Nebraska County Export Values . . .

 

Economic Tidbits logoInternational trade and foreign markets are critical to Nebraska agriculture.  To get a sense of which Nebraska counties are most reliant on international trade, the Nebraska Department of Agriculture has created a map showing export values by county for select commodities (see below).  Commodities included are beef and beef products, corn, dairy products, distillers grains, ethanol, pork and pork products, pulses, sorghum, soybeans and soybean products and wheat.  The map was created using 2015 Nebraska cash receipts data and attributing shares to counties based on county production data.  Platte County topped the state with export values of $245 million.  Custer, Holt, Boone and Cuming Counties fall in the next tier with export values between $125-$150 million.  Most counties in Nebraska generate at least $25 million in export values, which no doubt contributes significantly to their local economies.

The top counties stand to gain the most from increased access to foreign markets.  Free trade agreements with Mexico, Canada, Korea, Colombia and others, while benefitting all counties, have been particularly beneficial to these counties.  An analysis last year of the benefits of the TransPacific Partnership (TPP) by Nebraska Farm Bureau showed many of these same counties would have benefited from the $378 million in increased receipts Nebraska was projected to receive under the agreement.  The map clearly demonstrates it is in the interest of Nebraska agriculture to continue to press for more open international markets in agricultural products.
county exports

 

Jay Rempe is the senior economist for Nebraska Farm Bureau. Rempe’s background in agricultural economics, years of experience in advocating at the state capitol, and firm grasp of issues allow him to quantify the fiscal impact of a regulatory proposal, and provide in-depth examination of key issues affecting Nebraska’s farmers and ranchers.

What’s a typical day like on your farm?

noe 5My family has been farming in Spring Bay, Illinois since 1875. Over the years, the farm has seen quite a few changes in which crops are grown and how they are raised. Currently, we raise corn, soybeans, wheat, hay, hogs, cantaloupes and watermelons. Since the farm is so diversified, each day is different throughout the year. The spring season consists of working ground, planting corn and soybeans, starting the melons in the greenhouse and then transplanting them into the field.

noe 4Summer is our busiest season. In the early months, we finish transplanting melons and begin to cultivate and hoe them to keep the weeds out. In July, we cut wheat, bale straw and hay and begin to pick cantaloupe. We will usually handpick about 300-400 cantaloupes on a daily basis. In the middle of the season, it’s not unusual for us to pick 800-1200 cantaloupes each night. We deliver truckloads to local grocery stores in addition to selling them at local farmer’s markets six days a week. The watermelons are usually ready in mid-August. We pick them about three times a week and continue to go to farmer’s markets and grocery stores. On a typical summer day, you can find my family up and working by 6:30 a.m. loading pickups, picking flowers and produce to go to the farmer’s market, and doing hog chores. One of us will go to the market and sell until noon. When we come home, we unload the leftover produce, eat lunch, and relax. Then we go out to pick more cantaloupes, reload pickups, eat supper, and make sure everything is ready to go for the next day.

noe 3September is an in-between month for our farm. The cantaloupe and watermelon season winds down and my dad and brothers start preparing the combine and equipment for harvest. We usually begin cutting beans and picking corn in the first week of October. Once harvest starts, my family spends a majority of the day in the fields or on the road moving equipment and hauling the grain to the elevator for storage. Mom takes breaks from driving the trucks to pack lunches and make supper for the crew. Harvest is an exciting and stressful time for the whole family. There never seems to be enough time in the day to get everything done and the weather just never seems to cooperate. There have been numerous times when Dad combined through the night to get a field done before an early snow or to get an extra load up to the elevator before it closed for the evening. Despite the stress, breakdowns, and disappointments, it’s very easy to love the harvest season. It’s an exciting time you spend out in the field working with your family and bringing in the crops that you started way back in the spring.

noe 2By early November, we are usually finished with harvest and begin to prepare the equipment for the next season. Once the crops are harvested, everything starts to slow down. The winter months are mundane compared to the rest of the year. From December to March, we work to repair the things that broke during the spring, summer, or fall that we didn’t have time to fix in that season. This is also the time that we get to work on fun projects, hobbies, and finish taxes and other book work. When it gets cold and starts snowing, we use skid-steers to clear snow off our driveways and out of the hog pens. We also have to put straw in the outdoor hog pens to help them keep warm in the cold weather.

noe 1Although we’re busy throughout the year with our crops and melons, the hogs are an additional year-round occupation. Every morning and evening, we have to feed the hogs in the indoor and outdoor pens. We also have to move any pregnant sows into the farrowing house, wean piglets and give them shots, and move sows out of the farrowing house and back into the pens with the boars so they can be rebred. Once the pigs have reached market weight, we arrange shipments and send them off on the semi to become pork chops, bacon, sausages, and pork burgers.

Our farm is an exciting place to be and there’s always plenty of work to be done. Through our family farm upbringing, my brothers and I learned what it takes to run a successful business and have built a lot of character through the work that we did. One of the benefits of farming is that the job changes every few months and each day is different from the day before. It can be overwhelming at times, but it’s a very rewarding career in the long run.

Rachel Noe bio pic

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Family Dinners

family dinner1Being a traditional farm family, family dinners are a way of life! From Sunday dinners in the winter to Tuesday lunches in the summer. Everyone stops what he or she is doing and sits down to eat together.

My dad is a farmer. Now this means work hours vary so much for him throughout the year. Winter hours are the relaxed with days of 9 am to 4 pm. Planting season, aka spring, he could work 9am to 9pm or 6 am to 4 pm depending on the day. Summer months are a little more relaxed working from 8 am to 5 pm on average. During these ‘seasons’ as we call them, family meals are made a priority at least once a day. But then there’s the most glorious time of the year, harvest.

family dinner2Harvest is the time when people and animals stockpile their food for the year. But harvesting all that food for the people and animals of the world comes at a sacrifice for farm families. Most of the time that sacrifice comes at spending time with family. Now the crazy hours already mentioned might seems extreme but nothing gets as crazy as harvest when it comes to time away from family and home. My dad works on average during harvest season, 6 am to 12 am. My dad does what he can to see us during harvest time but I could go days without seeing him because of the time he spends in the field.

family dinner3Family dinners are a way for us to all catch up on the week and during harvest, these dinners are made a priority for Sunday evening. The amount of time my dad spends through out the year providing food for others is kind of crazy once you see the numbers. I know what he does, along with the thousands of farmers across the nation, is so important to the world.

Farmers spend way more time than forty hours a week providing for their families, family dinners are just a small way to always stay connected. family dinner4

 

Emily Puls bio pic

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.

Meet The Crew by Nebraska Farm Bureau!

Nebraska Farm Bureau has identified nine 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 social media posts!

 

Jacob Goldfuss

Jacob GoldfussMy name is Jacob Goldfuss, I am from O’Neill Nebraska and have been passionate about agriculture for a long time. Even though I lived in town, I helped my grandpa on his ranch south of town for as long as I can remember. When my grandpa retired my dad and I bought back some cows and a few bulls and run a small cow/calf operation still today. Agriculture is such a vital part of our everyday lives, that’s why I am so passionate about advocating for it. I love educating and communicating agriculture to people who might not know as much about it as I do. That is why I am currently a sophomore at the University of Nebraska- Lincoln pursuing a degree in Agricultural Education.

I have always tried to get as involved in agriculture related clubs and organization as I could my whole life. I was very dedicated to FFA in High School and donated most of my time to the chapter as I held an office all four years. Now in college, I am the vice president of Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow, on the leadership team for the CASNR Coffee Cup Club, in Collegiate FFA, Collegiate Farm Bureau, and now, the CREW! I look forward to working with Nebraska Farm Bureau this year promoting and advocating for all the Nebraska farmers and ranchers out there through the use of social Media!

 

Victoria Talcott

Victoria TalcottIf I were asked to describe myself I would say passionate about agriculture, creative thinker, and looking to make an impact on the world. I love everything about agriculture, and I especially love educating people about the importance of agriculture in Nebraska and the entire world.

My name is Victoria Talcott. I grew up on a farm near Bennet, NE with my parents, Norris and Lynnet, and my brother, Garret. On our farm we raise corn, soybeans, alfalfa, and cattle. I have always been very active in 4-H. I seriously tried out almost every project from showing livestock to making a babysitting kit. I loved everything about 4-H! I was also very active in my FFA chapter. This year I will be receiving my American Degree in Kentucky. My SAE (Supervised Agricultural Experience) includes farming my own 30 acre farm, my own cattle herd, and working on my parents farm.

I am currently a student at the University of Nebraska- Lincoln where I study Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Communication. I chose this major because I want to express the importance of agriculture to people around the world. I am currently an intern at the Nebraska FFA Foundation. This next year I will be blogging, writing social media posts, and much more as a member of the Nebraska Farm Bureau. I knew this would be the perfect opportunity to start sharing my knowledge of agriculture. I can’t wait to write for you all this year!

 

Laura Lundeen

Laura LundeenHi everyone!

I’m a small-town, Nebraska born and raised, sunset loving, faith, family, and farm girl. I am very passionate about many things, and many of those things have a foot in agriculture; therefore, I am very passionate about agriculture! (Especially its impact on our world through food and other products.)

I grew up on a farm of corn and soybeans near a small town of 750 people. I have a hardworking dad, mom, and older and younger brothers. Although we have never raised livestock, I brought pigs, sheep, and cattle to the county fair. I learned to love farming through my family and the work we do, but when I left for the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, I learned to love it even more. I am studying Agricultural Education and plan to graduate in December of 2017. I did not start out studying ag. The quote, “You don’t realize what you have until it’s gone” came into play for me my first semester of college. After spending 6 weeks of my life having little contact with the industry that makes the world go around, I quickly learned that I did not love what I was studying at that time. It was not long before I decided to switch to my degree to agriculture.

Ever since, my classes and other activities have sparked my love for food and agriculture and I am excited to share. I hope you enjoy learning about ag as much as I do!

 

Haley Ehrke

Haley EhrkeHi everyone my name is Haley Ehrke! I grew up in South Central Nebraska, I am very proud of my roots. I am a farmer’s daughter and very excited to be a member of the Farm Bureau Crew. I am currently a senior in High School and plan on majoring in Agricultural Education next fall. I enjoy spending my time showing cattle, checking cows, spending time with friends and family, biking, and taking pictures. Random fact, my favorite food is steak. On our farming operation we grow corn, soybeans, alfalfa, milo and we have a cowherd.

 

Catherine Jones

Catherine JonesHello Everybody! I am a farmer’s daughter, a sister and granddaughter. I am a freshman at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln studying agricultural communications. My name is Catherine Jones, I grew up on a farm in the middle of Omaha where my family owns a horse boarding facility, and raises 4H livestock for our urban 4H club. I have had the unique experience of helping urban youth learn all about the agriculture industry and how to be farm tough! Living in the city, I saw all of the urban population’s misconceptions of agriculture’s’ true story. That is how I found my passion, advocating for agriculture and improving society’s agricultural literacy!

 

Cheyenne Gerlach

Cheyenne GerlachMy name is Cheyenne Gerlach and I am passionate about animals. I love riding horses and I’m known as the bottle calf whisperer at my house. I also tame 1,300 pound steers every year for the fair. My favorite sport is showing pigs. I pulled my first pig at twelve. I think the best bonding time is in the farrowing house. I have a voice for agriculture.

 

 

 

 

Rachel Noe

Rachel NoeHey there! My name is Rachel Noe and I’m a senior Agricultural Communications major at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. I am a fifth generation Noe to have been brought up on my family’s farm in Spring Bay, Illinois. On our farm, we grow corn, soybeans, cantaloupes, watermelons, hogs, and wheat. Although I grew up working in production agriculture, I didn’t truly appreciate the industry until I started college. I decided to study Ag Communications because I enjoy speaking to others about agriculture and want to give back to the industry that has shaped me into the person I am today. I’m looking forward to the conversations this blog will start, as well as this opportunity to share my passion for agriculture.

 

Emily Puls

Emily PulsI am a farm girl, born and raised. I am from Wakefield, Nebraska, where my family raises corn and soybeans!

Currently, I am at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, studying Agricultural Education in hopes of educating future consumers the importance of the agriculture industry and all the careers linked to it.

My free time is spent helping dad around the farm, reading, watching NCIS, and of course…cheering on the Huskers! GBR!

I want to advocate for agriculture because not only is it a great industry but also people need to know about certain areas like their food production. Creating informed consumers another step in combating misinformation that is so wide spread. Everyone wants to know where their food comes from and I just want consumers to see the hard work production agriculturalist do to keep the food they produce safe!

 

Emily Cumming

Emily CummingI’m not the everyday farmer’s daughter. Born and raised on a family farm in Central Nebraska, I have taken my love for agriculture and found something that I adore. Bees! Who would have thought a grain and livestock farmer’s daughter would find joy in working with honey bees? I sure didn’t!

I started working with bees after I had the push from my parents to take up an activity in agriculture that interested me. I talked to members of the Nebraska Beekeeper’s Association who helped me make my dream of becoming a beekeeper a reality. I am proud to say I have been raising these little delights for three years! I am so excited to share my point of view on agriculture!

Agriculture has had a large influence in my life since I was very little. I may not take part in the same type of agriculture that my family raises and nurtures, but agriculture is agriculture and I am more than happy to participate in the agriculture industry, especially with the all-important honeybees.

I’m Emily Cumming and I am a beekeeper.

Secret Documents, Questionable Actions Paint Ugly Picture of EPA

steve corn head shotGeorge Strait made a living putting out country hit singles. “Ace in the Hole” immediately comes to mind. You might remember the song for its message about having a little something up your sleeve to ensure things ultimately go your way. “You’ve got to have an ace in the hole,” sang Strait. “A little secret that nobody knows.”

While I don’t know if officials at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are George Strait fans, I do know they understand the idea of having a little something up their sleeve and know a thing or two about secrets. This became apparent a few weeks ago when documents came to light pointing out the joint Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) and EPA “Waters of the U.S.” regulatory proposal was, in fact, virtually all EPA and very little Corps. Worse, the documents paint a picture of the EPA ignoring concerns the Corps had raised regarding the regulatory proposal to vastly expand EPA’s control over private property.

The documents came to light when Sen. Jim Inhofe, Chair of the Environment and Public Works Committee, asked the Corps to provide information concerning the development of the “Waters” rule. The Corps provided the documents, but asked they be kept hidden from public view. Evidently they show that Corps staff had questions about the validity of EPA’s economic analysis and the rule’s unworkability due to lack of clarity concerning what “waters” were to be regulated. If those concerns sound familiar it’s because they are the same concerns echoed by virtually every opponent of the rule, Farm Bureau included.

And it doesn’t end there.

As I write this, a Dear Colleague letter is making its way through Congressional offices. The letter seeks to have EPA’s Office of Inspector General investigate all matters relevant to EPA’s efforts in generating support for the “Waters” rule. The effort stems from a recent New York Times article exposing EPA’s abuse of the public comment process by engaging in an unprecedented advocacy campaign intended to generate public support for the proposal. According to the Times, EPA engaged in a grassroots solicitation for public comments by partnering in social media campaigns with groups like the Sierra Club to intentionally drown out opposition and to help justify EPA’s actions.

EPA has consistently made claims it received over one million comments on the rule with 90 percent of them being supportive. However, according the Corps (EPA’s jilted partner) only 20,000 plus of those were considered unique, and of those, only 10 percent were considered substantive. The vast majority of comments appear to be mass mailings generated by EPA’s own lobbying efforts. Not only are EPA’s actions on this front potentially illegal, but reflect an abuse of the most democratic component of the federal rulemaking process designed to give a voice to those impacted.

The picture painted by EPA’s actions, while ugly, is clear. The EPA was determined to push this proposal through no matter what; keeping secrets and working to manipulate the public.

At Nebraska Farm Bureau we continue to work with our Congressional delegation and other partners to push back against this blatant overreach of power and disregard for Nebraska’s farm and ranch families. There is much at stake not only in how we respond to the rule, but in the way EPA has conducted its business in this matter. I do know one thing. If EPA believes we’ll go away quietly I’d point them to another George Strait song; one that involves selling ocean front property…in Arizona.

Until Next Month,

Steve Nelson

President, Nebraska Farm Bureau

Innovator’s Spotlight: From Farming to Gardening

Innovators Spotlight Trumbull1

Dwight Trumble of rural Springfield, Neb., says that he is retired. It’s true; his son Tim has taken over the family’s corn and soybean farming operation near Springfield. But, is a farmer really “retired” if he still helps grow thousands of pounds of fresh produce each year?

This is the fourth year that long-time Sarpy County Farm Bureau members Dwight and Bette Trumble have hosted the Springfield United Methodist (SUM) Big Garden on their suburban Omaha farm. SUM Big Garden is an extension of a United Methodist Ministries program that works to supply fresh and nutritious food to low-income families in the Omaha metro area.

Most cities have economically distressed areas, and inner city Omaha is no exception. Living in a land of abundance, it’s sometimes hard to believe that families in every county of the United States go to bed hungry. According to the World Hunger Education Service’s most recent statistics 17.2 million households, approximately one in seven families are food insecure; they lack physical or economic access to sufficient, safe, nutritious food.

Volunteers who tend SUM Big Garden come and go as they please. They grow everything from arugula to zucchini, even crops like okra and turnips. Dwight handles the successive plantings of sweet corn.

“There aren’t many things better than fresh sweet corn. Plus, it is simple to cook and doesn’t require any special ingredients,” Dwight said. Bette adds, “we’ve found that a lot of the people who receive the produce don’t know how to cook vegetables like eggplant or even fresh cauliflower, so this year we are giving out recipes that also include instructions about how to clean and prepare the vegetables.”

Innovators Spotlight Trumbull2

Dwight and Bette give much of the credit for the Garden’s success to Kris Betts, the woman who coordinates volunteers, planting and harvesting, and often delivers the produce.

“Unfortunately, the foods that low-income households find most affordable tend to be the least nutritious.” Betts said. “We intend to change that. I know first-hand how this food affects the people that receive it. You can see the need in their faces and you can just feel the gratitude.” Kris estimates that weekly deliveries to churches and food pantries will top 16,000 pounds this year.

Those that work in the Big Garden receive as much pleasure growing and delivering the food, as do those who receive it.

“It’s not about us. It’s about God’s grace and taking care of each other. We have been blessed with this land, how can we not share it?” Bette Trumbull said.

Springfield United Methodist (SUM) Big Garden
Springfield United Methodist (SUM) Big Garden is an extension of United Methodist Ministries (UMM) Big Garden Program, a network of over 80 community and rural gardens throughout Nebraska and Kansas. UMM launched The Big Garden Program in 2005, with grant assistance from the USDA’s Community Food Project. Their mission is to improve nutritional health and facilitate community development by building the capacity of community organizations, congregations and schools through the act of gardening. The Big Garden has received a number of awards, including the 2008 Fiskar’s Orange Thumb, 2010 Best of Omaha Midtown and 2008 Sierra Club Faith in Action Award.

For more information visit SUM Big Garden’s new Facebook page. Also visit United Methodist Ministries Big Garden website at www.gardenbig.org, the USDA Community Food Project website at www.csrees.usda.gov and Cooking Matters website at www.cookingmatters.org.