June 30, 2014

“Take a Second for Safety”


National statistics show that farming is one of the most dangerous occupations in America. The Nebraska Corn Board and Nebraska Corn Growers Association are asking all farmers to slow down — and take a second for safety.

Over the past 50 years, more than 900 cases of grain engulfment have been reported—and the fatality rate is 62 percent. With a 10-inch auger, it takes just 25 seconds for a 6-foot person to be completely buried in grain.

Nebraska farmer, Ron Woollen has a mission to educate farmers and those working with grain stored in bins after losing his son in a grain bin accident.

“Grain bin safety is so important because we are always going to store grain,” said Woolen. “Equipment has improved dramatically. More options are available to monitor grain condition which is the biggest factor in grain bin accidents. However, there will always be times when it is necessary to enter a bin.”

Woollen said that when farmers have to enter a bin, they need to know the proper procedure and follow it.
Rescue tube training

When working around grain bins, here are safety tips to keep in mind when you are taking a second for safety.

  • Use inspection holes or grain level markers to understand what's happening inside the bin. Use a pole from outside the bin to break up grain bridges.
  • You should enter a grain bin only if absolutely necessary. If you must get into the bin, use a body harness secured to the outside of the bin. Have at least two people watching over you as you enter and work inside the bin.
  • Use hand signals to communicate—and make sure everyone you're working with knows what those signals are.

These safety strategies and more will be emphasized at two free Grain Engulfment Rescue Training workshops this July sponsored in part by GSI, Inc. The first will be July 7th at the Dawson County Fairgrounds in Lexington hosted by the Dawson County Corn Growers. The following day, July 8th, the Saunders County Soybean Growers and Saunders County Corn Growers will host a grain safety seminar at the American Legion in Ceresco. Both free seminars begin at 5:30 p.m.

The grain engulfment rescue training is intended for industry personnel that actively work in the grain and commodities industry as well as fire fighter emergency rescue personnel who might be called to an engulfment rescue.

“Last year, I attended a training seminar in Kearney for first responders and EMT’s,” said Woollen. “I was very pleased with the quality of the training and the equipment now being made available for grain extraction.”

June 27, 2014

New Flex Fuel Pumps Open in Three Nebraska Towns


001New flex fuel pumps are now open in three Nebraska towns: Lewis and Clark Mini Mart in Crofton, Tom’s Service in Pierce, and Country Partners Coop in Spalding.

These locations add to the more than 85 locations in Nebraska with E85/flex fuel pumps that offer ethanol-blended fuels such as E85 for flex fuel vehicles.  Lewis and Clark Mini Mart and Tom’s Service both offer E85 and E30 for flex fuel vehicles, as well as E10 for all vehicles.  Country Partners Coop in Spalding has E85, E30, and E20 for flex fuel vehicles in addition to E10.

When flex fuel drivers fill up on E85 and other ethanol blends, they’re strengthening Nebraska’s economy, creating jobs, making our country more energy independent and helping the environment.

“We have been working hard to get flex fuel pumps located across Nebraska,” said Kim Clark, director of biofuels development for the Nebraska Corn Board.  “It has been a struggle to get more infrastructure installed, because of the commitment a fuel retailer has to make, so it’s exciting to see flex fuel pumps go into these three new locations.”

Todd Sneller, administrator of the Nebraska Ethanol Board said, “Ethanol saves motorist money at the pump.  For a short period of time, ethanol prices were very close to gasoline, but now we are seeing a larger spread, and it is very economical to use ethanol-blended fuels, especially for flex fuel vehicles.”

Clark notes that one in 10 Nebraska motorists currently own a flex fuel vehicle which can run on any blend of ethanol and gasoline, up to E85, and they don’t even know it.

“If you have a yellow gas cap or a yellow ring around your gas port or see a flex fuel badge on your vehicle, you are driving a flex fuel vehicle,” stated Clark.  You can also confirm if a vehicle is flex fuel, by checking the owner’s manual for your vehicle or by visiting this website.

Grand opening details for each location will be available at a later date.

These pumps were paid for in part by a grant provided by the Nebraska Corn Board.  These locations are supporting the local economy and creating jobs by offering a homegrown, locally produced fuel, ethanol.

To find a list of retailers that offer E85 and other mid-level ethanol blends visit the Nebraska Ethanol Board or Nebraska Corn Board websites.

June 26, 2014

Let’s Move! Science Backs GMOs


From the Corn Commentary blog

Whether one is a fan of the White House’s Let’s Move! initiative or not, it almost inarguably plays a large role in our nation’s discussions on food.  Let’s Move! Executive Director and White House Senior Advisor on Nutrition Policy Sam Kass made a major statement about the future of food during the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives conference backing the science behind GMOs and advocating for a cultural shift toward their acceptance.

Kass’s remarks, covered in Politico Pro, indicated his thoughts on how the impact of climate change and adaptive technologies will shift the currently fierce debate over GMO foods.

“I think this debate is naturally going to start to shift,” said Kass. “I think the science is pretty clear. Ultimately I think the science will win out.”

His comments echoed those often made by groups such as the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance and CommonGround in espousing the importance of consumer choice and access to factual information about the quality and safety of the abundant food options produced by U.S. farmers and ranchers.

“I think part of the problem with the debate as it stands is that it’s either one or the other,” said Kass. “Every side says my way is the best way. Diversity [in agriculture] is strength.”

June 25, 2014

54% of Nebraska's Corn Crop ranks "Good"

Serene Nebraska View
For the week ending June 22, 2014, warm, wet conditions prevailed over much of the eastern two thirds of the state, according to USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.  Rainfall totaling 2 to 3 inches was common in central counties with up to 6 inches reported in the extreme northeast causing lowland flooding.  Storm damage was reported with losses of crops, livestock, irrigation equipment and farm grain storage.

Storm Damage near Henderson, NE

The number of days considered suitable for fieldwork was 4.3. Topsoil moisture supplies rated 3 percent very short, 17 short, 73 adequate, and 7 surplus. Subsoil moisture supplies rated 10 percent very short, 22 short, 65 adequate, and 3 surplus.

Corn conditions rated 2 percent very poor, 5 poor, 25 fair, 54 good, and 14 excellent.

Good looking crop by Holdrege, NE

Data for this news release was provided at the county level by USDA Farm Service Agency and UNL Extension Service.
Access the National publication for Crop Progress and Condition tables here
Access the High Plains Region Climate Center for Temperature and Precipitation Maps here
Access the U.S. Drought Monitor here

For more corn info check out the Nebraska Corn Board website and Facebook page.

June 24, 2014

Unexpected Lessons


By Morgan Nelson, NCGA-DC intern, Masters of Public Service and Administration Candidate at the Bush School of Government at Texas A&M, Legal Studies graduate from Chadron State College

Morgan Nelson, NCGA-DCIt’s now Week 6 in DC at the NCGA Office!

This internship experience has been great not only because of the experiences and learning opportunities, but I’ve learned a lot about myself and my family as well. Before I left, my dad (who is a career firefighter/flight paramedic) taught me about some of the technical farming topics I might encounter that were being used in the neighborhood. He grew up on a farm near Enola (north of Madison, NE) where we’ve recently had some baby calves. My grandpa (on my dad’s side), Leland Nelson, was one of the first members on the pork check-off board a very long time ago. Needless to say, my internship has brought out some very cool stories about the family that I didn’t know.

NCGA is involved in pollination issues as well, which was another odd strike of luck for me. I grew up assisting my dad’s beekeeping operation. Not only would I suit up and help tend the bees, but I helped extract and sell the honey. I’m not sure which is worse, detasseling corn or extracting honey (yes, I did both). Because I’ve been away at college for five years (and was a busy high school kid before that) I haven’t done anything with the bees for a long time. Not to mention sad losses of bees at home and nationwide. My dad’s knowledge of the issues facing beekeepers nationwide has been a great resource for my knowledge about the issue with regards to my internship. He was previously a State Bee Inspector, and illustrated the very issues that were recently briefed on Capitol Hill.

When I left Nebraska as a country kid (not a farm kid), I thought that my lack of farming experience would put me behind quite a bit. What I learned instead (and found to be a truly valuable lesson), is that it takes all kinds to complete the necessary knowledge in an organization.

Read more about the Nebraska Corn Board supported internships here.

June 16, 2014

Partnerships pay off


Bryan Brower, USGC-DCBy Bryan Brower, US Grains Council Intern

Hello from D.C.!

Whirlwind. There is no better word to describe my experience in D.C. these past two weeks. It has been a welcomed change of scenery from my previous summers in Omaha and Lincoln. Well for the most part, my commute is 50 minutes door to door on a good day (and I'm convinced it's against the law to smile on the metro), and the weather in D.C. is either a downpour or unbearable humidity, still need to get myself an umbrella. But that is where to drawbacks begin and end.

The partnership between the Nebraska Corn Board and the U.S. Grains Council has at least made one kid's dreams come to realization. I've always wanted an opportunity to be in D.C. and being able to work for a non-profit organization that has such far-reaching impacts is quite humbling. Working under the direction of the membership and communications departments, generally, I am tasked with the initial work that goes into some of the programs and projects we sponsor to promote our members' interests and all the various publications we issue. It's refreshing, the latitude and flexibility of my work, which makes each day interesting as I have been immersed in a range of Council efforts. Consequently, I have gained a full appreciation and humility for the work the U.S. Grains Council does, representing U.S. agricultural interests abroad and promoting the industry of agriculture as a whole. Being from Omaha with little knowledge of or experience with agriculture, my work at the Council has given me a certain perspective of Nebraskan farmers, whom I am extremely proud to represent.

Believe it or not, a 21-year-old is also able to have a little fun here! I live in Georgetown in a "row house" which is essentially just a block-long row of connecting houses. Befriending my roommates didn't take long and we've been having a great time. It's been especially nice living with Georgetown students who know what to do and where to go for dinner or a drink. Experiencing all of Georgetown will take more than the two weeks I've been here, but I've enjoyed every second so far. Being in the Nation's capitol, I'm ecstatic for the World Cup and 4th of July!
Bryan (3)

June 13, 2014

Nebraska Ag Groups Say No to EPA's Water Rule


Nebraska Cattlemen, Nebraska Corn Growers, Nebraska Farm Bureau, Nebraska Pork Producers, Nebraska State Dairy Association and Nebraska Soybean Association submitted comments calling for the immediate withdrawal of the "Waters of the U.S." Interpretive Rule (WOTUS).  This Interpretive Rule is the first part of a "Waters of the U.S." rulemaking proposal by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). 

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has extended the comment period on its controversial "Waters of the U.S." rule to October 20th.  The comment period was scheduled to end July 21st.

The rule would expand the number of waterways subject to pollution controls under the federal Clean Water Act.

The Interpretive Rule has been touted as beneficial to agriculture; however, these claims by EPA are misleading.  In reality, the Interpretive Rule significantly increases liability for farmers and ranchers in Nebraska, deceives the public and will hurt conservation efforts and water quality.

EPA claims the Interpretive Rule "exempts" certain Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) conservation practices from Clean Water Act permitting requirements.  However, these practices were already exempt and the creation of a list actually narrows this existing exemption from Clean Water Act permitting.

The agency also claims this rule provide "assurances" to the agricultural community.  The truth is it adds complexity and can be modified or retracted at any time without public notice or comment.

Finally, EPA asserts the Interpretive Rule will "benefit" conservation efforts.  But, the rule discourages engaging in conservation practices because of unknown parameters and new risk of Clean Water Act penalties.   It also turns NRCS, an agency with a long standing relationship of partnering with landowners in voluntary conservation, in to a regulatory enforcement agency.

It is clear the Interpretive Rule is just another ploy by EPA to push its burdensome regulatory agenda and any claim by EPA otherwise is false.

"Farmers should be worried about WOTUS and the far reaching implications it could have on their operations," NeCGA President, Joel Grams.

For more information visit http://ditchtherule.fb.org/

June 12, 2014

Nebraska Agribusiness Club Tour 2014


Our group at Farm Credit Services of America
The Nebraska Agribusiness Club is a group of agricultural professionals who come together for meetings and other events to share information, network, and promote the value of agriculture. One of their big events is a day filled with agricultural industry tours. My name is Morgan Zumpfe, and I am the intern for the Nebraska Corn Board. I was blessed with the opportunity to attend the 2014 Nebraska Agribusiness Club tour in Omaha on June 2nd. Approximately 45 Lincoln area business leaders and agricultural enthusiasts spent the day together.

Rotella's gave each one of us
a loaf to take home
Showing off red hairnets while being
given directions at Rotella's
We started the day at Rotella’s Italian Bakery. Most of us have either seen or bought the Rotella brand of bread, so it was interesting to visualize the process behind the red, white, and green packaged loaf. One of the most striking things to me was that this business started with one man raising his own wheat, grinding it to flour, and selling the bread to local customers in 1850 in Italy. This business continues to strive today in the 5th generation. Rotella’s story reminded me of a lot of our family farm stories- started with one family’s ambitious, entrepreneurial spirit and has made it through the tests of time with sweat, persistence, and new technology.
Future Midwest Labs President,
Brent Pohlman, giving us a tour
Soil test samples
Our next stop was Midwest Labs. This company will test anything related to agriculture, environmental, feed/pet food, human food, and fuel. It was amazing how much technology is utilized to find exact data. We even got to see the brand new lab that will be utilized by the human food department, since human food research has expanded so much that the department has outgrown its current area.

One of the FCS entryways
A piece of agricultural artwork
Our group was ready for lunch by the time we got to Farm Credit Services of America. We were treated to a delicious lunch by FCS as we heard a rundown of the organization. As we spoke with the employees and toured the facilities, many reasons were evident that FCS was voted Best Place to Work in both Omaha and Iowa. FCS employees work together in teams and enjoy a very horizontal structure. It is also notable that the FCS building itself was beautiful. Every piece of architecture was meant to represent a piece of agriculture. The staircases looked like augers, carpet looked like grass, and brick looked like wheat swaying in the breeze-just to name a couple of features. It was obvious that FCS is passionate about agriculture and helping rural America prosper. The atmosphere was so vibrant and full of energy that I would love to get the chance to be able to work with or for Farm Credit Services of America someday.

Our group admiring the LEXION 670- the smallest of the series
The German company, CLAAS Manufacturing, was our next stop. Since our agricultural machinery market is dominated by John Deere and Case IH, I was not very familiar with CLAAS. I learned that CLAAS makes the majority of combines and tractors in Europe, but expanded to North America in 1979. You probably associate CLAAS with Caterpillar since they were run cooperatively from 1999 to 2002. This is why you have seen CLAAS equipment in Caterpillar’s mustard yellow color. However, CLAAS has been independent since 2002 and will soon start producing combines in their actual lime green, red, and white colors. Omaha is the North American CLAAS headquarters, where we got to watch LEXION combines move down the assembly line. Only about 40% of the pieces for the combines are U.S. sourced; the rest of the work and assembly is done in Germany, such as the painting. However, most of it gets put together in Omaha, which takes about a week. CLAAS is expanding rapidly in the North American market, and I think that they will continue to become more and more common to see in our fields.

NE Brewing Co showing off
a few of their brewing barrels
Learning about the beer canning process
The Nebraska Brewing Company, a much anticipated last stop, was a refreshing end to our day. Our group was walked through the process of beer making. We learned that the color of the beer does not indicate the alcohol concentration- it is actually the hops added to the process. The members of our group enjoyed being treated to a free sample of the specialty beers. The Nebraska Brewing Company is increasing capacity and business quickly, and it was exciting to see their progress.

Overall, this was a day well spent. I think it is important for individuals to get out in the world and experience things that they are not used to. If this does not happen, it is all too easy to become narrow- minded instead of considering how actions will affect the whole industry. The Nebraska Agribusiness Club is a group of warm, welcoming individuals who have a lot of interesting stories to share. This is an outstanding professional organization to get involved in if you like meeting new people and learning about agriculture.

June 11, 2014

10 reasons to use ethanol-blended fuel this summer


10-reasons-to-use-ethanol-blended-fuel-this-summerThe choice at the gas pump is easier for Nebraskans in their summer travel and recreational plans this year. And that choice is renewable, cost-effective and builds a strong economy. Here are ten reasons to use ethanol-blended fuel this summer.

1. The most affordable fuel.
The drastic rise of gas prices in the busy summer months hurts our pocketbooks. The U.S. Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) projection for the April-through-September summer driving season year is on average $3.61/gallon, 3 cents higher than last year. This year’s Memorial Day holiday saw drivers paying slightly more for gasoline than the previous two years, according to AAA. Thankfully, ethanol-blended fuel lowers gas prices up to $1.09 per gallon on average and saves the average American household $1,200 on their gas bill annually.

2. It’s renewable.
It’s no secret that Nebraska is the “Cornhusker” state and is notably the third largest corn producing state and second largest ethanol producing state in the nation. By growing 14 billion bushels of corn in the U.S. in 2013, corn is a renewable crop that provides for a reliable fuel source year after year. A recent poll by Fuels America found that 92% of U.S. adults support having renewable fuel at their local gas station, specifically E15 fuel – renewable fuel made of 15 percent ethanol and 85 percent gasoline.Young corn plants are highlighted by the early morning sun in Sarpy County. Photo by Craig Chandler / University Communications

3. Ethanol plants create food, feed and fuel.
An ethanol plant doesn’t just make fuel. When a bushel of corn travels to the plant to make fuel, it also makes food and other co-products in the process. Co-products include livestock feed called distillers grains, corn oil and other products that add to the food supply. In other words, we’re making food, feed and fuel. From one bushel of corn comes 2.8 gallons of ethanol in addition to 17 pounds of distillers grains. The strong ethanol industry in Nebraska is one of the main factors for the state’s recent status move into the number one cattle feeding state because of the availability of the high-protein, value-added distillers grains feedstuff.

4. Has not driven up food prices.
The price of corn is the lowest it’s been in three years, yet food prices have not come down. USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS) change in food prices index shows that food prices are going to continue to rise. So what is driving up food prices? Researchers at the World Bank identified crude oil as the number one determinant of global food prices; as the price of oil increases, food prices follow closely behind.

5. Builds up our state economy and growth of jobs.
Just in Nebraska alone, over 1,200 direct jobs are attributed to the ethanol industry, not to mention the hundreds of thousands indirect jobs across the country. Ethanol supports rural America, generating a $500 billion increase to communities’ farm assets around the country. When agriculture is healthy, the state economy is healthy.13CORN-022_banner1A

6. Gives consumers a choice.
Ethanol, a renewable fuel, gives Nebraskans a choice when they go to fill up with gas. Those choices aren’t limited to the lower price of their gas bill, but also the chance to choose a domestic, clean-burning fuel that fuels our state’s economy as well. Those drivers with a flex fuel vehicle (FFV) have the choice to use any ethanol fuel blend up to 85 percent ethanol (E85).
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7. Reduces greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions.
Compared with oil, ethanol-blended fuel burns cleaner and reduces harmful GHG emissions. Ethanol lowers the level of toxic, cancer-causing emissions in vehicle exhaust—reducing air pollution, improving human health, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

8. Ethanol is homegrown.
Ethanol has dramatically reduced the size of the checks America writes to foreign oil suppliers to the tune of $44 billion dollars saved last year. The U.S. reduced oil imports by 476 million barrels in 2013—the equivalent of about 12% of total U.S. crude oil imports, thanks to this renewable resource.
Corn harvest between Dorchester and York. Aerial photography north of York. October, 11, 2010.  Photo by Craig Chandler / University Communications

9. Use in boats and mowers.
With the summer months comes fun in the sun and in the yard. Ethanol-blended fuels up to 10 percent (E10) can be used successfully in marine watercraft and small engines, such as lawn mowers. Small engine owners should know that EPA has approved E15 only for automobiles manufactured in model year 2001 and newer, and it is not approved for any other engine use.

10. E15: tested and safe.
E15, fuel blended that is 15 percent ethanol and 85 percent gasoline, has been the most aggressively and comprehensively tested fuel in the history of the EPA, which has been approved for its use in vehicles starting with the 2001 model year and newer. E15 saves more money at the pump, burns cleaner and supports our economy. NASCAR race cars have run more than 5 million miles on E15, starting with the 2011 racing season, and its drivers and mechanics give the fuel high marks for power and durability.2012-03-01_1207

June 10, 2014

Farmers Face Severe Weather Damage Yet Again

Beautiful view from the Chase County school area (Imperial, NE)
Damaged corn stalk from the
Heartland school area
LINCOLN, NE, June 9, 2014 -- For the week ending June 8, 2014, rainfall occurred statewide with 2 to 3 inches common in central and eastern counties, improving soil moisture supplies, according to USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. High winds and hail damaged growing crops and irrigation equipment. Producers are in the process of evaluating affected crops to determine if replanting was necessary.
Mother Nature left our crops a mess

Corn conditions rated 2 percent very poor, 4 poor, 24 fair, 59 good, and 11 excellent. Corn emerged was 98 percent, ahead of 90 last year, but near 96 average.

Alfalfa harvest advanced but was difficult due to the wet conditions. Dry bean planting continued in western counties and millet planting was underway. Pastures were showing improvement with the recent rains. The number of days considered suitable for fieldwork were 3.5. Topsoil moisture supplies rated 5 percent very short, 19 short, 69 adequate, and 7 surplus. Subsoil moisture supplies rated 14 percent very short, 25 short, 59 adequate, and 2 surplus.

Mother Nature's beauty by Howells-Dodge school district
Access the National publication for
Crop Progress and Condition tables here.
Check out the Nebraska Corn Board website
for more corn facts and information.

Thanks to all of the FFA Chapters who continue to send in the awesome pictures that enhance our
Crop Progress Reports.

June 9, 2014

International Internship in Panama


Miraflores pictureBy Matt Perlinger, USGC International Intern, Panama City, Panama

I have now been in Panama for three weeks working in the US Grains Council’s regional office. In addition to my work in the office, which is going very well, I have also had a number of excellent opportunities outside of work relating to the experience of being in a new country, and the ups and downs of assimilating to a totally different culture.

The language has been one of the most obvious differences. Being a Spanish dual major, I was excited for the opportunity to come to Panama to use and improve my Spanish skills. Understanding the Panamanian dialect of Spanish, however, has proven to be one of my biggest challenges so far. Both the accent and the vocabulary are markedly different than what I have been previously exposed to. My own accent in speaking Spanish has been equally puzzling to some of the Panamanians, as I have been asked my country of origin multiple times. I was especially surprised when one taxi driver thought I was from Germany, and another thought I was from Switzerland. To combat this intra-language barrier, I have been taking private Spanish lessons at a school downtown. I am slowly, but surely, starting to see positive results in my ability to understand the locals.

Fried entire fish pictureWeather has been another big difference. Every day it rains a large amount, often coming on quite suddenly. This is at least a partial contributor to the humidity, which is routinely above 90%. While the temperature rarely gets above the upper 80’s, it is still a quite different type of heat than is found in Nebraska. It is also completely dark by 7:00 PM each night, which makes the days seem quite short.

It is hard to believe I am nearly a quarter of the way through my internship here. While I have already gotten to see the Panama Canal and go deep-sea fishing, there is still much more to experience in my remaining time here. I am very grateful to the Nebraska Corn Board and the USGC for this opportunity. I look forward to keeping in touch, and especially to seeing some NE Corn Board members and staff at the USGC meeting in Omaha next month.

2014-06-01 09.04.08   2014-06-01 14.05.10

June 5, 2014

The D.C. Experience


photo 2By Morgan Nelson, NCGA-DC intern, Masters of Public Service and Administration Candidate at the Bush School of Government at Texas A&M, Legal Studies graduate from Chadron State College

Although Washington D.C. isn’t new to me, working with the National Corn Growers Association is. Two years ago when I first visited the city, I expected the environment to be a bit different than what faced me. Washington D.C. in all its glory is a very powerful place, one that government nerds like me really enjoy. So in preparation for that, I expected an old, rich and powerful city. What I found (much to my delight) was a young and vibrant city, although still a very powerful place. Towards this end, my fellow Bush School of Government (Texas A&M) classmates and other fellow interns have now descended upon the city to do our duties and help in any way that we can.

Although it’s hard to sum up the main tips I’ve aggregated while visiting D.C. a few vital ones stick out. Standing on the left side of the escalator is a near crime, something I’ve begun to call ‘esca-lefting’. Walking up the escalator is reserved for the left side, and standing is for the right side. Shoes are potentially both a good and bad thing, wear what’s comfortable. Last but not least, my Midwest instinct to smile at everyone is not interpreted here as it is in Nebraska, although I like to think it makes the world a little friendlier in the mornings.

unnamedThis past week I was lucky to host my parents for a sight-seeing trip. For the first time I was able to show them the Capitol where I gave tours during my last internship with Congressman Smith, and show my finesse (or lack thereof) as an adult in a new city. Before leaving Nebraska, my dad tutored me on the latest practices that farmers were using in the neighborhood. While my family doesn’t farm, we have cattle and rent farm land. For me, working with farmers may be new, but in a lot of ways it feels like second nature. Working for corn farmers (including Nebraskans) is work I’m proud to do.

nametagMy first major task as an intern was monitoring the House Agriculture Appropriations mark-up. Following a bill from the subcommittee mark-up to the full committee mark-up was a new experience. I was able to attend the first hearing, and watched a webcast of the second. After the first mark-up, the NCGA staff made a list of notable changes which I was able to compile to send to member states and organizations in an “Insider”. Although I did make one mistake in it, it was incredible to send an email to such a vast group of people. That was a first I’ll never forget.

IMG_2997 (3)In a great example of collaboration, I was happy to attend an intern lunch hosted by CropLife America. Ag interns around DC got together for an information and networking session over lunch. Not only did I meet a couple of other Nebraska interns, but a few interns from Texas A&M where I currently attend grad school. Bryan Brower (US Grains Council Intern) and I will be co-hosting this same group in the near future to discuss NCGA and USGC issues.

With two and a half weeks down, I’m looking forward to the remaining several weeks in D.C. ‘Lunch and learns’, Corn Congress, and several other opportunities await. Even a small town Nebraska girl can enjoy the buzz of a busy city.

IMG_3007 (3)

June 3, 2014

Cattle herd expansion. Yes or no?


With Nebraska moving into the number one cattle-on-feed state, there has been a lot of discussions about the status of staying number one. Part of that equation is the size of the nation’s cattle herd.

Dr. Derrell S. Peel from Oklahoma State University Extension shares the following update:

Cherry & MulberryThe effects of many years of cattle herd liquidation and the inevitable decreases in beef production have become glaringly obvious in 2014.  Cattle slaughter is down 6.3 percent leading to a 5.7 percent decrease in beef production so far this year.  Cattle and beef prices have reached record levels and the certainty of high prices for the foreseeable future makes the question of cow herd expansion one that is top of mind for the industry and increasingly for consumers as well.  Herd expansion will make tight beef supplies even tighter for two or three years before beef production responds but the sooner expansion starts, the sooner beef production can grow to meet domestic and international demand for U.S. beef.

The January 1, 2014 inventory of beef replacement heifers indicated a 90,000 head year over year increase, up 1.7 percent from 2013.  While this indicates producer intentions regarding heifer retention, there is no guarantee that intended replacements will actually enter the cow herd.  In fact, in both 2012 and 2013, more replacement heifers were in inventory on January 1 but unfavorable conditions led to herd liquidation rather than expansion in those years. Moderate improvement in forage conditions in last half of 2013 led to strong indications of herd expansion intentions including the additional replacement heifers mentioned above and a 13.5 percent decrease in beef cow slaughter.  Increased heifer retention has also been indicated by sharp year over year decrease in heifers on feed since last October.  Despite apparent herd expansion intentions in late 2013, enough liquidation occurred early in the year to result in a 0.9 percent decrease in beef cow inventory for the year.

So far this year, the indications are that herd expansion plans are still moving forward. 

Continue reading…

If you or your family has a beef herd, what are your plans for the future….retaining or selling?

June 2, 2014

Intern’s summer in Denver


By Abigail Wehrbein, USMEF intern

Abigal Wehrbein, USMEF-DenverI am starting to understand why people say, “don’t ever grow up”. This summer I had to grow up fast. You may think just moving one state over is not so bad, but leaving Nebraska is harder then it looks, even if I get to see the beautiful mountains every day.

This summer my internship took me out to Denver, Colorado to work at the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF). The USMEF is a nonprofit trade association working to create new opportunities and develop existing international markets for U.S. beef, pork, lamb and veal. They have 17 international offices around the globe. I was fortunate to receive this internship by the sponsorship of the Nebraska Corn Board. Once May rolled around, I packed up my things and moved out west to the Mile-High City. Everything fell into place when I got the perfect opportunity to house-sit for a family here in Denver as well. Denver has great transportation throughout the city. I can take their light rail system into downtown and hop on a bus that drops me off right in front of the USMEF office.

The first few days on the job, I met everyone in the office and was assigned a few projects I’ll be working on this summer. For the main project, I’ll be traveling to the Tyson plant in Dakota City, NE. I will have a photographer take pictures of beef primal cuts that are specifically exported to countries and that are not commonly ate here in the U.S. I will then make a poster and a cut guide including these pictures.

After just three days working at USMEF, I traveled to Kansas City, MO for their annual Board of Directors Meeting and Product Showcase. 250 members from a broad cross-section of the meat industry and 120 international buyers joined the USMEF in Kansas City to discuss red meat exports and issues in the meat industry. It was a great experience to meet people from all over the world and catch an insight of how important our international markets are to the U.S. Dinner with the Nebraska Corn Board and the USMEF Chairman, Mark Jagels was a treat as well. I am really looking forward to everything I am going to learn this summer and hope it will help direct me towards a career path I want to pursue.

usmef office
This is the front of the USMEF office I will be working at this summer in downtown Denver.

Read more about the Nebraska Corn Board supported internships here.