October 30, 2010

Podcast: EPA decision on E15 welcome – but it's just first step

In this podcast, Jon Holzfaster, a farmer from Paxton and member of the Nebraska Corn Board, provides a few thoughts on the Environmental Protection Agency's recent approval of E15, a 15 percent ethanol blend, for cars model year 2007 and newer.

He said he's confident additional research EPA is undertaking will support the use of E15 in cars model year 2001 and newer and that hopefully EPA will give that approval in the next few months. "While not a perfect solution, it will help," he said, "but the end goal needs to include the approval of E15 in all vehicles."

He said moving to E15 is scientifically sound and is needed to continue advancing the ball for biofuels. It also helps support jobs in the renewable fuels sector, inject millions of dollars into the American economy and provides many environmental benefits by reducing the use of oil.

The simple truth is we need to take steps to adopt higher blends like E15 because it is the only way we can move further away from our dependence on oil and towards a more diversified and renewable fuel supply. Still, the approval is only the first step in the process.

"While EPA’s initial decision is welcome, it is just the first step in the right direction," Holzfaster said. "There are many steps left to take and probably a few hurdles to jump. But we have to start somewhere. We have to continue thinking of the future and doing what it takes to get there."

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

October 29, 2010

Schwarzenegger pumps E85, but is ARB following the science?

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger was pumping E85 – an 85 percent ethanol blend – at a new fueling station geared towards biofuels in San Jose, Cal., yesterday.

While he only has a limited time left in office, it was good to see his support for biofuels like ethanol, especially considering that his state's Air Resources Board (ARB) has been so discriminatory towards the corn-based fuel. In fact, I'm wondering if California's ARB will ever adopt new and better science when it comes to biofuels and land use change like it said it would.

Speculation on the subject remains fairly wide open, but remarks by ARB's chairperson Mary Nichols – who has multiple ties to Big Oil – has made it clear that ethanol produced in the United States faces an uphill battle. Or, perhaps, will things change when a new governor is in place since board members serve at the governor's pleasure?

The state's ARB was charged with developing low carbon fuel standards and in the process decided to assign international indirect land use change penalties to biofuels – but not petroleum-based fuels. In fact, the California ARB gave a free pass to oil from several states and countries, including Saudi Arabia, Angola and Iraq.  A lawsuit was filed by ethanol organizations in late 2009 over ARB's regulations. Oil companies haven't objected, but when you're given a free pass, why would you?

The so-called land use change penalty makes it impossible for domestic ethanol to fit the bill as a low carbon fuel as the regulations ramp up and require a lower carbon score over several years.

However, in a single update this year to the model ARB used to estimate its theory on land use change, the penalty assigned to corn-based ethanol was cut in half and would allow it to meet the state's requirement.

Yet the board has not adopted these new figures, which makes one wonder as to whether the ARB has any real interest in making its low carbon fuel regulations as accurate as possible of if it's simply an exercise in politics geared toward Big Oil and foreign ethanol (which certainly doesn't have a stellar record – here and here).

Interestingly enough, a more recent study requested by the California ARB and produced by the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory, concludes that indirect land use change resulting from the expansion of corn ethanol production over the past decade has likely been "minimal to zero."

The study reviewed the years 2001-2008, a period when the U.S. ethanol sector more than quadrupled. Yet the conclusion was clear: "Empirical evidence does not support significant effects on U.S. commodity exports [and] other crops or cropland expansion in the U.S."

Tom Buis, CEO of Growth Energy, noted, "We must ask why California insists on going forward with a regulation that is based not just on controversial theory, but a theory that has been disproven."

These results were presented to the ARB. Will it make a difference? Will the ARB drop the penalty and help ensure the ethanol industry continues to advance and help meet a growing portion of this country's fuel supply in the future?

For more background...

October 27, 2010

Brunkhorst receives Employee of the Year Award

Nebraska Corn Board's director of research, Kelly Brunkhorst, was recognized today as Employee of the Year for Nebraska’s State Employee Recognition Month.
In a special ceremony in the Capitol Rotunda, employees and supervisors/managers were honored for their outstanding achievement at the 2010 Governor’s Employee and Supervisor/Manager of the Year ceremony and awarded with a special plaque.

Since 1985, the State of Nebraska has sponsored a statewide recognition program where the Governor honored state employees for outstanding achievements and dedication to state service. The Employee of the Year program recognizes employees whose job performance has exceeded the highest standards and contributed to the overall effectiveness of the agency.

“Kelly was recognized as he has developed a unique set of skill sets for analyzing specific data and reports that profoundly impact farming and renewable fuels in our state,” said Don Hutchens, executive director for the Nebraska Corn Board. “Few in state government have the knowledge base that he does regarding issues such as indirect land use, carbon footprints, greenhouse gas emissions, California’s Clean Air Resource Board, and Cap and Trade.”

As director of research, Brunkhorst manages the areas of animal nutrition, uses of corn, biotechnology, the molecular makeup of corn, and renewable fuels and how they impact the environment in a positive way. He has also become the in-house economist, with a unique eye for designing graphs, charts, and other data.

“It takes a strong dedication to understand the theory and science, and what constitutes the difference between them,” Hutchens said. “He is most deserving of this recognition.”

October 26, 2010

Nebraska Corn Board advances ‘Sustaining Innovation’ campaign

Building off a successful campaign conducted across Nebraska a year ago, the Nebraska Corn Board has created a new series of messages that feature several Nebraska farm families sharing facts about how today’s corn farmers are more sustainable than ever.
A delivery truck in Lincoln
The Sustaining Innovation campaign echoes a promotional campaign conducted in Washington, D.C., by the Corn Farmers Coalition, which is comprised of several state corn organizations, including those in Nebraska, and the National Corn Growers Association.

“We feel it is important to share positive messages about corn farming today to better help people understand just how far farmers have come in caring for the environment while producing a growing abundance of corn,” Curt Friesen, a farmer from Henderson who chairs the Nebraska Corn Board’s market development committee, said in a news release.

Some of the positive messages include the fact that American farmers have reduced the energy used to produce a bushel a corn by 37 percent over the past three decades and that farmers are producing 70 percent more corn per ounce of fertilizer than just 35 years ago.

A grain truck with Sustaining Innovation messaging.
Importantly, the messages also highlight the fact that 95 percent of all corn farms in the nation are family owned.

“We’re excited to be part of this campaign because we believe family corn farmers have made significant advancements to grow more corn per acre while requiring fewer inputs per bushel to do so,” said Chris Flaming, who is featured in one of the ads with his wife, Korene, and children. The Flamings farm near Elsie, Nebraska.

“People need to understand that it’s real families making their livelihood raising corn and that we’re doing the right things because we want our children to have an opportunity to farm, too,” Chris Flaming said.

The campaign is known as Sustaining Innovation because farmers are incredibly innovative and strive to continuously improve their productivity. “We really work to do a better job in every row, on every acre, on every farm, every season,” Friesen said.

One of the Sustaining Innovation ads featuring the
Flaming family of Elise, Nebraska.
“Increasing our productivity allows farmers to produce more corn with less land, less fertilizer and less chemicals,” he said. “It’s what allows us to raise enough corn to feed and help fuel the country.”

The campaign is already underway and will run through the rest of the year. It includes print advertising in select media outlets plus other activities, including large messages featuring real Nebraska corn farmers on delivery trucks in Lincoln and grain trucks in other parts of the state. The campaign also features radio spots and other sponsorships.

To view additional facts and some images used in the campaign, click here.

October 25, 2010

Nebraska corn harvest 74% complete

The U.S. Department of Agriculture reported today that 74 percent of what may shape up to be Nebraska’s second-largest corn crop on record was in the bin – with harvest progress up 24 points from last week and nearly double the five-year average. It's also nearly five times faster than last year's progress, which stood at a mere 15 percent thanks to cool, wet weather.

Nationally, USDA said 83 percent of the corn crop was harvested, up from 68 percent last week and well ahead of the 49 percent five-year average. A year ago only 20 percent of the crop was harvested and farmers were looking at harvesting in all sorts of weather well into December and January.

Reports from other states: Iowa is 86 percent complete (ahead of 39 percent for the five-year average), Illinois is 97 percent complete (63 percent), Minnesota is 77 percent complete (41 percent), Indiana is 96 percent complete (51 percent) and South Dakota is 64 percent complete (33 percent).

Although rain may move through parts of the region this week, a couple of central Nebraska farmers who hadn't yet wrapped up harvest and were contacted last Friday were OK with the prospect of being forced from the fields for a day or two. After all, it's been one of the quickest – if not the quickest – harvest on record thanks to dry, sunny weather.

Of course, they may have wrapped up over the weekend since it was dry in most parts of the state.

This week's photos, from the Nebraska Corn Board's crop progress set on Flickr, feature photos submitted by the Imperial FFA Chapter (top) and the Sumner Eddyville Miller FFA Chapter (bottom two). Just click on an image to enlarge it.

For more details, be sure to check out the Nebraska Corn Board's crop progress update.

October 22, 2010

Podcast: EPA follows the science on E15

In this podcast, Jim Hultman, a farmer from Sutton and member of the Nebraska Corn Growers Association, comments on the science behind the move to E15 - a 15 percent ethanol blend.

"If we’re ever going to get to a point of replacing a significant amount of petroleum-based fuel with a renewable one like ethanol we’re going to have to get beyond a base fuel of E10," he said. "We’re going to have to start using higher blends like E-15. There’s no way around it."

Hultman recorded this just days before EPA announced its approval for E15 for newer model year cars (and NASCAR said it was adopting the fuel).

He noted that some ethanol opponents made up mostly of Big Oil and environmental extremists keep going on about "untested" E15 and arguing that EPA should "Follow the Science." He then goes on to talk about some of that science available to EPA (in addition to its own studies).

Despite EPA's approval, of course, the anti-everything folks are still out their hoping someone will listen. It's classic for them to call for more testing because no amount of testing will ever be enough for them. They will always want more even though the rest of the country will have moved on to using more renewable fuel. But when you're in the pocket of Big Oil, that's what you get paid to say.

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

October 20, 2010

'Bevo Bites' enjoyed by Nebraska and Texas fans

Alan Tiemann serving Bevo Bites
The Nebraska Corn Board’s Bevo Bites display and promotion at the Nebraska vs. Texas football game was a success, even if the football game was not, this past Saturday. Most all of the Board and staff were at the stadium serving up the Bevo Bites - free samples of Nebraska corn-fed beef. Also at the tailgate was Olympic gold medalist and Shelby, Nebraska native, Curt Tomasevicz.

Even before the beef was ready to be served, the great smell of the bites were wafting down Stadium Drive as many fans – both Nebraska and Texas – were ready to try the juicy bite-size samples. Over 250 pounds of beef, donated by Cargill, and seasoned and cooked by Skeeter Barnes, was served up and enjoyed by hundreds of passerby’s.

Curt Tomasevicz signs trading cards Along with serving up the beef, the Board and Curt Tomasevicz had the opportunity to tell the story of Nebraska corn to thousands of Cornhusker and Longhorn fans. Board chair, Alan Tiemann noted, “We want Nebraskans to know that Nebraska farmers are producing more corn on fewer acres than ever before. Better yet, we’re doing it with less energy, less water, less fertilizer and less chemicals. And that’s what we call ‘Sustaining Innovation’. And we're using real Nebraska corn farmers to tell that story.” Also, Curt signed autographs and handed out collectable sports cards with corn facts.

DSC02085 Tiemann and Tomasevicz not only had the chance to tell fans walking by about Nebraska corn farmers, but they also had an interview on Husker Sports Radio that allowed them to talk more about the ongoing corn harvest and outlook for the coming year. Alan even made a shout-out to the farmers that were listening in their combine cabs that couldn’t make it to the game.

Curt was also grateful to the farmers out harvesting, and mentioned that he was gearing up for his winter bobsled season by enjoying some of the corn-fed Bevo Bites. He also responded positively when asked about the amount of negative media coverage about agriculture.

Corn Board Chair Alan Tiemann & Curt Tomasevicz on Husker Sports Radio “Corn farmers have taken it on the chin in recent years. As more and more Americans get farther away from our agricultural roots, they simply do not understand how safely, efficiently and abundantly their food is being produced,” Curt said. “And there are a lot of special interests that are spreading misinformation and myths about corn production, the livestock industry and the ethanol industry. I’m here, in part, to help educate people about the corn industry—and let them know that Nebraska family corn farmers are committed to growing corn in ways that make economic and environmental sense.”

To view more photos, visit our Flickr set by clicking here.

October 19, 2010

Nebraska pork a great choice here and abroad

Lean, nutritious and versatile, Nebraska pork stands superbly on its own at the center of the plate – and fits right in as a key ingredient in thousands of recipes enjoyed by Nebraskans and others across the country and around the world, the Nebraska Corn Board said in a news release acknowledging that October is National Pork Month.

“While October is an opportunity to celebrate the world’s most widely consumed meat, it is also an opportunity to recognize Nebraska hog farmers who care for their animals every day year round,” said Kelsey Pope, ag promotion coordinator for the Nebraska Corn Board. “Farmers provide shelter, quality feed and fresh water to raise healthy animals. They genuinely care about their animals and extend that care to the environment.”

David Merrell, a farmer from St. Edward who grows corn and raises hogs, said besides producing pork for Nebraskans and others across the country, pork producers see a lot of value in shipping pork to other countries. In fact, about 22 percent of pork produced in the United States goes to other countries, making the United States the world’s largest pork exporter.

Pork exports added about $38 per head of each hog processed in 2009, according to the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF), a trade association that helps create demand for U.S. pork and beef around the world. The Nebraska Corn Board has supported USMEF since 1979 – the year USMEF was founded.

“With 94 percent of the world’s population outside the United States and a growing number of those people looking to add protein to their diet, we have an opportunity to see Nebraska pork on more dinner plates around the world,” Pope said. “Pork exports help hog farmers, who in turn provide a boost to the state’s economy by generating millions of dollars in economic activity, from equipment to feed to the thousands of jobs in dozens of different sectors. It means a larger tax base for rural communities and important economic activity for the state as a whole.”

In addition to its support for USMEF, the Nebraska Corn Board supports the Alliance for the Future of Agriculture in Nebraska (A-FAN) and partners with the Nebraska Pork Producers Association to promote pork within the state.

The photo above is from the Very Berry Pork Chops recipe at TheOtherWhiteMeat.com.

Corn helping grow a green economy

A great article from Reuters' Christine Stebbins that takes you inside a biorefinery complex in Blair, Nebraska, highlights some of the opportunities of using agriculture products like corn to produce bioplastics and other materials as a way to help reduce our reliance on petroleum. It also highlights some of the many other products that currently come from corn.

Now picture a dozen biorefinery complexes like this throughout the Heartland, all producing renewable products – green products – destined to replace products made from petroleum and provide other renewable products – from enzymes to green chemicals to whatever you can imagine. Can it happen? Will it happen?

Pasted below are a few paragraphs from the article, click through to read the rest.

From the road, an hour north of Omaha, the giant industrial plant looks like a typical oil refinery, sprawling over more than 600 acres with massive storage drums, miles of piping, clouds of steam and exhaust.

But this refinery is tied more to corn oil than crude oil.

It also presents visitors with an intriguing glimpse into what boosters like President Barack Obama call "the green economy," an industrial base centered on renewable resources like crops and on products like ethanol and biofuels.
In one end goes corn -- 100 million bushels a year. Out of the other comes edible corn oil, livestock feeds and ethanol fuel but also a growing array of products fashioned from souped-up corn chemistry, such as industrial enzymes and biodegradable plastics.

"This whole notion of bio-based is that everything that can be made from a petroleum product can now be made from a plant," said Alan Willits, president of Cargill Inc's Corn Milling unit. "The technology is there to enable that."

Willits, taking a reporter around for a rare inside look at the giant Blair corn processing complex, doesn't hide his enthusiasm for the challenge of creating the bioeconomy.

"I'm pretty excited," he says. "I think it is more viable to foresee that you are using agricultural-based products to compete in what was once strictly a petroleum market."

"It is really an exciting thing for agriculture," he said, noting that renewable raw material is a winning message for Cargill's customers, a number of which have constructed plants on Cargill's Blair complex -- like spokes around a wheel.

Mike Lewis, an animal nutritionist at the plant and former professor of animal science at the University of Nebraska, said the Blair complex has "an almost endless capability to make new things ... We can literally take the components apart and put them back together in lots of different ways."

For more, read the full Reuters article.

October 18, 2010

A home-grown approach to racing fuel: NASCAR and ethanol

NASCAR announced over the weekend that it will use a 15 percent corn-based ethanol fuel blend in all its racing circuits starting next year – the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, NASCAR Nationwide Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.

The announcement came just days after EPA said it would allow blends up to E15 to be used for newer model cars.

Sunoco Green E15 – Sunoco is NASCAR's fuel sponsor – will be blended and delivered to race teams from on-site tankers that travel to every NASCAR event. The company noted that NASCAR team engine builders have been testing Sunoco Green E15 for several months and reports have been very positive. In fact, many have reported achieving more horsepower with the ethanol blend.

"NASCAR fans will see the same great racing they have come to expect, but with a new, greener fuel," it said.

In NASCAR's news release, Dr. Mike Lynch, managing director for Green Innovation for NASCAR, said, "With Sunoco Green E15, we are leading by example, showing that this renewable fuel – which reduces greenhouse gas emissions – works in the most demanding racing environment in the world."

In the video from NASCAR below (which also features Darrin Ihnen, chairman of the National Corn Growers Association), NASCAR notes that the switch to E15 is "the right choice for our sport, our fans, our country and our planet."

In the video, NASCAR talks a lot about the importance of using home-grown fuel – produced by America's farmers – how it creates green jobs and helps achieve greater energy independence. The video also features NASCAR chairman Brian France and Jack Roush.

The timing also coincides with the promotional sponsorship of Kenny Wallace by the Illinois Corn Marketing Board in which Illinois corn farmers will share the story of their families and their crop at the October 23 “5-Hour Energy 250” NASCAR Nationwide Series event at Gateway International Raceway in Madison, IL (near St. Louis).

On Twitter yesterday, Wallace was answering questions about ethanol and provided some great, positive messages and feedback. You can see Wallace's Twitter page here.

October 15, 2010

Podcast: Term 'corn sugar' makes sense as an option for HFCS

In this podcast, Steve Ebke, a farmer from Daykin and member of the Nebraska Corn Growers Association, discusses the recent petition to allow the use of the term "corn sugar" as an alternative name to high fructose corn syrup (HFCS).

The Corn Refiners Association filed the petition with the Food and Drug Administration.

Ebke noted that the Corn Refiners Association believes the change would help bring some clarity and emphasize the natural similarity between HFCS and sugar.

"While the name change makes sense, I also want to remind you that HFCS has been shown time and again to be no different than regular sugar," he said. He refers people to www.CornSugar.com for more information.

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

October 14, 2010

Popcorn Poppin’ Month

October is National Popcorn Poppin’ Month according to the National Popcorn Board, which makes this a great time to celebrate one of America’s oldest and most beloved snack foods. This year, Americans will consume around 16 billion quarts of popcorn. With popcorn’s “good-for-you” whole grain status, you can take comfort knowing that consuming your share will actually do your body good.

Popcorn is naturally low in fat and calories and because it’s a whole grain, it adds fiber to the diet and boosts energy. And who couldn’t use a little healthy energy boost these days?

Most U.S. popcorn is grown in the Midwest, primarily in Nebraska, Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky and Missouri. And wouldn’t you know, Nebraska grows the most! In 2007, Nebraska grew 294,541,958 pounds of popcorn.

Nebraska Corn Growers Association President, Brandon Hunnicutt (@cornfedfarmer), is a farmer from Giltner and raises popcorn, along with other crops. Popcorn is a whole grain, and is made up of three components: the germ, endosperm, and pericarp (also know as the hull). So it looks very similar to regular corn when it's growing, and is harvested just like other types of corn.

 Here are some fun popcorn facts:
  • Americans consume some 16 billion quarts of this whole grain, good-for-you treat. That’s 52 quarts per man, woman, and child.
  • Compared to most snack foods, popcorn is low in calories. Air-popped popcorn has only 31 calories per cup. Oil-popped is only 55 per cup.
  • Popcorn is a type of maize (or corn), a member of the grass family, and is scientifically known as Zea mays everta.
  • Of the 6 types of corn—pod, sweet, flour, dent, flint, and popcorn—only popcorn pops.
  • Popcorn needs between 13.5-14% moisture to pop. 
  • Popcorn differs from other types of corn in that is has a thicker pericarp/hull. The hull allows pressure from the heated water to build and eventually bursts open. The inside starch becomes gelatinous while being heated; when the hull bursts, the gelatinized starch spills out and cools, giving it its familiar popcorn shape.
For more information about Popcorn Poppin’ Month, facts or recipes, visit www.Popcorn.org.

October 13, 2010

EPA's decision on E15 a first step forward

When more than 5,000 Nebraska farmers sent postcards to the Environmental Protection Agency urging approval of fuel blends up to 15 percent ethanol (e15) for all vehicles, the hope was it would happen quickly and for all vehicles.

EPA, however, took a bit longer and then today, as expected, approved the waiver request to use up to e15 only for 2007 and newer vehicles. Click here for the release and other information. Approval for 2001 and new vehicles should happen later this year.

While the approval is welcomed – and backs the industry's points that ethanol can certainly be used in vehicles on the road today – it is just the first step that needs to happen before we'll ever see e15 at any pumps. Pump labeling, other regulatory changes, refiners who supply the fuel and a commitment by retailers to sell it will need to happen first.

It may also make fuel blender pumps more attractive since fuel retailers can more quickly reprogram them to provide different fuel blends – like e10, e15, e30 and e85.

While sometimes you can't get from point A to B without a few intermediate steps, hopefully this intermediate step won't create additional confusion in the marketplace – and hopefully sometime next year we'll find e15 at a growing number of pumps, allowing millions of motorists to kick another 5 percent of dirty oil out of their gas tanks.

Unfortunately, the anti-ethanol gang will do its best to ignore the science, muddy the process and use scare tactics while bending the truth (...a half truth is a whole lie...). Of course their only alternative to petroleum is more petroleum (big surprise), and they continue to argue for the biggest tax increase in history for biofuels. They aren't exactly the type of folks that offer real solutions anyway – they just keep cashing checks.

Links to industry responses:

  • The National Corn Growers Association noted the approval was a good start – but is incomplete. It asked for more action quickly.
  • Growth Energy, who filed the original petition, said it was an "important first step" – but also added that more needs to be done.
  • “EPA’s scientifically unjustified bifurcation of the U.S. car market will do little to move the needle and expand ethanol use today,” RFA president and CEO Bob Dinneen said in a statement. “Limiting E15 use to 2007 and newer vehicles only creates confusion for retailers and consumers alike. America’s ethanol producers are hitting an artificial blend wall today. The goals of Congress to reduce our addiction to oil captured in the Renewable Fuels Standard cannot be met with this decision.”
  • The American Coalition for Ethanol noted that, “While some will portray this partial E15 waiver as a major victory and others will suggest it is completely unworkable, the truth lies somewhere in between. ACE views it as a very small first step and we will work to try and make the best of it."

Crop update: Nebraska corn harvest 29% complete

The U.S. Department of Agriculture said yesterday that 29 percent of Nebraska’s corn was in the bin – up 11 points from last week and more than triple the progress of last year's 9 percent. Harvest progress is also 8 points ahead of the five-year average.

USDA said 94 percent of Nebraska’s crop is mature. A year ago we were looking at a crop that was only 74 percent mature – and much of that corn had already been snowed on in several parts of the state. In fact, it was the first of several fall snows that blanked corn fields before harvest was complete.

This year, obviously, is much different. Should the weather hold, corn harvest will wrap up by the end of the month. Last year some farmers were harvesting in the snow. In January.

With 71 percent of the state’s soybeans already harvested, continued dry weather in the forecast and corn that is in good condition – without any need for drying – it is clear that the corn harvest will only pick up speed going forward.

This week's photos, from the Nebraska Corn Board's crop progress set on Flickr, feature photos submitted by the Howells Clarkson FFA Chapter, and the Sumner Eddyville Miller FFA Chapter (bottom).

For more details, be sure to check out the Nebraska Corn Board's crop progress update.

October 12, 2010

Nebraska Corn Board to serve up ‘Bevo Bites’ prior to football game

Nebraska Cornhusker fans are being urged to “take a bite out of Bevo” before the football game between Nebraska and Texas this Saturday (October 16) by enjoying “Bevo Bites” – tidbits of delicious Nebraska corn-fed beef – at the Nebraska Corn Board display on the west side of Memorial Stadium.

Bevo is the longhorn steer mascot of the University of Texas.

The Nebraska Corn Board will be providing free samples of Nebraska corn-fed beef while supplies last – beginning about three hours prior to the 2:30 p.m. kickoff, the Board said in a news release.

Olympic gold medalist Curt Tomasevicz of Shelby, Nebraska, will also be on hand beginning three hours prior to game time. The Nebraska Corn Board has retained Tomasevicz as its spokesperson for Nebraska’s corn industry and agriculture in general.

Visitors to the Nebraska Corn Board display will receive a collectible sports card (while supplies last) and have the opportunity to have it autographed by the brakeman of the gold medal U.S. 4-man bobsled team from the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics.

Sample of one of the free trading cards being offered
by the Nebraska Corn Board
at the Husker/Longhorn game.
“Nebraskans have been looking forward to this football game since the Big XII Championship last December – and we wanted to have a little tongue-in-cheek fun with it,” said Alan Tiemann, a Seward farmer and chairman of the Nebraska Corn Board. “There is nothing like the flavor and tenderness of corn-fed Nebraska beef, so we wanted to get people in the mood to savor a win over the Longhorns by providing Bevo Bites. They taste like…victory!”

Tiemann also noted the opportunity to tell the story of Nebraska corn to thousands of Cornhusker fans. “Nebraska family corn farmers are growing more corn with less fertilizer, less water and less environmental impact,” he said. “We are ’sustaining innovation’ – and we want Nebraskans to know that corn farmers are committed to meeting demand for food, feed and fuel for a growing population.”

In addition to funding from the Nebraska corn checkoff, partners in promotion include Cargill and Skeeter Barnes.

October 8, 2010

Nebraska corn yields, production may be second-largest on record

In a news release today, the Nebraska Corn Board said that if realized, a projected yield of 170 bushels per acre and estimated production of 1.51 billion bushels would be second in the state's record books – behind only last year’s bumper crop.

The yield estimate, from USDA's crop report today, is lower than USDA's previous estimate of 179 bushels but is still quite high when compared to previous yields.

In 2008, for example, corn yields averaged 163 bushels, while yields in 2007 were 160 bushels per acre. (Last year's record was an extraordinary 178-bushel average across the state.)

Should the 170 bushel yield estimates hold through harvest, Nebraska farmers will produce a 1.51 billion bushel crop this year. “That would be the second-largest crop in state history and behind last year’s record 1.58 billion bushels,” said Kelly Brunkhorst, director of research for the Nebraska Corn Board.

Brunkhorst said while USDA did lower its yield estimate for Nebraska, reports from fields make it clear that 179 bushels was perhaps too optimistic for the state this year.

“While we had pretty good weather overall in Nebraska, a couple of weeks of hot weather right after pollination may have taken the top off yields a bit. Yet 170 bushels per acre is pretty darn good, obviously, when you consider it’s the second-highest ever," he said.

Nationally, USDA estimated yields at 155.8 bushels per acre, below last year’s record of 164.7. If realized, that would put the U.S. corn crop at 12.7 billion bushels. As forecast both those figures would be the third-largest on record.

“While the yield reduction appears to tighten the corn market a bit, we’re confident about the current supply picture,” Brunkhorst said. “At the same time, we’ll have good supplies of other corn products, including some 4.2 million tons of distillers grains being produced by Nebraska ethanol plants this year alone.”

October 7, 2010

Distillers grains drives down feed costs for hog producers

More farmers are adding dry distillers grains to hog feed, and the percentage of distillers in the ration continues to grow, according to an article from Iowa Farmer Today.

Duane Reese, extension swine specialist at the University of Nebraska, told the weekly publication that the days of using 15 percent or fewer distillers in finishing rations are over.

“Producers are using between 25 and 30 percent distillers in grow/finish rations with very good results,” he said, although he recommended dropping the level to 10-15 percent three weeks before market.

He also noted that producers can start using distillers when pigs weigh about 25 pounds – and that 15-20 percent distillers in the diet at that stage works just fine.

The price of phosphorus and amino acids along with the relatively low price of distillers compared to corn have more farmers looking at distillers to help cut feed costs, he said – distillers grains were about 83 percent the value of corn most of the summer.

The phosphorous in distillers grains is also about three times more digestible than phosphorus in corn, he said, which makes distillers a good value when phosphorus prices are high. In turn, Reese said, since pigs can use more of the phosphorus in their feed, it should reduce phosphorus levels in manure.

The key to using distillers grains is to get a good, consistent product and then properly formulate it into the diet, he said.

For more, read the entire article.

October 6, 2010

New manual covers feeding distillers grains to cattle on forage

The Nebraska Corn Board and University of Nebraska have released their latest corn co-products manual, this one featuring research into feeding co-products like distillers grains to cattle on forage.
Research shows forage fed cattle often perform better when corn products like distillers grains are made available, especially during the winter months.

Feeding Corn Milling Co-Products to Forage Fed Cattle” is a 24-page publication that is designed to assist cattle producers in assessing the opportunity of feeding corn co-products produced by ethanol plants and other milling processes.

“Beef calves from weaning until going into a feedlot, beef cows and developing heifers are often on pasture or fed a forage-based diet,” Kelly Brunkhorst, director of research for the Nebraska Corn Board, said in a news release. “Research shows feed ingredients like distillers grains or gluten feed provide a boost in protein and energy that benefit cattle in these feeding situations.”

Authors for the publication include Aaron Stalker, Rick Rasby, Galen Erickson, Crystal Buckner and Terry Klopfenstein of the University of Nebraska. Much of the research cited in the manual was conducted in Nebraska by the authors and funded in part by the Nebraska corn checkoff.

Stalker said the manual explains corn processing methods and the resulting products like distillers grains and gluten feed and then covers what is known about feeding those products to cattle on forage-based diets. “The ethanol industry in Nebraska produces an excellent supply of distillers grains, and research demonstrates distinct benefits of offering it to cattle on forage,” he said. “In many cases, distillers grains or other corn co-products provide an opportunity for cattle producers to improve both livestock performance and economics.”

In addition to an analysis of the processing feeding methods, “Feeding Corn Milling Co-Products to Forage Fed Cattle” includes a short reference guide on storing corn co-products.

“This publication is designed to help cattle producers become better informed about different opportunities to feed distillers grains and other corn co-products,” Stalker said. “While livestock nutritionists and other cattle feeding experts will find the manual helpful, it was written specifically with producers in mind. They will be able to take the information in the report and directly apply it on the ranch.”

Besides this latest manual in a series of publications geared towards assisting livestock producers in feeding distillers grains, the Nebraska Corn Board published “Utilization of Corn Co-Products in the Dairy Industry” and “Storage of Wet Corn Co-Products” in 2008, while a third edition of “Utilization of Corn Co-Products in the Beef Industry” will be coming out yet this year. It will include significant additions since it was last published in August 2007.

All the manuals are available here.

Trade Team sees harvest, first-hand production & use of DDGS in Nebraska

The Nebraska Corn Board hosted a U.S. Grains Council trade team from Turkey the beginning of this week. Three of the nine participants of the trade team from Turkey made it to Lincoln on Monday to tour Nebraska agriculture. Unfortunately, the other six participants were unable to catch the same flight out of London as the three that made it, and had to miss the first day of the Nebraska tour.

Listening to DDGS presentations about Poultry and Dairy Nonetheless, the three Turks that did make it enjoyed a great tour facilitated by the Nebraska Corn Board. Kelly Brunkhorst, director of research for the Nebraska Corn Board, put together the tour that started out Monday at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Animal Science Department. The group heard from Dr. Sheila Scheideler, professor specializing in poultry research and nutrition. Dr. Scheideler talked about the dried distillers grains with solubles (DDGS) usage in poultry diets and discussed research which shows how feeding DDGS in poultry can decrease ammonia production in poultry manure and the nutritive benefits of yeast cells.

The trade team also heard from Dr. Paul Kononoff, assistant professor specializing in dairy research and nutrition. Dr. Kononoff discussed recent research in DDGS usage and how inclusion of this corn co-product in the dairy cow’s diet increases milk production.

Turkey Trade Team looking at corn Next, the team traveled outside of Lincoln to see and experience corn and soybean harvest at NCB Chair, Alan Tiemann’s farm in Seward. All three team members jumped in the cab of the combine as Alan turned the corner, and rode for a few turns as Alan showed them the technology he utilizes and answered questions. The team and Alan enjoyed lunch in Staplehurst, then toured the Tiemann’s farm headquarters outside of Staplehurst.

The Trade Team in front of a DDGS mountain After lunch, the crew loaded up and headed towards Adams to tour the E Energy Adams ethanol plant. E Energy Adams, LLC is a 50 million gallon dry mill ethanol plant that is locally owned by nearly 800 investor owners and began operations in October 2007. This tour was the highlight for the Turks as they all deal with distillers grains, but had never seen a running plant.

Answering questions about dairy cows and feed source The last tour of the day included walking around and learning about Prairieland Dairy in Firth. Prairieland Dairy is a partnership between four multi-generational family farms that begun in 1998. The team enjoyed seeing the cows close-up, learning about their feed rations and the production systems of the dairy.

The evening concluded with a reception and dinner at Wilderness Ridge. The team was joined by Bobbie Kriz-Wickam from the Nebraska Department of Agriculture, Roger Berry from Nebraska Farm Bureau, and Kelly Brunkhorst, Kelsey Pope and Regina Janousek, all staff of the Nebraska Corn Board.

Fortunately, the rest of the trade team was able to join in on the second day of tours, which started Tuesday with a tour of United Farmers Cooperative in Tamora. UFC is headquartered in York and is the fifth largest farm cooperative in Nebraska, serving over 6,200 voting members and close to 5,000 non-voting members in 22 counties in Nebraska and Kansas from 32 locations.

After the UFC tour, the group traveled to Columbus to tour Kent Feeds. Kent Feeds is a nearly century-old feed supplier with ten locations across the nation. It started in the cattle industry and has expanded to cover livestock, pet and specialty products. Then, after lunch at Duster’s, the group departed for Pioneer Hi-Bred International in York for a tour and discussion of the seed industry.

After the tours, the trade team plans to fly to Chicago for the U.S. Grains Council Export Opportunities Conference.

To see more pictures from the Turkey Trade Team visit, check out our Flickr set.

October 5, 2010

Podcast: Stay safe during harvest

In this podcast, Mat Habrock of the Nebraska Corn Growers Association provides a few safety messages geared towards this busy harvest season.

He notes the tremendous harvest weather we've had and how different conditions are this year compared to last. A year ago at this time we were talking about having turkey dinner in the combine. Then Christmas dinner, too

Habrock encourages farmers to take a break from time to time, or stretch your legs, call a friend or family member. "If you’re into social media, take a break and update your farm’s Facebook page, shoot a quick video, send a tweet or do whatever you do to help educate others about farming and harvest," he said.

He also reminds us that farm safety week this year focused on ATV safety. "While these tools – yes, tools – are a great help around the farm, they are also one of the leading causes of injuries and fatalities. Please ride safe and teach others how to do the same," Habrock said.

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

Hutchens provides insight on Ukraine's grain, livestock sector

Despite its current ban on exports, farmers in the Ukraine have the potential to be a significant contributor to the global grain market, said Don Hutchens, executive director of the Nebraska Corn Board, following a trade mission to the country organized by the U.S. Grains Council.

“There are vessels of grain loaded but they are not allowed to leave the country due to the export ban,” he said in a news release. “While this has grain traders and grain elevators in the Ukraine upset, it does create a market opportunity for the United States because much of that grain was destined for the Mediterranean and North Africa.”

Hutchens was on the mission with corn executives from a number of states, including those from Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, North Dakota, Kansas, Ohio and Kentucky. U.S. Grains Council representatives included Chris Corry, senior director of international operations based in Washington; Cary Sifferath, director for the Mediterranean and Africa based in Tunisia, and Alexander Kholopov, a consultant based in Russia.

While on the mission, they met with Ukraine Congressional leaders, agriculture officials, farmers, grain traders and export facility managers.

“We need to have a good understanding of not only where our competition is, but where long-term potential markets exist,” Hutchens said. “We compete with the Ukraine for exports, but the country has a long way to go in developing its livestock industry.”

For more, listen to several audio reports from Hutchens at the bottom of this page.