June 30, 2015

Irrigation Activities Underway

Photo Courtesy of Fullerton FFA Chapter
For the week ending June 28, 2015, rainfall of one inch or more was recorded in portions of north central Nebraska as well as southeastern areas, according to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service. Temperatures averaged near normal. Storms brought hail to parts of the Panhandle. Irrigation activities were underway with pipe being laid in southern counties and pivots running in others. Late planting of low lying areas was near completion. Overall, it was a productive week of spraying, hilling, and hay harvest.

There were 5.7 days suitable for fieldwork. Topsoil moisture supplies rated 3 percent very short, 10 short, 75 adequate, and 12 surplus. Subsoil moisture supplies rated 4 percent very short, 12 short, 74 adequate, and 10 surplus. Corn condition rated 1 percent very poor, 5 poor, 58 good, and 12 excellent. Corn silking was at 1 percent, equal to last year, and near the five-year average of 4.

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

Photo Courtesy of David City FFA Chapter
Access the National publication for Crop Progress and Condition tables HERE.

Access the U.S. Drought Monitor HERE.

Access the High Plains Region Climate Center for Temperature and Precipitation Maps HERE.

June 29, 2015

A Wide, Wonderful World of Agriculture!

By Glen Ready, National Corn Growers Association Intern.

Hello! My name is Glen Ready, and thanks to the incredible staff at Nebraska Corn Board, I have the opportunity to serve the Washington, D.C. public policy office of the National Corn Growers Association. As a policy and membership intern in the office, I get to work in various capacities for each of the Directors of Public Policy. Being here has truly opened my eyes to the amount of work that goes beyond the annual ritual of planting, tending, and harvesting our crops. This work is important, even vital, to our precious industry, and is often overlooked. My time here has shown me that the agriculture industry is vast, and each facet of the industry plays a key role. Before going in to this, let me share my background!

I grew up on a small no-till family farm just outside of the town of Scribner, NE. Growing up, my siblings and I all played various roles on the farm, as many “farm kids” do. I know that growing up in small town Nebraska “agriculture policy” was the last thing I was concerned about as I helped fill the planter for the thousandth time or prepped the sprayer to head out on the field. I currently attend the University of Nebraska – Lincoln, and am an Agricultural Economics major with an emphasis in Public Policy and will be a senior in the fall. If you are like many of my fellow students, you had a confused face when you read “public policy”. This is not an unnatural reaction, nor, after three years, unexpected. The realm of agricultural policy is often overlooked by some of us in production agriculture.

The Nebraska Corn Board, National Corn Growers Association, and countless other organizations that I’ve had the opportunity to network with here in the district all work very hard to make sure we as producers (and across the entire supply chain) can do our jobs. Being here has given me the opportunity to see this work in progress. I’ve gotten to attend hearings on the Hill, sit in on important meetings about various issues, and seen active discussions as to which “next step” this organization can take in the best interest of the producer back in small-town Nebraska. This industry that our state cherishes is one that wouldn’t exist as we know it without the work that these organizations have done and continue to do.

Growing up, I was presented so many opportunities and experiences thanks to community members that cared about the future of agriculture. This industry continues to give me the experience and opportunities to grow in a number of ways. I probably won’t be going back to production agriculture, but I can use my strengths and experiences to help those that have helped me in so many more ways than what people may see on a daily basis. I’ve had a wonderful time here, and am looking forward to learning even more from these hard-working people. I’m excited to graduate and begin a career as an advocate for our industry, and am thankful for this opportunity that the Corn Board has given to me.

June 26, 2015

Immigration issues important to Nebraska agriculture

Nationally, immigration laws and discussions have been at the forefront of policy talks. And immigration issues are important to agriculture, especially where many farms and ranches are dependent on immigrant workers to help bring in the harvest and help with livestock and milk production. One of many important discussions has been about immigrants having the ability obtain a driver’s license.

In Nebraska last month, the Nebraska Legislature approved LB 623 on a 34 to 9 vote which provides immigrants with deferred action for childhood arrival (DACA) status the opportunity to obtain Nebraska driver’s licenses. The bill was a priority bill to several Nebraska agriculture policy organizations as their policy supports comprehensive immigration reform to ensure a thriving employee base for crop, livestock and milk producers. (The Nebraska Corn Board cannot support or oppose any state legislation, however they can support or oppose federal legislation).

Other states that have state laws on immigrants obtaining a driver’s license include California, Colorado, Illinois, Maryland, Nevada, New Mexico, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont, Washington, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico.

In other immigration news this week, more than 3,000 farm workers seeking temporary immigrant visas are stranded outside the U.S. by a government computer glitch that halted security checks more than a week ago.

Producers in California, the biggest farm state, are losing $500,000 to $1 million a day as harvests slow for crops from berries and melons to cherries, said Tom Nassif, chief executive officer of the Western Growers Association based in Irvine, California.

The backlog of applications from farmworkers has climbed steadily since June 9, when the U.S. stopped granting H-2A guest-worker program visas.

June 25, 2015

Nebraska Corn Growers, Partners to Attend Rally for Rural America

EPA Renewable Fuels Standard Hearing also Scheduled

Nebraska corn farmers, state leaders and ethanol supporters from across the state and nation will be attending the upcoming Rally for Rural America in Kansas City on Thursday, June 25th to show continued support for corn ethanol and its value to Nebraska’s overall economy.

In addition to the rally, there are 260 individuals scheduled to testify before the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) relaying their concerns about EPA’s proposed renewable volume obligation (RVO) figures that will slash the use of biofuels, as it is currently proposed.  Both the rally and hearing are scheduled for June 25th with the hearing at the Jack Reardon Center in Kansas City, Kansas, and the rally held nearby. 

“The rally and hearing provides corn growers, ethanol producers, state and national leaders and allied industries an opportunity to express their support of biofuels and their displeasure with EPA’s proposal,” stated Kim Clark, Nebraska Corn Board’s Director of Biofuels. “With EPA finally releasing their proposed 2014, 2015 and 2016 RVO’s, the hearing and rally will provide one opportunity for their voices to be heard.”

Those interested in attending the rally and hearing can call the Nebraska Corn Board office or go to www.ncga.com/rfshearing to find more information about times and bus departure points for both the Rally for Rural America and EPA hearing.

“Even if you can’t attend the rally and hearing, we are encouraging everyone to submit comments to the EPA for the RVO through the Nebraska Corn Board website by clicking on the Don’t Mess with RFS icon,” added Clark.  The deadline to submit comments to the EPA is July 27th

Great Start to my Year-Long Internship!

By Megan Hamling, Nebraska Corn Board Intern.

My name is Megan Hamling, and this summer I have been given the opportunity to serve as the Communications and Market Development Intern for the Nebraska Corn Board. This fall, I will begin my sophomore year at the University of Nebraska Lincoln where I am majoring in Agricultural Business and minoring in Agricultural Leadership and Communications. I grew up just outside of Garland, Nebraska and attended Seward High School. My passion for agriculture sparked during my high school years with all the time and effort I spent with my high school FFA chapter. This is where I came to realize the need for young leaders in agriculture, and I eventually decided I wanted to make the agricultural industry a career in the future.

Throughout the past month, I have been able to experience more than I ever thought I would. During my first week of training, I attended the Grand Island Children’s Groundwater Festival with Morgan, the previous intern, and we led a Corn/Aqua Bingo game with fourth graders who traveled from all across the state. Just a couple weeks ago, I was able to attend the Nebraska Agriculture Business Club Tour where we visited a Farmer-Veteran Coalition farm, Ficke Cattle Co. and the Raising Nebraska exhibit at the state fair grounds. These tours were such eye-openers for me, and showed me just how diverse Nebraska agriculture is. I have also been attending the weekly E-85 Kum & Go American Ethanol promotions in Omaha.  I was even able to take a road trip to Ankeny, Iowa with Sam, the Nebraska Corn Growers intern, to help out with one of their ethanol promotions. I love being able to communicate with consumers about the benefits of using ethanol, and the agriculture industry they are supporting when they fill up with it. Finally, I have been able to shadow Emily, our Communications Director, on several of her meetings out of the office; one being a Nebraska CommonGround meeting in Columbus.

This internship has already taught me so much. I never understood how much work goes on behind the scenes of a corn check-off program. I have come to appreciate those who work in the agriculture industry to a greater extent than before. One of my favorite parts about this internship so far has been the chance to get out of the office at least once a week and talk with consumers and leaders in the industry at different events, especially at the ethanol promotions, where I am able to communicate with consumers about the benefits of filling up with ethanol.

Overall, I have had a rewarding first month here at the Nebraska Corn Board Lincoln office. It seems like yesterday that I was here for intern training, and now here I am five weeks later. The time has flown by, and I know it will only continue to do so over the course of the next year. Through this internship, I have greatly expanded my understanding of the Nebraska corn industry and agriculture field itself, met great agriculture leaders from across the state, grown as an individual, and have had so much fun along the way. I am looking forward to making even more great connections throughout the upcoming year. Until next time!

June 23, 2015

Corn Condition Rates 11% Excellent

Courtesy of Imperial FFA Chapter
For the week ending June 21, 2015, rainfall of one inch or more occurred in many areas with temperatures averaging near normal, according to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service. Storms damaged crops in portions of the west with some replanting necessary. Hay harvest continued to be a challenge. Wet meadows in north central counties were saturated, many with standing water. Fields too wet to plant were still being reported in portions of the southeast.
Courtesy of David City FFA Chapter
There were 4.3 days suitable for fieldwork. Topsoil moisture supplies rated 3 percent very short, 7 short, 74 adequate, and 16 surplus. Subsoil moisture supplies rated 3 percent very short, 12 short, 72 adequate, and 13 surplus. Corn condition rated 1 percent very poor, 5 poor, 25 fair, 58 good, and 11 excellent.
Courtesy of Heartland FFA Chapter
Data for this news release were provided at the county level by USDA Farm Service Agency and UNL Extension Service.

June 19, 2015

Creighton Celebrates One-Year Anniversary of Flex Fuel Pumps

A grand opening celebration marking the one-year anniversary of the new flex fuel pumps at Creighton Express fueling station in Creighton, Nebraska is scheduled for Tuesday, June 23.

This flex fuel pump anniversary celebration will be held from 11:00am – 7:00pm with American Ethanol fuel discounts. Flex Fuel vehicle owners can save $0.85 per gallon on E85—a blend of 85% American Ethanol and 15% gasoline, and $0.30 per gallon on E30—a blend of 30% American Ethanol and 70% gasoline.  There will also be a free lunch of hot dogs, chips and a small fountain drink from 11:00am – 1:00pm.

“In addition to the savings at the pump and the complimentary lunch, we will have American Ethanol giveaways as well as American Ethanol gift card drawings,” said Kim Clark, Director of Biofuels Development with the Nebraska Corn Board.  “If you are unsure if you drive a flex fuel vehicle, come visit us during the grand opening.”

Creighton Express is one of more than 85 locations in Nebraska with flex fuel pumps that offer American Ethanol-blended fuels for flex fuel vehicles. These flex fuel pumps were paid for in part by a grant provided by the Nebraska Corn Board and Husker Ag, LLC. Over the last two years, Nebraska Corn Board, in cooperation with the Nebraska Ethanol Board and Husker Ag, LLC, has helped the state more than double the number of locations that offer American Ethanol-blended fuels, such as E10, E15, E30 and E85. Husker Ag, LLC has provided grant dollars and ethanol for several retail locations in northeast Nebraska including Creighton Express.

“While gas prices tend to increase during the busy summer months, flex fuel vehicle owners can enjoy greater savings at the pump when they use American Ethanol-blended fuels,” said Seth Harder, General Manager at Husker Ag, LLC.

Currently, one in seven Nebraska motorists drives a flex fuel vehicle, which can run on any blend of American Ethanol and gasoline, up to E85. To confirm your vehicle is flex fuel, look for a yellow gas cap, flex fuel emblem or check your owner’s manual.  

When drivers fill up on American Ethanol-blended fuels, they’re improving air quality and reducing the causes of asthma, heart disease and brain and lung cancer not only for themselves but also their children and grandchildren. E85 is approved as a Clean Air Choice® and when flex fuel drivers fill up with E85 and other American Ethanol-blended fuels rather than gasoline; they are significantly reducing carbon dioxide emissions that enter our air, according to the American Lung Association of the Upper Midwest.

“When flex fuel drivers fill up with American Ethanol blended fuels, they are not only improving our air and helping the environment, but they are also strengthening Nebraska’s economy, creating jobs, and making our country more energy independent—and that’s something any driver can take pride in,” added Clark.

To find a list of retailers that offer E85 and other mid-level ethanol blends, visit the Nebraska Corn Board website at www.NebraskaCorn.org or the Nebraska Ethanol Board website at www.ethanol.nebraska.gov.

June 18, 2015

Nebraska Corn Farmers Recognize the Importance of the Dairy Industry during Dairy Month

June is diary month, and thanks to Nebraska’s hardworking dairy farmers and families, Nebraskans can celebrate with a tall glass of milk. With a growing number of more than 55,000 dairy cows in the state, Nebraska’s dairy industry produced 139 million gallons of milk last year and was able to provide Nebraska families with a number of nutritious dairy products, including milk, cheese, yogurt and much more.

“On behalf of 23,000 Nebraska corn farmers, we are proud to celebrate Dairy Month and the value added opportunities Nebraska’s dairy industry offers us”, said Debbie Borg, a farmer from Allen, Nebraska and Director on the Nebraska Corn Board. “The dairy industry is a major consumer of corn not only in Nebraska, but also in states such as California.” 

“One single dairy cow has an estimated economic impact of $5,000 per year on Nebraska communities,” Borg added. “When you look at the sector’s total impact, it’s considerably higher because so many dollars circulate several times through the local economy. Everything from a strong tax base, to feed, veterinary care, equipment, trucking, milk processing and more, a strong dairy sector is good for the state.”

Here in Nebraska, there are 195 dairy farms that are producing milk for consumers located in the state, across the U.S., and around the world. On average, a dairy cow can produce 7 gallons of milk a day, which ends up being 2,508 gallons in a typical year.

“There are a lot of things that attribute to this large output of milk, such as Nebraska’s resources of feed, land, water, labor, and most of all, Nebraska’s quality of life,” said Borg. “When looking at feed, Nebraska’s corn industry provides the dairy industry with an abundant and sustainable supply of high quality feed.”

Boone McAfee, Director of Market Development and Research with the Nebraska Corn Board, noted that there is a tremendous synergy between the dairy industry and corn industry, especially when it comes to the corn-ethanol co-product, distillers grains.

“Dairy cattle consume a lot of feed on a daily basis, and corn and distillers grains along with many locally-produced feedstuffs are an important part of their ration,” McAfee said. “Distillers grains are a beneficial high-protein feed ingredient in a dairy cow’s diet and on average they will consume five or more pounds of dried distillers grains a day.”

McAfee also noted that one benefit of distillers grains is that it provides dairy cows the necessary fiber. This fiber helps the cows have a better digestive system, which in turn helps keep the animal healthy.

June 16, 2015

Corn Condition Rates 58% Good

Courtesy of Imperial FFA Chapter

For the week ending June 14, 2015, above normal temperatures and limited rainfall early in the week boosted crop development, but cloudy skies and rainfall of one inch or more later in the week was common in eastern areas, according to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service. Temperatures averaged one to two degrees above normal. Three or more inches of precipitation occurred in portions of the southeast causing further planting delays while western producers made good progress.

Alfalfa harvest continued to be challenging in eastern areas, with few days between rain events. There were 3.2 days suitable for fieldwork. Topsoil moisture supplies rated 3 percent very short, 7 short, 70 adequate, and 20 surplus. Subsoil moisture supplies rated 4 percent very short, 12 shorts, 68 adequate, and 16 surplus.
Courtesy of Shickley FFA Chapter

Corn condition rated 1 percent very poor, 5 poor, 27 fair, 58 good, and 9 excellent. Corn emerged was at 97 percent, near 99 for both last year and the five-year average.

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

Social Soil: Pinterest

*Welcome to Social Soil - a series of social media posts for farmers. Whether you're a seasoned social media veteran or just trying to start, we want to help farmers with their "ag+advocacy" skills ("AGvocacy") so together we can promote Nebraska corn and agriculture.*

What do you think of when I say Pinterest? Probably craft projects that you, your spouse or friend has mentioned they "saw on Pinterest" and they want to DIY (do-it-yourself).

Well, lucky for farmers, Pinterest is not just for sharing recipes and crafty ideas. It's a great place to agvocate! Pinterest is all about pictures. While people's attention span on the Internet is so small - it's great to capture them with a eye-appealing picture where they can click to learn/see more. Each individual on Pinterest has a "page" where they allocate different "boards" that categorizes topics or ideas.

Here are some great boards to follow and get inspiration from so you have ideas on what types of agricultural-related posts consumers are interested in.

Begins with a Farmer from Monsanto's Pinterest page. Monsanto has a great variety of boards ranging from recipes to GMOs.

Ask the Farmers has a farm-focused Pinterest page, and one of their boards is Farm Life. A simple way to show what you do is to post pictures of everyday life on the farm. 

Nebraska farmer Doug Saathoff has done a great job with his boards on Pinterest gearing towards consumers, those who like to cook and families. 

Lastly, don't forget to check out the Nebraska Corn Board's Pinterest page!

June 15, 2015

Greetings from St. Louis!


By Emily Scholting, National Corn Growers Association Intern. 

Hello from the “Show-Me” State! My name is Emily Scholting, and I have the amazing opportunity through the Nebraska Corn Board of serving as an intern for the National Corn Growers Association this summer. I’m from Springfield, Nebraska, and I grew up around my dad’s corn and soybean operation. I was involved in 4-H from an early age, and I’ve shown all kinds of livestock, including rabbits, sheep, pigs, and cattle. Through the Junior Nebraska Cattlemen, the American Junior Shorthorn Association, and 4-H, I discovered my passion for American agriculture. I’m currently pursuing a degree in Political Science at Nebraska Wesleyan University in Lincoln, after which I’ll continue on to law school to specialize in agricultural law.

As an intern in the Production and Sustainability department at NCGA, I’ve already been a part of some really cool experiences. I have had the chance to participate in weekly staff meetings, as well as meetings concerning public policy. Most of my projects have been research-based at this point, and I’ve become much more experienced with topics such as 2,4-D, the various state GMO-labeling legislation, and agricultural coexistence. My current work is taking me further into coexistence, especially where organic and genetically modified crops are concerned, as well as into plant phenotyping technology. Later this summer, I’ll have the opportunity to travel to Washington, D.C. with NCGA, which I’m really looking forward to.

Outside of my time at the office, I haven’t explored much of the city yet, but I’ve definitely had a lot of fun! In my three weeks here, I’ve become really good buddies with the three dogs that I live with, Henry, Wilson, and Lily. The neighbor, who also works at NCGA, has an awesome pool, so I’ve spent some hot afternoons over there as well. I did venture into the city to Ballpark Village and the Cardinals Hall of Fame Museum with another NCGA coworker and her family on rainy Saturday, so I have experienced a bit of the city scene. I’ve also sampled some classic St. Louis food, like pork steaks, toasted ravioli, Ted Drewes frozen custard, and St. Louis-style pizza. I’m excited to see what else the city has in store throughout the summer!

Everyone in St. Louis, including the other NCGA staff, the family that I’m staying with, and everyone I’ve met so far, has been really welcoming and hospitable. They’ve all been very helpful since the minute I got here. I’m so grateful to be in a new place with these fantastic people! I hope the rest of the summer proves to be as exciting and interesting as these first few weeks. Until next time!

June 12, 2015

American Lung Association of the Upper Midwest Promotes the Benefits of American Ethanol Across Nebraska

Angela Tin, Vice President of Environmental Health of the American Lung Association of the Upper Midwest, recently visited multiple media outlets across Nebraska to share the positive story of American Ethanol and its favorable impact on our health and environment.

While in Nebraska, some of Tin’s stops included: KMTV Morning Blend, KRVN Radio, KLIN Radio, KFOR Radio, NTV News, KOLN/KGIN News and the Lincoln Journal Star. During her media sweep, Tin shared information about the dangerous carcinogens that are added to fuel in increase octane. These cancer-causing carcinogens – benzene, toluene, and xylene (BTX) from our fuel threaten our health as they enter our lungs and bloodstream. Fortunately, American Ethanol is a cleaner fuel alternative that Nebraskan’s can take advantage of.

“Nebraska’s air is more dangerous than it looks and what's leaving the tailpipes is harmful to lung health," said Tin. "That's the bad news. The good news is that we have a choice:  American Ethanol."

American Ethanol is a non-toxic, clean burning source of octane.  American Ethanol provides optimal engine performance without spewing toxic particulate matter out of the tailpipe. 

Compared with oil, American Ethanol-blended fuel burns cleaner and improves air quality. When drivers use American Ethanol, they’re reducing the causes of asthma, heart disease, and brain and lung cancer not only for themselves but also their children and grandchildren. American Ethanol eliminates toxic, cancer-causing emissions in vehicle exhaust—reducing air pollution and greenhouse gas emission while, improving human health.

"American Ethanol should be the Clean Air Choice for our fuel if we're serious about improving air quality and reducing the costly impacts of engine exhaust on human health,” added Tin.

Dude, Where’s My Consumer?

In Rabobank’s new report, “Dude, Where’s My Consumer?”, many of America’s largest food and beverage companies are in trouble. Iconic brands are increasingly out of favor with U.S. consumers, where their mark is still set at reaching baby boomers. But how will they reach the up & coming consumers: millennials?

The report gives 5 ways that America’s big brands can reconnect with the U.S. consumer. (read more here…)

In today’s agriculture, people often think about farmers markets as the best place for farmers to connect with consumers. But for farmers growing commodity crops (like corn, soybeans, cattle….) that aren’t marketed at farmers markets, how can they connect with their consumers?

They need to do what their farmer friends are doing at farmers markets. One-on-one human connection. What, how?

In today's time of information overload, people need to connect face-to-face. This is why farmers markets are so successful and popular. But for corn farmers who do not market their products at farmers markets, how can they do this?

Social media plays a big role, but it’s not just about social media. This one-on-one, face-to-face communication can happen on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram but also by shaking hands with someone at church or your kids’ ballgames. There are several ways to have productive, civil conversation.

Farmers are already trusted. But by being positive, inclusive and real, methods of farming and uses for commodity agriculture will begin to build more trust.

A great idea to go along with face-to-face connections and social media that doesn’t take much time or effort are pictures. People love pictures. So by simply “showing” what they are doing, farmers will earn trust by being positive, inclusive and real. Visuals aren’t limited to social media. Invite influencers and media (that you trust) to your farm to take pictures and share what you do and why you do it.

Dude, are you my consumer? Let me show you what farming is all about….

June 10, 2015

Greetings from Denver!

By Kaydee Caldwell, US Meat Export Federation Intern

My name is Kaydee Caldwell; I’m a 5th generation cattle producer and avid beef eater. I’m going into my junior year at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln with a major in Animal Science. This summer I am spending my time in Denver, CO at the U.S. Meat Export Federation through a partnership with the Nebraska Corn Board. Being a producer I have been trying to gain knowledge on what happens after my cattle leave our pastures and enter the feed yards to be finished out. Where does the end product go? Of course the grocery stores, but OUR beef is sent all around the world, and people LOVE it! I’m so thankful for the opportunity to be working with the Meat Export Federation so I can fully grasp the trade concepts as well as what I, as a producer, can do to make our exports even stronger and more sought after.

 I moved to Denver the 11th of May and started working on the 12th. I take the Denver Light Rail to and from work every day, which is pretty handy! It really hasn’t been too hard adjusting to getting through the city; the hardest part is not being able to see pastures of cattle or cornfields! 

I’ve had a few adventures since starting. My second week at work USMEF flew me down to San Antonio, TX for their Board of Directors meeting. I got to walk along the River Walk, eat at NAO, dine at Texas Land & Cattle AND find out what happens when your car keys get lost in a different state! It was a great week listening to numerous industry leaders and having great discussions with members of the international offices. I had a great chat about Beta Agonists with a representative from the EU.

My project for the summer while at USMEF is to compile a pork cuts book that targets the international markets. I’ve contacted our international offices, lined up a photo shoot with a packing plant and photographer and will be going to Guymon, OK next week to get the photos done for the book!

The staff here in Denver is amazing, there’s quite
a few in the office that have really helped me to adjust to living in Denver and helped me through some stressful times, mostly losing my keys in San Antonio. I am truly thankful for the experience and having the opportunity to work with some VERY amazing people. I can’t wait to see what I learn throughout the summer, there’s a lot of knowledge in this office and I plan on absorbing as much of their wisdom as I can.

Now for some fun pictures!
This is my office farm, I have a cow, pig, chicken, steer and owl. 
I have taken up indoor sky diving and it is VERY fun, scary, but fun. 
I was also very excited to find out there is such a thing as a S’mores frappucino!

June 9, 2015

Corn Planted at 97%

For the week ending June 7, 2015, rainfall of one to two inches was common, with six inches or more reported across portions of the southeast, according to the USDA's National Agriculture Statistics Service. Temperatures averaged two to four degrees above normal. The wet soil conditions again limited planting activities and were favorable for disease development in wheat. Alfalfa harvest continued to be challenging, with hay quality issues in some areas.

Courtesy of Fullerton FFA Chapter
Clear skies and warmer conditions were needed to boost growth and development of row crops. There were 3.1 days suitable for fieldwork. Topsoil moisture supplies rated 3 percent very short, 9 short, 69 adequate, and 19 surplus. Subsoil moisture supplies rated 5 percent very short, 15 short, 66 adequate, and 14 surplus.

Courtesy of Heartland FFA Chapter
Corn condition rated 1 percent very poor, 4 poor, 30 fair, 58 good, and 7 excellent. Corn planted was at 97 percent, near 100 for both last year and the five-year average. Emerged was at 89 percent, behind 97 last year and 95 average.

Data for this news release were 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.

June 8, 2015

Proud to Represent Nebraska Agriculture in Global Programs

By Amanda Clymer, US Grains Council Intern

Metro stations, museums, and taxis galore- not your normal small town Nebraska, let alone Lincoln. It’s the big city of Washington D.C. and I get to call this city home for the summer.

My name is Amanda Clymer and I just finished my sophomore year at the University of Nebraska- Lincoln where I major in agricultural economics. I grew up outside of David City, Nebraska on a small cattle, sheep and row crop operation.  This summer the Nebraska Corn Board has given me the opportunity to explore the supply chain further after the American producer delivers grain to the local elevator.  I am interning at the U.S. Grains Council in the Global Programs department to get a closer look at how this organization works to develop the export markets for U.S. grains and co-products.

The U.S. Grains Council is focused on developing markets, enabling trade and improving lives. The organization works specifically for corn, sorghum, barley producers and agribusiness organizations. In order for the organization to accomplish its goals, the organization implements a number of programs aimed toward maintaining markets and opening doors in new markets.  The Global Programs department works on several different USGC programs, but this time of year they are in full swing of planning for international trade teams coming to the U.S. The trade teams provide opportunities for USGC members and overseas customers to make connections and for international customers to see a firsthand look at the production, quality and export system in the U.S. Trade teams will be composed of buyers, end-users, policy makers, government regulators and media. As the intern in Global Programs I have had and will have the experience of helping to plan for the 27 trade teams coming to the U.S. to experience what I love, American agriculture.

Outside of my time in the office, I have been exploring what the city has to offer. I have taken the time to visit the United States Botanic Garden and the Smithsonian museums including the museum of American History and the Air and Space Museum. I have many more to see, but I have a few more weeks ahead of me. I am also looking forward to going to a Washington Nationals baseball game, canoeing down the Patomac, and going on a monuments by moonlight tour.

Lastly, when you’re in a new place it means the opportunity to try new food. My roommates and I have been marking restaurants off the list and adding new ones to the bottom. I know one staple for me already in D.C. is Pitango, a sorbet and gelato shop.

With two and a half weeks down, there is still lots to learn, explore and try. I am looking forward to the opportunities that await me here in Washington D.C. 

Nebraska Corn Farmers’ Frustration with EPA Continues Following Biofuels Requirement Release

After a very lengthy deferment, Nebraska corn farmers are frustrated with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) recent release of the proposed 2015 and 2016 Renewable Volume Obligation (RVO) figures. Once again the EPA reveals their flawed tactics in implementing the federal Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) by proposing to cut the corn ethanol obligation. EPA proposes to adjust the conventional biofuel requirements in the RFS passed by Congress downward by more than 1.5 billion gallons.

“It is disappointing to see the methodology behind this long overdue proposal. EPA is continuing to play into the hands of the oil industry,” said Tim Scheer, farmer from St. Paul, Nebraska and Chairman of the Nebraska Corn Board. "Family farmers have responded to ethanol demand by using technology to produce larger crops and grow more with less. Yet, the EPA still chose to side with the oil industry and decrease the RFS levels, ignoring the fact that American farmers can easily supply enough corn to meet the RFS requirements previously set forth.”

The long-awaited 2015 and 2016 RFS proposals increase the overall use of biofuels over the two-year period; however, the levels are below what Congress had mandated in the original legislation. The proposed RVO level for conventional ethanol in 2015 is 13.4 billion gallons and 14.0 billion gallons for 2016.  Nevertheless, congressional statue dictates that RVO levels for both 2015 and 2016 should be at 15 billion gallons. 
These proposed figures represent nearly 1 billion bushels in lost corn demand and 8.5 million tons of distillers grains (DG) that the livestock industry will not have access to.

“All the work and investment that Nebraska corn and livestock farmers have put into building the ethanol industry is at risk. We've already seen corn prices drift at or below the cost of production and cutting the use of corn for ethanol could drive prices even lower. This decision could also idle capacity and restrict access to the distillers grain market for the livestock sector,” Scheer added.

The RFS is one of our nation’s most successful energy programs and is working exactly as designed. It has reduced greenhouse gas emissions, decreased our reliance on foreign oil, lowered gasoline prices for consumers, increased economic stability in rural American and spurred innovation in advanced and cellulosic biofuels.

"It might be expected that farmers would be frustrated about this, but every American should be upset as well," said Larry Mussack, farmer from Decatur, Nebraska and President of the Nebraska Corn Growers Association. "The RFS is federal policy that has been very beneficial to our country, and there is no reason we should not stay on course to increase the diversity of our nation's transportation fuel supply and help keep down costs at the pump.”

Mussack also added, “American farmers and consumers were promised the opportunity to utilize an American-made, cleaner, renewable alternative to oil. This proposal not only ignores that agreement, but diminishes the cost-saving options that ethanol provides in the marketplace for consumers.”

Once the proposal has been posted to the Federal Register, comments will be accepted with the EPA planning to issue the final volume requirements in November, 2015.

June 4, 2015

Large farms are good for the environment. True or False?

We often hear about the restructuring/purchasing of smaller farms to make larger ones in agriculture today. This could be with livestock or crop farms. How does the size of the farm affect our environment? Is bigger better or worse? As tomorrow is World Environment Day, and while this can be viewed as an event that discourages modern agriculture, we want to embrace our efforts to conserve our environment. Let’s look into it…

Production agriculture operations or farms have an impact on the environment by using the nation’s soil, water, or air. Larry Jacobson, professor in bioproducts & biosystems engineering department at the University of Minnesota and a BestFoodFacts.org expert looks at each of these factors separately.


Production agriculture uses soil as one of its main resources to produce food (plants directly and animals indirectly). Crops remove nutrients and they must be replaced to maintain a sustainable soil system. Also, some cropping practices (and maybe some animal grazing practices) may promote soil erosion through water or wind forces. So soil can be degraded by excessive nutrient removal (mining) and/or soil erosion.

Almost every farm, large or small, will maintain the soils nutrients by the addition of natural (cover crops), organic (animal manure), or chemical fertilizers otherwise it will not produce the crops planted. Similarly, soil conservation practices such as contour farming, wind breaks, and vegetative buffer strips are practiced or built on both large and smaller farms. Therefore, Jacobson believes the statement that large farms are bad for the environment as pertaining to impact on the nation’s soil is misguided.


Obviously, farms need lots of water, either if they raise crops or produce animal products. Larger farms may need to draw from either surface or ground water sources to irrigate crops or water livestock or poultry so they may locally impact the quantity of water more than smaller farms, but when expressed on a per unit of production (bushel of crop or lb of milk or meat) this would not be different than for small farms. So barring some very local situations, the perception that large farms are bad for water quantity is also misguided.

The situation for water quality is more complicated. Larger farm certainly have greater potential to negatively impact water quality no matter if they produce only crops. However, on the positive side, large farm often participate in more conservation programs that reduce erosion (runoff to surface waters). Large farms often have more modern and high-tech machinery that practice so-called precision farming (apply only the fertilizer and herbicide/pesticide needed by the crop / land). Small farms, because of smaller equipment and fields may leave existing vegetative buffers along fence rows and windbreaks that would restrict field runoff.

For animal operations, large farms (> 1000 animal units(AU)) are required by EPA regulations to have nutrient management plans (NMP) which forces them to apply their animal manure produced on these operations at agronomic rates based on nitrogen (N) or in some cases phosphorous (P) levels in the manure onto cropland. Depending on the state, some smaller livestock farms under 1000 AU are also required to develop and use NMP but most states these are not required for small farms (< 100 or 50 AU). Thus, although they again have potential to impact water quality, because of regulations and the large financial incentive to use this resource (animal manure) wisely, the perception that large farms (crop or animals) have a greater negative impact on water quality is again misguided.


Finally the issue of air quality. Because large CAFO’s concentrate animals in a single location they often produce large single source emissions of gases, odors, and particulates from the animal buildings and any associated manure storage / treatments systems. These can have local (odor), regional (acidification of vegetation and surface waters), and global (climate change) impacts. Most damaging of these are the local and regional impacts since the global (greenhouse gases – GHG) effects would be cumulative even for small farms.

Small livestock and poultry operation will also produce emissions but typically are sufficiently low that their impact is considerably less on the environment. Also, crop farms can impact air quality by the emissions of particulates or dust from fossil fuel sources such as tractors, irrigation engines, or through tillage practices. Mitigation technologies are being developed to reduce air emissions from animal operations and even crop farms, but these are expensive and typically need more developmental work before they become commonly used on farms. So when it comes to air quality issues, Jacobson believe the statement that large farms are bad for the environment is plausible.

So tomorrow, please share this post to show that agriculture is making on our environment. Farmers are the original environmentalists and want the best for our environment and our future!

June 3, 2015

Corn Planted at 94%

For the week ending May 31, 2015, limited rainfall over the eastern half of the State allowed producers to get back to spring planting activities, while wet conditions in the west continued to hinder fieldwork, according to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service. Temperatures averaged two degrees below normal. The cool, wet conditions were favorable for disease development in wheat, with some producers applying fungicide. Alfalfa harvest progressed slowly, as producers awaited clear conditions. Pastures continued to improve and rated better than last year.

There were 3.6 days suitable for fieldwork. Topsoil moisture supplies rated 4 percent very short, 9 short, 72 adequate, and 15 surplus. Subsoil moisture supplies rated 6 percent very short, 16 short, 67 adequate, and 11 surplus.

Corn condition rated 0 percent very poor, 4 poor, 31 fair, 58 good, and 7 excellent. Corn planted was at 94 percent, behind 99 for both last year and the five-year average. Emerged was at 83 percent, behind 88 last year, but near 85 average.

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

June 1, 2015

International Internship in Panama

By Greg Sullivan, USGC International Intern, Panama City, Panama.

Hola from Panamá! My name is Greg Sullivan and I am currently finishing up a Masters degree in Business Administration with a specialization in Agribusiness at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. In order to further my educational pursuits and capitalize on previous learning I found it pertinent to seek out an opportunity abroad in order to gain a better understanding of the global nature and reach of American agriculture. Fortunately, the Nebraska Corn Board has assisted me in this effort by selecting me to represent you and the rest of the Nebraska corn producers at the U.S. Grains Council’s regional headquarters here in Panamá City.

So far the work has consisted of getting up to speed on trends in regional markets and educating myself on the USGC strategies for the remainder of the 2015 marketing year. Nebraska producers should be delighted to hear that there is a strong drive to increase DDGS (among other grains/feed ingredients) usage in the region by educating marketers and business on the cost-effectiveness of their usage in feed rations, the quality of the ingredient, and the efficiency of the supply chain from the American producer to the regional consumer. These efforts will ultimately culminate in a USGC sponsored regional buyers conference to be held in Medellín, Colombia this July.

Outside of the office, adapting to life in Panamá has been relatively smooth and easy going. In fact, up to this point I can’t think of much that I don’t like about the country.  The language barrier is certainly an obstacle that needs to be overcome, but the occasional Spanish lesson and daily interaction with strangers should help knock it down fairly quickly. Most of the populace is bilingual to some extent in part due to the reliance of the economy on tourism and trade. The extent of that dual dependence helped create a Panamanian culture that is certainly an anomaly in the Latin American world. With a heavy concentration of businesses relating to international trade and the use/expansion of the Canal (a walkthrough of the expansion is pictured above) the country has become somewhat of a cultural melting pot. The Latin American culture is certainly prevalent, but it is not as overwhelming as it is in other Central and South American countries. This melting pot culture was summated perfectly by a recent volunteer opportunity in which I partook at a well-known local food establishment – Quesos Chela (which was recently featured on the Travel Channel’s Bizarre Foods). The event (picture below) was organized to promote the arts and highlight child labor as an irresponsible business and humanitarian practice. And while the primary beneficiaries were indigenous Panamanian children, the volunteers hailed from Venezuelan, Colombian, Panamanian, Chinese-Panamanian, and American backgrounds. It was a perfect microcosm of my experience so far, a genuine experience that involved individuals from multiple backgrounds working together towards a common cause.

It has barely been two weeks, but the time here has flown by and has been nothing short of memorable. I can only imagine what the next few months have in store.