July 29, 2016

The Life of a NeCGA Intern


By Laura Lundeen, NeCGA intern, Lincoln.

I started out as a member of the growers, and now I am lucky enough to be an intern. When I started my internship, I had a basic idea of what the Nebraska Corn Growers did, what the ag industry was based on, and also what my passions were in regards to agriculture. I have to say that in the last month, that little, basic idea I had has now been opened up to so much more than what it was before! 

I have been able to make connections, promote agriculture in and out of the office, and stay in tune with the ag industry and all that is happening across the state and country.
One way that I have been able to promote agriculture is through helping out at the Kum & Go Promotions. At these events, E-85 is sold for 85 cents a gallon! Nebraska Corn and the Nebraska Ethanol Board work to fill up citizens flex fuel vehicles with E-85, while also telling them about why ethanol is important. Although flex fuel vehicles have become more common, many people do not now if they drive one, and many people do not realize that we can grow/make ethanol here in our own state! Ethanol is important to our farmers, but also our state, our environment, and our economy. It has been really fun to learn more and tell the story of ethanol to people that may not realize that yet.

Ethanol has also been a focus at the dirt track races. These nights promise a fun event fueled by ethanol. Nebraska Corn has been there to promote the use of ethanol, answer any questions regarding the industry if possible, and also give back to our members by supporting them at their race if competing, hand out prizes and giveaways, and enjoy being with them. I have enjoyed meeting some of the great people that help make up NeCGA as well as learning more about ethanol.Some people say that internships are about filling coffee, taking out the trash, and cleaning out the microwave, but even though I would be happy to do those things, I am even more proud to say that NeCGA has provided me an internship where I get to be a part of telling the story of agriculture. Through making connections, promoting agriculture in and out of the office, and staying in tune with the ag industry and all that is happening across the state and country, I am happy to say that the life of a passionate NeCGA intern is the best place to be. Come to the races or fill up with 85 cent gas, and you will see me there.

In the office, promotion is just as great and valuable. Instead of being out and speaking with people about the industry, I have been given the opportunity to be a part of advocating for the industry, organization, and connecting with members through our social media outreach. Social media has become one of the most widely used form of networking, and I am happy to see that NeCGA takes advantage of that to tell the story of agriculture.

July 27, 2016

Life at the Council

By Maddy Breeling, USGC summer intern in Washington DC
Visiting the botanic gardens near the Capital!
My view on my way to work!

I can’t believe I am already halfway done with my internship with the U.S. Grains Council in Washington D.C.! The time has flown by, and each day has brought about a new project or adventure that I haven’t had the opportunity to be bored yet. A lot has changed since I last wrote, and I finally feel that I have gotten into the swing of things with my work and living in the capital.

I have continued to work daily on my final projects for the Council: collecting data on farmers’ attitudes towards trade and a presentation on current international biotechnology communication efforts, but I also have had a variety of opportunities in other areas both within and outside of the Council. One of my favorite things I have been able to do is attend Trade School, put on by the National Corn Growers Association. I was able to learn in depth information regarding trade agreements and polices, specifically surrounding TPP and TTIP. I found it very interesting and feel that I can take the things I learned back to Nebraska, and even to my classes! Also, I have been connected to a group of other Ag related interns and have had opportunities to attend briefings and lunches where we discuss the issues facing the industry. This has been great to meet other interns who have similar interests, and be more well-rounded in all aspects of the agricultural industry.

I have also been coordinating with the Membership and Communications teams to help prepare for the upcoming 56th Annual Board of Delegates Meeting which is taking place in Louisville in a few short weeks. Whether it’s talking to members or agribusinesses about the event, or helping to organize the floor plan, or even picking out the gifts, I have been able to work closely with my co-workers to plan this important meeting. This has been a good opportunity because it is something that I will be able to work towards, and actually see come to fruition.

I am loving the professional experience and skills I am gaining at the Council, but am loving the personal experiences I am gaining as well. Living in D.C., one never gets bored. There is always something to do whether it’s attend the Smithsonian Culture Festival, listen to live Jazz in the Sculpture Garden, or go explore Arlington, I am always on the move. Being here, I also feel the passion of the upcoming election and have been able to experience politics and its process on a daily basis. There are a variety of speakers, meetings, protests, and other events put on almost every day that relate to the election and spark discussions among my friends and I. It is definitely an interesting and exciting time to be living only a few blocks from the Capitol building.

As I begin the last half of my experience here in D.C., I am more excited than ever to be working at the U.S. Grains Council, and take everything I have learned and experienced back to Nebraska; back to the Good Life.

July 26, 2016

Corn in dough at 13%, equal to the five-year average.


For the week ending July 24, 2016, temperatures averaged four degrees above normal, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. Precipitation of an inch or more covered much of the southwest and parts of the southern Panhandle. The eastern half of the State remained mostly dry. Drought conditions existed in south central counties. Seed corn detasseling was active and winter wheat harvest was wrapping up. There were 6.2 days suitable for fieldwork. Topsoil moisture supplies rated 8 percent very short, 27 short, 64 adequate, and 1 surplus. Subsoil moisture supplies rated 5 percent very short, 23 short, 71 adequate, and 1 surplus.

Field Crops Report: Corn condition rated 1 percent very poor, 3 poor, 17 fair, 61 good, and 18 excellent. Corn silking was 82 percent, ahead of 77 last year and the five-year average of 76. Corn in dough was 13 percent, near 9 last year, and equal to 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
Access the High Plains Region Climate Center for Temperature and Precipitation Maps HERE
Access the U.S. Drought Monitor HERE

July 22, 2016

Warning: Clichés and Corn Ahead!


By Lauren Stohlmann, NCGA Intern, St. Louis.

Is it cliché to say time flies when you’re having fun? Because it definitely has, so I think it’s an appropriate cliché.  
I could summarize this past month in several key words: scientists, EPAbusiness cards, opportunities and Corn 1. Please, let me take you on a ride that is a month in the life of an NCGA intern.  
Scientists are wonderful, brilliant individuals who I wished I could understand at a far higher level than I am capable of. June 6, 7 and 8 I had the opportunity to meet with, listen to and learn from several individuals from different organizations, companies, universities and associations who are all studying what corn can offer. I was lucky enough to sit down and have a video interview with a chemical engineering professor at Michigan State University, Dr. Dennis Miller. He is working on “advanced separations directed at conversion of bio-based substrates to value-added fuels and chemicals,” in layman’s terms he is experimenting with corn’s biological makeup to make fuel and different chemicals. Dr. Miller is only one of the numerous scientists I smiled and nodded at attempting to understand all of the incredible work they are doing for corn growers. Not only did I get the chance to meet scientists but throughout this three-day span, I collected quite a few business cards because I’ve had it drilled into my brain that networking is a top priority and I’m a pretty good listener so I do what I’m told. Therefore, I currently have my collection of business cards pinned onto a corkboard at my desk. These cards come from men and women working for companies such as DuPont Pioneer, Cibus, KRVN Rural Radio Network in Nebraska and a professor at the University of Illinois. I made tons of connections, got plenty of advice and heard even more out-of-this-world stories walking away from this conference. Since then, I’m happy to report that there are continually more business cards being added to the collection.  
Next up, the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency). The EPA means well, I’m sure. They just make our lives here at NCGA, not so easy. On June 9, several hundred people could be found at the Sheraton Kansas City Hotel at Crown Center. Nearly all of the individuals present (and I am being literal) were there to tell the EPA that the RFS (Renewable Fuel Standard) worksIn fact, (forgive me, I’m not trying to show off) if you have some free time, go to your social media and check out #RFSWorks because there’s a good chance you’ll read a tweet or possibly a Facebook post that I wrote that glorious Thursday morning. I heard so many fantastic quotes from corn growers, livestock owners, fuel retailers and other associations answering the question why the RFS works for them. One of my favorites was from a man who works for a diversified agribusiness. He said, “If you blend it, they will come.” Another top 10 quote was a woman from the Kentucky Corn Growers who said, “I don’t have a hidden agenda. I have four children, I owe it to them,” meaning she needs the RFS to be at a higher level because her children deserve a clean environment to live in and a strong rural community to grow up in. At this hearing, I was able to interact with corn farmers, meet lots of new people and play a role in an event that made a difference for NCGA. And let me tell you, it felt so gratifying to be a part of.  
If you haven’t already noticed, I’ve been blessed with so many opportunities at NCGA so far. I’ve been able to take part in one of NCGA’s marketing and communication goals to get the good word out about ethanol. I’ve done research on potential audience members, drafted up professional letters and emails, sent out said letters and emails and began the waiting game. The waiting game wasn’t the hardest part. I received my very first “no thank you, we’re not interested at this time however what you’re doing sounds great!” While their response was sincere and kind, I felt like I got hit in the gut. Mostly because I felt like I had failed as an intern. I’ve since then, realized that you’re not always going to succeed at what you do, but you have to keep on trying. In the words of Miss Kelly Clarkson and a German philosopher, “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”  
I was lucky enough to travel with a coworker to Nevada (pronounced: Nah-Vay-Dah), Iowa to shoot some footage of a member of CommonGround (look it up, you’ll love it) who talked about why GMOs work on her farm. There was a drone involved and it was absolutely fascinating. I’ve wrote a few News of The Days for the NCGA website, I’ve interviewed several very remarkable people, I’ve helped to record information from nearly 2,000 letters received from NCGA members regarding ethanol, trade and atrazine. Yes, it’s as monotonous as it sounds but a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do. I’ve locked in a project that I’m getting excited about and I’m still learning about all of the other opportunities that the rest of my time here holds for me. Feel free to stay tuned.  
Don’t worry, there’s definitely been a healthy amount of play per work here in St. Louis because, “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”. I’ve attended concerts, went to a couple Cardinal games, visited the famous Soulard Farmer’s Market and I’ve experienced toasted ravioli, one of the things I’ve been told since day one that I had to have. My coworkers have all been so welcoming and unbelievably sweet to me; asking me over to their home to swim, inviting me to their son’s graduation party, having me over for dinner, and taking me to ball games. Needless to say, I'm a lucky, lucky intern. I have a few other visits in the making to different places, so July is shaping up to be one heck of a time, both work and play related.  
The final keyword, Corn 1, is the name of the Chevy pickup that NCGA is lucky enough to own as a travelling vehicle. If you saw it on the road, you wouldn’t be able to miss it. It is a vehicle I’ve had the pleasure of spending 17 hours in now. Without this beloved truck, I would not have reached Kansas City or Nevada, Iowa. You either love or hate Corn 1 here at NCGA; I for one really love it. Like any good Chevy pickup, it can get you pretty much anywhere on any kind of road. Well, for someone like me, choosing an internship with NCGA, has proven to be the “road less traveled.” Never in a million years would I have thought I’d be where I am today, but I’m beyond thankful for how I got here all thanks to my supportive family and friends, Nebraska corn, NCGA, my phenomenal coworkers and Corn 1.  

July 21, 2016

An Update from the Beltway


By Colton Flower, NCGA intern, Washington, DC.

Steny Hoyer
It is hard to believe that I only a few weeks left in the Capital. As my time here is winding down, my to-do list is only getting long. Each week I cross more and more off of my personal to-do list and my NCGA to-do list, but with Corn Congress coming up and with only a couple weekends left they both lists seems to be growing.

Over the past few weeks I have been attending coalition meetings or sitting in on calls on almost a daily basis. I have also got to dig even deeper into the farm bill and compile more information and research various things for the lobbyists. I’ve attended several more PAC events. I have also been preparing for Corn Congress by scheduling hill visits, compiling delegate information packets, and helping plan for CornFest. It has also been very busy couple weeks for agriculture in general on the hill as the GMO labeling bills has been voted on. Getting the inside look on what it takes to pass a bill especially with such a urgent deadline was fascinating and watching the various groups come together to show support of a piece of legislation was also very unique to see.

Gary Johnson
Getting to work a long side the lobbyists and other staff here in the D.C. office has really opened my eyes to the opportunities here in Capital. After 8 weeks here I can really see myself pursuing a career here one day. I have been fortunate to meet so many people from other organizations and on the hill. Getting to meet other interns has also been great and exploring the city with them on the weekends has become one of my favorite things to do.

Whether it is kayaking up the Potomac River, attending festivals, visiting museums, or camping out to meet the Presidential candidates there is never a dull moment. So far I would have to say meeting Gary Johnson and Minority Whip Steny Hoyer have to be among my favorite experiences thus far.  

I can’t wait to see what these last weeks will consist of and I am even more excited to see some of my fellow Nebraskans at Corn Congress.

July 20, 2016

E15: The higher American Ethanol blend that almost anyone can use.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has approved the use of E15 in all passenger vehicles model year 2001 or newer. In fact, more than 70% of new (2016) models are explicitly approved for the use of E15 by automakers.

E15 is a blend of 15% ethanol and 85% gasoline. It is the most widely tested fuel to ever be offered for sale in the United States. Since ethanol is cleaner and has a higher octane content than gasoline, E15 reduces the number of pollutants in fuel and produces less carbon emissions than regular gasoline. In addition, E15 is typically less expensive than E10 or ordinary unleaded gasoline.

EPA approval means that E15 is authorized for use in 239 million cars on the road in the U.S. today, including all the autos manufactured in the last decade (equal to more than 80 percent of all the vehicles on the road today).

A full move to E15 creates a bigger market for American Ethanol that could help create as many as 136,000 new jobs in the United States and eliminate as much as 8 million metric tons of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the air in a year – the equivalent of taking 1.35 million vehicles off the road.

E15 is consistently making its way to pumps across the nation. Kum & Go, a regional retailer with several locations in Omaha, will be introducing E15 at its stations over the next several months. “We have a strong tradition in our company to implement sustainability within our business and at our locations. E15 was a natural addition to our fuel offering,” said Jim Pirolli, vice president of fuels for Kum & Go. “Having E15 in our portfolio allows Kum & Go to offer our customers a quality product at a great value.”

July 19, 2016

Nebraska corn rated 62% good and 18% excellent


Photo Courtesy of Imperial FFA
For the week ending July 17, 2016, temperatures averaged one to three degrees below normal, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. Precipitation was minimal across the Panhandle and southwest. Parts of central and eastern Nebraska received an inch or more of rain. There were 5.7 days suitable for fieldwork. Topsoil moisture supplies rated 7 percent very short, 22 short, 70 adequate, and 1 surplus. Subsoil moisture supplies rated 4 percent very short, 19 short, 75 adequate, and 2 surplus.

Photo Courtesy of Heartland FFA
Field Crops Report: Corn condition rated 1 percent very poor, 3 poor, 16 fair, 62 good, and 18 excellent. Corn silking was 55 percent, near 51 last year, and ahead of the five-year average of 48.

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
Access the High Plains Region Climate Center for Temperature and Precipitation Maps HERE
Access the U.S. Drought Monitor HERE

July 18, 2016

Summer of Multiple Jobs


By Kelsey Scheer, USMEF summer intern

My family and I outside of my summer office
            My internship at the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) is well underway, and now that I think of it, I only have three weeks left! I have learned so much here at the USMEF and have met so many great people. Everyone in the office has kept me busy with projects, and I have really enjoyed getting to know them and learning about what their job entails. It will definitely be a bitter sweet day when I head back to Nebraska at the end of the month.

            Since my last blog, I have spent most of the summer in the USMEF Denver Headquarters working on several projects with almost all of the departments. Many of my projects haven’t been that big, but they have helped out the staff. Some of my smaller day projects include entering the Board of Directors Evaluations into a spreadsheet, calculating proposed pork budgets, measuring office furniture, and cleaning out the storage room, to get ready for the move.

            The one trip that I have had since by last blog was to the World Pork Expo (WPX) in Des Moines, Iowa, with the Nebraska Pork Producers Mentoring Program. While I was there, I networked with several possible employers and even had an interview a few weeks after meeting them at WPX.  I also met up with John Hinners, USMEF Assistant Vice President of Industry Relations.  He introduced me to past chairmen and we attended an international trade seminar.

            In the beginning of June, I worked on the corn project I learned about at the Board of Directors Meetings, back in May. This project came about after World Perspectives, Inc. completed a study on how much red meat exports give back to the corn industry.  Without the help from Jessica Strutzel, and Erin Borror, I wouldn’t have been able to I create a four-page handout for the state of Iowa. The handout provided information on how the beef and pork exports add money back to the Iowa corn producers. At WPX, John Hinners presented my draft to Iowa Corn Promotion Board and they really liked it, so they sent it on to their personal designer. She is going to clean up a few things and make it more attractive to the eye. Once we get it back, I will continue on with the project by developing handouts for the top 10 corn producing states. 

            Since World Pork Expo, I have been helping the Technical Services Department the most.  They are updating their slaughter and processing plant database, and they needed information from plants that export red meat internationally.  They also needed somebody that could send out some emails and then organize the data that was sent back, so I got the job.  The information collected will help USMEF’s Technical Service Team quickly identify plants for technical visits, audits, and trade teams.  I have also helped the Tech Services Department with organizing data from the beef plants that are eligible to export to Japan, which USMEF compiled this data for USDA, and they will send it on to Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare. The Japanese government will use this information to determine which plants will be chosen participate in the annual beef audit by Japan. 

Tammy Connolly has enlisted my help with the sixth annual Latin American Product Showcase that will take place July 20 &21st in Panama City. Ordering supplies, organizing registration packets, creating transportation charts, and assisting with shipments are just a few of the duties I have taken on with this event. 

            When I am not picking up projects from other staff, I am working on a competitor analysis.  John asked me to complete a competitor analysis on five countries.  He wants me to find out what their specific strategies are, what they are spending money on, and where they are getting their money from.  The first country I started with was Australia, our largest beef competitor. Since completing Australia, I have done some studying of Brazil, Canada, Chile, and the European Union.
Jessica Strutzel-Trade Analyst, Lindsay Camel-Technical
Services Specialist, and I enjoying the game!
Due to Denver’s hot real estate market, USMEF was informed last fall by building management that they would need to vacate this summer (end of July) or pay the extremely high rent that is being charged in the lower part of downtown, affectionately called LoDo by the locals. The office moved is planned for the end of July, as USMEF was able to negotiate a new lease on the east side of downtown at much more favorable rates. However, because the current office is located within two blocks of Coors Field, USMEF management wanted to host a staff teambuilding get together at a Colorado Rockies game before leaving this area.

And here is evidence of the fun we had at the game (Rockies vs. Blue Jays), I will leave out the score so that we can stay upbeat!

View of the mountains from the bike trail
I was fortunate that my boss, John let me take off a day and a half, so I could join the rest of my family for vacation.  I invited them to come into the office, so they could see where I work, and so I could show off my beautiful niece, Hallie.  After an office visit, we were off to Keystone to celebrate Independence Day Weekend. We enjoyed a gondola ride to the top of the mountain, a 6-mile bike ride with gorgeous views, and watched the rain from inside with a mountain views.