May 30, 2012

My Capital Commencement

By James Keating, U.S. Grains Council Intern

Adapting to a fresh environment far from home takes a certain kind of fortitude. Yesterday was my first day interning at the U.S. Grains Council and only my second day in the District of Columbia.  Although I am just removed from four months abroad in Latin America, D.C. is a different kind of beast; it is extremely easy to be intimidated by the complexity of the situation. For example, the metro is the only legitimate means of transportation for anyone non-local into the city, and the outlandish cost of living forces subtle poor students like me to the margins of the metropolitan area, thus making for a long commute. Not to mention, when all is said and done I will be 7 months removed from home.

Despite any intimidation or lack of comfort, I am well on my way to the independence I desire and I am definitely experiencing a honeymoon period with our nation’s capital. I have been spending any of my free time mastering the metro and exploring my neighborhood of Fairfax, I have yet to see any nationally recognizable monuments even though I can literally see the Capitol from my office. There will be plenty of time for exploration, but for now it is essential I get settled into my living and working situations. George Mason University (which is across from my townhouse) is satisfying enough for my exploration needs, at least for my first week.

As for the Grains Council, I have to admit my honeymoon period has a lot to do with the people in my office. Although I have only been here one day, the people have been unbelievably great to me and I earnestly believe in their open door gestures. While the office has many different personalities, they have all made me feel at home already and I am comfortable working with any of them formally, informally, and socially although it has only been one day.

As for my duties, I have just only begun to learn the ropes, thus I have only mastered small office duties like the copy machine and processing invoices, but soon I will be doing all sorts of things I could only of imagined about. As a international studies minor I am ecstatic about one opportunity in particular, in August I will be coordinating (in large part, by myself) a trade team from Japan which will include not only hosting them but educating them on grain production in the United States which will include various tours and meetings. Various other responsibilities will be assigned to me as worker confidence grows, but I earnestly just want to make everyone’s job here easier whether directly or indirectly.

Even though it has only been a short time, I already have subtle experiences I struggle to put into words, like Robert Brault said “Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.”

The U.S. Grains Council is hosting James Keating of Ogallala, Neb., as their first summer intern supported by a partnership between the Nebraska Corn Board and USGC. David is a senior in political science at the University of Nebraska – Kearney. He will be working with policy, assisting with international trade teams and helping to develop promotions and international relations.

New interns broaden scope of Nebraska Corn Board programs

The Nebraska Corn Board is supporting five internships starting this summer. Three of these interns are part of a new program in partnership with cooperators of the Nebraska Corn Board (NCB).

The new interns will be hosted by national cooperators of NCB: National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) in St. Louis, MO, the U.S. GrainsCouncil (USGC) in Washington, D.C. and the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) in Denver, CO. The internship program in the NCB office in Lincoln and the National Corn Growers Association intern in Washington, D.C. are programs that have been in place for several years.

“Nebraska has been a leader in providing quality interns for the NCGA Washington, D.C. internship, so it was no surprise that our other cooperators took advantage of the opportunity to receive interns from Nebraska,” said Don Hutchens, executive director for the Nebraska Corn Board. “Our board has witnessed the educational and career advantage that internships provide and regard the sponsorship of internships as an investment into Nebraska’s agricultural future. Plus, it is just good work experience for these Nebraska students.”

Melisa KoneckyThe NCB office in Lincoln welcomed Melisa Konecky of Wahoo, Neb. for a year-long internship. Melisa will be a senior in animal science and agriculture leadership at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln. As part of her internship, she will oversee crop progress report placement, contribute to communication and market development programs and help with education and promotion activities.

David BreselThe National Corn Growers Association office in Washington, D.C. will host David Bresel of Lincoln, Neb., as their summer intern supported by a partnership between NCB and NCGA. David is a student in at the University of Nebraska College of Law. He will be involved with a variety of issues related to environmental regulations, transportation, free trade agreements, biotechnology, ethanol and energy.

Sandra KavanThe National Corn Growers Association headquarters office in St. Louis will host Sandra Kavan of Wahoo, Neb., as their first summer intern supported by a partnership between NCB and NCGA. Sandra will be a senior in agribusiness at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln. She will be assisting with membership and communication programs, as well as participating in committee meetings.

James KeatingThe U.S. Grains Council will host James Keating of Ogallala, Neb., as their first summer intern supported by a partnership between NCB and USGC. James is a senior in political science at the University of Nebraska – Kearney. He will be working with policy, assisting with international trade teams and helping to develop promotions and international relations.

Jessica ClowserThe U.S. Meat Export Federation will host Jessica Clowser of Seward, Neb., as their first summer intern supported by a partnership between NCB and USMEF.  Jessica graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in December 2011 with a B.S. in animal science and recently returned from a semester internship with Nebraska Senator Mike Johanns in Washington, D.C. In Denver, Jessica will be assisting with promotions and international relationship opportunities.

May 29, 2012

Summer Olympic Trials - by Curt Tomasevicz

This is one of my favorite times of the 4-year Olympic cycle. It’s approximately 620 days until the Opening Ceremonies in Sochi, Russia for the winter Olympics I hope to take part in. But it’s only about 60 days until the Opening Ceremonies in London for the summer games. The Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs where I train is electric. With the vast majority of the athletes at the training center being summer athletes, it’s easy to see the anticipation growing. For most, this time period of competition is more important than the actual Olympics. This is make or break. To some, these trials will determine if all the sacrifices of the past years have been worth it. I’m fortunate to be able to watch as an outsider and absorb the buzz and excitement knowing that my time will come in just under two years when the winter Olympic trials take place.

Some sports like triathlon, shooting, and wrestling have just completed their Olympic team trials. They know who will be going to London and who will either retire or try again in four years. It’s sometimes easy to pick out those going to London by the look on their faces. It’s a combination of excitement, eagerness, and relief. Other athletes carry a look of discouragement because they simply fell short of their goal.

Some sports like track and field and swimming will have their trials in the next few weeks. These athletes are a little on edge and are extra cautious in everything they do. It would be horrible if they experienced some freak accident that would keep them out of their team trails. So they spend their time training and recovering with no extracurricular golfing or pickup basketball games. They take all precautions necessary to avoid getting sick at the wrong times. I urge all Nebraska farmers to take a few days out of the field and go to Omaha at the end of June to watch the swim trials and see the emotional effort by all the athletes. You’ll see what I mean. The swimmers’ effort and drive is contagious and inspirational.

Some see it as unavoidable, but I don’t like how some athletes can define their career as a success or a failure simply if they made an Olympic team or not. Yes, I’ll admit that the Olympics can change a person’s life in some ways but they cannot (and should not) change who a person is. My heart goes out to those athletes that don’t make their goal, but life is about setting a series of goals and going for the next one. Those that don’t make it should never use the word failure to describe their effort. There is success in learning the life lessons that come with competing in sports, especially at the highest level. It may take time to realize this, but there are more important things in life.

So as the next few weeks determine who will compete for the USA in London, I would like to congratulate all the athletes that gave their best effort to make their goals. To those that made it, I wish you the best and I know you’ll compete proudly for your country. To those athletes that may be forced to watch at home with the rest of us, I hope you hold your head high and know that by your effort, you’ve shaped your character to be the person you will be long after the London games have been forgotten.

Meet Nebraska Corn Board Director, Curt Friesen

Curt Friesen represents District 3 for the Nebraska Corn Board and has been serving as a director on the board since 2008. He is also serving as the current secretary-treasurer of the board as well. Curt has over 35 years of experience operating and managing his farm near Henderson and is fourth generation farmer in Hamilton County. He and his wife, Nancy, raise white corn, yellow corn, and soybeans on irrigated land. They utilize gravity, pivot, and drip irrigation systems to increase yields while also conserving water that comes from the Ogallala aquifer.

Curt has been very active in the agriculture industry in local, state, and national organizations. He is a graduate of the Nebraska LEAD XXVII (27) program and is now an alumnus. Locally, he has represented agriculture by serving on the Hamilton County Groundwater Conservation District, Blue River Association of Groundwater Conservation Districts, Upper Big Blue Natural Resource District, and is currently the chairman of the Hamilton County Corn Growers Association. On the state level along with serving on the Corn Board, Curt has been part of the League of Nebraska Municipalities, Senator Stuhr’s Advisory Committee, Governor’s Water Policy Task Force, and a member of the Nebraska Corn Growers Association. Not only has Curt represented agriculture in Nebraska, but he has also represented agriculture on the national level by serving on Congressman Tom Osborn’s Ag Advisory Committee and currently serving on the National Corn Growers Association’s Public Policy Action Team.

Curt’s role in agriculture has been tremendous, but has also been very active in his local community. He is the former mayor of Henderson, served on the Henderson City Council and is a former volunteer firefighter with Henderson Fire and Rescue. Curt is currently part of the Henderson Chamber of Commerce and is a member of the Bethesda Mennonite Church in Henderson.

Curt has been married to his wife Nancy for 36 years and they have three married daughters; Shannon and husband Travis of Omaha, NE; Kori and husband Jason of Atascadero, CA; and Tiffany and husband JR of Washington D.C.; and a son, Neal, who is also from Washington D.C. Curt and Nancy are the proud grandparents to five grandkids.

May 28, 2012

Reaching Energy Independence


By Kim Clark, ag program manager for the Nebraska Corn Board

“And I’m proud to be an American,
where at least I know I’m free.
And I won’t forget the men who died,
who gave that right to me.”  -Lee Greenwood

Did you ever think these words would be so true.  Memorial Day is a day to remember those that have served our country and fought for the freedom we have today.  Some of those soldiers never returned home to their loved ones.  They died serving our country.  For what? – our independence! 

What does independence mean to you?  Is it your freedom of religion, choice, speech, right to bear arms? 

The definition of independence according to the Microsoft Encarta Dictionary is: “Freedom from control: freedom from independence on or control by another person, organization, or state.”  This independence includes energy independence. 

Energy independence is reducing our dependency on imported oil-the oil that some of our soldiers are protecting overseas.  Last year, 13.9 billion gallons of ethanol displaced 485 million barrels of imported oil.   According to the Energy Information Administration, each day, the US imports over 8.9 million barrels of crude oil of which 4 million barrels are from OPEC countries, but this number is decreasing with ethanol fuel.  Of the oil imported, 71% is used for transportation. 

The best and easiest way to reached energy independence is to take advantage of our home-grown, renewable fuel produced right here in United States-ethanol.  Nebraska is the second largest producer of ethanol, about 2 billion gallons each year. 

There are over 120,000 flex fuel vehicles (FFV) in Nebraska that can use up to 85% ethanol fuel and this number is increasing each day.  FFV owners have a choice at the pump.  This choice reduces the amount of crude oil the US needs to import each year.   Even if you don’t drive a FFV, you can still fill up your gasoline vehicle with E10-a blend of 10% ethanol.   You, too, can reduce the US foreign oil dependency.

Energy independence reduces our dependence on imported oil, creates thousands of jobs, contributes to local, state and federal tax revenue, increases household income, reduces the price at the pump, and more.

As you remember the Memorial Day and the reason for the holiday, you can help the US achieve energy independence by filling up with ethanol fuel.  

May 25, 2012

Podcast: RFS has done a lot to diversify fuel supply, reduce oil imports

This podcast features Dan Wesely, a farmer from Morse Bluff and member of the Nebraska Corn Growers Association, discussing the Renewable Fuels Standard, or RFS.

The Energy Independence and Security Act became law five years ago, Wesely said. The act included an expanded Renewable Fuel Standard and built on the progress made by the 2005 Energy Policy Act, the first comprehensive energy legislation the nation saw in more than a decade.

"These energy independence acts are important, and the RFS is a key component and has done a lot to diversify our fuel supply and reduce oil imports," Wesley said. "In fact, the production and use of 13.9 billion gallons of ethanol last year helped reduce the need for imported oil by 485 million barrels. That saved us nearly $50 billion in oil imports."

He also noted that American-made ethanol contributed more volume to our fuel supply than the gasoline refined from oil imports from Saudi Arabia, Iraq and other OPEC nations.

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

May 24, 2012

Take a look at the corn nook

The University of Nebraska–Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture (NCTA) campus in Curtis, Neb., saw four new facilities open in the last year – an education center, an addition to the veterinary hospital, a residence hall and a biomass project.

These new facilities will benefit all NCTA students and Nebraska agriculture as a whole, just as NCTA has benefited the state (and world) since it founding in 1968.

The Nebraska Corn Board played a role in the
transformation of the NCTA campus by being the first major agriculture organization donor. In response, the Corn Board was allowed to leave its mark on a small area – nook – in the education center. The area will include tables and seating for students and visitors.

Highlighted by "theCORNer," the nook includes images of Nebraska farm families sharing some of the Nebraska Corn Board's Sustaining Innovation messages. The families represented and messages are designed to be changed out every few years to keep the area up-to-date.

On the additional wall are two hands (see below), with one handing a kernel of corn to the other. The line of text is "Raising The Bar For The Next Generation Of Nebraska Agriculture."

Click on any image to enlarge.

May 23, 2012

Corn messages 'delivered' to Berkshire Hathaway meeting

Those making the annual pilgrimage to the Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting in Omaha earlier this month may have caught sight of a delivery truck wrapped with Sustaining Innovation messages.

The truck is part of the Nebraska Corn Board's Sustaining Innovation program, which shares information about how corn farmers have an unwavering commitment to doing a better job in every row, on every acre, on every farm, every season. It’s how family corn farmers in Nebraska and the nation are ensuring the long-term viability of their industry and our natural resources.

There will be several trucks with different corn-related messages in Omaha this summer, and you may even spot one in Lincoln should the delivery route include a trip down I-80.

Another special event scheduled for a truck to "hang around" is the College World Series, which is scheduled to begin June 15 in downtown Omaha.

May 22, 2012

Video: E15 Expansion


With high gas prices, finding an alternative fuel option is always the goal and E15 fuel may be the future of gasoline.

E15 fuel is a blend of fifteen percent ethanol.

The Nebraska Corn Board recently met to discuss how to expand E15 fuel pumps.

The Corn Board says that they would like to see E15 introduced legally and safely and also said that there is a lot of misinformation about E15 such as requirements for ethanol plants and fuel retailers.

Last year, the EPA approved E15 for 2001 and newer cars, light-duty trucks, and SUVs.

Earlier this year, E15 became a legal fuel.

Thanks to KHAS-TV Channel 5 for this report.

May 21, 2012

Nebraska corn planting nearly complete; 78% of crop rated good to excellent

The Nebraska corn crop is 98 percent planted, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said in its crop progress report today. That's up from 91 percent last week, 91 percent last year and 92 percent for the five-year average.

Corn emerged stood at 78 percent, up from 57 percent last week, 45 percent last year and the five-year average of 49 percent. The quick and early planting pace is evident here, as this year's crop is 29 points ahead of the average.

USDA this week began its corn condition numbers as part of the update. While early, it does give a good indication of the overall crop condition. As of yesterday, 78 percent of Nebraska's corn crop was rated good to excellent, while 20 percent was listed as fair and only 2 percent poor to very poor. Since this year's crop is earlier than last year, there are no numbers available for comparison's sake.

The first corn condition numbers last year came out on May 29...and then Nebraska's crop was rated 64 percent good to excellent, 33 percent average and 3 percent poor to very poor.

Corn planting this year compared to the
five-year average.
Click for a larger image.
Nationally, 96 percent of the corn crop is planted, up from 87 percent last week, 75 percent last year and the five-year average of 81 percent. USDA said 73 percent of the country's crop is emerged, up from 56 percent last week, 38 percent last year and 48 percent for the five-year average.

The national crop condition numbers were 77 percent good to excellent condition, 20 percent as fair and only 3 percent as poor to very poor.

You can follow updates on the 2012 corn crop here and at the Nebraska Corn Board's Crop Progress Update page. The Crop Progress Update page includes Nebraska corn facts and figures, photos of crop progress from FFA chapters and more. It's updated every two weeks from planting to harvest.

This week's photos come from the Nebraska Corn Board's 2012 crop progress photo set at Flickr. The top one was submitted by a member of the Imperial FFA Chapter and the one below came from the Heartland FFA Chapter.

May 19, 2012

Podcast: Great opportunity to serve as NeCGA intern

This podcast features Shannon Wietjes, communications intern for the Nebraska Corn Growers Association since last fall.

Wietjes talks about her experiences while at NeCGA, from sending out e-Newsletters to efforts in social media, including Facebook, Twitter and blogging. You can find her on Twitter at swietjes.

During her time at NeCGA, she had an opportunity to work with corn growers throughout Nebraska, attend many different events, from Husker Harvest Days to more locally-focused farm shows. She also attended the Nebraska Corn Growers Association leadership program in Washington, D.C.

For  more, have a listen!

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

May 18, 2012

Ethanol saves you more than $1 per gallon

Research results were released this week showing that ethanolAmerica’s growing use of domestically-produced ethanol reduced wholesale gasoline prices by an average of $1.09 per gallon in 2011.
The updated research was conducted by economics professors at the University of Wisconsin and Iowa State University.  The 2011 results, which are up from an average impact of $0.89 per gallon in 2010, were released today by the Center for Agricultural and Rural Development (CARD). The new analysis, an update to a 2009 peer-reviewed paper published in Energy Policy by professors Dermot Hayes and Xiaodong Du,  also found gasoline prices have been reduced by an average of $0.29 per gallon, or 17%, from 2000-2011 thanks to  the growing use of ethanol.

Three primary factors are responsible for ethanol’s more robust price benefit at the pump in 2011: 
  • Higher oil and gasoline prices
  • Higher ethanol inclusion
  • Ethanol being priced at a larger-than-normal discount to gasoline
In a release from the Renewable Fuels Association, Bob Dinneen, President and CEO said, “While it’s hard to imagine that gas prices could be even higher than they are now, this study clearly underscores that the current pain at the pump would be far worse without ethanol.”

Dinneen continued, “Because ethanol makes up 10% of our gasoline pool today, it significantly reduces demand for oil and puts downward pressure on gas prices. From coast to coast and border to border, ethanol is helping save consumers money.  In these times of high unemployment and sky-high gas prices, ethanol is one America-made solution that is providing some respite for battered American families trying to make ends meet.”

Key conclusions derived from the report include:
  • In 2011, ethanol reduced wholesale gasoline prices by an average of $1.09 per gallon.
  • Regular grade gasoline prices averaged $3.52 per gallon in 2011, but would have been closer to $4.60 per gallon without the inclusion of more than 13 billion gallons of lower-priced ethanol.
  • The average American household consumed 1,124 gallons of gasoline in 2011, meaning ethanol reduced average household spending at the pump by more than $1,200.
  • Since 2000, ethanol has kept gasoline prices an average of $0.29 per gallon cheaper than they otherwise would have been.
  • Based on the $0.29-per-gallon average annual savings, ethanol has helped save American drivers and the economy more than $477 billion in gasoline expenditures since 2000 – an average of $39.8 billion a year.
What’s even more exciting about the upcoming year is that you should see even more savings per gallon with the approval of E15. Stay tuned!

Read more about the above research here.

May 16, 2012

Corn planting on Alexander Cattle & Farms


Alexander Cattle & Farms in Nebraska is know for their beef. And many may know that JD Alexander is the President of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA). This is quite the accomplishment and we commend JD on this leadership role.

To get to know him a little better, and to celebrate May as Beef Month, the Nebraska Cattlemen have put together a great YouTube video series of JD and his farm titled, “Committed to Nebraska Beef”. We especially like the video about corn planting on the farm with Kory, farming lead, because after all – cattle love their corn!

Now go enjoy a Nebraska, corn-fed steak for Beef Month!

May 15, 2012

Corn Board sponsors tours of two Nebraska Dairies

Last week the Nebraska Corn Board sponsored a dairy tour that the Midwest Dairy Association held for B&R Stores’ dairy case managers. The purpose of this tour was to give the managers a firsthand look at how milk ends up on their shelves that they in-turn sell to consumers.

The dairy industry is important to the corn industry as corn and distillers’ grains are fed to dairy cows. Five out of the six Dairy Case managers had never stepped foot on a dairy farm before. The tour allowed them to see the first stages of the milking process and how animals are treated with the best care.

This tour also allowed the managers to learn about some of the issues that the dairy industry is facing, such as the disconnect between the farm and the consumer. The Dairy Case managers were able to ask questions about hormones and the use of antibiotics in dairy animals. Everyone learned that antibiotics are used when an animal is sick and needs a treatment; HOWEVER, everyone learned that the antibiotics NEVER enter the milk supply. The milk that comes from cows getting treated with antibiotics ends up getting used as milk replacer for calves.

The first stop on the tour was at Ken Cast’s family dairy, Kendol Dairy, located near Beaver Crossing. His dairy includes two hundred Jersey milking cows with a few other breeds included in the mix. He currently works with his son who will eventually take over the family dairy. The Cast family milks their herd twice a day and sells most of their milk to DFA (Dairy Farmers of America), who then markets their milk to Robert’s.

Ken said that anytime their family has to use antibiotics to treat a sick animal, they won’t use the milk from that cow to protect the milk supply from getting contaminated with antibiotics. Ken also said that the dairy industry is one of the most regulated food industries in the nation and that inspectors at both the state and federal level will come to his farm to do random checks to be sure his family is providing a safe and nutritious product for consumers.

After touring the Cast’s family dairy, the group traveled to Tuls Dairy farm, which is located south of Rising City. The Tuls family owns three dairies, two in Nebraska and one in Wisconsin. The dairy farm we visited had a total of six thousand milking cows. Some may call the size of this farm a “factory” farm, however, it is still a family-owned farm and the cows receive the same treatment as the cows of smaller dairy farms.

Many of the tour participants were amazed at how large the farm was, but at the same time, how clean everything was and how well the cows were being treated. The tour participants were also impressed with the technology that the farm uses to be more efficient with resources, and to make sure the cows are receiving the best care.

Overall, the tour was a great experience for everyone involved. The Dairy Case managers were able to walk away from the experience with a better understanding of where milk comes from and will now be able to better educate consumers on the dairy products that they purchase. It was also a good way to see how important the dairy industry is to the Nebraska corn industry since corn and distillers grains get mixed into the feed ration that is fed to dairy cows.

To learn more about how the Nebraska Corn Board works with the dairy industry, be sure to click here.

May 14, 2012

Nebraska corn planting wrapping up

Farmers in Nebraska may mostly wrap up corn planting this week, as the U.S. Department of Agriculture said 91 percent of the state's crop is in the ground as of yesterday. That's well ahead of the five-year average of 76 percent planted by this date, which happens to be the same figure as last year's planting pace.

As for emergence, USDA said 57 percent of the state's crop had emerged, up from last year's 16 percent emerged and the average of 23 percent by this date.

Nationally, USDA said 87 percent of the crop was planted, up from 71 percent last week, 56 percent last year and the five-year average of 66 percent.0

Nine of the top 10 producing corn states are more than 90 percent planted. The lone exception is Minnesota, which is 88 percent planted, up from 42 percent last year and the five-year average of 76 percent planted.

Emergence across the country reached 56 percent, up from 32 percent last week, 16 percent last year and 28 percent for the five-year average.

All of this, of course, bodes well for yields – at least most fields have the potential to yield big this year. A year ago so many farmers had to replant or plant late, yield potential had fallen before the corn even had a chance to get out of the ground.

This potential is why USDA last week (.pdf) reported that U.S. corn farmers are on pace to shatter production, yield and supply records this year. USDA's early estimate is for a record production of 14.8 billion bushels with record average yields of 166 bushels per acre (2.0 bushels above trend).

If realized, that would create a total corn supply of 15.7 billion bushels, 2.2 billion higher than in 2011 and, yes, a record.

Of course all of that is just an early estimate – it is only mid-May after all. There's a lot of weather between now and October.

Soreness is addicting - by Curt Tomasevicz

I can’t remember the last time in my life that I went an entire week without being sore. It seems that my athletic life is a non-stop cycle of soreness and recovery. I guess that this cycle comes in the nature of the sports that I have chosen to play.

I started playing tackle football in 7th grade and I still remember how sore my scrawny neck was after the first day of practice from wearing an over-sized helmet. I must have looked like a bobble-head doll. Even as my muscles began to adapt to wearing the heavy equipment for the first time, my entire body was covered in bruises from the full-contact practices. I learned the importance of “icing” after practice and games.

As I grew older, I continued to abuse my body by playing football in the fall, basketball in the winter, and track in the spring. I remember waking up on Saturday mornings after high school football games and barely being able to roll out of bed. My bones were growing and so the pounding my knees and ankles endured during basketball and track took a toll and added to my cycles of soreness.

Soreness was probably at its peak when I played college football and spent two years as part of the scout team. I think the Blackshirts found a certain joy in punishing the scout team running back (me) play after play. I took (and delivered) some hits that caused my ears to hurt.

Eight years ago, after football, came bobsled. At times, on television, bobsled my look like a gentle sleigh ride on smooth ice, but it is anything but that! A fourteen-hundred pound sled going 90+ miles per hour doesn’t do anything gentle. As a brakeman, I’m in a vulnerable position that can often times cause joint adjustments each time we go down the track. The shaking and vibrating sled causes your head to rattle resulting in that same sore-neck feeling that I experienced fifteen years before in Jr.High football. Any person that has ever taken a real bobsled ride can attest that there is an inevitable soreness that will follow.

Throughout all the sports I have competed in, I also began to spend time in the weight room and, by pushing myself regularly, I found that I could be sore in places that I didn’t even know I had muscles. I found different exercises and lifts to do in the weightroom to increase strength, power, and speed. But with that, came a certain amount of pain. I’ve heard a saying that pain is just weakness leaving the body. But scientifically, when you strengthen muscles with resistance training, you are actually causing tiny tears in the muscle fibers. The pain and soreness that ensues is the body repairing and recovering from those tears. I’m sure every farmer knows how a sore back feels after a day of digging and putting in new fence posts. But after a day or two, as the tiny tears in the muscles recover, the soreness and discomfort goes away.

As crazy as it sounds, I think I’ve become addicted to that type of soreness. I’ve subconsciously taught myself that soreness is a sign of working hard. And hard work breeds success. Soreness is a way to measure gains in strength. If I am not sore after a long workout, I don’t feel that I pushed myself to the limit during that workout. This may not be a healthy approach to training, but I’ve found it is a way that I push myself daily in the off-season.

May and June are crucial months for bobsled training. It’s the time of the year that we can make great gains in strength and speed in the weightroom and on the running track. And although I spend almost as many hours trying to recover from soreness through massages, ice baths, sauna, and even yoga sessions, I know that I’ve become addicted to soreness and that’s what will make a successful bobsled season even more rewarding!
Click here to watch a video of me doing one squat rep, or here for a video of me doing a power clean - that will prove the soreness!

May 11, 2012

One Great Experience!

It is hard to believe that it has been a year since I started interning with the Nebraska Corn Board and my time as an intern is about to come to an end. Words can’t even describe the type of experience I have had, which has ranged from learning about all the different issues facing corn farmers to seeing the opportunities that are available for future generations. It was also a great experience being able to serve over 23,000 Nebraska corn farmers who participate in the corn checkoff along with working for a great board and staff! For my last blog post on the Nebraska Corn Kernels, I would like to share with you some of the things I learned and also where I think the future of agriculture is heading.

First, the most important thing I learned while being an intern with the Nebraska Corn Board (NCB) is the need for a checkoff program. Before being an intern, I knew a little bit about the corn checkoff but never really understood the role it played in the corn industry. However, that quickly changed as I began my internship. I started learning the different things the corn board was doing to add value to Nebraska’s corn. This ranged from promoting the usage of ethanol to creating new products that can be made from corn, such as cups, golf tees, and yes, even clothes!

I also learned that the NCB works closely with the different livestock groups to insure that livestock producers are getting a high quality product that can either come from corn grain or distiller grains. The NCB also educates the public about the sustainability of corn farmers by using social media and doing other promotions around the state.

 Some of the other things I learned more about throughout the year were the importance of ethanol, how to use social media effectively, and how different policies can have an impact on the corn industry. Before interning with the corn board, I didn’t know much about ethanol and didn’t realize how important it is to Nebraska’s economy. I never realized how beneficial it can be to both drivers and the environment. I also learned that we do have the chance to decrease our dependence on foreign oil and buy a fuel made right here in America that is both cheaper and environmentally friendlier.

Not only did I learn about the importance of ethanol, but I also learned how important social media is to the agriculture industry today. It is a great way for farmers and ranchers to share their story about what they do and it helps close the growing disconnect between the farm and the plate. Along with learning more about social media and ethanol, I also learned how different policies can have a major impact on corn farmers. One of the policies that I heard a lot about this last year was the expiration of the VEETC (Volumetric Ethanol Excise Tax Credit), which would remove the blenders’ credit for ethanol. There was a lot of debate on whether or not this would end up hurting the ethanol industry, which could in turn end up hurting corn farmers. VEETC did expire and as of right now, it doesn’t seem to be having too much of an impact on corn farmers.

As I close out on my last blog, I just want to leave you with my opinion on where I think the future of agriculture is heading, especially the future of the corn industry. While I truly do believe agriculture does have a bright future, there is no doubt in my mind that farmers are going to face challenges on many different levels. These challenges will range from a growing disconnect between the consumer and the farmer to much more volatile markets. Farmers will overcome the challenge of the growing disconnect between them and consumers by being more open on what they do and put a face to their products. Consumers want to know who is growing their food, and if farmers start putting their face on the products they grow, consumers will become more confident in the food they purchase. When it comes to volatile markets, farmers are going to need to know how to manage risk. It won’t be like how it was 10 years ago or even today where farmers can get away without managing risk. Overall the future of agriculture looks to be bright!

You can follow Lance on his new blog called “A Growing Passion”.

May 8, 2012

Videos: Prepping and planting corn

Nebraska Corn Board District 2 Director, Mark Jagels from Davenport, Nebraska, shares two videos about prepping a field to plant corn-on-corn and planting corn in a soybean stubble field. He shows his auto-steer tractor and talks about applying fertilizer, using GPS precision technology and conservation practices.

This first video shows him strip tilling – tilling a small row in corn stalk stubble where he'll plant this year's crop.

This video shows Jagels planting corn in a field that grew soybeans last year.

May 5, 2012

Podcast: Husker Food Connection great way to start a dialogue

In this podcast, Lance Atwater, who has been an intern with the Nebraska Corn Board over the last year, provides some information and details on the Husker Food Connection.

Atwater (@latwater1) said Husker Food Connection took place on the University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s city campus.

"The purpose was to have students with ag backgrounds interact with non-ag students and explain and discuss where food comes from," he said. "It was also a good opportunity to put a face on all the farmers and ranchers students hear so much about."

He said this is important because most people are two or three generations removed from the farm. "They’ve never experienced agriculture and in some ways, how food ends up on the table is a mystery," he said.

To pull off the event, about 80 volunteers from the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources took time to work with their peers. For more details, click the icon above to listen to the podcast.

Or click here for a previous blog post.

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

May 4, 2012

Another Nebraska county designated Livestock Friendly

Nebraska Lt. Governor Rick Sheehy this week announced the official designation of Gage County as Nebraska’s latest Livestock Friendly County, the 15th county to receive the designation.

According to the Beatrice Daily Sun, the presentation was made during the annual "Day on the Farm" program.

"In receiving this designation, Gage County has made a strong commitment to supporting rural economic development," Sheehy said in a statement. "Being part of the Livestock Friendly program is a way to recognize the tremendous impact the livestock industry has on Main Street and the local economy. It provides jobs for those working with animals and a marketplace for grain and hay producers while also adding value to those products. With this designation, Gage County has demonstrated that it is open to agribusiness and the benefits that come from responsible livestock production."

The 14 other Livestock Friendly counties include Adams, Box Butte, Dawes, Deuel, Garden, Grant, Hitchcock, Jefferson, Keith, Lincoln, Morrill, Sheridan, Wayne and Webster Counties.

Greg Ibach, director of the Nebraska Department of Agriculture, said the official designation makes a positive statement about Gage County. "Gage County has a relatively large and dispersed population base. This designation shows that a county doesn’t have to choose between people and livestock," he said. "The county board has identified areas where agriculture and livestock can exist, prosper and grow, while still allowing room for people to enjoy country living."
To apply for a livestock friendly county designation, the county board must hold a public hearing and pass a resolution to apply. A completed application is then submitted to the Department of Agriculture for review.

May 3, 2012

Nebraska Corn Board Staff Report: Beef Month

In this week's staff report, Kelsey Pope discusses Beef Month and shares information about the beef industry and how the Nebraska Corn Board works with Nebraska's beef producers. To learn more about the Nebraska Corn Board and our work with the beef industry, be sure to visit our website!

May 2, 2012

Wordless Wednesday

This field will soon be planted to next year's corn crop! Photo taken by the Sumner Eddyville Miller FFA Chapter.