December 31, 2014

Nebraska Corn Board’s Best of 2014


final 2014

After a few years of record corn prices, this year we saw the markets pull back to prices that are very close to the cost of production. It's times such as these that your corn checkoff matters most. When it gets cold outside, you don't turn down the furnace. You keep the heat on—and that's what your corn checkoff investment is doing. We're staying the course with research, market development, promotion and educational initiatives focused on building demand for the corn you grow.

With 2014 coming to an end and the new year upon us, there is no better time to reflect on a few highlights of Nebraska Corn Board activity over the last year… 

CaptureStanding up for the RFS: Part of our job is keeping you apprised of the opportunity and necessity to make your voice heard. At the beginning of 2014, some 6,000 Nebraska farmers and ethanol advocates submitted comment on the EPA's proposed changes in the Renewable Fuel Standard—and, while the EPA has currently decided to not decide on the 2014 Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) Renewable Volume Obligation (RVO) until 2015, it's pretty clear that they are reconsidering their position. Similar comment has been solicited for EPA's proposed Waters of the U.S rule (WOTUS).

Education and Outreach: The Nebraska Corn Board was the first group to step up with funding for the Raising Nebraska experience at the Nebraska State Fair. Raising Nebraska is an interactive experience like no other. From science and innovation, to community and RRN_RaisingNebraskaculture, and even the global economy, Nebraska’s agricultural experience touches everyone. Through this incredible 25,000-foot interactive exhibit, you actually become part of it – in ways you never imagined and that you’ll never forget. Recently, this outstanding consumer education exhibit took top honors in two categories at the International Association of Fairs & Exhibits awards competition. We've also funded ethanol pump promotions, published our consumer-focused Cornstalk insert in Nebraska newspapers, and helped Nebraskans understand the value of flex fuel vehicles.

ianr_4cCorn Research at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln: The Nebraska Corn Board has made a $2.0 million commitment to the University of Nebraska Foundation to establish the permanently endowed Nebraska Corn Checkoff Presidential Chair faculty position. The endowment will provide annual support to the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources (IANR) for research and development related to enhancing the value of Nebraska corn. This is a significant investment focused on the long-term future for Nebraska corn farmers.

Nebraska Corn: We have done a lot of work this last year to strengthen and better align the two organizations that represent Nebraska Corn Farmers. Leaders from the Nebraska Corn Growers Association (NeCGA) and the Nebraska Corn Board (NCB ) have been working together to bring even greater strength, efficiency and effectiveness to benefit Nebraska's leading grain commodity and the farmers who grow it. Improved imagecommunication, collaboration and joint coordination are expected outcomes as we work to bring the two corn organizations even closer together. It's important to note, however, that each organization has a distinct mission and purpose and those will remain intact. We expect that this collaboration will make both organizations stronger and increase their positive impact on behalf of Nebraska’s 23,000 corn farmers. Looking forward, NeCGA and NCB leadership will continue to explore new opportunities to join forces for the betterment of Nebraska’s corn industry.

Joint Collaboration: The Nebraska Corn Board collaborated with a number of state and national organizations to amplify the impact of its efforts. In Nebraska, we work closely with the Nebraska Soybean Board, A-FAN, and other livestock and commodity groups to create consumer education programs and improve the position of agriculture in our state.  Outside the state, your corn checkoff dollars are supporting the American Ethanol initiative with NASCAR, CommonGround, the U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance, the Corn Farmers Coalition and other consumer outreach efforts. You're also helping fund the international market development activities of the U.S. Grains Council and U.S. Meat Export Federation to promote Nebraska corn, ethanol, distillers grains, beef and pork around the world.


Thank you again to all the Nebraska Corn Kernel Readers for your continued support of the Nebraska corn industry. We hope you will join us in 2015 as we continue in our efforts to educate and inform everyone about important agriculture-related news, events and issues taking place in our state, nation and world.

Have a very Happy and Prosperous New Year!

See you in 2015!

12 Nebraska Corn Kernels blogs in the spotlight from 2014

On this last day of the year, we want to thank our Nebraska Corn Kernels readers for their continued support for coming back month after month to follow what we're doing, reading stories and learning about issues affecting Nebraska's corn industry as well as all of agriculture.

Here are the Top 12 posts of 2014 - if you missed one, now's your time to check it out!

January - January 15 by Curt Tomasevicz
February - Attack of the Killer Tomatoes: A GMO story
March - Brazil Biofuels Mission – Every gallon of gas includes ethanol.
April - FARMLAND Documentary in theaters May 1
May - Geography of U.S. Agriculture
June - 10 reasons to use ethanol-blended fuel this summer
July - U.S. Grains meets in Nebraska this week; still covering issues with China, DDGS
August - Water: Making every drop count
September - What are the uses of corn?
October - FARMLAND film available for digital download
November - What's with this 'Factory Farm' business?
December - 95 reasons to support U.S. grain & red meat exports
Happy New Year and cheers to new "seeds" of opportunity in 2015!

December 30, 2014

2014's top 20 key events affecting agriculture

The last few days of the year are always a good time to reflect on the past year and prepare for what is ahead in the upcoming. Many people are in high-spirits coming off of the Christmas holiday (or maybe just a sugar-high!) and it gets us excited to know what the next year will bring.

Looking back on year 2014, there are many highlights, extremes and moments that will go down as a big year with shifting winds for U.S. agriculture. Changing economics for both crop and livestock producers, a new farm bill and policy shifts, and the growth of big data are a few to mention.

Brent Gloy, a well-known ag economist formerly with Purdue University who became a full-time Nebraska farmer this year, provided his list to AgWeb of 20 key events impacting agriculture in 2014.

Farmers Begin the Year Flush. Producers in early 2014 were still riding a wave of very high profits, with the financial condition of the U.S. farm sector the strongest in decades. Farmland values stood values stood at all-time highs in almost every region.

Lower Incomes in 2014. USDA called for a 25% decline in net farm income. Reports began suggesting that the great farm boom was over and times were rapidly changing. While some talked of a bubble that might burst and the income hit was notable, others noted that the farm sector remained in relatively good condition.

Farmland Values and Cash Rents Stop Rising. This year may be recalled as the year that land values and cash rents stopped shooting higher. While USDA and some other surveys reported that prices were going up, other surveys observed that prices were flat to lower. The confusion was due to the timing of the surveys and values/rents being measured. Overall, it appears values did peak and began to head lower. Some are saying a major correction could be in the works.

EPA Delays RFS Decision. Ethanol demand mandated by the renewable fuel standard (RFS) has been a big driver of the great agricultural boom. The RFS has come under repeated scrutiny since its implementation, but the EPA’s late 2013 decision to reconsider aspects of the RFS was big news in 2014. After initially proposing to reduce the amount of ethanol blended into gasoline, the EPA postponed its decision until 2015. Many analysts are suggesting that big changes in the RFS are now unlikely. Keep watch in 2015 as big changes would be a surprise to the market.

Ethanol Profits Climb. With lower corn prices and strong domestic and export demand, 2014 was a great year for ethanol producers, but the crash in oil prices raises questions for 2015.

Ideal Weather, Great Crops. Near perfect growing conditions led to speculation that the U.S. was on the verge of a record corn crop. While the actual totals were a bit lower than mid-season estimates, the crop was substantial. Stockpiles of most row crops are now comfortable and indeed large, but the U.S. is not quite to the point of being ridiculously oversupplied.

California Drought. As California felt the grip of a powerful drought, the impacts have been staggering, with some estimates pointing to losses in excess of $2 billion. Even today, 99% of California remains in drought and 55% in the most severe category.

The El Nino That Never Came. In early June, forecasts called for an El Nino to occur, with 70% estimates for summer arrival, 80% by fall. But El Nino never came. Today, the forecast places odds at 65%.

Crop Price Free Fall. From June 30 to October 1, the December 2014 corn contract lost $1.23 per bushel, pushing prices below the cost of production for most farmers.

Transport and Basis Issues Hammer Northern Plains and Corn Belt. No question but that the development of shale oil resources in the Northern Plains contributed to transportation challenges, but the amount of grain production also has grown substantially in recent years. Corn plantings in this region will be under pressure in 2015.

Concern Over Margin Squeeze. The cost/price squeeze won’t likely be alleviated until fixed costs, such as land prices, cash rents, equipment costs, labor costs, family living expenses adjust, prices rebound, or some combination of these.

Early 2015 Budgets Show Big Losses. In late fall, universities started putting out 2015 crop budgets and the numbers weren’t pretty. Many showed budgeted losses of $100 per acre

Surprise Rally Buoys Spirits. A big surprise caught many off-guard while the biggest corn crop in history was being harvested: Corn markets rallied 54 cents per bushel from October to December. Keep a close eye on the crop insurance price discovery period for clues about next year.

Livestock Profits Surge. While row crop incomes were under pressure in 2014, the livestock sector experienced outstanding levels of profitability, and the outlook for 2015 is bright.

Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus. PEDv rocked the hog and pork markets. PEDv left the industry with fewer hogs to market, thus driving up prices and producers worrying about their herd health and financial losses. A second wave of cases is likely this winter.

Machinery Dealers Start to Feel the Pain. As commodity prices fell, many believed equipment would be one of the first purchases farmers would cut back on. Recent data suggests that combines have experienced the softest sales, with November sales off more than 50% from a year ago.

Ag Manufacturers Cut Jobs. John Deere led the scale-back in August, announcing a cut in its workforce, mainly from the agricultural equipment division. Syngenta announced in late November that it was reducing its global workforce as well.

Farm Bill Passes, and Farmers Are Still Scratching their Heads. The new farm bill offers more complicated choices for farmers than any bill in recent memory. ARC-Individual, ARC-County and PLC will be the subject of many discussions and meetings this winter. Even prices used to determine payments under the various programs, or the Market Year Average prices aren’t as simple as they initially seem.

Interest Rates Stay Low. Farmers have benefitted from low interest rates and they stayed very low in 2014. While many have been arguing that rates can’t go much lower, 2015 may be the year that changes that, given recent signals from the Federal Reserve Board.

GMOs on the Ballot. While measures to require labeling of foods containing GMOs failed to pass in Oregon and Colorado this fall, a ban on growing GMO crops passed in one Hawaii county. Attention and focus on GMOs has been growing.

Gloy also mentions other noteworthy issues in 2014, which include: Ebola causes U.S. scare; big data and big ambition; China’s ban on corn and DDG imports over GMOs; the Russia-Ukraine conflict and embargo; and the crash in oil prices.

December 29, 2014

Podcast:Highlights of 2014

 In this podcast, Tim Scheer, chairman of the Nebraska Corn Board and farmer from St. Paul, Nebraska, reflects on a few of highlights of Nebraska Corn Board's activity throughout 2014.  From encouraging some 6,000 Nebraska farmers and ethanol advocates to submit comments to the EPA on their proposed changes to the Renewable Fuel Standard, to supporting the development of the "Raising Nebraska" exhibit at the Nebraska State Fair, to funding a new Presidential Chair faculty position at University of Nebraska-Lincoln that will focus on corn research, 2014 has been quite an eventful year for the Nebraska Corn Industry!

Now, click here to listen to the podcast.

Podcasts are also available on iTunes! Click here to subscribe.

December 26, 2014

2015 Corn and Soybean Checkoff Tour

invite photo The Nebraska Corn Board and the Nebraska Soybean Board are teaming up and hitting the road for their first ever Checkoff Tour. The tour, which will take place over the course of two days – January 6 and 8 – is meant to give producers and industry personnel the opportunity to learn more about how their checkoff programs are working to help increase yields and build demand.

During the meeting, representatives from both the Corn and Soybean Boards will give updates on how checkoff dollars are being invested in the areas of education, marketing and research. Producers and industry personnel are encouraged to attend this free event to learn more about the programs and initiatives of the corn and soybean checkoffs, ask questions and provide feedback.

Victor Bohuslavsky, executive director of the Nebraska Soybean Board, said these meetings offer valuable information for corn and soybean farmers. “One of the goals of these meetings is to give farmers the opportunity to learn more about the checkoffs firsthand. These meetings are an excellent opportunity to hear from your district checkoff representatives about your investments in research, marketing and promotional activities pertaining to the corn and soybeans you grow.”

The tour will include two stops each day, with one meeting over lunch and the other over dinner. Each two-hour meeting is free to all attendees and will include a meal, presentations and a question and answer session. The schedule and location for each meeting are as follows: 

Tuesday, January 6

  • West Point:       11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. at the Nielsen Community Center
  • Mead:                 5:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. at the ARDC

Thursday, January 8
  • Broken Bow:    11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. at the One Box Convention Center
  • Minden:             5:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. at the Minden Opera House

How to Register
If you are interested in attending one of the events, please RSVP by email or phone with your name and which location you plan on attending. To RSVP, simply send an email to or call (402) 480-4971. Registrations will be closed by noon on Friday, January 2.

“The Checkoff Tour is a great opportunity for the corn and soybean board to personally show producers the impact of their checkoff investment,” said Kelly Brunkhorst, executive director of the Nebraska Corn Board. “Their checkoff investment supports an entire portfolio of initiatives—each focused on adding value to every bushel produced in Nebraska.  We look forward to discussing these initiatives as well as answering any questions the producers have about their checkoffs.”

December 24, 2014

December 19, 2014

Meaty-Friday: Meat prices + recipe


Meat Counter

It’s no secret that Americans love their meat. In fact, a recent study by the NPD Group-Chicago, found that more than 60 percent of Americans eat animal protein in a typical day.

Recently, however, many meat-loving Americans have experienced sticker shock when they visit the meat counter. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) forecasts beef and veal prices to increase by 8-9 percent by the end of 2014, compared with 2013. Pork prices could rise by between 7.5 and 8.5 percent.

So, what’s behind the increase? There are several contributing factors, including:

  • Effects of drought on cattle herds in the plains and western United States. When drought hit many major cattle-producing states in 2011, the grazing space for cattle greatly decreased. This forced many farmers to sell their animals to be processed. The high cost of feed for cattle further contributed to smaller herds. This decreased the supply of beef available, while demand has remained high. Herd sizes have been slow to rebound and are currently at historic lows, similar to those in the 1950s. That’s because it can take 18 months for a calf to reach market weight.
  • Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus (PEDv). This pig virus is responsible for millions of piglet deaths in the past year. Hog farms in more than 40 states were affected by the illness that is most fatal to newborn pigs. Farmers tried to compensate by raising their animals to heavier weights, but only partially compensated for the losses. Hog supplies are now back on the rise, but pork prices will continue to be higher until supplies get closer to meeting demand. PEDv poses no risk to other animals, humans or food safety.
  • Rising demand for protein from U.S. consumers. The protein power movement is gaining traction here in the U.S. which means greater demand. This can be seen in reports from companies like BB& Capital Markets and NPD Group and in the menus at Taco Bell, McDonald’s, KFC and Panera.
  • Rising middle classes in Asia, Africa and South America. A growing number of people around the world are eating more meat today than in years past. As the global population and individual incomes rise, so, too, does meat demand.

Over on the CommonGround Nebraska blog today is a great, meat-filled recipe that is budget friendly, easy to make and kids love it. Enjoy your weekend and whip up these Kid-Friendly Beefy Spaghetti Cups!

Have additional questions about how meat gets from the farm to your table? Click here to learn more about the farmers who raise beef, pork and turkey.

December 16, 2014

95 reasons to support U.S. grain & red meat exports

95% of the world’s consumers live outside of the U.S.

If that isn’t enough reason to support exports of U.S. products to other countries all over the world, I don’t know what is. Now, with low commodity grain prices this year and expected into next year, our best resources are spent right now supporting exports and international trade, which could lead to fast growing markets and more demand.

The world markets offer momentous growth opportunities for U.S. agriculture. The Nebraska Corn Board and other grain checkoffs in our state and across the U.S. work with the U.S. Grains Council to develop export markets for our American farmers and agribusinesses. With the most modern, innovative and productive agricultural system in the world, the U.S. enjoys a longstanding and significant comparative advantage in agricultural trade.

We also know that corn is value-added when first fed to livestock, then exported as red meat. Another reason the Nebraska Corn Board (and other commodity checkoffs – grains and livestock together along with industry support) supports the U.S. Meat Export Federation. USMEF opens up export markets for U.S. read meat – beef, pork and lamb – and leverages checkoff dollars with federal dollars to influence more markets and prevail on more of the 95% consuming U.S. meat.

Beef exports in October were up 2% from a year ago with variety meat exports increasing 14% in volume. Although pork exports were down 2% in volume they still achieved a 5% increase in value. These results were also bolstered by strong variety meat exports, which were up 24% in volume.

The top export customers for U.S. corn (for Sept-Oct ’14) were Mexico, Japan, Colombia, South Korea and Peru. By establishing good relationship and continuing to produce high quality corn, the U.S. can grow these markets and develop new ones like Egypt and others in the Middle East who see the value of U.S. corn for feeding their livestock.

So the next time someone asks you why we don't keep all of our food here for Americans to eat, tell them there are 95 reasons.

View other Nebraska Corn Kernel blog posts about why we promote exports: 

December 13, 2014

Podcast: 2014 Corn Crop & Challenges Ahead


 In this podcast, Kelly Brunkhorst, executive director for the Nebraska Corn Board, shares information about the 2014 corn crop and the challenges ahead. This year's American corn crop will be the largest on record—with a projected 14.4 billion bushels. Growing more corn means we need to grow demand. The good news is that we have a number of markets for our corn—both domestically and abroad—in exports, livestock and ethanol production that are key to the success and profitability of Nebraska corn farmers. Nevertheless, threats to these industries, especially those to renewable fuels and foreign trade, could pose many challenges for corn farmers moving forward.

Now, click here to listen to the podcast.

Podcasts are also available on iTunes! Click here to subscribe.

December 11, 2014

U.S. Senator Johanns bids farewell

U.S. Sen. Mike Johanns has forever been a supporter of Nebraska Agriculture.

In his final term as U.S. Senator from Nebraska, Johanns delivered his farewell address on the Senate floor. Below are some excerpts of his remarks:

“From my first day as a county commissioner, throughout my service as a Lincoln City Council Member, as Mayor of our capital city, Lincoln, as the Governor of Nebraska, in President Bush’s Cabinet and now as a United States Senator, no doubt about it, if I could turn back the clock I’d just do it again. I am so grateful for the trust placed in me and the support of so many people who have made this service possible…

“In my various roles, I’ve been with world leaders, spiritual heads, cultural icons, presidents, vice presidents, prime ministers, queens and kings – all memorable experiences, to be sure. But I will say… that’s not the extraordinary people about that I speak about today. My real inspiration comes from ordinary people who I’ve observed and watched do remarkable, extraordinary things…

“There were victories won during my time here and I am pleased to have led some of those charges. Yet, I have to acknowledge, many battles do remain. I would be dishonest if I denied feeling some frustration over the absence of will to address issues of paramount importance to our country. But I know that no issue is powerful enough to shred the fabric of our great nation. Rather, these challenges are overpowered by the ordinary people who do extraordinary things, by the character of our people, and by the wisdom of our Founders.”

Watch the YouTube video for his full remarks:

Thank you, Sen. Johanns for your support of Nebraska agriculture and service to the state!

View other blog posts including Mike Johanns on the Nebraska Corn Kernels blog:

December 2, 2014

Bushels & Bytes: The Data Driven Farm

“I’m hooked on a drug of information and productivity,” said Kip Tom, a seventh-generation family farmer, who harvests the staples of modern agriculture: seed corn, feed corn, soybeans and data, in a recent New York Times article. When Kip isn't found in the field, you can find him sitting in an office filled with computer screens and a whiteboard covered with schematics and plans for his farm’s computer network.

This is not a new image for farmers today. Farmers use technology to make advances in producing more food for a growing world. Through the use of technology, each farmer is able to feed 155 people today, compared to 1940, when one farmer could feed only 19 people.

Farmers use technologies such as motorized equipment, modified housing for animals and biotechnology, which allow for improvement in agriculture. Better technology has allowed farmers to feed more people and requires fewer people to work on farms to feed their families.

So with all of this new technology, comes more data, or "Big Data" as the term as been coined. How do farmers use it? Tom Farms has genetically modified crops, cloud-computing systems and possibly soon drones, if Mr. Tom does not go with lasers on low-orbit satellites. All of these items will be sending their data for analysis on the cloud-computing systems that Tom Farms rented from Monsanto and other companies.

“Farmers still think tech means physical augmentation — more horsepower, more fertilizer,” Mr. Tom said. “They don’t see that technology now is about multiplying information.” With corn prices at almost half the level they have been in the past few years, “my growth is going to come from farmers who don’t embrace technology.”

From a self-driving John Deere combine, Ernie Burbrink, a Tom Farms employee, sorts real-time data about moisture, yields and net bushels per acre on his iPad, sending important information by wireless modem to distant cages of computer servers that begin analyzing the data for next season’s planting.

“It used to be, if you could turn a wrench you’d be good at farming,” Mr. Burbrink said. “Now you need to know screen navigation, and pinpointing what data should go where so people can plan and predict. You need to be in tune with other people: seed consultants, agronomists, the equipment folks.”

Continue reading the NYT article...

November 21, 2014

Corn harvest conversations

With the use of new technology - on the mobile phone and with GPS-driven combines - farmers are finding new ways to communicate during harvest.
And it's easy to follow the conversations with hashtags like #harvest14 or #cornharvest on Twitter.

By sharing images and short and quips, farmers are sharing more about the FARM TO FOOD story than they might realize. Anyone can find these tweets and by seeing the story from the actual farmer, it makes farming and food production  much more credible.

As of Monday, corn harvest in Nebraska was 91 percent complete, near 90 last year and 87 for the five-year average. Even though we are closing in on the end of November, harvest is still in full swing and near the 5-year average. With snow earlier this week, it slowed harvest some, but it didn't slow farmers too much as they are still persevering.

And when harvest is complete, farmers can use online resources for quick tips.
Good luck to Nebraska farmers finishing up harvest!

November 20, 2014

Big savings on ethanol flex fuels at U-Stop


If you're cool to flex fuel, you can fill up for less—a lot less—this coming Tuesday.

On Tuesday, November 25, flex fuel ethanol blends will be available at deep discounts from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the U-Stop location at 84th & Highway 6 in Lincoln.  E85 will be discounted by 85¢ per gallon; E30 will be 30¢ less and E15 will be 15¢ off for the two-hour period.  Customers must be driving a flex fuel vehicle to fill up with these blends. Other restrictions apply. See store for details.

The flex fuel promotion is sponsored by the Nebraska Corn Board and Nebraska Ethanol Board in partnership with U-Stop. 

There are nearly 200,000 flex fuel vehicles in Nebraska, which can run on any blend of ethanol and ordinary gasoline up to E85, or 85 percent ethanol.  

"About one in seven Nebraskans is driving a flex fuel vehicle and many don't even realize it," said Kim Clark. "You might have a flex fuel insignia on your vehicle or you might have a yellow gas cap.  And you can always check your owner's manual to see if you're driving a flex fuel vehicle."

In addition to the at-the-pump discounts, flex fuel drivers will also receive discount coupons on future flex fuel purchases.  A number of in-store specials will also be available at U-Stop during the two-hour discount period.

November 19, 2014

"New Potatoes" of a GM variety

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has approved commercial planting of a potato that is genetically modified to resist bruising and to produce less of a chemical that has caused cancer in animals.

The USDA this month gave the Boise, Idaho-based company, J.R. Simplot Co. permission to begin commercial planting of its new spud, called the "Innate" potato. The company altered the potato's DNA so it produces less acrylamide, which is suspected to be a human carcinogen. Potatoes naturally produce the chemical when they're cooked at high temperatures.

The potato is also engineered to resist bruising, which can cause black spots in the potatoes, making them less desirable to buyers.

Simplot is a major supplier of french fries, hash browns and other potato products for restaurant chains like McDonald's Corp. However, McDonald’s didn’t respond positively.

"McDonald's USA does not source GMO potatoes, nor do we have current plans to change our sourcing practices," the company said in a statement.

But Simplot didn't create this GM potato product for McDonald's - or any fast food restaurant for that matter. 

Simplot spokesman Doug Cole didn't address the company's plans to sell to the fast-food industry or the dehydrated potato industry, which both have urged growers against planting GMO potatoes. But Cole said the fresh potato market would embrace Innate.

The potato joins only eight other crops that have been USDA-approved for commercial production in the U.S.: corn (field and sweet), soybeans, cotton, canola, alfalfa, sugar beets, papaya and squash. This new option of growing GM potatoes shouldn’t be a scare to consumers. It is worth noting that no commercially available crops in the United States were created by nature alone. Humans, over our history, have altered all of our crops, often for taste or yield or disease resistance.

November 14, 2014

Nebraska Corn Board welcomes Emily Thornburg on staff

The Nebraska Corn Board is pleased to announce its newest team member, Emily Thornburg, who was hired as the Director of Communications on November 10. 

In this role, Thornburg will work on behalf of Nebraska corn farmers to expand marketing opportunities through communications, industry partnerships, program coordination, education and promotion. She will coordinate numerous corn promotion and education activities throughout the year. Thornburg will also manage Nebraska Corn Board’s social media along with various other communication outlets.

"We are excited to welcome Emily to the Corn Board team," said Kelly Brunkhorst, executive director of the Nebraska Corn Board. “Emily has proven to be a committed leader and advocate for Nebraska corn farmers, and is well qualified to lead Nebraska Corns’ communication and outreach efforts. With prior experience at Nebraska Corn Growers Association, in addition to a strong background in Nebraska agriculture, Emily has a thorough understanding of the industry and will be a great addition to our staff.”

Thornburg grew up on her family farm near Geneva, Nebraska. She graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a bachelor’s degree in agricultural business and marketing. Upon graduation, she worked in marketing at ConAgra Mills. In the fall of 2013, Emily joined the Nebraska Corn team as the Program Director for the Nebraska Corn Growers Association. During her time there, Emily was responsible for the program coordination and membership servicing for the 2,600 member organization.

"I am very excited to be joining the Nebraska Corn Board staff,” said Thornburg. “It is an honor to have the opportunity to work on behalf of Nebraska’s 23,000 corn farmers.  I look forward to working closely with the wonderful board and staff as well as the industry partners to communicate the important story of Nebraska’s corn industry.”

November 13, 2014

Nebraska Corn Harvest 79% Complete

For the week ending November 9, 2014, warm conditions coupled with limited rainfall made for excellent harvest conditions, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. Precipitation of a half inch or more fell early in the week across portions of the western Panhandle, but was non-existent elsewhere. Temperatures averaged 5 degrees above normal. Fall tillage and fertilizer applications were underway.
There were 6.6 days suitable for fieldwork. Topsoil moisture supplies rated 7 percent very short, 32 short, 60 adequate, and 1 surplus. Subsoil moisture supplies rated 8 percent very short, 30 short, 61 adequate, and 1 surplus.

Corn harvested was 79 percent, near 80 last year and equal to the five-year average.

Data for this news release were provided at the county level by USDA Farm Service Agency and UNL Extension Service.

November 11, 2014

"PUMP" documentary on renewable fuels comes to Nebraska

Renewable fuels hit the big screen with a one-time screening of the documentary "Pump" at the Mary Riepma Ross Media Arts Center. The 88-minute film will be shown at 7 p.m. Nov. 12.

"Pump," narrated by Jason Bateman, explores America's dependence on oil and its effect on the economy. The documentary demonstrates how biofuels like ethanol offer consumers a cheaper, cleaner alternative to gasoline.

Following the screening, there will be a short panel discussion. Doug Durante, Clean Fuels Development Coalition executive director, and Dan Duncan, Nebraska Innovation Campus executive director, will discuss renewable energy and answer audience questions.

"Consumers aren't always aware of their fuel options at the pump and the impact their choice could have on the environment, economy and public health," said Todd Sneller, Nebraska Ethanol Board administrator. "We hope attendees leave the theater with a better understanding of biofuels and renewable energy."

"Pump" is being shown nationwide on a small scale and has received positive entertainment reviews.

"‘Pump' is quite entertaining, drawing together colorful archival footage, interviewed experts and ordinary folk, as well as sojourns to China (in the wake of its economic boom now the world's largest market for cars) and Brazil (whose shift to ethanol production brought prosperous energy dependence), in a lively, professional package," said Variety magazine.

"Pump" and the panel discussion are sponsored by the Nebraska Ethanol Board, Association of Nebraska Ethanol Producers and Urban Air Initiative. Admission is free and open to the public. Attendees should RSVP to to receive free popcorn with admittance.

November 10, 2014

Voters see GMO labeling measures on ballots

Last Tuesday was election day and three states had GMO labeling issues on their ballots.

Voters in Colorado and Oregon cast their ballots regarding labeling of genetically modified foods. The measures failed in both states. In Colorado, more than 67 percent of voters rejected the ballot measure, while in Oregon, the ballot measure was defeated by a narrow margin of 50.5 percent to 49.5 percent. Most voters who cast a "no" vote cited concerns about higher food costs that labeling may create as their reason.

A measure in Maui County in Hawaii to impose a temporary ban on the cultivation of GMO crops, meanwhile, passed by a margin of 50 percent to 48 percent. The ban will remain in place until the county can fully assess the impact of GMOs on public health and the environment. Monsanto and Dow AgroSciences, who both operate in the county, said they will challenge the moratorium.

Consumers took to social media to voice their opinions about the election results . While the majority of online conversations regarding the GMO labeling measures were from consumers based in the U.S., consumers globally joined in the discussions, with posts coming from Indonesia, France, Australia, the Netherlands, and beyond. Read more on the those who tweeted using the hashtag:  #GMOLabel.

This would be a great discussion for the Nebraska Corn Kernels blog readers: what are you views on GMO labeling?

November 4, 2014

Take time to vote for Nebraska agriculture today


What is the best part about Election Day? No more ads!

While the mudslinging may diminish, the issues affecting agriculture are still rolling on through Election Day and after. For this reason, it is very important to vote today – and even more important to vote for candidates who have agendas supportive of Nebraska’s farmers and ranchers.

However, we know a slower harvest will keep some farmers away from the polls and in the fields trying to finish up harvest. The National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) is urging growers to take time today to go to their polling places and think about the many ways decisions made by elected officials impact them on the farm.

“Whether they are based in Washington or your local city hall, those in office or those seeking office need to be held accountable and need to hear from voters,” said NCGA President Chip Bowling, a Maryland corn farmer. “Especially with this being a mid-term election, we have the chance to elect many fine men and women into Congress who understand our concerns and the importance of supporting farmers with sound policy and regulations that protect or build markets for our products here and abroad.”

Bowling mentioned the fact that farmers are harvesting the second record crop in a row, and its impact on corn prices, as a special cause for concern.

“It’s especially important that our elected leaders recognize the great power Washington has over our lives as farmers,” Bowling said. “With corn prices at their lowest in some time, it’s critical that lawmakers and regulators don’t take any further steps that will reduce demand for corn. When growers step off the farm and cast their ballot, they have a lot of power to send a strong message. Please, don’t neglect your responsibility to vote for a few extra hours in your fields.”

Aren’t sure who to vote for in Nebraska? There are resources online from different farm groups in Nebraska who show “Friends of Agriculture” when it comes to candidates and the issues important to them.

For other voting information and to find your polling place, click here.

October 30, 2014

40% Corn Harvested


For the week ending October 26, 2014, rain across the Panhandle as well as eastern areas slowed harvest progress at mid-week, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. Temperatures, which averaged 10 degrees above normal, aided the dry-down of unharvested crops. Soybean harvest was nearing completion with much of the attention now focused on corn. There were 5.9 days suitable for fieldwork.

Topsoil moisture supplies rated 3 percent very short, 26 short, 68 adequate, and 3 surplus. Subsoil moisture supplies rated 7 percent very short, 24 short, 67 adequate, and 2 surplus.

Corn conditions rated 2 percent very poor, 5 poor, 18 fair, 51 good, and 24 excellent. Corn mature was 96 percent, equal to last year and average. Corn harvested was 40 percent, behind 52 last year and 59 average. 

Soybeans harvested was 87 percent, behind 92 last year, but near 89 average.

October 23, 2014

Once Upon a Farm - Omaha Children’s Museum opens ag exhibit


It's grow time!

The Omaha Children’s Museum is bringing farm life to the big city! Explore the world of agriculture and learn where your food comes from in the special exhibit, Once Upon a Farm.

Slide behind the seat of a kid-powered combine, wheel around a maze in the John Deere pedal track, learn what it takes to milk a dairy cow or hop aboard the Ag Express for an up-close look at a real life tractor. Little farmers can learn all about water and irrigation while playing under the kid-sized center pivot and see what it takes to plant and care for crops in the miniature planting station. Daily programming will focus on a new topic each week and will incorporate various farm animals on special weekends throughout the exhibit’s run.

This exhibit is the sixth community-engaged exhibit created by OCM with partners from across the community and the state of Nebraska, including the Nebraska Corn Board. I will run for 6 months from October until April, 2015.

There will be daily ag education programming Tuesday – Saturday 10:30 am & 2:30 pm; Sunday 2:30 pm where kids and families can learn about modern day farming and discover how the food we eat gets from the farm to the store.

Check here for a list of all of the sponsors and activities at Once Upon a Farm.

More importantly, go check it out in person!

Omaha Children's Museum
500 S. 20th Street
Omaha, Nebraska

October 17, 2014

Podcast: Trade teams from Malaysia and Egypt coming to Nebraska


In this podcast, Boone McAfee, director of market development and research for the Nebraska Corn Board, shares about the upcoming international trade teams from Malaysia and Egypt in cooperation with the U.S. Grains Council. They are visiting Nebraska to evaluate our 2014 corn crop and witness the harvest of what promises to be the largest U.S. corn crop in history. This is a great opportunity for us to tell the story of the quality, abundance and reliability of Nebraska corn.

Now, click here to listen to the podcast.

Podcasts are also available on iTunes! Click here to subscribe.

October 16, 2014

19% Nebraska Corn Crop Harvested

For the week ending October 12, 2014 limited rainfall allowed harvest to progress with soybeans nearing the half-way mark, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. Temperatures were above normal in the west but below normal in the east. The growing season has ended with a killing frost in all but a few southern counties. The number of days suitable for fieldwork were 5.8. Topsoil moisture supplies rated 3 percent very short, 19 short, 74 adequate, and 4 surplus. Subsoil moisture supplies rated 7 percent very short, 22 short, 69 adequate, and 2 surplus.

Corn conditions rated 2 percent very poor, 5 poor, 18 fair, 52 good, and 23 excellent. Corn mature was 89 percent, equal to the average. Corn harvested was 19 percent, behind 34 average.

For more info, visit the Nebraska Corn Board's website, Facebook, or Flickr page.

WOTUS would harm Nebraska agriculture


ditchThe impact of EPA’s proposed “Waters of the U.S.” rule would be “significant” and “cause cost increases, confusion and uncertainty to agricultural producers” according to a new analysis conducted by the former director of Nebraska’s Department of Environmental Quality (NDEQ), Mike Linder. Agriculture members of the Common Sense Nebraska coalition chartered the analysis to evaluate Nebraska specific impacts of the EPA’s proposed “Waters” rule on farmers and ranchers, said Steve Nelson, president of the Nebraska Farm Bureau Federation, Oct. 14.

The rule is based in an attempt by EPA to fix a wetlands permitting program which is cumbersome and lengthy. But, in the process, the proposed rule creates problems in other areas of the Clean Water Act (CWA). The analysis verifies concerns by agriculture groups that EPA’s rule would create broad reaching federal jurisdictional authority for the agency to regulate Nebraska waterways and water features.

“Nebraska is comprised of over 77,000 square miles of area with over 92 percent of that area used for agricultural purposes. There are an infinite number of scenarios that call for good judgment in determining whether or not a particular water body is or should be subject to federal CWA jurisdiction. This rule would impose a blanket jurisdictional determination over thousands of acres of private property. The effect would be to impose unnecessary property restrictions and uncertainty as to what that actually means to a farmer or rancher,” Linder wrote.

“The State of Nebraska has developed a surface water discharge permitting system that is now built on forty years of implementation. EPA’s rule was intended to fix one problem. However, the solution they’ve offered will cause many more,” wrote Linder.

Of additional concern to Nebraska are the rule’s possible impacts on the regulation of groundwater.

Continue reading and listen to an audio report from Linder here.

Comment letter from Linder can be found here.

October 10, 2014

Using Distillers Grains on the Ranch


photo - calves with distillers grains on groundIn recent months distillers grain price has declined while beef cattle prices have reached historic highs. In many situations distillers grains may be a good option to increase weight of calves and yearlings or for use as a winter protein supplement for cows. Distillers grains are well suited to forage-based beef production operations because they are a good source of energy, protein and phosphorus. All three can be limiting in forages.

Recently, manufactured cubes (or cake) comprised solely of distillers grains have become available. The quality of these cubes is excellent resulting in few fines and good consumption. However, to capture the full economic benefit of low-priced distillers grains producers should consider purchasing distillers directly from the ethanol plant and feeding it as a commodity.

Recent work at UNL has addressed the question of which is more economical — feeding distillers grains in a bunk or on the ground. Research with weaned calves indicated about 16% of wet distillers grains and 40% of dry distillers grains are lost when fed on the ground.

Calculating the cost of the lost distillers grains is straight forward. Simply calculate the amount lost using the percentages above and multiply by the unit cost of distillers grains. Calculating other costs is relatively simple as well. We calculated the cost of purchasing bunks (including delivery, tax, depreciation, and set up) at $0.16 per day. At today's prices the lost distillers grains would be much less than the cost of the bunk.

However, feeding on the ground may not always be the most profitable. In our studies the calves fed in a bunk gained between 0.20 and 0.26 lbs more per day. Because the value of the additional weight gained by calves fed in a bunk is worth more than the additional cost to achieve that weight gain, feeding in a bunk was the most profitable even though it cost more.

There are situations were feeding on the ground may be the most profitable, such as when the least cost of gain to achieve a programed rate of gain is the goal. However, if the goal is to market the weight gain at the end of the feeding period, feeding in a bunk would be the most profitable with today's price relationships.

A webinar titled "Feeding Distillers Grains on the Ground to Cows and Calves" further explains the research.

Find sources and more information here.

October 9, 2014

Harvested Biotech Crops Top 4 Billion Acres


4BAcresWhen the sixteen farmers representing agriculture around the globe gather in Des Moines next week for the Global Farmer Roundtable, they can celebrate a milestone. Since 1996 until now, over 4 billion acres of biotech crops will have been harvested.

That’s billion with a B.

Four billion acres is 1.5 times the size of Europe. It’s nearly as big as South America.

Ross Korves, economic and trade policy analyst with Truth About Trade and Technology: “The calculation starts with 1996 commercial production of biotech crops. Each February we benchmark back to the ISAAA (International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications) December 31 number of acres planted for the year. Much of the world does not have a harvested number like the U.S., but we’re making an educated guess to paint a simple picture. The counters (for planted acres and harvested acres) run 365 days per year. They come alive in the spring and fall and peak out at 25-30 million acres per week in the northern hemisphere and 15-20 million in the southern hemisphere.”

What’s the bottom line lesson here?

Bill Horan, chairman of Truth About Trade and Technology: “The B word for billion acres of biotech crops without any reported issues in the food chain means just one thing. There are a lot of voices out there critical of biotechnology, spinning their precautionary tales. Four billion acres of biotech crops have filled a lot of stomachs, and biotech is one of the answers for meeting agriculture’s goal to feed 9 billion people by the year 2050. I think it’s time we lay all of these scary food myths to rest, like the passing of the boogeyman, once Halloween is over. Once we’re able to do that, we could focus on the work ahead of us.”

October 7, 2014

FARMLAND film available for digital download


Earlier this year, Farmland was shown in over 170 theaters across the country

Academy Award®-winning filmmaker James Moll’s feature length documentary, Farmland, is now available to stream on the free, ad-supported Hulu and Hulu Plus subscription service. Farmland will be available exclusively on the platform for four weeks – providing viewers with the opportunity to stream Farmland from their connected TVs, Blu-ray players, gaming consoles, laptops, tablets and mobile devices.

During its theatrical debut this year, Farmland was shown in more than 170 theaters across the country including Regal Cinemas, Marcus Theatres, Carmike Cinemas, Landmark Theatres, and many key independent theaters. It will now be available digitally for the first time.

Many Americans have never stepped foot on a farm or ranch or even talked to the people who grow and raise the food we eat, yet are increasingly passionate about understanding where their food comes from. Farmland takes the viewer inside the world of farming for a first-hand glimpse into the lives of six young farmers and ranchers in their twenties. Through the personal stories of these farmers and ranchers, viewers learn about their high-risk/high-reward jobs and passion for a way of life that has been passed down from generation to generation, yet continues to evolve.

“This is a film for anyone who eats,” says Moll. “It’s not what you’d expect. The world of farming is complex and often controversial, but the farmers themselves are some of the most hard-working and fascinating people I’ve ever met.”

Produced by Moll’s Allentown Productions, Farmland received notable attention during its theatrical run securing reviews in several national mediums and recognition in film festivals across the country, including Atlanta, Cleveland and Newport Beach, Calif. The film also earned a 92 percent audience rating on

Farmland was made with the generous support of the U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance®.

Check out the official trailer for the feature length documentary at and be sure to watch Farmland in its entirety on Hulu:

October 2, 2014

“Take a second for safety!” during harvest


Corn harvest between Dorchester and York. October, 11, 2010.  Photo by Craig Chandler / University CommunicationsTake a second for safety. As farmers are entering the fields to harvest and traveling roads, the Nebraska Corn Board (NCB) and Nebraska Corn Growers Association (NeCGA) is asking farmers and those driving near harvest equipment to take precaution during this busy harvest season.

Agriculture remains one of the more dangerous occupations in North America, but exercising caution, getting rest and being safety-minded can go a long way toward making it safer for everyone involved.

“With an expected large crop and a later harvest this year, farmers will be working hard to get the crops out of the fields,” said Tim Scheer, chairman of the Nebraska Corn Board and farmer from St. Paul, Nebraska. “Working hard and fast in the field or on the farm could cause a chance for error where an injury or fatality could be prevented by taking appropriate precautions or simply taking time.”

This caution for safety isn’t for farmers alone, said Scheer. Motorists driving on rural roads during harvest should watch out for slower moving farm equipment. Rural intersections will have heavier-than-normal travel and dusty conditions that could limit visibility, as can sun glare in the morning and evening. Standing crops in the field may also block a clear view of oncoming traffic.

The “Take a Second for Safety” tagline echoes the efforts of the NCB and NeCGA at events this year. At Husker Harvest Days, Nebraska Corn hosted a giveaway of two grain engulfment rescue tubes to be given to local fire departments. Cedar Rapids, Nebraska and Newcastle, Nebraska volunteer fire departments were the fortunate recipients of these tubes.

“We hope to never have to use a grain rescue tube in the event of a grain engulfment,” said Emily Thornburg, NeCGA’s program director. “But in the case that one does happen, our goal is to have emergency personnel armored with the tools they need to save a life.”

The goal of Nebraska Corn’s efforts is to help fire departments across the state receive rescue tubes, as well as helping them obtain training in the event that someone working in or around grain becomes engulfed. The chances of survival for that person are greatly increased if there is a grain rescue tube available to fire departments nearby.

On the trainings, Nebraska Corn has worked with the Safety & Technical Rescue Association (SATRA). SATRA encourages seven grain entrapment prevention principles to keep in mind when working around grain.

  1. Prevent entrapments by developing a zero-entry mentality.
    1. Stay out of the bin, if at all possible.
  2. NEVER enter a bin with grain in it by yourself.
    1. The entry supervisor, entrant and attendant must work together and be able to communicate effectively with each other.
  3. NEVER enter a bin with grain in it without training.
    1. The employer should provide annual hands-on training.
  4. Complete the permit properly and identify all hazards.
    1. Have all potential hazards been identified and addresses?
  5. Shut down and lockout equipment.
    1. All equipment involved in the storage, drying, and material handling systems should be locked out and tagged during entry, service, and maintenance operations.
  6. Maintain control of the lifeline.
    1. Your lifeline is useless, unless it is secured properly.
  7. Identify and contact the emergency response group.
    1. Check of make sure emergency response group is properly trained and check with your local fire department for expected response time to your location for this type of incident.

“While we all recognize the excitement and enjoyment of harvest,” Scheer said. “Staying focused and resting regularly are two proactive steps in keeping things safe around the farm for everyone, including family members and employees helping to harvest the crop.”

September 30, 2014

7% Corn Harvested as of 9/29/14

For the week ending September 28, 2014, above normal temperatures accelerated the dry down of row crops as producers waited for grain moisture levels to decline, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. Rain at midweek was heaviest in central counties with amounts limited elsewhere.

There were 6.1 days suitable for fieldwork. Topsoil moisture supplies rated 4 percent very short, 23 short, 70 adequate, and 3 surplus. Subsoil moisture supplies rated 8 percent very short, 25 short, 65 adequate, and 2 surplus.

Corn conditions rated 2 percent very poor, 6 poor, 19 fair, 51 good, and 22 excellent. Corn dented was 97 percent, near 99 for both last year and the average. Corn mature was 63 percent, near 60 last year and 66 average. Corn harvested was 7 percent, near 8 last year, but behind 16 average

Data for this news release were provided at the county level by USDA Farm Service Agency and UNL Extension Service.

For more pictures check out the Nebraska Corn Board Flickr page.

Access the National publication for Crop Progress and Condition tables at:

Access the High Plains Region Climate Center for Temperature and Precipitation Maps at:

Access the U.S. Drought Monitor at: