November 30, 2012

Podcast: FTAs are important; farm bill top priority during lame duck session

In this podcast, Lynn Chrisp, a farmer from Kenesaw and member of the Nebraska Corn Growers Association, discusses free trade agreements that went into effect recently and increase the opportunity for American farmers to participate in a growing global marketplace.

He mentions Panama specifically, but also notes the importance agreements with Korea and Colombia.

He then goes on to discuss the farm bill, noting that he hopes members of Congress will be more bipartisan in their actions and get a farm bill completed. An extension is not something corn growers favor, he said, noting the best choice would be to pass a new five-year bill, as it would provide the stability farmers need going forward.

Listen for more!

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

Staff Update

In this week's staff update Don Hutchens talks about some of the effects we've seen so far from not getting a Farm Bill passed.

November 29, 2012

Nebraska farm girl uses corn for fashion


134972_297361363698980_1587808202_oWho would have thought that a farm girl from Nebraska would hit it big in the fashion world –especially with corn?!

JLynn Hausmann, started her brand – also known as JHaus – grew up in Butte, Nebraska on a farm and ranch. In a recent fashion show in Los Angeles, JHaus featured her new fashion and denim line, and one dress was entirely made from corn.

Even more exciting for this Nebraska girl, is that JHaus got invited to New York Fashion week by Elle Magazine as well as getting her clothing line picked up by Zappos, which will become available February 1st.


We caught up with Jennifer for a little Q&A:

Where did you grow up and what inspired you to go into fashion design? I grew up in Butte, Nebraska on a farm and ranch. Growing up in the country, I saw an opportunity to bring an American made brand that was authentic and genuine into the fashion industry.

561576_301063049995478_1807297282_nHow has agriculture/your roots defined who you are in the fashion industry? Living a “less is more” mentality in Nebraska inspired me to have an All-American brand that is unique. It's fun designing couture pieces for the runway that are made out things that you would find on a farm/ranch. (like this burlap dress on the right!)

What would your message be to young adults growing up in agriculture that are interested in fashion design? Design from the heart and follow your dreams. Rules are made to be broken in fashion. I will never forget designing a red carpet dress for a model when I first moved to LA. The dress I designed was denim and chicken wire. So many people laughed at the idea but I knew it would be a hit. The model wore the red carpet dress and we got our first press at JHaus off of that dress.

How do you share your positive story of agriculture to your colleagues in LA? At JHaus we are creative and innovative and our colleagues see that. You can see the positive story of agriculture through our designs.


You can find her clothing in Nebraska - the JHaus line is being sold in Lincoln at Sunny’s Boutique and the Post and Nickel, and in Omaha at the Denim Saloon and Skyz Boutique, according to the Lincoln Journal Star article about JHaus.

Thank you Jennifer, and best of luck at Fashion Week!

November 28, 2012

Wordless Wednesday

Here is the winning entry from our harvest photo contest. Thanks to Jenny Keyes for submitting it!

November 27, 2012

Podcast: On-farm research program is great way to advance corn production, methods

In this podcast, Chuck Emanuel, a farmer from North Bend and member of the Nebraska Corn Growers Association, discusses opportunities for Nebraska farmers to participate in on-farm research. He said it's a great way to examine ways to grow corn, including methods that lead to better yields while having less of an impact on the environment and conserving natural resources. All while having a positive impact on the bottom line.

"The key is to have proven best management practices that are practical and make sense in the real world on your farm," he said. "So how can we move from theory to practices? By taking advantage of on-farm research."

To help make this happen, the Nebraska Corn Growers Association and Nebraska Corn Board have partnered with University of Nebraska Extension over the last few years to develop a statewide on-farm research program. The program, which is completely free for farmers to join, aims to address important farmer production, profitability and natural resources questions.

The main three areas of research focus on irrigation, nitrogen management and corn population. Those are pretty critical areas for farmers, Emanuel said, and having solid research based on your specific conditions is a tremendous opportunity.

For more information on the program, contact the Nebraska Corn Growers or click here to visit the UNL website.

Listen for more!

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

November 26, 2012

Meet Nebraska Corn Board Director, Tim Scheer

Tim Scheer represents District 5 for the Nebraska Corn Board and has been serving as a director since 2007. He is the current Chairman of the Board. Tim has been involved in agriculture production since high school and returned to St. Paul in 1988 and started a small farrow to finish hog operation and over the years it has grown and changed. Along with the farrow to finish hog operation, Tim farms 800 acres, growing row crops, alfalfa, and has a cow-calf and back grounding enterprise. Tim is also very passionate about agriculture and believes very strongly that agriculture is the foundation for a strong and secure future for our nation.

Tim is not only passionate about agriculture but is also very passionate about his community as can be seen through his involvement in various groups and associations. He is a graduate of the Nebraska LEAD XXIV (24) program and is now an alumnus. Along with serving on the Nebraska Corn Board, Tim is also the president of the St. Paul Investment Club. He has been on the Howard County Fair Board for ten years and is a member of the Howard County Farm Bureau where he has served on various state committees and has served as the president and vice president. Along with those duties, Tim has also served on various ball associations for local booster clubs and is also a member of the St. Paul Rotary.

He and his wife Amy have three children, Krista who is a senior at UNK, Kelsey who is a senior at St. Paul, and Nathan who is in 4th grade. Tim and Amy will celebrate their 25th anniversary this coming year.

November 22, 2012

Every dog has his day - by Curt Tomasevicz


It is always fun to see good things happen to good people and part of the reason it’s such a good feeling is that it doesn’t happen nearly enough. Athletes know that, in the end, it’s often the little things that end up making the difference between winning and losing. The little things category may include the extra repetition in the weight room in the off-season, avoiding desserts and sugar, and going to bed early.

Success in the sport of bobsled is no exception. We constantly try to maintain a healthy diet, make plenty of visits to the chiropractor and massage therapist, and continue to increase strength in the weight room in order to keep our bodies in optimal shape to push as fast as possible.

We also have to do the little things to maintain our equipment. Just as Nebraska corn farmers have to maintain their tractors, combines, planters, and cultivators, we are responsible to keep our sleds and runners in top condition. However, we do have a little help from time to time. We have a sled mechanic. Frank has been with the United States bobsled program since 1992. He’s seen the program in some of the low times and the high times including the 2010 Olympic gold medal. In fact, Frank was on the start line for every one of our runs in Vancouver and was the person to put the sled in the start grooves before we blasted off the start block. He didn’t receive any credit for his role in the race but, in addition to lining up the runners and making sure all the working parts were in order, it was essential to our success.

I’m sure (at least I hope) that Frank felt like he was more than a little part of our success. February 27, 2010 was a great day for him. But, despite insisting that he was retiring numerous times, Frank finally built his own sled this past summer. He took a BoDyn bobsled body and introduced some modifications to the frame and the steering, incorporating some ideas that he came up with along his career.

It worked.

Frank Briglia and I after 2012 World Championships
Last weekend, in the 2-man World Cup race in Lake Placid, my teammates Steve Holcomb and Steve Langton decided to use Frank’s sled. The Lake Placid track is one with a reputation of violence. The 20 curves with few straights can whip a 375 lb sled back and forth under 4 G’s of force. Frank’s sled held strong and when Steve and Steve crossed the finish line in first place, no one was more excited than Frank. Like a kid on Christmas morning, no one could stop Frank from smiling knowing that his 150+ hours (volunteer hours by the way) paid off.

Once again, other than this blog, Frank probably won’t receive much credit or recognition for what he does. But just like a corn farmer can measure the value of the little things during harvest season with the yield volumes, we know that Frank’s contributions over the last two decades have made the program what it is.

November 21, 2012

The truth about food prices

Am I paying too much for food for my family?

Do I need to buy the most expensive food to get the best for my family?

Why do food prices go up at times?

These are all questions that you might have about your food. One myth about food prices is that farmers are getting richer from rising food costs.

This diagram shows that is simply not true. For every dollar spent on food in America, farmers see less than 12 cents. We hope you enjoy this Thanksgiving season and can remember that Americans have the safest, most affordable and abundant food supply in the world!

 Go to to answer your food questions and check out the CommonGround Nebraska blog.

November 16, 2012

Podcast: Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) is a tremendous success

Since the EPA denied a request to waive the Renewable Fuels Standard today, it seems like the perfect time to share this podcast, which was recorded in October.

In the podcast, Carl Sousek, a farmer from Prague and president of the Nebraska Corn Growers Association, explains how the RFS has been "a tremendous success" on several fronts, from increasing national energy security to boosting the U.S. economy.

"Over the past six years, corn growers have responded to an increased demand for corn," he said. "Greater corn demand led not only to increased acres of planted corn, but more profitable corn, which has led to better agronomic practices, better seed and increased yields. Without these enhancements, fueled by the RFS, the production of corn would have been much less."

Listen for more!

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

Three million miles on E15 for NASCAR

Below is an ad the good folks at NASCAR Green placed on the back cover of today's USA Today.

Among several green initiatives, the text highlights 3 million miles NASCAR has raced over the last two years on Sunoco Green E15, a 15 percent ethanol blend that provides a boost in horsepower while reducing emissions by 20 percent.

The final NASCAR Sprint Cup race is this weekend. Be sure to check it out — and support American Ethanol!

November 15, 2012

Corn and Soy Collegiate Mentoring Program accepting applications


The Nebraska Corn Growers Association and Nebraska Soybean Association are launching a new collegiate agriculture mentoring program.

The goal is to provide college students across Nebraska with a comprehensive understanding of agriculture. Participants will learn about the issues impacting agriculture on a state and federal level. They’ll also discover the opportunities available by supporting industries such as the Nebraska Corn Board, Nebraska Soybean Board and University of Nebraska Extension.

The Corn and Soy Collegiate Mentoring Program kicks off Jan. 1, 2013, and runs through the year. During that time, participants will attend seminars where they will learn about various aspects of the agriculture industry and participate in a bus tour highlighting Nebraska agriculture.

The first seminar is scheduled for January and will cover state and federal policy, while a session in April will provide details on how agriculture groups promote their respective industries.

The summer bus tour includes all areas of Nebraska agriculture, from production to manufacturing to processing. Environmental stewardship is also on the agenda. Fall brings a session on UNL extension and the role the university plays in people’s lives outside of college.

During the whole year, participants have opportunities for job shadowing throughout the corn and soybean industries.

Students will not be responsible for any expenses to participate in the program, and upon completion, each will receive a $500 scholarship toward their education expenses.

Applications are open to any full time student in a Nebraska post secondary school.  

Applications are due November 30, so if you are an interested student or know a student who may be interested, contact the Nebraska Corn Growers Association or Nebraska Soybean Association for more details — or click here.

November 10, 2012

Podcast: Corn farmers defend RFS, join Fuels America

In this podcast, Greg Whitmore, a farmer from Shelby and member of the Nebraska Corn Growers Association, explains that corn farmers via the National Corn Growers Association have joined forces with a large coalition of advanced and traditional renewable fuel stakeholders to defend the Renewable Fuel Standard, or RFS.

The new coalition, called Fuels America, spans the full spectrum of agriculture, national security, renewable energy and other stakeholders.

"Ethanol and other biofuels are essential to the continued growth of rural economies," Whitmore said, "and they also play an essential role in ensuring the future of our nation."

He noted that domestically produced, renewable fuels create American jobs and increase national energy independence — they are a win-win solution to many of the energy problems facing our nation, "and we believe that it is our duty to bring this truth to our representatives in Washington and to citizens across the country."

Listen for more!

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

November 7, 2012

Wordless Wednesday

Check out a video we made using our 2012 Crop Progress pictures. Thanks so much to the FFA chapters for sending them in!

November 5, 2012

Nebraska corn harvest 97 percent complete

The U.S. Department of Agriculture said today that 97 percent of Nebraska's corn crop was harvested as of Nov. 4

That's up from 94 percent harvested last week and is well ahead of last year's 83 percent harvested. The five-year average is 64 percent harvested by this time.

Everything was early this year, from planting to tassel to drydown and harvest. That's what warmer than normal temps will do in the first half of the year when combined with dryer than normal conditions for pretty much the whole year.

The soybean harvest in the state is done, USDA said. A week ago, soybean harvest stood at 98 percent complete. A year ago the crop was 99 percent harvested, while the average is 93 percent.

Sorghum harvest in the state was 94 percent complete, compared to 85 percent last week, 79 percent last year and 60 percent on average.

Nationally, 95 percent of the country's corn crop was harvested, up from 91 percent last week. A year ago 85 percent of the crop was harvested by this date, while the five-year average is 71 percent harvested.

The photo above comes from the Nebraska Corn Board's 2012 crop progress photo set at Flickr, while the graphic below was created by Kelly Brunkhorst at the Corn Board.

Healthy Competition - by Curt Tomasevicz

I believe that everyone has some competitiveness in them. I think it’s what keeps people motivated. It doesn’t have to be a cocky display of “I want to be better than everyone else.” But I think deep down, a desire to finish in first place is healthy. Competition drives the grain markets and the economy that Nebraska corn farmers thrive on. It’s the basis of our capitalistic society. (Although most would agree that the competition between political parties right now is not necessarily improving the country!)But as the saying goes…Competition breeds success.

While growing up, I used competition to help me do my best in not only sports, but also in the classroom and in nearly everything I did. I’d race my brother home from church. My record for mowing the yard was 42 minutes. My friends and I would see who could hold their breath and swim underwater the farthest. Who could collect the most baseball cards? Annually, the bobsled team will even hold a mustache contest in which I claim that no one ever wins. I would even try to pour as many raisins as I could into my bowl of Raisin Bran cereal in the mornings. (OK, maybe that’s not necessarily breeding success, but you get my point.)

Last year’s Mustache Competition during the 2011-2012 Bobsled Season
(L to R. Chris Fogt, Steve Langton, Curt Tomasevicz)
Obviously, as a world class Olympic athlete, the success of my job is measured by a competition. In the upcoming World Cup season, each race will have a winner and a number of losers, albeit ranked losers. The goal of being that winner each week keeps me striving to do my very best every weekend as we race on the different tracks throughout the world. I know that the Russians, the Germans, and the Canadians are working as hard as they can to knock my team off the top of the bobsled podium.

Over the past few weeks as the U.S. bobsled team has been preparing for the first race of the year held on our home track in Lake Placid, NY, we’ve had no one to compete against but ourselves. This coming season, the U.S. will have three competitive sleds on the World Cup circuit and each day the three teams use each other to get better. Some would consider the pre-season practice runs to be mundane and repetitive. But when the down times are separated by hundredths of seconds, the push from within the U.S. team can only help the teams’ end goals. The depth of the athletic talent continues to get better and better each year. This year, the American team has faster and stronger athletes than any year in history.

I’m excited to see how our three teams will now compare to the rest of the bobsled world. Monday will mark the first day of official training when entire World Cup Circuit will practice together to prepare for the 2-man race on Friday and the 4-man race on Saturday. We will use the races to measure just how much we were able to push each other over the past couple weeks. No matter the results, I’m very thankful to have such a strong group of teammates to drive me and my team to become our absolute best. I hope that I do the same for them.

November 3, 2012

Podcast: Corn, cattle farmers can work together to extend forage supplies

This year’s drought has taken a significant toll on grazing land and hay supplies, two critical feed sources for Nebraska’s beef producers, said Paxton farmer Jon Holzfaster in this podcast.

In fact, he said, the USDA reported that 98 percent of Nebraska’s pasture and rangeland was in poor to very poor condition.

"This is important for beef producers because much of a beef cattle’s diet is forage, from calving through finishing. And cow-calf operations rely significantly on range and grazing land," he said. In total, beef cattle achieve about 70 percent of their growth on forage, and drought years limit hay supplies and raise prices.

There are opportunities for corn farmers to work with cattle producers to graze cattle on cornstalk residue left in the field after harvest or take advantage of baled cornstalk residue, he said. "It’s a good way to stretch forage supplies, and we encourage both beef and corn producers to consider the opportunity," Holzfaster said.

To help, the University of Nebraska created a drought resources page, which includes everything from fact sheets to webinars.

Listen for more.

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

November 2, 2012

Failure to pass farm bill ‘beginnings of a drought’ for ag exports

The U.S. House of Representatives failed to pass a five-year farm bill before adjourning last month, and that may mark the beginnings of a drought on U.S. agricultural exports, according to a letter the Nebraska Corn Board sent to the Nebraska Congressional delegation and Rep. Frank Lucas, chairman of the House Agriculture Committee.

In a news release, the Corn Board said because there was no action on the farm bill, the U.S. Grains Council had to indefinitely postpone a trade mission that would have promoted U.S. corn exports. Similar trade missions for sorghum and barley were also postponed.

The trade missions were canceled because they are typically supported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Market Development (FMD) funding with additional support from commodity checkoff dollars like from the Nebraska Corn Board. Such funds are also used to keep trade offices open in numerous foreign countries.

In part, what is at stake by not passing a farm bill is the type of promotional efforts farmers use to expand trade and defend markets of all ag goods, from corn and soybeans to beef and pork. Agriculture exports are one of the few shinning stars in helping create a positive balance of trade for the United States. According to USDA, agricultural exports during the 2011 calendar year totaled some $136 billion dollars, while corn exports totaled nearly $14 billion.

“Trade missions are critically important for our foreign customers. They want to meet the actual producers of their commodities, they want to know who is growing the crops, how they are grown, who is feeding the cattle, pork and poultry, and how it is processed,” said Curt Friesen, vice chairman of the Nebraska Corn Board. “While we are asleep at the wheel with farm legislation, other countries are doubling down on promoting their ag products.”

For example, Australia is investing billions of dollars promoting its beef, especially in Asia, which is a key market for U.S. beef exports. “We need to be aggressive in Asia promoting our corn fed beef because the market there is expanding and beef exports add tremendous value to cattle here in Nebraska,” said the Nebraska Corn Board’s Kelsey Pope. “At the same time, Brazil and Argentina are ramping up efforts to sell corn and soybeans.”

Because the farm bill did not pass in the House, as it already has in the Senate, FMD program funding ended Oct. 1 and Market Access Program (MAP) funding, another foreign market development tool, ends Dec. 31. “Nebraska products like corn, soybeans, sorghum, wheat, beef, pork and poultry all utilize these funds, so the ripple effect will have profound impacts on rural communities and our state until Congress acts,” Friesen said.

According to the U.S. Meat Export Federation, exports add $212 in value to each beef animal and nearly $56 to the value of each hog. “Exports are vital for those sectors and Nebraska, and all of these animals consume our corn, soybeans and related feed products,” said Pope.

It is not only export programs that are hurt with the failure of getting a farm bill passed.

“Conservation, dairy, energy and specialty crops are all impacted, but just as important this year is the need for drought assistance for livestock producers,” Friesen said. “Hopefully representatives will hear from the countryside and realize just what is at stake and the ripple effects of not taking action will have back on Main Street in their district.”

Intern Update

It is brought to my attention each week that I should write a blog, but it just seems like there is always something else that needs done. You know with the making the coffee, popcorn, and cleaning out the van.. kidding! They don’t make me make coffee, I don’t know how and you can just ask Don about how I feel about making popcorn.

This summer I have done some pretty cool things! I’ve spent a lot of time being a shadow to whoever on staff needed one and loved it. Kelsey and I took a trip this summer to the Omaha Children’s Museum to see about the Board’s cooperation in a traveling display they were putting together. After our tour we got to talking about potentially putting together an all Ag traveling display for the Museum that would run for about 6 months. We decided to reach out to the Omaha Ag Business Club for some collaboration and have had success so far. We’re really excited to see how it turns out!

Another thing that took up A LOT of my time this summer was taking our corn fact book and making it into an online ebook eBook to read on your iPad. When we first started talking about this I thought, “how hard could this possibly be, I should be done in a couple days?”. HAHA yeah good joke Melisa, turns out it took me about 2.5 months instead. It didn’t help matters that we got a new Mac computer to do video and other production things on and nobody, including myself, really knew how to work the thing. So hopefully within the next few weeks the book will finally be published and you can see the end result of all the blood, sweat, and silent cuss words.

There are just too many things to even talk about in just one blog. I’ve attended a few Ethanol promotions this summer and had a great time. I wrote a corn plastic insert for an Ag in the Classroom corn booklet. I’ve pretty much become a technical genius on the Mac, making videos and what not. Done a lot of brain storming new ideas, doing intern-y things and I’m sure plenty of annoying the staff.

I know so far through this internship I have learned SO much, especially with the drought this year, RFS debate, Farm Bill, and numerous other issues going on. Not only just about corn but a lot of other things such as other commodity groups, issues going on in the world, or just about the  interdependent industry that is Agriculture. I can’t wait to see what else I learn in the rest of my time here!