April 30, 2015

The "Food Babe": Bullying her way out of food credibility

Share:
Raise your hand if you've heard of the "Food Babe".

For those that haven't, she's a mommy/food/nutrition blogger who feels it's her role in life to scare people about what food they are putting in their mouth. She aims to use fear tactics to sell her books, promote her diet plans and force companies to stop using federally inspected and approved products that help our food to be safer. But what she doesn't reveal is that she isn’t even a nutritionist. Nor is she a toxicologist or a medical doctor. Yet she doles out nutrition, toxicological, and medical advice with the confidence of someone trained in all three areas.

And people believe her because she "sounds" smart, she's got good looks and social media-manipulating skills.

Of course she is teaming up with other anti-modern farming supporters like Chipotle and Dr. Oz, and campaigning against GMOs in our food. And many companies have bowed to her pressure of "consumer demand" - which is really only one person. The fad-dieters loved her and all jumped on her bandwagon. But is her minute of fame over?

Now there are many - consumers included - who are back lashing against her saying that her promotions are not based in facts/science and are simply to scare people to make more money.

There have even been some anti-Food Babe'rs who have come up with their own satirical accounts of Food Babe like Chow Babe and SciBabe. They easily point out how the Food Babe is making money scaring the living daylights out of food consumers, while simultaneously bullying companies that use ingredients that are FDA approved safe for consumption.

The BEEF Daily blog recently came out with a list of 10 negative review of the "Food Babe" worth reading & sharing. Worth reading indeed.

While time and time again, we learn that emotions are what convince people about food and agricultural topics. Yet it is exciting that science is taking its role to prove the facts against someone who is manipulating emotions to extreme and nonfactual realities.

The real message that consumers - and that means all of us because we all love consuming food - is that we need to do the research on our own about what type of food we eat and feed our families.

And talk to a farmer. We know some good ones who can tell you the basis of how food is grown.

April 27, 2015

Study Reveals Positive Economic Impacts of Nebraska’s Ethanol Industry

Share:

A recent impact study by University of Nebraska-Lincoln economists reveals Nebraska’s ethanol production capacity growth between 1995 and 2014 is tenfold. The results of the “Economic Impacts of the Ethanol Industry in Nebraska” study were released in March 2015.

The authors ­– Dr. Kathleen Brooks, UNL agricultural economics professor; Dr. Dennis Conley, UNL agricultural economics professor; Dr. Eric Thompson, UNL economics professor and Bureau of Business Research director; and Dr. Cory Walters, UNL agricultural economics professor – examined the economic impact of Nebraska’s ethanol industry during the last five years.

As of June 2014, Nebraska’s production capacity was 2,077 million gallons per year with 1,301 full-time employees at 24 facilities. During the past five years, Nebraska’s value of production for ethanol and dried distillers grain with solubles (DDGS) ranged from slightly less than $4 billion to more than $6.6 billion.

image

“The quantifiable economic impact of ethanol production on the Nebraska economy is clear,” said Paul Kenney, chairman of the Nebraska Ethanol Board. “But we should also understand the enormous savings in health and environmental costs associated with displacing toxic petroleum products with cleaner burning biofuels like ethanol. Choosing ethanol fuels brings additional cost savings in terms of our health.”

Nebraska’s large ethanol production results in 96 percent (1.805 billion gallons) being shipped out of state and makes Nebraska one of the largest exporters of bioenergy. In addition, 58 percent of DDGS produced in 2014 were shipped out of state. These out-of-state shipments result in a net positive for the state and represent a direct economic impact by bringing new money into the state economy.

The study noted that Nebraska’s ethanol industry could be affected by emerging trends and at least four are worth watching – the recovery of carbon dioxide (CO2), the extraction of corn oil, and world export markets for both ethanol and DDGS. Many of these upcoming trends will be discussed later this week during the annual Ethanol 2015: Emerging Issues Forum in Omaha April 16-17.

“Canada imports 40 percent of the U.S. ethanol exports and China imports 39 percent of the U.S. distillers grains,” said Todd Sneller, Nebraska Ethanol Board administrator. “There is a strong demand throughout the world for ethanol and its co-products, so we continue to look for ways to expand the Nebraska market as well as international markets in an effort to bring more economic prosperity to Nebraska.”

The purpose of the “Economic Impacts of the Ethanol Industry in Nebraska” study was to estimate the value of production during five years and compare that value to major commodity production values in Nebraska. In addition, the study measured productive capacity, employment, net returns, in-state utilization and out-of-state shipments. To view the full study, click here.

April 24, 2015

World land prices

Share:

We have seen some ridiculous land price changes over the past couple of years for farm ground in Nebraska, across the Midwest and all across the Unite States.

Agricultural production is a major use of land, accounting for around 51 percent of the U.S. land base (USDA, Economic Research Service). Land use and land-use changes have important economic and environmental implications for commodity production and trade, open space, soil and water conservation, air quality and atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations, and other areas of interest.

Changes in farmland values also affect the financial well-being of agricultural producers, because farm real estate is the largest single component in a typical farmer's investment portfolio and it serves as the principal source of collateral for farm loans.

However, with the change in commodity prices, land also ebbs and flows. Farmland values declined in parts of the Midwest for the first time in decades last year, reflecting a cooling in the market driven by two years of bumper crops and sharply lower grain prices, according to recent Federal Reserve reports. We’ve seen a steady decline this this value from the highs in December 2012.

How do U.S. farmland values compare to land values around the world? I found an interesting infographic from the Irish Farmers Journal.

Land-Prices-Infographic (1)

While the graphic is in Euros (and it’s hard to convert this currency in one’s head!), this chart shows the values in U.S. dollars:

avg world land prices

While this doesn’t separate farm from commercial or other other land value, it’s interesting to note that U.S. has one of the lower average land values.

On March 4, Cornhusker Economics put together the 2015 Trends in Nebraska Farmland Value and Rental Rates report. They noted that trends in agricultural commodities across Nebraska from 2014 leading into 2015 were marked by record-setting cattle markets along with lower grain and oilseed prices. Movements in the value and rents of the types of land which support these commodities reflect their general price trends. The decline in weighted average farmland values in Nebraska denotes the first decline in recent years of the survey.

Figure 1. Average Value of Nebraska Farmland, February 1, 2015 and Percent Change from a Year Earlier.  Preliminary

Continue reading…

Where do you forecast land values and commodity prices going this year?

April 23, 2015

This Arbor Day put more green in spring with American Ethanol

Share:

From creating a cleaner air environment to forming windbreaks that stabilize the soil, planting trees is a sustainable effort that all Nebraskans are encouraged to participate in this Arbor Day. Also joining this sustainable effort again this year is American Ethanol through its partnership with NASCAR® and its NASCAR Green initiative.

image The goal of the NASCAR Green initiative is to reduce the sport’s environmental footprint by championing sustainable behaviors to their millions of fans. The NASCAR Green initiative has grown into some of the largest renewable energy projects in the world. Leading the way is NASCAR’s highly successful biofuels program.  Four years ago the sport kicked off this program by committing to use Sunoco Green E15, a fuel blended with 15 percent American-made ethanol from American-grown corn. The Clean Air program is another notable NASCAR Green initiative where American Ethanol has committed to planting 10 trees for every American Ethanol green flag waved in all three NASCAR racing series. 

“NASCAR has the largest sustainability platform in professional sports and American Ethanol is a key part of the sport’s efforts to reduce its carbon footprint,” said Jon Holzfaster, a farmer from Paxton, Nebraska, director on the Nebraska Corn Board and chairman of National Corn Growers NASCAR Advisory Committee. “American Ethanol and trees offer a great one-two punch for the environment. The massive tree planting effort, combined with the more than seven million miles these high-performance cars have raced on American Ethanol, has helped the sport reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than 20 percent.”

Through the course of one mature tree’s lifetime, it absorbs one metric ton of carbon dioxide –the same amount of carbon dioxide emitted by a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series® car driving 500 miles.

In 2014, the 14.3 billion gallons of ethanol produced in the United States reduced greenhouse gas emission on our roads and highways by 40 million metric tons.  That’s equivalent to removing 8.4 million cars from the road.

NASCAR Green initiative includes everything from recycling racing tires and engine oil, to cleaning up emissions by planting trees and using 15 percent ethanol fuel blend, made from American grown corn.image

To date, NASCAR Green’s Clean Air Tree Planting Program has planted 371,607 trees. This is enough to completely offset carbon emissions for all three NASCAR national racing series for the past five years plus the next 40 years.

“Nebraska can especially celebrate this accomplishment in April with our unique commemoration of Arbor Day, which began in Nebraska,” said Kim Clark, director of biofuels development for the Nebraska Corn Board. “This year marks the 144th anniversary of Arbor Day which is a Nebraska tradition to promote the ideals of community life and conservations of natural resources through the planting of trees. There is no better connection than to celebrate corn farmers’ commitment to the environment with their support of American Ethanol and Arbor Day in planting trees.”

American Ethanol is a partnership with National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) supported by corn checkoff investments and ethanol plant members of Growth Energy.

April 22, 2015

American Ethanol and NASCAR Salute Earth Day for 45 years of Success

Share:

American Ethanol and NASCAR have millions of reasons to salute Earth Day and that number grows every day they are on the race track. Just last month NASCAR topped 7 million miles running on Sunoco Green E15, a fuel blended with American Ethanol. The fuel change made 5 years ago has reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 20% and at the same time increased horsepower.

Dr. Michael Lynch, Vice President, Green Innovation says that American Ethanol was essential in launching its long-term biofuels program and reducing overall emissions. “NASCAR’s goal is to be an environmental leader, not only in sports, but all industry,” said Mike Lynch, Manager of Green Innovations.  “Over the years we made significant steps in conservation by introducing measurable, best-in-class initiatives in recycling, alternative energy, and carbon mitigation. The transition to Sunoco Green E15 five years ago really took our environmental commitment to the next level.”

American Ethanol can trace its connection to Earth Day back to its inception. Before founding Earth Day, Senator Gaylord Nelson worked to have the pollution produced by cars regulated and was involved with the protection of the oceans. Earth Day’s creation was inspired by his 1969 visit to Santa Barbara, California, shortly after an oil spill occurred on a nearby shore. “American Ethanol is an environmentally safe, homegrown, clean burning alternative to fossil fuels that can help clean our air if given the chance. No beaches have closed due to an ethanol spill. ” Says Chip Bowling, President, National Corn Growers Association and Corn Grower from Maryland.

The Obama administration is pledging that the U.S. will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 26 percent over the next 10 years. Tom Buis, CEO of Growth Energy, says American Ethanol has a bright future in helping reach those goals. “Over 200 million cars on the road can use E15 today and immediately lower emissions. That’s a pretty big number but all of those consumers don’t have that choice yet. We can learn a lot from NASCAR and correlate their success from the track to the highway. It just comes down to giving the consumer a choice.” Said Buis.

In only 40 years, Earth Day has evolved from a single day celebrating the environmental movement in the United States to a global network that empowers more than a billion people to better understand, protect, and improve the environment. This evolution has also taken place in the massive NASCAR fan base. Back in 2008, NASCAR could see consumers were starting to identify with the green movement and knew it was something good for future generations. In 2008, NASCAR fans were 50% more likely than non-fans to indicate their household was very green and were always looking for new ways to positively impact the environment. Last year that same number rose to 100%.

To learn more, visit www.americanethanolracing.com.

April 21, 2015

Tractor safety isn’t just for kids

Share:

Children-Tractor-Safety-Lesson---Kubota Kids are curious. And this is no exception when they start to see farmers out in the tractors, planting, moving equipment, and going  down the road.

Farm Safety for Just Kids (FS4JK) is an international non-profit serving millions of rural youth and their families each year. It was started by an Iowa farm wife after her 11-year-old son died in a gravity flow grain wagon in 1986, in the hopes of preventing another tragedy. For over 25 years, the organization has grown international with the same goals of promoting a safe environment through education.

FS4JK has educational resources for animal safety, ATV safety, chemical safety, grain safety, rural roadway safety and tractor safety

While these goals are focused towards kids, they are great reminders for all of us who are around equipment – especially tractors this time of year.  

Tractors hold potential hazards not only to the driver, but to those in close proximity. Theschild-climbing-into-tractore are just a few of the precautions promoted by FS4JK about taking care around tractors. Download all of the educational content here.

  • Extra riders on tractors should always be considered a risk. Understand the health hazards to extra riders, as well as for the tractor operator.
  • Take precautions such as cleaning steps, and wearing non-slip shoes to prevent falls from tractors.
  • When driving a tractor, be alert for the sake of those close by.
  • When you are close to a moving tractor, notify the tractor driver of your presence when nearby. The driver may not be able to see you.
  • Understand tractor features that impact safety.
  • When working with tractor implements, understand why implements can be hazardous to both the operator and any bystander.

The main objective of educating children, especially young ones, about tractor safety is to teach them to stay away from tractors. Tractors hold potential hazards not only to the driver, but to those in close proximity. As children grow and develop, they begin to understand abstract concepts. Rules for very young children are black and white, while rules for older children, who are beginning to understand more are based on comprehension and complexity of the hazard. This allows them to begin to connect the concept of hazardous mechanisms, resulting hazards, and possible injuries. If children understand these hazards, they are more likely to follow the rules that are intended to keep them safe. The lesson plans included in this educational packet have a suggested age for each activity. Many of the activities can be adapted to other age groups by simplifying or adding more details.

Happy planting and stay safe!!

maxresdefault

April 20, 2015

Nebraska corn farmers to invest more than $2.6 billion to plant 9.3 million acres

Share:

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Nebraska corn farmers will plant 9.3 million acres of corn, equal to last year’s total acres planted. Corn field and center pivot irrigation in south central Nebraska. July, 2010. Photo by Craig Chandler / University CommunicationsWith Nebraska corn farmers’ intentions of planting 9.3 million acres of corn this year, farmers will spend about $280 per acre to get the crop in the ground and off to a good start. This figure, multiplied by the estimated 9.3 million corn acres to be planted in Nebraska, grows to more than a $2.6 billion investment by the state’s corn farmers over a two-month period. That amount does not include land costs, labor or equipment – it’s purely inputs like seed, fuel, and fertilizer. Looking beyond these initial inputs, however, the full economic impact corn has in Nebraska will more than double in a year.

“The full economic impact of the corn industry in Nebraska over the year is greater than $6 billion and reaches far beyond the initial $2.6 billion farmers invest to get their crop in the ground,” said Boone McAfee, director of market development and research at the Nebraska Corn Board. “When the corn crop is harvested, its economic impact grows significantly as it is converted into meat, milk, eggs, ethanol, distiller’s grains, bioplastics and more. That is why it is critical to get the corn planted and off to a good start in the spring.”

Historically in Nebraska, farmers begin planting in mid-April and wrap up as quickly as possible in May. However, weather is a key element for planting. And this year’s moderately dry winter brings a concern of soil moisture that will be available come planting time. According to the April 13 USDA Nebraska Crop Progress and Condition report, topsoil moisture supplies in Nebraska rated 15 percent very short, 32 short, 50 adequate, and 3 surplus. Subsoil moisture supplies rated 13 percent very short, 29 short, 57 adequate and 1 surplus.

Young corn plants are highlighted by the early morning sun in Sarpy County. Photo by Craig Chandler / University Communications

“As farmers strive to improve every year, they make this multi-billion dollar investment each spring with the hope of producing more corn per acre,” said Tim Scheer, farmer from St. Paul, Nebraska and chairman of the Nebraska Corn Board. “Nebraska is the third largest corn producing state in the US, and the corn industry continues to be an economic booster for Nebraska. The investment farmers make this spring will not only reverberate through the rural economy, but will multiply to support the rest of Nebraska.”

Another challenge with planting investments this year is the low commodity prices compared to the continued rise of input costs. This makes the margin for the cost of production very slim for Nebraska farmers.

“Similar to last year, we will see another year of tight margins and farmers will again be producing closer to the cost of production,” said McAfee. “Yet, as we continue to see volatile market activity, there will hopefully be opportunities for farmers to manage their risk.”

Nationally, farmers intend to plant 89.2 million acres this year, which is 2.5 million fewer acres than the previous year. If realized, this will be the third consecutive year of an acreage decline and would be the lowest planted acreage in the United States since 2010. Notably, however, it would still be the sixth-largest U.S. corn acreage planted since 1944 according to the USDA.

April 15, 2015

“Local” trends in food, feed & fuel

Share:

local The USDA really wants American consumers to buy local foods… but what do they mean by local?

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has made promoting locally grown and produced foods one of his top priorities since taking the helm of the department in 2009, dubbing it a pillar of rebuilding the rural economy. He’s mobilized staff, spent millions and rolled out new programs, all in the name of pushing local.

It’s worked: The number of farmers markets have more than doubled in the past decade. School districts are rushing to set up farm-to-school programs. Consumers are clamoring for locally produced products, ranking that in some surveys as a more important quality for their food than it being organic or grass fed.

The Economic Research Service (ERS) has done some research on local food systems. While there is no consensus about how to define "local food systems" in terms of the geographic distance between production and consumption, defining "local" based on marketing arrangements—such as farmers selling directly to consumers at regional farmers' markets or to schools—is well recognized.

ERS research on local food systems:

  • explores alternative definitions of local foods,
  • estimates market size and reach,
  • describes characteristics of local consumers and producers,
  • examines the economic and health impacts of local food systems, and
  • studies how food environment factors—such as store/restaurant proximity, food prices, food and nutrition assistance programs, and community characteristics—interact to influence food choices and diet quality.

ERS recently hosted a webinar that provided an overview of Trends in U.S. Local and Regional Food Systems: A Report to Congress.

But how are conventional farmers viewing this moving trend to push “local” for their commodities? Most farmers in Nebraska take their crop to an elevator, livestock feedyard or ethanol plant. They can market their grain “locally”, but is this the same as labeling their crop and the end product as local? Here is what we can say about Nebraska corn:

 

Local food

corn chips Some of the corn that is grown in Nebraska is used right here in the state to make corn chips, tortillas and other corn-based products from food-grade corn. But much of it is shipped to another state which makes it a “domestic export”. California is the largest market for Nebraska corn, taking about 145 million bushels of Nebraska corn mostly for livestock and poultry last year (to make food!). Foreign sales make up about 6 percent of corn usage, with Mexico (via rail) being a top market.

So while some food products may be made out of state, yet with Nebraska corn, we think that is still pretty local!

Local feed

cattle In Nebraska, livestock production is the engine that powers the state’s economy. It is a more than $7.5 billion industry that is fundamental to the well-being of Nebraska – and contributes in some way to the financial health of every Nebraskan. We’d say that is pretty local!

About 16 percent of the Nebraska’s corn crop is fed to livestock within Nebraska, with the bulk of that (more than 70 percent) going to beef cattle. See complete breakdown

In total, though, about 40 percent of the corn grown in Nebraska is fed to livestock somewhere in the United States or around the world. One-third of every bushel used in ethanol production (local fuel) comes back as distillers grain, an outstanding feed ingredient. Nebraska is the #1 feeding state in the nation with more than 5,000 feedyards willing to work with cow-calf producers interested in retaining ownership or partnering on their feeder cattle. They offer competitive feeding rations from the quality feedstuffs available in the state.

Local fuel

fuel Over the last three decades, ethanol made from corn has become an important fuel in Nebraska and across the country. Biofuels like corn-based ethanol directly replace petroleum-based fuels – and they’re renewable. Ethanol is better for the environment, helps keep fuel dollars here at home and it supports rural communities because that’s where most ethanol is produced.

Nebraska ethanol plants have a capacity of more than 2.0 billion gallons – making Nebraska the second-largest ethanol producing state in the country.  They use about 700 million bushels of corn annually – and directly provide and support thousands of jobs. Since ethanol is made only from the starch in a kernel of corn, these corn ethanol plants also produce more than 6 million tons of distillers grains, a nutritious livestock feed from the remaining parts of the kernel, including protein and fat.

______________

So you see, the term “local” is subjective to each person, yet we hope that you remember all of the great products made from Nebraska corn and consider them “local” next time you are buying food, feed and fuel!

April 13, 2015

Nebraska Corn Representatives Tell Ethanol's Story on Capitol Hill

Share:

"Biofuels Beltway March” Allows Grassroots Supporters to Share Personal Stories of Ethanol's Impact

Capitol Power by People

Ethanol advocates from across the nation came together in Washington, DC in late March as part of a "Biofuels Beltway March" to share their ethanol stories and communicate the widespread grassroots support for American Ethanol and the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). The conversations with policymakers were part of the annual march sponsored by the American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE), which took place March 24-25, 2015.

Nearly 70 corn farmers, ethanol plant managers, retailers and other ethanol supporters took part in the Biofuels Beltway March. Members of the group met with Congressional Representatives and Senators from 44 states including Nebraska, Georgia, Minnesota, South Carolina and Texas.

Nebraska's corn industry was represented by Jon Holzfaster, a farmer from Paxton, Nebraska and director on the Nebraska Corn Board, and Kim Clark, director of biofuels development for the Nebraska Corn Board.

"The best lobbyists for American Ethanol are not lobbyists at all," Holzfaster said. "It's the farmers, retailers and rural community leaders who have seen ethanol's dramatic and positive impact on their communities, their economies and their future. The focus of this initiative was to share those personal stories, put a face on the industry and show policymakers—without a doubt—that the RFS is working for our nation."

"We used this opportunity to share that American Ethanol fuel blends such as E15, E30 and E85 provide greater consumer choice at the pump, create jobs across the country, improve our environment and promote cleaner, healthier air for all of us to breathe," said Clark.

While in Washington, DC, participants from Nebraska attended the Nebraska Breakfast, a 70-year-old tradition that allows constituents to engage with the Nebraska delegation and get updates on legislation and issues. Senator Hugh Butler began the Nebraska Breakfast tradition in 1943. It is held every Wednesday when both the House and Senate are in session.

April 7, 2015

American Ethanol Appears at Nebraska State FFA Convention

Share:

American Ethanol is proud to announce its partnership with the Nebraska Corn Board, Nebraska Ethanol Board and ethanol producer Green Plains Inc. to promote homegrown American Ethanol at this week’s Nebraska State FFA Convention held April 8-10, 2015.

“We are thrilled to team up with American Ethanol to bring awareness for Nebraska-grown biofuels to FFA students all across Nebraska,” said Kim Clark of the Nebraska Corn Board. “The ethanol industry in Nebraska has created thousands of high-paying jobs in the state and we are excited to share the opportunities for those interested in a future in value-added agriculture.”

In addition to the interactive Biofuels Mobile Education Center provided by the Nebraska Corn Board, the American Ethanol No. 3 Chevrolet SS driven by NASCAR Sprint Cup Driver Austin Dillon for Richard Childress Racing will be on display for FFA attendees. This car, along with every other vehicle in NASCAR’s three race series, have collectively raced more than 7 million miles on renewable Sunoco Green E15.

“I am proud to run with American Ethanol on the No. 3 Chevy SS," said Dillon. "American Ethanol is green, renewable and a high performance fuel. It emulates exactly what we believe in at Richard Childress Racing.”

image

In 2011, NASCAR partnered with American Ethanol and has since been committed to using cleaner burning fuel. Since the transition to E15, drivers have noticed increased horsepower and performance, further validating E15 as a super fuel. Every race car in NASCAR also bears the American Ethanol fuel port logo and each weekend, American Ethanol powers race winners to Victory Lane.

Nebraska is the second largest ethanol producing state in the country with a combined annual production capacity of 2 billion gallons of ethanol and 6 million tons of high-quality livestock feed. The state is home to 24 ethanol plants.

“The ethanol industry has been vital to the ag economy in the state,” said Todd Sneller of the Nebraska Ethanol Board. “Not only has the industry brought in major tax dollars for the state, it also has helped bring a cleaner burning fuel to Nebraska drivers, which helps support our economy and reduces our dangerous dependence on fossil fuels and foreign oil, all while providing consumers a choice and savings at the pump. Ethanol is a win – win and we are proud to support sustainable fuels that will help power our growing energy needs for generations to come.”