Keeping the Values Going and Growing

March 25 - 2Grandparents, Parents, Children, Grandchildren. If you were raised on a family farm, think about where it all started. Has it been a generational farm for 80 years in the making? Or is it a new farm with just your father or mother at the start? Generational farming is a family farm that has been passed down from generation to generation to keep the values of it going and growing. Generational farming is a very important factor in today’s agriculture community. In fact, according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) 2012 Census of Agriculture, of the 2.1 million farms in the United States, 97 percent of those farms are family owned. Small family farms, actually make up 90 percent of the U.S. farm count Meanwhile, nearly eight percent of farms in the United States are midsize or large family farms, whether big or small, family farms are beaming with success. However, here and now, we need to realize that if we want to continue having successful family farms, we need to remember the importance of passing down the family farm. In this blog, I will discuss the need for generational farms, the challenges of generational farming, and finally, we will learn what it takes and how to prepare future generations for this difficult task.

FullSizeRWhy do we need generational farms? Well lately, I’m sure we have all been hearing this famous question: “How will we feed the world by 2050?” According to www.fao.org, the world’s population is expected to reach 9.1 billion by the year 2050. That is nearly a 40 percent increase from where we are now. This statistic could very easily frighten farmers into thinking there is no way I can contribute enough to help, but that thought is wrong. family farms together produce 86 percent of the value of farming and ranching. What would we do if family farms suddenly began to fail? According to www.start2farm.gov, the average age of the American farmer today is 57, and according to the USDA, the average age of the farmer has increased in each census since 1978. Former Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack stated that “We have an aging farming population. If left unchecked, this could threaten our ability to produce the food we need” (GenNext 2015). With the average age of the farmer increasing, younger generations need to step up to the plate and not just take over the farms but rather continue to increase the value of the farms. Not only is the aging farmer an issue, but financial values are as well. The USDA stated that the U.S. farm real estate value has averaged $3,020 per acre in 2015, and that’s only the average. It is virtually impossible for someone to get into the farming industry without having the preceding generation help. We also need to look at the increasing amount of technology available to the agriculture community. Aging farmers are less likely to feel the need to make technological advancements on their farm, such as auto steer and digital yield mapping. This is where, again, the next generation needs to step up. We have the skills and knowledge needed to make advancements in technology that can be useful to farmers. The importance of passing down the farm is extreme. As agriculturists, we will never be where we want to be by 2050 without generational farms.

Now, although the needs are great, the challenges can feel even greater. E.M. Tiffany wrote in the well-known FFA Creed, “for I know the joys and discomforts of agricultural life.” There is no doubt that passing down a farm from generation to generation is one of the most difficult tasks. One of the major problems that arise is how to treat all family members fairly but keep the farm as one unit.  In fact, this is often where the thought of the “generational farm” gets lost. Another important responsibility that can be difficult for the current generational farmer is having to educate the next on crucial information about the farm. All too often we hear about farms and ranches that get passed down only to be lost. If communication takes place between the generations before the farm is passed down, the farm has a better chance of surviving. Keeping up with technological advances is also a challenge that generational farmers face.

FullSizeR (1)Early mornings, late nights, long days in the field. Any hardworking and dedicated farmer will take on any task; but what does it take and how do you prepare? Well, dedication and determination doesn’t just come from anywhere. It’s a drive from within you that must act. It’s a beating in your heart that says “this is what my job has called me to do.” According to www.agweb.com, 56 percent of farmers report spending at least 10-14 hours a day on the farm. If you don’t have an interest in working long hours on the farm, then you won’t be able to find the joy in the job you do. When you stop, and think of the challenges, you can realize that generational farming isn’t easy. In fact, it’s something that just can’t be done unless you have the passion for it. However, there are group efforts in our nation that are working to prepare those who have a passion and dedication but just don’t have all the knowledge they need yet. Kevin Moore, a professor at the University of Missouri, teaches “Returning to the Farm.” This is a class that prepares students to overcome the financial and personality hurdles of becoming a farmer. Dr. Tom Field from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln also teaches a “Family Business” class that equips students with the tools they need to have conversations with their parents about things such as succession planning. I personally believe that we need more efforts like these to help prepare the next generation.

Grandparents, Parents, Children, Grandchildren, and the list can go on. These are just four of the possible generations that can thrive on a family farm. Think of the sense of accomplishment someone could get from knowing that their farm has never died and never will. Generational farming is more than just land getting passed down. It’s a way of helping our world work more efficiently. It’s a way of learning and earning. It’s a way of life. If more people could see the need for generational farming, overcome the challenges of generational farming, and find the passion and drive to keep passing down the farm, then as agriculturalists, we can and we will succeed in the farming community and keep the values of our lifestyle going and growing.

 

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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!

 

 

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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!

 

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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!

 

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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!

 

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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.

 

 

 

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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.

 

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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!

 

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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.

 

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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.

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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!

 

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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.

Fudge Puddles

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Ingredients
½ cup butter, softened
½ cup creamy peanut butter
½ cup sugar
½ cup packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
 FUDGE FILLING:
1 cup milk chocolate chips
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Chopped peanuts
Directions
1.    In a large mixing bowl, cream butter, peanut butter and sugars until blended. Beat in egg and vanilla.
2.    In a small bowl, whisk flour, baking soda and salt; gradually beat into creamed mixture. Refrigerate the dough, covered for1 hour or until easy to handle.
3.    Preheat oven to 325°. Shape into 1-inch  balls. Place dough balls in greased mini-muffin cups.
4.    Bake 14-16 minutes or until light brown. Remove from the oven and immediately press a 1/2-in.-deep indentation in center of each cookie with the end of a wooden spoon handle or a mini-tart shaper.
5.    Cool the tarts in the pan for 5 minutes. Remove to wire racks to cool completely.
6.    For the filling, in a microwave, melt chocolate chips; stir until smooth.
7.    Whisk in sweetened condensed milk and vanilla until smooth.
8.    Fill each cookie with filling.  Sprinkle with peanuts. (If desired, refrigerate remaining filling; serve warm with ice cream.)

Yield: 3-4 dozen

Honey-Garlic Glazed Meatballs

honey-garlic-glazed-meatballs2Ingredients
2 large eggs
¾ cup milk
1 cup dry bread crumbs
½ cup finely chopped onion
2 teaspoons salt
2 pounds ground beef
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon butter
¾ cup ketchup
½ cup honey
3 tablespoons soy sauce

Directions
1.    In a large bowl, combine eggs, and milk.  Add the bread crumbs, onion, and salt.
2.    Crumble beef over mixture and mix well.
3.    Shape into 1-inch balls.  Place the meatballs on a greased rack in a shallow baking pan.  Bake, uncovered, at 400º for 12-15 minutes or until meat is no longer pink.
4.    Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, saute garlic in butter until tender, but not brown. Stir in the ketchup, honey, and soy sauce.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 5 minutes.
5.    Add meatballs to the sauce.  Carefully stir to evenly coat.  Cook for 5-10 minutes.
6.    Serve as appetizers or as a mealtime meat dish.
Yield:  5-4 dozen, depending on meatball size

A Lay of the Land… Farm Bureau’s Chief Lobbyist Talks Term Limits, Elections and Other Issues Affecting Ag at the State Capitol

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Bruce Rieker, Vice President of Governmental Relations

There are lots of factors that come into play when it comes to what will or won’t get done when it comes to agriculture issues in the 2017 legislative session. And while we’re months away from the start of the session, what happens in the coming weeks and months will shape the political and policy landscape in 2017. Farm Bureau News visited with Nebraska Farm Bureau’s Vice President of Government Relations, Bruce Rieker to get a lay of the land on where things are headed.

Farm Bureau (FB) – Bruce, let’s start by talking about money, because ultimately that shapes what the state budget looks like and plays a major role in terms of what the legislature does and doesn’t do. Generally speaking, it’s easier for senators to provide tax relief if the state is in a good position financially. How are things looking right now?

Bruce Rieker (BR) – If there’s any doubters about whether the health of Nebraska’s economy is tied to the agriculture economy, you don’t have to look any further than the legislative fiscal office projections. When the legislature adjourned in April they estimated state revenues would fall $234 million short of what had been budgeted for the two-year budget cycle beginning July 1, 2017. The projected shortfall was in large part due to the struggles in the agriculture economy.

Currently, state tax receipts are down $71 million below projections for the fiscal year. If things continue to head in this direction it sets the stage for the legislature to build a budget that doesn’t have much room for growth, so basically every dollar the state is short of projections is a dollar that potentially adds to the cost of tax relief or tax restructuring that would help us address the issue of property taxes.

FB – While financial status is important, what gets done legislatively also depends on who is in the Legislature. We’re set for some major changes in both the make-up of the legislature and in leadership positions, correct?

BR – There are 11 state senators who won’t return in January due to term-limits. Among them is the Speaker of the Legislature who leads the overall agenda for the body, as well as the Chairs of the Appropriations, Education, Health and Human Services, Natural Resources and Revenue Committees. That means there will be new leaders in the majority of the Committees that work on issues of interest to Farm Bureau. It’s important whoever takes over those positions has a good feel for our issues because they will have a strong influence in determining what gets done.

Term-limits have definitely changed the body if you look at the actual on-the-job experience of senators in the Legislature.  Depending on how elections go, 34 of the 49 state senators could have two years or less of experience in the legislature when we start the 2017 session. We know for sure there will be only seven senators who have been there for six years or more.

FB – What does all that mean for farmer and ranchers?
 
BR – It means a number of things for those of us in agriculture. For starters, it puts more responsibility on all of us, particularly our members, to engage with senators to help them understand the importance of agriculture to our state and the issues that directly affect them it such as property taxes, livestock issues, water issues, and so on.

It also means things tend to become less predictable in the body, at least in the short-run. Anytime you put a large number of new people together it takes time for them to get to know one another and how they operate. Last session we saw a record high 24 filibusters on the floor. There’s a lot of reasons for that, but a contributing factor is the transition of people in the legislature. It’s the equivalent of a major league baseball team changing half its roster in the off-season and expecting it to look and perform the same as it did the year prior. That just doesn’t happen.

FB – We can’t talk legislative turnover without talking elections. All but one of Nebraska Farm Bureau’s “Friend of Agriculture” candidates advanced to November’s General Election. What do things look like there?

BR – As you mentioned, all but one of our “Friend of Agriculture” candidates advanced to November’s General Election which is great news.

It was an interesting primary, particularly for some of the incumbents seeking re-election. One of those, Nicole Fox from Omaha, did not advance to the General Election. Five other incumbents finished second in the primary election, including Sen. Al Davis of Hyannis and Sen. Jerry Johnson of Wahoo. Both are “Friend of Agriculture” candidates and have been very good for Farm Bureau on key issues, including work on property taxes. In addition, Sen. Johnson serves as the Agriculture Committee Chair and he was instrumental in working on bills to advance livestock growth opportunities in the state last session as well as working with us on the “Right to Farm” issue. Agriculture needs their continued leadership in the legislature so it’s vital our members support those candidates in particular.

FB – Why is it so important that Farm Bureau members support “Friend of Agriculture” candidates?

When we have people who come into the legislature who understand and support agriculture, it increases the chances that we can successfully implement Farm Bureau policy positions. And sometimes, more importantly, make sure we stop measures that would harm our members. That’s why our “Friend of Agriculture” designation for political candidates is important. We have a better chance getting things done for agriculture if we have senators in the body who get why it’s important to support Nebraska’s farm and ranch families.

With that said, there will be plenty of opportunities this summer and fall with county fairs, parades, festivals and such where members can support and help out our “Friend of Agriculture” candidates. I can’t emphasis enough how vitally important it is for our members to support these candidates. It’s a great way for members to build the relationships with their future senator. While Farm Bureau is at the Capitol everyday working with lawmakers, it’s important senators have Farm Bureau members in their district that they know so they can reach out to them for information and insight so they can personalize these issues for people in their district.

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

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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