January 31, 2011

Podcast: Strong beef, pork exports good for Nebraska

In this podcast, Mark Jagels, a farmer from Davenport and member of the Nebraska Corn Board, talks about how November's U.S. pork and beef exports reached their highest monthly totals in more than two years.

He noted that figures compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation show that beef volumes were up 32 percent from the previous November, while the value of those exports were up nearly 50 percent. Pork volumes were up 5 percent while the value was up 15 percent over November 2009.

While November sales were tremendous, sales for all of 2010 through November were also positive, he said.

The Nebraska Corn Board supports USMEF and its global marketing efforts because adding value to corn and the ethanol co-product distillers grains through beef and pork keeps Nebraska agriculture strong, especially considering that exports add nearly $120 per head of each steer and heifer marketed and nearly $40 to every hog marketed.

Jagels serves on the USMEF board of directors and in the past year his involvement with USMEF expanded when he was elected to serve on its executive committee. "It’s been 24 years since a member of the Nebraska Corn Board served on USMEF’s executive committee and I’m proud to be involved in such a position," he said.

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

January 28, 2011

The Faces of Nebraska Corn Farmers

By Regina Janousek, Nebraska Corn Board Intern

During my internship at the Nebraska Corn Board I have had some great experiences and opportunities, but my favorite experience thus far was visiting with some great Nebraska corn farmers and their families. The corn board kicked off a campaign this summer promoting family farmers and sustainability messages. I was able to go along on the photo shoots for the ads and met some great people. They were even willing to give me a quick interview, where they shared their messages about sustainability, corn and farming in general. Check out these videos to learn more about your own Nebraska Corn Farmers.

These videos are a series of videos featuring faces of Nebraska corn farmers. As part of the Sustaining Innovation campaign, these farmers share their stories of growing corn and raising livestock sustainably.

Kyle Cantrell is a corn farmer from Merna, Nebraska. He has a cow-calf operation and a small feedlot. Kyle explains risk management and establishing relationships. He utilizes distillers grains in his feeding operation to manage feeding costs. Feeding distillers grains, the co-product of making corn ethanol, with low quality roughage can help lower the feeding costs of cattle. Roughage is a hay mix that can consist of grasses, cornstalks, or alfalfa etc.

Kurt Goertzen is a corn farmer from Henderson, Nebraska, and has more than 30 years of experience in the agriculture industry. He talks about new advances of technology in corn and using distillers grains for his show calf herd. He raises cattle to show at fairs and stock shows.

Feeding distillers grains, the co-product of making corn ethanol, with low quality roughage can help lower the feeding costs of cattle. Fleshing rates refers to the fat on the animal, which goes with the overall condition of the cow.

Mike Bergen, a corn farmer from Henderson, Nebraska, helped his uncle around the farm during high school and college. After college he decided to return to his hometown and start farming on his own. He not only raises corn, but also soybeans as well as manages a cow-calf herd. Mike talks about sustainability practices used on his farm.

January 27, 2011

Kimberly Clark joins staff of Nebraska Corn Board

Kimberly Clark
Kimberly Clark has joined the Nebraska Corn Board as ag program manager to coordinate ethanol programming, a position that will allow her to direct the board’s efforts to increase in-state demand for ethanol, improve and expand the infrastructure of blender pumps and ethanol movement within and outside Nebraska.

According to the announcement, she will also maintain a working relationship with ethanol development staff in other corn-producing states, the National Corn Growers Association, ethanol industry groups and Nebraska’s ethanol plants in order to monitor federal legislation that impacts the development and use of all biofuels.

At the same time, Clark will work with consumers, media, schools and the general public to provide sound, factual information regarding ethanol development, production and use.

“The ethanol industry is critical to Nebraska and Nebraska corn farmers, so having Kimberly on staff to coordinate our ethanol programs is significant,” said Don Hutchens, executive director of the Nebraska Corn Board. “Kimberly’s background and experience will help continue the success we’ve seen with ethanol, and her ability to connect with and educate consumers about ethanol will be a tremendous asset.”

Clark, a Leigh, Neb. native, was previously employed with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln as the research project coordinator in dairy-related research projects. She received a master’s of science degree in Animal Science and Agriculture Leadership from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where she also received her bachelor’s of science degree in Animal Science.

January 25, 2011

Home-Ice Advantage - by Curt Tomasevicz

There are many times when you hear an athlete talk about the home field advantage. Theoretically, there should be no such thing. All the athletes or teams have to compete on the same field with the same dimensions, in the same weather, at the same time. But for some unexplainable reason, the home team usually has some mysterious advantage over their opponent. The same can be said for bobsledding.

Typically, a team has a home track advantage over all the other teams simply because the team has taken more practice runs throughout the course of the season. And because every bobsled track in the world is different, each track requires a certain set of driving skills to be mastered. Our home track advantage would be in Lake Placid, NY or in Park City, Utah (USA’s only bobsled tracks).

In addition to the extra practice runs a home team has on their track, there is a “comfort” advantage that a team can have. For example, because most of the tracks on the World Cup circuit are in Europe, we have to spend eight-weeks straight on the other side of the Atlantic. That being said, there are a number of things that could put an American out of their “comfort zone” as they compete. But I am going to refuse to dwell on those small discomforts. In this blog, I want to talk about some of the great things that competing in Europe allows us to do.

The first great thing about spending so much time in Europe is that we have to travel from one World Cup stop to the next by automobile. We haul our sleds in the back of large cargo vans. The thrill of driving in Europe can be summed up in one word… "Autobahn!”. Of course the Autobahn Highway System is set up very similar to the Eisenhower Interstate System in the United States with one major difference - no speed limits. That’s right, for much of every highway, you can travel as fast as you feel is reasonable…and faster. During our eight-hour drive from Winterberg, Germany to St. Moritz, Switzerland yesterday, we found out that our Land Rover’s governor was set at 195 kilometers per hour (120 mph). At one time I think I had my foot pressing the gas pedal to the floor for about twelve minutes straight.

Another great thing about spending time in Europe is the chocolate. You might raise your eyebrows at this one and question if I’m serious or not. Really, Curt? This is something that must be experienced. I don’t know how I’ll be able to explain how simple milk chocolate tastes better in Austria, Germany, and Switzerland. But it’s true. Of course I have to maintain a certain weight and I want to be in top physical form to be able to compete, so I must restrain myself from eating the all the chocolate that I desire.

Maybe my favorite European tradition is Siesta. This beloved practice takes place mostly in Italy. The Italians, realizing that an eight-hour work day is just ridiculously too long, go home in the middle of the day for a two- or three-hour nap. Everything shuts down. You can’t go to the bank, the grocery store, or even find a receptionist at the hotel. We even got scolded a couple years ago for lifting weights in the hotel garage and being too noisy at 3:30 in the afternoon. At that moment we learned if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. So we became accustomed to taking a little snooze every afternoon while we competed in Italy.

Ok, so maybe the thrill of driving on the autobahn while eating chocolate just after a good siesta isn’t going to improve my team’s chances of winning a bobsled race, but it sure does make eight weeks overseas bearable enough to discount the European’s comfort of a home – ice advantage.

January 21, 2011

Additional E15 approval welcomed

The Environmental Protection Agency has extended its approval of fuel blends up to E15 – up to 15 percent ethanol – for cars and light trucks made between 2001 and 2006.

This follows EPA’s approval of up to E15 for vehicles 2007 and newer last fall. Both approvals came after EPA and the U.S. Department of Energy performed their own research into the use of E15.

“Higher ethanol blends like E15 will support the ethanol industry, which is reaching market saturation at E10, and help the United States continue down the path of utilizing more clean burning renewable fuels that are made in America,” Kelly Brunkhorst, director of research for the Nebraska Corn Board, said in a news release.

“We are pleased to see EPA’s research clearly demonstrate that E15 is an outstanding fuel for more than 120 million vehicles on the road today and that it followed that research in making the approval,” he said.

A request to allow the use of ethanol blends up to E15 was filed in 2009. More than 5,000 Nebraskans filed comments with EPA in support of the waiver request.

While EPA approval is important, it will take some time before E15 will be available at pumps in Nebraska and across the country.

“Additional regulatory loose ends and certifications still need to be completed, but we are hoping to see E15 later this year at stations across Nebraska,” said Tim Scheer, a member of the Nebraska Corn Board who farms near St. Paul. “Since Nebraska is the second-largest ethanol producing state in the country, the adoption of E15 will allow Nebraskans to use more of the home-grown fuel that supports jobs right here in the state and across the country."

Darrin Ihnen, chairman of the National Corn Growers Association, said, “We have worked closely with EPA during this process and are pleased to see they also realized what our industry has known for a long time: the use of higher blends of ethanol in vehicles is safe.”

January 20, 2011

Podcast: NeCGA sets state, national priorities

In this podcast, Steve Ebke, a farmer from Daykin and member of the Nebraska Corn Growers Association, discusses the top state and national priorities identified by NeCGA members at the organizations annual meeting.

He noted that setting priorities is one of the most important components of annual meeting. Priorities are submitted to the annual meeting by local corn grower chapters and then voted on by the delegate body.

"This truly is grassroots in action and why NeCGA prides itself in being a membership-driven grassroots organization," he said. "Your membership matters and adds volume to our voice when it comes to critical state and national issues."

To hear about NeCGA's top state and national priorities, click on the icon above.

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

January 12, 2011

NCGA Social Media Training Webinar Series Begins Jan. 20

Today’s growers have a whole new set of tools to use on the farm when it comes to communicating the importance of what we’re doing, and it’s vitally important that we know how to use these tools well and that we have then at hand when we need them.

Throughout 2011, the National Corn Growers Association will hold a series of hourly webinars – online tutorials – to help our members and others learn how to use some of these tools, such as Facebook and Twitter. This series of monthly webinars is provided free, courtesy the generous support of Pioneer Hi-Bred, a DuPont Business.

The first webinar of the National Corn Growers Association 2011 Social Media Training Program will take place at 10:30 a.m. CST Thursday, January 20. The program is generously sponsored by Pioneer Hi-Bred, a DuPont business, and is the first of 12 free hour-long online learning sessions that will be held monthly through 2011.

The Jan. 20 webinar will address the goals of the series, and why growers should take the time to participate. Presenters will define the objectives and review the “return on investment” of engaging in social media and how it fits within the context of agriculture. Instructors will also review how it is being used successfully by others in the industry and show participants how they can track their personal social media success.

Follow-up webinars are planned for February 17, March 17, April 28, May 19, June 16, July 21, August 18, September 15, October 20, November 17 and December 15. Times for these will be announced prior to the webinars.

Click here to register for the January webinar.

Click here to sign up for NCGA’s e-mail list, to be notified before each upcoming webinar, so you can register, and to receive important updates throughout the year. Important: Under “Your Interests,” please make sure to select “Social Media Webinars 2011.”

Once these webinars are completed, they will be archived at the NCGA Online Learning Center.

NCGA in Social Media

Pioneer Hi-Bred in Social Media

January 10, 2011

Science Class - by Curt Tomasevicz

As the second half of the World Cup season begins, I thought I would use this blog to educate and explain some of the details of bobsledding that most people (especially corn farmers in Nebraska) never consider. Just like farmers use a variety of sciences to increase their yields, bobsledders incorporate science every day in order to increase their speeds and clock faster times down the track.

Each bobsled track in the world is made up of anywhere between 14 and 20 curves. Each one of these curves is different. Looking at a track like a typical road map, you may notice that each curve has a specific radius as well as length. But in addition to this, you must remember that the track is also descending down a mountain, so each curve also has a drop in elevation. Therefore geometry and even trigonometry play a part in determining the fastest route through the curves. (Keep in mind that the shortest route is not always the fastest route in bobsled. Even though the shortest line through a curve is a low line, often times it is necessary to gain height in a curve in order to use gravity to accelerate out of the curve.)

{The American team pushes and loads into the sled during practice in Park City, UT.}

Chemistry is also a vital science used to be successful in bobsledding. Temperatures are measured to help aid competitors in choosing the best equipment. For example, if the ice temperature is well below freezing, the ice is much harder than ice that is just below the freezing temperature of water. Hard ice means that thinner runners on the sled must be used to dig into the ice to have control when driving. Fatter runners on the sled will simply glide on the surface and not provide much control. However, the fatter runners, because they skim the surface, create less friction and can prove to be a faster choice. In addition to the width of the runners, the metallurgic chemical makeup of the runners also plays a part. The FIBT (international governing body of bobsled) issues a standard chemical runner steel, but subtle differences are almost impossible to detect and for some unexplainable reason can aid or hinder the sled’s velocity.

{Centripetal force pushes the crew of the “Night Train” high on a curve as they travel over 90 mph.}

Perhaps the most common science used in bobsledding is physics. Mass is one variable that can be adjusted to affect a few different things. As a bobsled is travelling down a track, more mass equals more acceleration. There is, of course, a weight limit for the sled (with athletes) traveling down the track regulated by the FIBT (630 kg). But a heavy sled is more difficult to push fast at the start. So a team would prefer to push a light empty sled (also limited to a minimum of 210 kg in 4-man). Therefore a team must find a balance of a light empty sled to push and a heavy sled in which to ride down the track. Physics also plays a part in determining the energy a sled has as it exits a curve and accelerates to the next curve. Centripetal force can exert up to 5 G’s of force (five times that of gravity) on a sled as it passes through tight curves at high speeds.

Just like chemistry and biology play a vital role in producing maximum corn yields, bobsledders must also rely on science to succeed. Going to high school in central Nebraska, I certainly wouldn’t have thought I would need to use Mr. Lyon’s physics lessons on friction to help me strive for the Olympics!

January 7, 2011

Podcast: Highlights from corn trade mission to Japan, Taiwan, China

In this podcast, Kelsey Pope, ag promotion coordinator for the Nebraska Corn Board, reports on a Corn Mission to Japan, Taiwan and China that she participated in with the U.S. Grains Council.

Pope noted that in Japan and Taiwan, key a message involved sharing the good news about the high quality corn produced in 2010.

In Japan, they met with grain buyers and feed mill operators that import U.S. corn and distillers grains. Japan is the largest and most consistent importer of corn in the world – the U.S. satisfies 98 percent of its demand. Yet, Pope reported that there is still potential for growth, especially in the distillers grains market.

A highlight in Taiwan was visiting a facility that manufactures cups and containers from PLA resin. All of this corn plastic resin is imported from the NatureWorks plant in Blair, Nebraska.

In China, the group met with buyers and users of U.S. corn. "The recent imports of U.S. corn into China’s uncertain market has been a hot topic lately and has caused many to speculate about the future of imports of corn and meeting demand worldwide," Pope noted.

For more details, click the audio icon above.

During the trip, Pope produced several reports here at Nebraska Corn Kernels. For a list of all her posts relating to the Corn Mission, click here.

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

January 4, 2011

Video features opportunities for feeding cattle in Nebraska

The Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA) and the Nebraska Corn Board (NCB) have released a video featuring many opportunities available for feeding cattle in Nebraska. This six minute video, “Consider the Possibilities – Cattle, Corn and Co-Products,” is a great way for cow-calf producers nationwide to get an up close view of the cattle feeding industry in Nebraska, said Greg Ibach, director of the Nebraska Department of Agriculture.

"Nebraska has more than 5,000 feedyards willing to work with cow-calf producers interested in retaining ownership or partnering on their feeder cattle and offering competitive feeding rations from the quality feedstuffs we have available,” Ibach said.

“We have talked about Nebraska’s Golden Triangle of corn, livestock and ethanol. As the third largest corn-producing state and second in ethanol production, the cattle industry has access to an abundant supply of high-quality corn and access to distillers grains from more than two dozen ethanol plants statewide,” said Alan Tiemann, chairman of the Nebraska Corn Board and farmer from Seward.

The video features University of Nebraska Extension beef specialists discussing the economic benefits of feeding distillers grains, risk management decisions, and the parameters cow/calf producers can utilize to evaluate and select a feedyard.

You can also access the video through our YouTube page www.agr.ne.gov or http://www.nebraskacorn.org/. The video was produced by the Nebraska Department of Agriculture and sponsored by the Nebraska Corn Board.