May 30, 2017

NAFTA Is A Landmark Economic Success Story

The Trump Administration has been vocal about its aim to renegotiate NAFTA—a move that has rightfully caused a ripple of concern among farmers and others in agriculture.

This past month we welcomed a Mexican trade delegation to Nebraska and Washington D.C. They participated in roundtable discussions with farmers, the ag industry and Congressional leaders to discuss the importance of NAFTA.

NAFTA or The North American Free Trade Agreement was signed by Canada, Mexico and the United States in 1994. This agreement eliminated barriers to trade between these great nations. These reduced trade barriers have led to economic growth. NAFTA is a landmark success story for U.S. agriculture. One only has to look at the hard numbers for proof.

Over the past two decades, U.S. ag exports to Canada and Mexico tripled and quintupled, respectively, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. This is significant, given that every $1 in exports of grains and grain products generates an additional $3.23 in business sales across the U.S. The positive economic effects of corn exports benefit not only agriculture, but also wholesale trade, real estate, oil and natural gas production, and the banking and financial industries.

Looking at the impact NAFTA has locally, Mexico is Nebraska’s largest corn market, which provides $287 million into our state’s economy. Nebraska total ag exports to Mexico equates to $891 million and accounts for 34,000 local jobs. The Nebraska Corn Board attended this press conference and has released a statement on the modernization process of NAFTA.

While every agreement can be improved, the market access and tariff benefits U.S. grain farmers have under NAFTA are critical and must be preserved. We hope this week’s trade delegation will lead to positive discussions to maintain and improve our relationship with Mexico: a major partner in American agriculture.

Watch the press conference with Gov. Pete Ricketts.

May 26, 2017

A Bushel Of New Experiences

The Nebraska Corn Board’s (NCB) mission is to promote the value of corn by creating opportunities. I have seen nothing but opportunity in my internship so far. My days have been filled with a variety of tasks and my expectations have already been exceeded.

Hi! My name is Catherine Jones, and as the NBC’s Marketing and Communication intern, I have experienced quite a whirlwind.

The welcoming committee has been outstanding. The past interns, NCB staff and the Nebraska Corn Growers Association (NeCGA) staff have been so encouraging and friendly throughout the whole process. Simply doing ordinary tasks with the right people can make them extraordinary tasks. This is experienced everyday of my internship. Working with these professionals has been outstanding. Let me share with you just a glimpse of my first few weeks.

I started my internship with training. By day two, I hit the ground running. The past intern traveled with me to Grand Island for the Groundwater Festival. We were there to teach the elementary students about corn and why water is so important to the industry. We taught the students about Nebraska corn. In the process, I was learning more and more about corn. I have always loved teaching, and this was a great first event to start off my internship!

On day three, I attended the Renewable Fuels Month proclamation with Gov. Pete Ricketts. This was the first event I attended, which would start the endless amount of networking opportunities I will experience over the next year. I met staff of the Nebraska Ethanol Board and learned the true importance of corn as a renewable fuel. As I continue my internship, I hope to be able to attend more events like this.

Press Conference with Gov. Ricketts discussing NAFTA 
Wow, talk about impressive. This was the first press conference I attended and it has set the bar high for ones in my future. I learned more about NAFTA and the corn industry all while participating in my first press conference. I was able to help capture footage of the press conference for the Nebraska Corn Board to use and I continued to learn about the corn industry. I grew up on a small acreage in Bellevue, Nebraska. I was extremely involved in 4-H and growing up in such an urban area, I thought I was very “ag literate.” However, after coming to UNL and meeting so many people from Western Nebraska, I learned that my 38-acre farm was a very small drop in the bucket. With this background, you can see why I am so thrilled to be learning more about a portion of the agricultural industry that is so important to Nebraska. At the press conference, I learned much more about the North American Free Trade Agreement, our partnership with Mexico and how important the two are to a sustainable future for Mexico consumers and Nebraska corn producers. Learning about what is happening in the industry and hearing from those involved has been a highlight, and I am sure it will continue to be. 

Ethanol Pump Promotion 
I was absolutely pumped for my first pump promotion! Even on a cold, rainy day I enjoyed my day at the Kum & Go in Gretna, Nebraska. I chose to be a communications major because I learned from my years in 4-H that I love face-to-face conversations about agriculture. I love visiting with people and informing them about modern agriculture. The Ethanol Pump Promotion was a day all about face-to-face communication. I spoke to many diffe
rent people about E15, E85 and ethanol in general. Seeing people get excited, or change their opinion, about this renewable fuel was so rewarding. Not only did I get to tell people about ethanol as a fuel choice, but again I also learned more about it myself.

“Other duties as assigned” 
My internship has included not only the events I discussed, but a few added extras. The only difference between ordinary and extraordinary is that little extra. My past few weeks have been nothing but extra, and I hope the following year looks the same. On top of these activities I have also done a variety of social media posts, E-ag letter, crop progress and more.

Out of all of these tasks, I think my favorite experience has been sitting at my desk working on something, Kurtis walking by and saying, “Hey want to go to a meeting (or event).” Of course I say “yes,” and out the door we go. This is my favorite because each time I am able to experience something new. Each time, undoubtedly, I learn.

I am a Junior Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Communication major at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. I could not picture myself studying anything else, anywhere else. I can say the same about my internship. Learning what I have in the classroom has been great, but learning what I have in this internship is that “little extra.” Each day there is a new take away or an experience that is bettering me. I am so fortunate to have this chance, and I look forward to running with it.

Catherine Jones
Marketing and Communications Intern
Nebraska Corn Board
301 Centennial Mall So.
Lincoln, NE 68509
Office: 402-471-2676

May 23, 2017

Soil as a Carbon Sink


Carbon sinks are natural systems that absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, thereby reducing the concentration of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere which have been identified as a factor in global warming. Carbon sinks tend to absorb—or “sequester”—a substantial volume of carbon dioxide while releasing a minimal amount.

Soil, along with oceans and forests, are the three largest carbon sinks on the planet. As a result, initiatives focused on continual improvement of soil quality are being viewed as an important strategy in addressing climate challenges.

“It’s becoming more clear that agriculture is about much more than simply growing an abundant supply of food,” said David Merrell, a St. Edward farmer and chairman of the Nebraska Corn Board. “Our initiatives to continually improve soil health are also important to the health of our planet.”

David Merrell
Carbon is the main component of soil organic matter and helps give soil its water- retention capacity, its structure, and its fertility. Through photosynthesis, a plant draws carbon out of the air to form carbon compounds. What the plant doesn’t need for growth is exuded through the roots to feed soil organisms, whereby the carbon is “fixed” or stabilized.

Healthier soils with more organic matter and improved integrity have greater carbon sequestration capability. That’s why many scientists and environmentalists see soil management as a critical strategy in reducing greenhouse gases. See what you can do to improve your soil management.

May 1, 2017

Goodbye Blog: Thanks a Bushel!

When I first walked into the Nebraska Corn Growers Association office in May of 2016, I entered with high hopes and anticipation to get started. Today, exiting my internship, I leave with a full heart and excitement to use the skills I have gained to better the agricultural industry. Although my feet are heavy to leave NeCGA as an intern, I am excited to find my part of the agricultural industry.

Throughout my internship, I have been able to gain knowledge in agriculture from a political and educational perspective. Although many of the projects I have helped be a part of will stay here at the office, this mindset will never leave me. I hope to give back to Nebraska’s corn industry by extending these findings to others, consumers and producers alike. This fall, I have an opportunity to educate high school students in agriculture at the Waverly High School agricultural education program through my student teaching experience. I am excited to take on this experience and live out my Agricultural Education Undergraduate Major in full swing. Although I am not exactly sure where my next fit in an agricultural related career will take me after my graduation in December of this year, I know that I will stay rooted in the industry and hope to become active in my soon to be local corn grower association, Hamilton County. As I will be marrying a farmer from Aurora, NE following graduation, we hope to tell the story of agriculture through our experiences as well as give back to NeCGA and the NE farmer. Thanks to NeCGA and NCGA’s hard work on influencing policy that benefits agriculture here in Nebraska and globally, we can do our best to be active in that process, helping out our state, neighbors, families, and ourselves.

Not only will the agricultural knowledge and advocacy skills come with me when I leave the office, but also my thankfulness for the NeCGA, NE farmer, and the staff I worked with. NeCGA continually goes above and beyond for the future of Nebraska’s farmers and agricultural industry; I was able to witness that first hand. The passion of the staff, board members, and members across the state was evident and contagious. The beautiful thing about it was that this passion was not fueled as benefit for self, but benefit for an industry that we all take part of. At work, I was continually reminded of why I was there. Thanks to the farmers across the state, we can eat, drive our cars, sit in our offices, and the list goes on and on and on… Without the agricultural industry, we simply could not do the things we do. Thanks to the farmers for their hard work day and night, it is possible for us to live the life we do as well as care for the Earth correctly. Finally, the staff I worked with every day have not only been impactful, but genuinely inspiring to my life as an intern and young professional. Each staff member took the time to invest in me to help me become my best I could possibly be at whatever I was doing. They have lead by example what it means to work hard for someone else, professionalism, and valuing a staff team. I hope to someday resemble them and their efforts in the work force.

Overall, I have enjoyed my internship immensely and could not be more grateful for the experience I have had. Although I am sad to say goodbye, I know that this is only a farewell as an intern. I am still going to stay involved and do my part in the agricultural industry, however/wherever that looks. Also, I am proud to announce that you will have a wonderful new intern joining NeCGA for this next year! Brooke Tempel, a fellow co-worker of mine at the Nebraska State 4-H office, is excited to become a part of NeCGA as the new 2018-2019 intern.

Thank you to everyone has been a part of my internship experience, from working on projects with me to simply saying hi, you have made it fantastic. I really mean it when I say, “thanks a bushel!”

Laura Lundeen
Communications Intern
Nebraska Corn Growers Association
1111 Lincoln Mall, Suite 308
Lincoln, NE 68508
Office: 402.438.6459