March 31, 2008

Clean energy scam? Check your numbers first.


The executive director of The Ethanol Promotion and Information Council (EPIC) has responded to the current Time Magazine cover story “The Clean Energy Scam.”

Toni Nuernberg said the article makes corn-based ethanol “the scapegoat of the week." She noted that the studies alluded to in the article “reach conclusions regarding the greenhouse gas emissions associated with potential global land-use changes caused by increasing biofuels demand — specifically for corn-based ethanol. Their conclusions are considered debatable by others in the scientific community."

She also points out that the studies make assumptions that are unrealistic.

(The assumptions) double the level of corn ethanol that is actually required under the new Renewable Fuels Standards by 2015, an assumption that’s not realistic to U.S. corn ethanol production in the next seven years. Congress established a production cap of 15 billion gallons of corn ethanol by 2015 to help guard against dramatic land use changes. But Searchinger bases his projections on a model in which U.S. corn ethanol production increased from 15 billion gallons a year to 30 billion gallons a year by 2015. Thus, the findings are irrelevant.

Those assumptions -- that all the full RFS will be met by corn are repeated in lots of places; bu one would think a good reporter would figure that out.

You can read the full letter on Domestic Fuel.

Podcast: Food and fuel

A Nebraska Corn Grower addresses the food and fuel issue this week. This is an important subject for corn producers, who believe they are continuing to feed the world -- and are starting to fuel it, too.

Planting estimate: 8.8 million in Nebraska

The planting intentions report, always of interest to producers and analysts, has had broader appeal the last couple of years as the ethanol industry has grown. A year, ago, corn producers planted 93.6 million acres -- the most since 1944. Nebraska producers planted 9.4 million -- the most since the 1930s. That just shows what some positive economics can do to an industry that hadn't made any money in years!

The economics, although positive, have changed a bit. And could change more. Nebraska corn producers "intend" to plant some 8.8 million acres of corn this year, about 6 percent less than last year’s 9.4 million but still 9 percent more than in 2006.
Nationally, corn producers will plant 86.0 million acres, down 8 percent from last year’s 93.6 million, but still the second largest plantings on record. I put quotes around intend because the report is based on a survey conducted in early March when soybean prices were higher. Things have changed some, and so could intentions. Could soybeans give up a million or two acres?

It all depends on the economics for each farmer. And the weather. Good spring weather tends to lead to more corn acres.

Want to see the full Planting Intentions report? Just click here.

If you look closely, you'll see that U.S. wheat acres are up for the second year in a row. And yet corn producers are accused of stealing acres from wheat. The numbers tell the truth.

March 21, 2008

A good trip to D.C.

Although differences do come up from time to time, Nebraska corn and beef producers have a lot of common issues -- from market access to animal welfare issues to environmental regulations. That's why the two groups made a joint trip to Washington, D.C., to talk to the Nebraska legislative delegation, USDA, their respective national organizations and others.

This is the second time the Nebraska Corn Board has funded a joint lobbying trip to Capitol Hill, and from the sounds of it, the efforts were successful again this year. One positive bit of information the group learned was that the South Korean beef market may be opening soon -- with the help of a free trade agreement. It's an important market for U.S. beef and could add $30-40 per head of cattle.

The Corn Board has more info here and here. Both posts have audio files attached, if you'd like to hear some real live Nebraska cattle and corn producers.

March 20, 2008

Kudos for contributing to the corn industry


The Nebraska Corn Board said yesterday that it has recognized two individuals for outstanding contributions to the corn industry. See the announcement here.

Receiving the newly established Ethanol Industry Award was Dwayne Braun of Aurora, while the first annual Media Award went to Don McCabe of Lincoln.

Braun is the general manager of both the Central City and Ord ethanol plants. The two plants are owned by the newly merged VeraSun Energy and US BioEnergy. McCabe is the editor of the Nebraska Farmer magazine. He has worked for that publication for more than 30 years.


March 18, 2008

Mexico is top market for US pork and beef

Mexico is the top foreign destination for U.S. and Nebraska pork and beef in terms of sheer volume. That's why it is important for U.S. producers to understand that marketplace and the continued opportunities there.

That's also why it is an important market for U.S. and Nebraska corn producers, according to a press release from the Nebraska Corn Board. After all, a lot of Nebraska corn heads south via pork and beef.

In the spirit of cooperation, and to better understand the marketplace, the Nebraska Corn Board funded a trip for Nebraska corn, beef and pork producers to Mexico. The trip was organized by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF). This isn't the only thing Nebraska corn producers do to promote meat exports. In fact, the Corn Board contributed about $300,000 to USMEF's efforts this past year, with the goal of helping all producers, from corn to cattle to hogs, be successful and profitable.

March 17, 2008

About This Blog

Welcome to Nebraska Corn Kernels, a blog that highlights information about Nebraska's most abundant crop.

Since there's more to Nebraska than corn, you'll find other things here, too. From the abundance of Nebraska's agriculture sector to renewable fuels like ethanol. Or something about life in Nebraska or American agriculture in general.

Posts on Nebraska Corn Kernel may written by several people, including:
  • David Buchholz (, who leads the charge at David & Associates;
  • Mike Howie (, a writer who works with Dave, and
  • Kelsey Pope (, ag promotion coordinator with the Nebraska Corn Board.
Look for more authors in the future!