Thursday, July 10, 2014

Thursday July 10 Ag News

NFB Foundation for Agriculture Creates Tornado Disaster Relief Fund to Help Farmers and Ranchers

Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture has launched, a Tornado Disaster Relief Fund to provide emergency and residual help to farmers and ranchers in Northeast Nebraska and other areas across the state affected by recent tornadoes.

“When a tornado hits a farmstead or a livestock operation, the needs of farmers and ranchers are a bit different. They need to critically assess how to save their crops and to address the health of their livestock,” Deanna Karmazin, executive director of the Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture.

Many of these emergency actions and needs are not directly supported by government and other non-profit disaster relief efforts, which tend to be more community based, Karmazin said.

“We just think there are unique and extraordinary costs for farmers and ranchers associated with emergency actions needed to continue their production operation and the extraordinary labor involved with the clean-up of fields and livestock facilities. The costs and unanticipated expenses of trying to get their farm business back in operation is a tremendous burden and most emergency disaster programs don’t include this type of assistance,” she said.

The funds collected for the Tornado Disaster Relief Fund will be targeted to farmers and ranchers to help them with immediate needs but cannot get assistance from other sources, including government programs, or have losses that are not covered by insurance.

“We want to provide emergency assistance for farmers and ranchers affected by the tornadoes for such things as food and clothing, prescriptions/medical supplies, feed/fence/relocation costs, vet costs, field clean-up costs, rental assistance/mortgage payment for home or business, utility and propane payments and other critical unmet needs,” she said.

This fund will be used to help farmers and ranchers who supply food and fuel for all Nebraskans, some of whom have lost not only their homes but their way to make a living.

If you would like to donate and help those who grow your food, send donations to:

NFB-Foundation for Agriculture
ATTN: Tornado Relief Fund
P.O. Box 80299
Lincoln, NE 68501.

Or go online to and click on the “Donate” button.

Distribution of the funds collected will be overseen by an “Unmet Needs Committee” created by the NFB Foundation for Agriculture, which will include members of its board, local county extension officials and local County Farm Bureau leaders.

Applications or nomination forms to apply for assistance from this fund can be obtained online at or by contacting the NFB Foundation for Agriculture at 402 421-4400.

Nebraska Grazing Conference in Kearney to Include Live Cattle Handling Demo

            Many will remember the 1998 movie, "The Horse Whisperer," starring Robert Redford. One of the consultants on that movie was Curt Pate from Texas. Pate will show why his expertise was sought by the movie producers when he demonstrates low-stress animal handling techniques at the Buffalo County Fairgrounds on the second day of the 14th annual Nebraska Grazing Conference. Pate's appearance on the program is sponsored in part by the Beef Checkoff.

            The two-day conference will begin at the Kearney Ramada, a change in location from past years' gatherings, on Tuesday, Aug. 12. Topics that day will include: water capture, transfer and storage; soil health and grazing; mob grazing; wildlife and grazing; managing during and after drought; and GrassSnap, a new mobile app for monitoring grasslands.

            Pate will start things off the second day, Aug. 13, with a talk on stockmanship and stewardship fundamentals, followed by three producers who use low-stress cattle handling techniques. Additional morning speakers will address management practices of the 2013 Leopold Conservation Award winner and research on switchgrass for forage and biomass. After lunch the conference will move to the fairgrounds for Pate's live cattle handling and roping demonstration.

            In addition to Pate, conference presenters include faculty in the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources, government agencies and farmers and ranchers who discuss their experiences with various grazing methods.

            Full registration is $80 if postmarked by Aug. 1 and $95 afterward. The fee includes the conference proceedings, lunch both days, evening banquet, pre-banquet social, break refreshments, and the demo at the fairgrounds. One-day registration rate is $45 before Aug. 1 and $55 after, and does not include the evening banquet. Morning walk-in registrations at the hotel are welcome and may be for either or both days. Those interested only in the Pate presentations must complete and pay for a Wednesday-only registration either in advance or on the morning of Aug. 13 at the conference registration desk in the Kearney Ramada.

            Reduced registration fees are offered for full-time high school or college students. Registration fees will be paid by the UNL College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources for students who will still be in high school this fall and who pre-register by the Aug. 1 deadline.

            More information is available at, or from the UNL Center for Grassland Studies at (402) 472-4101, e-mail, or your local UNL extension office.

            The event is sponsored by several public and private organizations, including the conference underwriters: Farm Credit Services of America, Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, Nebraska Grazing Lands Coalition, Merial, and the UNL Center for Grassland Studies.


Bruce Anderson, UNL Extension Forage Specialist

Can hay from summer annual grasses be dry and high quality?  No way, you say?  It can't be done!  Well, if these are your thoughts, let’s see if I can change your mind.

It is difficult to put up good quality hay – hay that is dry and will not heat or mold – from summer annual grasses like sorghum-sudan hybrids, pearl millet, and forage sorghums.  Obviously, this type of hay, which is also called cane hay by some folks, is challenging to bale or stack for most growers.  So let's look at what it takes to make good cane hay.

Nearly all problems making good summer grass or cane hay are caused by the stems.  Stems are low in protein and energy, they are unbearably slow to dry, and the lower stems contain most of the potentially toxic nitrates.

To solve some problems, cut early, when plants are only waist high.  When cut early, stems are smaller, they’re eaten more readily, and the hay contains more protein and energy.  Also, there is less plant volume.  So with smaller stems and fewer of them the hay will dry quicker.

Regardless of when you harvest though, cut it high, leaving eight to ten  inches of stubble.  Tall stubble pays off three ways – it helps plants begin regrowth quicker, it holds hay off the ground so air can help dry underneath, and it keeps many nitrates out in the field stubble rather than harvesting them all in your hay.

And finally, always crimp cane hay.  Even when stems are small, the waxy coating on the stems cause slow drying.  But if you break open these stems by crimping, water will be able to escape and evaporate more quickly.

So cut it early, cut it high.  Crimp the stems and they will dry.

President of American Wind Energy Association to Open 7th Annual Nebraska Wind & Solar Conference

Tom Kiernan, CEO of the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), will open the seventh annual Nebraska Wind and Solar Conference and Exhibition with the Current State of Wind Development on Wednesday, October 29 at 8:45 a.m. This year’s conference, “Turning Challenges into Nebraska Opportunities,” will be October 29-30, 2014 at the La Vista Conference Center.

“We are pleased to have Tom Kiernan open our conference this year,” said Adam Herink, Conference Co-chair. “Tom and AWEA have been at the forefront of wind energy advocacy for many years now.”

Tom Kiernan took the Chief Executive Officer reins of AWEA in May of 2013, and spent the previous 15 years as President of the National Parks Conservation Association. Kiernan graduated from Dartmouth College with a degree in Environmental Computer Modeling and pursued his Masters of Business Administration at Stanford Graduate School of Business. While at Stanford, he served as Assistant to the Director of Oregon’s Department of Environmental Quality.

After college, Kiernan joined the Environmental Protection Agency as Special Assistant to the Assistant Administrator. A year later, he was promoted to Chief of Staff of the Office of Air and Radiation, and later appointed Deputy Assistant Administrator where he was instrumental in the implementation the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments.

“Tom’s experience and education is the foundation for his support of the expansion of wind energy,” said Dan McGuire, conference Co-Chair. “He knows the increase of wind energy use will have a positive impact on the environment and in Nebraska rural communities.”

Registration for the conference is $100 before September 29, $125 between September 29 and October 28 and $150 for walk-in registrations the day of the conference. For participant registration, and to view the program, go to

ASA Applauds Confirmation of Vetter As Chief Agricultural Negotiator

Following the Senate confirmation of Darci Vetter today as Chief Agricultural Negotiator in the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, the American Soybean Association offered its congratulations and best wishes. ASA President and Iowa farmer Ray Gaesser issued the following statement:

"As growers of the nation's largest farm export, soybean farmers have a critical stake in the progress and development of agricultural trade with our foreign partners. Ms. Vetter is a versatile and capable advocate for American agriculture and we send our most sincere congratulations on her confirmation by the Senate. As we move forward with new trade agreements with Europe and our partners in the Pacific Rim, and as we restore and strengthen relationships with existing trading partners, Ms. Vetter will provide a strong voice for American soybean farmers at the highest level."

Vilsack on the Senate Confirmation of Darci Vetter as Chief Agricultural Negotiator

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack today made the following statement on the Senate Confirmation of Darci Vetter as U.S. Chief Agricultural Negotiator:

"I am pleased that America's farmers, ranchers and rural communities will continue to benefit from Darci's experience and background in her new role as U.S. Chief Agricultural Negotiator. As Deputy Under Secretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services, she helped to facilitate record food and farm exports that supported nearly one million jobs here at home and expanded opportunity in rural communities. I have no doubt that Darci will continue to be a valuable advocate for rural America."

Pork - Taste the Revolution

Top restaurateurs know that pork is the perfect way to create menu excitement. From pulled pork and crave-worthy bacon, pork is a standout in new dishes that highlight its flavor and versatility.

“The pork buzz is strong in foodservice, and pork has become a menu must-have at restaurants around the country,” said Stephen Gerike, director of foodservice marketing for the Pork Checkoff.

National sandwich restaurants that have recently been making the most of pork include:

• Subway. The chain tested a Kung Pao Pulled Pork sandwiches in select Midwest markets. The sandwich featured pulled pork in a Kung Pao sauce, a savory blend of garlic and ginger for a sweet-and-spicy flavor.
• Wendy’s. Select restaurants in Rhode Island and southeast Massachusetts tested a BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich. There were three BBQ sauce choices: spicy, smoky, or sweet. The sandwich was topped with slaw and comes on a brioche bun. Customers could also get the pulled pork on cheese fries, or a burger.
• Firehouse Subs. For a limited time, Firehouse Subs featured its new Sweet Thai Chili Pork Sub. The sandwich showcased premium 12-hour smoked pulled pork, Wisconsin pepper Jack cheese, sweet Thai chili sauce, and mayonnaise.
• Cousins Subs. This Wisconsin-based chain brought back its popular Cubano and Pulled Pork & Slaw subs for a limited time only. The Cubano featured ham, genoa salami, pulled pork, Swiss cheese, mayo, brown mustard, sliced dill pickles, onions, and tomatoes on Italian bread. The Pulled Pork & Slaw offered pulled pork, barbecue sauce, and coleslaw piled high on Italian bread.
• Quiznos. The chain rolled out a line of Toasty Pastas at participating locations. Options included Bacon Mac & Cheese, featuring cavatappi macaroni with Romano, Parmesan, provolone and fontina cheeses, topped with bacon and breadcrumbs. Customers could also enjoy Spicy Sausage Marinara Pasta, cavatappi topped with light basil-marinara sauce, mozzarella and spicy pork sausage. A third option included Meatballs Marinara Pasta, with cavatappi topped with mozzarella, marinara sauce and pork-and-beef meatballs filled with grated Romano and ricotta cheeses and a blend of Italian seasonings.
• Togo’s Eateries Inc. This California-based chain introduced the #16 Primo Italian, a flavor-packed Italian sandwich with four premium hand-sliced Italian meats – Fiorucci hot capicola, Margherita pepperoni, Fiorucci dry salami, and Hormel ham. The meat was topped with provolone cheese and Togo’s Italian vinaigrette and served on artisan bread with shredded lettuce, tomato, red onions, pickles and pepperoncinis.
• Taco John’s. Pork is hot at hundreds of Taco John’s restaurants thanks to the Flamin’ Hot Cheetos Burrito. Packed with spicy chorizo, melted nacho cheese, sliced jalapeƱos and chile de arbol salsa, these burritos also included a generous layer of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos.
• Whataburger. Customers could try a new spin on an old favorite with the brand’s new JalapeƱo Cheddar Biscuit, available for a limited time. The biscuit sandwich was served with sausage or bacon, egg and cheese.

Pulled Pork Maintains Momentum

Pork continues to make a flavorful statement on restaurant menus this summer. Through Sept. 30, Togo’s Eateries Inc. is featuring a Cuban sandwich with pulled pork, Black Forest ham, Swiss cheese and tangy pickles with a tangy Cuban mustard dressing on classic white bread.

BBQ is back at Quiznos’, which is featuring two new sandwiches. The Southern BBQ Pulled Pork showcases slow-roasted pulled pork, mozzarella and cheddar cheese, pickles, yellow mustard and Quiznos’ signature BBQ sauce served on a choice of artisan breads, including white, wheat, rosemary parmesan or jalapeno cheddar. The Spicy BBQ Pulled Pork sandwich includes slow-roasted pulled pork, smoky bacon, aged cheddar, cilantro-jalapeno slaw and BBQ sauce on jalapeno cheddar bread.

“Pork’s flavor and versatility make it a top performer in restaurants nationwide,” Gerike said. “We’re onto something big with pork’s potential throughout foodservice.”

USFRA Launches Search for the Country’s Best Agricultural Ambassadors

When it comes to today’s agriculture, the pictures and perceptions of farmers and ranchers often do not match reality. There are many examples of great farmers and ranchers all over the country doing wonderful things to bring food to the table for those around the world. But few of those farmers and ranchers are recognizable by consumers, mainstream media and influencers.

U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance (USFRA®), a unique organization that is a collaboration of nearly 80 farmer- and rancher-led organizations and agricultural partners, wants to change that.

This year, through its Faces of Farming & Ranching program search, USFRA is looking for standout farmers and ranchers who are proud of what they do, eager to share their stories of continuous improvement and are actively involved in sharing those stories in public and on social media to help put a real face on agriculture and shine a light on the heart, personalities and values that are behind today’s food.

“We’re very proud of the improvements our farmers and ranchers are bringing to America’s food supply and we think it’s imperative that they have a strong voice in addressing consumer questions,” said Randy Krotz, chief executive officer at USFRA. “The success we experienced with last year’s ambassadors shows us that people want to hear directly from those who are cultivating our food.”

Farmers and ranchers who grow and raise an assortment of foods through various methods, on differing scale and across all regions of the country are encouraged to apply, as it is important to show American agriculture and all of its diversity. 

To apply for the Faces of Farming & Ranching program, farmers and ranchers must fill out an application form, available at, and include a home video of less than three minutes describing themselves and their farm or ranch. Among other criteria, farmers and ranchers must have an existing social media presence, either through Facebook, Twitter and/or a blog. Information on the application process can be found at Entries will be accepted through August 10, 2014 at 11:59:59 PM CT. 

A combination of public votes and USFRA judges’ scores will determine the winners, who will be announced on November 12 at the National Association of Farm Broadcasting Convention (NAFB) in Kansas City.

The public will get to know the USFRA Faces of Farming & Ranching winners through national media interviews, advertising and public appearances. For their time, they will receive a $15,000 stipend.

“Farmers and ranchers are passionate about their jobs and their communities. Showing that side of the food business by sharing their personal stories is an exciting way to connect Americans with the hardworking and dedicated backbone of agriculture,” Krotz said.

House Subcommittee Hearing Showcases Benefits of Ag Biotech

Yesterday, the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Agriculture's Subcommittee on Horticulture, Research, Biotechnology, and Foreign Agriculture held a hearing to explore the societal benefits of biotechnology. The hearing, which featured four speakers, explored how consumers, farmers and the environment have benefited from traditional and modern applications of biotechnology. Some of the benefits of biotechnology explored include fighting diseases, increasing available food sources and conserving natural resources.

The panel also responded to questions from Committee Members concerning the challenges of relaying factual information about these technologies to the general public.

"It is clear from the hearing today that biotechnology plays a critical role in meeting a number of consumer and societal needs," said Chairman Austin Scott (R-GA) in a statement following the hearing. "In a world where it is important to help feed our expanding population while ensuring that everyone has access to safe, diverse, and quality food, the U.S. can, and should, be a leader in biotech development to address the coming challenges for future generations.  Whether it is treating vitamin deficiency, autoimmune disorders or addressing hunger, biotechnology has and will continue to play a large role in global agriculture."

"It was important to hold this hearing on the benefits of biotechnology because the stakes are high and biotech has a great story to tell," said Acting Chairman Rodney Davis (R-IL), who filled in for Scott at the hearing. "Our farmers have the vital job of feeding a growing world and biotechnology is part of the solution.  I'm excited for the future and believe the United States must continue to safely innovate through biotechnology to achieve higher crop yields, fewer hungry people and an improved environment."

Panelists included Cornell University Dr. David Just, who serves as co-director of the Cornell Center for Behavioral Economics in Child Nutrition Programs at the Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management; John F Kennedy School of Government Professor of Practice of International Development Professor Dr. Calestous Juma, who serves as director of the  Science, Technology, and Globalization Project at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs; Tuskegee University Assistant Professor Dr. Olga Bolden-Tiller and The Farm at Wheeler Mountain owner and dairy farmer Joanna Lidback.

"The U.S. produces the safest and healthiest food and fiber in the world, and biotechnology plays a critical role as we work to meet the needs of a growing population," said Ranking Member Kurt Schrader (D-OR) in a post-hearing statement. " As science and technology advances, it's important that we don't pit different agriculture production systems against one another - we should support all forms of agriculture. From the creation of seeds that can better withstand drought to the development of fortified rice to assist those suffering from a deficiency of essential vitamins and minerals, biotech is playing a crucial role in our society by feeding the world, protecting our environment and improving global health. Today's hearing made it very clear that we still have a lot of work to do to communicate with the public about the benefits of biotech, and I believe this committee can play a vital role in doing just that."

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