Tag Archives: agriculture

Lincoln, NE – Congressman Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) announced today that, due to severe weather conditions, the Farm Bill review session scheduled for tomorrow, Wednesday, February 20, at the Elkhorn Natural Resources District Conference Room in Norfolk has been postponed. Congressman Fortenberry is hoping to reschedule the Farm Bill review session shortly.  If you have any questions or concerns, please contact Congressman Fortenberry’s office at (402) 438-1598.

Congressman Jeff Fortenberry is the Ranking Member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies and is sponsor of the Rural Health Insurance Act, among other ag-related initiatives.

Corn farmers joined with their counterparts from other ag-focused organizations in Raleigh, N.C. and Washington, D.C. last week for the revisedLeadership At Its Best Program, sponsored bySyngenta. The new structure of the program allows leaders from eleven associations to network and hone their leadership skills in a collaborative environment.
During their time in Raleigh, the class explored how to increase their efficacy as advocates both in the public policy and media arenas. In addition to training sessions, the group delved into emerging topics such as gene editing, maximum residue limits and the future of digital ag. The latter part of the week when the attendees were in Washington, their focus shifted to building their personal advocacy plan and learning about the increasing role of social media in public policy. Program participants also held meetings with their representatives and senators.
“Last week was a very good example of ag groups coming together to look at issues we are all facing in agriculture, like trade, biotech acceptance and biofuels. It also gave us an opportunity to hear about the activities of each association and what specific things we are all doing to represent our membership,” said Andy Jobman, a participant and farmer from Nebraska. “It was also great to brush up on our media and interview skills and learn how we can be more effective ambassadors for the agriculture industry.”
Corn association leaders in attendance included: Brian Brown (Neb.); Chris Grams (Neb.); Andy Jobman (Neb.); Greg Larson (Colo.); Josh Miller (Mich.); Dan Nerud (Neb.); Jay Parr (Mich.); and James Tucker (Ky.).

The Central States Center for Agricultural Safety and Health (CS-CASH), an agricultural safety and health center in the University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Public Health, recently awarded five pilot program grants. Two of the recipients are UNMC investigators.


CS-CASH receives funding from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).


Investigators funded and their research projects included:

·                     Bethany Lowndes, Ph.D., assistant professor, UNMC neurological sciences: “Parkinson’s Care for Nebraskans in Agriculture.” 

·                     Carey Wheelhouse, director of clinical assessment/assistant professor, UNMC Division of Physician Assistant Education: “Improving Agricultural Worker Health and Safety Awareness through Multimodal, Case-Based Physician Assistant Education.”

·                     Christine Chasek, associate professor, addiction counseling certificate coordinator, University of Nebraska at Kearney: “Investigating Opioid and Alcohol Risk and Misuse among Rural Agricultural Workers.”

·                     Missy Berry, Ph.D. candidate, North Dakota State University: “Investigation into the Respiratory Properties of Snow Molds.”

·                     Katherine Schofield, Ph.D., assistant professor, mechanical and industrial engineering, University of Minnesota, Duluth: “Injury Prevention in Greenhouse and Nursery Workers through Engineering Design Innovation.”


CS-CASH was able to provide a total of $100,000 in funding for the five projects through a partnership between UNMC’s Vice Chancellor of Research, Jennifer Larsen, M.D., and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Office of Research and Economic Development.


This program supports project investigators with awards up to $20,000 over an 18-month period. The program goal is to enable investigators to collect preliminary data to support submission of grant applications for independent, longer-term, projects related to agricultural safety and health.


The projects selected for support by this program must address a critical issue in agricultural safety and health and lead to a more extensive study of the issue.


The Pilot Projects Program has been an essential component of CS-CASH since the center was established in 2011. In addition to NIOSH funding, funding from UNMC’s Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research has allowed CS-CASH to fund 45 pilot projects from 2011 through 2018.


Data from pilot projects have been used to generate more than $8 million in additional funding related to agricultural safety and health. Programs and curriculum developed as part of this program have impacted farmers and ranchers, their families, and communities.


Applications for the next round of research awards will be in May. Contact ellen.duysen@unmc.edu for information on the application process.

I have a confession. I am proud to be a millennial.
Admittedly, there are many criticisms of my generation. Some are based in the truth–young people spend more time on their phones and don’t seem to get involved in their communities.

I see these criticisms in a different light. For some it may seem like young people spend too much time on their phones, but in reality, that time is keeping millennials present in the new way of the world. Technology is ingrained as part of our careers, connects and builds our social circles, and keeps us moving at the ever-increasing pace of the world. Smartphones are a constant companion, resource and vehicle for communication. In this same way, it can be easy to look around your community and say young people don’t want to be involved. I challenge that idea. Maybe young people are open to being involved but something is holding them back.

As an adult I regularly volunteer my time and serve on a variety of different boards. My time in these roles has helped me understand my generation desperately needs to get involved.
Over the past two decades, hours of training and many resources have been spent making me into a leader, and I am a confident and outgoing person naturally. It might surprise some to learn that I have rarely sought out leadership roles.

Whether it’s not wanting to seem too ambitious, or not feeling like we have the knowledge or experience to be a good representative, raising a hand for leadership positions is not something young people often feel comfortable doing. It typically takes someone asking and providing the important guidance that we don’t have to be an expert when we come into the position.

Serving on boards is the best way to learn about an organization and its impact. I have learned so much about how the world works and what my community is accomplishing. Each board position has increased my knowledge, made me more comfortable sharing ideas and increased my belief that I can make an impact.

Another hurdle may be time. Millennials value their time differently and want to use it wisely on their passions. Try easing them into a position by setting term-limits or making it clear that one election doesn’t equal a life sentence on a board. If a person doesn’t want to keep the same job for 20 to 30 years, they may not be excited about serving on the same board for decades.

Frequent changes in board structure will mean more fresh perspectives. When you invite a young person to the table, be prepared and excited about the ideas and questions they have. Change is inevitable, but it’s not a bad thing.

Communities of all shapes and sizes need people to get involved. We need young people to raise their hands and learn everything they can. We need established community members to seek out new people and work to make leading something that is fulfilling and meaningful. No matter how much the world changes, there will always be value in bringing a new perspective to boards and everyone can play their part in making our communities stronger.

(Lincoln, NE) – Congressman Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) announced today that he will be hosting a Farm Bill review session this coming Wednesday, February 20, in Norfolk  at 12:30 with USDA Under Secretary Bill Northey. The Farm Bill review will be held at the Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District Conference Room, 1508 Square Turn Boulevard, Norfolk, Nebraska.

“In Nebraska, agriculture is central to our economic well-being, our way of life, our culture,” Fortenberry said.  “The Farm Bill is a once-every-five-year piece of legislation.  It ensures that America continues to lead the world in agricultural innovation, food safety, and renewable fuels, while enhancing opportunity for beginning farmers and local growers,” Fortenberry said.  “The birth of such legislation is neither easy nor smooth.  I look forward to discussing its essential components with the community,” Fortenberry concluded.

If you have any questions about the upcoming Farm Bill review session, please contact Congressman Fortenberry’s office at (402) 438-1598.

Congressman Jeff Fortenberry is the Ranking Member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies and is sponsor of the Rural Health Insurance Act among other ag-related initiatives.

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Department of Agriculture is accepting applications from farmers who want to be part of the state’s industrial hemp research program, which state lawmakers created last April.

One of the farmers eager to get on board is PJ Sneed, who is building infrastructure, clearing land and establishing a cover crop on his land in western Reno County.

“I’m very excited; for me, it’s been a long time coming,” Sneed said. “It has for a lot of people, especially the grassroots movement. We’ve all been waiting for this moment.”

Kansas Gov. Jeff Colyer signed legislation last April to allow industrial hemp production only for research purposes, with a goal of encouraging the resurgence of hemp as a production crop and to promote economic development. The 2018 federal farm bill also legalized hemp farming.

The agriculture department has spent the last year gathering public input and establishing regulations for the program. Applications are due to the department by March 1.

Before the federal farm bill was approved, Kansas could only establish a research program for hemp growing but the state is now open to establishing commercial growing if the legislature approves, The Hutchinson News reported .

“So nothing is changing yet. The law that passed last spring and the regulations that go with it are what’s on the books,” agriculture department spokeswoman Heather Lansdowne said.

Lansdowne said the earliest the state could have additional laws to allow industrial hemp would likely be 2020.

Sneed agreed and predicted a large increase in hemp growers in the new future.

“I think in year two you’ll see a huge boom after people see what it is and how it’s grown,” he said. “In 2020 I think you’ll start to see more banks open up for commercial loans and things like that.”

The application process will include background checks and more.

The Hemp Biz Conference and the Planted Association of Kansas, of which Sneed is a member, will host a symposium on hemp growing in Hutchinson on Feb. 23. He said it’s designed to help farmers network and find markets but the focus this year will be on rules and regulations and the application process.

Tom Sleight, president and chief executive officer of the U.S. Grains Council (USGC) since 2012, will retire this summer following the appointment of his successor, the Council’s Board of Directors announced this week at the organization’s membership meeting in Cartagena, Colombia.

“I have done what I intended to accomplish, and as I move forward to this new phase of my own life, I am confident the Council is headed in the right direction and poised for continued growth as a relevant, innovative and impactful organization,” Sleight said.

Sleight leaves with the organization on firm footing and with expansion on the horizon. The Council was recently awarded nearly $14 million from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) Agricultural Trade Promotion (ATP) Program; was also recently awarded an increase in funding from USDA’s hallmark market development programs, the Market Access Program (MAP) and Foreign Market Development (FMD) program; and enjoys strong support from its growing membership.

“The Board of Directors of the Council has been preparing for this transition for some time, and we have a strong global team in place that Tom has conscientiously built to be able to take on the challenges of a dynamic market development portfolio,” said Jim Stitzlein, chairman of the Council’s Board of Directors.

“We would love for Tom to stay, however we are fully understanding of his desire for what is hopefully a long and well-deserved retirement with his wife and family.”

Stitzlein has appointed a search committee comprised of representatives from its diverse membership, including the corn, sorghum, barley, ethanol and agribusiness sectors.

Sleight has worked at the Council a total of 25 years, beginning in 1983, and having done nearly every job the Council has to offer. Beginning in program implementation, Sleight went on to serve overseas in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union, then returned to Washington to direct European, Middle East and Asia regional market development programs. Sleight complemented his international background by also serving in the U.S. administrative side of the Council’s operations, directing its membership, communications and administrative programs.

He left the Council in 1999 to lead the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ marketing division and later the New York Farm Viability Institute in his home state.

Sleight returned to the Council as vice president in 2010 before being selected as president and CEO in 2012.

“When I look back at my time with the Council, I have always been impressed by how nimble the organization is, able to turn over rocks and work where the market does not to find global opportunities for U.S. agriculture and the coarse grains sector,” Sleight said.

“Keeping and honing this innovative edge and staying closely in tune with our members’ needs are dual goals the Council must never lose sight of.”

China’s President will meet with U.S. trade leaders Friday as the U.S. and China seek a trade deal before an early March deadline. The South China Morning Post reports China’s President Xi Jinping is scheduled to meet with a U.S. trade delegation in Beijing, which includes U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.

China and the U.S. face an early March deadline set by the Trump administration to reach an agreement that could end the tit-for-tat trade war between the two nations. However, President Trump said this week he is open to extending the deadline, saying he could let the deadline “slide for a little while.” Trump is expected to meet with China’s President sometime in March in what some say could be a move to close an agreement between China and the United States.

The trade war served a blow to U.S. agriculture as China slapped retaliatory tariffs on U.S. farm commodities, most notably, soybeans and pork.

ORLANDO— The Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) is pleased to announce its 2019 Industry Award is being awarded to East Kansas Agri-Energy (EKAE), an ethanol and renewable diesel biorefinery in Garnett, Kan. RFA presented the award to the board and staff of EKAE today at the 24th annual National Ethanol Conference (NEC).
RFA’s Industry Award recognizes companies or individuals who have made a significant contribution to the U.S. fuel ethanol industry through technology innovative, market development, consumer education, policy advocacy, and other efforts.
“This year’s recipient checks more than one of those boxes,” said Geoff Cooper, RFA President and CEO. “This is a company that has embraced new technologies, led the way in promoting new markets for E15, and last year, in particular, demonstrated remarkable leadership in advocating for ethanol and defending the RFS during a very challenging time for our industry.”
In June 2018, EKAE hosted then-EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt for a tour of the plant and a discussion about ethanol and the RFS. Pruitt had just issued 48 RFS compliance exemptions to “small refiners,” eliminating 2.25 billion gallons in renewable fuel blending requirements.
“When he got to EKAE, Pruitt was met by a firm and well-prepared group of ethanol industry advocates that refused to be intimidated,” Cooper said. “In a discussion that lasted for over an hour, East Kansas leaders made sure Pruitt got the message about the devastating impact of his small refinery waivers on the ethanol industry and farmers.”
In March 2018, Paul Teutul, Jr., chose East Kansas as the backdrop to unveil the RFA’s custom E85 motorcycle. The unveiling was featured on the Discovery Channel’s American Chopper show last summer. Not only did the episode showcase the ethanol-powered motorcycle, but it gave the EKAE board and staff an invaluable opportunity to tell ethanol’s story to viewers around the world.
Cooper also recognized EKAE for its groundbreaking renewable diesel project, its role in making E15 available at retail for the very first time in 2012, and for taking top EPA officials on a plant tour the day before a pivotal RFS hearing in Kansas City in 2015.
Open since 2005, EKAE operates a 48 million gallon per year ethanol plant that also produces more than 200,000 tons per year of high-quality distiller grains, in both wet and dry form. The biorefinery also produces 5 million pounds of corn oil each year from more than 16 million bushels of locally sourced corn.

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Two months after President Donald Trump signed a law to legalize hemp, Nebraska lawmakers and state agency officials are working together to help farmers get a piece of the market.

Lawmakers heard public input Tuesday on a bill that would allow farmers to grow and harvest hemp in Nebraska. Many have eyed it as a way to diversify their crops, but the state hasn’t developed a way to license and regulate it.

Sen. Justin Wayne, of Omaha, tells the Legislature’s Agriculture Committee he introduced it because he believes farmers and businesses are missing the opportunity.

On his monthly radio call-in show, Gov. Pete Ricketts says his administration is working with Wayne. Ricketts has previously said his hands were tied because hemp had been classified as an illegal and dangerous drug.