The Ag Sack Lunch Program: Educating the Future of Agriculture

By: Abby Steffen

ag-sack-lunchI grew up in Northeast Nebraska, in a very rural area. Most of my summer days were spent on my grandparent’s farm, learning about agriculture before I even knew what the word “agriculture” meant. I would run through corn and soybeans while they grew in the fields, I would sit and watch my grandpa bring the cows into the milk barn, I would giggle as baby calves fought over which one got to suck on my fingers. At the end of the day, I knew what the food was that was on my supper plate. I knew how it was raised, how it was harvested, and how much work was put into getting that food from farm to fridge to fork. Knowing these things humbled me in a way I cannot describe, but also gave me some peace of mind to be able to see what I was eating and putting into my body. I wish every kid in America would be able to grow up with these types of experiences, but I know that is not possible. There are many children who are now completely removed from farms and ranches. They aren’t provided with many opportunities to learn about agriculture. The Ag Sack Lunch program is trying to change that.
ag-sack-lunch2In 2010, the Ag Sack Lunch Program was created to educate Nebraska fourth-graders, teachers, and parents about the different agricultural industries in Nebraska, all while providing 5,000 sack lunches each year. Each Ag Sack Lunch Ambassador is given a set of presentation cards that give the children a visual to look at during the presentation. The cards have fun facts that help the students not only learn about the seven main industries in Nebraska, but also make connections about how these industries impact their lives.  They learn about how much land in Nebraska is devoted to farming and ranching, and also that 1 in every 4 jobs relates back to agriculture. The Program covers both specific sectors of the livestock industry, such as beef, dairy, swine, and poultry; and also crops like soybeans, corn, and wheat. In their sack lunches, the students receive a ham, roast beef, or turkey sandwich. They also get carrots, Fritos corn chips, a rice crispy bar, mayonnaise and mustard, and a deck of cards that have fun facts about each industry and look just like the cards the ambassador presents with. At the end of the presentation, the group walks through every item in their lunches and talks about which industry they came from.
ag-sack-lunch3This is now the Ag Sack Lunch Program’s seventh year and I have worked as an Ag Ambassador for two years. I can honestly say it has been one of the most rewarding and educational life experiences I have ever had. It has kept me humble and open minded, as I did not grow up in a very diverse agricultural area. For many classes I presented to, I was not surprised when students knew most of the answers. However, once I began to present to more urban centered schools, there were times I felt truly heartbroken. Some students I interacted with did not even know where the meat on their sandwich came from before the store. I could see the want to learn in the students’ eyes.  When it finally clicked for them, the smiles on their faces was enough to make me fall in love with the Ag Industry all over again.

ag-sack-lunch4Agriculture is a huge and important industry in the state of Nebraska. It is crucial to the economy, the environment, and of course, to providing enough food to feed the growing population. Unfortunately, as more and more generations are being removed from farms and ranches, agricultural knowledge is not being passed along. Not many people know how this industry works and there are not many schools in Nebraska who implement ag-related courses. How can we expect people to understand and care about an industry and lifestyle they aren’t even familiar with? This is why the ag-literacy work that we do in the Farm Bureau Crew and in programs like Ag Sack Lunch is so important. By learning how to communicate to people of different ages and lifestyles we can improve ag-literacy in Nebraska. We can get people more involved and interested in agriculture to strengthen the future of the industry. In The Crew, I get to share different stories in agriculture through videos, photography, social media and blogging. In Ag Sack Lunch, I get to talk to students about where I grew up and how important agriculture is to people, especially in rural areas.
The experiences I have gained by working with The Crew and as an Ag Sack Lunch Ambassador have really made me appreciate the area in which I grew up and the educators who understood the importance of our state’s Agricultural Industry. I have experienced first-hand that programs like The Crew and Ag Sack Lunch are so important and influential to the Agriculture Industry. In the future, it will be up to their generation to find more sustainable food practices in order to feed the growing population while keeping the economy and the environment in check. They are the future of agriculture, and sponsored programs like The Crew and Ag Sack Lunch are preparing them in fun and interactive ways!

 

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Meet the 2016-2017 Class of The Crew!

 

Nebraska Farm Bureau has identified ten social media savvy student members to join our Crew. The Crew is a group of Nebraska Farm Bureau student members who enjoy agriculture communication and social media. Together, The Crew will work on reaching a larger audience with pro-ag messages and will help put a face to agriculture through social media in conjunction with Nebraska Farm Bureau. Members of The Crew have access to unique training sessions, such as exploring social media strategies on Capitol Hill.

NFBF is excited to introduce our Crew members to you! For the next year these students will help promote agriculture and rural America through their work on social media!

 

 

abby-steffen

Abby Steffen

Hello! My name is Abby Steffen, unlike many of my Crew-mates, I did not grow up on a farm. However, I did grow up in the rural town of Crofton, Nebraska. I have been exposed to many aspects of agriculture since I was a little girl; my grandparents owned a small farm not too far away with a variety of livestock and crops. I spent many summer days watching my grandpa work and sometimes I even got to help. As I moved into high school I became very involved in my town’s local FFA chapter. Junior year, I was appointed chapter Reporter and the following year I was voted as President. It was my early childhood experiences and my involvement in FFA that sparked my interest and passion for communication agriculture.

Now, as a sophomore at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, I am majoring in Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Communication. I am also active in the Ag Sack Lunch Program, a UCARE research project, and student organizations such as the Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow and Collegiate Farm Bureau. I am looking forward to the potential adventures that will come my way!

 

catherine-jones

Catherine Jones

“Yeah I live on a farm!” That’s what I would say when my friends from high school, in populated Omaha, Nebraska, asked. I was under the impression that I lived on a nice size farm and was contributing majorly to the agricultural industry. Then I came to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and met people who lived on farms a hundred times larger than mine. I was discouraged, but soon realized I was contributing in my own way.

My name is Catherine Jones and I am from a small farm in Omaha Nebraska, but I am making a big difference when it comes to the future of agriculture. My 48-acre farm was just big enough to raise livestock for urban youth to exhibit in 4-H. They got to experience how to raise livestock and how agriculture contributes to their daily lives, all while living in the metro. This is where I realized the disconnect between the population and our state’s agricultural industry. I made the decision to come to UNL and study Agricultural Environmental Sciences Communication and minor in Animal Science and Ag Business. Living in the city on a farm I got to see both worlds and the misunderstandings upfront, this gave me the passion to be an advocate for agriculture!

 

corin-pelster

Corin Pelster

My name is Corin Pelster, I am from Elgin, Nebraska and have had a passion for agriculture my whole life. Growing up on my family’s ranch I got to experience first-hand the hard work that is put into agriculture. I was extremely active in my schools FFA chapter throughout high school where I gained a significant knowledge of how important the agriculture industry really is. It wasn’t until my last semester of senior year, though, that I decided I wanted to pursue a career in agriculture for myself, and it has been one of the best decisions I have ever made. I am currently a junior Agribusiness major with a Banking and Finance option at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with intent to graduate December 2017.  I have always enjoyed talking about agriculture with others and knew this would be a wonderful opportunity to advocate for agriculture!

 

courtney-nelson

Courtney Nelson

My name is Courtney Nelson. I live on a farm in east central Nebraska where we grow corn, soybeans, and alfalfa. We also own a family farm in Kansas where we grow wheat and milo. As part of my SAE, I rent 40 acres of land on which I grew corn this year, and I also own market swine. I am a senior in high school, and I am very involved in a variety of activities. My hobbies include watching Nebraska volleyball and playing the piano. I have always been surrounded by agriculture, but I didn’t realize my passion for it until I attended the Nebraska Agricultural Youth Institute this past summer. I look forward to sharing my story and passion about agriculture and learning more about the industry as well.

 

 

 

darby-oconnor

Darby O’Connor

Hello advocates for agriculture! My name is Darby O’Connor from Paxton, Nebraska. I pride myself in the fact that I am a part of the agriculture industry. My part in agriculture is expressed through my hobby of showing livestock – I enjoy spending time in the barn preparing for shows. I am active in FFA where I serve as the Paxton FFA President, and continue to grow as an agriculturalist. I am proud to play a role in such an amazing industry and love sharing my passion for agriculture with both producers and consumers. I grew up on a ranch north of Paxton and love the experiences that came with growing up in an agricultural family. My mother is my inspiration when loving to show, my father who was a rancher is the reason I was blessed enough to grow up where I did, my brother Merritt continues to follow his passion of livestock while judging at SDSU and my other brother Rhett in McCook for rodeo. I love to share the greatness of agriculture and can’t wait for the journey that The Crew will send me on.

 

kelli-mashino

Kelli Mashino

Hey everyone!

My name is Kelli Mashino and I live on a family farm near the small town of Spencer, NE. I’m a third generation agriculturalist with strong roots in faith, family, farming, and FFA. I’m a senior in high school and plan to attend the University of Nebraska-Lincoln for Agricultural Communications next fall. I am very active in extracurriculars at my school. FFA, however, is my favorite.  I have such a HUGE passion for agriculture. Growing up on the farm, I have learned the true value of hard work and dedication. My appreciation for agriculture has grown more and more the older I get and I have found that advocating for agriculture is one of my biggest passions! I love public speaking as well as writing. Writing and giving speeches have always been strengths of mine in high school. That is why I am so excited to be joining the CREW! I can’t wait to put my strengths to work and help spread the word of agriculture. Agricultural literacy is far more important than most people think. That’s why everyone who has a background in agriculture should take a stand and share their story. I can’t wait to go on this journey with you all! It’s going to be a great year of advocating for ag!

 

masie-kennicutt

Maisie Kennicutt

Hello Everyone!

I am Maisie Kennicutt! I am 17 years old and a senior in high school from Wallace, Nebraska! For those of you who have never heard of such a place, it is a small town of maybe 300 people or less. It is located in the southwestern corner of the state. I live on a little farm about 18 miles southwest of town where I raise sheep, hogs and chickens. I have a brother, Aidan, and a sister, Emily, and we have been involved in sheep 4-H for 3 years now. We had never done any type for 4-H before but we decided to give it a try and we fell in love with it! Now we have a few ewes we saved back this year because we would like to start our own herd.

Other than working with our sheep, I spend most of my time at school activities. I enjoy going to the different sporting events at our school and cheering loud for all my friends. Most of the time I am in the ag room working on projects or getting study packets ready for competitions. I spend any time I possibly can outside. Whether I am doing animal chores or just working on little things around the farm. My goal for my future is to attend the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and get my degree in agriculture education. With my degree, I want to return to a small Nebraska town to teach the generations after me about an industry that is so important in all of our lives.

 

sam-steward

Sam Steward

Hey everyone!

I am an aspiring horticulturist, landscape designer, and drone flyer.

My name is Sam Steward. I am in my second year at Southeast Community College in Beatrice, Nebraska. My major is Agriculture Business and Management Technology. I have two focuses in Horticulture and Agribusiness. I will be receiving my Precision Agriculture Certificate in September. I am very involved at SCC. I am president of SCC Ag Club, Vice President of SCC Collegiate Farm Bureau, and I am currently in the process of getting Horticulture Club started back up on campus.

I am originally from Hickman, Nebraska, but I recently moved to Mead, Nebraska. I graduated from Norris High School where I was very involved in my FFA chapter. I was also a part of the Star City Llama and Alpaca 4-H club where I showed my llamas and alpacas at the Lancaster County Fair. I have been a member of the Alpaca and Llama Show Association for 15 years. I am also member of the Nebraska Arborist Association and the Nebraska Nursery and Landscape Association. I am also attending classes to become a certified Arborist for the state of Nebraska.

savannah-schafer

Savannah Schafer

Hi Everyone!

My name is Savannah Schafer and I am excited to be a CREW member! I am a sophomore majoring in Ag Education with a minor in Animal Science at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.   My parents and I operate the Schafer Angus Farm near Nehawka, Nebraska.   Our farm is small but mighty with a herd of registered Angus cows that provide high-quality replacement heifers, bulls, and market animals.  We raise corn, soybeans, and alfalfa hay.

My passion for the agriculture industry has developed as I have grown.  I was an active member in 4-H and am still an involved member in FFA.   FFA provided me countless opportunities to become an advocate for agriculture by experiencing the world of agriculture up close and personal through contests, conventions, and classes.  I am excited to receive my American Degree in October.  My membership in the Nebraska Junior Angus Association opened numerous channels to the cattle industry and today’s issues. Through these programs, I have developed wonderful friendships with people who share my enthusiasm and concerns.  I enjoy discussing today’s issues with other enthusiasts and hope to make a difference in closing the gap between farmer/rancher and the consumer.  I am the fourth generation to help run the family farm and I hope to keep it running for future generations to come.   My goal is help educate all ages as to the importance of agriculture, farmers, and ranchers.  I am dedicated to talking about the issues with anyone and everyone!

 

katie-nolles

Katie Nolles

Hello!  I am Katie Nolles, a fifth generation Hereford breeder on both sides of my family, from Bassett, Nebraska.  Growing up on my family’s ranch was the most influential part of my life, as it shaped my work ethic, developed my passion for agriculture, and instilled my values in me.  For as long as I can remember, I have looked forward to working cattle, branding, checking calves, feeding hay, fixing fence, and making breeding decisions.  Our operation is diverse; we raise registered Hereford cattle to sell bulls to cattlemen, have a custom embryo placement business, and a small herd of commercial cows to raise F1 calves.  My parents met while showing cattle, so it is natural that I follow in their footsteps by showing my Herefords on a local, state, and national level.  Maintaining partnerships and friendships with people across the country that span multiple generations is special to me.

Showing livestock led me to a few key youth leadership organizations.  Joining 4-H as a five-year-old, I quickly took advantage of the many projects and learning experiences.  FFA honed my public speaking skills, broadened my passion for agriculture, allowed me to travel the world, and opened my eyes to my future career in agricultural education.  The Nebraska and National Junior Hereford Associations established my career in the beef industry.  All of these organizations gave me leadership and career skills, along with lifelong friendships.  As I transition out of these organizations, I look back with fond memories at serving as a FFA State Officer, National Hereford Queen, and National 4-H Congress Youth Leadership Team member.

Currently, I am a sophomore at UNL majoring in Agricultural Education.  I’m passionate about learning as much as possible about agriculture.  My experience and interests range from production to policy to education and outreach.  I’m looking forward to connecting with you this year as a member of Nebraska Farm Bureau’s CREW!

 

Egg, Dairy and Chicken Prices Down, Beef Too

CS16_167 2016 Fall Harvest Marketbasket SurevyLower retail prices for several foods, including eggs, whole milk, cheddar cheese, chicken breast, sirloin tip roast and ground chuck resulted in a decrease in the American Farm Bureau Federation’s Fall Harvest Marketbasket Survey.

The informal survey shows the total cost of 16 food items that can be used to prepare one or more meals was $49.70, down $4.40 or 8 percent compared to a survey conducted a year ago. Of the 16 items surveyed, 13 decreased and three increased in average price.

Egg prices dropped significantly due to production recovering well from the 2014 avian influenza, according to John Newton, AFBF director, market intelligence. Milk prices are down substantially from prior years, particularly compared to record-highs in 2014, due to the current global dairy surplus.

“For all commodities in agriculture there is a lot of product on hand and prices are depressed,” Newton explained.

The following items showed retail price decreases from a year ago:

  • eggs, down 51 percent to $1.48 dozen
  • chicken breast, down 16 percent to $2.86 per pound
  • sirloin tip roast, down 11 percent to $5.04 per pound
  • shredded cheddar, down 10 percent to $4.09 per pound
  • whole milk, down 10 percent to $2.84 per gallon
  • ground chuck, down 9 percent to $4.13 per pound
  • toasted oat cereal, down 9 percent to $2.80 for a nine-ounce box
  • vegetable oil, down 9 percent to $2.39 for a 32-ounce bottle
  • flour, down 7 percent to $2.21 per five-pound bag
  • white bread, down 7 percent to $1.58 for a 20-ounce loaf
  • orange juice, down 5 percent to $3.26 per half-gallon
  • bacon, down 3 percent to $4.40 per pound
  • sliced deli ham, down less than 1 percent to $5.45

These items showed moderate retail price increases compared to a year ago:

  • bagged salad, up 16 percent to $2.85 per pound
  • apples, up 10 percent to $1.59 per pound
  • potatoes, up 3 percent to $2.73 for a 5-pound bag

“Dry conditions in the Northeast and Northwest the last few years likely contributed to smaller supplies and higher retail prices for apples,” Newton said. In addition, he said salad prices are up due to lower output in the West, particularly in California and Arizona.

Price checks of alternative milk and egg choices not included in the overall marketbasket survey average revealed the following: 1/2 gallon regular milk, $1.86; 1/2 gallon organic milk, $4.26; and one dozen “cage-free” eggs, $3.48.

The year-to-year direction of the marketbasket survey tracks 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,” Newton said.

Using the “food at home and away from home” percentage across-the-board, the farmer’s share of this $49.70 marketbasket would be approximately $8.45.

AFBF, the nation’s largest general farm organization, began conducting informal quarterly marketbasket surveys of retail food price trends in 1989. The series includes a Spring Picnic survey, Summer Cookout survey, Fall Harvest survey and Thanksgiving survey.

According to USDA, Americans spend just under 10 percent of their disposable annual income on food, the lowest average of any country in the world. A total of 59 shoppers in 26 states participated in the latest survey, conducted in September.

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

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

Why Do Pigs Have Notches in Their Ears?

Have you ever considered why pigs have notches in their rather than have an ear tag? Well I have the answers! First of all, ear notching is used to tell you what litter the pigs are from and individually which pig it is. The pig’s right ear shows the litter number. The pig’s left ear shows the individual identification in its litter.

ear notch

People ear notch pigs for a way to have a permanent ID for each pig because it is inexpensive, other pigs can’t chew on the ear tag, and it never falls out like an ear tag would. You ear notch a pig when they are one to three days old. When you are ear notching them you want to make sure to leave ¼ inch between notches to make sure that you can easily read the notch. You also want to make sure you make the notch deep enough in that it will not grow shut. You need to make sure that you don’t notch their ear too deep because that could cause their ear to be torn.

ear notch2Now pigs can have ear tags too. For instance, when I take my pigs to the fair they receive an ear tag that way they don’t become confused of who’s is who’s in the show ring.  They are still ear notched though.

Ear notching is a great way to permanently mark each pig that way farmers can identify them. I hope your questions have been answered of why pigs are ear notched rather than have an ear tag. Now you can identify a pig

Victoria Talcott bio pic