January 28, 2014

Over 5,000 letters to EPA: Don’t Gut the RFS!

rfs lettersThe Nebraska Corn Board has received over 5,000 letters expressing opposition on the recent decision of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposal to cut back on the amount of corn ethanol in our nation’s fuel supply. This would cut 1.4 billion gallons of ethanol in 2014 from the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) passed by Congress.

In early January, the Nebraska Corn Board sent out letters to Nebraska farmers alerting them of EPA’s actions and included a letter to EPA that farmers could sign. These letters were returned to the Corn Board and the Board will forward the entire stack of letters to EPA before the comment period deadline of January 28. To date, just over 5,000 letters have been returned, many with personal messages expressing the need to keep a strong renewable fuel industry and stating corn farmers can provide enough food, feed and fuel to help America be less dependent on imported oil.

“This is the greatest grassroots response in the history of the corn checkoff program since its implementation in 1978,” said Don Hutchens, executive director of the Nebraska Corn Board. Hutchens has been executive director since 1987 and a corn producer since the early 1970’s.

Click here to watch a report by 1011 News.

January 27, 2014

Podcast: Nebraska youth testifies in support of the RFS

In this podcast, Hannah Borg, a farmer's daughter from Allen, Nebraska testifies in support of the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS)  on behalf of Nebraska's youth. Hannah is an eight-year 4-H member and second year FFA member.  She is the 6th generation on her family's farm raising corn, soybeans, alfalfa, and backgrounding cattle.

It's refreshing that someone so young understands what the RFS was put in place to do: create jobs, decrease greenhouse gas emissions and lessen our dependence on imported oil.

Listen to her podcast now. Then take two-minutes to comment to the EPA on why the RFS is important to Nebraska.

This isn't just for farmers to comment. It affects everyone in the state, so get others in your community to submit comments as well—bankers, school board members, county commissioners, economic development staff. Every sector of Nebraska's rural economy has benefitted from a robust ag economy in the state. We need all of them to send a comment to the EPA. We have just a few weeks left to tell the EPA how we feel. Don't delay. Please visit NebraskaCorn.org today to comment on EPA's proposal.

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

Nebraska Corn Executive Hutchens Announces Retirement, Brunkhorst Selected in Succession


Don Hutchens_websiteDon Hutchens has announced his retirement as executive director of the Nebraska Corn Board effective July 30, 2014, leaving a position that he has held for 27 years. In discussions on Hutchens’ announcement, succession planning and options, the board of directors has interviewed and selected Kelly Brunkhorst to succeed him. Brunkhorst currently serves as director of research for the Nebraska Corn Board.

A native of Geneva, Nebr., Hutchens received his bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 1970. He was engaged in full-time farming and livestock production for 14 years before beginning his career in agricultural leadership. He continues to serve as owner and manager of a crop production operation and feeds cattle. He and his wife Donna have two adult children; Kate Boos, MD, Family Practice physician in Kearney and Jerad, a district sales manager for GSI Group, LLC.

In 1985, Don was named assistant director of the Nebraska Department of Agriculture, eventually serving as director during 1986. He was selected as executive director of the Nebraska Corn Board in 1987.

“Don has been a selfless and dedicated advocate and spokesman for Nebraska agriculture for nearly three decades and everyone associated with Nebraska agriculture owes him a huge debt of gratitude,” said Tim Scheer, chairman of Nebraska Corn Board, from St. Paul, Nebr. “We wish him the best as he transitions to the next phase of his life and career—and we fully expect to continue seeing Don engaged and involved in promoting Nebraska agriculture in the years to come.”

Kelly Brunkhorst_websiteBrunkhorst was raised on a diversified farm and ranch operation south of Wauneta, Nebr. He graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a bachelor’s degree in mechanized systems management and business. Upon graduation, he managed a feed mill for a private swine operation in north central Nebraska. He then became a district sales manager for Crow’s Hybrid Corn Company before becoming the vice-president of operations and education for the Nebraska Grain & Feed Association.

He joined the staff of the Nebraska Corn Board in 2004 and his responsibilities included research, grant writing, seed industry and first purchaser relations, and leadership on issues related to transportation, industrial uses of corn, domestic and international markets. He has also represented the board on national research, production and stewardship committees, in addition to being chosen to participate in two national strategic planning initiatives. He, and his wife Carey, have two sons, Seth and Alex.

“Kelly has proven to be a thorough and dedicated advocate for Nebraska corn farmers and he is extremely well qualified to lead Nebraska’s corn checkoff program,” Scheer said. “Agriculture and the corn industry are in a period of tremendous change and challenge—and our board felt it was critically important to ensure continuity in the leadership of the program and leverage the institutional knowledge that Kelly has gained to the advantage of Nebraska’s corn farmers. Kelly also understands the unique structure and environment of Nebraska’s corn checkoff. We are exceedingly pleased he has accepted the offer to serve as executive director.”

Read full release…

January 23, 2014

Big Oil Labels Family Farmers Extremists


*as posted on NCGA’s Corn Commentary

slappyA true David and Goliath battle is under way between the nation’s family farmers and Big Oil in the form of the American Petroleum Institute (API). And farmers in recent weeks bounced a big rock off the head of the petroleum behemoth. At issue is American ethanol.

For months the oil industry has been involved in a well-funded campaign of both public and covert efforts to undermine the growing role of sustainable biofuel like ethanol. They capped this massive misinformation campaign by leaning on the White House and EPA to propose a change to the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) that would reduce ethanol use by 1.4 billion gallons this year.

The bad news is the most recent slap in the face, if successful, has the potential to hammer farmers and the rural economy to the tune of more than 10 billion dollars.

Before this recommendation can be accepted EPA’s proposal must go through a formal public comment period. Thousands of corn farmers across the country have responded with a vengeance submitting comments urging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to retract its proposed 10 percent cut in the amount of corn ethanol in the 2014 Renewable Fuel Standard.

The volume of supportive comments coming from farmers as well as equipment dealers, bankers, school administrators and consumers who favor a fuel choice has been incredible so thanks to everyone who has taken the time to register your opinion.

The response has been so terrific that it tweaked API and in response they have launched yet another effort to remove any competition from the fuel marketplace. It takes the form of an annoying and deceptive “robo-call.”

On the pre-recorded action request API refers to those supporting ethanol as both a “special interest group” and as “extremists.” Since most those making the calls are farmers, I guess that means you. They also use the same old hackneyed and debunked arguments saying ethanol leads to higher food prices and damages car engines.

If being called an extremist makes you a little angry fight back. If having one of the world’s most prosperous industries try to increase their profits at your expense….fight back.

Corn growers: Click here to send a public comment to the EPA.

Non-farmers: Click here to customize and send a public comment to the EPA.

We have until January 28th – 5 days – to submit these comments. Take 2 minutes and comment now. This is important to not only corn famers, but to Nebraska’s overall economy.

January 15, 2014

January 15 - by Curt Tomasevicz

January 15 is a date that I will always remember. By some type of coincidence or serendipity, 1/15 has seemed to have played a significant role in a few milestones of my life.

January 15, 1995 was a date that I won’t forget. I was 14 and it was the first time that I learned to snow ski. A church group went to Mt. Crescent, Iowa. Like most farm kids from Nebraska, I learned to ski on a big hill rather than the Rocky Mountains. I know this doesn’t sound like a significant milestone to most people, but to me, I remembered the date afterward because that ski trip turned out to be the day that I consider my transition out of childhood and into adolescence. I stopped being a kid and developed a new perspective on the world. How can I view this transition as one day? Well, I remember skiing that day with a couple friends. We were able to go off on our own and ski independent of the adults. It was the first time we were given significant adult-less responsibility. In the following years of high school, we were teammates, classmates, and still best friends. We went through challenges and fun times and we did it together. And as time went by, those friends that I skied with that day remain some of my closest friends to this day.

January 15, 2000 was the date that I made the Nebraska Cornhuskers football team. Out of high school, my plan was to go to the U.S. Air Force Academy. But a broken collar bone derailed that dream. Instead, I accepted an academic scholarship to the University of Nebraska to study electrical engineering. I was set on playing college football so I met with one of the assistant coaches and he informed me that since the walk-on class was already full, my best option to make the team would be to try out in January of my freshman year. I trained hard that fall semester and on January 15 I ran through a series of physical tests. A 40-yd dash, a 10-yd dash, a vertical jump and a pro- agility test were the four items that made up the combine. Apparently, I did well enough on the tests to be asked to join the spring football team as a runningback.

January 15, 2006 was the date that I was named to the 2006 Olympic bobsled team. I had joined the national bobsled team just sixteen months prior and had only two world cup seasons under my belt when the announcement was made. I had started the sport because I met a track star from the University of Nebraska that was recruited to be on the national bobsled team. She convinced me that I had the right size and build for a bobsledder. I had just finished playing football and NFL teams weren’t exactly calling me. So I tried out for the team and made it in a similar way that I passed the combine test to make the Husker team. When the 2006 team was announced, we had just finished a race in Konigssee, Germany. Even though I had been in my spot on the team all season, I was still nervous when they started reading the names of the team. Since the list was alphabetical, mine was the last one called. I immediately called home, forgetting that it was the middle of the night back in the United States. I think I woke my mom up, but I’m sure she has forgiven me for breaking such great news to her at a horrible hour.

Someday when I get married, I wonder if the only way I’ll be able to remember my anniversary is if I get married on January 15!

January 14, 2014

A letter to EPA from concerned corn farmers


IMG_3265The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing to bend to the whims of the oil industry and cut back on the amount of corn ethanol in our nation's fuel supply by 1.4 billion gallons in 2014 as prescribed by the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) passed by Congress.

EPA apparently believes that continuing our reliance on the petroleum industry is a good thing. And some of this may be influenced by misinformed media stories about how corn farmers meeting the increased demand for corn.

Recently, we've seen misleading news stories accusing farmers of turning conservation reserve program—or CRP land—into corn production to meet ethanol demand. Here's the truth: As part of the 2008 Farm Bill, the cap on CRP acreage was dropped from 39.2 million acres to 31.3 million beginning in 2010. So CRP enrollments fell. It had nothing to do with ethanol.

Farmers have responded to the increased demand for corn by producing more. And we're not plowing up virgin land to do it. We're simply changing what we plant on the acres we already have—based on market conditions.

Ethanol has been blamed for an increase in food prices, due to higher corn prices. First, higher corn prices have been driven primarily by two years of drought, not ethanol demand.

Second, corn comprises a small percentage of the cost of a food product. For example, you would think that the highest cost in a box of corn flakes would be the corn itself, right? In fact, at today's prices, the amount of corn in an 18-ounce box of corn flakes is just six cents. That's right—six cents.

As corn prices have recently headed downward toward $4 a bushel—very near the cost of production for us corn farmers—American consumers have not seen a corresponding decline in food prices. So it's pretty clear that ethanol and corn prices have not been the culprit they've been made out to be.

When we make ethanol out of corn, we also make livestock feed to create protein for human consumption and a variety of human food ingredient such as corn oil. So we're not just making fuel—we're making feed and food as well. That's critical in Nebraska, where corn, cattle and ethanol combine to create a "golden triangle" of economic strength and added value all across the state.

The RFS is one of the most successful federal initiatives in recent history. It has done exactly what it was designed to do: reduce our reliance on imported oil, re-energize our rural economy, lower fuel prices, increase choices at the pump, improve air quality and create jobs.

If you agree that EPA is overstepping its authority—and that maintaining our nation's commitment to renewable fuels is a good thing—share your comment with EPA today. We have until January 28, 2014 to comment—and you can do so by visiting NebraskaCorn.org.


Tim Scheer
Nebraska Corn Board
St. Paul, Nebraska
dont gut the rfs

January 13, 2014

CommonGround Nebraska Takes Center Stage on The Balancing Act


Popular morning show The Balancing Act, airing on Lifetime TV, once again welcomes CommonGround, the grassroots organization designed to get women talking about farming, to the show at 6 a.m. CST Tuesday, Jan. 14. Make sure to tune in as CommonGround Nebraska volunteer Dawn Caldwell explains why consumers can feel confident about how their food is grown and raised.

This is the final segment in a four-part series where The Balancing Act features conversations with volunteers from CommonGround, an effort designed to get women talking about farming and food. CommonGround provides a way for moms looking for answers about food to connect with moms who grow and raise it and get real, credible information.

"Lately, there has been a significant amount of media attention paid to the practices ranchers like myself use in caring for our livestock. Through this show, I hope to provide a window into the true story of animal agriculture and open an ongoing conversation with other mothers who have questions about their food," said Caldwell.

This special opportunity to reach millions of the women who make a vast majority of America's grocery purchasing decisions came to fruition through the special support of NCGA, and was spearheaded by the association's Trade Policy and Biotechnology Action Team. The Balancing Act empowers women in all aspects of their lives, striving to help today's modern women balance it all by bringing them exceptional solutions to everyday problems. Working together, CommonGround and The Balancing Act will provide both immediate information and an ongoing resource for women with questions about the food they feed their families.

CommonGround was founded by the National Corn Growers Association, the United Soybean Board and their state affiliates to start a conversation about food between the women who grow it and the women who buy it. Now in its fourth year, CommonGround brings more than 100 of America's farm women to the table for food discussions and helps consumers eat fearlessly.

To learn more about CommonGround,go to CommonGroundNebraska.com or FindOurCommonGround.com.

January 2, 2014

(Video) Nebraska Beef Mission to Japan


This past July, a group of Nebraskans, supported by the Nebraska Corn Board, packed their bags for Japan as part of a mission coordinated by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF).

The focus for this mission was an opportunity for U.S. beef and corn producers to assist in U.S. beef promotions and trade activities in the one of the busiest meat purchasing seasons. Additionally, they held meetings with the U.S. Embassy, retail and importer discussions, interaction with over 500 meat buyers at a meat symposium, visited a port and cold storage facility, attended a food blogger event and a U.S. beef activity in the tsunami-stricken Sendai region of Japan.

This video highlights the events of the trip, gains insight in the meat export market to Japan and covers the free beef meal activity to the people on Katsura Island.

Read all of the mission highlights on the Midwest Corn Growers Study Tour blog.