July 24, 2015

Making rain to grow corn

July in Nebraska is typically irrigation season. Now for many farmers this summer, irrigation has looked a little different because of the plentiful rains. But there are still reasons to irrigate the crop.

Timing is everything in "making rain" for corn to grow. And UNL has done a lot of research on water-use efficiency with irrigation.

Learn a little bit from Nebraska corn farmer, Kyle Cantrell, about how irrigation works in this :30 second YouTube video


Here are some Nebraska irrigation facts from UNL's Ag Econ Department:

  • Irrigation is a vital component of Nebraska’s productive agricultural economy. 
  • Irrigation begins with the Ogallala Aquifer, one of the world’s largest aquifers. It covers about 174,000 square miles. 
  • Nebraska is the fourth largest user of groundwater in the nation behind California, Texas, and Arkansas.
  • Of approximately 55 million acres under irrigation nationally, about 15% are located in Nebraska.
  • About three out of eight cropland acres in Nebraska are under irrigation.
  • Nebraska is the #1 irrigated corn state!

July 23, 2015

Nebraska Corn Urges Farmers to Submit Comments on EPA Ethanol-Reduction Proposal

The Nebraska Corn Board and Nebraska Corn Growers Association are issuing an urgent call to action to Nebraska farmers to once again get vocal about recent action by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that would reduce the nation's commitment to renewable fuels.

Nebraska Corn strongly encourages Nebraska farmers to submit comments to the EPA expressing their displeasure with the proposed renewable fuels reduction. 

A portal has been established on the Nebraska Corn Board website and the Nebraska CornGrowers Association website, under the icon “Don’t Mess with the RFS.”  This icon links directly to a comment submission form and suggested verbiage on the National Corn Growers Association’s website.

The comment period will close on Monday, July 27, 2015.   

In a statement, Nebraska Corn leaders expressed great disappointment and concern regarding the recent proposal from the EPA to slash the required amount of conventional biofuels in the nation's fuel supply for 2015 and 2016. EPA proposes to adjust the conventional biofuel requirement that is mandated in the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) passed by Congress, downward by nearly 2.6 billion gallons.

"Agriculture was once again placed in an unstable position by EPA when they released their long overdue RFS proposal," said Tim Scheer, farmer from St. Paul, Nebraska and Chairman of the Nebraska Corn Board. "It is absolutely imperative that farmers get engaged in the comment period if we have any prayer of getting EPA to increase the proposed figures to the original congressional statue of 15 billion gallons for 2015 and 2016. All the work and investment that Nebraska corn farmers have put into building the ethanol industry is at risk. We've already seen corn prices drift downward to the cost of production."

Nebraska Corn Growers Association President, Larry Mussack of Decatur, Nebraska added, "This proposal plays right into the hands of the oil industry, which has been pulling out all the stops to prevent loss of market share to renewable fuels such as ethanol. American farmers and consumers were promised the opportunity to utilize an American-made, cleaner, renewable alternative to oil. This proposal not only ignores that agreement, but diminishes the cost-saving options that American Ethanol provides in the marketplace for consumers.” 

July 22, 2015

Agriculture Around the World


By Greg Sullivan, USGC International Intern, Panama City, Panama.

Well, I have been in Panama for roughly two months now and I can say with absolute certainty that my experience thus far has yet to disappoint me. It has been a rush to say the least and that was only bolstered by a recent trip to Colombia for the Regional Buyers Conference.

The conference, sponsored and organized by the USGC, was a flagship program for the Panama office as our staff continues to create and drive demand for American coarse grains and co-products. This particular event focused primarily on Dried Distillers Grains with Solubles (DDGS) for which nearly 40% of the global market for DDGS was represented by the attendees. Speakers addressed topics related to the production and value of U.S. corn ethanol, corn gluten feed and meal, and DDGS as well as the logistical and supply chain advantages employed by U.S. companies in sourcing and delivering these products to consumers around the world. While the speech topics provided interesting insight into the current and future projects of the markets for the respective products, the real value of the conference for the participants was derived from the networking opportunities. One such opportunity, pictured above, was a participant reception that was held on the final night of the conference. While the future economic impacts of this conference will not be known for some time, having more than 110 participants on hand and interacting with one another is an excellent sign and strongly supports an optimistic outlook.

Outside of the employment role, Panamanian life has been pleasant. I have been fortunate enough to visit some of the more scenic areas of the country, one of which has been pictured below. This picture was taken off the northern coast of Panama on a remote island in the San Blas island chain. Getting to and from the island can be a bit tricky due to it only recently becoming a destination location. There is a 40 km stretch of semi-paved road through a mountainous jungle that is notorious for causing foreigners to suffer from motion sickness. Once you reach the port and after having paid your visiting tariffs and fees to the indigenous tribe that owns the islands, you have to take a 30-minute skiff ride to the island. And if that isn’t enough to whet your adventure whistle, you also have to deal with vehicle and passport inspections due to the proximity of the islands to Colombia and the potential for drug trafficking in the area. Patience and a strong stomach would suit you well, but in the end it is well worth the effort.

July 21, 2015


American Ethanol is giving away 1 pair of tickets to see Lee Bryce at FrogFest 2015 every weekday until Friday, August 7th!  All you have to do is tweet "why you love American Ethanol" using the hashtag #ILoveAmericanEthanol for a chance to win!

See the photo below or visit @AE_Nebraska to learn more about this contest!

Corn Silking Ahead at 63%

Photo Courtesy of Heartland FFA Chapter
For the week ending July 19, 2015, temperatures averaged two to three degrees above normal across much of the State, with widespread precipitation reported, according to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service. Rainfall totals of two inches or more were recorded in portions of central and northeast Nebraska, with lesser amounts elsewhere. The hot, humid conditions continued to boost crop development, but stressed livestock. Wheat harvest was near completion in southern counties, and was active in the Panhandle.

There were 5.9 days suitable for fieldwork. Topsoil moisture supplies rated 5 percent very short, 23 short, 66 adequate, and 6 surplus. Subsoil moisture supplies rated 5 percent very short, 19 short, 72 adequate, and 4 surplus. Corn condition rated 1 percent very poor, 5 poor, 21 fair, 57 good, and 16 excellent. Corn silking was at 63 percent, ahead of 58 last year and the five-year average of 57. Pasture and range conditions rated 2 percent very poor, 5 poor, 21 fair, 60 good, and 12 excellent. Stock water supplies rated 2 percent very short, 8 short, 88 adequate, and 2 surplus.

Photo Courtesy of David City FFA Chapter
Data for this news release were provided at the county level by USDA Farm Service Agency and Nebraska Extension.

Access the High Plains Region Climate Center for Temperature and Precipitation Maps HERE.

Access the U.S. Drought Monitor HERE.

July 17, 2015

Social Soil: Facebook

*Welcome to Social Soil - a series of social media posts for farmers. Whether you're a seasoned social media veteran or just trying to start, we want to help farmers with their "ag+advocacy" skills ("AGvocacy") so together we can promote Nebraska corn and agriculture.*

Facebook is probably the most popular when it comes to social media. It allows for easy interaction among friends, colleagues, businesses, brands, companies, organizations, and more. For agriculture, Facebook gives us a voice and a platform to many people (and consumers) who we otherwise wouldn't be able to reach. Here are a few fun Facebook user stats from the most updated Digital Marketing Report.

  • 1.44 billion monthly active users 
  • 72% of online adults visit Facebook at least once a month 
  • 936 million people are daily active Facebook users 
  • 21 minutes is the average time each user spends on Facebook per day
That's a lot of people and a lot of time spent on Facebook! All the more reason that farmers and ag industry organizations alike need to be engaged on the Facebook platform sharing educational information, pictures, video, memes, and more.

There are different ways to interact or be involved on Facebook. You can have a personal page that describes who you are and you can post whatever you want. There are "fan" pages or company/business/brand pages that allow you to create a page that corresponds with your business - say a family farm page. There are also groups - they can be private or pubic - that you can start or join. Groups encourage more interaction where discussions are started and more information is shared.  

Here are a few great examples of how people in agriculture are doing a great job on Facebook agvocating. 

Most websites have a corresponding Facebook page that they can route info to from their website and reach different demographics. Agriculture.com (among many) is one of those who does a good job at posting pictures and directing Facebook users back to their website.

Family farm pages are perfect for sharing what you do on the farm and allowing people outside of your "friends" to see what you do on your farm. Two great Nebraska examples are Schwarz Family Farms and Weeks Family Farms.

Schwarz Family Farms raises organic crops and produce in Gosper County. Their family has been farming for over 100 years and they have a great story to tell.

Weeks Family Farms is in South Central Nebraska raising popcorn, white corn, yellow corn, soybeans, alfalfa, prairie hay and their kids.

A public group on Facebook that is popular with women in farming and ranching is the "Women in Agriculture" group. This group is public meaning anyone can request to join (private groups only allow you to join with an invitation). The goal of the Women in Ag group page is to help connect and uphold farm women in all dimensions of their farm and family life. Here, you'll find useful information for all of your jobs on the farm, from managing the business to raising kids, plus a place to talk with other farm women.

Lastly is a no-brainer: be sure to follow the Nebraska Corn Board and Nebraska Corn Growers Association Facebook Pages! 

So your challenge for this next week: if you're not already on Facebook, consider getting an account and sharing what you do as a farmer. It may seem mundane to you, but you'll be surprised how many people will really find it interesting and possibly change their misconceptions about agriculture.

If you are on Facebook, how can you engage with your consumer? Try posting a short video clip from your phone (we're talking simple!) when you're out checking the irrigation pivots, getting machinery ready for harvest, or feeding your cattle. Explain what you're doing - it's simple, educational, and people get to see you (a farmer) on a farm working hard to raise food!

Read other Social Soil posts here!

July 15, 2015

Continuing the Conversations of Nebraska Corn

For the past few weeks, I have kept very busy in and out of the Nebraska Corn Board Office. I am really enjoying the projects I have been working on, and the events I have been able to attend. On a weekly basis, I have been posting crop progress updates Tuesday's, and on Friday's I post a #FunFactFriday info-graphic that I have designed for the week. I have found that the info-graphics are a great hit and they are a wonderful way to share the message of the Nebraska Corn Board through social media.

As my internship continues to fly by, I am constantly learning more about the corn industry and becoming a better communicator through the process. Not only have I been busy in the office, but I have been out of the office on many occasions as well. Below are some photos of events I have attended along with projects I have been working on...

On June 28, I was able to attend the I-80 Ethanol Night at the Races in Ashland, NE with Sam, the Corn Growers Intern and Victoria, a Corn and Soy Mentor. This was such a great experience being able to promote ethanol at this fun event.
On July 8, I traveled to Omaha, NE for a Storm Chasers baseball game, and the theme for the night was "Ag Night." I met up with Morgan, from the Corn Growers Association and Emily, a Corn and Soy Mentor. I had many great conversations with consumers about the corn industry, and received many great questions regarding ethanol and the Renewable Fuel Standard. It was rewarding being able to share my knowledge of the corn industry with those who aren't around agriculture on a day-to-day basis.
On July 9, I attended the Nebraska Agricultural Youth Institute Career Fair on UNL's East Campus. I spoke with high school students from all over the state about opportunities with the Nebraska Corn Board such as internships and scholarships. Since I was in these student's shoes just one year ago, I was able to have such great conversations with them.

July 14, 2015

Hot Conditions Boost Crop Development

For the week ending July 12, 2015, temperatures were cool during much of the week before turning hot over the weekend, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. Significant rainfall was limited to southern border counties, as well as parts of north central Nebraska and portions of the lower Panhandle.  The seasonably hot conditions boosted crop development. The heat and high humidity stressed livestock. Wheat harvest progressed in southern counties.
Photo Courtesy of David City FFA Chapter
There were 6.0 days suitable for fieldwork.  Topsoil moisture supplies rated 4 percent very short, 19 short, 71 adequate, and 6 surplus. Subsoil moisture supplies rated 4 percent very short, 18 short, 73 adequate, and 5 surplus. Corn condition rated 1 percent very poor, 5 poor, 21 fair, 58 good, and 15 excellent. Corn silking was at 22 percent, behind 29 last year and the five-year average of 30.
Photo Courtesy of Heartland FFA Chapter
Data for this news release were provided at the county level by USDA Farm Service Agency and Nebraska Extension.

July 10, 2015

Words that build trust

In most relationships, saying the right thing or communicating effectively helps keep that relationship healthy. There is no difference in a farmer’s relationship with food consumers.

Farmers tend to have their own language with words that mean something to them in their working environment. Yet, while “production”, “yield” and “precision” might mean great things to them, food consumers are really unsure of what they mean and it can diminish the trust they have in the food production system.

The U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance (USFRA) has been working for some time on how to connect with our consumers – and USFRA is supported partly by corn checkoff dollars so we care about the research they are doing.

USFRA encourages farmers to choose their words carefully when communicating with consumers. Here are some of the words/phrases that research suggests are often most effective:

A great example given by CommonGround Iowa volunteer and farmer, Julie Kenney is:

“As farmers, we’re committed to continuous improvement and to producing more with less. We’ve learned from previous generations and have adopted new technology over the years to farm more efficiently. We want to be good stewards of the land so it’s available for our children to farm someday, should they choose.” 

Sounds like a great, easy 30-second elevator speech to me. Challenge for this next week, do you have your 30-second elevator speech ready if a consumer asks you what you do – and does it include words that build trust?

July 9, 2015

Agriculture in Washington D.C.

By Amanda Clymer, US Grains Council Intern

An agriculture quote in the U.S. Capitol. 
As my summer continues in Washington D.C. with the U.S. Grains Council I have had the opportunity to explore further the true impact agriculture has had not only on the United States, but around the world. The Global Programs department, where I have been assisting this summer, has been working throughout June to plan for international trade teams visiting the United States, overseas trade promotion missions and technical consultants traveling overseas.

In the past month, as a part of the Council’s demand building program, three international teams traveled to Midwest to learn about modern swine management techniques in the United States. International teams visited places such as the World Pork Expo, land-grant universities, farms, grain elevators, and export facilities. Recent overseas missions have included corn producers traveling to Japan and Korea to discuss quality and crop progress with major importers and end-users. A trip to Cuba also recently occurred where ag leaders had the opportunity to explore the market development and potential for U.S. coarse grains and co-products in the island nation. Alan Tiemann, a Nebraska corn producer and USGC vice chairman, was one ag leader participating in the mission.  All of these programs are examples of how the people of U.S. agriculture are educating, influencing and impacting other countries and the work their people do to feed the world.

Also while living in Washington D.C. I have taken in many of the sights that the nation’s capital has to offer. I have noticed agriculture in many different locations throughout town that shows me that agriculture has a place in our country’s history. Below are just some pictures of where I have spotted agriculture in Washington D.C. 
A small bronze mural at the World War II Memorial.
Even cattle have a place at the National Portrait Gallery.
The U.S. Botanical Garden has a few corn plants outside that I will be scouting throughout the summer.
I am excited to visit a new exhibit at the National Museum of American History titled the American Enterprise. Part of the exhibit focuses on the innovations in agriculture. The displays include a Fordson tractor, the iconic blue corduroy FFA jacket, information about GM technology development and an interactive modern tractor cab that includes the steering wheel, guidance controls, and yield monitors. More information about the agriculture portion of the exhibit is featured in this article.