December 26, 2016

Platte Basin Timelapse Project Features Pivot Irrigation

NET Television’s Platte Basin Timelapse Project is an innovative multi-year initiative designed to help people better understand the impact and importance of this critical watershed.

Some fifty cameras are stationed along the Platte River, from its sources in Colorado and Wyoming to the point at which it spills into the Missouri River. These cameras provide a fascinating look at how the river changes throughout the year and from year to year. Educational materials have been developed that focus on the environmental aspects of the river— and producers of the program knew that the next chapter needed to focus on the relationship between the Platte River and agriculture.

The initial phase of the agricultural track is co-funded by the Nebraska Corn Board and Nebraska Soybean Board. Other funders include NET Television and the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. The Nebraska Association of Resources Districts has also provided funding.

The first step in the agriculture track was to install timelapse cameras on pivot irrigation systems—one on Brandon Hunnicutt’s corn field near Giltner and another on a soybean pivot at Greg Greving’s farm near Chapman. The cameras captured images during the 2016 growing season as they moved around the field. Eventually, a series of educational videos and curriculum will be developed in partnership with UNL and shared with schools in Nebraska and across the nation.

“The Platte River is central to the livelihood, economy and success of the people who depend on it,” said Michael Farrell, NET Special Projects Manager. “We wanted to include the impact of the Platte on agricultural production in Nebraska and help people better understand how farmers and ranchers are managing this precious resource—and helping maintain the delicate balance needed to serve everyone and everything that depends on this river.”

To learn more or see live shots visit:

December 21, 2016

Nebraska Corn Board - 2016 In Review


With recent corn prices down from the past, it is times like these when the corn checkoff investments are most vital. These checkoff dollars are put towards enhancing demand, adding value and ensuring sustainability of our Nebraska Corn. As we near the end of the year, here are some highlights of this past year’s significant initiatives and investments of the Nebraska Corn Board:

Clean Fuels Omaha
Nebraska Corn Board has successfully launched and significantly expanded the American Ethanol brand awareness with consumers in cooperation with a Clean Fuels Omaha campaign that has proven success in the use of American Ethanol fuels.

Increased Choice at the Pump
Through a partnership with USDA and funding from the Nebraska Corn Board, a total of 80 new blender pumps have been or will be installed across the state to increase consumer choices of higher American Ethanol blends.

Ethanol Promotion in Foreign Countries
We have invested in international market development efforts that have successfully introduced US ethanol to foreign countries, specifically Mexico.

Nebraska Corn Board implemented a peer review process that has aided in ensuring checkoff investment of research in priority areas – then further funded projects in cover crops, nutrient & week management and new uses.

Working in partnership with states, National Corn Growers Association and others, we have advanced discussion on the next generation of engines with the auto manufacturers – specifically higher octane fuels that can be accomplished with higher American Ethanol blends.

Youth Leadership & Education
We continue to be an industry leader in providing the next generation of agricultural leadership opportunities through various internships, DC Leadership Missions, scholarships and supporting state and local FFA, NAYI and Ag in the Classroom.

The Nebraska Corn Board has continued support for Alliance for the Future of Agriculture in Nebraska (A-FAN) in responsible expansion of the livestock industry that has resulted in a greatly expanded swine industry, opportunities in poultry, prioritization within the dairy industry and beef expansion.

We partnered with Field to Market to further discuss sustainability, continuous efficiency improvement along the complete Ag and food chain; and also partnered with Nebraska Extension on sustainability principles through on farm research.

Water Conservation
Nebraska Corn Board initiated support for AquaMart – a project to further promote water efficiency through localized grassroots cooperation.

We have expanded conversations with consumers through CommonGround - a program with female farmers and ranchers talking about key issues with urban counterparts.

December 20, 2016

Learning Never Ends

Laura Lundeen - NeCGA Intern

There is one quote that comes to mind as I begin my blog. “What we learn with pleasure, we never forget”-Alfred Mercier. Throughout this summer, the truth of this statement seems to become clearer and clearer. I absolutely love to learn, and the Nebraska Corn Growers Association have given me an opportunity I will be forever thankful for. 

Last fall was a very fun and exciting month. Throughout this time, I was able to create my first newsletter, attend the mentor tour, promote ethanol at frog fest, and help out at the State Fair. Throughout the promoting of NE Corn, I was given the best experience of them all- a chance to learn.

Even though I was not at home chopping pigweeds, my first newsletter made for good, hard work in Lincoln. I was able to learn a new computer program, writing and design skills, and better understand the need for atrazine and other topics the newsletter highlights. Thankful for this experience, I am continually gaining greater respect for NE Corn. The hard, selfless work to put farmers first in the most beneficial way for our resources and economic stability displayed by NE Corn makes me continually grateful that I am able to work alongside of them. 
2016 Mentor Tour

The mentor tour was a blast! After being a mentor last year, I completely fell in love with the experience I was given to attend this tour and was very thankful I was able to attend it again as an intern! Touring Hy-Vee, Prairieland Dairy, Monsanto, Union Pacific, and Werner Trucking made for a great learning experience and realization of how big the agricultural industry really is. I am excited to use the knowledge I gained from this experience to advocate for the agricultural industry in a bigger and broader way. 

Meeting Cole Swindell
Frog Fest was a great night where not only did I get to meet people and talk about American ethanol, but I also was able to meet Cole Swindell! Unfortunately, in the time we took this picture I was not able to ask him about ethanol usage ☺ but it made for an exciting night! By watching members and staff from NE Corn and NE Ethanol Board, I was able to learn so much about how great ethanol really is for our environment, economy, and even our own vehicles. 

Finally, the State Fair was my last big event last fall. Through working the beef pit and helping with cooking demonstrations, it was great to see (and eat) agriculture through the food industry side. There was a great turn out of people at both locations who brought a lot of questions and excitement to the event. It was a fantastic experience of speaking with other food lovers about agriculture. 

As the fall is concluded, I am thankful to look forward to what the next season will bring. Thanks a bushel to NE Corn for providing me with the experience they have so far!

Without Corn: No frozen pizza!

In a World Without Corn...
Corn and products made from corn improve the lives of Americans in thousands of little ways. Often, consumers don't even know corn is present, let alone know the role it plays. But if corn and its products weren't available, many common products would be less useful, more expensive, even unavailable. Here is an example of a little annoyance and bigger problem Americans would face without corn:

No frozen pizza!
Freezing pizza is a problem, because the moisture in the sauce can migrate into the crust, making it so soggy it's unappealing to eat. Modified corn starch is used to provide a barrier that prevents water migration and keeps the crust crisp.

December 19, 2016

Hear from some 2016 Nebraska Corn Board interns


Maddy Breeling
Internship: U.S. Grains Council; Headquarters, Washington, DC
Hometown: Omaha, Nebr.
UNL Major: Global Studies

Internship experiences:
  • Researched communications and policy issues related to biotechnology around the world
  • Worked with media on biotech issues
  • Assisted with annual stakeholder meeting in Louisville, KY
  • Created meeting/conference app
  • Daily office-related duties 

“I’m very interested in public policy. It was interesting to see how agriculture overlaps with other public policy issues such as trade and economics. My intern- ship was a unique and valuable experience—and the Nebraska Corn Board provided not only financial assistance but an amazing support system as well.”

Colton Flower
Internship: National Corn Growers Association, Washington, DC
Hometown: Scottsbluff, Nebr.
UNL Major: Agriculture Education Leadership

Internship experiences:
  • Assisting lobbyists with research and leave-behind materials
  • Writing articles and speeches
  • Writing weekly crop reports
  • Taking notes at Congressional hearings

“Growing up in Nebraska, you don’t realize all of
the different aspects that are in motion as part of agriculture. I never thought I could learn so much in just twelve weeks. There’s nothing that compares to being that far away from home and being involved in the scope of agriculture that I got to see at that level.”

Kelsey Scheer
Internship: U.S. Meat Export Federation, Denver, Colo.
Hometown: St. Paul, Nebr.
UNL Major: Animal Production, Production Management Option

Internship experiences:
  • Attending board of directors meeting in St. Louis
  • Research project to quantify the value of beef and pork exports to the corn industry
  • Assistance in the technical services department Attended World Pork Expo in Des Moines

“I grew a great deal personally as I discovered that some of the skills that I have naturally are valuable in the workplace—working hard, getting up early, being willing to accept responsibility. This internship definitely helped me prepare for a career in sales and marketing related to animal agriculture.”

Andrea Gurney
Internship: U.S. Grains Council, Panama City, Panama
Hometown: Huntley, Wyo.
UNL Major: Ag Business

Internship experiences:
  • Assist with marketing programs and international trade team visits
  • Coordination of distillers grains/sorghum conference in Peru
  • Meeting with grain producers throughout Central America
  • Interaction with U.S. Grains Council Mexico team

“This international internship has changed my view of the world, opened my mind and enhanced my respect for other cultures. I have a more global perspective now and can see myself working internationally in agriculture after I complete law school. I’m intrigued by the idea of making an impact on agriculture globally—and it sparks an extra fire in me to want to make a difference.”

December 14, 2016

Nurturing the Next Generation of Ag Leaders


One of Nebraska’s fastest growing high-school based agriculture education programs is about as far removed from the farm as you can imagine.

Omaha Bryan High School is in its fifth year of offering its agriculture career academy program, jump-started with a grant from the Howard Buffett Foundation, which provided initial funding for an ag teacher.

Students must apply to be accepted to the program, which is limited to some 60 students each year.

Tyler Schindler
Faculty member Tyler Schindler now leads the Omaha Bryan ag academy. “Over the course of five years, students have identified the ag program as a really good place to be,” he said. “We have more technology than in the past, which is important since agriculture is constantly changing and technology is helping drive that change.”

“Not a lot of metro kids know that one in three jobs in Nebraska is related to agriculture. A lot of them believe that they don’t need ag and that it doesn’t really impact their lives,” Schindler said. “This program is helping open their eyes to the possibilities and opportunities that exist within agriculture and food production, whether you’re interested in science, engineering or business.”

The program also serves as career preparation and awareness for students who may not be exposed to agriculture on a daily basis. “There are a lot of students who want to become a veterinarian, an agronomist or get into another type of career related to food or animals,” Schindler said. “This program is a great place for them to discover more about those careers.”

According to Schindler, having a FFA chapter as part of the ag education program at Omaha Bryan has actually become part of the program’s “cool factor.” “FFA is a national organization that provides opportunities for students to develop leadership skills, attend conferences and visit other schools,” he said. “It gives students the chance to have a unique identity in high school because of the organization they’re in.”

Several Omaha Bryan students have fared very well in state and regional FFA competitions. The Nebraska Corn Board invests in the Nebraska FFA Foundation, which supports FFA chapter activity across the state, including the Omaha Bryan program.

Stephan Becerra
Stephan Becerra, general manager of Hoegemeyer Hybrids in Hooper, Nebraska, was instrumental in providing the impetus for the Omaha Bryan program. “I had seen a similar program in Chicago while I was working for John Deere and I recognized both a void and an opportunity to do something in Nebraska’s urban areas,” Becerra said. “About 42 percent of Nebraska’s high school students are in the Omaha Public Schools, so if we’re going to develop the talent pool for agriculture’s future workforce—and help create advocacy for issues vital to our industry—a program like this is critically important.”

December 12, 2016

Throwback Thursday from the Intern's Desk

Colombian Trade Team accompanied by NCB intern Morgan Schilling,
NCB member David Bruntz, and Nebraska Pork Producer Terry O'Neel.

As I sit in the office on this cold December day, I reminisce the warmer days of my internship. It seems like just yesterday I was pumping gas at an E85 promotion or having a blast at American Ethanol night at the races. Although those enjoyable summer events, and weather, are long gone, I am glad I still have all of those great times engraved into my memory. One of the best experiences from last summer that I will never forget was spending time with one of the U.S. Grains Council trade teams that visited from Colombia.

From July 17th through July 23rd, a U.S. Grains Council (USGC) trade team, which was made up of large and medium sized pork producers from Colombia, spent a week in Nebraska. The team took this time learning more about meat processing technology as well as implementing dried distillers grains (DDGS) into their feeding diet. The USGC continues to push DDGS into Colombia and as pork producers generally use DDGS in their diets, this learning experience was quite relevant for these Colombian producers.

The team arrived in Nebraska on Sunday and didn't waste any time on their quest to learn more about the swine industry in the United States.

On Monday, they spent the day at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) campus. In the morning, they heard from Benny Mote, a swine extension specialist from the University. Benny focused on DDGS inclusion into swine diets, recent technology on swine genetics and he also covered the use of antibiotics in the swine industry. In the afternoon, the trade team stayed on UNL's campus and heard from Dennis Burson on meat processing. Dennis focused on presenting material about U.S. pork cuts, processed meat products, U.S. retail products and packaging and also food safety and the HACCP program.

On Tuesday, the team started the day at the Nebraska Farm Bureau building in Lincoln and heard from the Nebraska Pork Producers Association, the Nebraska Farm Bureau, and some local pork producers from Nebraska. These organizations and producers gave a broad overview on each of their impacts on the industry and allowed time for the trade team to ask any questions that they had. The team really enjoyed having a panel of local producers there, it gave them the chance to ask questions and really grasp the differences and similarities between pork production in the United States and Colombia. In the afternoon, the team traveled to a hog facility owned by Terry O'Neel which was just southwest of Friend, NE. After touring the hog facility, the team traveled just a few miles down the road and visited Nebraska Corn Board member, David Bruntz's farm. Once again, the team had the chance to ask many questions at both locations to compare U.S. farming/producing to their own.

The team started Wednesday at the Green Plains Ethanol office in Omaha where they ate lunch and were given a presentation about the Green Plains business. After the presentation, they traveled to a Green Plains ethanol plant in Shenandoah, Iowa. While there, they took a tour of the plant and experienced how an ethanol plant works and where the DDGS come from.

The team spent the majority of Thursday and Friday at the American Convention of Meat Processors and Supplier's Exhibition at the Century Link Center in Omaha. On Friday afternoon, they took a meat processing tour in Omaha with the Greater Omaha Packing Co. The team then departed for Colombia on Saturday.

As a Nebraska Corn Board intern, I was happy to help coordinate this trip with the U.S. Grains Council. All of the Colombian pork producers who attended gained a lot of information about the U.S. pork industry as well as how DDGS could possibly benefit their operation. It was great to visit with them and ask about Colombia's agriculture industry as a whole. Trips like this are a great opportunity to strengthen the United States' trade relationships with countries overseas, which can in turn have a large impact on our local farming economy.

December 1, 2016

Nebraska Corn Board Elects New Officers

The Nebraska Corn Board met and elected officers for the 2016-2017 fiscal year at their board meeting on Tuesday, November 22 at The Cornhusker Hotel in Lincoln. The board met to conduct regular board business and hold election of officers.

David Merrell, District 7 director for St. Edward, Nebraska, was reelected as chairman of the board. Merrell has been a director on the Nebraska Corn Board since 2006 and will serve his second year as chairman. He is a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a bachelor’s degree in Mechanized Agriculture (Mechanized Systems Management). He and his wife, Cyndee, have three children and have been farming for over 20 years around St. Edward located in Boone County, Nebraska.

Merrell said it’s an honor to continue to serve as the chairman of the Nebraska Corn Board. “We are fortunate to have farmer leaders and staff members who are extremely dedicated to an industry that is vitally important to our state. I look forward to working with the board, staff and industry leaders to continue the positive momentum of enhancing demand, adding value and ensuring sustainability of Nebraska’s corn industry.”

David Bruntz, District 1 director from Friend, Nebraska, was elected as vice-chairman. Bruntz previously served as the secretary/treasurer and currently serves on the board’s research and stewardship committee.  He has been a director on the Nebraska Corn Board since 2013.

Dennis Gengenbach, District 6 director from Smithfield, Nebraska, was elected as secretary/treasurer. Gengenbach previously served as the vice-chair and currently serves on the board’s market development committee.  He has been a director on the Nebraska Corn Board since 2006.

Tim Scheer, District 5 director from St. Paul, Nebraska, will continue to serve as the past-chairman of the board. Scheer has been a director on the Nebraska Corn Board since 2007.

“Our dedicated farmer-leaders have contributed great time and energy to our industry over the years,” said Kelly Brunkhorst, executive director of the Nebraska Corn Board. “Through their passion and leadership in the corn, livestock and ethanol industries, they continue to play a dynamic role in supporting the mission and vision for Nebraska’s 23,000 corn farmers that invest in the corn checkoff.”