May 30, 2014

USMEF Wraps up Successful Board Meeting, Product Showcase with Nebraska’s Jagels as Chair


Jagels-Friday-BOD-May-2014-SFWThe U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) Board of Directors Meeting and Product Showcase was held last week in Kansas City, Missouri, drawing a record-large turnout of 250 members from a broad cross-section of the meat industry and 120 international buyers. In his welcome remarks at the Opening General Session, Chairman and Nebraska Corn Board farmer-director Mark Jagels thanked member organizations for their support for red meat exports and commitment to the international markets.

“I look at the diversity of USMEF’s membership as one of our biggest strengths,” Jagels said. “We truly have the most diverse membership of any red meat organization in existence. The broad representation of USMEF’s membership and your commitment in terms of time, expertise and financial investment are what make USMEF great and allow us to achieve success internationally.”

Jagels reviewed first-quarter export results for U.S. beef and pork, which were up substantially from a year ago despite tight supplies and a number of market access challenges. He provided a brief overview of market conditions and trends in Mexico, South Korea, China/Hong Kong and Japan, noting that these and other key markets will be discussed in greater detail at Thursday’s Beef and Allied Industries Committee and Pork and Allied Industries Committee meetings.

Listen to Jagels audio opening remarks here.

Mark-Jagels-BOD-May-21-2014-SFWOn Thursday evening, USMEF hosted its largest-ever product showcase, with 21 exporters exhibiting beef, pork and lamb products for more than 120 international buyers. USMEF will provide comments, photos and other details from the product showcase in next week’s Export Newsline.

The USMEF meeting concluded Friday morning with the organization’s business meeting. Chairman Mark Jagels thanked members for making this a successful and productive event in which USMEF took action on several key issues.

The board adopted changes to the USMEF bylaws that were explained in detail in a March 25 letter from Jagels to the USMEF membership and in a detailed document issued after a four-week open comment period. The most significant change to the bylaws relates to the at-large and advisory seats on the USMEF Executive Committee, as explained in the documents linked above.

May 29, 2014

Intern project on UAVs in agriculture


By Joe Conrad, NCGA-St. Louis intern

DSC_0013Greetings from St. Louis!

I will be interning throughout the summer with the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA), which is located only a short drive from my host family’s home, in Chesterfield, Missouri. My first week at work has been eye-opening. I came to this internship with limited agricultural experience, so I’ve really focused on getting some background on how the industry operates and how NCGA works as a part of it. I have been lining up interviews with various members of the staff to get a more detailed explanation of their role in the office. From the interviews I’ve already conducted, I was amazed to see how the organization has people from all different backgrounds and skill sets. Along with learning each person’s background and expertise, I have also received an in-depth look at the programs and coalitions NCGA has built.

In addition to the interviews, I was given my first project this week. I will be researching unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) as a state organization is looking to propose an amendment to support their use in agriculture. I will be investigating the potential benefits and harms of using such technology, and I will be presenting my findings. I’m excited to see what other projects I will be working on throughout the course of my internship that will exploit my background in political science and economics. The opportunities seem endless.

As I mentioned earlier I am staying with a host family, and they have been great! Their neighbor works at the NCGA office, and has a pool in the backyard. I’ve spent most afternoons after work lounging by their pool. I can’t say enough about their hospitality. It is a great set-up, and I can tell I’m going to enjoy my summer. I’m getting all types of suggestions about places to eat and things to do, so I can’t wait to explore the city. There’s a lot to learn, but I look forward to diving into it.

Read about all of the Nebraska Corn Board supported interns here.

May 28, 2014

International, cooperator interns chosen for Nebraska Corn Board


The Nebraska Corn Board selected and is supporting six college students as interns starting this summer, one being an unprecedented international internship.

NCB will be partnering with the U.S. Grains Council to host its first-ever international student intern in their country office of Panama City, Panama. Four of the five already established internships will be hosted by national cooperators of NCB: National Corn Growers Association in St. Louis, Missouri and Washington, D.C., the U.S. Grains Council in Washington, D.C. and the U.S. Meat Export Federation in Denver, Colorado. One student intern will be held in the NCB office in Lincoln, which is a year-long internship that has been engaging students for over 20 years.

“Year after year, Nebraska continues to hit homeruns, finding excellent interns to learn about and serve our national cooperators,” said Don Hutchens, executive director for the Nebraska Corn Board. “This year, we are very excited to support the first-ever international internship to Panama City. This is an unprecedented time in the agricultural industry and the first time any commodity board has put together an internship internationally. We are excited for the future of this internship program.”

Morgan Zumpfe, NCB-LincolnThe NCB office in Lincoln is excited to welcome Morgan Zumpfe of Friend, Nebraska, for a year-long internship. Morgan will be a sophomore in Animal Science with a business emphasis at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln. As part of her internship, she will oversee crop progress report placement, contribute to communication and outreach programs and help with education and promotion activities.

Morgan Nelson, NCGA-DCThe National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) office in Washington, D.C. will host Morgan Nelson of Norfolk, Nebraska, as their summer intern supported by a partnership between NCB and NCGA. Morgan is a graduate student in Public Service and Administration, Public Management with an emphasis in state and local government at the Texas A&M University. She will be involved with a variety of agricultural issues related to environmental regulations, transportation, free trade agreements, biotechnology, ethanol and energy.

DSC_0013The National Corn Growers Association headquarters office in St. Louis, Missouri, will host Joe Conrad from St. Joseph, Missouri, as their summer intern supported by a partnership between NCB and NCGA. Joe will be a senior in Economics and Political Science at the University of Nebraska – Omaha. He will be assisting with membership and communication programs, as well as participating in committee meetings and policy issues.

Bryan Brower, USGC-DCThe U.S. Grains Council (USGC) will host Bryan Brower of Omaha, Nebraska, as their summer intern supported by a partnership between NCB and USGC. Bryan is a junior in Accounting with a minor in Political Science at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln. He will be working with policy, assisting with international trade teams and helping to develop promotions and international relations.

Matt Perlinger, USGC-PanamaThe U.S. Grains Council will host their first international intern, Matt Perlinger from Paxton, Nebraska, in Panama City, Panama, in cooperation with NCB. Matt is a dual-major senior in Agribusiness, banking and finance option, and Spanish. He will be working on issues related to global trade in food and agricultural products, assisting with communication to importers, and working with the new MAIZALL alliance between corn growers of North and South America.

Abigal Wehrbein, USMEF-DenverThe U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) will host Abigail Wehrbein of Plattsmouth, Nebraska, as their summer intern supported by a partnership between NCB and USMEF. Abigail is a sophomore in Animal Science with a meat science option from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She will be assisting with beef and pork specific projects, as well as promotions and international relationship opportunities.

“Nebraskans should be very proud of our collegiate candidates who apply for these internships,” said Hutchens. “I’m convinced we have the best internship program of any commodity in any state.”

97% of Nebraska's Corn Crop is Planted


Rows of corn plants are popping up through the soil
97% of Nebraska's Corn Crop is Planted

For the week ending May 25, 2014, precipitation across the Panhandle and drought-stricken southwestern counties was received early in the week with an inch or more common, according to USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.  Rain also fell over the weekend across the southeast and east central areas but missed most northeastern counties.

Statewide, corn planting was virtually complete and soybean planting was winding up. Temperatures averaged 4 to 6 degrees above normal.  The number of days considered suitable for fieldwork were 5.5. Topsoil moisture supplies rated 9 percent very short, 28 short, 60 adequate, and 3 surplus. Subsoil moisture supplies rated 17 percent very short, 31 short,
51 adequate, and 1 surplus.

Corn planted was 97 percent, ahead of 94 last year, but equal to the average. Corn emerged was 74 percent, ahead of 56 last year but near 71 average.

To view all crop progress photos, visit our Flickr page.
For more information from the Nebraska Corn Board visit our Twitter and Facebook pages!

May 16, 2014

From One Intern to the Next

“Every good thing has to end eventually”, this old phrase has been running through my mind the past week. As my internship with the Nebraska Corn Board comes to an end this week I have been taking some time and reflecting on my experiences over the past year.

My internship started off last May with a bang. The farm bill was under discussion and everyone was working hard to gain support for the proposed bill. I remember creating Facebook posts, handouts, and reading about the farm bill. Little did I know at the time that the farm bill would not be finalized until half way through my year-long internship. I quickly moved on from farm bill work to attending ethanol promotions in Omaha and to hosting booths at local agriculture awareness days. These are some of my best memories I have from the Nebraska Corn Board. I found my passion for educating youth about agriculture.

As the summer came to an end, I finished by working at the State Fair and representing the Nebraska Corn Board. Once school started in the fall, things at work started to slow down for me a bit. Instead of devoting all my time to work, I now had to split the day with classes. Even though I was only working part-time, I still received a full-time load at work. I was constantly busy writing social media posts, or preparing for the trip to Agriculture Future of America (AFA). This year the Nebraska Corn Board sponsored five students to attend the AFA Leadership Conference in Kansas City. I was in charge of arranging a meeting place and driving the corn van to and from the AFA Leadership Conference.

Before I knew it spring semester rolled around, which meant crop progress reports started springing up again. I spent the majority of my spring semester organizing crop progress for 2014 and attending conferences. I was able to attend the Nebraska Women in Agriculture conference that was held in Kearney, Nebraska. While there I learned about how strong of an influence women have in the world of agriculture and how we need to reach out to consumers and tell them our story.

Now I am spending the week training our next intern and I am left with mixed emotions. I am excited to move on to the next stage of my life and to experience my second internship; however I will miss my experiences here at the Nebraska Corn Board. Over the course of this past year I have had the opportunity to experience conferences, network with industry professionals, learn way more corn facts than anyone could imagine, and most importantly, become good friends with the staff here at the Nebraska Corn Board. I can only hope that the staff at my next internship will be as welcoming as everyone here was.

“When one door closes another one opens” this is the new phrase that I will carry with me into my future. I am so thankful for the experiences gained here at the Nebraska Corn Board and will continue to use those experiences to better myself in the future.

May 15, 2014

Storms Strike Eastern Nebraska

Corn is starting to emerge in Nebraska!
For the week ending May 11th most of Nebraska received precipitation, with amounts varying widely across the state. Localized areas of heavy rain and thunderstorms in eastern Nebraska caused some damage to irrigation equipment and buildings. Areas of southwest Nebraska remain in an extreme drought in spite of the recent rains. Average temperatures ranged from 4 degrees below normal in the panhandle to 6 degrees above normal in southeast Nebraska. The number of days considered suitable for fieldwork were 5.1.

Topsoil moisture supplies rated 38 percent short/very short, 58 percent adequate, and 4 percent surplus. Subsoil moisture supplies rated 52 percent short/very short, 48 percent adequate, and 0 percent surplus.

Corn planted was 77 percent, well ahead of 39 percent last year but near the 71 percent average. Corn emerged was 18 percent, which is well ahead of last years 2 percent but currently behind the national average of 21 percent.

To view all crop progress photos visit our Flickr page.

May 12, 2014

U.S. Agriculture Production


The final 2012 #AgCensus results were recently released by USDA and included some great infographics on the current status of American agriculture. We’ve already shared the Faces of U.S. Agriculture, Geography of U.S. Agriculture, and U.S. Agriculture Practices infographics.

The last of the infograhics is U.S. Agriculture Production.

In 2012, one-third of the value of agricultural sales in the U.S. was for grains, like corn, and oilseeds. Also, in 2012, the number of broilers sold was 8.5 billion – that’s a lot of bird!

All infographics can be found here.

May 8, 2014

U.S. Agriculture Practices

The final 2012 #AgCensus results were released recently by USDA and included some great infographics on the current status of American agriculture. We’ve already shared the Faces of U.S. Agriculture and Geography of U.S. Agriculture infographic.

U.S. Agriculture Practices are pictured in this infographic. 

Farmers make a BIG investment to produce their crops and livestock. And that big red spot in the Corn Belt is Nebraska’s irrigated farm ground. HOW_Draft06
All infographics can be found here.

May 7, 2014

Top 10 GMO questions


Howells-Dodge-Clarkson FFA (6)
A new national survey commissioned by GMO Answers and the Council for Biotechnology Information has identified the leading questions consumers have about genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and how food is grown.

The survey was conducted in order to identify, for the first time, the top 10 questions consumers have about GMOs and to open up the conversation on biotechnology's role in agriculture.

Over the next several weeks, scientists, farmers, doctors and other experts will answer one of the top 10 questions each week on the GMO Answers website and via Twitter. This blog will cover the top three questions.


Ipsos, a global market research company, conducted a national, random telephone survey of 1,006 American adults ages 18 and older. Participants were given a list of common questions about GMOs and were asked which ones they would be "most interested in having answered."


Agriculture photo shoot in south west Nebraska in Perkins County. Photo by Craig Chandler / University CommunicationsDr. Kevin Folta, interim chair and associate professor at the University of Florida's horticultural sciences department, answered the first question: Do GMOs cause cancer?

"The short answer is no, there is absolutely zero reputable evidence that GMO foods cause cancer. Cancer is a name applied to a spectrum of diseases where cells proliferate abnormally. There is no way that the subtle and well-understood alterations of a plant's genes can cause cancer," Folta explained. "There is nothing about the Bt protein (used in insect resistance and also in organic pest control), the EPSPS enzyme (which confers herbicide resistance simply by substituting for the native enzyme in the plant) or the process itself that would induce the genetic changes in human cells that would lead to cancer. It is just not plausible.

"Some of the confusion comes from reports where the Bt protein or glyphosate (the herbicide used on some biotech crops) is applied to cell lines in a petri dish, and the cells show changes associated with stress and perhaps abnormal proliferation," Folta said. "However, cells in a dish do not behave like cells in the body. Through years of careful evaluation, there is no reliable evidence that GM (genetically modified) foods cause the same changes in a living organism."

Continue reading…


diane green boys commonground nebraskaLisa Katic, a registered dietician, shared her perspective for the second question: Are GMOs causing an increase in allergies?

"No commercially available crops contain allergens that have been created by genetically engineering a seed/plant, and the rigorous testing process ensures that will never happen," she explained.

According to Katic, food allergies are mainly caused by eight major foods — milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, wheat, fish and shellfish — and account for about 90% of reported food allergies in the U.S.

"First, it is important to note that only one of these eight major allergens listed above is a potential product of biotechnology, and that is soy. Of the remaining seven allergens listed, none is commercially available in genetically modified varieties," Katic explained.

She noted that if a person is allergic to a non-GM plant, he or she will also be allergic to the plant's GMO counterpart, "but GMOs do not introduce any new allergens. In fact, researchers, academics and companies are working on new GMOs that have the potential to help people in this area — for example, peanuts with very low allergen levels that have the potential to eliminate life-threatening allergies to peanuts."

Continue reading…

No choice?

Imp1The third week showcased the question: Are big companies forcing farmers to grow GMOs? Indiana corn and soybean farmer Brian Scott addressed this question by talking about his own experience purchasing seed for his farm.

"None of the seed companies force farmers like me to buy any particular product. ... Salespeople might push the latest and greatest, but since every farm operates a little bit differently from the next one, seed choice is very important," Scott explained.

He added that seed companies that sell GM seeds also have many non-GMO varieties.

"I can buy any seed from any vendor I choose from one year to the next. Just because I bought Monsanto, Pioneer or Syngenta seeds one year doesn't mean I have to buy seed from any one of them the following year," he explained.

Scott noted that farmers do sign technology use agreements in relation to patented products but said nothing in the contracts sets a requirement for future purchases or even purchases of other products during the growing season.

To follow the dialogue on the other questions or to view more information on GMOs, visit

May 6, 2014

Geography of U.S. Agriculture


USDA released final 2012 #AgCensus results last week and included some great infographics on the current status of American agriculture. We’ll be posting these throughout the week.

See the Faces of U.S. Agriculture infographic.

This infographic shows what makes up the geography of U.S. Agriculture. Take note of the number of of value-added products produced in the U.S. Farmers are so innovative –especially those in Texas, California, Kentucky, Missouri and Oklahoma.

And Nebraska can be proud of all of the dark red and orange in our state signifying farmland as a percent of land area.2012AgCensusInfographics_No3_WHERE

All infographics can be found here.

May 2, 2014

The Faces of U.S. Agriculture


USDA released final 2012 #AgCensus results today and included some great infographics on the current status of American agriculture. We’ll be posting these throughout the next week.

First is the faces of U.S. agriculture – or who makes up those who raise our food, fuel and fiber products.2012AgCensusInfographics_No1_WHO

All infographics can be found here.