June 30, 2011

Corn mission to promote U.S. beef, pork in Japan, meet some impacted by tsunami

The Nebraska Corn Board said in a news release yesterday that it is sponsoring a team to travel to Japan with the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) July 5-12 to promote Nebraska corn-fed beef and pork and to see first hand how Nebraska farmers, through their grain donation program, are supporting Red Cross efforts to help those impacted by the earthquake and tsunami in the region.

Curt Tomasevicz is going on the mission to Japan.
Several Nebraskan's will be on the mission, including Nebraska Corn Board spokesman and Olympic gold medalist Curt Tomasevicz. He'll be along to help promote U.S. corn-fed beef and pork as part of a balanced diet.

"Curt’s role makes this USMEF mission different than those we’ve supported in the past," said Kelsey Pope, ag promotion coordinator with the Nebraska Corn Board, who is also going on the mission. "His status as a top-performing athlete will be exciting to those we meet with, including the kids sports teams we will be visiting. He will talk about eating U.S. red meat as part of a healthy, balanced, athletic diet."

While in Japan, the group will make a side trip to the Tohoku area where they will meet with earthquake and tsunami evacuees, distribute free meals that include U.S. beef and meet with local media.

Others going on the mission include John Willoughby, president of the Buffalo/Hall County Corn Growers Association and member of the Nebraska Corn Growers Association, and Bill Schuster, chairman of the Aurora Cooperative board of directors. Willoughby and Schuster were instrumental in launching the grain donation program with the Nebraska Corn Growers and KRVN to support tsunami relief efforts in Japan and the Pacific.

The relief effort began in April after Japan experienced the devastating earthquake and tsunami. As part of the effort, Nebraska farmers donate bushels of corn or any grain at Aurora Cooperative or Cooperative Producers, Inc., locations. The grain is sold and proceeds go to the Red Cross.

Donations continue to be accepted through July 30.

“Even though this mission to Japan with USMEF began as a Nebraska corn-fed meat promotion, it was a natural fit to include representatives from the Nebraska Corn Growers Association and Aurora Cooperative. It will give them an opportunity to deliver meals to those displaced by the tsunami and see how the grain donation relief program is supporting people in Japan,” said Don Hutchens, executive director of the Nebraska Corn Board.

We're hoping to include mission updates here throughout the mission — so check back!

USDA bumps Nebraska corn acres to 10 million

In its acreage report released this morning, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said Nebraska farmers planted 10.0 million acres of corn this year -- up 500,000 acres from it's estimate back in March. A year ago Nebraska farmers planted 9.15 million acres.

Good spring weather allowed farmers to get planting corn...and they kept on planting in response to demand for corn.

"Nebraska farmers clearly saw good demand for corn and responded to that demand,” Kelly Brunkhorst of the Nebraska Corn Board said in a news release.

Brunkhorst noted that 10 million acres is the most corn acres planted by Nebraska’s farm families since the early 1930s. It also surpasses the recent high of 9.4 million planted in 2007.

In addition to the increase in acres, Nebraska’s corn crop is off to a great start – with 79 percent of the crop in good to excellent condition. "We're encouraged by the progress and condition of the crop, and some sun and warm weather this week was pretty good timing," Brunkhorst said. "The potential is there for a good crop and hopefully the weather will cooperate."

On a national level, USDA said farmers planted 92.3 million acres this year, a 5 percent increase from last year’s 88.2 million acres and 7 percent more than in 2009 when 86.4 million acres were planted. USDA’s original estimate in March was 92.2 million acres.

USDA today also reported corn stocks. Nationally, corn stocks as of June 1 were 3.67 billion bushels, which is down about 15 percent from last year.

In Nebraska, there were 435.1 million bushels in storage as of June 1, about 16 percent less than a year ago. Of that total 190 million bushels were stored on farms and 245.1 million were stored off-farm.

“This is a good supply of corn for this time of year, and more than what most analysts had expected. Overall we’re in very good shape, with plenty of corn in storage and hopefully a good crop on the way,” he said.

June 29, 2011

Busting the 5 Myths of Ethanol: Myth #2

If you’ve been to the grocery store lately, you have probably noticed your food bill is a little more expensive than what it was a year ago. There is no doubt that food prices have rose a bit and that many of us are now watching what we throw into our cart. Although it can be frustrating having to pay more for food, it is hard to blame a certain industry or company for the rising prices of food when there are so many factors involved in getting food to our plate. However, in recent months, many have been placing the blame of high food prices on ethanol. People are starting to believe that ethanol is taking corn away from food production, which is causing the price of food to rise.

This leads us to our second myth: Ethanol production reduces our food supply. The answer to this myth is FALSE and that ethanol does NOT reduce our food supply. Only 1% of the corn grown in the U.S. is edible corn or more commonly known as sweet corn. This type of corn is what you find in the freezer section of the grocery store or in cans on grocery shelves. The rest of the corn grown in the U.S. is mainly yellow field corn, which humans do not eat and is mostly used in livestock feeds, food supplements, and ethanol.

When looking at what a bushel of corn can produce, it produces 1.5 pounds of corn oil, 17.5 pounds of high protein feed called Dry Distillers Grains (DDG), 2.6 pounds of corn meal, and 31.5 pounds of starch. The starch is the portion of the kernel that is used to produce 2.8 gallons of ethanol. The remaining portions of the kernel are used for animal feed, which reduces and displaces some of the corn and soybeans.

As we mentioned earlier, there are many factors that play into the cost of food, such as processing, packaging, warehousing, and transportation. Much of the price increases in groceries is coming from the increase in energy costs. As energy prices climb, so do the expenses of getting food to the grocery store. Often we forget how much energy is actually used in making our food. Almost every step of food production uses energy. Unfortunately, all the costs associated with the energy usage in food production gets passed on to the consumer, which is why the cost of food seems so high. Out of those costs, only 11.6 cents of every dollar spent on food actually goes back to the farmer according to the USDA.

As you can see, ethanol does not play a factor in the food supply, and DOES NOT have an effect on food prices. So next time you’re in the store, remember that the can of corn you are picking up only represents 1% of the entire corn crop that is grown in the U.S. and that the corn being used for ethanol won’t affect your grocery bill!

Check back on Friday, July 1 to bust Myth #3!

June 28, 2011

Podcast: Without ethanol, gas prices would be a lot higher

In this podcast, Carl Sousek, a farmer from Prague and president of the Nebraska Corn Growers Association, wonders if people would be interested in paying nearly $100 to fill up a 15-gallon gas tank in their car. That’s what it would cost if ethanol were removed from the marketplace, according to a researchers at the Center for Agricultural and Rural Development at Iowa State University.

The researchers said if ethanol production came to an immediate halt, the estimated gasoline price increase would be of "historic proportions" ranging from 41 to 92 percent. At today's prices you'd be looking at $5.60 to $7.60 per gallon of gas without ethanol.

Sousek said economists are already concerned what $100 oil and expensive gasoline is doing to our economy. Just imagine the impact of $6.50 gas – or nearly $100 for a 15-gallon fill up!

A recent Harris Poll said nearly one-third of people across the country have cut back on dining out due to high gas prices, while 20 percent have cut back on entertainment and 10 percent have cut back on buying new clothes.

It’s not good for the economy when people have to cut back just to pay for gas to get to work. "I’m thankful we have more than 13 billion gallons of ethanol adding to the fuel supply," he said. "Without it, we’d be in big trouble."

He noted that the Iowa State study concluded that the more than 13 billion gallons of ethanol in the marketplace last year saved drivers on average across the country 89 cents per gallon. Here in the Midwest, ethanol saved us $1.37 cents per gallon, or roughly $20 for each 15-gallon fill-up.

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

June 27, 2011

Busting the 5 Myths of Ethanol: Myth #1


When pulling into the gas station, it’s hard not to gasp when seeing the price of fuel. For many, it easily costs more than $50 to fuel their vehicle. Then a person drives down the road a little ways and sees that a gas station offers E85 at a lower price compared to regular gasoline.

After seeing this they are curious to find out what E85 is and why it actually costs less. Once they have done some research, they find out E85 is actually 85 percent ethanol. However, they still are not sure about using E85 because of all of the myths that have been floating around about ethanol.

Today, we are going to bust the first myth about ethanol and provide you with facts about the ethanol industry. Most of this information came from a post by Forrest Jehlik, who works for the Argonne National Laboratory. His research is energy-neutral and did not post this information as a favor of the ethanol industry.

Our first myth is: Ethanol requires more energy to make than it yields. This myth is false, and research has shown that ethanol actually yields more energy than it uses to make. The Argonne National Laboratory research has shown that ethanol being made from corn actually delivers a positive energy balance of 8.8 mega joules per liter. As technology continues to improve, so does second-generation biofuels. The Biomass and Bioenergy Journal published a study that showed that cellulosic sources are six times better than what we used to use.

There are two main reasons why ethanol is energy positive. The first reason is that corn production is much more efficient than what it was 10, 20 and 30 years ago. Today, corn farmers are producing corn that averages around 160 bushels compared to corn that only averaged 98 bushels back in 1980. Not only has corn yields improved since 1980, but they continue to improve every year.

The second reason is that ethanol is more energy efficient. Most of the corn that is used in ethanol production today goes through the dry milling process, which uses less energy than the wet milling process. Also, the amount of ethanol being derived from each bushel of corn has increased by 50 percent.

As a person can tell, ethanol does not require more energy to make than it yields. This proves that our first myth is wrong and that ethanol is truly a renewable and green resource. To learn more about Nebraska’s corn farmers or the ethanol industry, visit the Nebraska Corn Board's website.

Check back on Wednesday, June 29 to bust the second myth!

June 24, 2011

Podcast: Big oil profits sends money overseas, while ethanol keeps everything local

In this podcast, Dennis Gengenbach, a farmer from Smithfield and member of the Nebraska Corn Board, talks about how high oil prices impact everything we buy.

High-energy costs increase the cost of producing things, he said, whether that be widgets or breakfast cereal.

"In the end, we see the impact of higher energy costs in every transaction in every store, including the grocery store, because oil prices impact every step of the process," he said. "It takes dollars away from families and slows our economic recovery."

He notes that global oil companies are seeing massive profits yet the industry continues to keep tax breaks, tax credits and other subsidies, some of which have been in place for a nearly century.

Gengenbach then compares that to ethanol, which he notes "keeps everything local."

He also points out that few companies are willing to make multi-million dollar investments in towns of a couple hundred people or less. "Those investments came to rural Nebraska because of ethanol. Without it we wouldn’t have those jobs or tax revenues," he said.

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

June 23, 2011

Busting the 5 Myths of Ethanol!


Today, there are 204 ethanol plants located throughout the U.S., with 24 of them being right here in Nebraska. Along with the ethanol plants, there are approximately 2,427 E85 fuel stations and 295 blender pump locations located throughout the U.S. To find where these fuel stations are located, visit EthanolRetailer.com. Currently, the U.S. produces around 900,000 barrels of ethanol a day, which in comparison surpasses the amount of oil that we import from Nigeria. This already shows how ethanol can help reduce our dependence on oil and save us from paying over $4 for a gallon of gasoline.

Although all of that information sounds good, not everyone knows it and there are several myths flowing around that ethanol is not a good alternative fuel for oil. Over these next couple of weeks, I will be blogging about the 5 myths of ethanol.

The five myths we will be looking at are:
Myth #1: Ethanol requires more energy to make than it yields.
Myth #2: Ethanol production reduces our food supply.
Myth #3: Ethanol crops and production emit more greenhouse gases than gasoline.
Myth #4: Ethanol requires too much water to produce.
Myth #5: Cars get lower gas mileage with ethanol.

The information we are going to use to bust these myths were found in a post that Forrest Jehlik wrote, who works for the Argonne National Laboratory. The Argonne National Laboratory is one of the U.S. Department of Energy’s oldest and largest national laboratories. This laboratory does research on a variety of different energies that are used throughout the U.S. Through his work at the Argonne National Laboratory, he was able to bust each myth, along with providing us details on why that myth is true or false. However, it should be noted that the research he does is energy-neutral and that his post about ethanol will not benefit him in anyway.

We will bust the first myth on Monday, June 27. Until then, you can visit the Nebraska Corn Board’s website to learn more about Nebraska’s corn farmers and the ethanol industry!

June 22, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Ridging Corn


Observations from China

By Dennis Gengenbach, Nebraska Corn Board District 6 Director and Vice Chair

I had the opportunity to travel with the U.S. Grains Council for the 2011 Spring Corn Tour to Northeast China, where we surveyed the corn growing conditions and studied the Chinese government policies that affect acreage, marketing and demand. We met with farmers, traders and provincial officials in the northeastern China provinces of Heilongjiang and Jilin, both major corn producing areas.

My first and foremost impression of Chinese agriculture is that their farmers are focused and work very hard. The Chinese people were also impressively friendly and appeared to be extremely health conscious. Obesity in China appeared far less of a problem than what we are experiencing in the United States. The fertile Chinese soil is high quality and would be envied by many United States corn growers. I would hope that in the future we would be able to share information and technology with our farming counterparts in China. Together we will both be better able to feed the world.

It is my opinion that with a few adjustments in their planting techniques, the Chinese farmers would be able to improve their yields and lifestyles. Changes in planting depth, plant spacing and fertilization would possibly help improve corn production. It would be an incredible experience for American and Chinese farmers to further exchange information to improve and work their soils.

The 2011 Chinese Spring Corn Tour was an incredible experience for me. It was very well organized and helped us appreciate our trading partners in China. This partnership will support us in the future as we exchange ideas and information with farmers and the agriculture industry in China. The U.S. Grains Council and the Foreign Ag Service should be proud of this fine accomplishment. “People” make the difference and both organizations are comprised of exemplary individuals.

To see more pictures from the 2011 Spring Corn Tour, check out the U.S. Grains Council’s online album.

June 21, 2011

Are fundamentals — or speculators — impacting corn markets?

By Kelly Brunkhorst, Director of Research for the Nebraska Corn Board. {NOTE: Updated with chart at bottom on 6/24/11.}

Did I miss something?

Have you ever showed up to a meeting late and a decision was made that was completely opposite of what you expected, thus asking yourself if you missed a key piece of information that others must have had.

One has to ask themselves that same question lately as you look at the futures price of corn on the Chicago Board of Trade…did I miss some information? Did we all of a sudden find a large pot of corn we didn’t expect? What happened to try supply and demand fundamentals?

USDA released its updated World Ag Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) report June 9 in which it dropped planted acreage, thus having the same effect of dropping production, supply and carryout. This caused the futures price of corn to close up that day. That makes sense.

Of course the trade had expected some of this, and the price of corn closed upwards and it seemed like fundamentals meant something…but since then. Well prices dropped a lot last week. Did we miss something? No additional reports were released.

There is constant talk of the delayed plantings effect on yield, still talk about flooded acres and an updated acreage report won’t be released until the end of June.

So what happened to the fundamentals? Nothing.

So what did we miss?

Well, there has been discussion in the past about the role of non-commercials and the effect they can have on the futures market. Seems like this is the piece of information that one sometimes forgets (or misses) and indications are that non-commercials are liquidating their positions, thus the drop in the market. 

Fundamentals are not in the driver’s seat as they should be…but speculators are. 

NOTE: The following chart was added June 24, 2011. Note that the drop in the long positions over the last week (Tuesday-Tuesday). This is nearly 300 million bushels of liquidation in a single week. A previous chart shows this figure through March.
Click the chart for a larger version. 

June 20, 2011

Nebraska corn 76% good to excellent

Nebraska's corn crop is rated 76 percent good to excellent, with 19 percent fair and only 5 percent poor to very poor, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said today. The top figure is up 3 points from two weeks ago.

Nationally, USDA said 70 percent of the crop is in good to excellent condition, with 23 percent fair and 7 percent poor to very poor. A week ago those figures were 69, 25 and 6 percent, respectively. A year ago they were 75, 18 and 7 percent, respectively.

Overall, the crop here in Nebraska and across the country is in good shape. Of course some acres were lost to flooding along the Missouri, but USDA had included some estimates of that in its last crop production report. It will be interesting to see how that plays out as the water moves south.

While all of Nebraska's corn has emerged, there were still a few acres to emerge across the country -- Pennsylvania, for example, was only 76 percent emerged. Nationally, that figure stood at 97 percent, just 2 points behind the five-year average.

This week's photo comes from the Norris FFA Chapter and shows corn off to a great start. Many acres across the state look just like this, while some acres show even taller plants that are quickly closing the canopy. For more photos, be sure to check out the Nebraska Corn Board's 2011 crop progress photo set on Flickr.

For more details of Nebraska's corn crop, visit the Corn Board's Crop Progress Update page.

June 17, 2011


Why should we choose ethanol? Watch this video to learn more about ethanol and the ethanol industry! With gas prices remaining high, we need another alternative fuel so that we can decrease our dependence on foreign oil!

June 16, 2011

Corn Farmers Coalition Campaign Returns to Washington D.C.

For the third year in a row, corn farmers from 14 different states, along with the National Corn Growers Association, are running a campaign on Capitol Hill educating lawmakers on the importance of corn farming here in the U.S. This campaign is part of the Corn Farmers Coalition program and will last until August, which is when congress will break for recess.

The whole purpose of this campaign is to tell the story of American corn farmers. Over the last several years, there has been an increasing disconnect between rural and urban areas. These days, many people question where their food is coming from and who is growing it. A majority of Americans don’t realize that 95 percent of all the corn farms here in the U.S. are family owned and have been in the family for many generations.

Most Americans also don’t realize that family farms are being more efficient with chemicals, seed, water, and land. Today, corn farmers are growing 5 times more corn than they did back in the 1930’s, and that is on 20 percent less land.

Some local faces you might recognize are being used to help share that story. The Kimball family from Callaway, Neb., and the Cantrell Family from Merna, Neb., are featured in ads, and Chris and Korene Flaming from Elsie, Neb., are featured on the cover of the Corn Fact Book.

The Corn Farmers Coalition will share key facts about family farms in Capitol Hill publications, radio spots, popular websites, and also in the metro and at Reagan National Airport. The purpose of this campaign is not to directly influence or change policy, but to present a foundation of facts so that policy makers can make the best policy decisions. The coalition will also meet with members of the media, environmental groups, members of congress, and others to share with them the importance of American agriculture!

To learn more about this campaign or about the Corn Farmers Coalition visit http://www.cornfarmerscoalition.org/.

Corn, water and the Nebraska Agricultural Water Management Network

By Kelly Brunkhorst, Director of Research for the Nebraska Corn Board

Approximately 70 percent of the corn
produced in Nebraska receives some water
from irrigation (this figure is less than 14 percent
nationally). Water is only applied when
needed, depending on rainfall.
With Nebraska's corn crop quickly advancing and soon surpassing the “knee high by the Fourth of July” mark (well ahead of the Fourth!), farmers are beginning to look at the next stage of crop growth and irrigation of this year’s corn acres.

As farmers who have access to supplemental water begin to wrestle with when to begin irrigating, the University of Nebraska Extension has some great information and helpful tools to consider.

With today’s technology, corn farmers from across the state have the opportunity to continue efficient use of water through the use of evapotranspiration (ET) gauges, water mark sensors and being part of the Nebraska Agricultural Water Management Network (NAWMN) – just to mention a few.

Not utilizing these great technologies but want to find out more information?

The University of Nebraska has some great websites and information that assist in this easy to use technology. Look here, here or here for various articles on ET gauges and crop water use.

Farmers have become significantly more
efficient with water use – and are using less water
while producing more corn. Technology like watermark
sensors and ET gauges, along with new research,
make a significant impact.
In addition, the Nebraska Corn Board’s CornsTalk newsletter (.pdf) dedicated an issue last July to various research conducted across the state to highlight the savings farmers can see with the adoption of different irrigation strategies. (For a blog post on the newsletter, click here.)

As with any job, being part of a larger network provides the opportunity to continue to learn and gain valuable information.

Started in 2005, NAWMN enables the transfer of quality research information to farmers through demonstration projects and implementation of newer technologies to enhance water efficiency. Currently, NAWMN consists of more than 500 farmers across the state who, working alongside UNL Extension Education, have adopted various technologies as described above, along with assisting other farmers with valuable crop water use.

New this year, Gary Zoubek, UNL Extension Educator in York County, will be providing weekly podcasts that highlight crop water use. Consider taking advantage of these and other opportunities to become more efficient with every drop.

June 15, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

The Corn is growing!

Thanks to the Heartland FFA Chapter for this Crop Progress Photo! You can see all of the Crop Progress photos from FFA Chapters around the state at our online Flickr photo album.

June 14, 2011

Nebraska Corn Board supports proposed ethanol legislation

The anti-ethanol, anti-biofuels amendment proposed by a Senator from Oklahoma failed in the Senate today when it fell 20 votes short of cloture. Nebraska Senators Johanns and Nelson both voted nay on cloture, which essentially killed the proposal.

You can read statements from the National Corn Growers Association, Renewable Fuels Association and Growth Energy.

Bart Schott, a farmer from Kulm, N.D., and president of NCGA, said the vote "demonstrates the Senate’s lack of desire to engage in destructive policy making," especially to an industry that supports hundreds of thousands of jobs in America during a time of economic uncertainty.

He noted that the ethanol industry has been proactive in its efforts to reform, unlike the oil and gas industry.

The reform Schott refers to is the Ethanol Reform and Deficit Reduction Act introduced by Senators John Thune of South Dakota and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota yesterday. Nebraska Senators Johanns and Nelson are co-sponsors.

“It is comforting to know that both of our Senators that represent both sides of the aisle understand and appreciate the importance of renewable alternative energy,” Jon Holzfaster, past chairman of the Nebraska Corn Board, said in a news release. Holzfaster, a corn and cattle producer from Paxton, Neb., is also a member of the board of director’s of the National Corn Growers Association.

The proposed legislation would end the current ethanol tax incentive on July 1 and replace it with a variable tax credit tied to the price of oil. It would also extend the small producer ethanol credit through 2014. The legislation is projected to bring in $2.5 billion in revenues, with $1 billion of that dedicated to deficit reduction and $1.5 billion dedicated to building the ethanol infrastructure.

"This bill exhibits great leadership in finding the middle ground of sound budget policy and visionary support for the ethanol industry when it needs it, along with expanding the infrastructure for renewable fuels," Holzfaster said. "We have been far too dependent on foreign crude oil and not aggressive enough on supporting all forms of renewable energy."

Tim Scheer, a member of the Nebraska Corn Board who also serves on the National Corn Grower’s ethanol committee, also complimented Johanns and Nelson in recognizing the investment Nebraska has in ethanol production. Scheer is a farmer from St. Paul.

"Nebraska ranks third in the nation in corn production, second in ethanol production and second in producing distillers grains, a high energy feed for livestock. What’s great about distillers grains is the fact our cattle producers, which rank second in the nation for cattle on feed, can utilize more than 5 million tons of the high protein feed," Scheer said.

He noted that the variable tax credit structure means the tax credit only kicks in when it is needed, providing no credit when oil prices are high and a limited credit when oil prices are low.

"Nebraska’s 24 ethanol plants play a huge role in jobs and rural economic development, plus they generate a significant amount of local, state and federal taxes," Scheer said. "This bipartisan approach is innovative and forward-looking and will help ensure a stable supply of domestically-produced renewable energy into the future."

Does Ethanol Really Have a Future? Why yes it does!

By Lance Atwater, NCB Intern

Today, everyone is feeling the squeeze at the pump. What happened to the good ole days when gas was only $0.31 a gallon? Unfortunately, we aren’t seeing those 1960 prices anymore, and probably never will. Today, according to AAA, the average price for a gallon of regular gas is $3.75. That is a dollar more than what we were paying for last year, which was $2.71.

Now, it seems like what we currently are paying for is a lot, and it is, but did you know we could actually be paying for a lot higher gas prices if it wasn’t for ethanol? A study done by economists at Iowa State University and the University of Wisconsin shows that ethanol actually reduces gas prices by $0.89 a gallon. That is almost an entire dollars worth! When calculating this out, gas prices would actually be $4.64 if it was not blended with ethanol! If you think we have it bad now, just imagine if you saw this price at the gas pump!

We can clearly tell what it would be like if gas wasn’t blended with ethanol, but lately there has been people and groups saying ethanol has no future. One of the hot topics is whether ethanol should receive subsidies or not. There is no doubt our country needs to make cuts to reduce its debt, but cutting out subsidies for alternative energies may not be the best solution.

When looking at the amount of subsidies that the ethanol industry receives compared to the oil industry, ethanol receives very little. The oil industry receives between $130-280 billion while the ethanol industry only receives $17 billion. Why should we cut ethanol subsidies when, 1) it receives a much smaller amount of subsidies compared to the oil industry, and 2) it actually reduces the cost of gas at the local pump. We sure don’t see oil subsidies reducing the price of gas! Not only does ethanol reduce gas prices, but it also helps reduce the amount of emissions that vehicles give off.

Now, when talking about support, we aren’t just thinking about subsidies because honestly subsidies are not what keeps the ethanol industry going. This industry needs support from the auto manufacturers who make the flex fuel vehicles and most of all the industry needs support from the consumer. When consumers invest in ethanol, they are not only investing in this industry but they are also investing in our country’s economy. However, that is not always the case with oil. When we invest in oil, our money ends up going to economies overseas.

Ethanol has a future, and don’t let anyone tell you different. With ethanol we aren’t just reducing emissions and the costs of energy, but we are also insuring that our country will someday be energy independent.

Check out other recent blog posts about ethanol:
Ethanol plays key role in fuel supply, helps lower prices
Saudi prince wants cheaper oil so you stay hooked and forget about ethanol
Finding the solutions to feed, fuel the world
A myth is still a myth when it comes to corn and ethanol, food and fuel

June 13, 2011

Proving ethanol and E15 at 200 mph

With the checkered flag signaling Trevor Bayne’s victory at the Daytona 500, a small group of farmers were in the stands with 180,000 other fans – and millions on TV – to witness more than just the unknown driver’s first NASCAR Sprint Cup victory.

They were there to mark the first race using Sunoco Green E15, a 15 percent homegrown corn ethanol blend adopted by NASCAR this year.

NASCAR announced last fall that it was taking its environmental commitment to the next level by using E15 across all three of its national touring series. The fuel switch created an opportunity for corn farmers via the National Corn Growers Association and ethanol producers via Growth Energy to come together and form American Ethanol – and become an Official Sponsor of NASCAR.

With the agreement finalized, American Ethanol is powering NASCAR – and Nebraska corn farmers are playing a key role thanks to the backing of American Ethanol by the Nebraska Corn Board.
The result means positive messages about ethanol and E15 are in front of millions of NASCAR fans every week and American Ethanol and Nebraska farmers are along for the ride.

The Nebraska Corn Board's latest CornsTALK newsletter (.pdf) goes into a details on the partnership and gives some information as to why Nebraska corn farmers support American Ethanol. Related ethanol industry updates are also included.

Other subjects in the latest edition include A-FAN and it's I'm A Fan campaign.

June 11, 2011

Nebraska farmer gets firsthand look at China crop progress

Dennis Gengenbach (center) in a corn field in China.
Smithfield, Neb., farmer Dennis Gengenbach returned a week ago today  from China, where he surveyed the corn growing conditions and studied the Chinese government policies that affect acreage, marketing and demand.

Gengenbach, a member of the Nebraska Corn Board, was in China with participants from seven other states on the 2011 U.S. Grains Council Corn Tour.

Those on the tour met with farmers, traders and provincial officials in the northeastern China provinces of Heilongjiang and Jilin, both major corn producing areas. "As you talk to the farmers in China, agriculture is their livelihood, just like ours," Gengenbach said in a news release.

Heilongjian and Jilin provinces each produced 866 million bushels (22 million metric tons) of corn in 2010. Roughly half of the harvest was consumed locally. The rest was sold to the southern provinces where there is higher population density and feed consumption.
Chinese corn field, June 2011.

Corn planting acreage for 2011 is expected to increase marginally as farmers experienced good prices in 2010 with increased demand. While some increased corn acres have come from wheat and soybean acreage, there is also increased competition for fruits and vegetables, particularly near urban areas. Some land was unplanted and attributed to increased urban encroachment.

"China continues to balance many contending factors such as modern technology, information technology, increasing mechanization and the aging agricultural labor force. There is a vast exodus of young people to the city. We witnessed land loss due to urbanization," said Floyd Gaibler, the Council's director of trade policy, who accompanied the group.

For more photos of the trip, click here.

June 9, 2011

Podcast: Water Resources Cash Fund supported by LB229

In this podcast, Lynn Chrisp, a farmer from Kenesaw and member of the Nebraska Corn Growers Association, provides a few thoughts on the Water Resources Cash Fund and how LB229 supports the fund.

He notes that the fund is an obligation of the entire state and that contributions to the fund should focus not just on farmers but instead include all stakeholders. This is because water issues impact all of Nebraska, not just farmers or rural communities, so funding should come from a wider group of stakeholders, too.

"Through discussions and modifications to LB229, we were pleased to work with a number of stakeholders, including the Environmental Trust Fund, Natural Resources Districts, counties, municipalities and environmental, hunting and fishing groups," Chrisp said. "The result is a well-balanced funding approach that allows the Department of Natural Resources to apply to the Environmental Trust Fund for a $3.3 million grant each year for three years. Each annual grant would then be matched by the state’s general fund. If benchmarks are met, the DNR can apply for a second three-year grant funding cycle."

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

First-time NASCAR experience? Awesome!

By Kim Clark, ag program manager

Bright and early in the morning on June 5th, 92 Nebraska corn farmers boarded buses in Lincoln on their way to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Kansas Speedway. For many, this was the first time attending a NASCAR race and everyone seemed eager and excited to get the full experience from the American Ethanol hospitality tent to the pit tour to the race.

We left Lincoln at 5:00 am with the buses stocked full of water, snacks and sunscreen. The high temperature for the day was a scorching 100 degrees and we wanted to be prepared!

By arriving at the track at 9:00 a.m., we had time to tour pit road where we went behind the scenes of each driver’s pit area and saw them gluing the lug nuts onto the tires. When changing tires during the race, the crew doesn’t want to lug nuts falling onto the ground and have to search for them. Speed is everything!

One gentlemen gave a quick tour of American Ethanol driver Clint Bowyer’s pit area and mentioned that by adding 15 percent ethanol to the racing fuel, the cars are getting 50 more horsepower from the engine. More ethanol = more power!

After touring the pit area, we walked onto the track itself. It was amazing to see how much of an incline the track had! Here are some quick facts about the 55-foot wide track:
  • It’s 1.5 miles long,
  • It has a 15 degree incline in each turn, and
  • A 10.4 degree incline in the front stretch.
While on the track, we noticed people signing the white line that goes around the inside of the track – so we put our autographs on the line, too.

Before the race began, we visited the American Ethanol tent for lunch. While there, car owner Richard Childress stopped by to answer a few questions about NASCAR and ethanol. NASCAR is very excited about using ethanol and is testing the impact of increasing the amount of ethanol used in race cars.

The green flag dropped at noon. Hearing the noise of the cars as they drove by at about 180 miles per hour was incredible. It took a little over 30 seconds to make one lap around the track. Only a couple of caution flags came out during the race, and they were for debris on the track. The last 100 laps of the race were under the American Ethanol green flag.

Nearly everyone was rooting for Bowyer, a Kansas native and American Ethanol spokesperson who had a full paint-out of American Ethanol on his car. Bowyer started the race in the 27th spot and started moving toward the leader of the race right away. He was able to move into one of the top 10 positions, but after a pit stop toward the end of the race, he finished 18th.

The NASCAR experience was great! Everyone attending the race and watching on TV saw how some of the Nebraska corn check-off dollars were invested to support ethanol and inform consumers about the benefits of ethanol through the American Ethanol partnership.

Everyone should have at least one NASCAR experience in his or her life! I’ve crossed it off my bucket list…but am sure I’ll be back!

Check out more pictures from the NASCAR race in Kansas City on our Flickr online photo album.

June 8, 2011

Interns important to corn industry in Nebraska

For more than two decades, the Nebraska Corn Board has been blessed with many college student interns selected to work beside staff and members of the board as part of an ongoing internship program.

Starting this summer, two new interns began their time with the Nebraska Corn Board. Lance Atwater of Ayr, Neb., is interning at the board’s office in Lincoln, while Alissa Doerr of Creighton, Neb., is spending the summer with the National Corn Growers Association’s office in Washington, D.C.

Nebraska Internship
The Nebraska Corn Board office welcomed Lance Atwater for a year-long internship in May. Atwater will collect and report corn and corn product utilization and transportation data, assist with market development and government relations programs and activities, oversee crop progress report placement and be involved in communication efforts as a part of his internship.

“Lance will be an excellent contribution to our staff over the next year,” said Don Hutchens, executive director for the Nebraska Corn Board. “His enthusiasm and work ethic are already apparent, and his knowledge of agriculture represents his commitment to the Nebraska corn industry.”

Atwater, who grew up on a corn and soybean farm, will be a junior in agricultural economics at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. On campus, he is involved as a student ambassador in the agricultural economics department, an officer for the UNL National Agri-Marketing Association chapter and a member of the Ag Econ and Agribusiness Club.

Washington, D.C. Internship
The National Corn Growers Association’s Washington office welcomed Alissa Doerr, an intern sponsored through a partnership between the Nebraska Corn Board and NCGA. Doerr will assist NCGA staff on a variety of issues related to environmental regulations, transportation, pending free trade agreements, biotechnology, ethanol and energy.

“We look forward to having Alissa with us this summer,” said Jon Doggett, vice president of public policy for NCGA. “The Nebraska Corn Board’s intern program provides exceptional opportunities for both the interns and NCGA. These bright, energetic college students provide a fresh perspective. It is absolutely vital for young people, especially those who want to be involved in agriculture, to understand how their government works and the best ways to become part of the process. We appreciate the Nebraska Corn Board’s support in this outstanding program.”

Doerr will also have the opportunity to shadow each of the NCGA lobbyists over the course of the summer. She will report to Jennifer Holdgreve, NCGA’s Washington office manager and will also be working closely with Doggett.

Doerr, who grew up on a cattle and corn farm, is an agricultural economics major with a public policy option at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln.

June 7, 2011

Nebraska dairy cows love Nebraska corn

What better way to celebrate June being Dairy Month than by having a nice, cold glass of milk! Thanks to the many hard working and dedicated dairy farmers and families, we are able to get our nutrition from a number of dairy products, including milks, cheeses, yogurts, and much more!

Here in Nebraska, there are 230 dairy farms that are producing milk for consumers located in the state, U.S., and around the world! On average, a dairy cow can produce 6.4 gallons of milk a day, which ends up being 2,325 gallons in a typical year.

Now, there are a lot of things that attribute to this large output of milk, such as Nebraska’s resources. These resources include feed, land, water, labor, and most of all, Nebraska’s quality of life. When looking at feed, Nebraska has an abundant supply of high quality feed: corn!

Another abundant feed source from Nebraska being used in the dairy industry is the corn-ethanol co-product, distillers grains. On average, a dairy cow can consume roughly five or more pounds of dried distillers grains a day.

The Nebraska Corn Board has partnered with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln to complete research on feeding dairy cows dried distillers grains and how it affects milk production. According to the research, dried distillers grains does not have a negative impact on milk production as long as the dairy cows are being fed a balanced diet. One benefit of distillers grains is that it provides dairy cows the necessary fiber. This fiber helps the cows have a better digestive system, which in turn helps keep the animal healthy.

Check out this video to learn more about Nebraska dairies and how Nebraska corn is helping provide these nutritious milk products.

Find more about feeding dairy cows corn coproducts here.

Read similar posts on feeding distillers grains here.

June 6, 2011

73 percent of Nebraska corn in good to excellent condition

The U.S. Department of Agriculture said today that 73 percent of Nebraska's corn crop was in good to excellent condition for the week ending June 5. It said 25 percent of the crop was in fair condition and only 2 percent was rated poor. None of the crop was in the very poor category.

As for emergence, USDA said 88 percent of the crop had emerged, up 11 points from last week but 7 points behind the five-year average. Warmer weather over the weekend and this week, though, will get things up and growing pretty quickly.

Nationally, USDA said 94 percent of the corn crop was planted, up from last week’s 86 percent and only 4 points behind the five-year average of 98 percent planted by this date. Good progress was made in several states, including Ohio (from 19 to 58 percent planted in the last week), North Dakota (87 percent planted), Indiana (82 percent planted) and Michigan (82 percent planted).

Because of the late planting in many areas, only 79 percent of the crop nationwide has emerged, compared to the five-year average of 90 percent. Overall crop conditions, though, are pretty good, with 67 percent of the country's corn crop in good to excellent condition (up 4 points from last week), 27 percent fair and 6 percent poor to very poor. A year ago, 76 percent of the crop was in good to excellent condition.

For photos of this year's crop progress, be sure to check out the Nebraska Corn Board's 2011 crop progress photo set on Flickr.

For more details of the crop, visit the Corn Board's Crop Progress Update page.

June 2, 2011

Off to the Races….Running on American Ethanol


By Kim Clark, ag program manager
This Sunday, June 5, marks the first time the NASCAR Sprint Cup Racing Series will be running on American Ethanol at Kansas Speedway. What an exciting time for corn farmers, including Nebraska’s corn farmers!

More than 420 corn farmers – 95 from Nebraska – will be attending the race to support NASCAR’s switch to American Ethanol and E15. They’ll be telling their story to the general public about raising corn, the benefits of ethanol and explaining why American Ethanol and corn farmers entered into this historic partnership.

NASCAR has an audience of more than 75 million fans that includes all ages and demographics. What better way to tell the ethanol story than to the largest fan base in any sport!

The American Ethanol partnership was formed between Growth Energy and the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA), with Nebraska corn farmers supporting NCGA in the partnership as a way spread the word about the benefits of ethanol.

At this weekend’s race, the American Ethanol logo and messages will be displayed around the track. The stretch between turns two and three will have the American Ethanol “green,” and there will be an American Ethanol chalet for visitors and farmers. Educational materials at the track will include a flex fuel vehicle, blender pump and other ethanol-related items.

Of course the most noticeable American Ethanol logo will be the #33 Clint Bowyer (a Kansas native) car, which American Ethanol is sponsoring this season. Sunday’s race will be the first time his car will have a full paint-out with the American Ethanol logo. His car will have the American Ethanol in-car camera.

Be sure to watch the race this Sunday, starting at noon on FOX, to see the hundreds of corn farmers representing American Ethanol.