February 27, 2017

Without Corn: No Bedding!

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:

Americans are Sleeping with Corn
A whole new family of corn products, marketed under the Ingeo trademark, includes pillows and comforters stuffed with 100% corn fill and blankets woven from the Ingeo fiber. Ingeo products are environmentally friendly because they take less energy to produce than many synthetics and they can be composted back into natural components.

February 22, 2017

Without Corn: No Coloring!

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 Coloring!
Whether playing with chalk on the sidewalk or crayons in school, children rely on corn. Corn starch is used as a binder to help such products hold together better when in use. It may also be used to dust molds during the manufacturing process so that brand-new crayons pop out undamaged.

National FFA Week: February 18-25, 2017


FFA Members from Norris High School

National FFA Week kicked off February 18 and runs through February 25. Nearly 650,000 students in grades seven through 12 are members of the FFA organization. In Nebraska, there are over 7,400 student members from 175 chapters across the state.
State FFA Convention - Lincoln, Nebraska
The Nebraska Corn Board remains committed to providing the state’s FFA members with support to help further fuel their interest in agricultural education. Each year, the Board invests in the Nebraska State FFA Convention, sponsors proficiency awards and provides transportation for the state officer team as they visit high schools across the state.
“It’s a privilege to partner with Nebraska FFA,” said Kelly Brunkhorst, executive director of the Nebraska Corn Board. “It’s reassuring to know agriculture is in good hands with this talented group of individuals.”
Several activities are planned throughout the country to celebrate National FFA Week, including National Wear Blue Day on Friday, February 24. During this day, anyone can show off their FFA pride by wearing blue. For more information on FFA and National FFA week, click here.

Ag Manufacturing Big Business for Nebraska

Growing Nebraska’s economic base through agriculture is not solely about growing crops or raising livestock. Nebraska has a manufacturing sector that is closely tied to agriculture – and that creates thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in economic activity.

Nebraska is the second largest ethanol producer in the nation. But that industry would not have grown here if not for the state’s ability to produce corn and cattle.

Nebraska is typically first or second in the nation in terms of cattle on feed and beef processing. The state is second in ethanol production and third in corn production.

“That’s not an accident,” said Ken Lemke, an economist with the Nebraska Public Power District. “It all comes together because there is a symbiotic relationship between those three sectors – and Nebraska is blessed to have a robust presence in all three.”

Nebraska’s ethanol plants have created more than 1,300 full-time jobs, with thousands more jobs created in related sectors. “The ethanol industry has been very positive, but it has also created additional investment that is staying local,” said Dave Behle, key accounts and economic development manager with Dawson Public Power. “Feedlots, dairies, pork production, trucking, feed mills – all that money stays in the community and that is huge.”
The Cargill plant at Blair was the world’s first to transform corn into polylactic acid (PLA), which is used to make compostable bioplastics. Consider as well that the world’s top echelon of pivot irrigation companies are all headquartered in Nebraska, which makes sense given that the technology itself was created here – and the fact that Nebraska has more irrigated acres than any other state. That is also a reason that Nebraska is one of the top locations for seed genetic companies to develop new hybrids and varieties.

Nebraska is home to companies that manufacture everything from tillage equipment to fertilizers; from combines to plastic pivot tires; from grain bins to cattle fencing.

“We have a new $1.2 million truck washing facility here in Lexington and it’s the only facility on the interstate for cattle trucks between Denver and Omaha,” said Jennifer Wolf, economic development director in Dawson County. “We have a high-tech company that purchases blood from the Tyson beef processing facility in Lexington and extracts the iron to make iron supplements. Without a thriving livestock industry, we wouldn’t have spin-off businesses like this that lead to new investment and jobs right here.”

February 21, 2017

Grain Bin Safety Week


Grain bin safety is easy to ignore. However, it can take only a few seconds for a grain engulfment situation to become fatal.

Beginning on February 19, 2017 and running through February 25, 2017, Grain Bin Safety Week is designed to remind farmers and grain handlers to exercise caution when working in and around grain bins.

Farmers need to develop a written emergency plan, which can provide instructions on what to do in the event of a grain bin emergency. This plan should be accessible to anyone who works with grain in the operation. The plan should be practiced and tested several times throughout the year, so everyone is well-trained on what to do in case of an emergency.

Typically the biggest hazard is suffocation - either by being engulfed in flowing grain or overcome by toxic gasses. The following list can provide you with possible life saving strategies in the event of a grain bin emergency.

  • Tip Number 1:   Never enter a grain bin unless it’s absolutely necessary. If entering a bin is required, make sure secure lifelines such as a harnesses, ropes or ladders are available for everyone inside the bin.

  • Tip Number 2:  If you must enter the bin, check oxygen levels – a minimum of 19.5 percent is needed. Also, check for toxic gas levels, such as CO2.

  • Tip Number 3:  Lock out unloading equipment before you enter the bin, so it can’t be turned on by accident.

  • Tip Number 4:  Ensure adequate lighting inside the bin, so you can always monitor your surroundings.

  • Tip Number 5:  Always have a well-trained person outside of the bin, who knows how to respond in the event of an emergency. This individual should be prepared to act quickly and contact emergency responders if necessary.

  • Tip Number 6:  If something does go wrong and you find yourself sinking in grain, cross your arms in front of your chest to help you breathe as the weight of the grain presses against you.

Learn more about grain bin hazards and safe-work procedures by clicking here.

February 20, 2017

We know what's for dinner, but how about breakfast?

Poultry, dairy and pork offer significant opportunity for Nebraska’s economy.

Nebraska’s reputation as “The Beef State” is well deserved. After all, Nebraska consistently battles Texas for the top national spot for cattle on feed – and Nebraska processes more cattle than any other state.

But, diversification is as important in agriculture as it is in one’s personal investment portfolio. “Diversity can help protect producers and our state’s economy from market volatility,” said Willow Holoubek, executive director of the Alliance for the Future of Agriculture in Nebraska (A-FAN). “That’s why we need to expand awareness of the value of livestock production in Nebraska.”

The animals that produce eggs, bacon and milk offer a significant opportunity for responsible livestock expansion across the state.

Hendrix-ISA, a Netherlands based company, recently announced a $10 million, 60,000 square-foot chicken hatchery in Grand Island that will hatch 100,000 chicks every day. Nebraska is also home to several egg-laying facilities as well as the SmartChicken processing plant in Tecumseh. The state continues to be the center of attention of other poultry-related companies seeking a location, with a major poultry operation considering a location near Fremont.

“I think people are a little surprised by the surge of poultry interest in Nebraska, but it makes sense when you think about it,” said Courtney Dentlinger, director of the Nebraska Department of Economic Development. “With a smaller poultry industry, we have fewer biosecurity concerns. We have a good supply of water and feedstuffs that poultry producers need.”

Nebraska has been mounting an aggressive initiative to attract both dairy farmers and dairy processing to the state, as well as help existing dairy operators expand. Nebraska is home to 180 dairies with an average size of 300 cows.

The Nebraska Corn Board is helping support the effort to attract additional milk processing to Nebraska, with a special emphasis on specialty cheeses. The “Grow Nebraska Dairy” initiative is being led by the Nebraska State Dairy Association, A-FAN, Nebraska Department of Agriculture, Nebraska Department of Economic Development and Nebraska Extension.

“A single dairy cow generates about $5,000 in farm sales each year and the majority of that is spent within 50 miles of the dairy itself,” said Rod Johnson, executive director of the Nebraska State Dairy Association. “So one 300-cow operation is a $1.5 million business in a community.”

“A 2,000-head dairy can put $10 million in economic vitality into the local community – and that number repeats itself every year,” said A-FAN’s Willow Holoubek. “Those dollars are generated through salaries, grain purchases from local farmers, nutritionists, veterinarians, trucking and many other activities.”

Pork production is another growth opportunity for the state, especially in diversifying a crop operation. A single 2,400 head hog finishing barn uses roughly 43,000 bushels of corn and provides a continuous and long-term supply of manure, which can improve soil quality and reduce input costs.

Typically, the farmer owns the facility and contracts with a company to finish the hogs. A 2,400-head hog barn can create a total annual net return to the farmer of more than $87,000 including the added value of the manure he puts on his fields.

“Integrating hog finishing into a row crop operation provides dependable, long-term annual return, increases annual farm income, and creates opportunity for the next generation of farmers,” said Al Juhnke, director of the Nebraska Pork Producers Association.

February 15, 2017

Livestock Production Tied Closely to Per Capita Income

Adding livestock numbers to a county doesn’t just add animals and jobs. It adds real money to the bank accounts of people who live in that county.

“The Nebraska counties that have the highest percentage of livestock production tend to be about 10 percent higher than average in per-capita income,” said Ken Lemke, economist for Nebraska Public Power District. “For every 100 jobs in livestock production, there is a minimum of 30 to 100 additional jobs created within the county.”

Quoting a study by the Bureau of Business Research at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lemke noted that the impact of livestock is pervasive across the state. “Even in Omaha and Lincoln metro areas, the agricultural complex in Nebraska accounts for 20 to 25 percent of the sales in employment. That percentage, of course, is even higher in other areas of the state,” he said.

“The purpose of economic development is to improve the lives of people living within the county or the area – and livestock production is definitely an economic development strategy for Nebraska,” Lemke said.

February 14, 2017

Without Corn: Brown Lettuce Leaves

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:

Brown Lettuce Leaves
Many fruits and vegetable start to turn an unattractive brown once they're cut and exposed to air. Citric acid, recognized as a safe food ingredient, can prevent browning...and much of the U.S. supply of citric acid is made from corn sweeteners!

February 13, 2017

Omaha-Council Bluffs area dangerously close to air quality consequences

The Omaha-Council Bluffs metro area has an average ozone level of 67 parts per billion (ppb), very close to the recently-tightened 70 ppb limit set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). If the region exceeds this limit, it will go into “non-attainment”, an extremely punitive EPA designation that has long-term consequences on a region’s ability to grow and prosper.

Ground-level ozone is particularly problematic during summer months. That’s why the Metropolitan Area Planning Agency (MAPA) conducts an annual consumer information campaign during the summer to help citizens make choices that can keep Omaha’s air clean.

Included in MAPA’s Little Steps Big Impact campaign is a recommendation to choose cleaner-burning renewable biofuels such as ethanol and biodiesel. “Beginning last year, we really started highlighting the benefits of cleaner-burning biofuels such as American Ethanol as one of the little steps people can take,” said Greg Youell, MAPA executive director. “In some other metro areas, we’ve seen a correlation between the increased adoption of biofuels and a reduction of ground-level ozone levels. So we’re urging people to take a little step of choosing biofuels at the pump that will yield big impacts that help all of us have cleaner air to breathe and enjoy every day.”

Other Little Steps Big Impact recommendations include carpooling, use of public transit and walking or biking to work.

Youell said it’s paramount that the Omaha region avoid exceeding the EPA air quality standards. “If a region goes into non-attainment, it is very difficult to get out of it,” Youell added. “Once you’re designated, it can take up to 20 years to get out even if your air quality improves and you don’t have any more violations.”

Youell said that going into non-attainment has serious consequences on a community. “It would have a dramatic effect on industry and growth in the Omaha metro area. Any industry that has emissions would not be able to expand – and any new industry coming to town would be prevented from doing so without going through a permitting process that requires them to identify how their emissions will be offset,” he said. “Non-attainment really hinders economic development, and that has a ripple effect through the area in terms of job growth, tax revenue and economic vitality.”

We are dedicated to being proactive in order to maintain our clean air quality status and we strongly believe that increasing the use of biofuels such as American Ethanol is a sensible and simple strategy to help us do just that,” Youell said.