*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.
Dan Duncan, Executive Director, Innovation Campus
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 Innovation Campus (NIC) is attempting to leverage the tremendous agricultural assets of our state and the diverse assets of the University of Nebraska to create additional value added opportunities in Nebraska. I feel that there is no other state better positioned to take advantage of the convergence of global demand (food, fuel and water), Nebraska expertise, university expertise and private sector expertise. NIC is launching in the right place at the right time, no doubt in my mind.
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?
Focus and invest where the greatest chance of success lies. Spreading funds into multiple pots dilutes results and leads to multiple areas of mediocrity. We have to define our identity, what can we do better than anyone else, and then put plans in place to become the world leader in that area(s).
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?
Agriculture is not the iconic scene most people have in their minds. It is big business run by people with excellent business and environmental stewardship skills. Agriculture is farmers, millers, processors, researchers, logistics, transportation, engineering, research, etc. These people deliver a cheap, safe food supply that protects our natural resources and allows the majority of the population to pursue other interests.
How important is it that Nebraska corn farmers continue to invest in the future of their industry through their check off?
If corn farmers do not invest in things important to them, they leave the investment to others - which leaves the future of the industry out of corn farmer’s control.
What concerns you most about the future of agriculture in Nebraska? And what will it take to address those concerns?
Agriculture is always going to need to evolve to meet ever changing needs and expectations. Moving from a reactive to a proactive position on social, production, drought and other issues will be key to a successful future. Doing so takes consensus, resources and leadership.
Any other comments or perspectives regarding Nebraska agriculture that you wish to share.
Having been involved in my family’s farm and ranch for a number of years, it is really gratifying for me to see production agriculture doing well financially. I think the future can be really bright for Nebraska agriculture and the state economy as a whole if Nebraskans can pull together, overcome differences and exploit the advantages we have in this state.