July 28, 2017

Oh the Places U.S. Meat Will Go!

When hosting a dinner party my mother taught me that it is important to be warm and welcoming and to always have a clean home. She emphasized that what makes a dinner party successful is for guests to have good conversation and to provide them a delicious meal. Fortunate for me, the U.S. Meat Export Federation office is very similar to this kind of system, where hospitality is key and hard work is rewarded. There are always guests coming and going, whether it be a foreign Ambassador from Ecuador, a team of 30 Japanese businessmen visiting the United States to learn more about our beef, or a guest from Washington D.C. coming to discuss NAFTA (yes, these are all real examples)! Every day brings new challenges and a chance to interact with people around the country as well as around the world. This is why it is key to always be warm and welcoming, to engage in conversation, and to always—always enjoy a great meal of U.S. raised beef, pork, or lamb with excellent company!

In June, I had the opportunity to travel with a trade team from Mexico and Central America. The team came to the United States to interact with pork processors and learn about U.S. pork. The trade team consisted of ten representatives from many companies in Mexico and various countries throughout Central America, along with three international USMEF staff, myself, and a colleague from the Denver office. We had several fun dinners, toured processing plants, and even took a day trip to the World Pork Expo in Des Moines, Iowa. Some highlights include, touring the Tyson pork plant in Storm Lake, Iowa, attending the annual International Dinner hosted by the Iowa Economic Development at Wassenaar Farms, and riding in a limousine style bus jamming to Spanish music throughout Iowa. There were 200 guests at the International Dinner with representatives from every continent and dozens of countries (excluding Antarctica of course). Thankfully, I became good friends with our interpreter who helped exchange questions between myself and the group, and taught me various cultural difference, such as kissing on the cheek whenever greeting someone. My experience with the trade team was a highlight of my summer!

Throughout June and July many international and domestic groups have visited Denver. Our responsibility is to grow a strong relationship and provide information on why they should either purchase U.S. meat or become a member of USMEF and reap the benefits of trade. I have sat in on many meetings with groups from around the world, all coming to learn about our protein and why it is the best—of course I am very biased towards our U.S. product! Some presentations include projections on how much pork will be exported in the future, benefits of branded beef programs, and opening new markets. Fun fact: growth in red meat exports is projected to increase by 26% from 2016-2025, that is why I am so excited to be a moving part to make that happen! The promise of trade and growth will benefit the entire agriculture industry and grow our economy.

Recently, I visited the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association here in Denver and assisted a presentation to the Kentucky Cattlemen Association. My supervisor, John Hinners, spoke with the group on the Asian market, particularly Japan and South Korea where a large sum of Kentucky beef is sent. He discussed various types of product and cuts they prefer and where they are sold in those specific markets. Both, USMEF and NCBA work closely and have a strong partnership to promote beef.

Even though we are all business throughout the week, after hours every Thursday evening the office comes together to play softball in a recreational league here in Denver. Our team is called the “Grand Hams” and we all have a blast playing. I won’t tell you our record because it is slightly embarrassing, but this is the first year we have competed in a league, so cut us some slack! I have never played softball so it has been a learning experience! During one close game I was up at bat, the pitcher yelled for everyone in the outfield to move up (again I will stress my lack of softball skills), he pitched the ball and I swung, it shot down the first base line. It went by the first basemen and he and the right fielder were scrambling to get the ball. Meanwhile, I made it all the way to third! We were all tied up, 9 to 9. My teammate up at bat after me hit the ball and I finished the home stretch making the score 10 to 9! We won that game and I was voted MVP, which was the highpoint of my softball experience thus far.

Michaela Clowser
U.S. Meat Export Federation
1660 Lincoln Street, Suite 2800
Denver, CO 80254
Office: 303.623.MEAT

July 27, 2017

Policy, Painters, and Soft-Pop Artists

July means a couple things in NCGA’s Washington office-- one, Corn Congress is rapidly approaching and two, August recess is near. Corn Congress has been a highlight of the summer. I was able to dabble in some graphic design and develop the templates for this year’s one-pagers, I emailed and called member offices to organize Hill visits, and more importantly, I finally met many of our grower members. One of them, Chip Bowling, graciously invited our staff out to his farm (as is tradition), and exposed me to my first Crab Fest. I gained a new appreciation for the price tag next to crab. It was tedious work for a small harvest, but oh did it taste good.

With August recess nearing, activity on the Hill is starting to wind down. However, trade policy is still on my radar, and that of other Ag groups in town. I attended my third NAFTA hearing of the summer today, and listened to testimonies from grain, dairy, poultry, beef, oilseed, fruit, and vegetables, about what the renegotiation means to their industries. Ag groups have been united behind the policy of “do no harm”, one that has been conveyed strongly to Congress; however, trade barriers are still present for some industries, and everyone is going to be pushing for a seat at the table as negotiations get underway.

In my time away from the office, I’ve made some new friends. Some of you may know them, some may not-- their names are Rothko, Bennet Newman, and Ed Sheeran. Rothko and Newman are men of few words. We met recently at the East Building of the National Gallery of Art, the gallery’s contemporary section. I’m a huge fan of contemporary art. I love the color, design, expansive canvases, and the relaxation of spending a couple hours wandering through the galleries. If you’re having a hard time relating to me right now, I do, for the record, enjoy Terry Redlin’s works as well. (I highly recommend making the trip to Watertown, SD and visiting the museum there with his pieces.) Sheeran is the more vocal one of the trio, and has been a huge supporter in my efforts to run and exercise more this summer. Spotify has allowed us to have a close knit relationship, and for that I am thankful.

Despite being in a city that never sleeps, it’s been great taking a little more time for myself. If you’ve felt a little spread thin, stressed, or overwhelmed lately, perhaps take a little break from the politics and spend a little more time with some painters, or soft-pop artists. They’ve been good friends to me, and I hope they can be to you too!

Jacy Spencer
National Corn Growers Association
Washington D.C. Office
20 F Street NW Suite 600
Washington, DC 20001
Office: 202-628-7001

July 26, 2017

The U.S. Grains Council in Action

It’s been quite the busy summer here at the Council.

In my first update, I spoke of just getting started and giving an overview of what was to come. Now, we are right in the thick of it. My main project for my internship with the U.S. Grains Council was to plan and execute Japanese Ethanol Media Team programming through our great state of Nebraska. Our mission was to share the recent strides of efficiencies and production of ethanol to our guest from Japan, who are journalists for the Japanese public. Currently, American ethanol is not being exported to Japan. But with our work at the U.S. Grains Council, numerous agriculture groups, we may see that change. Informing the media of Japan of our great product will help consumer perception overseas moving forward as well.

With weeks of planning stops, agendas, itineraries, logistics, and oh so much paperwork, the trip was set. I was fortunate enough to be the guide for the team, as we visited numerous farm industries across the eastern side of Nebraska for the week. We saw the entire process of ethanol production. From the family farms that grow the corn, to plants that produce the ethanol, to the feedlot that feeds Distillers Grains from the byproduct of making ethanol. Our guests saw how much ethanol production is intertwined in our rural Nebraska community and economy, and the numerous benefits of corn ethanol production. With true confidence, I think they will have good things to say about ethanol (and I may be biased, and our superior state of Nebraska) when they return back home. This experience made the internship a full circle of learning, doing, and executing. I am thankful for the opportunity.

The fun didn’t stop there! This last week, Corn Congress was in town. Seeing the Nebraska Delegation, Leadership Team, and many more familiar faces from Nebraska and across the country was a cherry on top for this experience. We must realize in our college years that acquiring new networks and connections is great, but revisiting and deepening connections already made are just as genuine, and in some cases, more rewarding. I also appreciate there are things called “Corn Congress” and events such as “Cornfest” in D.C. Some of the local residents I have got know chuckle and think I’m kidding when I say those words, but myself and other Nebraska Residents don’t even bat and eye.

The D.C. life has been still breathtaking. Getting to know this historic city has been a blessing. Every weekend, there is always another museum to explore or an adventure that needs to be taken. I road tripped to Monticello during the 4th of July weekend and saw where Thomas Jefferson lived and studied many new agricultural practices. Which I would have never known where it was or learned the history of one of my favorite presidents without being in D.C.

I’m nearing the end of my internship with the U.S. Grains Council, and the reality of returning to Nebraska and collegiate responsibilities is coming fast. I look forward to maintaining present here in D.C. and taking in all relationships and experiences I have left in this city. So far, it’s exceeded my expectations, and I look forward to continuing to contribute on the global programs team. Arigato! (Thank you in Japanese)

David Schuler
Global Programs Intern
U.S. Grains Council
(202) 789-0789 Ext. 711

July 17, 2017

Japanese Bioethanol Media Team Experiences the Good Life

Japanese Bioethanol Media Trade Team Experiences the Good Life
July 12, 2017

This past week, a Japanese Bioethanol Media Team got to experience the “Good Life” here in Nebraska. I was fortunate enough to ride along with the team one for the days. It was a great learning experience! The U.S. Grains Council worked with the Nebraska Corn Board to host the delegation and demonstrate the positive impacts of the ethanol industry in Nebraska.

The team consisted of delegates that were media professionals, university professors and a microbiologist. Tommy Hanamoto, a Director for the U.S. Grains Council selected these delegates because of their ability to influence their communities.

Currently, Japan is not using corn ethanol. The Japanese government has only allowed Brazilian sugarcane as a biofuel option because of its high greenhouse gas reduction capabilities. However, the Japanese government leaders are looking to revise the policy and use corn ethanol in the future. This team was here to learn and then return home to provide industry data to the public and government officials.

Tommy said, “Our main focus is to get them really educated and broaden their understanding,” said Hanamoto.

David Schuler, an intern with the U.S. Grains Council was also part
of this tour. He is a student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, grew up on a farm in Nebraska and was a part of planning this trip.

“Being a citizen from Nebraska, I am excited to work for the U.S. Grains Council this summer and specifically to show our Japanese media team the numerous benefits of American Ethanol with Nebraska based companies,” said Schuler.

It is exciting to see young adults involved in these discussions about ethanol, trade and the future. The diversity of minds and ideas are what make it possible for this industry to constantly improve. David worked with Nebraska Corn Board staff to plan a variety of visits that would answer questions and make clear how corn, ethanol and distillers grains benefit our communities in many different ways.

The day started with a great question and answer series at Green Plains headquarters in Omaha, Nebraska. The team was able to see the ethanol trade floor and learn the ins and outs of the company. It was great to see the team’s excitement as Jim Stark, vice president, and Brandon Thomas, trader, shared how the value of this product has been realized.

Jim shared with the group that the world will experience a protein and octane shortage in the future.

The team visited Siouxland Ethanol in Jackson, Nebraska. This plant recently celebrated its 10 years. Seven hundred investors in the area own the plant, and they have each made good on their investment by supporting ethanol, producing corn and using distillers grains.

Nick Bowdish, CEO of Siouxland Ethanol told the media team that he is looking for the headline to read, “we should buy U.S. ethanol” when the delegation returns to Japan. This brought many smiles and laughter to the conference room.

Time spent at Siouxland was filled with great conversations about how ethanol started, where it is going, its efficiencies, challenges and many statistics. What made these discussions so great was that everyone had a personal investment. The trade team wants what is best for their country and the Nebraska producers were sharing their personal experiences and successes from working with ethanol.

In addition to the roundtable discussion, the team was shown the plant facilities. The trip around the plant showed the trade team how field corn can be used in so many different ways, making the most out of a bushel, all while helping the environment and providing jobs.

We left the plant and headed to Jackson Express, a gas station that uses ethanol directly from Siouxland Ethanol.

“Ethanol is a superior fuel,” said Bowdish. Now, the team was able to see it at the pump, how it is blended and why it appeals to consumers.

Another stop made was at Alexander Feedlots. The team had seen the business of ethanol, the plant, a fueling station and now a feedlot using distillers grains. Alexander Feedlots had a great family history and stories that had everyone’s attention on the bus. The farm had been destroyed by a tornado, was completely rebuilt and is still going as strong today as it was in the 1940s when it started.

This feedlot used Siouxland Ethanol distillers grains so it was a great tie into the rest of the day and the team was able to experience the great smell of Feedlot that Nebraskans are all too familiar with.

This is a review of just one day of their visit. By the end of this day it was clear that ethanol is a standard commodity and is valued just as much as any other, if not more.

Time Fly's When You're Having Fun

July is half way over and there is about a month till school starts. I cannot believe how fast the summer is flying by, but I guess that is what they say… “Time fly’s when you’re having fun.”

My summer has been filled with laughter and learning, what else could I ask for? When I started, everyone kept telling me that I would meet so many people and that I would be working with a great group of people. I underestimated how true that would be. I have been busy doing a variety of different jobs over the past month.

Board Member Visits 
I have been able to get out to board member John Greer and David Bruntz’s place since my last blog. John represents district two and lives in Edgar, Nebraska. David represents district one and lives in Friend, Nebraska. Both are places I had never been and it was great to visit! Nebraska is beautiful and so were these board members farms. It was great to hear their stories and I look forward to sharing them with the Nebraska Corn Board audience. I am so glad that I chose to do this as a project. I have loved meeting all of the board members and seeing more of the state that I grew up in. I can’t wait to meet the rest of the board members!

Greenwood I-80 
This was my fourth ethanol night at the races and it was probably my favorite! My family came to check out what I get to do for work and others from the office decided to visit as well. The night was a success, all of the giveaways we had brought had been given away and I had talked to numerous people about American ethanol! That was the last Ethanol Night at the Races and I am sad that it is over, but it was a wonderful experience. This was the best way for me to learn about ethanol because I got to talk to others about it and answer their questions. On top of the great people and conversations, Greenwood I-80 is home of the state’s best pork tenderloin sandwich, a title it absolutely deserves!

Japanese Bioethanol Media Team 
This is probably one of the best and most unique experiences I have been a part of at the Nebraska Corn Board. I was able to tag along with the Japanese Bioethanol Media Team that visited Nebraska. David Schuler, the intern in D.C. was the one who planned the trip as part of his project. The team was here for a whole week learning about Nebraska corn, ethanol and distillers grains. I was able to go with the team to the Green Plains Headquarters in Omaha where we learned about their ethanol plants and other projects. We then headed out to Jackson, Nebraska to Siouxland Ethanol Plant. I was just as amazed as the team we were with, this was my first time visiting an ethanol plant. It was a wonderful learning experience. Next, the U.S. Grains Council, Nebraska Corn and the team stopped at Jackson Express, the gas station in town. We had followed the corn to the ethanol plant and then to the gas station so our next stop was a feedlot that uses distillers grains. We visited Alexander Feedlots in Pilger, Nebraska. This was also my first time visiting a Feedlot! I have driven by many but, never stopped. So I was learning just as much as the team once again. This was a wonderful opportunity and I am so thankful! While I was riding along I got to put my photography skills to the test and took photos for Nebraska Corn, U.S. Grains Council and the places we visited to use!

NAYI Career Fair
I attended NAYI so when I found out that I would be able to help with it as an intern I was pumped! What made this even more exciting is that when I went to NAYI I heard about the internship I am currently in and was dead-set on applying. It sounded like something that I would love and learn from, and here I am! It was great to share this story with all of the NAYI participants as they visited our booth. It was also fun to be back on campus and see everyone! It was great to be surrounded by all of the positive attitudes and energy that the NAYI members brought. They had great questions and I hope to see some of them apply for these internships in the future. Kurtis and I definitely had the coolest table with fun music and awesome giveaways.

Outside of work I am taking a quick weekend trip to Mt. Rushmore! I have never been before and I am very excited! We are also stopping at Chimney Rock and a few other sites. My roommates and I are going on a trail ride through Custer State park while we are there too! I am ready to go, have a blast and cross this off my bucket list!

I was thinking about how the summer was almost over the other day and was sad for a second, then I remember the office is stuck with me through the school year! Each day I love my job more and more. I can’t wait to see what the rest of the year brings!

Summer is almost over! Enjoy it while you can!

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

July 11, 2017

Exploring the World of Corn

The more time I spend at NCGA, the more I am impressed by the collaboration that happens in this organization. States work together. Different commodity organizations and companies share research and ideas. Diverse coalitions tackle solving challenging problems. I could work here for a year instead of just a summer and still not be aware of all the people NCGA works with inside and outside of the agricultural industry. There are always new, innovative ideas being shared and implemented.

A few weeks ago I attended meetings where collaboration was key as state and national staff got together to discuss agriculture nutrient management, water quality, and ethanol. I learned about state programs, government programs, and online tools that promote more sustainable farming and make nutrient management practices more financially feasible for farmers. I also learned about predictions of future market trends, opportunities for new markets for ethanol, government ethanol policy, coalitions, fuel pump infrastructure, and the health benefits of ethanol versus gasoline. As part of these meetings we toured research farms that were studying different nutrient management practices. We also visited the Funk Prairie Home museum which is a restored 1864 farm house on one of the first corn farms in Illinois.

The main project I am working on this summer is a social media campaign. This project has given me the opportunity to learn about different NCGA programs. Of course, I also learned about growing corn and some unique uses for corn. Like the National Corn Growers Association Facebook page to see some of my posts!

My work learning about communicating with consumers has reached farther than my social media project. I have seen examples of ways to teach agriculture in schools, have witnessed the beginning of a successful consumer engagement campaign, and have seen how agricultural communicators are planning ahead to explain new technology to consumers in the future.

Weekends in the city have lead me to the top of the Arch, into an art museum, to a museum of sculptures that double as a playground, and to a musical at the oldest outdoor theater in the country. I have eaten the most delicious Italian food, gelato, and barbeque I have ever tasted. I have also discovered a love for some regional favorites like fried ravioli and gooey butter cake. So far my time in St. Louis with NCGA has been full of learning and fun. I look forward to continuing to explore the world of corn.

Renae Sieck
National Corn Growers Association, National Office
632 Cepi Drive
Chesterfield, MO 63005
Office: 636.733.9004