality sausages and hot dogs, plus items such as Wellingtons, meat pies and other value-added deli items.”

“The Meat Master, which is a unique gourmet store concept for this region, has seen significant growth with the addition of chilled CAB subprimals,” said Ali Noor, director of the Kaylani Food Center in Amman, Jordan. “With the help of a well-publicized USMEF beef promotion, funded with support from Nebraska Corn Board, we have seen requests from customers for CAB increasing 120 percent.”

mef beef JordanKaylani Food Center also imports significant quantities of frozen U.S. beef, ranging from subprimal loin cuts to alternative cuts such as top butt, chuck and inside rounds.

“We also offer portion-cut premium U.S. beef through our strategic business relationship with James Calvetti Meats in Chicago,” said Noor. “This is a very high-end selection of products only for the very discerning and niche clientele.”

Halstrom noted that while the Middle East region has traditionally been a customer for lower-value cuts, specifically variety meat, collaboration with companies like Kaylani Food Center and The Meat Master is helping to change consumer perceptions and raise the visibility of high-quality grain-fed U.S. beef.

USMEF recently worked with The Meat Master and Kaylani to develop a customer education program that combined point-of-purchase education with product sampling that was very positively received. USMEF supported the promotion with a Facebook campaign and social media outreach to maximize its impact.

Despite political turmoil in the region, the Middle East has remained one of the leading destinations for U.S. beef exports. Through the first nine months of 2013, the region has purchased 111,895 metric tons (246.7 million pounds) of U.S. beef valued at $211.8 million, making it the fourth-largest market by volume and sixth by value.

November 19, 2013

November Corn Products Spotlight: Spark Plugs

Share:
The days are shorter and the temperatures have started to drop once again in Nebraska; with these changes more Nebraskan’s will be choosing to drive places rather than walk to that cafĂ© downtown. As most amateur mechanics know, spark plugs are necessary components of your vehicle. Luckily corn farmers work hard every year to grow a crop that helps to provide the public with working spark plugs.

Spark plugs seem like an extremely odd item to find corn used in, but believe it or not, corn is vital in the production process of spark plugs. As most people are aware, corn has a variety of different genomes that can be extracted and used for a variety of purposes. In the case of spark plugs it is not a genome that is used; instead the portion of the kernel needed is the corn starch. In the production process the corn starch is extracted and used to make the unique porcelain used in spark plugs. This form of porcelain is heat resistant and absorbs oils more effectively to help increase the life span of your spark plug. This form of porcelain was not discovered until 1933 and has been continuously improved since then.

So the next time you turn on your car and are heading to your favorite restaurant or are driving to work, be thankful for the farmers who work each season to provide us with products that we take for granted.

November 15, 2013

Snow Already Falling in Nebraska

Share:
A beautiful Nebraska sunset over a harvested field.
For the week ending November 10th, snow fell in some western counties and rain fell in the eastern part of the state, limiting harvest progress. Grain moisture levels remained above safe storage levels in a number of counties. Most of the remaining unharvested acres are found in the northern districts. Statewide, producers had 4.2 days suitable for fieldwork.

Topsoil moisture levels rated 24 percent short/very short, 75 percent adequate, and 1 percent surplus. Subsoil moisture levels rated 46 percent short/very short, 54 percent adequate, and 0 percent surplus.

Corn harvested was 81 percent, which is well behind last year’s 100 percent, but still ahead of the national average of 76 percent.

To view all crop progress photos submitted this week please visit our Flickr and Pinterest page!

As the demand for more food grows each day so does the size of equipment farmers use.

An Alternative Sport By: Curt Tomasevicz

Share:
Just like every kid, my answer to the common question of “what do you want to be when you grow up?” changed every couple of months. I remember that, for a short period when I was about 8, I was determined to be the first baseman for the Chicago Cubs. When I was about 10, there was a time when I wanted to be an airplane pilot. I spent some of my middle school years wanting to drive a John Deere tractor and be a corn farmer. If you would have asked me at other times, I might have answered with an astronaut, a golf course designer, or even a major league umpire. In high school, I found that I enjoyed math and physics. So I thought when I grew up, I would apply those likes to yet another career; engineering. I also happened to work for an electrician part-time, so electrical engineering made sense as a career choice. (Note that at no time while growing up, would I have answered that I wanted to be a bobsledder!)

It’s amazing how many times in life we change our minds. One minute we are passionate about one thing, only to fall in love with something else the next minute. It is part of human nature to wonder how green the grass really is on the other side of the fence.

The other day at the lunch table at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs as I was eating with some other athletes, the conversation turned toward a game of “alternate sports”. Seated at the table with me was a fencer, a couple of wrestlers, a triathlete, a couple of weight lifters, and a figure skater. With that variety of athletes at the table, it is probably easy for you to imagine how numerous the athletes’ desires were to play other sports.

Since this was a conversation based on hypotheticals, all the answers would have required major training, change in muscle type, and body alterations that are simply not possible. The triathlete wanted to be a weightlifter, simply to know what it felt like to hold 500 pounds off the ground. The weight lifter wanted to compete in a sport which allowed him to see the sunlight every once in a while. And the figure skater said he was tired of competing in a ‘judged’ sport that depended on the opinion of an official, he wanted to compete against a clock or a scoreboard.

I’ve thought about my answer for a while. Even though I love the sport of bobsledding, I think that if I were able to change my mind and pick another Olympic sport, I would definitely choose a summer sport. It may surprise some people, but I really don’t like the cold. I’d rather go to the beach than the mountains. So my new sport would have to be an outdoor summer sport. As a personal rule, I really don’t like any sport where I have time to think about how much pain I’m in. So I don’t want to run or swim long distances. Endurance sports are not an option. I really like power and explosive sports and games. And I also like technical sports that require practicing and perfecting technique and form.

So I’ve concluded that in a fantasy world of alternate sports where changing your mind at any time is allowed, I would… (suspenseful pause)…throw a javelin. But I’m sure that after a few sunburns and elbow injuries, I’d wish that I was able to go back to the cold weather sport of wearing spandex and a helmet while racing a bobsled at 90+ miles per hour just on the edge of out-of-control.

What would you want to do if you could change your mind?...

November 14, 2013

Mark Jagels Elected Chairman of U. S. Meat Export Federation

Share:
Mark Jagels, Davenport Neb., elected chairman of US Meat Export Federation
LINCOLN, NEB – Nebraska Corn Board member Mark Jagels, a farmer from Davenport, Neb., was elected chairman of the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) at the organization’s recent annual conference. Jagels served as USMEF vice-chairman over the previous year.

“I have enjoyed addressing issues and helping open markets for U.S. beef, pork and lamb over the past year and look forward to continuing those efforts on behalf of our industry,” said Jagels. “Nebraska has a lot at stake, in developing markets for U.S. meat as other countries are becoming strong competitors in that market.” Nebraska currently ranks first nationally in commercial red meat production, third in corn production and seventh in commercial pork production.

“The livestock industry has been a significant value-added partner of the corn industry for generations, and it is rewarding to see a Nebraska corn farmer give of his time to serve and expand the opportunities for both industries,” commented Don Hutchens, executive director of the Nebraska Corn Board.

The Nebraska Corn Board so strongly believes in USMEF’s mission that it has supported the organization with corn checkoff dollars since USMEF was founded in 1979. With 96% of the world’s population outside of the U. S. and that population projected to grow to 9 billion by 2050, we want to be ones providing them with the protein that they need, in turn helping drive our balance of trade, create jobs, tax revenue and opportunities for livestock producers and farmers alike.

“It has also been great to see corn checkoff support go beyond membership to assist in re-opening markets,” Jagels noted. Specifically, it was Nebraska corn farmers, through their checkoff, that recently supported activities in Japan following their announcement to re-open their country to U.S. beef 30-month and younger.

Mark, a fourth generation farmer, raises corn and soybeans, feeds cattle and runs a cow/calf operation alongside his father. Before being elected as an officer, Jagels served as a member of the USMEF executive committee representing feed grains, and has co-chaired USMEF’s Feed Grains & Oilseed Committee.

The mission of USMEF is “to increase the value and profitability of the U.S. beef, pork and lamb industries by enhancing demand for their products in export markets through a dynamic partnership of all stakeholders.” Simply put, USMEF is “Putting U.S. Meat on the World’s Table.”

The Nebraska Corn Board’s market development, research, promotion and education programs are funded and managed by Nebraska corn farmers. Producers invest at a rate of 1/2 of a cent per bushel of corn sold.

November 6, 2013

Wordless Wednesday!

Share:
Corn Board Member Curtis Friesen works hard to finish this harvest season before the snow starts to fall. Photo courtesy of Don Hutchens. Send us your #Harvest13 pictures, you can post them to our Facebook or Twitter pages! 

October 30, 2013

Harvest Continues...Slow and Steady

Share:
Nebraska's Gold!
For the week ending on October 27, 2013 the state welcomed drier weather. Farmers were busy in the fields harvesting corn and soybeans. Even with this drier weather, crops are still struggling to dry down because of the cooler than average weather we are experiencing. The combination of moisture and cool temperatures is continuing to drag out the harvest season.

Topsoil moisture levels rated 35 percent short/very short, 64 percent adequate, and 1 percent surplus. Subsoil moisture levels rated 55 percent short/very short, 45 percent adequate and 0 percent surplus.

All corn conditions rated 7 percent very poor, 6 percent poor, 19 percent fair, 48 percent good, and 20 percent excellent. For irrigated corn, conditions rated 81 percent good or excellent. Dryland corn rated 49 percent good or excellent.

Corn mature was 97 percent which is behind last year’s 100 percent but near the national average of 95 percent. Corn harvested was 55 percent, well behind 93 percent last year and equal to the average nationwide.

To view all crop progress photos please visit Flickr or Pinterest!

Sunsets on the farm during harvest season are incredible.

October 21, 2013

Agribusiness Virtual Roundtable–Jerry Warner

Share:

*The Business Leaders "Virtual Roundtable" discussion was gathered for the Spring 2013 CornsTalk publication. The responses of these business associates were consolidated for the publication, but you can find the full responses through this blog series.

Camera:   DCS520C
Serial #: K520C-05234
Width:    1152
Height:   1728
Date:  4/15/03
Time:   20:50:11
DCS5XX Image
FW Ver:   3.0.14
TIFF Image
Look:   Product
Sharpening Requested: No
Counter:    [52372]
ISO Speed:  200
Aperture:  f11
Shutter:  1/60
Max Aperture:  f2.8
Min Aperture:  f32
Exposure Mode:  Manual (M)
Compensation:  +0.0
Flash Compensation:  +0.0
Meter Mode:  Spot
Flash Mode:  No flash
Drive Mode:  Continuous
Focus Mode:  Manual
Focus Point:  --o--
Focal Length (mm):  78
White balance: Auto
Time: 20:50:11.380
Jerry Warner, Farmers National

How does Nebraska's strength in agriculture—and corn, livestock and ethanol specifically—influence your business/organization? How does the fact that you are located in Nebraska provide a competitive advantage or growth opportunities for you?

Nebraska's strength in agriculture is of utmost importance to Farmers National Company. A vibrant ag economy contributes to strong land values, good rental rates and profits for land owners, which strengthens the overall economy of the state. The impact on the economies of Lincoln and Omaha is far greater than most people realize.

What should Nebraska do to leverage its strength in agriculture to enhance economic vitality across the state—and position the state for long-term success in meeting global demand for food, feed and fuel?

We must continue to increase both irrigated and dryland corn production in Nebraska. We must be more efficient water users everywhere, but especially in the more limited aquifers. If rural and urban interests work together, we can bring new systems into use which will conserve water and make enough available for everyone.

What do you think Nebraska consumers—especially those in urban areas—need to better understand about Nebraska agriculture and your organization's relationship to agriculture?

Many people are surprised to learn that more than half of the land in NE is owned by non operating land owners, who are partners in production and very important "investors" in agriculture. Most have a rural heritage and now reside in towns and cities within the state. Our company works with this group of land owners.

How important is it that Nebraska corn farmers continue to invest in the future of their industry through their checkoff?

Corn farmers absolutely must continue to invest in developing current as well as new markets for corn. As food and fuel prices increase, the checkoff is more important than ever in all aspects of market development.

What concerns you most about the future of agriculture in Nebraska? And what will it take to address those concerns?

The diversity of Nebraska agriculture is one of its tremendous strengths. It is also one of its challenges.

October 17, 2013

Wet Week

Share:
Due to the continued Federal government shut down we can not provide you with an official crop progress report from USDA. However, in our best attempts to keep this page updated here is a short summary of what happened the past week in Nebraska.

Corn continues to look somewhat green due to all the recent rains
Wet conditions across most of the state made corn harvest challenging. Nebraska farmers were in and out of the fields working diligently to get this year’s crop harvested and stored in the bins. Even though the wet conditions are proving to put a stress on crop harvest, it is hard to complain about the recent rains after the drought we have experienced. Hopefully all this moisture will help replenish the groundwater we have used the past two years. Needless to say harvest is progressing…maybe that is all we actually need to know.

All crop progress photos can be viewed at Flickr or Pinterest

October 16, 2013

Wordless Wednesday!

Share:
#Harvest13 is in full swing!! Please send your photos to Facebook or Twitter so we can share them with everyone.

One Rough Ride by: Curt Tomasevicz

Share:
There has been lots of attention paid to concussions and brain injuries in sports in the media recently. The NFL and NHL are changing their rules to attempt to make the sports safer and reduce the number of injuries that come from hits to the head. The results of several studies have shown that repeated blows to the head can have both short term and long term damage. But the sports are far from becoming extinct. Players know there is the potential for injury every time they step on the field or ice and yet they rarely hesitate to consider the risks versus the rewards.

Many jobs are dangerous. I know farmers in Nebraska that have lost fingers and even arms to auger accidents. Combines and tractors have hundreds of mechanical moving parts that can be dangerous. Electric fences, grain dust, and livestock that weigh hundreds of pounds, carry the potential for injury, both short and long term. But with the proper precautions, injuries can be avoided.

Bobsled is not a gentle sport. Our 4-man sled weighs 1400 pounds including the athletes and can reach speeds of 95 miles per hour. Many people believe that a bobsled ride is like a smooth roller coaster. Wrong! I heard one person compare their first (and last) bobsled ride to a “controlled car wreck”. It is sixty seconds of a violent shake that rattles your brain inside your skull like someone is scrambling an egg in a bowl. There is no Zamboni machine that smoothes out the ice before we slide. Mother Nature controls how soft or hard, rough or smooth the ice is. And when humidity or even precipitation is added into the equation, the result is a violent headache. And that is before I even mention the 15 to 20 curves of pressures that can pull up to 5 G’s of force on the neck and head.

Take a couple minutes and watch this video put online by Manuel Machata, a German bobsled driver. The camera is looking up at the brakeman from inside a 2-man sled.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tk6Jo8-o1UY 

Trust me. Riding in a bobsled is as comfortable as it looks in the video. But just like many NFL players, I am doing what I can to prevent the short and long term effects of head trauma.

I recently took the IMPACT test and the SCAT3 test which will serve as a baseline so that, if I am in a bobsled crash or I do show the initial signs of a concussion, I can retake the test to see if my results have varied. And even though study results may not be completely conclusive, I constantly do things that will promote brain activity and cerebral function.

I try to do the USA Today crossword each day. I won’t claim that I am able to complete the puzzle every attempt, but I’d say I score about 80% on each endeavor. I consistently have at least two books open on my Kindle. And I love critical thinking riddles and quizzes. Just like physical exercise helps strengthen my body, mental exercise helps keep my brain resilient and neurological pathways firing. (Read one of my recent blogs on Intelligent Jocks).

Safety is always a top priority, but sometimes…when the task is flying down an icy chute in freezing temperatures, in a fiberglass shell, with no seatbelt, wearing only a spandex suit, going for an Olympic gold medal for the USA … the headache is worth it!

October 10, 2013

The Many Benefits of GMO's

Share:
Consumers are more cautious than ever about what they choose to eat. Some people prefer to eat  foods that are generally labeled "USDA Organic", while others choose to eat Genetically Modified food. American's are fortunate to have a choice between which type of food they choose to consume, sadly along with these choices there are generally many misconceptions, many focused on GMO products. Today I will talk about some of the benefits of GMO's and hopefully work to clear up some misconceptions.

GMO's have been around for 10,000 years! That seems like a tall tale, however it is not. Every crop that is grown today has been selected based on human selection and breeding, so much in fact, that modern crops barely resemble their wild ancestors. The only difference between the present breeding and 10,000 years ago is that we have improved technology that can make this natural selection process much faster. Before technology came about selecting for superior crops was done by visual selection. This process was slow and took whole growing seasons to accomplish. Plant breeders would have to select the best crops at the end of a growing season and then selectively breed them to other plants and then wait to see what happens. Now thanks to biotechnology we can observe single DNA variations in a laboratory, select the genetically superior traits, and transfer those traits to other plants. Essentially we are still doing the same process as we have always done, we are just accomplishing results faster than ever before.



90% of all crops grown in the United States are GMO crops and this is understandable because of the many benefits that GMO crops present for farmers as well as the environment. The most well known benefit of GMO crops is that we are experiencing higher yields than ever before. More and more citizens are choosing to move to a more urban setting, this leaves a fewer number of people that are willing to produce food for everyone in the U.S. and many people around the world. Another problem that agriculture is overcoming with higher yields is the fact that there is fewer acres of land available to produce food on. The world population is continuing to grow so farmers must work to produce more food on fewer acres and the only way this is possible is with improved yields.

The second major benefit of GMO crops is that they require fewer fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides. This means that for every American citizen fewer chemicals are being put into plants and the ground which means your food and water is safer than ever. For years agriculture was known as a major polluter, but thanks to GMO's we are able to "clean up our act" and provide a safer environment for everyone.

The last major improvement to modern agriculture that has come along, thanks to GMO crops, is what agriculture refers to as sustainability. Water conservation has evolved because of GMO crops. We can now grow more food and save more water doing it, thus providing a better environment for the generations to come. Along with water conservation has come the development of soil conservation. No-till farming is now a common practice, this type of farming helps to reduce soil erosion that occurs in fields.

Sadly all these benefits have not come without criticism from the consumers. Many people question if these crops are safe to eat and feel that they should be labeled. The law clearly states that food companies are required to label foods that are substantially different in composition from similar foods. GMO foods are amongst the most tested foods in all of history and after extensive research it has been proven that there is no nutritional difference between GMO and non-GMO foods. This means that legally, GMO's currently have no reason to be labeled as different. That is because they are not different they are only bred to grow more efficiently. Labeling of GMO products would only bring about more confusion for consumers.

Hopefully after reading this post people will realize that GMO technology is quite possibly one of the largest technological advancements the world has ever seen. Thanks to improved production the average American farmer now feeds 155 people. Without this, the average farmer would only feed somewhere around 10 people and as a result America would have to import large amounts of food thus leading to an even larger budget deficit. So next time you are taking a road trip across the Midwest remember to thank a farmer for providing you with a safe, reliable, and homegrown food source!    

October 9, 2013

Wordless Wednesday

Share:
Harvest of corn silage started last week and harvest of all corn will hopefully start soon! Please send us your photos of harvest. Post them to our Facebook or Twitter walls using the hashtag #Harvest13.

October 7, 2013

October Corn Products Spotlight: Glue

Share:
Every project goes smoother with Elmer's!
As we move closer to the holiday season there is one thing that every elementary student will need—that item is glue. Take a second and think back to your younger years, they most likely included paper pumpkins, Thanksgiving turkeys made from a cut out of your hand, and Christmas ornaments decorating the classroom….all of these crafts require glue. What you might not know is that corn is an essential piece of making that glue affordable.

There are a few different types of glue, and after doing some research, I discovered that each type contained corn! To collect all the facts I first started by looking up the official definition of glue. Adhesive; more commonly known as glue, is any substance that binds surfaces together and resists separation. I started thinking about all the different uses for adhesives and then I wondered, where do we get all that resin? As it turns out we don’t use that much resin, instead we use corn.


The process goes like this. After oil is extracted from the corn germ, scientists have found a way to make glue from corn germ. It was first tested in 2008 by chemist Milagros Hojilla-Evangelista. She sprayed the corn germ glue on the surface of a 12X12 inch piece of southern pine and then put another piece of pine on top, heated the glue to industry standards, and waited to see the results. Her findings proved that corn germ could be used to develop glue that has the same viscosity as industrial glue. This discovery has lead to the addition of corn germ to industrial glue which makes industrial adhesives even stronger. It has also been discovered that you can add corn germ to what I would refer to as “regular glue”, more commonly known as Elmer’s Glue, thereby reducing the amount of resin needed in the glue. This means with the addition of corn germ, your glue stays at a lower price.

Chemist Milagros Hojilla-Evangelista.
To wrap up my newly found obsession with adhesive, I will say this. The next time you are out buying a bottle of glue before the school year starts, or even buying certain brands of hair spray, you can thank a farmer for growing a product that helps you cut costs on adhesives.

October 3, 2013

Warm and Windy Start for Harvest

Share:
Corn Silage is being harvested and will be fed to cattle.
For the week ending September 29, 2013 warm, and windy conditions were again experienced. Rainfall also occurred across most of the panhandle and central Nebraska counties. Widespread corn harvest was limited due to the rains which are continuing to cause high grain moisture levels. Statewide producers had 5.5 days suitable for fieldwork.

Topsoil moisture levels rated 52 percent short/very short, 48 percent adequate and 0 percent surplus. Subsoil moisture supplies rated 70 percent short/very short, 30 percent adequate, and 0 percent surplus.

All corn conditions came in at 8 percent very poor, 7 percent poor, 21 percent fair, 44 percent good, and 20 percent excellent. Irrigated corn rated 82 percent good/excellent, which is higher than the 75 percent average. Dryland corn conditions rated 39 percent good or excellent, this is lower than the 57 percent average. Mature corn was 64 percent, which is well behind 92 percent last year but near the 66 percent average. Corn harvested was 9 percent which is well behind 51 percent last year and this years 16 percent average.

To view all crop progress photos visit our Flickr and Pinterest sites!

This ear of corn will be ready to harvest soon.

September 30, 2013

Renewable Fuels Help Consumers Save Money at the Pump

Share:

sept renewable fuels monthSeptember is Renewable Fuels Month! We are celebrating by conversing about the benefits and talking out the issues around the renewable fuels industry here in Nebraska to Capitol Hill.

A rapid spike in gas prices can take a big hit on wallets. But Nebraskans who use ethanol or own a flex fuel vehicle (FFV) have options at the pump to save money and farmers have the option to use biodiesel.

Flex fuel vehicles are able to operate on any blend of ethanol and gasoline up to E85, a blend of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline. Flex fuel vehicle owners can fill up with any blend in any amount at any time. Since ethanol is priced lower than gasoline, the higher the ethanol blend, the lower the price.

As gas prices rise, the cost of E85 has become even more attractive. “When you are filling up your flex fuel vehicle, look at the price of E10, E30, E85 and other ethanol blends to save money. Even with some reduction of mileage with the use of E85, it may still be economical for flex fuel vehicles to use E85 and other ethanol blends, " said Don Hutchens, executive director for the Nebraska Corn Board. “Instead of looking at your miles per gallon, calculate your cost per mile.”

One in ten Nebraskans drives a flex fuel vehicle or FFV-that’s over 150,000. "There are enough flex fuel vehicles in Nebraska to nearly fill Memorial Stadium twice! Many drivers don't realize they have an FFV since they don't look any different or cost any more than a standard vehicle," Hutchens said. "All you need to do is check your owner's manual or see if you have a flex fuel badge somewhere on the exterior of the vehicle." Some FFV's also have a yellow gas cap.

In 2011, ethanol saved American households over $1,200 and reduced gas prices by $1.09. As gas prices increase, FFV owners have even more reason to choose ethanol blended fuel.

E85 pumps and flex fuel pumps offering E10, E20, E30, E85 and other options can be found across Nebraska, including Omaha, Lincoln, York, Fremont, Grand Island, North Platte, Ogallala and other communities. Locations can be found at e85prices.com or by downloading a flex fuel location app on a smartphone.

Ethanol isn’t the only renewable fuel helping consumers. Biodiesel was named America’ first advanced biofuel and has continually exceeded the production benchmarks set forth by the EPA. Over half of the farmers in Nebraska use biodiesel on their farms. Additionally, co-products from biodiesel production add value to livestock in Nebraska-as much as $13 per head of cattle and $3 per head of hog.

There are a number of economic, environmental and energy security benefits when choosing ethanol and biodiesel blended fuels.

September 25, 2013

Wordless Wednesday

Share:
Members of the USGC Japanese trade team tour the Green Plains ethanol facility in Central City, Nebraska!! 

September 24, 2013

Will We Finally Have a Farm Bill? By: Casey Campbell

Share:
The Farm Bill will finally be going to conference now! Can y’all believe it? Despite all the work I did over the summer and all the nights I prayed for a new Farm Bill to pass, I still can’t. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still waking up in the night panicking that somehow all of our effort will be wasted and we’ll end up back with the 2008 bill again, but I’m a heck of a lot more hopeful now. Since the House passed their SNAP half of the Farm Bill my hopes are up, but the clock is still desperately ticking.

We can definitely expect some heat with the Senate’s $4 billion cuts over 10 years versus the House’s $4 billion cuts annually. With not a single Democrat vote for the House’s SNAP Bill Thursday, it will be impossible to pass without lots of compromise. On the positive side, at least the SNAP programs will finally be put back in the Farm Bill like they belong after the House wasted all our time splitting it.

September 30 is coming fast though and House Majority Leader Cantor still hasn’t even named the House members who will be part of the conference with the Senate. Maybe he hasn’t looked at a calendar to see how soon the 2008 bill is expiring, but just cancelling their planned recess for this week is not going to cut it. The Democrats and Republicans, urban districts and rural districts all need to work together. This bill is important for every single American and too much has gone into the bill to just extend the 2008 one again.

September 23, 2013

Agribusiness Virtual Roundtable–Chris Kalkowski

Share:

*The Business Leaders "Virtual Roundtable" discussion was gathered for the Spring 2013 CornsTalk publication. The responses of these business associates were consolidated for the publication, but you can find the full responses through this blog series.

SONY DSCChris Kalkowski, Vice President, First National Bank of Omaha

How does Nebraska's strength in agriculture—and corn, livestock and ethanol specifically—influence your business/organization? How does the fact that you are located in Nebraska provide a competitive advantage or growth opportunities for you?

First National Bank of Omaha’s (FNBO) footprint mirrors very closely that of our nation’s food production. The fact that Nebraska is at the heart of both agricultural production and our bank network puts FNBO in a great place to support opportunities in agriculture far into the future.

A long-time ag lender once challenged me, “Show me a vibrant community and I will show you a strong community bank.” FNBO is a strong regional bank. Its strength is created by its location, its people, and its family ownership. Nebraska is the model of agricultural strength and productivity. As one of the nation’s largest livestock and ethanol lenders, FNBO plays an important role in Nebraska agriculture today and will continue to do so long into the future. We are proud to be born and raised in Nebraska.

What should Nebraska do to leverage its strength in agriculture to enhance economic vitality across the state—and position the state for long-term success in meeting global demand for food, feed and fuel?

Nebraska is in a unique and enviable position. If one were to map the primary production areas, each in its own unique color, for corn, livestock production, meat processing, irrigation, and ethanol production, he/she would find that they all overlap right over Nebraska. On top of that, the map would also show that we are right in the center of the United States. This may seem trivial, but it illustrates the leadership role that Nebraska plays in meeting the global demand for food, feed, and fuel. Nebraska is in the prime location to continue that leadership into the future. It is important for Nebraska to steward its resources, especially the strength of their common sense people, to lead by example, and to ensure that we feed a growing world.

What do you think Nebraska consumers—especially those in urban areas—need to better understand about Nebraska agriculture and your organization's relationship to agriculture?

Nebraska consumers need to understand that Nebraska farmers and ranchers work very hard to provide safe and nutritious food for people in the state and around the world. They do this every day, even when there is a blizzard, drought, or flood. They have a foundation of strong values and a great work ethic. They conserve the resources with which they are entrusted. Nebraska’s agricultural producers care.

It doesn’t matter where you work or live in the state; Nebraska’s agricultural producers have a positive effect on our state’s economy – and, as a result, the good life that we all enjoy.

How important is it that Nebraska corn farmers continue to invest in the future of their industry through their checkoff?

The diversity of Nebraska’s farmers increases the importance of the corn checkoff. A single farmer does not have the economy of scale to develop programs of research, education, market development and promotion to enhance profitability of corn production. By coming together, these farmers create a powerful stage from which to act. The checkoff helps develop the script from which the future will be viewed.

What concerns you most about the future of agriculture in Nebraska? And what will it take to address those concerns?

We as a society are becoming further and further removed from the farm. Each generation seems to understand less about where its food comes from. Children believe their milk comes directly from the store, or that chocolate milk comes from a chocolate cow. Adults don’t seem to understand that our state’s economy is driven by agriculture.

According to a study completed by the Nebraska Policy Institute, one of every three Nebraska jobs is derived from agriculture. Included in the one-third count is production agriculture, with backward linkages to farm suppliers and forward linkages to agricultural processors. Excluded from the selection are restaurants and grocery stores. The study shows that the overall contribution of agribusiness to the state’s economy is increasing. In 1990, twenty-five percent of the state’s total employment was directly or indirectly the result of agribusiness activity. In 2002, the same percentage grew to thirty-one percent. It seems to me if one industry provides one-third of our state’s jobs and is the largest economic activity that we need to make a concerted effort to provide the members of our society with a basic understanding of agriculture and its role in our lives.

With this belief, I am very concerned that only fifty percent of our state’s high schools offer agricultural education. It concerns me even more to note that only thirteen percent of Nebraska’s high school students are enrolled in an agricultural education class.

I am not promoting that we require every student to enroll in an agricultural education curriculum that teaches all about “cows and plows.” I do believe it is important that every student receive a foundation of knowledge about agriculture and its economic impact. Agriculture has a universal importance to every student. Everyone eats. Everyone wears clothing that comes from the toil of farmers’ hands.

Teaching agriculture is unique in that it can fit almost any subject matter. Math concepts can be taught and reinforced in many agricultural teachings. Accounting classes can use a multitude of agricultural case studies to learn basic principles. Science curriculums provide even greater opportunities to delve into agriculture. Agriculture is the most pure form of a perfect competition for those students learning economics. Agriculture can be used to teach leadership, entrepreneurship, business, English, and even music. With its universal importance to every one of us and its applicability to every curricular specialty, we need to strive to touch every child.

These students are our future voters who will elect the officials who will determine future policy. Many of these students will be the future leaders who will make those decisions. If we are concerned about policy created today, imagine what it will be like as we continue to develop young people with little understanding of agriculture. It is our obligation to ensure that the next generation be educated about the importance of agriculture in our state and nation. We need to stand up and play a role in establishing a foundation for our children’s future.

Any other comments or perspectives regarding Nebraska agriculture that you wish to share.

As I watched the election results reported on television in November, one map intrigued me. This map showed red and blue by each county of each state across our nation. The majority of the nation’s counties were highlighted bright red while the counties that are home to large cities were a shiny blue. Those blue counties covered much of the East Coast, West Coast, around the Great Lakes, etc. While contemplating the meaning of what was happening, I realized that we are not so much a nation of red versus blue as we are a nation of rural versus urban. I then realized that Nebraska is impacted by the same issue I was seeing in a map of our national election. Our forefathers saw this as an issue and thus we have a two-house system in which to enact our laws. Because of the differences between city and country, it is extremely important for the people in agriculture to tell their story. The urban dwellers of our country need to eat, they want to know more about their food and they want to know that their food is safe and wholesome. Nebraska agriculture will play a huge role in feeding the world and educating our customers.

September 18, 2013

Wordless Wednesday

Share:
As we move into #Harvest13 we encourage you to take pictures of the hard working farmers out in the fields. Share them on our Facebook or Twitter feeds for a chance to be featured in a "Wordless Wednesday" post!

September 17, 2013

Renewable Fuels Provide Energy Independence

Share:

sept renewable fuels monthSeptember is Renewable Fuels Month! We are celebrating by conversing about the benefits and talking out the issues around the renewable fuels industry here in Nebraska to Capitol Hill.

Here’s what you need to know about the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS).

The RFS continues to be scrutinized in Congress, by groups such as the American Petroleum Institute (API), grocery manufacturers, and other industries.

The RFS was created under the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and required 7.5 billion gallons of renewable fuel to be blended into gasoline by 2012 to reduce our dependence on imported oil and provide energy independence and security.

In 2007, the RFS program was expanded to include diesel, increased the amount of fuel required to be blended into transportation fuel to 36 billion gallons in 2022, created new categories of renewable fuels including advanced, cellulosic, and conventional and evaluated the lifecycle of greenhouse gases to ensure each category was meeting a minimum threshold.

The RFS is doing exactly what it was intended to do. “Each year we are producing more renewable fuels in the United States. In 2012 we reduced our imported crude oil by nearly 600 million barrels and 1.1 billion gallons of imported petroleum diesel,” said David Merrell, corn farmer and District 7 director for the Nebraska Corn Board.

Biodiesel and ethanol are homegrown and locally produced and contribute to our energy independence and security. But that is not all. Over 1,500 are employed in rural Nebraska because of renewable fuels.

“There are rural communities that probably wouldn’t have the opportunities they do today if it wasn’t for renewable fuels,” said Merrell. “Renewable fuels support the local farmer and provide as much as $3 million in tax revenue for Nebraska.”

The RFS is reducing our dependency in imported oil, providing a homegrown, locally produced renewable fuel, creating jobs, providing tax revenue, and more. Renewable fuels are a win-win situation for the farmers, rural communities, and consumers.

September 16, 2013

Temperatures Still Above Normal

Share:
This corn is almost ready for harvest
For the fourth week in a row temperatures averaged above normal. Rainfall was expected across most of the state but came to late to boost dryland crops. Corn silage harvest was active in many areas and harvest of high moisture corn for feedlots has started statewide. All together producers had 5.5 days suitable for fieldwork.

Topsoil moisture supplies rated 60 percent short/very short, 40 percent adequate, and 0 percent surplus. Subsoil moisture rated72 percent short/very short, 28 percent adequate, and 0 percent surplus. All corn conditions rated 7 percent very poor, 7 percent poor, 23 percent fair, 45 percent good, and 18 percent excellent. Irrigated corn conditions rated 81 percent good or excellent, higher than the 76 percent average. Dryland corn conditions came in at 36 percent good or excellent, compared to 59 percent average.
Leaves are drying out in the fields

Corn dented was 91 percent which is behind last years 100 percent but near the 92 percent average. Corn mature was 16 percent, behind 71 percent last year and 29 percent average. Corn harvested was 2 percent, behind 21 percent last year and 5 percent average.

To view all crop progress photos submitted this week visit our Flickr or Pinterest pages!

September 13, 2013

Intelligent Jock - by Curt Tomasevicz

Share:

Grade schools, high schools, and colleges have started the fall semester this past week. Summer vacation is over and kids are headed back to school for another year of education. Often times, kids ask why school is necessary or more specifically, why certain subjects are necessary. By the time kids are in high school, many have begun to set goals pertaining to their eventual career. So they may wonder why a banker needs to take biology. Or why does a future engineer need to study accounting? Is physics really going to be a necessity for a student that wants to be a salesman?

I’m sure any farmer could explain to a would-be- farmer the need to have adequate math skills. For example, a farmer needs to be able to calculate the right rotational speed for an irrigation pivot in order to apply the needed amount of water. Or he may need to use basic geometry to determine the right size of a grain bin to build for the amount of estimated corn yield for the harvest season. And of course there are a number of mathematical formulas that attempt to predict the trend of grain prices in the market. Furthermore, with the speed at which technology is improving, any farmer would tell you that having a grasp on the computer skills and communication skills is very important and can mean the difference in potentially thousands of dollars’ worth of corn production at the end of the year.
Farm Math

I’ve learned that the same holds true with bobsledding. From the outside, most people would assume that my job as a brakeman is pretty simple. Any “dumb jock” could do it. It seems to be a matter of grabbing the two handles at the back of the sled, going for an intense 5 second sprint, and then go for a minute roller coaster ride. However, in order to become a brakeman on the best team in the world, the job requires basic skills that I learned in high school as well as many advanced skills that I learned in the subjects that I took in college as I was earning my engineering degree. 

Obviously, physics and math are two subjects that directly apply to helping make a sled go faster. Calculating velocity and acceleration as a sled goes down a hill leads to predicting a team’s downtime. All the while, many forces are acting on the sled including drag, gravity, and friction between the ice and runners.


Forces on a bobsled
In addition to physics and math, we use a variety of foreign languages while competing on the international circuit. Most of our competitors use German as a first language, but there are also some teams that speak Italian, French, Russian, and other eastern European languages. In order to interpret rules and even to simply translate the start time of the race, we need to communicate seamlessly. 

In bobsled, we even use some accounting skills that I learned in high school as we need to keep organized records while we test a number of variables to find the fastest setup for the sled on a specific track. We may need to test different combinations of runners during a practice session. So often times, making a spread sheet that helps us keep track of down times, start times, air temperature, ice temperature, sled weight, crew make-up, etc will help us determine the fastest set of runners.

Heck, I even use sanding skills I learned in high school shop class to polish our runners to an extremely smooth almost frictionless surface. I never would have thought that I was going to spend another minute sanding anything after I spent countless hours on an oak headboard in Mr. Shanahan’s wood working class!
A couple years ago, I began to use a concept called “Fuzzy Logic and Neural Networks” to try and simplify our athletic testing combine. I learned this advanced theory while taking an Electrical Engineering class at the University of Nebraska. But it can be applied to an infinite number of situations. Bobsled coaches use a scored system of sprints, squats, cleans, broad jumps, and shot-put throws to measure an athlete’s potential pushing ability. Without going into complicated detail, my hope was to develop a new testing method that would eliminate the unnecessary tests without overlooking any athletic attribute that a good push athlete has.

The “dumb jock” persona rarely rings true with any sport in today’s society. Playbooks are inches thick (if they’re even printed at all. Some universities give out iPads with apps that contain the playbook!). Teams use sports psychology as well as nutrition to prepare for games as much as physical conditioning. It takes a brain that goes along with the brawn.

Just as farmers’ jobs are made easier and more profitable by using their brains in addition to their backs, bobsledding championships are not won by mindlessly pushing a heavy sled. A knowledge of sciences, math, English, foreign language and even shop class help make a well-rounded and successful bobsledder.