Hot Milk Cake

Hot Milk Cake3

Ingredients
4 eggs
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons butter

Directions
1.    In a medium bowl, beat the eggs using a hand mixer.  Add the sugar and vanilla; mix well.
2.    In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt.
3.    Add the dry ingredients to the egg mixture.  Beat until just combined.
4.    In a small saucepan (or microwave), heat the milk and butter until very hot but not boiling.
5.    Slowly pour the milk into the cake batter and stir until thoroughly combined (batter should be smooth, yet thin).
6.    Pour the batter into a greased and floured 9”x13” cake pan.  Bake at 350º for 30-35 minutes.
7.    Frost as desired.

Yield:  12 servings

One Pot Cheesy Zucchini Rice

One Pot Cheesy Zucchini Rice1

Ingredients
1 small onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
4 tablespoons butter
1 cup long grain rice
2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 ½ cups shredded zucchini
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
½ cup grated parmesan cheese
½ teaspoon salt

Directions
1.    Over a medium-high heat in a medium saucepan, sauté onions and minced garlic in 2 tablespoons of butter until onions are translucent (about 2 minutes).
2.    Add rice, stirring continuously until slightly toasted.
3.    Pour in broth and bring to a boil.  Cover, and turn down heat to low.  Simmer for 15-20 minutes until liquid is absorbed.
4.    Stir in shredded zucchini, cheeses, and salt.  Stir until well combined and cheeses are melted.

Yield:  4-6 servings

Nebraska Farm Bureau Young Farmers and Ranchers Maintain Optimism in the Face of Tougher Economic Times

YF&R_DCtrip

Left to right: Matt & Elizabeth Albrecht, Brian & Amy Gould, James & Katie Olson, Todd & Julie Reed

The future of agriculture relies upon the ability of young people to maintain and grow their farms and ranches. While the recent downturn in the agricultural economy could lead one to be pessimistic about the future, after a recent National Affairs visit to Washington D.C., the Nebraska Farm Bureau Young Farmers and Ranchers Committee, continue to remain optimistic about the years ahead.

“Given the importance of agriculture to the overall health of Nebraska’s economy, it isn’t hard to see why Nebraska has successfully weathered and even prospered through the economic uncertainty of the past. Yet, recent USDA projections of an over 30 percent reduction in net farm income, as compared to 2013, along with continued tax and regulatory challenges, could signal trouble on the horizon. These continued challenges make it more important than ever for our state’s young farmers and ranchers to speak out about the challenges they face on their operations,” Steve Nelson, president of Nebraska Farm Bureau said.

“Of particular concern is a 33 percent rise in operating debt since 2012. As farmers and ranchers are adding debt, they have also been drawing down financial assets, such as cash or equity. Young and new farmers and ranchers are of particular concern as their ability to handle such a downturn is significantly less than a well-established farmer or rancher,” Nelson said.

However, with great challenges comes even greater opportunities. Throughout the trip, increased agricultural trade, Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), was highlighted as a way to provide a necessary boost to the agricultural economy. Passage of TPP continues to be a Farm Bureau priority. According to analysis conducted by the American Farm Bureau (AFBF), the TPP will increase annual net farm income by $4.4 billion and increase U.S. agricultural exports by $5.3 billion per year.

“Nebraska also stands to make significant annual gains from the TPP with a $378.5 million increase in ag cash receipts and a $229.2 million boost to ag exports. According to the Nebraska Farm Bureau analysis, Cuming, Custer, Platte, Dawson, and Lincoln counties would be among the biggest winners under TPP, as those counties would each experience more than $10 million in additional cash sales of agriculture commodities per year once TPP trade protocols are fully enacted. Congress needs to pass the TPP quickly as we continue to lose market share in many of the TPP member nations each day this agreement is not in place,” Nebraska Farm Bureau Young Farmers and Ranchers Committee Chairman Todd Reed said.

Another issue front and center during the trip was the GMO Labeling bill, which passed the U.S. House of Representatives while the group was in town. This important piece of legislation will help provide certainty to food companies who would have been unable to work through a patchwork of state GMO labeling laws.

“As with all compromises, there are pieces we like and pieces we don’t. The bill’s mandatory nature continues to be a problem for us, however we simply could not allow a system of state-based GMO labeling to occur. While not perfect, the Roberts-Stabenow compromise bill will set a national standard on GMO labeling utilizing digital disclosure technologies,” Reed said.

Besides visiting with Nebraska’s Congressional Delegation, the Nebraska Farm Bureau Young Farmers and Ranchers met with the Federal Aviation Administration to discuss recently released rules regarding the commercial use of “unmanned aircraft systems”, or “drones”, and met with CropLife America and Syngenta to discuss the latest efforts to remove the well-known product Atrazine from their toolbox of crop protection products.

“The list of challenges young farmers and ranchers face is no doubt long. However, the need for young producers to answer the call of growing food for our nation and world remains as strong as ever. Continuing to communicate our message to key decision makers is vital to the future success of our nation as well as for farm and ranch families,” Reed said.

Those attending the National Affairs visit are:

Steve Nelson, president Nebraska Farm Bureau – Kearney/Franklin County

Todd and Julie Reed, chairman YF&R Committee – Lancaster County

Brian and Amy Gould, District 3 representative YF&R Committee – Cedar County

Matt and Elizabeth Albrecht, District 7 representative YF&R Committee – Dawson County

James and Katie Olson, District 6 representative YF&R Committee – Holt County

Lemon Whirligigs with Raspberries

Lemon Whirligigs and RaspberriesIngredients
¾ cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
¼ teaspoon cinnamon, optional
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup water
4 cups (2 pints) raspberries
WHIRLIGIGS
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons shortening
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons half-and-half
¼ cup sugar
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon lemon zest

Directions
1.    Preheat oven to 400º.
2.    In a small saucepan, combine the sugar, cornstarch, optional cinnamon, salt, and water until smooth.  Bring to a boil, cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened.
3.    Place berries in an ungreased shallow 1 ½-quart baking dish. Pour hot sauce over top.  Bake for 10 minutes.
4.    Meanwhile, for whirligigs, combine the dry ingredients in a bowl; cut in shortening until crumbly.
5.    Combine egg and cream; stir into dry ingredients to form a stiff dough.
6.    On a lightly floured board, gently work the dough into a ball.  Roll into a 12 in. x 6 in. rectangle.
7.    Combine the sugar, butter, and lemon zest; spread over the dough.  Roll up the dough, jelly roll style, starting at a long side.
8.    Cut the roll into 10 pieces; pat each piece slightly to flatten. Place over the hot berry mixture.
9.    Bake for 15 minutes or until whirligigs are golden brown.

Yield:  10 servings

All-American July 4th Cookout Ticks Up, Still Under $6 Per Person

A cookout of Americans’ favorite foods for the Fourth of July, including hot dogs, cheeseburgers, pork spare ribs, potato salad, baked beans, lemonade and chocolate milk, will cost slightly more this year but still comes in at less than $6 per person, says the American Farm Bureau Federation.

Farm Bureau’s informal survey reveals the average cost of a summer cookout for 10 people is $56.06, or $5.61 per person.

CS15_075 July 4th Marketbasket Survey_2015Although the cost for the cookout is up slightly (less than 1 percent), “Prices in the meat case are starting to look better from the consumers’ perspective,” said Veronica Nigh, an AFBF economist. “Retail ground round prices are trending lower,” she noted, pointing to the nation’s cattle inventory and commercial beef production, which continue to rebound from dramatically low levels in 2014 and 2015.

In addition, “On the pork side, commercial production also continues to grow and is at the highest level in 25 years,” Nigh said. Spare rib prices are about the same as a year ago, while the amount of product in cold storage is up 121 percent, Nigh pointed out. “This is helping mediate the normal seasonal upswing in spare rib prices we typically see around the July 4th festivities,” she said.

AFBF’s summer cookout menu for 10 people consists of hot dogs and buns, cheeseburgers and buns, pork spare ribs, deli potato salad, baked beans, corn chips, lemonade, chocolate milk, ketchup, mustard and watermelon for dessert.

Commenting on factors driving the slight increase in retail watermelon prices, Nigh said, “While watermelons are grown across the U.S., most come from four states – Texas, Florida, Georgia and California – which together produce approximately 44 percent of the U.S. crop. Shipments of watermelons are down nearly 8 percent compared to the same time period last year,” she said.

U.S. milk production is up 1 percent compared to the same period last year. During the first quarter of 2016 (January-March), U.S. milk production reached historic levels, putting significant downward pressure on the price farmers receive for their milk.

Nigh said the increase in the price of cheese slices highlights the spread in prices that often occurs between values at the farm, wholesale, and retail stages of the production and marketing chain.

A total of 79 Farm Bureau members (volunteer shoppers) in 26 states checked retail prices for summer cookout foods at their local grocery stores for this informal survey.

The summer cookout survey is part of the Farm Bureau marketbasket series, which also includes the popular annual Thanksgiving Dinner Cost Survey and two additional surveys of common food staples Americans use to prepare meals at home.

The year-to-year direction of the marketbasket survey tracks closely with the federal government’s Consumer Price Index report for food at home. As retail grocery prices have increased gradually over time, the share of the average food dollar that America’s farm and ranch families receive has dropped.

“Through the mid-1970s, farmers received about one-third of consumer retail food expenditures for food eaten at home and away from home, on average. Since then, that figure has decreased steadily and is now about 17 percent, according to the Agriculture Department’s revised Food Dollar Series,” Nigh said.

Using the “food at home and away from home” percentage across-the-board, the farmer’s share of this $56.06 marketbasket would be $9.53.

July 4th Cookout for 10 Costs Slightly More

Items Amount 2014 Price 2015 Price 2016 Price % change
Ground Round 2 pounds $  8.91 $  9.10 $  8.80 -3.3%
Pork Spare Ribs 4 pounds $13.91 $13.44 $13.36 -0.6%
Hot Dogs 1 pound $  2.23 $  2.19 $  2.09 -4.6%
Deli Potato Salad 3 pounds $  8.80 $  8.58 $  8.76  2.1%
Baked Beans 28 ounces $  1.96 $  1.83 $  1.90  3.8%
Corn Chips 15 ounces $  3.37 $  3.26 $  3.17 -2.8%
Lemonade 0.5 gallon $  2.00 $  2.05 $  2.04 -0.5%
Chocolate Milk 0.5 gallon $  2.82 $  2.65 $  2.50 -5.7%
Watermelon 4 pounds $  4.53 $  4.21 $  4.49  6.7%
Hot Dog Buns 1 package $  1.63 $  1.57 $  1.61  2.5%
Hamburger Buns 1 package $  1.68 $  1.50 $  1.59  6.0%
Ketchup 20 ounces $  1.36 $  1.46 $  1.44 -1.4%
Mustard 16 ounces $  1.25 $  1.14 $  1.24  8.8%
American Cheese 1 pound $  3.12 $  2.86 $  3.07  7.3%

Total $ 57.57 $ 55.84 $ 56.06  0.4%
Per Person 10 $   5.76 $   5.58 $   5.61  0.4%

Property Taxes Still Top Priority

steve corn head shotIn early June I had the opportunity to attend the 2016 Cattlemen’s Ball hosted by the Linemann Family near Princeton, Nebraska. The Ball is a tremendous event targeted to raising funds for cancer research. If you’ve never been, I’d encourage you to put it on your list of things to do and see in Nebraska. Congratulations to the Linemann family and all those who helped make this year’s event a major success!

Not only is the Ball a fun time for a great cause, it’s a good way to connect with people from across the state. During the Ball I had the chance to talk to many farmers and ranchers. Not surprisingly, property taxes and concerns about profitability in agriculture were the top two issues on people’s minds. As margins in agriculture have tightened, the squeeze of higher property tax bills have only added more financial pressure to farm and ranch families. With property valuation notices hitting mailboxes in June its only added to the seriousness of the need to address this issue.

I don’t need to repeat the numbers, but I will. Over the last 10 years property taxes collected on agricultural land statewide have increased 176 percent. Commercial and residential property taxes have also climbed by 49 percent and 35 percent, respectively. Nebraska’s three-legged tax stool of property, income and sales tax is out of balance. Property taxes now account for 48 percent of total collections of the three, with income taxes at 32 percent and sales taxes at 20 percent of statewide collections.

We have to bring balance to our tax structure and alleviate the over-reliance on property taxes. As we head into the heat of the summer, I want you as a Farm Bureau member to know this when it comes to the property tax issue:

Farm Bureau will continue to lead the charge to fix this problem. This isn’t an easy issue, but it is not an impossible one either. There are numerous ideas and approaches to better balance the tax burden and alleviate the pressure on property taxes. We’ve offered solutions in the past and we’ll continue to do so. We’re fleshing out new ideas, even as I write this. We are committed to this issue.

We have expectations of the Legislature. There are good people in the Nebraska Legislature who are interested in making sound tax policy for Nebraskans. The Legislature is still our first best means to solve the property tax problem. As we’ve always done, we will bring ideas to the legislature and work together with Nebraska senators to find solutions. With that said, the Legislature needs to act. Kicking the can down the road won’t cut it. We’ll continue to do everything we can to work with senators to make progress in the legislative arena.

We’re willing to be patient, but there must be a final destination. Baseball analogies are often used to discuss the property tax problem. I continue to hear the terminology “bunts and singles” when it comes to fixes for property taxes. “Bunts and singles” will not solve the problem unless you string enough of them together to score runs and ultimately win. I’ve testified before the legislature that if it takes multiple years to solve this issue, we’re willing to do that. But there must be a clearly identified end goal, with a plan for how that is accomplished.

All Nebraskans, not just farmers and ranchers deserve better. They say a rising tide raises all ships. While our farm and ranch members have been hit the hardest by property tax increases, we know many Nebraskans share those concerns and they’ve relayed those to their elected leaders. Our solutions to balance the property tax burden will work for all Nebraskans.

Doing nothing is not an option. I know you want this issue addressed. Many of you have reached out to the team at Nebraska Farm Bureau urging action. I also know some members are looking at alternatives beyond the legislature. As I said before, the legislature is our first best solution, but we are open to looking at all options to make the reforms needed to bring balance to our tax system.

As always, I want to thank you for being a Farm Bureau member. Farm Bureau exists to serve you and I always welcome your thoughts, input and ideas as we work together to address this critical issue.

 

Until Next Time,

Steve Nelson, President, Nebraska Farm Bureau

Dill Cucumber Dip

Dill Cucumber Dip-MeredithIngredients

8 oz. cream cheese, softened

1 cup mayonnaise

2 tablespoons green onion, or ½ teaspoon onion powder

1 tablespoon lemon juice

½ teaspoon hot sauce or horseradish

½ teaspoon garlic salt or ½ teaspoon minced garlic

¼ teaspoon pepper

2 teaspoons dried dill weed

2 large cucumbers, peeled, seeded, cut in chunks, allow to drain (3-4 cups)

 

Directions

  1. Place all ingredients except the cucumbers in a food processor bowl. Pulse until well blended.
  2. Add the cucumber chunks and pulse until the desired consistency is reached (chunky or smooth).
  3. Store in the refrigerator 2-3 hours before serving to allow flavors to blend.
  4. Serve as a dip for chips or veggies.

Note:  This recipe can be mixed up by hand.  Cucumbers would need to be finely chopped.

 

Yield:  4 cups

Recipe source:  Nancy Krueger, Firth, NE.