NEFB President Steve Nelson Testifies at Legislative Hearing About School Funding and Tax Issues

On Thursday, Nov. 12th, the Legislature’s Education and Revenue Committee held a joint public hearing to hear testimony on school funding in the state of Nebraska.  The hearing is part of joint interim studies being conducted by the Committees (LRs 332 & 344) on funding of public schools.   The Committees hope to make recommendations for improving the funding of schools to be discussed during the 2016 Legislative session.  Nebraska Farm Bureau was invited to testify before the Committees and urged the senators to undertake fundamental reform of school funding to reduce property taxes and improve taxpayer equity.

Watch NEFB President Steve Nelson’s testimony here.

Get to know your Nebraska farmers: Rebecca and Dallas Graham

Even for some native Nebraskans, there are some small towns they’ve never heard of, and Belden — population 115 — may just be one of those. But for Cedar County Farm Bureau members Rebecca and Dallas Graham, that’s where the postman delivers their mail and where they call home. Becky grew up west of Coleridge on a dairy farm and Dallas grew up nearby, also on a dairy farm. They knew each other from 4-H involvement and as the years passed, that friendship blossomed into a marriage in 1975.

Because none of their family wanted to take over the dairy, and with aging facilities and no hired help, the Grahams sold the dairy five years ago to a neighbor who wanted to expand. The current farming operation consists of corn, beans, alfalfa, CRP acres and pasture ground where they run 100 Angus and Angus/Hereford cross cow/calf pairs.

Becky helps right alongside Dallas with on-farm duties but the couple’s real passion lies in educating today’s youth about the farm and where their food comes from. Through the years, they’ve hosted 2nd graders and Kindergarten classes on farm tours, and participated in the Nebraska Farm Bureau Ag in the Classroom and Ag Pen Pal programs. Becky says our youth are the future decision and policymakers and their education about farming is vital to our economy and future for agriculture. Listen more here.

The couple has five children:  Joshua, Jeffrey, Jonathan, Amanda and Matthew, and six grandchildren.

Continue to check back to the blog each Thursday to get to know more farmers and ranchers from across Nebraska as they share their everyday stories. And to read past farmer and rancher profiles, click here.

Learn more about ag families in Nebraska by visiting www.nefb.org. And while there, be sure to connect with us on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Get to know your Nebraska farmers: Mallory Becker

An easterner in Nebraska? Can it be true? The fact is, Holt County Farm Bureau member Mallory Becker now calls Nebraska “home” and wants it to remain that way from here on out. Mallory grew up on a cow/calf farm in southwest Pennsylvania and after touring colleges in Oklahoma, Texas and Nebraska, decided the University of Nebraska-Lincoln was where she wanted to attend school, and western Nebraska was the future setting for her career in agriculture.

Mallory now works for Farm Credit Services in Grand Island as a financial officer and has a 30-pair cow/calf herd on rented pasture between O’Neill and Chambers. She says in the 8 ½ years she’s been here, a number of ranchers have taken her under their wing, showed her the ropes and become mentors for her, encouraging her to pursue her passion of being in the cattle business.

Mallory says one of the challenges she faces is overcoming stereotypes:  she’s a female in a largely male-dominated industry, and she’s from the East Coast. But, she’s found her niche and has become engaged with two of her college friends who are now ag teachers. “I enjoy helping with their meat judging and livestock judging team, and speech team. I help kids understand that it’s not just a day off from school – it’s an extreme learning experience that can help them in college or in their career.”

A Nebraska Farm Bureau Leadership Academy graduate, Mallory believes that it’s her responsibility to educate the public about what it is she does every day. Listen more here.

Continue to check back to the blog each Thursday to get to know more farmers and ranchers from across Nebraska as they share their everyday stories. And to read past farmer and rancher profiles, click here.

Learn more about ag families in Nebraska by visiting www.nefb.org. And while there, be sure to connect with us on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Not Using Sow Gestation Stalls Impacts Farmers, Consumers

Domino’s shareholders recently rejected a proposal by the Humane Society of the United States to follow in the footsteps of many other fast food chains (Burger King, McDonald’s, Wendy’s) and promise to stop using pork from suppliers who confine pregnant pigs in crates. This continues to be part of an ongoing discussion among all areas of the pork production chain.

We recently caught up with Mark McHargue, Nebraska Farm Bureau first vice-president, for an interview on how this proposal would affect his own pork operation and bigger picture, U.S. consumers and our economy.

Q1:  Mark, with your 1,000-sow operation, how would this new HSUS proposal affect you on your own farm? Listen to Mark here.

Q2:  Past the farmer, who else could potentially see an economic impact? Consumers are always concerned about the price they have to pay at the store – could they be expected to absorb some of this additional cost?

Q3:  What group of consumers do you think it will affect the most?

Q4:  And bigger picture, as activist groups continue to change the way we look at animal care and the way farmers raise their animals, what do you foresee for the future of our U.S. economy?

Q5:  In your own words, Mark, how do you feel about this proposal from HSUS?

Learn more about ag families in Nebraska by visiting www.nefb.org. And while there, be sure to connect with us on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Get to know your Nebraska farmers: Joel and Amy Weber

For Weber Feed Yards LLC owner and Saline County Farm Bureau member Joel Weber, doing it all and doing it the right way is job one. A 4th generation farmer/feeder from Dorchester, Joel went off to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and graduated in 1995 with an agribusiness degree, then went right back to the farm.

His father is semi-retired which leaves Joel to manage the 4,500 head of cattle and farm ground on his own. Ninety percent of the crops they raise go to feed the cattle.

He does have employees on the farm, and says all of them are Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) trained.

Listen more here. 

Part of this commitment to cattle comfort and care includes using sprinklers during the heat of the summer and for those pens not in reach of sprinklers and/or without shade, they bring the fire truck to the yard and spray them down. In the winter, they spend time bedding their pens, making sure the cattle have a dry place to lay down. “It’s in the best interest of the cattle. We do everything we can to make sure they’re comfortable and have a good life while they’re on our farm,” Joel says.

The niche market Joel has found is with age and source verified cattle. The farm has stringent record-keeping rules because most of the beef he raises is for export to Japan. All the cattle have papers with their date of birth and ranch of origin. In the early 2000s, the Weber feed yard started dabbling in age and source verification until they learned more about the needs and wants of the end-user in Japan. They fully adapted to that protocol by 2004.

Joel’s wife, Amy, teaches Math at Meridian Schools and the couple has three children:  Christian – 8; Jacob – 6; and Sophia – 3.

Continue to check back to the blog each Thursday to get to know more farmers and ranchers from across Nebraska as they share their everyday stories. And to read past farmer and rancher profiles, click here.

Learn more about ag families in Nebraska by visiting www.nefb.org. And while there, be sure to connect with us on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Soy-based products in our homes?

The Nebraska Soybean Board has long been trying to communicate the message that bioproducts are an easy, green choice for consumers to make in their daily lives. Soy-based products are safer for our families, great for Nebraska’s economy, and widely available in the stores where Nebraskans already shop.

Drew Guiney, manager of consumer relations for the Nebraska Soybean Board, tells us more about soy-based products and where we can find them in our own homes and neighborhoods.

We eat soy every day in things like Dorothy Lynch salad dressing and margarine. Guiney tells us more about whether or not consumers are receptive to the idea of soy-based products.

Soy products are good for the economy and environment but what about the soybean farmers?

Learn more about ag families in Nebraska by visiting www.nefb.org. And while there, be sure to connect with us on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Farm Bureau Participation in Trade Mission to South Korea

With the recently passed Free Trade Agreement with Korea, the timing of an April trade visit to South Korea was ideal. Nebraska was the first state to travel to Korea since the implementation of the Free Trade Agreement.

Steve Nelson, Nebraska Farm Bureau President, explains here how the passage of the FTA has affected tariffs on our U.S. commodities in Korea.

We also had the opportunity to ask Steve what his overall assessment of Korean acceptance was for U.S. products.

To round out our interview with Steve, we wanted to know what the U.S. is doing to overcome some of the obstacles to consumer acceptance in Korea and how he views his responsibility as a farmer to not only feed his neighbors but the world.

Learn more about ag families in Nebraska by visiting www.nefb.org. And while there, be sure to connect with us on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.