April 25, 2013

Outlook for Nebraska's 2013 corn crop

The outlook for the 2013 corn crop in Nebraska is much brighter these days, thanks to good precipitation in recent weeks. Now it’s a matter of getting that crop in the ground.

Speaking with Brownfield on Wednesday, Nebraska Corn Board executive director Don Hutchens says it just needs to warm up.

“I think the ground temperature today is running in the low 40’s—and so it’s going to have to warm up,” says Hutchens. “But once the farmers get in the fields, it can happen very quickly.”

In 2012, Hutchens says, Nebraska farmers planted 70 percent of the corn crop in a three-week period.

“So if you look at what we planted last year—70 percent of that crop in three weeks—we literally can plant the whole corn crop in four weeks, if need be.” The March planting intentions report showed Nebraska farmers will plant 9.9 million acres of corn this year, down one percent from last year.

LISTEN to the audio podcast from Don.

April 24, 2013

Field Notes Meets Nebraska Farmer, Andy Jobman

The National Corn Growers Association has launched its third season of Field Notes, a series that takes readers behind the farm gate to follow the year in the life of American farm families. While these growers come from diverse geographic areas and run unique operations, they share a common love for U.S. agriculture and the basic values that underpin life in farming communities.

Today, Field Notes meets Andy Jobman, who farms with his family in central Nebraska. In addition to growing a wide variety of crops, including corn for chip production, and ranching, Jobman also helps other farmers through his work as a crop consultant.

Through his crop consulting work, Jobman plays a role in agriculture across his area by helping other farmers spot potential problems and improve the efficiency of their input use. Stressing that the role he plays is collaborative, he explains how a dialogue informed by agronomic knowledge and awareness of the newest advancements in production practices can help farmers grow more while using inputs in a targeted manner.

“By carefully monitoring fields all season, we are often able to catch problems and address them in a quick, targeted fashion,” he explained. “One field may need to be sprayed for a certain pest, but another field on the same farm may not have an issue. Similarly, some fields may need more fertilizer or a different formulation than others. It is all about taking in all the possible information together and targeting every choice to get the very best result.”

Jobman explained that, while much of Nebraska saw drought conditions last year, many farmers around him did see excellent yields due to irrigation. This year, a winter is holding on in his area with snow on the ground when many would normally be applying fertilizer. To listen to the full interview, click here.

Stay tuned over the coming weeks as Field Notes follows the growers across the nation who have opened their farms, families and communities up this year and meet the true faces of modern American agriculture.

April 23, 2013

Podcast: Key Bills Supported by the Nebraska Corn Growers Association

In this podcast, Mick Mines, registered lobbyist for the Nebraska Corn Growers Association, shares two specific pieces of state legislation that are of interest to Nebraska corn producers.

The first is LB354, which would change the structure of the Nebraska Corn Board. In the process, there would be some changes in the way Nebraska's corn checkoff is administered. One change is that board members would be elected by corn farmers, rather than appointed by the Governor. The Nebraska Corn Growers Association supports LB354 since we believe it will provide greater flexibility for checkoff investments and activities—and will continue to provide an effective avenue for corn farmers to invest in their industry.

The other of importance is LB517  -  Senator Tom Carlson's priority bill. The bill proposes to create a "Water Sustainability Project Task Force." This task force would work from June through December of this year to identify water projects in Nebraska that deserve funding—with a special emphasis on water conservation. While the bill is certainly of great importance to irrigators, it has an effect on all water users in the state from municipalities to industry to recreational users. The intended outcome is to implement a statewide strategy that will help all of us better manage this precious resource that is so critically important to your farm—and to the state's economy.

Listen for more!

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

April 22, 2013

For Nebraska's corn farmers, every day is Earth Day.

For Nebraska's corn farmers, every day is Earth Day.

Nebraska corn farmers have a first-hand understanding of Earth Day. Who else can claim to be an environmentalist, as well as a wildlife, water and soil conservationist while being an economist, weatherman, marketer and communicator?

The recognition of Earth Day should include farmers. While it is a day that was started to inspire awareness and a better appreciation of the environment, it should include the contributions made by farmers every year. 

We are also proud to celebrate Earth Day with ethanol. Another way to participate on Earth Day, that is both environmentally friendly and easier on your wallet, is to fill up your vehicle with a renewable fuel, such as ethanol. Ethanol has been proven to reduce tailpipe carbon monoxide by as much as 30 percent and also reduces particulate matter up to 50 percent. 

We can also celebrate Earth Day with corn-based PLA -- polylactic acid -- because it is clean, green and renewable, and it replaces petroleum-based alternatives. Since PLA is produced from corn at a plant in Blair, Nebraska, it's nice to feature it here from time to time (that's local, folks!). 

Agribusiness Virtual Roundtable–Bob Campbell


*The Business Leaders "Virtual Roundtable" discussion was gathered for the Spring 2013 CornsTalk publication. The responses of these business associates were consolidated for the publication, but you can find the full responses through this blog series.


Bob Campbell, Senior Vice President, Farm Credit Services of America (Lincoln)

How does Nebraska's strength in agriculture—and corn, livestock and ethanol specifically—influence your business/organization? How does the fact that you are located in Nebraska provide a competitive advantage or growth opportunities for you?

Farm Credit Services of America is a cooperative with the sole purpose of supporting our customer-owners in all facets of agriculture. According to a recent University of Nebraska-Lincoln economic impact study, Nebraska agriculture accounts for nearly 290,000 jobs and represents 24 percent of our workforce. With that in mind, the strength of agriculture in Nebraska and across the country is economically vital to our customer-owners and our country. Our cooperative has 14,000 customer-owners in Nebraska, and we returned $36.6 million in cash-back dividends to them in 2012 through our Patronage Program. The distribution supports our customer-owners operations and benefits the communities they call home.

What should Nebraska do to leverage its strength in agriculture to enhance economic vitality across the state—and position the state for long-term success in meeting global demand for food, feed and fuel?

We need to ensure that Nebraska provides a place where producers and businesses can thrive. We need to make sure our tax and regulatory environment allows Nebraska producers and agri-businesses to be competitive in a global market. We also need to make sure we have a common-sense approach to how we manage our natural resources so that Nebraska is a great place to live and work for generations to come.

What do you think Nebraska consumers—especially those in urban areas—need to better understand about Nebraska agriculture and your organization's relationship to agriculture?

First, consumers need to know that agricultural producers in Nebraska are committed to providing the highest quality and safest food in the country. Producers need to manage their businesses in a manner that allows them to provide a living for their families and employees and in order to accomplish that, they have to provide high quality and safe products. Since agriculture is our only focus at Farm Credit Services of America, it is important to us that consumers and agricultural producers understand each other’s needs so that everyone wins. FCSAmerica has 714 employees in 13 Nebraska retail offices and the Omaha headquarters, serving 14,000 customer-owners.

How important is it that Nebraska corn farmers continue to invest in the future of their industry through their checkoff?

We believe producers have the responsibility to promote and educate others about their products and how they are produced. The checkoff program has enabled producers to tell their story and educate the public about agriculture.

What concerns you most about the future of agriculture in Nebraska? And what will it take to address those concerns?

Nebraska is a leader in agricultural production, agri-business and ag-education. Our economic base in Nebraska is agriculture. If we want to continue to have a state that is a great place to live and work, we need to make sure that our agriculture industry is vibrant and competitive.

Fewer people are coming from a farm or ranch background which may present workforce challenges in the future. The agricultural industry is a great place to work and it is important to start talking to people who don’t have agriculture backgrounds about the career possibilities. The industry needs people with training in math, science, computer technology, biology, social sciences and many other skills.

Any other comments or perspectives regarding Nebraska agriculture that you wish to share.

As a mission-driven cooperative, we are proud to serve the men and women who work in today’s agriculture industry. Nebraska agriculture is the backbone of this state and will continue to be a source of economic development for the benefit of all of the state and rural America. We will continue our efforts to be agriculture’s most valued financial partner.

April 19, 2013

AIA students on Pure Nebraska

Curing the Agricultural Issues Academy in Lincoln, FFA students were interviewed by 10-11's Jon Vanderford for the Pure Nebraska show. Students shared why they wanted to be agvocates and what issues are important to them in agriculture.

April 18, 2013

Go to the source!

lana*Guest post by CommonGround Nebraska volunteer and farmer/rancher from Waco, Lana Hoffschneider 

What is the best way to learn about something? From a book? Sometimes. From a movie? Maybe. From a show on t.v.? Maybe. On the internet? Possibly. We are fortunate to have many resources at our disposal for learning about whatever topic we might have interest in.

What if you want to learn more about food? Yes, there are also many resources out there for learning about food. The BEST resource, for learning about where your food comes from, is not a book, not a movie or t.v. show, or the Internet… but by going to the source… a REAL FARM! Although we don’t have posted hours that we’re “open”… most farms would (and should) be open to having you visit. Who knew, right?! So simple that it may not have even crossed your mind!

So how do you find a farm and how do you visit? You might start with the Internet – then you can search by location and by what type of farm or ranch they have. For example, if you want to know more about how the beef is raised that is used in your hamburgers – look for a ranch (where the calves are born and raised) and/or a feed yard (where the animals are fattened). Granted, not all types of farms are available in every location, but you can still learn a lot by visiting what is available near you. Don’t just take someone else’s word for it – learn for yourself and make your own decisions!

I grew up on a dairy farm, but farming practices can change over the years, so I have learned a lot about milk and how the cows are fed and cared for by visiting a local dairy. In fact, they are a progressive business and they put on a community event in which they open their farm to the community for tours, games and activities for the kids, and ice cream! What a great concept! Especially the ice cream! :)lana_go to the source

If you aren’t able to visit a real farm, or not sure how to go about it, you can at least start by getting to know a real farmer. There are several organizations for connecting farmers with consumers – one that I’m involved with is called CommonGround. On this blog, click on the "Volunteers" tab to learn about the farm women in Nebraska and what kind of animals, crops and food they raise. You can ask them questions, too!

Another great one is the U.S. Farmers& Ranchers Alliance's Faces of Farming and Ranching.  I recommend looking at websites and blogs to find someone to connect with and to ask them questions about what they do (let me know if you’d like me to help connect you to someone!). You might be surprised about what you learn about your food – we’re real people, feeding our families, and feeding you!

“We fear things in proportion to our ignorance of them.” - Dave Ramsey

Don’t Fear Your Food!

April 17, 2013

Podcast: NCGA President's address at Commodity Classic

In this podcast, Dan Nerud of Dorchester and member of the Nebraska Corn Growers Association, shared about the messages from the  presidents of the commodity membership associations for corn, soybeans, sorghum and wheat who were interviewed on stage during the 2013 Commodity Classic General Session. This year, Pam Johnson was featured. Pam is the president of the National Corn Growers Association and a family farmer from Iowa. Pam's primary message had to do with the need for America's farmers to be more vocal about sharing our story as farmers.

Pam did not mince words when it came to expressing her concern and frustration over the gridlock in Congress over not getting a farm bill passed. The National Corn Growers Association is 36,000 members strong. That's why president Pam Johnson challenged all of us to step up and leverage those numbers to make things happen on Capitol Hill.

Listen for more!

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

April 16, 2013

Japan joins Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, positive for Nebraska and ag exports

On Friday of last week, the Obama Administration announced bilateral consultations with Japan about its interest in joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) have concluded and the U.S. welcomes Japan joining TPP negotiations. The TPP is an ambitious, next-generation, regional trade agreement that seeks to create a “new millennium model for trade.” As the world’s third largest economy, the addition of Japan will provide the platform for a Free Trade Area of Asia Pacific and will strengthen the U.S./Japan economic and strategic relationship.

The agreement brings Japan closer to entering talks on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which Japan hopes to participate in as early as July. Japan needs formal approval by all 11 participating countries to take part in the talks. If Japan does join, the pact would cover an area that accounts for almost 40 percent of world economic output.

What does the TPP mean for Nebraska and agricultural products?

TPP is a U.S.-led free-trade agreement in the Asia-Pacific region which represents a positive development to expand market access for Nebraska exporters in one of the world’s largest economies. Additionally, U.S. food and agricultural exports to the Asia-Pacific region have previously reached more than $80 billion, and account for more than 70 percent of total U.S. agricultural exports to the world.

The U.S. Grains Council strongly supports the announcement of bilateral negotiations with Japan regarding the TPP. The Council has enjoyed over 50 years of cooperation and relationships working to innovate the Japanese feed, livestock and starch industries. Because of this mutual relationship and the U.S.'s commitment to be a long-term reliable supplier, Japan has been the number one customer of U.S. corn exports.

TPP will also provide opportunities for free and fair trade. And when trade works, the world wins. The TPP objective of removing tariff and non-tariff barriers will require adjustments both in the U.S. and Japanese agricultural sectors.

The Council believes that Japan is well positioned to not only remain a strong customer of the U.S. feed grains industry, but that it will have enormous opportunities to meet future Asian consumer-driven demand for high value and quality food.

April 15, 2013

Reflection on Husker Food Connection

*Guest post by Amanda Vodvarka, Corn and Soy Collegiate Mentor

Sometimes it is hard for those of us with an agricultural background to realize just how distantly disconnected a large majority of today’s population is away from the farm and agriculture in general. While working at the Husker Food Connection at the University of Nebraska’s City Union, I realized and witnessed just how uneducated so many people are about agriculture, even here in Nebraska.

Walking around our tents just on the North side of the City campus Union, I couldn’t help but look at students’ faces and overhear some of their conversations. One of the conversations I overheard was from three girls that were walking by our tent with a four day old Holstein calf. As they were walking by I overheard one of the girls say, “Oh look at the cute goat!” It was at this moment, while I was in disbelief that the Holstein calf had just been called a goat, that I truly realized just how far apart producers and our consumers are apart.

Once I started my shift at 10 that morning, I was put to work running the cow milking contest and explaining to other fellow students how to milk a cow. After awhile I was asked to help serve food by handing out buns for other students and our sponsors for the Husker Food Connection Event. While waiting for people to come and eat, I was given the chance to talk to one of the sponsors for Husker Food Connection.

During our conversation, it hit me just how important of a job it is for us younger generation and all people in agriculture to share their story of what they do, how they do it and how it affects the consumer. I also learned that educating the public about agriculture is the least that we can do for all of people over the years who have given their service, time, and passion. Towards the end of the event my next task was to hand out free ear tag key chains and sunglasses. When I was handing out the ear tag key chains I would explain to people that ear tags are used for identification for livestock like cattle and pigs. I further explained that the ear tags serve the same purpose as name tags for us humans.

The ending of my shift four hours later, brought me happiness and satisfaction that we had made a dent in being able to inform the public about the importance of agriculture. Today, agriculture is misunderstood and attacked by numerous people who are miles and years apart from the farm and agriculture. It is people like those who lent their time at the Husker Food Connection, who will pave the pathway for the future of agriculture. Passionate people my age and older who support agriculture by telling others who do not have experience or knowledge, what we do and how we do our jobs in agriculture.

Farmer Assurance Provision protects farmers


On March 27, President Obama signed into law a bill funding the federal government for the remainder of the fiscal year. This appropriations bill included a provision called the Farmer Assurance Provision. The provision was labeled by many activists and NGO’s as a protection by the biotech companies.

In all realities, it does not protect the biotech companies at all, but assures farmers that the crops they plant could continue to be grown, subject to appropriate interim conditions, while disputes about the sufficiency of federal paperwork are resolved.

The key facts under the law are as follows:

  • Section 735 does not protect USDA or any biotech company from litigation or any court action related to the review of USDA’s approval of a biotech trait. Section 735 explicitly, and only temporarily, protects farmers who plant biotech traits in reliance on USDA review and approval.
  • The Secretary of Agriculture already has emergency authority to remove an approved biotech trait from the market at any time if a risk to human or plant health is discovered. This authority is unaffected by the Farmer Assurance Provision.
  • The provision does not restrict the right to challenge USDA’s determination that a product does not present a plant pest risk, nor does it prevent judicial review of that question or procedural matters related to an agency’s determination.

“The National Corn Growers Association supports this provision because it’s important that farmers who grow previously deregulated crops are not penalized when activists find a sympathetic judge,” said NCGA President Pam Johnson, an Iowa corn farmer. “It’s important we’re allowed to keep our crops in the ground until these attacks are resolved.”

April 12, 2013

Podcast: Agricultural Issues Academy

In this podcast, Joel Grams, a farmer from Minden and member of the Nebraska Corn Growers Association, shares how communications are so much different today when it comes to agricultural issues. Food and agriculture are hot topics that we find in the public eye on a daily basis.

That's why the Nebraska Corn Growers Association and Nebraska Corn Board is two of several Nebraska ag groups to sponsor the annual Agricultural Issues Academy—or AIA. Held in conjunction with the Nebraska State FFA convention last week, this one-day event focused on developing strong spokespeople for agriculture.

Academy participants attend round-robin sessions on how to speak with industry leaders and lawmakers. They even accompany agriculture lobbyists to visit the State Legislature and meet the state senator from their home district.

Listen for more!

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

April 11, 2013

Nebraska Corn Board strong supporter of Nebraska FFA


2013 Nebraska FFA Convention Results-no thank you list inc.pdf - Adobe Acrobat 4102013 40043 PM.bmpThe 85th Annual Nebraska FFA Convention was held in Lincoln last week. The theme of convention was Grow – and we’re sure that the FFA students had enough opportunities to grow while there!

The first event of convention was the Agricultural Issues Academy (AIA). AIA was founded three years ago by the Nebraska Corn Board, Nebraska Corn Growers Association, Nebraska Cattlemen, Nebraska Pork Producers and A-FAN. Additionally in the last two years, Nebraska Association of Natural Resources and Nebraska Soybean Board supported the Academy. AIA is an opportunity for Nebraska FFA members to learn about the issues involving Nebraska Agriculture. Thirty-five students were selected for the AIA to learn about issues in agriculture that most interest them. Students took part in round-robin sessions and learned how to speak to lawmakers, share a positive message in TV and radio interviews and learned about written and online communications. (6) Agricultural Issues Academy - Google Chrome 4102013 40803 PM.bmp

Nebraska Corn Board sponsors two proficiency awards - Diversified Agricultural Production – Entrepreneurship/Placement and Diversified Livestock Production – Entrepreneurship/Placement. Congrats to Brandon Trampe, Sumner-Eddyville-Miller FFA Chapter for placing first in Diversified Agricultural Production – Entrepreneurship/Placement and Heidi Miller, Lyons–Decatur Northeast FFA Chapter, for placing first in Diversified Livestock Production – Entrepreneurship/Placement.

Lastly, the Nebraska Corn Board would like to congratulate the 2013-2014 FFA State Officer Team.

Spencer Hartman, President, Imperial FFA Chapter

Morgan Kowalewski, Vice President, Gothenburg FFA Chapter

Ashtyn Shrewsbury, Vice President, Alliance FFA Chapter

Trey Mogensen, Vice President, Cedar Rapids FFA Chapter

Andrew Neujahr, Vice President, Waverly FFA Chapter

Dylan Dam, Vice President, Logan View FFA Chapter

Bryce Doeschot, Secretary, Norris FFA Chapter

Each year, the new team benefits from the “Corn Van” – a van supported by the Corn Board for the state officers’ use traveling the state throughout the year.


April 10, 2013

Connecting college students to their food


The Alliance for the Future of Agriculture in Nebraska (A-FAN) is dedicated to bridging the gap between the farm and dinner tables everywhere. A-FAN collaborated with agriculture-related student organizations at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln to host the second annual Husker Food Connection event yesterday. 

Husker Food Connection helps urban students better understand where their food comes from. The theme of the Husker Food Connection was, "Know what we grow: Discovering Nebraska Agriculture."

Participants learned about where their food comes from and the importance of agriculture in Nebraska while engaging in several activities. Students received a free lunch featuring beef, pork and turkey sandwiches along with ice cream -- all products raised and made right here in Nebraska. During the event, approximately 2,000 lunches were served. The first 1,000 students to attend the event also received free t-shirts.

Numerous students were eager to take a closer look at the piglets, chicks and Holstein calf. For many of them, this was their first experience with livestock. Other attractions included milking a mechanical cow, touring the mobile beef lab, climbing up on a tractor, learning to rope, and competing in a hay bale stacking contest.


"This event was so interesting to me! I got to see the chicks, pigs, calf and fistulated steer. I learned the significance of what a cow does -- it eats plants that humans can't so it can produce food for us," said Nellie Logue, freshman in accounting & finance at UNL. 

Over 80 students volunteered at Tuesday’s event promoting agriculture on UNL's City Campus.

"Husker Food Connection is all about showing people that their food comes from the farm, not the grocery store," said Alissa Doerr, event coordinator and senior at UNL. "These agricultural student groups came together for the second year to promote agriculture on city campus. They saw the need to help tell our urban friends about where food comes from, and it has turned into a huge success." 

The success of the event would not have been possible without the support of the Nebraska's agriculture industry. Including the Nebraska Corn Board, 42 agriculture organizations, groups and businesses contributed to support the event. Find a full list of sponsors and contributors at becomeafan.org.

April 9, 2013

Podcast: grain safety, farm safety clinics help communitities

In this podcast, Steve Ebke, a farmer from Daykin and member of the Nebraska Corn Growers Association, discusses grain safety and facts about grain entrapment. Many community members and farmers this past month learned how to handle themselves around grain storage and flowing grain—and how to respond if an emergency arises—during a series of free farm safety clinics sponsored by NeCGA, Nebraska Corn Board and GSI.

Each clinic included training in confined space entry, flowing grain safety, rope and harness techniques and hands-only CRP. These are potentially life-saving procedures that every farmer—and every person who handles grain in your operation—should know. With just one misstep or just a moment of distraction, you could find yourself or someone you know in a grain entrapment emergency. We want you to avoid a life-threatening situation—and how to respond if one occurs.

Listen for more!

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

April 8, 2013

Last chance to win FREE groceries for a year!


Today is the final day of the Farmers Feed US campaign where you can win free groceries for a year from the grocer of your choice.

Since January, Nebraskans have had the opportunity to register for a chance at one of two grand prizes of $5,000 “Free Groceries for a Year!”* courtesy of a group of Nebraska farmers, a veterinarian and a grocer, at www.FarmersFeedUS.org.

Upon visiting the site, consumers register by “meeting” one of their fellow Nebraskans through a short video that shows how each is involved in producing safe, nutritious and affordable food. Consumers can register with each of the seven featured individuals daily through April 8, the end of the 90-day program.

The Farmers Feed US website features corn, dairy, hog, soybean and turkey farmers, as well as a veterinarian and a grocer, each sharing information about the foods they produce.

Over the course of the sweepstakes, consumers throughout the state will also see and hear from these farmers as they are featured in television advertising and on Facebook and Twitter.

Supporting Nebraska agriculture groups include the Alliance for the Future of Agriculture in Nebraska (A-FAN), Nebraska Soybean Board, Nebraska Pork Producers, Nebraska Corn Board, Midwest Dairy Association, and B&R Grocery.

Register today by 11:00 am CDT!

April 3, 2013

Growing Season


Are you ready for Growing Season?!

We’re not talking about the actual growing season of our crops, this Growing Season is a yearlong documentary mini-series about the Bartak family from Anselmo, Nebraska and their job of growing a crop for this year’s harvest.

This series follows the challenges of the Bartaks throughout a year’s time, with monthly episodes to keep viewers updated on the progress of the farm. Once a month a new episode will be uploaded to the web for viewers and followers to watch and interact with one another. Some of the activities in the series include: planting, spraying, harvest, branding, auction of cattle, chores, weather, celebrations, emotions, and, hopefully, a successful Growing Season.

They take a behind-the-scenes look at the agriculture community and really see all of the struggles, conflicts, victories, and successes that are entangled into a growing season. Their goal is to get a better grasp of the different challenges each farmer faces.

​Farmers and non-farmers alike will be able to enjoy and share in the experiences with the Bartaks as they tackle this year’s Growing Season. The show is produced and supported by Cooperative Producers, Inc. (CPI) coop and is a great educational tool to see how new products actually work on the farm, test the precision ag technologies, watch how crops go from seed to yield, and then off to your table. This story embraces the importance of family, friendships, and the ability to work extremely hard for a goal. Everyone coming together, struggling to make it, to accomplish their goal.

Check out the teaser below – or any of their quick clips on YouTube.

The season premiere is tomorrow, Thursday April, 4 2013 at 7pm CST on www.itsgrowingseason.com.

April 2, 2013

The Need for the RFS


*Guest post by Lance Atwater from A Growing Passion blog, farmer from South Central Nebraska

Have you fueled up your vehicle lately at the local gas station? You have probably noticed that you aren't paying what you did a month go for the fuel you are putting into your vehicle. According to AAA, the national average for gas a month ago was $3.33 where today the national average is at $3.77. In a month's time frame, gas prices have rose 44 cents. It seems like every time I fill up these days, I always cringe when I see what my total bill is for the gas that I put in my vehicle. Yet, while we might be paying higher prices for regular gasoline, we do have other choices that uses different blends of ethanol, such as E10, E15, and E85.

While we are fortunate to have these other choices, I do wonder how long we will be able to have these choices at the pump in the future. Unfortunately, there are industries who oppose ethanol and would like to see the ethanol industry go away. The biggest opponent of ethanol is the oil industry. They claim that ethanol is to blame for the increase in gas prices and that ethanol is cutting into their profits. However, the food industry is also starting to take a harsher tone against ethanol production blaming the ethanol industry for the rise in food prices. Both industries have been lobbying heavily in Washington D.C. to get congress to repeal the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), which has lead to the increased production of ethanol. If these industries were able to get congress to repeal the RFS, it would be devastating to all of America.

Now, you are probably wondering why repealing the RFS would be devastating to America. Well first and foremost, the RFS has allowed us to produce our own green energy right here in America. Unlike oil, we don't import ethanol from countries in the Middle East and we aren't giving money to countries that don't cooperate with the U.S. Instead, our dollars stay right here in the U.S. and goes to our local communities. Another positive thing about the RFS is that it has created jobs. The ethanol industry can be linked to creating over 90,200 jobs directly and 311,400 jobs indirectly. With many industries laying off employees over the past few years, the ethanol industry has actually been adding jobs due to the demand that the RFS has created.

While the RFS is a job creator and helps keep dollars in the U.S. it is also a vital part of rural America. Many of the jobs that the ethanol industry has created are located in rural communities all across America. This then directly impacts businesses in the local communities as well as local school districts. When there are people in rural America, there is spending in local businesses as well as higher enrollment numbers in the local schools. The RFS has also made it possible for children to return to the family farm. Farming has been much better since the RFS has been established allowing farmers to make necessary upgrades to their farms and also has improved the lifestyle of a farmer. This has made it more appealing for younger generations to return to the family farm in rural America. Lastly, the RFS allows drivers to have a choice at the pump. Instead of paying $3.77 a gallon for regular gasoline, a driver can fuel up with E85 at $3.33 (Drivers can only fuel up with E85 if they drive a flex fuel vehicle).

So as a person can see, the RFS has a major impact on America. It not only gives us a choice at the pump, but also has helped the economy in rural communities. As a driver, farmer, and a person who lives in rural America, I can see the importance of the RFS since I am directly impacted by it. I am able to purchase a cheaper and greener fuel, return and be part of my family's farm, and live in a community that has benefited from ethanol production. So there is a need for the RFS and I hope that those in congress will be able to see and understand how vital the RFS is to America!

To learn more about the Ethanol Industry, visit these organizations:
Renewable Fuels Association
Growth Energy
Renewable Fuel Standard

April 1, 2013

Nebraska's soil moisture reserve gone, expert says


Nebraska's reserve of soil moisture is gone, compounding the continuing bad news about Nebraska's drought, experts said.

Mark Svoboda, of the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln told a task force Monday that the reserve was amassed during several years of relatively generous rainfall.

But, Svoboda said, "there is no full moisture reserve to tap into this year."

A U.S. Department of Agriculture survey report March said topsoil moisture for farm fields throughout the state was rated 29 percent short or very short this far into March. Subsoil moisture was rated 97 percent short or very short. The drought center said that as of last week 96 percent of the state remained in extreme or exceptional drought.

At the same meeting of the state's Climate Assessment and Response Committee, state climatologist Al Dutcher said some improvement may be ahead because the meetings between cold air to the north and warm air to the south hold potential.

"As systems continue their trek on a weekly basis, we expect them to cross the border into Nebraska, and we'll see some uptick in moisture," Dutcher said.

Rainfall is crucial over the next two months for people planting corn and soybeans and for the recovery of grazing areas. Typically, Dutcher said, "once we get into the second week of May, we've reached our peak in soil moisture, and we start to decline from there."

The drought harmed several Nebraska crops last year. Corn production, for example, was down 16 percent from 2011 figures, according to a 2012 U.S. Department of Agriculture report.

The USDA's March survey report for Nebraska farmers said 61 percent of the wheat was rated poor or very poor. That compares with 4 percent rated poor or very poor last year at this time, before the drought took hold.