July 22, 2014

It's irrigation season for many producers

NEBRASKA CROP PROGRESS AND CONDITION LINCOLN, NE, For the week ending July 20, 2014, the State saw unseasonably cool temperatures and only isolated rainfall according to USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. With the dry conditions, wheat harvest was over one half complete.

Also, producers in many areas started irrigating their row crops last week. The number of days suitable for fieldwork were 6.4. Topsoil moisture supplies rated 4 percent very short, 28 short, 66 adequate, and 2 surplus. Subsoil moisture supplies rated 8 percent very short, 26 short, 65 adequate, and 1 surplus.

Corn conditions rated 2 percent very poor, 5 poor, 17 fair, 52 good, and 24 excellent. Corn silking was 62 percent, ahead of 45 last year, but near 60 average. Corn dough was 8 percent, ahead of 0 last year but near 6 average

Data for this news release were provided at the county level by USDA Farm Service Agency and UNL Extension Service.

Corn Congress Leadership Mission...From the Intern

The group on the roof of USGC/NCGA building at CornFest
Corn Congress is a semi-annual event where corn industry representatives come together and determine policy for the year, elect new National Corn Board members, recognize achievements, and converse about new industry developments. The Nebraska Corn Board (NCB) invests heavily on the youth of today, because they know that they are the leaders of tomorrow. Last year, NCB inaugurated a leadership mission by sending eight delegates to travel to Washington, D.C. to attend Corn Congress, partake in industry tours, and learn about policy and the issues of today. Delegates must be/have been a part of FFA, 4-H, or the LEAD program. They must apply and be chosen for the leadership mission, with expectations of being engaged through asking questions, meeting new people, and filing a final report.

Last year, I was lucky enough to be chosen to attend. My whole outlook on agriculture was changed. I began to realize how much of a cooperative effort it takes to organize so many people with so many views. I also got to meet part of the Corn Board team (and get to know them pretty well as we got stranded in Detroit the day it went bankrupt. Ahh…the joys of travel!)

This past May, I became the communications and outreach intern for the Corn Board. NCB thought that I would be an asset to organizing the second leadership mission, since I knew what to expect from last summer. I helped by lining up meeting rooms in the Capitol Event Center, choosing and corresponding with the new leadership team, setting up the schedule, leading the group around WDC, etc. Even though I had learned a lot in the year prior, I was excited to help give the fresh group of individuals an awesome experience and learn more myself.

This year’s delegates included: Keith Borer, Elgin, Nebraska; Ryan Broderson, Randolph, Nebraska; Nicole D’Angelo, Auburn, California; Kerry McPheeters, Gothenburg, Nebraska; Jolene Messinger, McCook, Nebraska; Andy Method, Decatur, Nebraska; Joel Miller, Hampton, Nebraska; Glen Ready, Scribner, Nebraska; and Courtney Spilker, Beatrice, Nebraska.

Corn Congress was held on July 16th and 17th. However, the group flew out early to participate in industry visits with Iowa representatives. We were able to tour Wye Angus, Arnold Vegetable Farm, Nagel Cucumber Operation, and Kenny Bros Grading Station. The group was especially enthusiastic about Nagel’s Cucumber Operation, because watching cucumbers get combined is not an everyday Nebraska occurrence. We also enjoyed watching them get washed and sorted into different sizes at the grading station. Who knew that so much work goes into the cucumber slices on your salad?
Nebraska and Iowa leadership delegates at Nagel's cucumber farm

Cucumber Harvester
On Wednesday, Corn Congress was finally underway. We got to hear about big issues such as the Renewable Fuel Standards (RFS), Waters of the United States (WOTUS), GMO labeling, trade, livestock industries, and tax extenders. Another highlight of the morning session was our very own Executive Director, Don Hutchens, being honored for 27 years of dedication to the corn industry by the National Corn Growers Association.

The afternoon was jam-packed with meetings with our Congressmen and women. We met with Senator Fischer, Representative Adrian Smith, Senator Johanns, and a representative from Lee Terry’s office. The delegates embraced this unique opportunity to ask our lawmakers anything that they wanted to and learned a lot more about the political process.
Senator Johanns addresses the group

After that, we were able to mingle with corn industry leaders from across the country at CornFest. This social hour is held in the U.S. Grains Council and National Corn Growers building. CornFest provides an excellent opportunity to get out of your comfort zone and network with a corn grower from a different state where practices can be very different.

To end the evening, leadership mission delegates and NCB/ NeCGA members/staff got the chance to sit down for supper and learn more about each other. This was a refreshing end to the day and provided the opportunity for reflection and good company.

NCB intern, Morgan Zumpfe, and American Farm Bureau (AFBF) intern, Alix Mashino both took part in the leadership mission last year and were able to catch up during tours this year at AFBF
Our last day in Washington D.C. was again filled with lots of information. In the morning, we went to the offices of the Foreign Agricultural Service at the USDA, American Farm Bureau Federation, and the U.S. Grains Council. These three experiences opened delegates eyes to how global our world is, and how important trade is. As leadership delegate and University of Nebraska-Lincoln student Kerry McPheeters said, “For as much depressing news that seems to come out of Washington, it was certainly encouraging to see the number of people that are working tirelessly for the greater good of agriculture.”

The afternoon was spent in the final Corn Congress meetings, where final policy was enacted and ending remarks were made. Despite a few plane delays, all Nebraskan representatives made it back to “The Good Life” safe and energized by Corn Congress.

I think that Nebraska should be really proud of leadership team that was sent out to represent them last week. All delegates gained an insurmountable amount of knowledge that will empower them to become better leaders of tomorrow. The combined experiences helped the delegates understand how important it is to get involved in leadership positions, because if we don’t step up, who will? Leadership delegate and corn farmer Ryan Broderson remarked, “On this leadership trip to WDC, I was inspired to become a NeCGA member. The power of this grassroots organization is outstanding.”

Leadership mission delegates on Capitol Hill

I am so thankful and blessed that I was able to experience Corn Congress twice. I feel better equipped to tackle my classes at UNL and understand how important it is to know the issues and be involved. I am confident that my experiences through the Nebraska Corn Board will pay dividends toward my future.

July 21, 2014

Establishing a network

Bryan Brower, USGC-DCBy Bryan Brower, US Grains Council Intern

With Corn Congress this past week, I got the chance to catch up with some of the folks from the Nebraska Corn Board. During a conversation with Don Hutchens at dinner one night, we got on the topic of making connections and establishing a network for yourself. He reiterated how most of the time all it takes is putting yourself out there, whether that is holding the door open for someone, striking up a conversation on the elevator, or offering to take a picture for a stranger. What I have come to realize is that has been my approach in a nutshell to this entire experience.

I have made it two-thirds the way through my internship here in D.C. and it has been quite a ride. The weeks have flown by and it seems like I was landing at Reagan National just yesterday and now I only have a month left here. The credit (or fault) of this is the U.S. Grains Council, for there hasn’t been a dull day yet. We are less than two weeks away from one of our semi-annual board of delegates meeting which ironically enough is in Omaha, where I call home. It has been increasingly hectic as we get closer and closer to the meeting at the end of July. The good news is I will be going to Omaha to help staff the event, which makes mom happy as you could imagine. I really am looking forward to seeing my parents and my dog while I’m home for those two days.

Aside from all the preparations for the Omaha meeting, I’ve been working on my project which is making the arrangements for a team of nine individuals we are bringing to the United States from Taiwan. The purpose of these trips are to bring in end-users from various areas of the agriculture industry and give them an opportunity to meet with producers and agribusinesses. This team will be attending programs in Nebraska, Iowa, and New Orleans, LA for ten days in the middle of August. It’s been really interesting working with our agribusiness partners, state check-off organizations, hotels, transportation services, and country director in Taiwan to coordinate all the logistics so that the team can have a successful trip. It is definitely easier said than done making all the arrangements for this team but it’s good experience having to plan something down to the minute because it forces you to consider all contingencies.

I can’t begin to fully explain all the ways I have been challenged during my time here, both at the U.S. Grains Council and with living in D.C. I have learned a lot about myself, it seems like I’m thrown into the fire so to speak with every experience yet come out the other side thinking that wasn’t that bad. Aside from the all the experience I am gaining through my work with USGC and all the fun I’m having here, what is most rewarding about this experience is it’s forced me to better understand myself, who I am, and what I want to do in life. Nothing like being in a different time zone from all your friends and family back home to give you perspective on what’s truly important.

July 18, 2014

The power of the weather


 Corn field and center pivot irrigation in south central Nebraska. July, 2010. Photo by Craig Chandler / University CommunicationsIt’s no secret that Nebraska can be home to some crazy weather, and this spring has been no exception. With cool, wintery temperatures lingering, many of us were wondering if it was ever going to warm up. However, spring eventually sprang, but that didn’t mean we were out of the woods by any means.

As we saw earlier this summer, weather in Nebraska can change rapidly and without warning. We went from frost in late May to tornadoes and tennis ball-sized hail in early June. So, it’s no big surprise to see that most folks in the Cornhusker State pay close attention to the weather reports. Farmers are no exception.

As with many folks who live in the city, Mother Nature can be a farmer’s best friend and worst enemy. However, a farmer’s livelihood depends on the weather. This year has been especially challenging and humbling for farmers. Factors like a shifting drought, flooding in areas and a late, cold spring have been a lot to reckon with. So while most might think the farmer just waits until he can get into the field, there is much more behind his story.

Farmers hope for a cooperative April and May. They want the rain to hold off until just after the last field has been planted. Then let the rain come – but not too much, of course. The right amount of rain enables young crops to extend their roots deep into the ground to provide strength for the wind that is sure to come during the tornado season. Farmers want hot and sunny summer days with scattered moisture to limit the need for irrigation with no destructive tornadoes or hail.

Harvest on October, 4, 2010, east of Lincoln in Lancaster and Saunders counties. Photo by Craig Chandler / University CommunicationsStarting in September, farmers want dry weather to help reduce the moisture content of their crops. Drying grain naturally means farmers won’t have to run dryers in the grain bins before they sell their crops. During the winter months, it’s best to have a steady amount of snow – something we clearly lacked this winter – so the ground can retain moisture for a solid planting season next spring.

Nebraska has seen some severe weather this spring that not only brought damage to many people’s homes, growing crops, and irrigation equipment. Those farm families affected are certainly in our thoughts and prayers, and this is a reminder to all of us of the power of the weather and how it can change our lives in an instant.

Despite the frequent challenges presented by Mother Nature, Nebraska farmers and ranchers continue to produce food for a growing population. We want to thank them for their persistence in the face of adversity, and their dedication to preserving the land for future generations.

13CORN-016 FremontTrib_Ad

July 17, 2014

RFS is good for America, folks.


Bob-DinneenBy Bob Dineen, president and CEO of the Washington, D.C.-based Renewable Fuels Association, article here

Nicolás Gutierrez’s call for an environmentally friendly solution to America’s reliance on foreign oil is easily answered by the very policy he rails against (“EPA should back away from biofuels policy,” June 18).

The Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) has helped lower our nation’s reliance on foreign petroleum to 35 percent since reaching a high of 60 percent in 2005. Ethanol production has reduced finished gasoline imports from 600,000 barrels per day in 2005 to near zero today.

Numerous peer-reviewed analyses show that conventional ethanol reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 30 to 40 percent compared to gasoline. This has been realized over the past nine years without the conversion of a single acre of new grassland to cropland. Recent increases in corn acres have been achieved through crop switching, not through cultivation of new, non-agricultural lands. The environmental investigation conducted by The Associated Press has since been discredited for relying on muddled data that were attained through flawed methodology.

Contrary to Gutierrez’s assertions, the RFS does not noticeably affect consumer food prices. Food prices increased just 2.1 percent in 2013, lower than the 25-year average of 2.92 percent (1988–2012). Corn is only a minor ingredient in consumer grocery items. When consumers spend $1 on food at the grocery store, only 12 cents pays for the value of the farm products themselves while the other 88 cents pays for processing, energy, transportation, labor, packaging, advertising and other costs. Oil, however, has been proven to have a substantial effect. Last year, the World Bank found that, “Most of the contribution to food price changes from 1997–2004 to 2005–12 comes from the price of crude oil … ” In addition, the RFS contributes to the livestock feed sector through the generation of distillers grains. More than 35 million metric tons of this highly nutritious feed was generated in the 2012–13 marketing year, with 37.8 million expected in 2013–14. That is enough feed to produce six hamburger patties for every one of Earth’s 7.2 billion residents.

Indeed, the EPA must consider the economic benefits of the ethanol industry. The industry directly supports more than 86,000 well-paid jobs as well as 300,000 indirect and induced jobs. Last year, the industry added $44 billion to the nation’s GDP, raised $30.7 billion in household income and displaced 462 million barrels of imported oil — equal to the total amount of crude oil imported from Iraq and Venezuela.

The RFS is a proven success.

More blogs on the Renewable Fuels Standard:

July 16, 2014

All I Do is Farm


The virally-famous Peterson Brothers are back at it with a new song parody, All I Do is Farm (All I Do is Win Parody).

The three brothers are the farm guys behind the farming-themed pop parody music videos like I’m Farming and I Grow It, BALE!, Farmer Style, Chore, A Fresh Breath of Farm Air.

All I Do is Farm shares the message of environmental stewardship and sustainability with comments on no-till farming, precision farming and decreasing water and nutrient erosion. They completely explain the lyrics to their song on their blog.

Besides their farm parody videos, they give virtual farm tours, Life of a Farmer videos, explain production agriculture in short clips and share on their blog.

Wordless Wednesday | Prettiest corn in the U.S.


Pollination time!

 Corn field and center pivot irrigation in south central Nebraska. July, 2010. Photo by Craig Chandler / University Communications

Hail, tornadoes and high winds have damaged many fields in Nebraska this year, but likely not enough to have a major impact on the state’s overall harvest, said Don Hutchens, director of the Nebraska Corn Board.

“As you drive across the state you see some of the prettiest corn and soybean fields that the U.S. has,” Hutchens said.

It’s pollination time in the corn world and the weather has a big impact on this. Read more from the Lincoln Journal Star, Weather sets the mood for corn lovin’.

July 15, 2014

SWOT analysis on U.S. corn export markets


By Matt Perlinger, NCB Intern

Matt Perlinger, USGC-PanamaI will be finishing out the remainder of my internship in the Nebraska Corn Board’s headquarters in Lincoln. The transition has been a great learning experience for me.

I have been working for the last few weeks on developing a report about the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) for the export markets of U.S. corn and related products. It has been extremely interesting researching the many issues related to agricultural exports and future opportunities such as the Trans Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). It has also been interesting to learn about the threats to the future of agricultural exports, and the many ripple effects that seemingly unrelated events can have in a global market.

I look forward to presenting the report to the Nebraska Corn Board at the August meeting and advocating for the future of Nebraska’s agricultural exports by bringing important issues to light.

July 14, 2014

‘Now is the time to act’ for Nebraska’s livestock industry


Nebraska Aims to Expand Livestock Industry after “Golden Triangle” Study

golden triangle report coverA recent study conducted by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln showcases that Nebraska farmers and ranchers may not be operating to their full potential. Although agriculture is still the primary driver of the state’s economy, the study shows that there is room for growth.

The study, which was headed by Bruce Johnson, professor emeritus in UNL's Department of Agricultural Economics, and Eric Thompson, UNL economics professor, aimed to get a current baseline for the state’s agriculture economy as well as provide several scenarios for expansion. The study, titled “Nebraska Animal Agriculture: Economic Impacts of Cattle, Hog, Dairy, and Poultry Industry Changes,” was jointly funded by the Nebraska corn and soybean checkoffs.

Kelly Brunkhorst, transitioning executive director for the Nebraska Corn Board said the idea for this project stemmed from concerns about Nebraska’s livestock industry. “As we spoke with our counterparts in surrounding states, we realized that outside of our beef industry, we were not witnessing the expansion of livestock they were developing. We felt we need to detail the advantages that Nebraskans could be enjoying if they understood the economics.”

The study, nicknamed the “Golden Triangle Study,” highlights the fact that Nebraska is well positioned for growth due to the strong interactive nature of its crop, livestock and biofuels industries, which each make up points of the Golden Triangle.

Now is the time to act

The results of the report were highlighted with pungent potential, but clearly presented the reality that now is the time for Nebraska to act. However, expansion doesn’t rest solely on the shoulders of those in the agriculture industry. Livestock expansion in the state will depend heavily on community stakeholders at the local levels. The scenarios depicted in the report have the potential to affect jobs, earnings, communities and households, as well as an enhanced quality of life for all Nebraskans with the value-added economic activity.

The authors of the study note that this report analyzes livestock expansion scenarios, providing a set of economic performance measures to sub-state regions and county-level economies. These measures will allow economic considerations to be incorporated into stakeholders' decision-making processes. 

cows eating cornA need to capture more added-value in state

While nearby states have seen significant growth in livestock production in the last 10 years, Nebraska has not kept pace, particularly in the cases of hog and dairy production. One of the key insights of the study lies in the fact that Nebraska still exports a high percentage of its crops – more than one-third of its corn crop, more than 80 percent of its soybean crop, and more than one-half its distiller’s grains production. More value for these products would be captured if they flowed into in-state, value-added processing.

In light of these trends, Johnson's team analyzed several livestock-expansion scenarios that industry leaders consider quite possible, taking into account the economic multiplier effects that ripple through the state's economy from agriculture, especially in rural areas.

Expansion scenarios

The report envisions the following expansion scenarios and estimates both direct and indirect economic impacts.

  • A 25 percent expansion of hog finishing volume in Nebraska; scattered across three regions of the state and 15 counties. About 270 on-farm units, each with a 2,400-head capacity and a twice-per-year turnover rate added.
    • Total economic impact: 2,676 new jobs; $6.1 million in local tax revenue.
  • More than a doubling of the state's current dairy herd numbers of 60,000, divided across three regions of the state and 18 counties. A total of 24 new dairy operations, each with a 2,500-head capacity and two new milk processing plants added.
    • Total economic impact: 3,128 new jobs; nearly $6.2 million in local tax revenue.
  • A 10 percent increase in fed cattle production in the state, with expansion distributed geographically in similar proportion to current patterns of production.
    • Economic impact: 11,661 new jobs; $16 million in local tax revenue
  • A tripling of poultry (egg-laying) production in the state.
    • Economic impact: 1,640 new jobs; $9.8 million in local tax revenue.

The authors summarized the report by saying, "In closing, the economic challenges posed, as well as the associated economic opportunities afforded, are simply too weighty in Nebraska's economic future to ignore. It is time to act."

The full report can be found at here.

July 4, 2014

Corn Bake Recipe


lana kidsCommonGround volunteer and farm mom from Waco, Nebraska, Lana Hoffschneider, was recently featured on a Nebraska food blog, Stirlist.com with her Corn Bake recipe. She shared how she would feel if somebody called her farm a “factory farm”.

“I don’t want people to see us as monsters. It bothers me when people say that. What makes a farm a factory farm? Using large equipment? We use equipment to be more efficient, which reduces waste. Why in the world would we want to return back to what we did 100 years ago? We can’t produce enough food without the advantage of economy of size. It’s not bad to question where your food comes from, but you should base your food choices on fact, not fear.”

Why are people making food choices based on fear instead of fact?

“People fear what they don’t know or understand,” said Lana. She then described that because of activists turning to blogs and social media, it has caused terms like GMO (genetically modified organisms) or words like “hormones” and “antibiotics” to become buzzwords that stir up fear.  ”They are buzzwords that create fear of the unknown, but facts will dispel those fears if people are willing to look for the facts.” Perhaps you’ve heard about GMOs and have been led to think they are harmful? Did you know over 1700 studies have confirmed the safety of GMOs?

Lana also said that her confidence in grocery stores has greatly increased since she started volunteering for CommonGround Nebraska. She actually buys all of their food from the grocery store (except the meat that comes form their own cattle in the feedlot) because she’s confident that the grocery store provides safe, healthy, and nutritious food.

Enjoy Lana’s Corn Bake!


Lana’s Corn Bake


  • 1 small white onion (diced)
  • 1 small red bell pepper (diced)
  • 1 small green pepper (diced)
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 package jiffy corn muffin mix
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup light sour cream
  • 4 oz light cream cheese
  • 2 cans no salt added corn (drained)
  • 3 eggs


  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. Melt 2 Tb butter over medium heat and then sauté onions and peppers. Cook and set aside to cool.
  3. In a mixing bowl combine leftover butter (6 TB), corn muffin mix, cheese, light sour cream, light cream cheese, the 2 cans of drained corn, and eggs. Add sautéed onions and peppers.
  4. Pour mixture into greased casserole dish, 9 x 13 pan.
  5. Bake 50-55 minutes.