Saturday, April 16, 2022

Friday April 15 Ag News

Ribbon cutting, open house set for new agriculture facilities at Northeast Community College

The public is invited to attend ribbon cutting ceremonies for the new agriculture facilities at Northeast Community College on Tue., April 26. Tours will be offered from 1-4 p.m., with the ribbon cutting scheduled at 1:30 p.m. in front of the vet tech building. In case of inclement weather, the ribbon cutting will be moved inside.

The new facilities are located near the Chuck M. Pohlman Ag Complex at 2301 E. Benjamin Ave. in Norfolk. The veterinary technology clinic and classroom building is a 38,431 square foot facility with classrooms, labs, surgery suite, radiology, kennels and exercise areas, as well as collaborative space for students and offices for faculty.

The farm operations/large animal handling facility is a dual-purpose steel building that provides 11,238 square feet of farm shop space and 10,389 square feet for animal agriculture that includes a bud box for working large animals, horse stalls and stanchions, a wash bay, and a mezzanine for safe observation.

The farm ops/large animal building is located on the new site of the Acklie Family College Farm, north of the Pohlman Ag Complex. Other structures on the site are a three-sided commodities storage building, a small animal shelter, feedlots and sorting pens. There is approximately seven acres that can be used as livestock pens and outdoor classroom area.

Brandon McLean, executive director of physical plant at Northeast, said nearly 65 acres was modified in some manner for the Nexus project. More than 150,000 cubic yards of earth material was moved to create the site. The cost of construction was $19,748,000, with another $2.5 million for furnishings and equipment.

Dr. Tracy Kruse, vice president of development and external affairs and executive director of the Northeast Foundation, said the improvements were made possible by donations from area residents, businesses and foundations.

“Without the nearly $12-million donated to the Nexus campaign,” she explained, “these buildings would still be a dream. Instead, because of the foresight of so many generous individuals, agriculture students at Northeast now learn in state-of-the art facilities that match the cutting-edge curriculum taught by the Northeast ag faculty.”

Kruse also thanked the College Board of Governors for their support of the project.

“The Governors set aside $10-million in the College capital budget over multiple years for this project,” Kruse said. “The result is a private-public partnership to support the area’s number one industry, agriculture.”

The $5-million lead gift for the ag facilities came from the Acklie Charitable Foundation. Both Phyllis Acklie and the late Duane Acklie attended Norfolk Junior College, one of the predecessor institutions that merged to form Northeast Community College. Other significant donations came from the Sherwood Foundation, Peter Kiewit Foundation, Norman W. Ochsner Estate, Sunderland Foundation and TC Energy,

“Every gift to this project is important,” Kruse said, “whether it was $5-million or $5. Agriculture is the future of our area, and these facilities make it possible to train the future farmers and ranchers who live and work in area communities.”

Kruse said donations are still being accepted. Checks can be mailed to the Northeast Foundation at P.O. Box 469, Norfolk, Neb. 68702. Donations can also be made online at All donations $500 and above are on display on a large donor wall inside the vet tech facility.

“We hope everyone in the community takes the opportunity to tour these new buildings on April 26,” Kruse said. “We are so proud of our ag department and the work they do every day. We want to share our excitement over these new facilities with our alumni, regional employers and the residents of the 20-county area served by Northeast.”

2022 Nebraska Beef Passport Begins May 1

After a successful launch of the Nebraska Beef Passport in 2021, the Nebraska Beef Council has announced that the 2022 Beef Passports are now available for pre-order. The campaign officially begins May 1, 2022 featuring over 40 restaurants from across the state that serve outstanding beef.   
The program, funded by Nebraska beef producers through their Beef Checkoff, urges people to visit participating restaurants where they can order their favorite beef menu items, earn stamps, and be entered to win prizes. The goal of the program is to highlight Nebraska’s beef industry while encouraging beef meal purchases at local restaurants throughout the state.    

“We had a tremendous response last year and we’re looking forward to even more participation as we expand the program,” said Adam Wegner, director of marketing for the Nebraska Beef Council. “A few of the changes this year include some new restaurant locations, more prize opportunities, and the addition of a mobile friendly passport. This program provides a great opportunity to visit different places throughout the state and enjoy some of the best beef Nebraska has to offer.”  

Nebraska Beef Passports are free and can be obtained at or from any of the participating restaurants. Each earned stamp qualifies as an entry into the drawing for one of two beef bundle give-a-ways valued at $250 each. Additional prizes will be awarded to participants who reach milestones of five, ten or 30 stamps as well as a special prize drawing for acquiring digital stamps.  

Beef Passport holders are encouraged join the Good Life Great Steaks Nebraska Beef Passport group on Facebook to stay up to date on the latest news and special offers. Members can gain access to additional information about the featured restaurants, share their photos and experiences with other members, and even become eligible to win additional prizes. The final date to collect stamps is September 30, 2022.  

For additional information, visit or contact the Nebraska Beef Council office at 1-800-421-5326.   

Nebraska Farm Bureau Political Action Committee Endorses 13 Candidates for Election and Re-election to the Nebraska Legislature

The Nebraska Farm Bureau Political Action Committee (NEFB-PAC) has announced its slate of endorsements for candidates seeking election to the Nebraska Legislature. The NEFB-PAC endorsements are based on the candidate’s positions on agriculture and rural issues and recommendations from district evaluation committees made up of farmer and rancher members.

“We are pleased to announce our support for a number of candidates seeking both election and re-election to serve in the Nebraska Legislature. Given the important role farmers and ranchers play in helping produce our food and the prominent role agriculture plays in supporting our state’s broader economy, it’s important we elect leaders who have an appreciation for and understanding of both,” said Sherry Vinton of Whitman, chair of NEFB-PAC and first vice president of Nebraska Farm Bureau.

NEFB-PAC endorsed candidates seeking re-election to the Legislature:
    District 2 – Robert Clements of Elmwood
    District 16 – Ben Hansen of Blair
    District 22 – Mike Moser of Columbus
    District 30 – Myron Dorn of Adams
    District 32 – Tom Brandt of Plymouth
    District 38 – Dave Murman of Glenvil

NEFB-PAC endorsed candidates seeking election to the Legislature in open races:
    District 4 – Brad von Gillern of Omaha
    District 12 – Merv Riepe of Omaha
    District 34 – Loren Lippincott of Central City
    District 36 – Rick Holdcroft of Bellevue
    District 40 – Mark Patefield of Laurel
    District 44 – Teresa Ibach of Sumner
    District 48 – Brian Hardin of Gering and Don Lease II of Bridgeport

“We look forward to supporting this slate of candidates in their election efforts. They all bring unique leadership styles and will work to balance Nebraska’s property tax burden, expand rural broadband, and grow rural economic development. Those running for re-election have a proven track record and have made valuable and positive contributions in the Legislature. We believe those seeking office in open races possess similar abilities to lead our state moving forward,” said Vinton.

Funding will help rural entities regain their footing  

The Center for Rural Affairs commends members of the Nebraska Legislature for their approval of several key pieces of legislation this session and thanks lawmakers for supporting industries that help make rural Nebraska strong.

“Nebraska lawmakers solidified the importance of small entrepreneurs, local meat processors, and family farms to our state’s economy and way of life,” said Johnathan Hladik, policy director for the Center. “Their support preserves a healthy future for rural Nebraska.”

Hladik said the Legislature’s approval of $10 million for the Independent Processor Assistance Program (IPAP) will help processors keep up with an historic increase in demand for their services. Applicants will be eligible to receive financial assistance for buildings, equipment, technology, and workforce training. This approval follows up a commitment made in 2021 when legislation to establish IPAP was unanimously approved.

The Legislature also made needed changes to the Microenterprise Assistance Program to better support the small business entrepreneurs that are looking to grow. This includes increasing the annual funding made available to the program from $2 million to $3 million and raising existing limits on the size of loans community lenders can make from $100,000 to $150,000.

“These actions ensure the Center and other community lenders can continue working with entrepreneurs to start or grow their business,” Hladik said. “Increasing the loan size will make a world of difference to main street business owners by cutting down on paperwork and removing the need for many to seek secondary sources of funding to complete basic business loans.”

Webinar: Financial Health Check

Apr 21, 2022 12:00 PM
With Jessica Groskopf, Agricultural Economist, Nebraska Extension

This webinar will take a closer look at farm and ranch balance sheets and help you answer the questions: How healthy is your business? What are the financial vital signs? What are banks looking for when loaning you money for your operation?

Presented by the Center for Agricultural Profitability at the University of Nebraska.  Get more inforamtion and register at  

Beef Checkoff Hosts Nutrition Adventure

Beef councils from Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma hosted a select group of 17 registered dietitians from 12 states for a virtual nutrition program. “Our checkoff-funded event emphasized beef’s nutritional profile and culinary versatility through practical applications and interactive presenters and activities,” said Mitch Rippe, Director of Nutrition and Education with the Nebraska Beef Council.  The attendees were selected given their high level of involvement on social media, blog platforms and within university dietetic programs.

Attendees of the checkoff-funded event learned about beef nutrition, including lean cuts of beef, and emerging human nutrition research. The checkoff-funded event addressed misinformation during a presentation by registered dietitian Amy Goodson titled “Beef Facts: Taking Your Knowledge from Rare to Well-done.” Throughout the presentation, Amy challenged five common misperceptions about beef with practical advice in a myth busting format. As the attendees acquired new information about beef nutrition, interactive culinary experiences provided these health professionals with the tools to share their newfound knowledge with clients and patients. On the first day of the virtual event, attendees were provided a live cutting and cooking demonstration with ideas on how to stretch top sirloin steak 3 ways. “Improving attendees’ skills in preparing beef enhances their effectiveness as they share new cooking skills with clients and patients in-person and on social media,” said Rippe.   

The program’s professional development sessions also focused on key areas such as sustainability, animal handling and animal health and welfare through virtual ranch tours and a panel discussion with experts in the beef community. Attendees explored the beef lifecycle with ranchers, who shared their operations with attendees through virtual ranch tours and connected with attendees as they answered questions about beef production.  The panel discussion had many takeaways and sound bites for the dietitian attendees to use with clients that are confused about beef production. Topics varied from humane animal handling practices to growth hormones.   

The virtual checkoff-funded event concluded with a presentation by Dr. Donald Layman, a leading protein research expert, who shared the importance of protein quality, quantity and bioavailability as well as the unique role beef cattle play within sustainable diets. Lastly, attendees took part in an interactive cooking demonstration with registered dietitian Carolyn Williams. Carolyn’s “edu-taining” approach highlighted the latest research surrounding lean beef consumption and the positive impact it appears to have on inflammatory markers and health improvements when incorporated into the popular Mediterranean eating pattern. The high-quality food demonstrations left the audience both inspired and educated to incorporate lean beef into a variety of recipes.

Land O' Lakes to Close Iowa Purina Facility

Land O' Lakes announced it will close its Sheldon, Iowa, animal feed facility this summer. The cooperative's Purina Animal Nutrition division will cease manufacturing of Purina Feeds, effective July 1, 2022.

The Purina Feed plants at Sioux City and Sioux Falls, as well as their Nutra Blend feed plant in Mason City, will continue manufacturing Purina Feeds, according to parent company Land O’ Lakes.

Company officials say all employees of the Sheldon plant will have the opportunity to apply for positions at the company’s other locations.

ASA, Ag Groups Voice Support for Current U.S.-Panama TPA

The American Soybean Association and fellow agricultural organizations are urging the administration to support the current U.S.-Panama Trade Promotion Agreement. This letter is in response to the March 16 request to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative and the U.S. Department of Agriculture from the government of Panama, requesting a renegotiation of agricultural provisions in the agreement.

In a letter sent this week, the agriculture groups argue the agreement is still in the process of being fully implemented with gradual annual tariff reductions and small growth in tariff rate quotas (TRQs). Panama’s TRQs for pork and pork products, chicken, dairy, potatoes, onions, kidney beans, corn, rice, and processed tomatoes have been in place for 10 years and were negotiated to slowly transition and minimize potential negative impacts.

Additionally, making modifications to an implemented TPA would be an alarming precedent to set. With the lack of any current new free trade agreement negotiations taking place, uninterrupted implementation of the current market access opportunities secured through existing FTAs is more vital for American farmers and food manufacturers. Panamanian consumers welcome high-quality U.S.-grown and produced goods, and the TPA helps U.S.-origin products be cost competitive with other foreign suppliers.

K-State receives $1.5 million grant for food, agriculture and veterinary defense project

The National Agricultural Biosecurity Center at Kansas State University is receiving a more than $1.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to protect the nation's food supply.

With the grant from DHS's Food, Agriculture and Veterinary Defense Division, the center will seek ways to support the production and economic health of the food and agricultural sectors and sustain human health through a stable and resilient food and agricultural supply chain.

"A robust defense of our nation's agriculture and food systems is as important as ever as supply chains and critical infrastructure incur heightened exposures to risk," said Adrian Self, operations research analyst at the National Agricultural Biosecurity Center, or NABC.

"Enhancing the resiliency of the food and agricultural enterprise, especially in preharvest sectors, against disruption and providing producers, processors and government agencies tools to enhance situational awareness is essential," Self said. "This is the task that has been given to the NABC."

The center will support the Food, Agriculture and Veterinary Defense Division in its role to address vulnerabilities, threats and capabilities needed for food, agriculture and veterinary readiness, overall critical Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency sector resilience, and further aiding in efforts to secure the nation's food supply, agricultural, economic and human health.

The National Agricultural Biosecurity Center has performed similar work on behalf of the U.S. Department of Defense, U.S. Department of Agriculture and Office of the Director for National Intelligence. The center also has collaborations with K-State colleges, departments and units, in addition to the federal National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility and the Kansas Department of Agriculture.

"This proposal continues previous exploratory and developmental work performed by NABC through prior DHS Food, Agriculture and Veterinary Defense Division tasks and contracts," said Marty Vanier, center director. "NABC's established working relationships and prior collaborative projects with other academic institutions; diagnostic and research laboratories; federal, state, and local agency partners; pre- and post-harvest production, processing and supply chain associations; and private industry has prepared our program to be a dominant actor in driving progress on priorities key to the nation's security."

The projects involved in these undertakings include assessing county-level readiness and capacity to respond to a high-consequence food or agricultural incident; updating animal disease response training; framework development for sharing food and agriculture information, data, and analysis; and assisting the integration and collaboration amongst federal, state, local, research and industry stakeholders.

The National Agricultural Biosecurity Center supports applied scientific research to develop practical agro-security capabilities and programs addressing diverse threats to U.S. and world agricultural economies and food supply chains. It engages elements from local, county, state, and federal governments to enhance national food security.

USDA Announces $9.98 Million in Grants Awarded to Strengthen the Specialty Crop Industry

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced it has awarded $9.98 million to 14 collaborative, multi-state projects impacting 28 states to enhance the competitiveness of U.S. specialty crops. The funding is made possible through the Specialty Crop Multi-State Program (SCMP), reauthorized by the 2018 Farm Bill.

SCMP strengthens food safety; seeks new ways to address plant pests, disease and other crop-specific issues; and increases marketing opportunities for specialty crops—fruits, vegetables, tree nuts and dried fruits to horticulture and nursery crops, including floriculture.

“The specialty crop industry faces unique challenges, and with funding from the Specialty Crop Multi-State program, USDA provides resources for recipients to work across state lines to find innovative, research-based solutions that address problems at both the regional and national levels,” said USDA Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Jenny Lester Moffitt. “This year's funded projects will address of a range of those challenges, from energy and water saving in vine plants, finding cost-effective solutions for heat tolerance and drought, to addressing food safety risks for produce.”

Funding is awarded competitively to state departments of agriculture that partner with stakeholder organizations in two or more states. In this FY 2022 cycle, USDA received 79 applications and funded 14.

This year’s projects include:
    The California Department of Food and Agriculture’s collaboration with Washington, Oregon, California, Michigan, and Vermont along with primary blueberry researchers and extension professionals will create a user-friendly tool to optimize plant mixes that decrease pests and support habitat creation in blueberries to increase pollination.

    The University of Georgia Research Foundation, Inc. will collaborate with Florida, Georgia, and Alabama to address risks tied to bioaerosols from poultry and cattle production on adjacent property, which has impacted food-born illness outbreaks in fresh produce.

    The University of Iowa and Montana State University will collaborate to investigate a series of new fertilizer additives to improve the performance of sweet corn, seed potatoes, and radishes, making them resistant to heat and drought stress and improving harvest yields.

    The Boston Area Gleaners Inc.’s collaboration in six New England states will increase access to the Boston market and reduce distribution cost through logistical efficiencies. This network will increase the volume of regional produce to consumers in eastern Massachusetts and connect food businesses across New England.

    Mississippi State University will collaborate with North Carolina and Louisiana to address postharvest quality evaluation, grading and sorting of sweet-potato storage roots in these three major sweet-potato producing states.

    The South Carolina Department of Agriculture will collaborate with entities in Georgia and Alabama to develop and provide holistic fertilization guidelines to the stone tree fruit industry to understand the influence of orchard-specific characteristics on tree nutrient dynamics.

    The Texas Department of Agriculture will collaborate with entities in Kansas and Indiana to study and disseminate a clear set of sod production and lawn management guidelines for improved, low-input zoysiagrass cultivars with valued attributes for consumers.

    The Washington State Department of Agriculture’s collaboration with Washington State University, Oregon State University, and USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) addresses climate change that threatens food security and has impacted global food production. Benefits will include information on cost-effective technologies to avoid or reduce the impacts of extreme heat, knowledge of physiological and genetic mechanisms that contribute to heat tolerance.

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