September 30, 2008

Nebraskan president of NCGA

Nebraska Corn Board member Bob Dickey becomes president of the National Corn Growers Association tomorrow - Oct. 1.

In an announcement from NCGA, Dickey said he envisions a great year ahead for growers and their customers and looks forward to bringing a range of experience – from inside and outside of agriculture – to the new role.

Dickey owns and operates a diversified grain and livestock farming operation that includes growing corn and soybeans and raising swine and cattle. He has been a member of the Nebraska Corn Board for more than 11 years, where he has served as secretary, treasurer, vice chairman and chairman. He is also active in the U.S. Grains Council, where he has served as secretary, treasurer, vice chairman and chairman. He also served as a state senator in the Nebraska legislature.

To hear a radio interview where Dickey talks about the upcoming year, click here.

Corn stocks reach 1.62 billion bushels

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s quarterly stocks report that came out today said corn stocks as of Sept. 1 were 1.62 billion bushels – about 78 million above the average guesstimate and 25 percent more than last year. One analyst noted that was like finding another half million acres of corn to harvest.

The June-August 2008 indicated disappearance was 2.40 billion bushels, compared with 2.23 billion bushels during the same period last year. So use went up, but not by much.

That news pushed December corn futures below $5 for the first time since early this year.

A bigger surprise was in soybean stocks. Some reports have talked about short bean supplies, but USDA bumped up last year’s soy crop some 91 million bushels. That increased stocks to 205 million bushels – more than 60 million above the guesstimates but still 64 percent below a year ago.

These bigger numbers came from a half-bushel yield increase from last year’s crop, and a 1.3 million-acre increase in harvested acres. That’s a lot old acres that were “found” in the last three months!

USDA said September 1 wheat stocks were 1.86 billion bushels. This was 75 million bushels below the average guesstimate but up 28 percent from last year.

Talk was, a good chunk of wheat went to feed this summer – which also explains how corn stocks grew.

September 29, 2008

Homegrown ethanol: Improving energy security

Biofuels like ethanol add to this country's energy security by diversifying our fuel supplies and reducing the dependence on foreign oil.

Another voice in this point is that of Neil Moseman, director of the Nebraska Energy Office. In this news release, Moseman said energy security includes everything from preventing energy price shocks to reducing an over reliance on energy sources from unstable parts of the world.

“By producing more energy domestically, in this case a renewable fuel, we’re not only diversifying our fuel supply, but we’re reducing our dependence on foreign petroleum at the same time,” Moseman said. “These are critical components and important considerations when discussing ethanol or any renewable fuel.”

Over reliance on foreign sources of oil is problematic whether oil prices are low or high. “When prices are low, you are still open to the possibility that something will disrupt the supply,” Moseman said. “When prices are high, you still have that disruption possibility, but you also have the economic harm that comes with hundreds of billions of dollars leaving the United States for other parts of the world.”

This news ties in nicely with another recent point - that estimates for the energy balance of corn-based ethanol are much more favorable - in fact 2-3 times more favorable than previous estimates." (Also note tht it says 13 gallons of ethanol are produced for every gallon of petroleum used in the production life cycle for corn ethanol.)

Corn harvest just beginning

Although 43 percent of Nebraska’s corn is considered mature, harvest is just beginning in a few pockets in the state and is about 4 percent complete, according to today's U.S. Department of Agriculture crop progress report. Some of that early corn is high-moisture corn destined for feedlots.

The main focus for farmers right now is the soybean harvest and letting the corn crop dry down in the field. The five-year average for corn crop maturity is 74 percent, which puts Nebraska’s crop about 10 days behind. However, there is no frost forecast and dry, cool weather should allow things to move along. Overall, Nebraska’s corn crop is rated 75 percent good or excellent, which is 5 points behind last year. For details, including photos of the crop from Nebraska FFA chapters, be sure to visit the Nebraska Corn Board’s Crop Progress Update page.

Nationally, 9 percent of the crop is harvested, compared to the five-year average of 21 percent and last year's 29 percent. (Soybeans are also 9 percent harvested, compared to the average of 21 percent.) For USDA's report, click here.

The image at the left is from the Heartland FFA Chapter. If you look closely, you can see a combine in the distance.

Podcast: Stay safe during harvest

In this Podcast, Nebraska Corn Grower member Gregg Smith talks about staying focused - and safe - this harvest season. Smith is from Imperial.

September 27, 2008

Journal Star: Reason for cheer in Cornhusker state

Check out this opinion article in today's Journal Star. Some good lines about agriciulture's contribution to Nebraska's economy.

Here's a sample: But the overall net increase in farm income will create bountiful ripples in the state’s economy, where one in three jobs is rooted in agriculture according to a 2006 study by the Nebraska Policy Institute.

Check it out here.

September 26, 2008

Publication highlights feed output of ethanol plants

The United States ethanol industry produced about 23 million metric tons of livestock and poultry feed last year, according to a new analysis by the Renewable Fuels Association.

In a summary of the report, RFA noted that 23 million metric tons of feed is roughly equivalent to the combined total amount of feed consumed by cattle on feed last year in Texas, Kansas, Nebraska, and Colorado - the nation’s four largest feedlot states.

RFA wants to remind us that two-thirds of every bushel of grain processed by an ethanol plant is actually used for fuel production. The remaining one-third of the bushel comes back as a high-quality livestock and poultry feed.

According to RFA's math, about 1 billion bushels of corn were displaced by ethanol feed co-products in 2007-08, an amount equivalent to roughly 15 percent of total corn use for feed.

These results are similar to an analysis by the National Corn Growers Association, which you can find here.

Filler-up Phil is on the air

As part of Renewable Fuels Month here in Nebraska, the Nebraska Corn Board has been sponsoring some radio ads in Omaha, Lincoln and across the state. These adds are similar to the Food Dude spots that ran earlier this year.

Like Food Dude, Filler-up Phil's aim is to educate consumers about the positives of corn ethanol and dispel some of the myths. He wants us to get smart about what we're putting in our tank - and our head.

In this spot, Phil talks with Wyatt from Wyoming on the 'tax' of high gas prices, Connie from Colorado on how we all get a 'tax' refund thanks to ethanol. and Mark from Maine on whose making the money on high oil prices.

In the second spot, Phil talks with Rhoda from Rhode Island on how ethanol adds to our fuel supplies, Otto from Oregon on 'making peace' with spending $80 to filling up a car and Danny from Delaware on how ethanol is good for the USA.

Have a listen and share the news.

Podcast: It's Renewable Fuels Month in Nebraska

In this Podcast, Tim Scheer, a member of the Nebraska Corn Board, talks about the importance of Renewable Fuels Month. Scheer is a corn grower from St. Paul, Nebraska.

September 25, 2008

UN told biofuels can help lift people out of poverty

The Domestic Fuel blog had a good post today about a United Nations forum on Millennium Development Goals that featured a discussion on energy and biofuels.

What was interesting was that one of two presenters at the private sector forum roundtable was Jeff Broin, CEO of POET, one of the world's largest ethanol companies. Broin had the opportunity to share ideas on how ethanol can help address poverty and energy dependence in developing nations.

Broin's comments are posted on Rhapsody in Green - POET's blog. But I've included an appetizer here - some powerful and important words.

With a billion acres of idled cropland across the globe -- and the price of agricultural commodities above the cost of production for the first time in decades -- there is an unbelievable opportunity for underdeveloped countries to simultaneously lift people out of poverty and solve their crippling addiction to energy imports.

How? Given all the advancement in agriculture, including new seeds, more durable crops, and smarter farming techniques, people today in places as far apart as Sioux Falls and South Africa can grow more sustainable crops than ever before. For example, in the 1940s, the average American farmer produced about 40 bushels of corn per acre; today it’s 140.

The result is an agriculture industry that can meet the growing demand for food and biofuels -- and help nations once left out of the agriculture industry take care of their food needs, raise people out of poverty, and develop a profitable, self-sustaining farming industry.

And the good news is that this development doesn’t have to come at the expense of the environment. The billion acres of idled crop land guarantees that new farm land need not come from rain forests or other sensitive areas. And thanks to the work of scientists, farming today relies much less on pesticides and much more on new seeds and smarter agricultural techniques.

For more, including a .pdf of the remarks, click on the Rhapsody in Green link above.

September 24, 2008

HFCS: Spreading truth about sweet side of corn

You may have seen some advertising spots on TV talking about the "Sweet Surprise" of high fructose corn syrup, or HCFS. The surprise part is the truth about HFCS - and that some folks don't know why they have a negative connotation of HFCS in the first place.

This campaign is led by the Corn Refiners Association and is not unlike the food and fuel campaign that corn growers have been battling for almost a year now. (YES almost a year - the Nebraska Corn Board launched its initial 'Powering' campaign last October.) So it seems corn - and corn growers - have been seeing negative headlines from many directions over the past year. I guess those things come with success.

Anyway, CRA's campaign aims to spread the truth on HFCS through TV, magazine and newspaper ads. As part of the campaign they developed a great website that contains good facts about HFCS, sugar, honey and other sweeteners. Take the quiz and see how much you know.

Here are a few facts:

The American Medical Association recently concluded that “high fructose corn syrup does not appear to contribute to obesity more than other caloric sweeteners.”

High fructose corn syrup has the same number of calories as table sugar and is equal in sweetness. It contains no artificial or synthetic ingredients.

Research confirms that HFCS is safe and no different from other common sweeteners like table sugar and honey. All three sweeteners are nutritionally the same and all qualify as “natural” ingredients according to FDA labeling rules.

Go to the SweetSurprise website and learn more.

Here's a look at one of the ads (click here to see the others):

September 23, 2008

Corn ethanol energy balance 'more favorable'

One "discussion point" brought up from time to time is the energy balance of corn-based ethanol. Some folks like to say it takes more energy to produce ethanol than you get from it and on and on. Somehow, though, there isn't always an "apples to apples" realistic examination. Nor does it make sense to use data that is a decade old. Or even five years old.

Today's ethanol plants are considerably more efficient and corn growers are producing more corn per acre while using less energy to do so (and sunshine is still free).

Ken Cassman, director of the Nebraska Center for Energy Sciences Research, said that earlier studies examining ethanol’s energy balance sheet were based on old data - "backward looking data" with regard to energy use in corn production, the biorefinery and co-product use. He said work at the University of Nebraska "clearly shows that estimates for the energy balance of corn-based ethanol are much more favorable – in fact 2-3 times more favorable than previous estimates." Check it out here.

Cassman said corn-based ethanol has a substantial net positive direct energy balance – that 1.5-1.6 more units of energy are derived from ethanol than are used to produce it.

Interestingly, he added that if the goal is to reduce dependence on imported oil, "we estimate that 13 gallons of ethanol are produced for every gallon of petroleum used in the production life cycle for corn ethanol." That's a 13-to-1 ratio in ethanol's favor. And it helps cut our overall use of oil.

Seward, Nebraska, corn grower Alan Tiemann, a member of the Nebraska Corn Board, said in addition to a positive energy balance, it is important to keep in mind some of the benefits of ethanol production.

He added: We’re talking about energy security and energy diversity, and keeping more of our energy dollars in this country. Those kinds of positives are good for the United States as a whole, and specifically for rural America, where renewable ethanol is produced.

September 22, 2008

TV spots put 'Faces' and 'Places' to ethanol


A couple of TV commercials hit the airwaves this weekend - during the Sunday morning talk shows to be specific. They were launched by the Renewable Fuels Association.

There are two ads, “Faces” and “Places”, that spotlight some of the people and the towns that are producing our renewable fuels. In this case, Herford, Texas. An appropriate choice considering the ethanol bashing that has come from some folks in the state.

If you missed them, they’ll be playing in select cities during morning and evening news shows for the next few weeks, according to our friends at the GoodFuels blog.

Or, take a look here:

September 19, 2008

White paper shows corn growers are meeting demands

The National Corn Growers Association has produced a new Food & Fuel white paper that shows how U.S. corn producers are working to meet all needs - by growing more corn per acre and doing so more efficiently.

"It’s important for consumers, news media and policy makers to know the truth about how the corn industry is advancing, thanks to technology, so we can provide more corn for more needs," said Ron Litterer, NCGA President. "This paper clearly shows how we are projected to expand production at a time when our nation really needs to bolster its energy independence."

Here's a topic list:
  • Corn supplies are keeping up with record demand
  • Corn demand for food and feed is leveling off
  • Humans cannot eat the corn used for ethanol
  • Even exported corn is used for livestock, not humans
  • Ethanol production creates food and feed, too
  • Corn prices have not kept up with inflation
  • Corn demand for ethanol has a negligible impact on food prices
  • The net effect of having ethanol in our fuel supply saves consumers money.

To read the white paper, click here (.pdf file).

September 18, 2008

Pork exports on track for record year

The incredible expansion of pork exports continued in July and remain on pace to set a new all-time record, according to this week's announcement from the U.S. Meat Export Federation.

The pace this year’s pork exports has been largely attributed to skyrocketing volumes of pork destined for China/Hong Kong. Although that region slowed from its pace earlier this year, other areas picked up. In fact, a new monthly record was set for pork and pork variety meat exports to Mexico in July. Volume of U.S. pork to Mexico has jumped 31 percent from last year. July exports to Russia were also record-large.

USMEF added that beef exports are achieving levels of success not seen since 2003. It said the U.S. beef industry achieved an important benchmark in July, as the value of beef exports for the first seven months of 2008 surpassed imports for the first time since the discovery of BSE closed most global markets to U.S. beef in December 2003.

“Regaining our status as a net value exporter of beef is an important goal of the U.S. beef industry, and a critical component of the Beef Industry Long Range Plan,” said USMEF president and CEO Philip Seng. “These results represent a dramatic turnaround from a year ago, and show that we are certainly headed in the right direction.”

These numbers are great news for Nebraska beef and pork producers, who are seeing tremendous demand for their product both here at home and overseas.

September 17, 2008

Be safe this harvest season - and all year

Next week is National Farm Safety and Health Week, which is a time for everyone to stop and think about safety on the farm and roadways as we head into the busy and stressful harvest season.

Although there have been improvements, farming is still one of the most dangerous occupations in North America, with 715 deaths and 80,000 disabling injuries in agriculture last year, according to the National Safety Council, the group that organizes National Farm Safety and Health Week.

The Nebraska Corn Board encourages producers to pay special attention to the safety features of their equipment, and asks that everyone keep an eye toward safety on the highways and byways this harvest and year round. For a list of safety ideas from the Corn Board, click here.

A challenge to the Humane Society of the United States

Feedstuffs' Sally Schuff penned a great column on the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), an organization whose leadership is concerned as much about promoting veganism and vegetarianism as it is the humane treatment of animals. HSUS is not your neighborhood humane society that cares for stray pets. She challenges HUSU to understand animal agriculture.

Here's a sample from Sally:

What HSUS always misses, is that the size of the operation is not the issue. What matters is management.

People manage animals; they manage animal health and well-being, environmental remediation, public health concerns and community acceptance. The excellence of an animal operation is governed by how good the people are — not how big the operation is.

You can read the full article here.

September 16, 2008

Dumping commodities for cash

It wasn’t that long ago hearings on Capitol Hill, airline letters to frequent flyers and the like were pointing fingers at speculators for helping to drive up the cost of commodities - from grain to oil.

Well, that money and more has been leaving the commodity pits in big ways over the past few months – and it’s sped up some this week. Hurried along by all the problems on Wall Street. Along with that money exiting the pits comes lower prices. Oil is hanging on to $90, corn is around $5.30 and, according to this article, gold is teetering on nine-month lows.

From the article: "Everyone was worried about a black hole developing under the Swiss Alps, but it's in Wall Street," said one London broker.

The jitters in the financial world may have everyone scrambling for cash, and one way to get cash is to dump commodities. (The other is to sell yourself to a bank that has lots of stock to share.)

This doesn’t answer the question as to whether outside money - speculators, “funds” and such - were simply playing a roll in the markets or if they were controlling the markets to some degree. But it is nice to see oil continue to drop despite the oil cartel’s efforts.

September 15, 2008

9 percent of corn crop is mature

Nebraska crop conditions have held fairly steady, with 77 percent of the crop coming in this week in good to excellent condition, according to USDA. A year ago the crop was listed as 80 percent good to excellent, which was quite extraordinary. That leaves 6 percent of this year's crop in poor condition and 17 percent as fair.

Nationally, 61 percent of the crop is in good to excellent condition, which is two points behind last year. We've seen some drop here following a couple weeks of dry weather and then excessive moisture in parts of the Corn Belt. Overall, though, we're looking at a good crop.

In Nebraska, 97 percent of the corn crop has reached the dough stage, only 2 points behind the average. Corn in the dent stage reached 85 percent, which is a bit behind the 91 percent average - about five days behind.

Only 9 percent of the corn was mature. The average is 30 percent, and last year was 41 percent, so we've a ways to go here. Nationally, 19 percent of the crop is mature, compared to 44 percent on average

For more details on Nebraska's crop, check out the Nebraska Corn Board's Crop Progress Update. For the national numbers, click here.

The photo was provided to the Nebraska Corn Board by the Holdrege FFA Chapter.

Coming in October: The Energy Freedom Summit

Clinton-administration CIA director R. James Woolsey, Reagan-administration National Security Advisor Robert “Bud” McFarlane and other leading energy experts from the Set America Free coalition are going to be in Chicago on October 24-25 for the Energy Freedom Summit.

They aim to provide "substantive training on the energy crisis and its solutions," including media training, event organizing skills and the tools to engage government officials.

This group wants us to take charge of our energy needs, as we've become overly dependent on foreign sources of oil, noting that "In recent years, this dependence has taken a toll on our pocket books, the environment and our national security."

For more information, click here.

September 12, 2008

Corn crop shrinks but still second-largest on record

The U.S. Department of Agriculture today cut corn yield estimates by 2.7 bushels from last month to 152.3 bushels per acre. This translates to a nationwide crop of 12.1 billion bushels – the second-largest crop on record. Yields would also be the second-largest on record. USDA’s estimate is just below the average trade guess.

In Nebraska, USDA dropped yields from 163 bushels per acre to 157 – a pretty significant change, although yields are still high. If realized, it would put the state’s production at 1.37 billion bushels.

With the lower production estimate, USDA reduced its 2008-09 ending stocks estimate 115 million bushels to 1.02 billion.

Corn for feed was also cut by 100 million bushels, which was attributed to increased sorghum feeding, lower expected residual loss with the smaller crop and higher expected prices. The season-average farm price was projected at $5-6 per bushel, up 10 cents on each end of the range.

Corn for ethanol was unchanged at 4.1 billion bushels, and exports were also unchanged at 2.0 billion.

When USDA came out with its report last month - and yield estimates of 155 bushels per acre - many analysts and farmers were unsure that was possible to achieve. With the August weather we had, they’ve been proven correct. Some analysts are already saying this crop will get smaller - but we need to remember that it’s still slated to be the second-largest crop on record, behind last year.

For the full crop production report, click here. For the supply and demand report, click here.

September 11, 2008

Income spent on food remains unchanged

Despite all the hubbub of higher food prices, Americans are still spending less than 10 percent of their disposable income on food, according to analysis in the latest Amber Waves publication produced by the Economic Research Service.

Although food prices over the last two years have risen faster than at any time since 1990, ERS said the average U.S. consumer spent only 9.8 percent of disposable personal income on food in 2007 – 5.7 percent on food at home plus 4.1 percent on food away from home.

The percentage of disposable income spent on all food has also remained constant from 2005 to 2007.

Although prices for all food purchased in the U.S. increased 4.0 percent in 2007, up from the 2.4-percent gain in 2006, we’re still paying less for food today than in 1970. Back then we spent 13.9 percent of our disposable income on food.

In other words, over the last 37 years, American farmers and agribusinesses have worked to keep us the best-fed and cheapest-fed nation in the history of the world. That's not going to change in the future.

For the full article, click here.

There's also an interesting article that explains why rice prices jumped so much in the past year. And no, it doesn't have anything to do with ethanol or other biofuels like some would have us believe. Instead, you can blame the food riots on export bans, restrictions and taxes implemented by several major suppliers. That's what happens when people loose their cool and overreact.

September 10, 2008

It's Renewable Fuels Month in Nebraska

renewable fuels monthWhile attending Husker Harvest Days today, Governor Dave Heineman came by the Ag Commodities building to sign a proclamation, declaring that September is Renewable Fuels Month in Nebraska.

Standing with Heineman in this photo is Nebraska Soybean Board chairman Gregg Fujan (left) and Nebraska Corn Board chairman Jon Holzfaster (right).

The proclamation is a reminder that corn ethanol and soy biodiesel help reduce this country’s dependence on foreign oil, are better for the environment, are produced locally and are an economic development success story – the biofuels industry has brought billions of dollars in new investments and hundreds of jobs to mostly rural communities.

Two new soy biodiesel facilities in the state combine with the 22 operating ethanol plants to make Nebraska a big player in the renewable fuels industry.

“Nebraska is the second-largest ethanol producing state in the country, and our soy biodiesel industry is growing,” Holzfaster said. “We’re leading the charge to reducing our dependence on foreign oil and growing a diversified fuel supply.”

For more details, check out this release.

Oil cartel: Oil is too cheap

The oil cartel OPEC decided today that oil prices were getting just a bit too low - even though they they were still in the $103 per barrel range. Fearing they may loose some income, OPEC decided to cut production, which pushed oil prices up a bit this morning. Their goal is to keep oil priced at or above $100.

Apparently a slowing global economy, struggling families trying to pay for gas to get to school and work or heating oil to stay warm this winter aren't enough reasons for the cartel to work to keep prices reasonable to the world.

Thank goodness we're expanding our alternatives - including ethanol.

September 9, 2008

Fixing hunger’s real causes

National Corn Growers CEO Rick Tolman posted a good "Our View" article on NCGA's website yesterday. It discusses some of the issues surrounding hunger and encourages people to work together to solve them.

Click here to read the column.

Here's a line: The U.S. agricultural community is doing what we can to help feed the world. Other entities need to recognize, accept and remove bottlenecks and speed transportation of grain cargo - and remove roadblocks caused by governmental bureaucracy and political corruption in countries where hunger is prevalent. It is crucial to assure the hungry are fed.

September 8, 2008

Kernels of Truth at Husker Harvest Days

The popular Kernels of Truth display is moving from the State Fair to Husker Harvest Days this week. HHD begins tomorrow and runs through Thursday - for more info click here.

The Kernels of Truth display includes a series of messages designed to explain the value of corn in a variety products at the grocery store. Importantly, it includes the amount of money farmers receive for specific products and how much those products cost at the grocery store.

One example is Kernel of Truth Milk. When corn is $5, a gallon of milk contains only 16 cents worth of corn. Meanwhile, the dairy farmer only gets $1.55 cents for a gallon of milk that’s sold in the store for nearly $4.

Kernels of Truth messaging helps spread the truth on how small the farm value of food products really is.

To celebrate ethanol and all renewable fuels - and what they contribute to Nebraska and the country as a whole - Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman will declare September Renewable Fuels Month at Husker Harvest Days on Wednesday, September 10 in the Commodities Building. The signing will take place from 1:10 pm to 1:40 pm.

Governor Heineman will make a few remarks, as will members of Nebraska commodity organizations, including the Nebraska Corn Board and Nebraska Soybean Board. Be sure to stop by if you can.

Podcast: Kernels of Truth at Husker Harvest Days

In this podcast, corn grower Joel Grams talks about the Kernels of Truth display and other related information that will be at Husker Harvest Days this year. Grams, from Minden, is a director of the Nebraska Corn Growers Association.

September 5, 2008

The party platform isn't always the party line

Although the Republican Party called for an end to ethanol mandates in its national platform this week, that doesn't mean a whole lot. In fact, how many delegates do you believe actually read the platform? So few, in fact, that there was confusion among delegates who were asked where the language was that called for an end to the Renewable Fuels Standard. (It's under the "Supporting our Agriculture Communities" header on page 30.)

The platform also calls for an increase in biofuels under an energy independence header on page 33. Go figure.

(Do most people know there even is a platform? And how many will forget it in a week - or already have?)

In either case, party platforms are generally written to reflect the positions of the candidate - and it is no secret that the Republican Presidential candidate opposes the ethanol mandate, so there you have it. (According to this article, major livestock industry organizations played a role in putting pressure on Republican leaders to include the position in the platform - sourcing Jerry Kozak, president of the National Milk Producers Federation.)

In either case, a number of other Republicans who have supported the ethanol industry were quick to point out they disagreed. This includes Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman - just checkout this sidebar in the Journal Star.

And since what was in the platform was basicallly ignored, I think it's safe to say people know it's just a piece of non-binding paper.

Another guesstimate - another big crop

Allendale Inc. released its 19th Annual Crop Survey numbers today -- and pegged the U.S. corn crop this year at 12.09 billion bushels. The estimate is based on producer-calculated yields from 20 states and was conducted from August 15 until August 29.

The survey's average yield for was 152.48 bushels per acre
, which would still produce the second-largest crop in history. (Informa Economics is reported to have a yield estimate of 156.5 bushels per acre, which would put the corn crop at 12.4 billion.)

Compare that to Pro Farmer numbers from August. Pro Farmer estimated that the U.S. will produce 12.15 billion bushels of corn this year on an average yield of 153.3 bushels per acre.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s August estimate predicted production at 12.29 billion bushels with a yield of 155 bushels per acre.

All these guesstimates will be reset one week from today. That's when USDA release's it's latest supply/demand numbers.

Podcast: Livestock production adds value to corn

In this week's podcast, Curtis Rohrich of Wood River, a director of the Nebraska Corn Growers Association, discusses the importance of adding value to corn through livestock. He also talks about A-FAN -- the Alliance for the Future of Agriculture in Nebraska

September 4, 2008

Ethanol: It's about rural jobs, taxes and economic activity

In this news release today, the Nebraska Corn Board reminds us all that ethanol is a whole lot more than a way to reduce our dependence on foreign oil with a clean burning, renewable fuel.

Don Hutchens, executive director of the Corn Board, said: It’s about small town diners, grocery stores, schools, libraries and churches. Ethanol, by being produced across rural Nebraska and rural America, benefits all of these community-based businesses and groups. It does this by generating economic activity and taxes, which touches nearly every business, school and organization in town.

Todd Sneller, administrator of the Nebraska Ethanol Board, said ethanol has brought thousands of jobs to mostly rural Nebraska, which creates wealth that flows into rural communities. "Nebraska ethanol production is more than a $4 billion industry – and it’s getting bigger each year," he said.

With 22 ethanol plants in operation, four being expanded and five under construction, that's a lot of economic activity - in many rural communities!

Next week, Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman is expected to proclaim September as "Renewable Fuels Month". The proclamation will be made at Husker Harvest Days on September 10. As more info is available, we'll post it here.

September 2, 2008

2 percent of corn crop is mature

The U.S. Department of Agriculture said today, in it's weekly crop progress report, that 2 percent of Nebraska's crop is mature - compared to 6 percent a year ago. Nationally, 6 percent is mature, compared to 16 percent last year.

In a big jump from last week, 63 percent of the state's crop is dented - up from 42 percent last week and but a bit behind the 69 percent five-year average. Nationally, 45 percent is dented, compared to 65 percent for the average.

Other figures:
  • 76 percent of Nebraska's crop is in good to excellent condition (up a point from last week)
  • 61 percent of the national crop is in good to excellent condition (down 3 points, and down for the second week in a row -- will cooler temps and rain in the Corn Belt help?)
The photo above was provided by the Heartland FFA chapter and was included in the Nebraska Corn Board's Crop Progress Update.

Lack of leadership is nation's real energy crisis

There is a good commentary on ethanol - actually all renewable energy and leadership - in Sunday's Philadelphia Enquirer. Check it out here.

It's written by Frankie Sturm, a fellow with the Truman National Security Project.

It's about national security, stupid

"It's about national security, stupid" are the last few words of an article published in The Ethanol Monitor - and reprinted at the GoodFuels blog here - it's a takeoff of the well-known "It's the economy, stupid" line of political years past.

It makes one wonder if Russia would have bothered crossing into Georgia or consider nationalizing some of its grain facilities if it didn't have a pocket full of oil money (check out this post). Ditto for Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, who has been emboldened by oil money and does what it takes to keep himself in power and bash the United States.

Some people argue that energy markets should be "free markets" and, therefore, ethanol shouldn't be supported by mandates or a blender credits (which go to oil companies, BTW). This is a false argument - there is no true free market - not only do we have the oil cartel OPEC controlling supplies and foreign leaders using oil money to support activities against the U.S., but we're spending billions defending oil interests around the world. And in the end, without ethanol, consumers wouldn't have a fuel choice. How can you have a real market when there are no readily available options - no choice? (Check out this or this and this.)

There is a some history here - why there is support for ethanol and blending requirements in the Renewable Fuels Standard and energy legislation. It has something to do with the oil industry's efforts to eliminate choice and prevent an open energy market. Refresh your memory with a history lesson here.