November 25, 2013

Corn Exports Critical to Nebraska

In the not-so-distant past, the prospects for Nebraska’s corn farmers hung on the political whims of nations using trade as a power play. A grain embargo implemented by Russia, for example, could throw grain markets into a tailspin. While trade is still used as a bargaining chip among nations, its impact on grain
markets has been lessened somewhat through U.S. corn farmers’ focus on adding value domestically through livestock production, biofuels and industrial uses for corn—creating greater demand across a variety of sectors. Still, exports remain an important component of the U.S. corn market portfolio. “The equivalent of one in six rows of corn in Nebraska is exported,” said Alan Tiemann of Seward, a member of the Nebraska Corn Board and secretary-treasurer of the U.S. Grains Council (USGC). “There is no question that corn prices are enhanced by the demand in the international marketplace.”

Through their checkoff, Nebraska corn farmers support the efforts of the U.S. Grains Council in building demand for corn around the world.

Global competition in corn exports has grown significantly over the past four years, driving the U.S. share of the market down to about 50 percent. Since 1990, the amount of corn grown outside the U.S. has increased from 11 billion bushels to nearly 22 billion bushels in 2012.

“Brazil and Argentina are formidable competitors, but other areas such as the Black Sea region, Paraguay, South Africa, Thailand and China are emerging as well,” Tiemann added. “We’re using more and more corn domestically, which is creating opportunity for other nations to fill the void. That’s why it’s even more important that we redouble our efforts to maintain and build international markets for our product.”

As emerging nations become more prosperous, their appetite for protein—poultry, pork and beef—grows as well. USGC is working around the world to help farmers grow their flocks and herds, which in turn increases demand for feed grains such as corn. From water buffalo in Morocco to turkeys in Canada to pigs in South Korea, USGC has been extremely successful in demonstrating the outstanding feed value of American feedgrains.

As the ethanol industry has grown in Nebraska and the U.S., so has the supply of distillers grains, a high protein value animal feed that is a co-product of ethanol production. As a result, USGC has also begun building international markets for dried distillers grains (DDG). A shining example is China, which four years ago imported no DDG—and today is the number one customer in the world for DDG from the U.S. Mexico ranks second.

“Instead of simply shipping raw corn overseas, DDG is a product that adds value here at home,” Tiemann said. “DDG exports help build markets for Nebraska ethanol producers as well, and that helps create profit opportunities to keep these plants running and energizing our rural economy.”

Tiemann said it’s critical that Nebraska corn farmers continue to invest in international market development. “We’re going to have more than nine billion people to feed by 2050, and Nebraska can and should play a big part in meeting that demand,” he said. “By encouraging fair trade and staying in front of international customers, we can make sure we feed the world—and create economic vitality right here in Nebraska.”

Country           Metric Tons      % of U.S. Exports
Japan                11,748.6                31.0% 
Mexico                9,537.5                25.2%
China                  5,174.1                13.6%
Korea                  3,635.3                  9.6%
Venezuela            1,280.1                 3.4%
Taiwan                 1,265.4                 3.3%
Costa Rica             575.7                  1.5%
Guatemala             549.1                  1.4%
Egypt                     544.9                  1.4%
Canada                  487.2                  1.3%
Others                 3,117.1                  8.2%
TOTAL               37,915.0
2011/12 Marketing Year Ending August 31, 2012

November 22, 2013

3 Things Every Nebraskan Should Know About the Farm Bill

Without a Farm Bill, it’s difficult for Nebraska farmers and ranchers to plan for their business. And since agriculture is Nebraska’s largest industry, this Congressional inaction has a direct effect on our state’s economic success.

The Farm Bill is vast and complicated. But here are three things you should know:

1 About 80 percent of the Farm Bill’s cost is for nutrition programs, primarily the Supplemental Nutrition     Assistance Program (SNAP)—which was commonly known as “food stamps.” (Maybe it should be called the “Food Bill”?)

2 The Farm Bill includes funding for foreign market development and market access programs that enable groups such as the U.S. Meat Export Federation and U.S. Grains Council to do their jobs in building global demand for U.S. red meat and grain.

3 Crop insurance is a cost-share arrangement, with the federal government paying a portion of the insurance premium and the farmer paying another portion. Without government backing, it’s unlikely that any insurance company would offer the coverage—and the nation’s food and commodity supply would be at risk. Additionally, the payments are made to crop insurance companies, n
ot to farmers.

November 20, 2013

Nebraska corn farmers building beef demand in Middle East


Thanks to Nebraska corn farmers and their checkoff, the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) is deepening its ties with a key Middle East beef importer.

Leading Middle East beef importer and gourmet retailer Kaylani Food Center is working closely with USMEF to introduce a new generation of customers in Jordan and beyond to high-end U.S. beef products.

Headquartered in Amman, Jordan, since 1991, Kaylani Food Center has developed a reputation for distributing premium, gourmet quality beef products, ranging from Japanese Wagyu to Australian grain-fed to high-end Brazilian cuts. Now that list has expanded to include chilled Certified Angus Beef (CAB) from the United States.

mef meat master JordanA primary outlet for these top-tier products is The Meat Master Gourmet Meat Store, a Kaylani-owned operation that prides itself on offering its customers hard-to-find fresh meats and imported specialty products.

“The Meat Master targets a diverse clientele that has a passion for marbled, high quality U.S. beef,” said Dan Halstrom, USMEF senior vice president for global marketing and communication. “The addition of chilled U.S. Certified Angus Beef is a perfect fit with their commitment to offering only the finest beef.”

In addition to high-quality beef patties produced on-site from primal cuts such as chucks and briskets, The Meat Master also sells a range of high-quality sausages and hot dogs, plus items such as Wellingtons, meat pies and other value-added deli items.”

“The Meat Master, which is a unique gourmet store concept for this region, has seen significant growth with the addition of chilled CAB subprimals,” said Ali Noor, director of the Kaylani Food Center in Amman, Jordan. “With the help of a well-publicized USMEF beef promotion, funded with support from Nebraska Corn Board, we have seen requests from customers for CAB increasing 120 percent.”

mef beef JordanKaylani Food Center also imports significant quantities of frozen U.S. beef, ranging from subprimal loin cuts to alternative cuts such as top butt, chuck and inside rounds.

“We also offer portion-cut premium U.S. beef through our strategic business relationship with James Calvetti Meats in Chicago,” said Noor. “This is a very high-end selection of products only for the very discerning and niche clientele.”

Halstrom noted that while the Middle East region has traditionally been a customer for lower-value cuts, specifically variety meat, collaboration with companies like Kaylani Food Center and The Meat Master is helping to change consumer perceptions and raise the visibility of high-quality grain-fed U.S. beef.

USMEF recently worked with The Meat Master and Kaylani to develop a customer education program that combined point-of-purchase education with product sampling that was very positively received. USMEF supported the promotion with a Facebook campaign and social media outreach to maximize its impact.

Despite political turmoil in the region, the Middle East has remained one of the leading destinations for U.S. beef exports. Through the first nine months of 2013, the region has purchased 111,895 metric tons (246.7 million pounds) of U.S. beef valued at $211.8 million, making it the fourth-largest market by volume and sixth by value.

November 19, 2013

November Corn Products Spotlight: Spark Plugs

The days are shorter and the temperatures have started to drop once again in Nebraska; with these changes more Nebraskan’s will be choosing to drive places rather than walk to that cafĂ© downtown. As most amateur mechanics know, spark plugs are necessary components of your vehicle. Luckily corn farmers work hard every year to grow a crop that helps to provide the public with working spark plugs.

Spark plugs seem like an extremely odd item to find corn used in, but believe it or not, corn is vital in the production process of spark plugs. As most people are aware, corn has a variety of different genomes that can be extracted and used for a variety of purposes. In the case of spark plugs it is not a genome that is used; instead the portion of the kernel needed is the corn starch. In the production process the corn starch is extracted and used to make the unique porcelain used in spark plugs. This form of porcelain is heat resistant and absorbs oils more effectively to help increase the life span of your spark plug. This form of porcelain was not discovered until 1933 and has been continuously improved since then.

So the next time you turn on your car and are heading to your favorite restaurant or are driving to work, be thankful for the farmers who work each season to provide us with products that we take for granted.

November 15, 2013

Snow Already Falling in Nebraska

A beautiful Nebraska sunset over a harvested field.
For the week ending November 10th, snow fell in some western counties and rain fell in the eastern part of the state, limiting harvest progress. Grain moisture levels remained above safe storage levels in a number of counties. Most of the remaining unharvested acres are found in the northern districts. Statewide, producers had 4.2 days suitable for fieldwork.

Topsoil moisture levels rated 24 percent short/very short, 75 percent adequate, and 1 percent surplus. Subsoil moisture levels rated 46 percent short/very short, 54 percent adequate, and 0 percent surplus.

Corn harvested was 81 percent, which is well behind last year’s 100 percent, but still ahead of the national average of 76 percent.

To view all crop progress photos submitted this week please visit our Flickr and Pinterest page!

As the demand for more food grows each day so does the size of equipment farmers use.

An Alternative Sport By: Curt Tomasevicz

Just like every kid, my answer to the common question of “what do you want to be when you grow up?” changed every couple of months. I remember that, for a short period when I was about 8, I was determined to be the first baseman for the Chicago Cubs. When I was about 10, there was a time when I wanted to be an airplane pilot. I spent some of my middle school years wanting to drive a John Deere tractor and be a corn farmer. If you would have asked me at other times, I might have answered with an astronaut, a golf course designer, or even a major league umpire. In high school, I found that I enjoyed math and physics. So I thought when I grew up, I would apply those likes to yet another career; engineering. I also happened to work for an electrician part-time, so electrical engineering made sense as a career choice. (Note that at no time while growing up, would I have answered that I wanted to be a bobsledder!)

It’s amazing how many times in life we change our minds. One minute we are passionate about one thing, only to fall in love with something else the next minute. It is part of human nature to wonder how green the grass really is on the other side of the fence.

The other day at the lunch table at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs as I was eating with some other athletes, the conversation turned toward a game of “alternate sports”. Seated at the table with me was a fencer, a couple of wrestlers, a triathlete, a couple of weight lifters, and a figure skater. With that variety of athletes at the table, it is probably easy for you to imagine how numerous the athletes’ desires were to play other sports.

Since this was a conversation based on hypotheticals, all the answers would have required major training, change in muscle type, and body alterations that are simply not possible. The triathlete wanted to be a weightlifter, simply to know what it felt like to hold 500 pounds off the ground. The weight lifter wanted to compete in a sport which allowed him to see the sunlight every once in a while. And the figure skater said he was tired of competing in a ‘judged’ sport that depended on the opinion of an official, he wanted to compete against a clock or a scoreboard.

I’ve thought about my answer for a while. Even though I love the sport of bobsledding, I think that if I were able to change my mind and pick another Olympic sport, I would definitely choose a summer sport. It may surprise some people, but I really don’t like the cold. I’d rather go to the beach than the mountains. So my new sport would have to be an outdoor summer sport. As a personal rule, I really don’t like any sport where I have time to think about how much pain I’m in. So I don’t want to run or swim long distances. Endurance sports are not an option. I really like power and explosive sports and games. And I also like technical sports that require practicing and perfecting technique and form.

So I’ve concluded that in a fantasy world of alternate sports where changing your mind at any time is allowed, I would… (suspenseful pause)…throw a javelin. But I’m sure that after a few sunburns and elbow injuries, I’d wish that I was able to go back to the cold weather sport of wearing spandex and a helmet while racing a bobsled at 90+ miles per hour just on the edge of out-of-control.

What would you want to do if you could change your mind?...

November 14, 2013

Mark Jagels Elected Chairman of U. S. Meat Export Federation

Mark Jagels, Davenport Neb., elected chairman of US Meat Export Federation
LINCOLN, NEB – Nebraska Corn Board member Mark Jagels, a farmer from Davenport, Neb., was elected chairman of the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) at the organization’s recent annual conference. Jagels served as USMEF vice-chairman over the previous year.

“I have enjoyed addressing issues and helping open markets for U.S. beef, pork and lamb over the past year and look forward to continuing those efforts on behalf of our industry,” said Jagels. “Nebraska has a lot at stake, in developing markets for U.S. meat as other countries are becoming strong competitors in that market.” Nebraska currently ranks first nationally in commercial red meat production, third in corn production and seventh in commercial pork production.

“The livestock industry has been a significant value-added partner of the corn industry for generations, and it is rewarding to see a Nebraska corn farmer give of his time to serve and expand the opportunities for both industries,” commented Don Hutchens, executive director of the Nebraska Corn Board.

The Nebraska Corn Board so strongly believes in USMEF’s mission that it has supported the organization with corn checkoff dollars since USMEF was founded in 1979. With 96% of the world’s population outside of the U. S. and that population projected to grow to 9 billion by 2050, we want to be ones providing them with the protein that they need, in turn helping drive our balance of trade, create jobs, tax revenue and opportunities for livestock producers and farmers alike.

“It has also been great to see corn checkoff support go beyond membership to assist in re-opening markets,” Jagels noted. Specifically, it was Nebraska corn farmers, through their checkoff, that recently supported activities in Japan following their announcement to re-open their country to U.S. beef 30-month and younger.

Mark, a fourth generation farmer, raises corn and soybeans, feeds cattle and runs a cow/calf operation alongside his father. Before being elected as an officer, Jagels served as a member of the USMEF executive committee representing feed grains, and has co-chaired USMEF’s Feed Grains & Oilseed Committee.

The mission of USMEF is “to increase the value and profitability of the U.S. beef, pork and lamb industries by enhancing demand for their products in export markets through a dynamic partnership of all stakeholders.” Simply put, USMEF is “Putting U.S. Meat on the World’s Table.”

The Nebraska Corn Board’s market development, research, promotion and education programs are funded and managed by Nebraska corn farmers. Producers invest at a rate of 1/2 of a cent per bushel of corn sold.

November 6, 2013

Wordless Wednesday!

Corn Board Member Curtis Friesen works hard to finish this harvest season before the snow starts to fall. Photo courtesy of Don Hutchens. Send us your #Harvest13 pictures, you can post them to our Facebook or Twitter pages!