December 30, 2010

Podcast: NeCGA presents Golden Ear Award, elects officers

In this podcast, Carl Sousek (@Farmproud on Twitter), a farmer from Prague and the new president of the Nebraska Corn Growers Association, talks about the organization's annual Golden Ear Award and the new slate of officers elected to lead NeCGA in the coming year.

Randy Klein Renewable Fuels Association and former staff member of the Nebraska Corn Board received the 2010 Golden Ear Award.

The Golden Ear Award is presented annually by NeCGA to recognize and appreciate an individual’s contribution to agriculture. Klein was presented the award at the Nebraska Ag Classic.

Sousek noted that the new officers include Joel Grams of Minden as vice-president, Elgin Bergt of Schuyler as elected treasurer and Rick Gruber of Benedict as elected secretary. Two at-large directors were also elected and include Steve Ebke of Daykin and Dan Wesley of Morse Bluff.

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

December 29, 2010

Top posts for 2010: From the corn genome to HSUS

The time between Christmas and New Years is a great opportunity to look back on the previous year and see what blog posts drew the most interest – and in 2010 it was clear that anything to do with the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) got people's attention.

In fact of the top 12 posts below, six have something to do with HSUS if you include the [yellow tail] wine posts. If you recall, the family-run Australian wine maker was set to donate money to HSUS when a successful movement driven by social media called them out. A similar movement invoving Pilot Travel Centers was also successful.

The top post involves the corn genome and was published on November 19, 2009. Yet it continues to draw a lot of eyeballs today, including from Google image searches. People want to see what the genome looks like!

In addition to the top dozen, a few other top posts and favorites are below. There's also a link to the top posts from 2009.
  1. Corn genome sequence - 'wiring diagram' - being released
  2. Video: How to destroy a [yellow tail] wine bottle
  3. Reactions from the HSUS town hall meeting
  4. Corn Farmers Coalition aims to educate policymakers
  5. Myths, facts about meat production
  6. Atrazine: What is the safety limit
  7. Don't be fooled by HSUS - it's all about the money
  8. HSUS uses National Animal Shelter week to promote false image
  9. Nebraska farm families recognized for participating in 'Sustaining Innovation'
  10. Become a fan of [yellow fail]
  11. Sun Chips: There's a bit of Nebraska in that compostable bag
  12. Nebraska Ag Classic confronts HSUS issues

Other top posts from 2010:

Remember tweet corn and astroturffed fools? You can find a list of all the top blog posts from 2009 here.

December 28, 2010

The future of agriculture: youth education

Educating youth about agriculture is truly the future and livelihood of the ag industry. And FFA is an important program that does just that. While at the Nebraska Ag Classic in Kearney, Seth Derner, Nebraska FFA Foundation board treasurer, shared some attention-grabbing facts about Nebraska FFA:
  • In Nebraska, there are around 6,500 FFA members and 139 chapters across the state
  • The average FFA member has:
    • 90 hours completed per year in an ag classroom
    • 24 hours completed per year in FFA activities (community service, volunteering, etc.)
    • 40 hours completed per year in SAE (Supervised Agricultural Experience) projects
    • This equals a total of 154 hours engaged in understanding agriculture and leadership development
If you take these 154 hours times the 6,500 FFA students in Nebraska, that equals over 1 million hours that youth in this state are engaged and ready to serve agriculture. And it's just as vital for us to continue educating and supporting this program.

The Nebraska Corn Board and Nebraska Corn Growers Association are going to have more of a role with FFA in the upcoming year in helping with the Agricultural Issues Academy, a program designed to educate FFA students about specific issues affecting agriculture. This year is focusing the misinformation and misconceptions about animal welfare.
Helping serve Nebraska FFA is important and as easy as checking into helping your local chapter, giving a donation to the Jacket Fund, or using your leadership from your agricultural field to share with others about the importance of agricultural education. Nebraska FFA also has an awesome campaign called, I Believe in the Future of Ag. This fundraising campaign is focused on the future of FFA at both the local and state level specifically in Nebraska.
To do more, check out the Foundation's website:

December 27, 2010

Mid-Year Review - by Curt Tomasevicz

First of all, I hope that everyone had a Merry Christmas. It’s hard to believe how fast the winter and the bobsled season have gone so far. We are halfway through our World Cup Tour schedule already. There are four races done with, and four races left, culminating with the World Championships to be held in Germany at the end of February.

The schedule gives a three-week break from last weekend’s race until our next race in Igls, Austria (American pronunciation is Eagles). A mid-season break is a great time to analyze what has worked and what needs to be improved upon. I’m sure most corn farmers would agree that it’s wise to analyze yields and measure the results with the land used, type of fertilization, amount of irrigation, and so on.

In our bobsled season thus far, we have won two out of the first four races in the 4-man. The first race of the year in Whistler, Canada (the host site of the 2010 Vancouver Olympics) and the fourth race in Lake Placid, New York (considered our home track and the site of next year’s World Championships) proved to be victories. The other two races revealed some areas that my team needs to improve upon. We were definitely spoiled a little by our recent successes going back to last year at the Olympics. It had been quite a while since the team did not finish with a gold medal in a race. Tiny details like loading errors can negatively affect the sled’s velocity at the start. Details like this can be taken for granted, but now we know what we need to do to continue to be successful in the second half of the season.

As part of our analysis, it is good to not just look back at the season so far, but also to plan for the rest of the season. The second half of the bobsled World Cup Tour takes place entirely in Europe. Yes, it’s always exciting and fun to compete overseas, but that means that we will be living in small hotels, eating foreign food, and sleeping in small beds for at least eight weeks. We know that the biggest race of the year is the World Championships - the last race. So we need to not only endure the minor discomforts of European racing, but we must also get stronger in order to climax at the right time of the season.

Preparation is a great key to success, both on the ice of a bobsled track and in the corn field. Part of good preparation is analyzing both the successful and not-so-successful methods in order to improve. This Christmas break has given my team the opportunity to prepare and make our own Happy New Year!

December 24, 2010

Podcast: Corn Farmers Coalition works hard to educate policymakers

In this podcast, Mark Lambert of the National Corn Growers Association, provides a report and update on the Corn Farmers Coalition.

The Corn Farmers Coalition is an alliance of the National Corn Growers Association and 14 state corn associations that represent tens of thousands of farmers. Both the Nebraska Corn Growers Association and Nebraska Corn Board have been members of this coalition since it was founded in 2008 and play important roles in making it work.

"The Coalition works hard to do is educate policymakers in Washington about how tech-savvy, innovative farmers in Nebraska and across the country are able to produce more corn while using fewer resources and protecting the environment," Lambert said.

He noted that the Coalition is in the planning stages for the next campaign. "What America’s corn farmers accomplish every year should be celebrated and shared and the Corn Farmers Coalition aims to do just that," he said.

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

December 23, 2010

Strong ethanol industry an important step

The headline of this post is the headline in a San Francisco Chronicle article by Bill Jones, the former California secretary of state and chairman and co-founder of Pacific Ethanol.

In the article, Jones provides several good points on ethanol — points that some have forgotten (or ignored) in the orchestrated campaign by the anti-ethanol gang over the last couple of months. An important reminder is highlighted at the bottom and something we need to keep in mind as oil continues to inch upward. Will we see $100 oil in the next couple of months? Where will gas prices be then?

A few paragraphs of Jones' article are below. For the rest, click here.
Separating fact from fiction in the ethanol debate is not easy. "Food versus fuel" is a nice catch phrase, but worldwide, biofuel production accounts for less than 1 percent of total agricultural acreage. Corn ethanol refineries use only cornstarch, preserving the high quality protein for animal feed markets. In short, we can have both food and fuel.

And if you look at the price trends for grains like corn and wheat over time, you will notice that they follow the price of oil. Any Wall Street veteran will tell you why. Higher oil prices increase the costs of producing grain and drive hedge fund speculation into agricultural commodity markets. Oil prices go up, grain prices follow. It's that simple.

The California experience with ethanol is a good one. Ten years ago, California did not have an ethanol industry. Today there are five ethanol plants pumping out low-carbon fuel, injecting millions of dollars into local economies, supporting thousands of direct and indirect jobs and extending gasoline supplies with homegrown, renewable fuel. When oil prices doubled in less than eight months in 2008, Merrill Lynch reminded consumers that without ethanol, fuel prices would have been 15 percent higher. That's 50 cents a gallon today, with oil at $90 a barrel and climbing.

December 22, 2010

New corn refuge calculator available

The next-generation Insect Resistance Management refuge calculator was presented to growers during the recent National Corn Growers Association Action Team meetings.

The calculator is a collaboration between agribusiness and NCGA under the leadership of the Trade Policy & Biotechnology Action Team. It allows users to clarify refuge options and develop a plan, even for the latest products available.

“What I find so exciting about the Insect Resistance Management refuge calculator is that it makes short and easy work of what had become a complex process. The array of new technologies available to farmers is accompanied by a broad, complex variety of refuge requirements,” Mike Geske, the team’s Corn Board Liason, said in the announcement. “I see this tool as universally beneficial in that it provides growers already familiar with their own particular refuge requirements with an extra level of confidence and reassurance while clarifying options for those less familiar and allowing them to be the best stewards of their land.”

To download the refuge calculator, visit Versions are available for both PCs and Macs.

The introduction of new refuge systems gives growers more options in setting up their refuge — and the calculator is a great tool to clarify those options see how to execute the requirements properly.

The benefits of this new tool include all commercial Bt products on the market and features a trait selection process that allows farmers to run several planting scenarios on a field-by-field basis. Its updated interface and clearer planting options makes refuge calculation simpler to do.

December 21, 2010

Nebraska Corn Growers hand out awards, elect officers

The Nebraska Corn Growers Association (NeCGA) presented Randy Klein of the Renewable Fuels Association and former staff member of the Nebraska Corn Board, with its 2010 Golden Ear Award.

The Golden Ear Award is presented annually by NeCGA to recognize and appreciate an individual’s contribution to agriculture. Klein was presented the award at the Nebraska Ag Classic December 15 in Kearney.

Klein grew on a farm in Hamilton and Clay counties and received a degree in Agriculture Economics from the University of Nebraska in Lincoln. He worked as a research analyst for the Nebraska Department of Agriculture before accepting a joint position as executive director of NeCGA and field services director for the Nebraska Corn Board. He then went on to work for the Nebraska Corn Board full time for 14 years, focusing on the ethanol industry and marketing corn and corn co-products in California. He recently began a new position with the Renewable Fuels Association.

“Randy Klein had a very positive impact on corn growers and ethanol production during his years with the Nebraska Corn Board. We are excited to see him continue those efforts with the Renewable Fuels Association and are proud to honor him with the 2010 Golden Ear Award,” NeCGA president Brandon Hunnicutt of Giltner said in a news release.

In addition to honoring Klein, NeCGA presented a special recognition award to Lynn Chrisp, a farmer from Kenesaw and member of NeCGA’s board of directors. The award – a United States flag flown over the U.S. Capitol – was for Chrisp’s dedication in developing new leaders for Nebraska’s corn industry by coordinating and assisting in multiple leadership programs in Washington, D.C.

NeCGA Officers
From left to right Brandon Hunnicutt, Chairman;
Carl Sousek, President; Elgin Bergt, Treasurer,
Joel Grams, Vice President; Rick Gruber, Secretary
The NeCGA board of directors also elected new officers for 2011 following the organization’s annual meeting on December 15. NeCGA’s officers include:
  • Carl Sousek of Prague was elected president of the organization. He is a member of the Saunders County Corn Growers Association. He replaces Brandon Hunnicutt, who will move into the chairman position and is a member of the Hamilton County Corn Growers Association.
  • Joel Grams of Minden was elected vice-president. He is a member of the Kearney-Franklin Corn Growers Association.
  • Elgin Bergt of Schuyler was elected treasurer. He will oversee all finances of the association and is a member of the Colfax-Dodge Corn Growers Association.
  • Rick Gruber of Benedict was elected secretary. He will oversee the association’s records and is a member of the York County Corn Growers Association.
Two at-large directors were also elected at the meeting. They include Steve Ebke of Daykin, who is a member of the Southeast Corn Growers Association, and Dan Wesley of Morse Bluff, who is a member of the Saunders County Corn Growers Association.

Recruiters recognized
Also during the annual meeting, top membership recruiters were recognized for their efforts with “Top Recruiter Jackets.”

Randy Uhrmacher, chairman of the Field Services Committee, was excited to report a state wide membership increase of 117 members since last year’s meeting. Randy noted that it was thanks to the efforts of the top recruiters, and many other NeCGA members, that the membership increase was realized.

Receiving the jackets (and pictured left to right) are:
Todd Kral – Adams Webster Corn Growers
Chuck Emanuel – Colfax Dodge Corn Growers
Dan Kellner – Saunders County Corn Growers
Bob Bartek – Saunders County Corn Growers

Not pictured is Bruce Wiles of Cass Nemaha Otoe Corn Growers who was unable to attend.

Recruiter points were assigned using National Corn Growers Association recruiter points system.

December 20, 2010

Crop progress photo contest results!

By Regina Janousek, Nebraska Corn Board Intern

The results are in!!!

The past couple of weeks, the Nebraska Corn Board staff have been viewing pictures sent in by Nebraska FFA Chapters. The photos were judged based on four categories: Expanded View, Close Up, Action, and People; cash prizes were given to those who placed first and second. The bi-weekly Crop Progress report featured photos sent in for that week. The photos helped show the progress of the corn crop across the state. You can view all the photos that were sent in on our Flickr online album.

Here are the winners of this year's Photo Contest:

Expanded View
1st Place - Imperial FFA Chapter August 2, 2010

2nd Place - Imperial FFA Chapter September 13, 2010
Close Up

1st Place - Holdrege FFA Chapter May 10, 2010

2nd Place - Imperial FFA Chapter July 19, 2010
1st Place - Norris FFA Chapter April 23, 2010

2nd Place - Imperial FFA Chapter October 25, 2010
1st Place - Holdrege FFA Chapter April 26, 2010

2nd Place - Imperial FFA Chapter April 26, 2010

Thank you again to the chapters who participated!

December 17, 2010

Podcast: Corn ethanol, NASCAR a great partnership, opportunity

In this podcast, Randy Uhrmacher, a farmer from Juniata and member of the Nebraska Corn Growers Association, provides a report American Ethanol and NASCAR.

Uhrmacher, along with Jon Holzfaster, a farmer from Paxton and member of the Nebraska Corn Board, were in Las Vegas when the American Ethanol partnership with NASCAR was announced.

The partnership comes after NASCAR said in October it would take its environmental commitment to the next level in 2011 by fueling all races in its three racing series with E15, a 15 percent corn ethanol blend. That means every race in the Sprint, Nationwide and Camping World truck series will be powered by a 15 percent corn ethanol blend.

"This is a tremendous opportunity for the ethanol industry," Uhrmacher said. "NASCAR is very effective at marketing and promoting its partners. It will put a positive image of ethanol in front of millions of people every week. It lets us talk about the benefits of ethanol, to explain how it is clean, green, renewable and American made."

"It is exciting as a farmer in Nebraska to know that we’re helping promote corn-based ethanol to such a big audience," he said.

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

December 16, 2010

Nebraska Ag Classic confronts HSUS issues

The 6th Annual Nebraska Ag Classic was held in Kearney this week to help understand the growing challenges the agriculture industry is facing. The main discussion for Thursday’s general session was focused on animal rights groups, animal welfare in Nebraska and what lies ahead for the future of agriculture. David Martosko, from, was the opening speaker, specifically addressing why the Humane Society of the U.S. (HSUS) hates agriculture and what agriculture needs to be doing. Additionally, Martosko moderated a panel discussion with experts in the animal welfare activism arena: Jack Fisher from Ohio Farm Bureau, Chad Gregory from United Egg Producers and Craig Head from Nebraska Farm Bureau.

Martosko explained a harsh reality check to the ag producers in the audience. Animal rights activists are not like us and they will follow through on what they say, usually because they have the funds to do so. The philosophy, or as some consider it their religion, animal rights activists believe:
1. The purpose of human life is to reduce suffering
2. Animals and people have the same moral value
3. Using animals (every cow, pig, sheep, chicken, etc, ) always leads to suffering

Therefore, they view themselves as more virtuous than you, that humans were meant to save animals, and that the best outcome for food animals is just to use fewer and fewer of them. Josh Balk, outreach director of the “factory farming” campaign at HSUS said, “We just have to reduce the number of animals that are raised for food.” Or as Martosko put it, “HSUS is trying to eliminate suffering by eliminating the sufferer.” Doesn’t that say, destroy animal agriculture?

HSUS’s framework is basically a “communications campaign”. They make themselves sound good with their big crusades about saving animals. Their game is to be on the offense because they certainly are making agriculture play the defense. With their offense, they set an agenda, move the ball, score most all of the points, and determine the pace of the action, which results in an endless game that can only be defeated by its own errors and ineptitude. Like HSUS wants, those in animal agriculture have just gotten used to playing defense. Martosko made it blatantly clear that this needs to be a priority – ag needs to be on the offense!

Martosko also explained why HSUS is such a lobbying powerhouse. In 2008, they outspent Exxon Mobile, and this yearwill have a bigger payroll than the White House as well as more office space. Also, they outright lie about having 11 million members and constituents. Their documentation clearly shows that all people who sign-up to support HSUS receives the magazine subscription are technically allowed to vote – which makes them members. In 2009, they sent out no more than 450,000 magazines.

It all came to a summary when Martosko finished with this important immutable rule:
  • “Public opinion is everything.”- Abraham Lincoln
    • 82% of Americans whose overall impression of the HSUS is “favorable” 
    • 71% of Americans believe HSUS is a pet shelter
    • 59% of Americans believe HSUS contributes most of its money to pet shelters
The public simply thinks that HSUS is their local animal shelter, or that HSUS is giving money to their local shelter (which they give less than 1/2 of 1% to). It is a “common knowledge” fact that people don’t know when or where they heard it from – similar to the fact that most people know it is safer to travel in airplanes than in cars.

We need to step off of always being on the defense and be pro-active – play offense. Yet, Nebraska is trying. A coalition of agriculture supporters, the Alliance for the Future of Agriculture in Nebraska (A-FAN), is currently conducting a consumer education campaign that shows the true face of agriculture through commercials of Nebraska’s farmers – leading them to the website where they can learn more and see more videos. Even the state Governor has taken a stand at a recent meeting when he said, “The Humane Society of the United States is anti-agriculture and they’re out to destroy animal agriculture—and if they want to come to Nebraska, we’re going to fight them and we’re going to beat them."

It’s important for the corn and grain industry to be proactive against animal rights groups like HSUS because we support our livestock producers. Now, let’s all take our turn and tell someone the truth about HSUS.

December 15, 2010

Perspectives of U.S. corn market in Columbia, Panama

NOTE: This blog was written by Don Hutchens, executive director for the Nebraska Corn Board. He traveled to Columbia and Panama with the U.S. Grains Council, and shared some of this thoughts and perceptions about the situations and market share of U.S. corn in these countries.

Don HutchensThe decrease in market share of U.S. corn exported to Columbia has dropped from 96% to less than 38% in just the last three years. How did that happen? Not getting the Colombian Free Trade Agreement passed is one major hold up, especially when you realize there is a 15% import duty on U.S. corn and only 6.9% preferential tariff provided to Argentina and Brazil. The second major snag is the 2009 U.S. corn crop. While it was huge in volume, it was not the highest quality crop with record levels of BCFM, high moisture, higher levels of mycotoxin, all of which opened the door for Argentina and Brazil to step up and steal some market share. With my recent opportunity to travel to Colombia, our mission was to try and convince them the 2010 crop is excellent quality, and will continue to push for our Administration and Congress to get this Free Trade Agreement passed.

Dried distillers grains (DDGS) has great opportunities in Panama – a country that is steadily increasing their per capita consumption of chicken and eggs – and a country with a growing population that is improving their standard of living. We have a freight rate advantage from the Gulf and knowledge of how best to balance a feed ration, which is helping educate end users of the advantages.

Domestic crop production in Columbia and Panama is experiencing some of the worst flooding in over 40 years. Up to 50% of the rural roads are damaged. While in Panama City, we promoted the feeding of DDGS to assure our customers that the 2010 corn crop will be some of the highest quality corn in the world. Unfortunately, we also witnessed the closing of the Panama Canal – which marked only the second time in history that the canal has been closed since 1914. Once with the invasion to stop Noriega, and second this last week when I arrived in Panama City. It opened the next day, but it was obvious the severity of the rainy season taking its toll.

We have to work harder to convince Congress and the President to get the free trade agreements passed or else we stand to lose good customers in Colombia and Panama to countries like Canada, Argentina and Brazil. When you add it all up, we have lost nearly 2 million tons of corn exports alone in just the last three years that equates to over $400 million dollars.

December 14, 2010

Home Sweet Home - by Curt Tomasevicz

This past week was the first of our bobsled competitions in the United States for this season. Since the season started in early November, we have been training and competing in Canada. I know that Canada’s culture isn’t that much different than that of the U.S., but it’s always great to come back home and compete against the world on our home tracks. There are two tracks in the U.S. – one at Lake Placid, New York and one at Park City, Utah. This latter track was the host track for the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics. My team has made numerous trips down the track, and in the past five years, my team has experienced great success. In fact, two years ago, we won two 4-man races on back-to-back days (one race was a make-up race from a snowed-out race in Germany). So needless to say, my team was looking forward to this segment of the bobsled world cup tour.

There is something to be said for the opportunity to compete at home. Athletes sleep better, eat better, and can focus easier. Maybe it’s the simple fact that we are more acquainted with the television channels. Or possibly, it could be the comfort of having our normal cell phone service again.

On top of that, competing on the Park City track is a great opportunity for our family and friends to be able to attend a race. With only a handful of operating bobsled tracks in the world and only two in the U.S., there aren’t many opportunities for American bobsled fans to attend a race. However, with the Salt Lake City airport only half an hour away and plenty of available ski village housing in Park City, this track offers a great chance to compete in front of familiar faces.

Whatever the reason, a home-track advantage in bobsled is a great thing and with the Christmas break just around the corner, we were looking forward to continuing our successful streak dating back to last February at the 2010 Olympics.

However, as we all know, life doesn’t always go as planned. We finished in 7th place in the 2-man event on Friday and 6th place in the 4-man race on Saturday. In both races, the taste of success was in our mouths as we were in the top three after the first heat in each race. But bobsled is about being consistent over the course of two heats, as we slipped down the ranks in the second heat.

Yes, we may be a little spoiled, but the desire to win is always present. But there are more reasons to compete in sports other than winning. It’s not an easy thing to say. In spite of our disappointing finish, I consider the past weekend a success. The greatest reason was because so many people made the trip to Park City to watch me race. I met new friends and I was able to spend time with some of my closest friends. The race results were quickly forgotten as the important things became evident with the Christmas season coming.

I will always strive to compete at the highest level I can. But it’s great to know people that keep the important things in life in perspective.

Just as important as families are to bobsled competitors, families are important to farming and agriculture. In fact, 95% of America’s corn farm are family owned. These families support raising food to feed the world, just as athletes’ families support them!

December 13, 2010

The future of corn in China

Corn Mission at Shanghai JC Intelligence Co. Seeing first-hand the situation in China was a highlight for the U.S. Grains Council 2010 Corn Mission delegation. The recent imports of U.S. corn into China’s uncertain market caused many to speculate about the future of imports of corn and meeting demand worldwide.

China’s economy, the second largest in the world, has been growing 8-10% for the last 35 years. China imports $27 billion in agricultural trade, $13.1 of that are exports from the U.S.

Unfortunately China’s policy issues have left the world wondering if, when, and who they will import from in the future. However, industry officials and associations that the 2010 Corn Mission delegation met with were positive about the future of a relationship between the U.S. and China in ag exports.

Shanghai Container Port In an informative meeting with Shanghai JC Intelligence Co., one of the leading grain, feed and livestock consulting firms in China, shared that they suspect China will import a large amount of corn next year. China imported around 1.5 million metric tons (mmt) this past year, with the help of efforts of companies like JCI and their partnership with the U.S. Grains Council. 7-8 mmt imported into China could be possible in the near future.

Last year, Chinese corn production was around 153 mmt, with domestic demand around 150 mmt, so China decided to import corn to increase their stock levels for carryover. JCI predicted that this next year’s production will be around 154 mmt, with domestic consumption at 155 mmt, surpassing production. As many have been wondering, JCI agreed that policy adjustments by the Chinese government will have to be made to have a constant flow of imports of U.S. corn. These policy standard issues were brought up recently when China did not accept a shipment of U.S. corn at the port.

Chinese breeds of hogs at the research center China imported about 1.3 mmt of dried distillers grains (DDGS) last year, so including the 1.5 mmt of corn imported, China has imported roughly 3 mmt of corn and corn co-products total from the U.S., which played a crucial role in setting domestic price. Many of the feed companies that the delegation met with are increasing their DDGS use in their livestock feed rations. They stated they would continue to import, dependent on price. DDGS is easily imported into China, yet it is a feed ingredient that requires a “per plant registration” which is difficult to deal with at the port.

One concern that some of the industry officials worried about was a trend of decreased acres going into corn in the U.S. Larry Klever, (@KleverCorn) Corn Mission delegate from the Iowa Corn Promotion Board and farmer from Audubon, Iowa, assured them that U.S. farmers will continue to plant corn if they remain profitable and know there is a demand for it – like exporting it to China.“If China’s imports translate to profits, we will find more acres to plant more corn,” said Klever.

While in China, the delegation also met with Shanghai Puyao Trading Co., Shanghai Animal Husbandry Service Disease Prevention Center, Bunge Shanghai, Guangdong Haid Group, Guangdong Jun Jie Co., as well as visiting the Shanghai container sea port, a dairy farm, and hog research farm. A common theme from the meetings was that China and the U.S. need to work together in ag policy issues to provide enough food and feed. Many of the industry leaders agreed that there is “more than enough room for both of us in the ag market”.

Corn Mission delegation at Shanghai Animal Disease Prevention Research Center

A recap of the 2010 Corn Mission to Japan, Taiwan and China will follow in an upcoming blog post. You can check out updated photos in our online album here.

December 7, 2010

Third edition of corn co-products manual for feedlot cattle available

A new edition of “Feeding Corn Milling Co-Products to Feedlot Cattle,” a popular publication that provides feedlot operators, animal nutritionists and others with the latest research and sound recommendations on feeding corn co-products like distillers grains to cattle, is now available from the Nebraska Corn Board and University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

This is the third edition of the publication, which increased to 36 pages, and offers a significant update since it was last published in 2007.

“The availability and use of corn co-products like distillers grains, which are produced by ethanol plants, has increased significantly since 2007. At the same time, we’ve expanded our knowledge and understanding when it comes to recommendations that are backed by quality research,” Kelly Brunkhorst, director of research for the Nebraska Corn Board, said in a news release.

“Feeding Corn Milling Co-Products to Feedlot Cattle” is a printed publication available free by request to the Nebraska Corn Board. Electronic copies are also available for download from the Nebraska Corn Board or at the university’s website.

Authors of the publication include Galen Erickson, Crystal Buckner and Terry Klopfenstein of the Department of Animal Science at the University of Nebraska. Most of the research cited in the manual was completed at the University of Nebraska, with portions of that being funded by the Nebraska Corn Board.

This is the second research compilation to be released by the Nebraska Corn Board and University this year. The first – “Feeding Corn Milling Co-Products to Forage Fed Cattle” – was published in August (click for more) as a 24-page printed and electronic publication.

The two publications are among a series produced by the Nebraska Corn Board in conjunction with the University of Nebraska. “Utilization of Corn Co-Products in the Dairy Industry” and “Storage of Wet Corn Co-Products” were published in 2008 and are also available online.

December 6, 2010

Taiwan shows producers long-standing market for U.S. corn, DDGS

The role of the 2010 Corn Mission in Taiwan was to maintain important relationships with key traders, users and buyers of U.S. corn and DDGS. Additional, it demonstrated to the corn producers from Iowa, Illinois, Indiana and Missouri of the long-standing market that remains for corn in the small country.

Since having a presence in Taiwan for 37 years, the U.S. Grain Council’s (USGC) hard work at gaining market share has proved successful in gaining the fourth largest market of U.S. corn in the world.

The mission in Taiwan started with a briefing on the market by USGC/Taiwan staff, as well as an update from Jeffrey Hesse, Chief of Agricultural Affairs of the American Institute in Taiwan. As Taiwan is a very large market for U.S. corn, the focus of USGC/Taiwan is primarily market defense, with strategic elements including maintaining and increasing U.S. sales, livestock production and feed consumption and DDGS education and promotion.

The group was able to have a large seminar meeting with traders, buyers and users of U.S. corn and DDGS. Mike Callahan, USGC senior director of international operations, gave an overview of the 2010 U.S. corn crop quality and what they could expect to see coming in the corn and DDGS in Taiwan. The group was very glad to hear of this positive report yet did have questions on if the corn exported from certain areas/states were better quality, and would like to see similar data from the last five years.

A trip outside of Taipei took the delegation to Good Flag Biotechnology Corporation in Taoyuan to tour the manufacturing facility where corn-plastic, PLA (polylactic acid) cups and containers are made. The PLA resin is imported to Taiwan from the NatureWorks facility in Blair, Neb., then fabricated in the facility to large rolls of plastic sheets. They form the cups and containers from these rolls and customize the cups with specific printing for their customers – some of which are domestic, but companies in the U.S. are their largest customer.

On Saturday, the group traveled to Fwu Sow Industry – one of the major feed mills in Taiwan that imports U.S. corn and DDGS for their livestock and pet animal feeds. Fwu Sow has a close relationship with USGC and valued the producers’ remarks about the higher quality 2010 corn crop. We also visited the Shin Show Hog Farm but were not allowed to go inside the barns of 3,000 head due to biosecurity issues. It was still worthwhile learning about the hog feeds this farmer utilizes with U.S. corn and DDGS, and how he markets his pork to a niche audience.

The Taiwan traders, buyers and users of U.S. corn were very cordial to the delegation, and were positive about the 2010 corn crop because of the good working relationship with USGC/Taiwan. Some recent market share has been lost to countries like Argentina and Brazil, but the U.S. corn’s quality is far superior and the delegation confirming the 2010 crop’s quality was important.

“Taiwan has been a stable, but significant market for U.S. corn,” said John Whaley, director on the Indiana Corn Marketing Board. “Even though some recent market share has been lost, they are still importing the bulk of their corn from the U.S. With the good quality 2010 corn crop from the U.S., some of that lost market should be gained back.”

Continue catching up with the delegation through pictures on Flickr.

December 3, 2010

Podcast: Plan to attend the Nebraska Ag Classic, growers annual meeting

In this podcast, Carl Sousek, a farmer from Prague and member of the Nebraska Corn Growers Association, encourages everyone to register and attend the upcoming Nebraska Ag Classic, which is coming up Dec. 14-16 at the Ramada Inn in Kearney.

Discounted registration ends today (Dec. 3). Click here to register.

Nebraska Corn Growers Association members should also note that Wednesday, Dec. 15 is the association’s annual meeting. It is also at the Ramada Inn in Kearney and begins at 8 a.m.

Sousek encouraged members to attend, hear updates on the association and discuss and vote on resolutions. "This is grassroots in action," he said.

As for the Ag Classic, this year’s event features some great marketing advice, techniques and tips; a discussion on new tax issues, and Nebraska native Karen Ross, undersecretary for the Secretary of Agriculture, who will focus on discussing current national and agriculture issues.

David Martosko from the Center for Consumer Freedom will also be on hand. He will focus specifically on his experiences and interactions with the Humane Society of the United States and what Nebraska agriculture producers need to know to help protect their industry.

A panel discussion will follow Martosko’s presentation. Panel participants include Jack Fisher with the Ohio Farm Bureau, Chad Gregory with United Egg Producers and Craig Head with the Nebraska Farm Bureau. All three will discuss their personal experiences and involvement in defending the industry against activist groups.

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

December 2, 2010

Nebraska corn farmers back American Ethanol, NASCAR

Vroom! Just weeks after announcing it would take its environmental commitment to the next level by fueling its three racing series with E15 – a 15 percent corn ethanol blend – beginning in 2011, NASCAR announced today a major partnership with American Ethanol.

So who American Ethanol?

American Ethanol is a partnership of more than 100 organizations formed by ethanol producers and corn farmers through their national organizations Growth Energy, which took the lead in forming the group, and the National Corn Growers Association. On the corn side, several state corn organizations are involved, including the Nebraska Corn Board and Nebraska Corn Growers Association.

In fact, Jon Holzfaster representing the board and Randy Uhrmacher representing NeCGA were in Las Vegas for today’s big announcement.

Since not everyone could make it to Vegas for the announcement, Growth Energy sponsored watch parties in several cities across the country – including Lincoln. (It was also broadcast live at

T-shirts like this were given away
at the watch party in Lincoln.
“Since NASCAR is one of the most effective marketing and advertising organizations in the world, partnering with it will raise the visibility of ethanol and allow us to communicate to new and larger audiences in exciting ways,” Kelly Brunkhorst, director of research for the Nebraska Corn Board, said at the Lincoln event and in a press release from the board and NeCGA.

As part of the deal, America Ethanol will be highlighted on every vehicle in every NASCAR race, be prominent on NASCAR’s Green Flag, sponsor a new award for every race, be featured on-site during race day events and more.

“NASCAR did not make the switch to E15 lightly,” Brandon Hunnicutt, president of the Nebraska Corn Growers Association, said at the event in Lincoln. “It put ethanol and E15 through its rigorous testing process. Racing teams and engine builders ran it through additional tests, and many have reported they are getting a little more horsepower with Green E15, while emissions are 20 percent less per gallon of fuel.”

Brunkhorst noted that NASCAR’s commitment to being an environmental leader is similar to the commitment made by corn farmers.

“Today’s corn farms, 95 percent of which are family owned, are the most innovative and productive in the world,” Brunkhorst said. “They are using less energy, less fertilizer and tilling less while growing more. It’s an incredibly positive story, and one we are proud to share.”

In a news release from NCGA, Brian France, chairman and CEO of NASCAR, pointed out that NASCAR is in its third generation of family ownership and that ethanol is produced from the harvest of family-owned farms across the country.

“I can’t wait to see that green flag drop in February as the NASCAR season kicks off in Daytona,” Hunnicutt said at the Lincoln watch party. “What an exciting time it will be for America’s family corn farmers and the corn ethanol industry.”

Travel outside of Tokyo shows corn producers' checkoff dollars at work

Sharing the message of the 2010 U.S. corn crop’s quality was the focus that the 2010 Corn Mission delegation carried to the buyers and users of U.S. corn in Japan.

On Wednesday, the delegation traveled on a bullet train north to Sendai – about a 250 mile trip. We then took a one-hour bus ride to Ishinomaki City – a lot of travel, but well worth it for the awesome experience!

We visited with staff and operators of the Ishinomaki Futo Silo Company and Kitanihon Kumiai Feed Company. The silo portion of the business is on the port where grain is stored after being unloaded from the large carrier vessels. The largest vessel they can pull into this port is a Handymax (around 40 MT in which it takes about 50 hours to unload).

This facility has been expanded five times to be able to store more imported grain (98% of the corn they import is from the U.S.). They are also currently constructing four new silos specifically for dried distillers grains (DDGS). These new silos will have a special “scraper” inside to help prevent caking.

The feed company makes compound feed rations for beef and dairy cattle, as well as poultry and swine. The biosecurity measures they take in the feed mill to keep everything clean and separate was impressive! New technology is regularly being implemented in all facets of agriculture in Japan. Both segment of the company were glad to hear the report on 2010’s corn crop being of excellent quality and reported back to us that they have been receiving 2010’s crop since October.

The delegation outside of the Ishinomaki City feed mill

The following day, the delegation was able to meet with the Feed Supply & Demand Planning Office of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) of Japan. Hearing the perspective from these government officials was important as key policy is coming in the near future that could affect imports of U.S. corn to Japan.

MAFF was also glad to hear the good report of the 2010 corn crop, but had several questions on the future of meeting demand in a growing world with increased usage of corn for ethanol and China’s role in buying more U.S. corn. Kenny McNamar, farmer from Gorin, Missouri and president for the Missouri Corn Growers Association, was able to assure them that U.S. corn farmers are going to be able to meet demands of all markets.

“Not only are we exporting more corn, we have tremendous demand from our domestic livestock industry to grow more corn,” said McNamar. “Near my farm in Missouri, I have seen more acres go into corn that have not been growing corn in many years.”

After a lunch meeting with Zen-noh, the primary agricultural cooperative in Japan, the delegation packed up and traveled to Taipei, Taiwan. Updates from Taiwan to come!

The group especially wants to thank Tetsuo “Tommy” Hamamoto and Hiroko Sakashita, director and associate director of USGC Japan, respectively, for their time and contacts in setting up the meetings with these organizations. Thanks to checkoff dollars from Nebraska corn producers, we literally have boots on the ground all around the world 24/7 in directors like Tommy and Hiroko. They answer technical feeding questions, industrial use questions, quality aspects, biotech, and transportation, along with the questions on trade policy. But, it is their personal contacts with our customers that make them so valuable.
Don't forget to check out more pictures of the mission on Flickr.