July 28, 2011

Nebraska growers support Corn Caucus Project

The Nebraska Corn Growers Association is a partner in the Corn Caucus Project.

The project is coordinated by the Iowa Corn Growers Association and National Corn Growers Association, in partnership with NeCGA and corn grower associations from Illinois, Kentucky and Minnesota.

The Corn Caucus Project’s purpose is to keep corn growers informed and engaged in the 2012 presidential campaign. The primary goal of this program is to contact all campaigns to discuss corn (NCGA) policies and form a relationship with all campaigns, so that they consider and incorporate corn policy positions into their respective campaigns.

“We are excited to once again be participating in the Corn Caucus Project,” said Bruce Rohwer a farmer from Paullina and Iowa Corn’s political action committee chair. “This program helps all of agriculture have a voice in the policy making process by getting involved in campaigns while they are here in Iowa.”

A secondary goal of the Corn Caucus Project is to evaluate candidate positions on corn policy issues, and publicize these positions to our members, NCGA members, other agricultural groups, and the media prior to the Iowa Caucus in February 2012.

Activities include a policy survey for candidates, media tracking, communication with campaigns on NCGA positions and priorities, and corn grower involvement in campaigns including volunteering and attending candidate events.

The Corn Caucus Project does not endorse any candidate — it is just an information resource.

For more information click here.

July 27, 2011

Getting the Facts Right


If you are one of the millions who reads TIME magazine, you have probably read the article called “Want to Make More than a Banker? Become a Farmer!” The article was published in the first part of July and features farmers from Central Nebraska. At first I thought it was great to see agriculture being spot lighted in such a popular national magazine, especially Nebraska agriculture. However after reading it, I was left feeling puzzled and frustrated. While there was accurate information in the article, I thought that the journalist left out some important information that reflects Nebraska’s agriculture industry: that the majority of farms are family owned. Nowhere in the article did I see the two words, “family farm” together. Still, I can’t say the entire article was bad either because there was some accurate information mentioned in it, such as farming being more efficient with new technology and the value of the farm increasing.

However, I do want to mention a few things that I feel the article is wrong about. The first thing is that the article says a person should become a farmer because food prices are high. To me, this portrays the farmer as the one benefiting from high food prices when that is not the case at all. The farmer only receives a small fraction of a dollar from the food that is put on grocery shelves. The reason why food prices are so high is because of the energy that is being used to ship the food to its final destination. The only thing that farmers are currently benefiting from is high grain prices, which is caused by many other factors that farmers cannot control. Yet, farming is capital intensive and the cost of production is increasing, making tight profit margins for many farmers.

The second thing I want to point out that the article mentioned was that the agriculture industry has “lax” regulations. As far as I know, this industry has some of the strictest regulations in the U.S. Although there may not be much for child labor laws, many of the children working in agriculture come from a family farm operation. Over the past several years, regulations have increased putting more of a burden on the family farm operation. If regulations were “lax”, farmers and ranchers wouldn’t have to report monthly, or even sometimes daily, to local regulators. It seems like every day there is a new regulation floating out there that will have some type of impact on farmers. But the regulations are in place for a reason and are good in providing a safe food supply.

Finally, the article never mentioned how farming can at times be stressful and involve a lot of hard work. Farming is definitely not an 8-5 job with the weekends off. It is a 24/7 job that doesn’t always allow families to take vacations or even get off the farm much. Farming is a commitment, and sometimes the farm comes before other things. Like someone once said, “Farming is not just a job; it is a way of life”. If farming was easy, everyone would be doing it. However, that’s not the case and the ones that are still in the farming business are doing it because they have a passion for it. If farmers didn’t have a passion for agriculture, they probably wouldn’t be in the business of growing food for a growing population. Luckily, the farmers that are still working the fields and raising the livestock still have that passion, which allows us to eat three times a day – or more!.

As I mentioned earlier, the entire TIME magazine article wasn’t completely wrong, but I felt there were certain parts that needed to be cleared up. It seems like there is already plenty of false information floating around out there about agriculture, and it seems like it is time to start getting the facts right. I hope this won’t be the last time we see agriculture featured in TIME magazine, but I do hope that the next time it is featured, ALL of the facts are right and the American farmer is portrayed correctly.

July 26, 2011

Corn Farmers Coalition produces Corn Fact Book

The Corn Farmers Coalition campaign continues in Washington D.C. where corn farmers from 14 different states, along with the National Corn Growers Association continue to educate lawmakers on the importance of corn farming here in the U.S. The campaign is also educating the general public about farming by running radio ads, using billboards, and handing out booklets. This campaign is part of the Corn Farmers Coalition program and will last until August, which is when congress will break for recess.

One of the tools being used by in the coalition is the Corn Fact Book. This booklet features farmers from all across corn producing states. The booklet emphasizes on the family farm and tells how 95% of all corn farms in America are family owned and operated. It also hits on what corn farmers are doing today to produce more food and fuel with fewer resources. This educational tool provides the opportunity for others unfamiliar with agriculture to learn about how corn production has advanced over the past century and what farmers are doing today to feed a growing population.

You can find this fact book online or if you or someone you know may be interested in receiving a hard copy of the Corn Fact Book, contact the Nebraska Corn Board office at (402) 471-2676 or email ncb.intern2@nebraska.gov.

July 22, 2011

Podcast: Farmers in Japan to promote U.S. beef, discuss grain donation program

In this podcast, Steve Nelson, a farmer from Schuyler and member of the Nebraska Corn Growers Association, talks about a mission to Japan several individuals from Nebraska were on to promote U.S. beef but also to visit a portion of Japan that was devastated by the earthquake and tsunami earlier this year.

{NOTE: This podcast was recorded while the team was in Japan. For more on the mission, click here.}

The mission was initiated and supported by the Nebraska Corn Board and conducted in partnership with the U.S. Meat Export Federation.

Two Nebraska farmers on the mission were Bill Schuster and John Willoughby, Nelson said, noting that they were instrumental in getting the Nebraska Corn Growers grain donation program up and running. The program allows farmers to donate grain to the Red Cross at any Aurora Cooperative or CPI location. The grain is then sold and money goes directly to help Red Cross efforts in Japan.
"So far, more than $60,000 have been raised, which is just tremendous," Nelson said, "but don’t forget donations can be made through the end of July."

Nelson said a ceremonial check presentation to the Red Cross is being planned for the Nebraska State Fair on Sunday, September 4, so be sure to mark that day on your calendar.

He also noted other needs of the Red Cross, as it supports many relief efforts right here in Nebraska. From blood donations to help with the flooding, the Red Cross can use your support. Just contact a local office to see how you can help.

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

July 19, 2011

Nebraska delegation supports sales of U.S beef in Japan

The Nebraska Corn Board initiated and funded a delegation earlier this month to get an in-depth view of the U.S. corn-fed beef promotions taking place in Japan through the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF), the board said in a news release. Photos from the mission are on Flickr.

USMEF has worked very hard in the Japanese market to gain market share after the 2003 BSE scare, and the team was encouraged after observing the tremendous potential for U.S. beef consumption in Japan. The team observed sales of U.S. beef in grocery stores, convenience stores and restaurants. In all these locations, USMEF’s “We Care” campaign logo was visible and provided a great way for consumers to connect to U.S. beef.

“It was amazing how the grocery stores aggressively marketed U.S. beef through special promotions and tasting demos in the store,” said John Willoughby, a farmer from Wood River who is a member of the Nebraska Corn Growers Association. “We saw women feeding their children U.S. beef, so we know it is a trusted protein source in Japan.”

John Willoughby and Bill Schuster cutting steak
to serve to tsunami evacuees.
Willoughby and Bill Schuster, a farmer from Phillips who is also board chairman for Aurora Cooperative, were involved in the mission because of their role in creating the Red Cross grain donation program in Nebraska. The program allows farmers in Nebraska to donate grain to the Red Cross in support of the organization’s relief efforts in Japan and throughout the Pacific following the earthquake and tsunami in March. Grain donations are being accepted through the end of July at Aurora Cooperative and CPI locations. The team discerned that even though the disaster is no longer making headlines, more aid is needed.

“It was devastating seeing the before and after pictures of the tsunami-stricken area we were in, and how fast the area was destroyed was unbelievable,” said Schuster. “I am glad we could see how Nebraska farmers’ efforts through the grain donation program to the Red Cross were needed and used.”

While in the earthquake and tsunami region, the team helped grill and serve 500 meals of U.S. beef to evacuees.

Curt Tomasevicz, a U.S. Olympic gold medalist and Nebraska corn spokesman, was also on the mission. As a high-level athlete, he was able to share the importance of protein like Nebraska and U.S. beef in a balanced diet.

Curt Tomasevicz helping grill steak for
tsunami evacuees in Japan.
During the mission, the team met with and spoke to a girl’s soccer team, and presented them with U.S. beef “bento” boxes – lunch boxes that included beef or pork and noodles or rice – that are part of a special promotion with a Japanese convenience store. They also met with a member of the Japanese Olympic Committee where Tomasevicz had an opportunity to talk about his role as an Olympic athlete being a spokesman for Nebraska agriculture and the purpose of supporting exports of U.S. beef and pork to Japan.

“Having Curt on the mission was such a unique experience because his gold medal was recognized everywhere,” said Kelsey Pope, ag promotion coordinator of the Nebraska Corn Board and delegate on the mission. “Even when we didn’t have an interpreter, we were able to communicate with the people through their recognition and respect of the medal and the Olympian.”

Curt Tomasevicz showing his gold medal
to a girls soccer team in Japan.
The return on investment for corn checkoff, Foreign Market Development (FMD) and U.S. Department of Agriculture Market Access Program (MAP) dollars utilized in Japan was also noted by the team. USMEF uses checkoff dollars to secure FMD and MAP funding, which then further extends the initial investment of checkoff dollars to promote U.S. beef and pork exports in Japan and around the world.

“As a corn farmer, it is important to note that because the corn checkoff has invested so much in the state and into USMEF, more exports of corn and corn-fed beef are possible,” Schuster said.

“There is a great advantage to exporting U.S. beef to Japan,” he said, “in part because exports add a lot of value to the cuts of beef they prefer, cuts that may otherwise just be used for hamburger in the U.S. The key is getting the right value at the right place and USMEF is doing that.”

July 18, 2011

Nebraska corn 82% good to excellent, 34% silking

The U.S. Department of Agriculture said today that 34 percent of Nebraska’s corn crop was silking as of July 17. That’s up from 9 percent last week but is below the five-year average of 52 percent silking by this point, while last year 55 percent was silking.

Warm weather over the weekend and into this week, however, will allow later-planted corn to catch up very quickly.

As for crop conditions, USDA said 82 percent of Nebraska’s crop was in good to excellent condition, with 14 percent fair and only 4 percent poor to very poor. A week ago the numbers were 84, 12 and 4 percent, showing the crop has declined a bit but that is fairly normal for this time of year, especially considering some acres were flooded and are now being hammered by hot weather.

Nationally, USDA said 66 percent of the crop was in good to excellent condition, 23 percent was fair and 11 percent was poor to very poor. A week ago those numbers were 69, 22 and 9 percent, while last year they were 72, 19 and 9 percent.

Nationally, 35 percent of the crop was silking, which was up from 14 percent last week but is behind the five-year average of 47 percent. A year ago, 62 percent of the crop was silking.

This week's photo comes from the Holdrege FFA Chapter. 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.

July 15, 2011

Chrisp elected to National Corn Board

Nebraska farmer Lynn Chrisp of Kenesaw was elected to the National Corn Board during Corn Congress in Washington, D.C., this week.

Chrisp is a member of the Nebraska Corn Growers Association and was one of five farmers elected to the board, which oversees the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA).

Corn Congress is an annual event where NCGA members and delegates gather to discuss policy and vote on leadership for the next year. In addition to electing five board members, delegates unanimously ratified Pam Johnson of Iowa to serve as the next first vice president for the organization, putting her on track to become president in October 2012. The president for 2011, Garry Neimeyer of Illinois, takes over in October this year when current president Bart Schott of North Dakota becomes chairman.

Nebraska farmer Lynn Chrisp giving a speech
at Corn Congress in Washington, D.C. this week
Source: NCGA Flickr.
As for Chrisp, he previously chaired NCGA’s National Corn Yield Contest and served for eight years on its Public Policy Action Team, where he helped guide NCGA through two farm bills and the approval of the ACRE program, which was a fundamental reform of U.S. farm policy.

Chrisp also currently serves as the vice chair of the Southern Public Power board of directors.

“Lynn has served on the Nebraska Corn Growers executive committee since 1992 and currently co-chairs our government relations committee,” said Carl Sousek, president of the Nebraska Corn Growers. “He has done an outstanding job representing Nebraska farmers and working on behalf of all farmers with NCGA. He is an excellent addition to the National Corn Board.”

Chrisp joins Paxton, Neb., farmer Jon Holzfaster on the National Corn Board. Holzfaster, who is past chairman of the Nebraska Corn Board, was elected to the 15-member national board a year ago.

July 14, 2011

Nebraska corn-fed beef team wraps up mission in Japan

The final two days of the Nebraska corn-fed beef mission really allowed the team to reach a consumer audience.

On Monday, the team travelled to Nagano, Japan, where the 1998 Winter Olympics were held. As we had Curt Tomasevicz, 2010 Vancouver Olympics Gold Medalist in the bobsled on the trade mission, the U.S. Meat Export Federation set up a meeting for our team with Mr. Koshi, member of the Japanese Olympic Committee and coaching director of the Japanese skeleton team who practices with the bobsled team.

Mr. Koshi gave our team a tour of the bobsled track and facilities. He even took us to the top and let us walk down the track - good thing it was summer! During our walk down the track - about a mile long - Curt had a good opportunity to talk with Mr. Koshi about why he is a spokesman for Nebraska corn, and the purpose of supporting exports of U.S. beef and pork to Japan.

They also have a great training facility that he opened up for the team to practice the bobsled - so we made sure Curt got his training in for the day and pushed each of us for a ride.

Nagano is an interesting town and it was great to see the vibrant culture and the pride that the Japanese people had in having hosted the 1998 Winter Olympics. When we arrived back in Tokyo that evening, the group got to observe a U.S. beef promotion at a Hibachi restaurant where the food is prepared in front of you on a big grill by the chef. The neatest part about this restaurant was the sign hanging in the corner that showed the age & source verification numbers of the U.S. beef.

On Tuesday before the team left, we interviewed with two livestock and meat journalists in Japan, as well as a consumer affairs journalist to answer questions about the trade mission, their farms back home, how beef is raised, their favorite cuts of beef and pork, and more. They also had a lot of specific questions for Curt as they were excited to include his role in promoting Nebraska corn-fed red meat in Japan.

View more pictures of the mission on our Flickr online photo album.

July 13, 2011

Podcast: Corn crop off to great start, but flooding a concern

In this podcast, Jim Hultman, a farmer from Sutton and member of the Nebraska Corn Growers Association, said Nebraska’s corn crop continues to be in very good condition, with the crop progressing quickly.

However, he said, "we’re mindful that some parts of Nebraska and surrounding states are dealing with too much water."

For farmers, many government officials, including agriculture secretary Tom Vilsack, have taken tours of farmland and met with farmers to talk about crop insurance and other issues. the flooding is considered a natural event, which is important because federal crop insurance covers such losses.

Farm Service Agency officials have also been out reassuring farmers that losses would be covered by crop insurance. In Nebraska, the estimate is some 120,000 acres are impacted.

USDA’s Risk Management Agency, which administers the federal crop insurance program, has also put out several statements noting that insured acres would be covered, Hultman said.

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

July 12, 2011

Olympic gold medal recognized worldwide


The Olympic Gold medal that Nebraska corn spokesman, Curt Tomasevicz, carries with him is truly an iconic, international language that any person we've encountered in Japan on the corn-fed beef mission can recognize.

On Sunday, the team travelled to a Kawasaki City elementary school where we partnered with Lawson Convenience Stores - the second largest convenience store chain in Japan - to meet with a girls soccer team and distribute U.S. beef "bento boxes" or beef and rice microwavable lunches, to the girls. The girls team comprised of 7-10 year olds, were aware that our team was coming, but they were most excited about meeting Curt, the Olympic Gold Medalist.

Most girls were shy at first, but had prepared questions in English to ask Curt about the Olympics, his favorite food, and why he was in Japan. It was a great opportunity for Curt to share to the young athletes about staying healthy and eating right, as well as the reason for being in Japan - to promote U.S. beef and that U.S. beef is fed with high-quality U.S. corn grown by farmers like John Willoughby and Bill Schuster.

The team then shared their lunch time with our team and wanted to play soccer with Curt.

It has been such a unique experience having Curt travel with our team because we don't have to speak Japanese for people to understand and respect an Olympian. And thus, people then trust U.S. farmers and ranchers because of Curt's role in representing them.

July 11, 2011

U.S. corn-fed beef brightens spirits of Japan disaster evacuees

You're traveling through the Japan countryside, through beautiful, green rice paddies and tree covered mountains when you turn the bend and see the coast. You can easily see the water two miles away because what once was thriving coastal cities, is now a layer of debris, mostly flat except for the piles that workers have begun to sort the wreckage.

The earthquake and tsunami in Japan was March 11 — 122 days ago — and the disaster area is still very devastating to see. Buildings flattened, cars crushed, hundreds of boats inland. It was a very emotional sight, but the Nebraska Corn and Beef teams had a great mission in front of them - to cook and feed 500 servings of U.S. beef to evacuees.

The U.S. Meat Export Federation team set up at a hotel that was on top of a hill near a fishing village on the coast that was spared. The hotel owner opened up the hotel as a shelter for people from the area - some full families, some individuals. This shelter was open to feeding the people staying there, as well as local cleanup workers to come and enjoy a free meal.

The team cooked U.S. sirloin steaks that were donated by many U.S. companies through USMEF for the relief effort. Sam Harada, USMEF senior director, said they have partnered with trade organizations like food service, wholesale, processors, etc., to lead the cooperative relief effort. They have gone to more than 30 locations, served more than 93,000 servings of beef and pork and have a goal of serving more than 100,000.

"The relief efforts are very important to lead to a recovery of the meat market," said Harada. "It is great for the Japanese people, but also to help show the compassion of U.S. beef and pork producers."

All of the evacuees were very grateful for the U.S. beef, as many of them did not have meat for more than one month after the disaster. It was humbling to walk through the line of evacuees waiting for the beef bowl lunch and receive handshakes, thank yous and big smiles.

This was also a great experience for John Willoughby and Bill Schuster to see how their efforts through the Nebraska grain donation program went into effect.

"The Red Cross has a huge role in helping in the cleanup and recovery process," said Schuster, "Nebraska farmers have been a significant part of that."

Grain donation program passes $60,000 for Red Cross earthquake, tsunami relief in Japan

Nebraska farmers have gone well beyond an initial $50,000 goal as part of a grain donation program to support Red Cross efforts to help those impacted by the earthquake and tsunami in Japan and the Pacific.

Grain donations through July 1 have sold for a total of more than $60,000 in support of the initiative, said Carl Sousek, a farmer from Prague who is president of the Nebraska Corn Growers Association.

“Response to the program has been tremendous but we want to finish strong and continue to encourage farmers to donate additional bushels,” he said. “Corn, soybeans, wheat and sorghum are all welcome.”

Donations will be accepted through July 30 at all Aurora Cooperative and Cooperative Producers Inc. (CPI) locations. Farmers can deliver grain and designate it for the Red Cross effort or contribute bushels they have in storage at the cooperatives by contacting their grain merchandiser and transferring ownership to the Red Cross.

“Money raised through the grain donation program is so appreciated,” said Susan Epps, executive director of the Cornhusker Community Chapter of the American Red Cross. “There continues to be a tremendous need in Japan and Pacific, and it is wonderful to pass this support along where it will do a lot of good.”

Sousek also noted that while those involved want to raise additional funds for relief efforts in Japan, they also want to encourage farmers and others to support Red Cross efforts here in Nebraska. “Between flooding and other local needs like blood donations, there are a lot of opportunities to help,” Sousek said.

Epps said there is always a need for blood, especially in the summer.

“Local blood drives in some parts of the state have stopped because of flooding, creating additional demand for blood from other areas,” she said. “We also encourage volunteers to go through Red Cross training so they can help respond in an emergency or other disaster. Financial support, of course, is always needed, especially as we provide food and other resources to those impacted by flooding and other disasters.”

For background on the grain donation program, click here.

For the past week, a couple of Nebraska corn growers have been in Japan to promote U.S. beef and pork -- and to help deliver meals to evacuees. For information on that mission, click here or for a compilation of posts, click here.

Nebraska Corn Board Hosts Southeast Asia Trade Team

On June 30, the Nebraska Corn Board along with the U.S. Grains Council hosted a trade team from the countries of Indonesia, Malaysia, and Vietnam.

During the trade team’s visit to Nebraska, they toured the E Energy Adams ethanol plant located outside of Adams. The trade team also visited a dryland grain farm that is owned and operated by Dave Nielsen, who serves as a board member for the Nebraska Corn Board.

While at the E Energy Adams ethanol plant, the trade team members were able to see how we process corn into an alternative fuel. They learned about the methods we use and also learned about two products that come from ethanol production, ethanol and distillers grains (DG). After touring the plant, the trade team members were able to tour the scale house and see how the corn was tested before it could be unloaded at the plant. Many of the of the trade team members were fascinated by the technology that the grain testers used when checking a load of corn to see if it was high enough quality to be used for ethanol production.

Next, the trade team had the opportunity to visit with one of E Energy Adams commodity managers, who spoke about the financials of an ethanol plant. He also answered any questions that the trade team members had about the ethanol market or industry.

After visiting the E Energy Adams plant, the trade team headed to Dave Nielsen’s farm. Dave talked about his multi-generational farm operation and discussed some of the challenges that U.S. farmers are facing. Some of those challenges include more regulations and increasing land values. He also mentioned some of the strengths that U.S. farmers have, such as increasing production with less. Dave reassured the trade team representatives that U.S. farmers want to provide other countries with the highest quality product.

To finish the evening off, trade team members were able to attend a dinner at Misty’s in Lincoln and enjoy some of Nebraska’s Corn Fed beef! The trade team met with Greg Ibach, who is the Nebraska Department of Agriculture’s Director; Steve Nelson, who is the Vice President of the Nebraska Farm Bureau; and Burdette Piening, with the Nebraska Sorghum Board.

Overall it was a great visit and many of the trade team representatives said that they were more interested in U.S. grains after seeing grain production first hand.

You can see more pictures of the Southeast Asia Trade Team at flickr!

July 9, 2011

Corn team checks out 'fast food' chain in Japan that uses U.S. beef

The Nebraska Corn and Beef teams were a part of history yesterday with U.S. Meat Export Federation Japan office staff as we were able to visit and tour the Matsuia Foods Company plant in Ranzan, just northwest of Tokyo.

{For more on the Nebraska Corn Board mission to Japan, click here.}

Matsuia is a type of "fast-food" restaurant chain with outlets scattered throughout Japan, and even some in China and one in New York City. Their main featured dish is a beef bowl - large bowls filled with rice and topped with short plate beef, boiled and seasoned. They also served BBQ beef short plate cuts that are thicker and the customer can choose the sauce. This was the first time that any USMEF staff or U.S. visitors were able to tour the beef processing plant as they just recently switched to using U.S. beef.
A 'fast food' meal at Matsuia.

This was a significant switch. Matsuia uses 2 million pounds of short plate cut beef per month. The short plate cut is the muscle around the stomach and is a highly preferred cut of beef in Japan, whereas in the U.S., this is used in making hamburger. By exporting the short plates from the U.S. to other countries like Japan that prefer it, we are adding value to our corn-fed beef.

Food safety is a major concern for Japan and that was very evident the moment we arrived at the Matsuia processing plant. We were asked to sanitize our hands constantly, wore full body suits with masks, hairnets and rubber boots. We then had to go into a machine that blew the dust off of us, were rolled with a dust rollers by employees and had to wash in/wash out.

Inspecting U.S. beef at the Matsuia plant.
But it was all worth the efforts to walk in and see the boxes of U.S. beef, see the machines that were slicing the short plate in different thicknesses for the beef bowls and BBQ beef, and hear the meat buyers compliment the best tasting U.S. beef and USMEF.

Even though this Matsuia beef processing plant was not directly affected by the tsunami disaster, it has had to make a big change in production. They usually serve 150 million customers per year and have the plant open five days per week. But after the disaster, the Japanese government asked the country to help conserve energy with the power plants being damaged, so they work less hours during the weekdays when more energy is used, and remain open 7 days a week to process in the daylight.

The team traveled to Sendai last night and will be participating in relief work today in handing out beef meals to evacuees.

July 8, 2011

Busting the 5 Myths of Ethanol: Myth #5

Every time an automobile commercial comes on T.V., a person can almost guarantee that the commercial will mention the vehicle’s fuel economy. Some get 24 miles per gallon, while others may get up to 40 miles per gallon. There is no doubt that a vehicle’s fuel economy is important, especially in times like today when we are paying over $3.50 just for a gallon of regular gasoline. In other words, everyone wants to get their “bang for their buck” when it comes to buying vehicles and fuel.

Talking about a vehicle’s fuel economy leads us to our final myth about ethanol, which is that automobile’s get lower gas mileage when using ethanol. You may be surprised but this myth is actually true. Studies have shown that vehicle’s that run on E85 may get up to 20% less mileage than vehicles that run on regular gasoline. This is not the case in all vehicles, and there are many factors that will change the fuel mileage such as the driver, the weather conditions, excessive braking or acceleration, driving uphill, etc. However, when looking at the price of gasoline compared to E85, E85 is priced up to 25% less expensive than regular gasoline. For many areas across the country, the fuel economy deficit is actually recovered by the cheaper fuel costs. As ethanol prices go down, E85 will become much cheaper than it is today, allowing consumers to spend less at the pump.

Research has also shown that ethanol can improve engine performance. Ethanol has a higher octane rating than gasoline, improving engine performance while also increasing power. If engines are downsized and E85 continues to become cheaper, it would lead to cost savings for the consumer. This in turn would make E85 the more favorable fuel compared to the other fuels that are being used today, even though it may get less mileage compared to gasoline.

We have finally busted the 5 myths about ethanol. As a person can see, ethanol is a true alternative fuel. It not only burns cleaner, but it is a cheaper fuel compared to regular gasoline. We have proven that 1) ethanol does NOT take more energy to produce than it yields 2) ethanol production does NOT reduce our food supply 3) GASOLINE produces MORE greenhouse gases than ethanol 4) ethanol requires LESS water now than it did several years ago and 5) although cars using ethanol get less fuel mileage, it is recovered by the CHEAPER costs of ethanol. These five busted myths prove that using ethanol will not only benefit us as consumers, but will also benefit the environment. Another perk about using ethanol is that it supports our own economy, instead of sending our money overseas to countries that don’t necessarily support the United States. Now that you know the truth about ethanol, feel free to start using more of it. You’re not just using a better fuel, but you're using a fuel made right here in America!

To learn more about Nebraska Corn Farmers or the ethanol industry, be sure the visit the Nebraska Corn Board’s website! Also be sure to check out the ethanol information video at Youtube!

July 7, 2011

Columbus Animal Shelter Supports Animal Agriculture

The Platte Valley Humane Society, located in Columbus, Nebraska, rejected a $5,000 grant that was offered from the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), according to the Columbus Telegram. The Platte Valley Humane Society is not in any way affiliated with HSUS, even though both have “humane society” in their names. The reason why the shelter declined the grant was due to some of the legislative measures that HSUS is pushing that would have an effect on animal agriculture. All 10 board directors of the Platte Valley Humane Society unanimously voted against accepting the grant from HSUS. A letter to HSUS declining the offer stated that the local humane society comes from an agricultural community and that many of HSUS’s policies would affect many of the Platte Valley Humane Society’s supporters.

It is worth noting that the local humane society has never received a grant from HSUS before and that the group never sought out a grant from HSUS. The $5,000 that was offered by HSUS would have been half of what the local humane society makes during the Platte Valley annual Furbal, the biggest fundraiser of the year. Turning down the grant was tough as it would have helped the local shelter financially, although the shelter knows that they have a great amount of support from the local community.

Many local agricultural producers and companies praised the local shelter for turning down the grant. A majority of Nebraskan’s know that agriculture and the livestock industry plays a big part in Nebraska’s economy, and concerns have risen about organizations, such as HSUS, coming in and changing the ways agriculture is run.

The decision by the Platte Valley Humane Society shows the continual support for Nebraska’s animal agriculture and continues recent support by Kearney, Hastings, Columbus, and other communities that have taken a stance against the likes of HSUS and other groups opposed to agriculture.

To see the full article about this, be sure to visit the Columbus Telegram.

Corn team arrives in Japan, observes red meat promotion

The Japan Corn Team Mission – a mission organized by the Nebraska Corn Board and U.S. Meat Export Federation – arrived in Tokyo, Japan, Wednesday and jumped right into business.

The team observed a U.S. beef and pork promotion at The Prince Hotel in Tokyo. The Prince Hotel is a high-end hotel chain in Japan, and USMEF has worked with it to serve all of its red meat dishes of U.S. red meat.

The team had the chance to try U.S. beef tongue, short ribs and steak, as well as U.S. pork tenderloin and sausage prepared by USMEF Japan office staff at the in-table BBQ grill.

Today the team will be meeting with USMEF and U.S. Grains Council staff on market updates, meeting with the ag attache from the U.S. Embassy, visiting with meat retailers and discussing corn and red meat production in Nebraska.

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.

For more, click here.

July 6, 2011

Busting the 5 Myths of Ethanol: Myth #4

If you have fueled up your vehicle lately you have probably noticed that gas prices have gone down a little. According to AAA, gas prices have fallen by nearly 22 cents since last month, making it $3.56 for a gallon of regular gasoline.

Unfortunately, for many this is still too high and is more expensive than what drivers were paying for last year when gas was only $2.72. However, drivers who drive FFVs (Flex-Fuel Vehicles) have the option of using E85, which is currently only $3.01. That is almost half a dollar cheaper than regular gasoline. Though E85 is a much more affordable and cleaner burning fuel compared to gasoline, there are still many misconceptions about the fuel.

One of the misconceptions about ethanol is how it is produced.

Some groups believe ethanol uses too much water, therefore not making it a viable alternative compared to gasoline.

This takes us to today’s myth, which is ethanol requires too much water to produce. This myth is FALSE and ethanol actually requires less water to produce than it did a few years ago.

Today, producing one gallon of ethanol only takes 2.7 gallons of water, which is slightly less than the amount of water that is used to produce a gallon of gasoline. Most of the criticism about ethanol’s consumption of water comes from the need of irrigating feedstock crops in drier climates. Still, many don’t realize that the majority of ethanol produced in the Midwest comes from rain-fed crops. Over the last 10 years, the number of dryland acres of corn crop has increased about 10%, meaning we are using less water to irrigate the corn.

Not only has ethanol reduced the amount of water it uses, but studies have also shown that ethanol is not toxic and would not pollute our ground water if it were ever spilled. Studies have shown that ethanol is a biodegradable fuel and would dissolve in water. A majority of people don’t realize that ethanol can be found in beer, bourbon, and other alcoholic beverages.

Once again we have proven that ethanol is an efficient fuel, a fuel that continues to reduce the amount of water it uses in production. We also don’t have to worry about this fuel polluting our valuable resources like water, unlike oil. So if you are driving a flex-fuel vehicle, make sure to stop in and fill up with E85. Not only are you supporting an industry that is providing you with an alternative fuel, but you are also supporting America’s hardworking corn farmers and their families!

Be sure to check back on Friday, July 7 to bust our final myth about ethanol. If you would like more information about Nebraska Corn Farmers or the ethanol industry, visit the Nebraska Corn Board website!

July 5, 2011

Nebraska corn 85 percent good to excellent

The U.S. Department of Agriculture said today that 85 percent of Nebraska’s corn crop was in good to excellent condition for the week ending July 3, up from 79 percent a week ago. Only 12 percent of the crop was listed as fair and only 3 percent listed as poor or very poor this week.

The report said no Nebraska corn was silking, but that is not a surprise because cool weather early in the growing season has the crop behind by about a week. A year ago 6 percent of the crop was silking, while the five-year average is 5 percent silking by this point.

Warm weather last week allowed the crop to advance very quickly and warm weather with timely rains this week will quickly move the crop to the silking stage.

Nationally, USDA said 69 percent of the crop is in good to excellent condition, with 22 percent fair and 9 percent poor to very poor. A week ago those figures were 68, 23 and 9 percent, respectively. A year ago they were 71, 19 and 10 percent, respectively.

Silking across the country is also behind the average -- with only 6 percent of the country's corn crop reaching that stage by July 3. A year ago that figure was 18 percent while the five-year average is 12 percent.

This week's photo comes from the Howells-Clarkson FFA Chapter and shows off some great looking corn stalks. 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.

July 3, 2011

Podcast: Nebraska ethanol plants produce more than 2 million tons of feed

In this podcast, Dan Wesely, a farmer from Morse Bluff and member of the Nebraska Corn Growers Association, notes that with a production capacity of nearly 2 billion gallons a year, Nebraska is the country’s second-largest producer of ethanol.

"Yet we must remember that the 24 active ethanol plants across the state produce more than ethanol. They also produce distillers grains, a great feed for livestock," he said.

Ethanol plants only use the starch portion of the kernel. All the other components, like fat, fiber and protein, are left over — and that makes a nutritious livestock feed for cattle, hogs and poultry. That means ethanol plants produce fuel and feed, and the amount of feed produced by ethanol plants is pretty amazing.

Here in Nebraska, ethanol plants produce about 2.4 million tons of feed. Nationally, we’re looking at 39 million tons of feed for the 2010-2011 marketing year. "If you look at it by volume, distillers grains production is greater than the total amount of grain consumed by all of the beef cattle in the nation’s feedlots," Wesely said.

The Renewable Fuels Association said 39 million tons of livestock feed would be enough feed to produce 50 billion quarter-pound hamburgers. That’s 7 patties for each person on the planet. Or, it’s enough livestock feed to produce one chicken breast for every American every day for a year.

Too often, discussions of the ethanol industry’s impact on grain use forget to recognize the fact that the ethanol process results in renewable fuel and a great feed. It’s the best two for one going today.

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

July 2, 2011

A great time: Ethanol Night at the Races at Junction Motor Speedway

Race fans came out in droves to enjoy some summertime racing at Junction Motor Speedway in McCool Junction June 25. Fans were treated to an added bonus of learning more about ethanol.

The Blue River Corn Growers, Clay County Corn Growers, Hamilton County Corn Growers and York County Corn Growers sponsored the exciting night in racing. Members of all four corn grower associations were provided a complimentary ticket to enjoy the races, and to help tell the story of Nebraska’s corn farmers and the benefits of ethanol.

As fans entered the track they were greeted by members of the corn grower associations who handed out American Ethanol can coolers and miniature American Ethanol green flags for the kids. The Nebraska Corn Board parade trailer was on display telling fans of the many efficiencies of corn and ethanol production.

In addition, a blender pump was displayed so fans could learn more about the many different ways they can use ethanol in their vehicles. Friesen Chevrolet of Sutton was generous enough to bring out a flex fuel Chevy Tahoo and Chevy Impala for fans to see vehicles that burn up to 85% ethanol.

The racing action got underway at 7 pm and the conditions appeared perfect for some exciting racing. The SLMR super late models were in town and put on a great show. Throughout the races members of the corn growers association and staff provided the crowd with information on the ethanol industry.

“It was great to have an opportunity to tell fans about the ethanol industry. Racing fans know the value of having a high performance fuel, and that is exactly what ethanol is. Fans were told of the many benefits of ethanol, including the fact that it is made right here in Nebraska by their friends and neighbors,” said Mat Habrock, field services director of the Nebraska Corn Growers Association.

The next Ethanol Night at the Races? July 10 at Dawson County Raceway in Lexington!

The SLMR super late models will again be a part of the racing program that is being sponsored by the Custer County Corn Growers, Dawson County Corn Growers and the South Central Corn Growers. Gates open at 5:00 with races starting at 6:30 pm. Come out for a great time!

July 1, 2011

Busting the 5 Myths of Ethanol: Myth #3


Most can agree that this spring and summer haven’t necessarily been normal, or least when speaking of Mother Nature. Between flooding along the Missouri to storms wiping out entire communities across the Midwest, we can definitely say that there has been some extreme weather. Some say that the reason for all of this unusual weather is due to climate change. They claim that climate change is being caused by the large amounts of greenhouse gases that are being given off by different industries. Unfortunately, the ethanol industry is one of the industries being associated with the cause of climate change.

This leads us to our third myth, which is that ethanol crops and production emits more greenhouse gases than gasoline. The answer to this myth is FALSE, and that ethanol actually reduces the amount of emissions given off by cars. A study done by the EPA back in 1996 found that gasoline powered vehicles and non-road equipment are actually the largest contributors to air pollution. Another study showed that ethanol actually reduces tailpipe carbon monoxide by as much as 30 percent, while also reducing tailpipe particulate matter emissions by 50 percent.

Not only is the ethanol being burned in cars cleaner than gasoline, but the entire lifecycle of ethanol is much more environmentally friendly than gasoline. A lifecycle analysis of ethanol showed that using ethanol currently and in the future will actually reduce greenhouse gases by more than 20 percent compared to the continuation of using gasoline. However, ethanol is not the only thing reducing CO2 emissions. Studies have shown that growing corn can also help reduce the amount of CO2, as corn uses CO2 to grow.

As a person can tell, ethanol is not contributing to climate change at all. Just by looking at these facts, ethanol is actually helping to slow climate change. So far the three myths we have busted prove that ethanol is not a harmful alternative fuel. These myths also give us more reasons on why we should use more ethanol. So next time you pull into the fuel station, make sure to fill up with ethanol and help reduce our carbon footprint.

Check back on Wednesday, July 6 to bust Myth #4! Until then, visit the Nebraska Corn Board website to learn more about Nebraska's Corn Farmers and ethanol.