February 29, 2012

Colombia Trade Mission


By Curt Friesen, District 3 Director & Secretary/Treasurer on Nebraska Corn Board

Colombia Trade MissionCorn growers from Iowa, Illinois and Nebraska participated in a trade mission to Colombia, following the U.S. Grains Council conference in Panama. I wanted to share about my unique experience in Colombia after the Free Trade Agreement was recently passed.

The economy is weak in Colombia with minimum wages being around $400/month. A good job may pay around $800-900; however, fuel prices are very high being around $5-5.50/gal.

We have lost 80% of our corn market share in just the last couple of years. Our poor 2009 crop has been blended into the next two years of good crops. I was told by a producer in Illinois that there were barges setting in New Orleans for over 2 years waiting to be blended off with good corn.

Colombia Trade Mission

We met with Alejandro Jaramillo, the logistics manager at Contegral S.A. which is a major feed supplier in Colombia.

  • Import about 25,000 MT of corn a month. Furnish ingredients or complete feed for cattle, hogs broilers, laying hens and fish.
  • Received very bad quality corn in 2009. Cargo not evenly blended, some would come off as very good #2 corn and some would come off as #3 corn. Cargo overall would average #2. Wouldn’t mind if cargo would come off evenly blended as #2 corn.
  • Now import most of their corn and DDG from Colombia. Better quality at a cheaper price.
  • Feed very little DDG, say price is too high.
  • I don’t feel that they are very knowledgeable about DDG. Have not heard of feeding DDG to fish.
  • Argentine corn is harder and field dried so has less damage.
  • Argentine corn is higher in protein. Showed chart with US corn at around 7.2% protein and Argentine corn above 8%.
  • DDG content to variable. Would like to see more consistency in quality and content. They should try and source from a single plant so they know what they are getting. Now barges are gathered at port and traded so many times that shipment from many different plants end up in one cargo.
  • Do have RFS, E-10, standard so may import ethanol and bio-diesel.

Colombian Pork Producers

  • Association has around 380 members which covers about 80% of the pork industry. Provide economic and research programs for producers.
  • 9.8% growth with approximately 2.74 million head
  • Pork consumption has been slowly increasing, industry hit hard with misinformation – swine flu, etc.
  • Very unstable prices for pork with 3 year cycle.
  • Grain Is imported to either Atlantic or Pacific ports.
  • Transportation costs are extremely high with very poor infrastructure.
  • Cost of production is 76% feed, labor 7%, and 6% for transportation.
  • 46% of pork imports come from US. Tariff is based on Andean price band system that uses a look back 60 month average of prices
  • Do not use DDG in feed. Price to high and quality to variable. DDG contain elevated levels of mycotoxin.
  • Argentine corn better quality, higher protein, and cheaper even with higher freight costs.
  • Checkoff on hogs is $3.50/head.

Poultry Industry

  • Issues with corn quality. Need a reliable supplier with consistent quality.
  • Want to buy corn IP from elevator.
  • With the free trade agreement, the poultry and hog industry will be destroyed in Colombia.
  • Need consistent quality DDG.
  • 3.1% growth in chicken industry, $3.6 billion dollar industry
  • We need to look into the logistics of getting IP grain either to the gulf or PNW.

Colanta Dairy Cooperative

  • Vertically integrated farm coop. Members purchase all supplies from coop and sell all products to coop and then coop sends them the difference once a month.
  • Import around 1200 mt/month of fertilizer; sell approximately 10,000 mt/month of feed.
  • Have around 11,000 members.
  • Lend money to members at around 14% interest.
  • Export cheese to US
  • Average dairy herd is about 30 cows
  • Import most of corn from Argentina or Brazil
  • Have stores around the country that sell milk, meat, vegetables and all other products produced by its members.
  • Visited local dairy. He milked 34 cows in a very modern 3 station milking parlor that was computerized to track milk production from each cow.

Colombia Trade Mission

They have fair amount of land to develop in the eastern part of the country if they can overcome the lack of infrastructure. Building roads in the steep terrain is very challenging, many areas receive over 240 inches of rain per year and roads are constantly washing out. Rumors have it that China may be investing in infrastructure in Colombia in order to obtain cheaper food supply.

View my pictures on our online Flickr photo album.

February 28, 2012

Be Involved

By Shannon Wietjes, Nebraska Corn Growers Association Intern

Throughout my life, I have been involved in 4-H, FFA, sports, and many other school organizations. At some points, my life has been planned out by the hour because I was involved in so many different organizations while also staying busy with school and work. However, as the intern at the Nebraska Corn Growers Association (NeCGA), I have found a whole new meaning to the phrase “Be Involved”.

This Legislative Session, the NeCGA, along with other organizations, has been working on getting LB1057 passed. LB1057 would increase the corn checkoff, which would help push the Nebraska corn industry forward. Currently, Nebraska is the third largest corn producing state in the nation, yet we have the lowest corn checkoff rate. Being involved and keeping up with other states as far as our corn checkoff is essential to keeping Nebraska’s corn industry moving forward. Corn growers need to be involved. Others within the agricultural industry need to be involved. We need to work together to keep the state’s number one industry thriving. We need new and seasoned farmers alike to join together and share the story of the corn industry. We are the Cornhuskers here in Nebraska; we need to remember that.

 Recently, the NeCGA went on a leadership trip to Washington D.C. This trip epitomized being involved; the group, which was made up of corn growers throughout Nebraska, spent the week learning about issues in the corn industry and then hiked up to Capitol Hill and talked to the Nebraska Senators and Representatives in D.C. NeCGA members learned how to “be involved” and are now working in their local communities and on the state level to help move the corn industry forward.

 Be Involved. Whether it is in your local community, at the state level, or at the national level, the corn industry needs people to speak for it. It doesn’t take much and is essential if we want the corn industry to continue to progress.

Lost in the Food Fact Clutter?


Common Ground LogoContrary to popular belief, straightforward answers to your farming and food questions do exist. Now, consumers can find answers in one location as a result of www.FindOurCommonGround.com.

The website has transitioned from informing audiences about the CommonGround program to providing a resource for consumers on many of the most popular food and farming topics. As CommonGround sorts through the questions and some of the misconceptions consumers may have, the program’s volunteers will provide visitors with a combination of firsthand accounts of what happens on their farms and scientific research.


The enhanced site will introduce visitors to farmer volunteers such as Nebraska’s nine volunteers. It also streamlines its focus on the top eight issues consumers ask volunteers about food. Those issues include:

From research to recipes, CommonGround volunteers hope to help visitors will find the answers to their important questions about food.

Have a question you want answered? CommonGround will not let it go unanswered. Find CommonGround Nebraska online:

CommonGround is a farmer-driven movement funded by the Nebraska Corn Board and Nebraska Soybean Board.

February 27, 2012

Panama Canal a highway of ag products to the world


DSC01579What does agriculture and the tropics have in common? The Panama Canal - the highway of agricultural products from the Atlantic to the Pacific.

The U.S. Grains Council hosted their International Marketing Conference in Panama City, Panama last week and Nebraska Corn Board directors and staff had the opportunity to attend.

Besides the general sessions and Advisory Team meetings, an excursion from the conference allowed attendees to enjoy a beautiful, balmy evening on a dinner cruise through the Panama Canal and through the locks from the Pacific side going inland to Gatun Lake. The following day, they got a first-hand view of the new Canal expansion site and learned how it would affect world trade – especially with benefits to agriculture.


The expansion of the Canal will not only allow for vessels to travel through the Canal more efficiently, but think of the opportunities for exports of Ag products from and to the US! The expansion is going to be a wider and longer "lane" that will allow larger vessels to travel through on both sides - the Atlantic and Pacific sides. The world is truly changing but this is an exciting time for us in agriculture to experience how the Canal has and will continue to bring our ag products to the dinner plates of our foreign customers.


imageNebraska Corn Board chairman, Alan Tiemann, also serves on the Grains Council’s Executive Committee and is the Board Liaison to the Membership/Communications A-Team. NCB staff, Kelsey Pope, is also a member of the Mem/Com A-Team and they were able to complete some exciting stuff for the Grains Council. For the past year, the A-Team has been working on a new branding initiative, fresh and new with an updated logo and vibrant, user-friendly website which just launched – go check it out here!

NCB Executive Director, Don Hutchens was awarded for his service to the Grains Council for over 25 years.

Find more pictures on our online Flickr photo album here.

February 24, 2012

Podcast: Daytona 500 kicks off second year of American Ethanol, E15 in NASCAR

In this podcast, Jon Holzfaster, a farmer from Paxton and member of the Nebraska Corn Board, profiles the upcoming NASCAR season and the role Nebraska farmers have in the American Ethanol partnership. 

It all kicks off this weekend with the Daytona 500 on Sunday (February 26) and marks the second year of the American Ethanol sponsorship, which includes Nebraska corn farmers through support of the National Corn Growers Association. It also marks the second year of Sunoco Green E-15, a 15 percent corn ethanol fuel, being used in NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series, Nationwide Series and Camping World Truck Series.

"The American Ethanol sponsorship puts positive ethanol messages in front of millions of people every week," Holzfaster said. "In the first year of this sponsorship we also saw dozens of positive stories in the media about NASCAR and ethanol. These pieces talked about ethanol’s benefits to the environment, creating jobs and increasing our energy independence."

He noted that the American Ethanol partnership with RAB Racing and it’s Nationwide Series driver Kenny Wallace (@Kenny_Wallace) is continuing this year. He’ll drive in two Nationwide races with American Ethanol as the primary sponsor this year.

American Ethanol also inked a deal with Richard Childress Racing and driver Austin Dillon (@austindillon3), who will drive the number 3 car in the Nationwide Series, with American Ethanol being the primary sponsor in six races, including the Nationwide race in Daytona tomorrow (February 25). He’ll also drive in one Sprint Cup race under the American Ethanol banner.

"Of course you’ll still see the American Ethanol green flag and the green American Ethanol fuel port on every vehicle," Holzfaster said, "plus in-car signage, in-race advertisements and more."

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

February 23, 2012

What's with this 'Factory Farm' business?

Almost all of us have heard the words “Factory Farming” before. It gets used a lot these days by groups who oppose modern agriculture, and unfortunately these words have now trickled down to the consumer. Groups that oppose modern agriculture use these words to portray agriculture as an industry that is full of pollutants, and an industry that doesn’t care about the land or the animals and is only concerned about profits.

These groups also believe that technology doesn’t belong in agriculture. They suggest that modern agriculture today is like a factory and that farming should return to how it was back in the 1930s, where everything was done by hand.

While their argument can be interesting, it is far from the truth. How can I say that one may ask? First, when I think of the word factory, I think of large buildings with smoke stacks and a gloomy sky. However, I have never seen this on a farm nor does it come to my mind when I think of farms. When I think of farming, I think of the family farmers who take care of both the land and their animals, and who work hard to feed a growing population. I think of farmers who are using new technologies, such as GM crops, to help conserve our resources for future generations. I think of the farmers who use housing to protect their animals from brutal weather conditions and also from predators. What I see farmers doing is trying to be innovative in the way food is produced for the growing world population. I mean, isn’t America all about innovation?

So the word use of “Factory Farms” is nonsense in my opinion from the fact that factory farms don’t exist. What do exist are farms that are family owned. These farmers do care for the land and their animals.  Not only are these farmers caring for their land and animals, but they care about their local communities. They are involved in local organizations and many of them make donations to support local projects. So next time you hear or see the words “factory farming”, think about what I just said, and if factory farming means being innovative in smart ways, then it must be a compliment instead of criticism.

February 22, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Feeding Nebraska and the world

Click for a larger image.

My daughter drew this for a project at school last week. She said it includes steak, a hamburger, chips, a bowl of ice cream, tortillas and pizza.

February 21, 2012

Vroom! Here comes the 2012 NASCAR season


In preparation for the upcoming NASCAR season and the National Corn GrowersAssociation's (NCGA) partnership with American Ethanol, as a representative from the Nebraska Corn Board, I traveled to Charlotte, North Carolina - home of all things racing - last week for a meeting of NASCAR communicators.

Communicators representing eight corn states joined NCGA staff on Feb. 7-8, 2012 in Charlotte, North Carolina to learn more about NASCAR, the RAB Racing and Richard Childress Racing teams, and to discuss activation events promoting American Ethanol and E15 to consumers.

What is exciting for the 2012 racing season is that American Ethanol will be sponsoring two drivers - Kenny Wallace (@Kenny_Wallace) with RAB Racing and Austin Dillon (@AustinDillon3) of RCR Racing. Dillon will be racing the black No. 3 car in the Nationwide series and Kenny will be hoping to qualify in the upcoming Daytona 500 to race in the Sprint Cup series in the No. 33 car.

And yes, we got to meet Austin Dillon. :)

As part of the tour in Charlotte, we got to tour both RAB and RCR racing shops where the cars are made, and learn more about what it takes to be a driver and part of the crew. The in's and out's of racing are amazing!

American Ethanol will again be featured on every race car in the green decal around the fuel cap. In five specific races, American Ethanol will be featured - more details to come!

Don't forget to check out the success of American Ethanol in its first season of racing on E15 by going to www.americanethanolracing.com.

More photos from the communicators meeting can be found on our online Flickr photo album.

Can't get enough NASCAR/American Ethanol? Check out these blogs:

February 20, 2012

U.S. red meat exports set new records in 2011

Exports of U.S. pork, beef and lamb set new records across the board in 2011, according to year-end statistics released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF).

Pork exports totaled 2.255 million metric tons (4.97 billion pounds) valued at $6.11 billion, breaking the 2008 volume record of 2.052 million metric tons (4.5 billion pounds) and shattering the value record of $4.88 billion. Year-over-year, pork exports were up 18 percent in volume and 28 percent in value.

Export value per head slaughtered was $55.55, an increase of 27 percent (nearly $12) from a year ago.
U.S. Beef Promotion at Daiei Grocery Store in Tokyo

Beef exports finished the year at 1.287 million metric tons (2.83 billion pounds) valued at $5.42 billion. This broke the 2003 volume record of 1.274 million metric tons (2.8 billion pounds) and easily surpassed the 2010 value record of $4.08 billion. Export volume was 21 percent larger than in 2010, with value up 33 percent.

Beef export value per fed steer and heifer slaughtered was a record $206.37 in 2011, which was more than one-third higher than a year ago ($153.09).
Matsuya Beef Processing Plant

Just as important as feeding corn and its co-products to livestock is developing markets for Nebraska beef and pork overseas. After all, sending corn-fed beef and pork to international customers around the world has a larger economic impact than exporting raw corn and corn co-products.

This is why the Nebraska Corn Board has invested several million dollars into USMEF market promotion activities and supported U.S. beef and pork trade missions around the world.

Podcast: Increasing corn checkoff rate will allow Nebraska farmers to do more

In this podcast, Carl Sousek, a farmer from Prague and member of the Nebraska Corn Growers Association, discusses testimony he gave before a Nebraska legislative committee about LB 1057, a bill that would allow an increase in the Nebraska corn checkoff rate.

The Nebraska Corn Growers Association is a membership organization whose mission is to advocate and educate on behalf of the corn industry. Sousek said NeCGA's predecessors can be commended for their leadership and foresight when the approached the Unicameral in 1978 to pursue the creation of a checkoff program for Nebraska corn. "They understood the concept of paying it forward for the next generation and succeeded in establishing the Nebraska corn checkoff, which is overseen by the Nebraska Corn Board," he said.

For 34 years, he said, the Corn Board has exhibited an exceptional ability to prioritize and utilize the resources available to it. However, the research, market development, education and promotion needed to keep Nebraska corn competitive on a national and international level is not achievable under the current checkoff rate.

During testimony on the bill, Sousek said he explained that Nebraska Corn Growers members are farmers who are passionate and committed to the Nebraska corn industry and Nebraska agriculture – and that they are willing to pay the financial dues and have made a commitment of time to advocate for our industry and the state as a whole.

He said Nebraska corn farmers often ask "why aren’t we doing more?" Passing LB 1057 will "help us be able to do more," he said. "We will be able pay it forward and positively impact all sectors of Nebraska agriculture."

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

February 17, 2012

Biotech crops planted on 400 million acres globally in 2011

The use of biotech crops jumped 8 percent – some 30 million acres – last year to reach nearly 400 million acres planted by 16.7 million farmers in 29 countries around the world, according to a report released by the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA).

Click the chart for a larger version.

ISAAA said of those 16.7 million farmers, 15 million (90 percent) were small resource-poor farmers from developing countries. Of those, it said, 7 million small farmers in China and another 7 million small farmers in India collectively planted a record 35.8 million acres of biotech crops. It noted that Bt cotton increased the income of farmers significantly – by up to $100 per acre and also halved the number of insecticide sprays, thus reducing farmer exposure to pesticides.

Of the 400 million acres planted with biotech crops in 2011, half were planted in developing countries – and plantings in developing countries is expected to surpass developed countries this year.

Nevertheless, the United States remained the world's top producer of biotech crops, but Brazil was second and saw acres increase 20 percent last year. Other 2011 notables:
  • India marked a decade of success in biotech cotton, which helped make cotton the most profitable crop in the country. 
  • China adopted biotech cotton on 71.5 percent of cotton acres. "Such growth was driven by 7 million small, resource-poor farmers, who on average farm only one-half of one hectare," ISAAA said.
  • Philippines reported a 20 percent increase in acres of biotech corn, planting about 1.5 million acres. The Philippines is the only country in Asia that plants biotech corn.
  • Africa planted 6.2 million acres of biotech crops and is making advancements with field trials in the regulatory process for additional biotech crop countries and crops.
Last year marked the 16th year since the commercialization of biotech crops in 1996, when just 1.7 million acres were planted. ISAAA said biotech crops are the fasted adopted crop technology "in the history of modern agriculture."

While most of the crops planted are corn, soybeans, cotton and canola, there are others, including squash, papaya, alfalfa and potatoes.

The chart below shows which countries planted biotech crops, the total area planted (in hectares) and which crops. Note that 1 hectare = 2.47 acres. 

February 16, 2012

CommonGround Nebraska converses in Charleston

Five farm women volunteers from CommonGround Nebraska, a program coordinated by the Nebraska Corn Board and Nebraska Soybean Board traveled to Charleston, South Carolina earlier this month for the Shared Voices Conference. This meeting was put together by national CommonGround staff to help give the volunteers the resources and practice they need to converse with consumers about common questions they have about food and life on the farm. Volunteers from 15 states, as well as state staff, comprised those attending the conference.

The five women from Nebraska were: Shana Beattie, Sumner; Joan Ruskamp, Dodge; Linda Schwarz, Bertrand; Diane Becker, Madison; and Leslie Boswell, Shickley. They were given a special "homework assignment" to complete on the first day - sharing with the media about themselves and CommonGround to pitch a larger story in just 30 seconds. And boy, do these gals know how to get their point across in a few seconds! They are excellent advocates for Nebraska agriculture.

Also while at the conference, participants took part in public speaking and media training workshops, poultry training, and learning how to maximize their use of social media and blogging. The conference concluded with a compelling speaker, Eric Dodds from a company called 'Brains on Fire' - who focuses on word of mouth movements and sharing your story - exactly what CommonGround is all about!

The main CommonGround website re-launched on Monday with updated Q&A's for consumers, great videos and pictures, and resources for the volunteers and other agvocates. Check it out, and find the pictures from the beautiful Charleston conference on our online picture album!

February 14, 2012

Farmers aren't Hick

A couple weeks ago I was on twitter and saw a tweet that talked about how farmers are hick. Now, most of us know what hick means but here is what dictionary.com has it as: “an unsophisticated, boorish, and provincial person; rube”. After I saw that tweet I was immediately offended from the fact that I come from a farming background and that someday I hope that farming is my main occupation.

Yet, I know I am not a hick and the farmers I know aren’t hick either. However, after thinking on this comment a little more, I soon realized that a lot of Americans still have this perception that farmers are still living in the 30’s when it was just a horse and a plow. It’s amazing to see this gap between the farmer and the consumer continue to grow and the consumer not seeing the advances that are taking place in Ag!

I really do believe if the consumer was able to experience a farmer’s life, their opinion about farmers and agriculture would dramatically change in a good way. Almost everyone uses technology these days, but some use more advanced versions. When I say advanced versions, I am talking about using GPS to automatically steer a tractor or farmers being able to turn an irrigation system on by the click of a mouse. How many people in America can say they get to do that in their daily life? Not too many. It truly is amazing to see the technology that farmers are using compared to what they used 10 years ago. These days’ farmers can even take their computers out to the field with them to log in data from crops or diagnose problems with their equipment. A lot of farmers are even buying tablets, such as iPads, to take out to the field with them so that they can keep an eye on the markets and get the latest weather updates.

Now, what I just describe sure doesn’t sound like something a “hick” would do or use. To me it sounds more like highly sophisticated people that are trying to feed a growing population while also making sure the food grown is safe and nutritious. So the next time someone says farmers are hick or calls them another demeaning name, be sure to ask them how many hicks they know that use GPS, computers, iPads, smart phones, email, and etc. Most likely they won’t know of any and you can tell them that you just described the American farmer.

February 13, 2012

Podcast: Nebraska Corn Growers leadership program a success in D.C.

In this podcast, Chuck Emanuel, a farmer from North Bend and member of the Nebraska Corn Growers Association, discusses the organization's annual leadership program, which involves spending time in Washington, D.C., meeting with Nebraska's Congressional delegation and several agriculture organizations.

"The leadership program helps us better understand how things work in D.C. and how we can be more involved in policy-making," he said.

The group also had meetings with embassies, where they had the opportunity to talk about Nebraska agriculture and the importance of free and open trade.

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

February 10, 2012

America's agricultural success: A well-kept secret?

PBS's Judy Woodruff filed a report this week on the PBS Newshour blog "The Rundown" following some time she spent with Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

The title of this post comes from her report – a report that explores some successes demonstrated lately from the agriculture sector.

"Amid all the worry about how long it will take the economic recovery to kick into high gear, there's a little-noticed sector that's doing very well, thank you: American agriculture." is how Woodruff begins her piece, which goes on to explore farm incomes, exports and the 2011 record U.S. trade surplus in agricultural products.

Here's a snippet from the piece, but be sure to check it out:
The question is WHY is agriculture doing so well? Vilsack, whose grandfather owned a farm, says back in 1975, the most productive farmers planted an average of 12,000 seeds per acre. Today, thanks to science, it's closer to 30,000.

After information technology, agriculture is the second most productive sector of the economy. Farm unemployment is dropping at a faster rate than the rest of the job specialties because of this, and because of what Vilsack calls "an extraordinary investment in infrastructure."

He describes an extensive supply chain including storage, transport, and equipment manufacturing. Farmers are buying lots of new machinery, like large tractors with sophisticated GPS systems, leading to new hiring on the part of companies like John Deere, which recently added 250 people at a plant in Ankeny, Iowa, that manufactures cotton pickers.

February 9, 2012

Texas Corn Mission-Nebraska Corn Board Staff Report

In this week's staff report, Kelly Brunkhorst talks about the recent Nebraska, Iowa, and Illinois corn mission to Texas. He discusses what they saw while down there and some of the things that they heard from end users. To learn more about Nebraska Corn, be sure to visit the Nebraska Corn Board website!

USDA WASDE Report Expects Higher Corn Exports

The USDA WASDE report (World Agriculture Supply and Demand Estimates) came out today with expectations that corn exports will rise and feed grain stocks will be lowered. Exports are being raised due to the production problems seen in Argentina. The country has been hit with drought conditions throughout the growing season which affected the corn crop. Argentina’s corn production has been lowered 4.0 million tons to 22 million tons, which mainly has been attributed to the high temperatures and dry conditions that came during the pollination period. However, some of the late planted corn in the country may help offset some of the losses but there still will be a decrease in production numbers.

U.S. corn exports to other countries is projected to be 50 million bushels higher, leaving ending stocks 45 million bushels lower at 801 million. As of now, Canada is planning on reducing its imports of corn; however, the EU is planning on raising its imports of corn which will offset the reduction in Canada’s imports of corn. The projected range for the season average farm corn price is narrowed by 10 cents on both ends leaving the range to be between $5.80 and $6.60.

 If you would like to get the latest corn prices, click here. You can also find more information about corn production in Nebraska by visiting the Nebraska Corn Board website.

February 7, 2012

Why blender pumps?

Most likely you are probably asking yourself what is a blender pump and how does it affect me?

Don’t worry; you’re not the only one with these types of questions as many drivers are starting to learn about the benefits that blender pumps have to offer.

First, you should know that ethanol blender pumps have only been around for a short amount of time, since 2006. The nation’s very first ethanol blender pump was put into operation at 4 Seasons Co-op in March 2006 up in Britton, South Dakota. This new technology allowed drivers to choose the mixture of fuel they would like to put into their fuel tanks. Other fuel retailers began to slowly add this new technology to their fuel stations across the nation to give drivers a choice at the pump.

So now that you know the history of the blender pump, you are probably wondering why you hardly see blender pumps at fuel stations. One main reason is that blender pumps aren’t a cheap investment for fuel retailers. The approximate cost of a blender pump is around $26,000, approximately $7,500 more than a regular fuel dispenser.

Although blender pumps are expensive, retailers can apply for grants to help cover the expense of installing a blender pump. For example, the Nebraska Corn Board and Nebraska Corn Growers Association have a $5,000 grant that Nebraska fuel retailers can apply for to help cover their installation cost of a blender pump. In order to apply for this grant, fuel retailers need to download and fill out an application from the Nebraska Corn Board website and then send it into the Nebraska Corn Board office where the Market Development Committee will review the applications.

Like it was said earlier, blender pumps are not a cheap investment and a reason why there are less than 20 locations in Nebraska that offer blender pumps. Now most would think that these locations would mainly be in the more populated parts of the state such as Grand Island, Lincoln, and Omaha. However, that is not the case and while Grand Island does have two blender pump locations, Lincoln and Omaha have none. It is actually surprising that neither Lincoln nor Omaha have a blender pump location especially from the fact that these locations have the highest number of flex fuel vehicles on the road! Lincoln has approximately 15,000 flex fuel vehicles and Omaha has over 25,000 flex fuel vehicles with many more commuting into the communities each day.

Some may think that the reason there are very few blender pump locations is from the fact that there aren’t very many benefits. Yet, that isn’t the case, and blender pumps offer drivers of flex fuel vehicles many different benefits.

One main benefit is drivers can choose their own blends of fuel. A person can choose a higher amount of gasoline blended with ethanol or vice versa. For example, a blender pump location may offer the choice of either E30 (30% ethanol, 70% gasoline), E50 (50% ethanol, 50% gasoline), or E85 (85% ethanol, 15% gasoline).

Not only do blender pumps give drivers a choice at the pump, but it also allows drivers to keep more money in their pockets. Studies have shown that using blender pumps can actually save drivers money compared to using regular gasoline. Sometimes the savings can range from ten cents a gallon up to almost forty cents a gallon. Now, when you look at that it doesn’t seem to be much. However, if you fill up a 12 gallon tank, and you get a forty cent savings, you end up saving $4.80 every time you fill up. Still doesn’t seem like your saving much? Well, if you figure you have to fill up at least once a week, you end up saving $19 each month or $228 a year. In today’s economy, every dollar we save can end up going towards something else.

Not only is ethanol saving drivers money and giving them a choice, it also helps their vehicles run better. Studies have shown that using higher blends of ethanol actually help a vehicle engine run smoother plus increase its horsepower. It should be noted though that ONLY flex fuel vehicles can use higher blends of ethanol greater than E10. If you aren’t sure if your vehicle is a flex fuel one, check either the owner’s manual, the gas cap, or look for the flex fuel emblem which should say whether you can use higher blends of ethanol. You can also visit EthanolRetailer.com to see if your own car is flex fuel or if you are looking for a new flex fuel vehicle.

Next time you pull into the fuel station, check to see if they use blender pumps. If they do and you drive a flex fuel vehicle, don’t be afraid to use them. Just remember the benefits that blender pumps have to offer and also realize that you are supporting your local economy and the 26,000 Nebraska corn farmers! If you would like to learn more information about ethanol or Nebraska corn farmers, be sure to visit the Nebraska Corn Board website!

February 6, 2012

Corn farmers, American Ethanol gearing up for NASCAR season, Daytona

The Daytona 500 is just around the corner, with the Budweiser Shootout kicking off events on February 18 and The Great American Race itself set for February 26 – and there's a chance you'll get to see an American Ethanol car in the big race.

A year ago, the Daytona 500 is where American Ethanol and Sunoco Green E15 (15 percent corn ethanol fuel) debuted, with Green E15 being used in every race and American Ethanol appearing on every fuel port, green flag and other marketing positions as the racing season went on.

Following that first year's experience, American Ethanol, a partnership that includes corn farmers in Nebraska (via their support of American Ethanol and NASCAR partner National Corn Growers Association), is gearing up for a bigger and better 2012.

American Ethanol has inked a deal to continue relationships with Richard Childress Racing (RCR) and RAB Racing for the 2012 season.

Wallace's paint out for the Daytona 500.
With RAB Racing, American Ethanol is supporting No. 09 Toyota driver Kenny Wallace in five Nationwide Series races this year. Wallace did a great job representing American Ethanol and American corn farmers last year.

What's really exciting with the RAB partnership this year, though, is American Ethanol is supporting Wallace's attempt to qualify and race in the Daytona 500. His car will feature an American Ethanol paint out for qualifying and the race.

For RCR, Austin Dillon, the 2011 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Champion, will drive the iconic No. 3 Chevrolet during the 2012 NASCAR Nationwide Series season with American Ethanol serving as the primary sponsor for six races as well as one race in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in 2012.
Austin Dillon’s No. 3 American Ethanol
Chevrolet paint scheme.

The first American Ethanol sponsored race for Dillon will be the Daytona Nationwide race, the DRIVE4COPD 300, which is scheduled for February 25. It's a high-profile venue and a great place to prominently feature American Ethanol.

The deal also makes American Ethanol an associate sponsor of the RCR team, with owner Richard Childress as well as RCR’s Sprint Cup Series veterans Kevin Harvick, Jeff Burton and Paul Menard also serving as spokesmen.

February 3, 2012

Podcast: Bill to increase corn checkoff a priority for NeCGA

In this podcast, Brandon Hunnicutt, a farmer from Giltner and member of the Nebraska Corn Growers Association, discusses the Nebraska legislative session, noting that the Nebraska Corn Growers Associations monitors all bills and posts information about those on its watch list.

He said an important bill for NeCGA is LB 1057. The bill would allow an increase in the corn checkoff rate in Nebraska.

"The checkoff rate, at one quarter of one cent, has been unchanged for more than two decades and is the lowest in the country, significantly lower than other major corn-producing states," he said. "Yet Nebraska is the third largest corn producing state and second largest ethanol producing state. As a national leader, we have a responsibility to fund research, education and market development projects. Yet the current rate has half the purchasing power it did when it began, and we’re lagging behind."

Hunnicutt said by increasing the corn checkoff, Nebraska will be able to keep pace with the current needs for market development, research, promotion and education, as well as be in a better position to support livestock producers and the issues they may face in the future.

"A lot of good will come from an increase in the corn checkoff, which is why we support LB 1057 and made it the Nebraska Corn Grower Association’s priority bill for the current legislative session," he said.

For a related post, click here.

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

February 2, 2012


In this week's staff report, Kim Clark discusses the USDA REAP grant that is available to fuel retailers in rural communities. If you know of a retailer in your community who is interested in installing blender pumps, be sure to share this information with them so that they can apply for the REAP grant. To find more information about the REAP grants, click here.