Nebraska Corn Industry Faced Challenge, Capitalized on Opportunity in 2015

Source: By The Associated Press • Posted: Thursday, January 7, 2016

LINCOLN, Neb. • During 2015, Nebraska’s corn farmers saw another year of abundant production, but also faced some serious challenges in terms of commodity prices and federal policy.

Leaders of the Nebraska Corn Board (NCB) and Nebraska Corn Growers Association (NeCGA) recently outlined their organizations’ 2015 programs and initiatives on behalf of Nebraska’s 23,000 corn farmers.

The Nebraska Corn Board manages the half-cent-per-bushel checkoff on all corn marketed and sold within the state. The nine-member board is made up of Nebraska corn farmers who determine where those dollars are invested.

“In response to lower commodity prices, 2015 saw a high priority on building demand for corn and corn-related products — and on helping farmers improve efficiency, sustainability and profitability,” said Kelly Brunkhorst, executive director of the Nebraska Corn Board. “At the same time, we continued to focus on our cornerstone issues of market development, research, education and promotion.”

  • Some key highlights of Nebraska Corn Board activity and investments during 2015 include:
  • Through a partnership with several other state agencies, the Nebraska Corn Board helped apply for a federal grant to increase the number of flex-fuel pumps across Nebraska. The successful grant and matching funds will provide more than $3 million to establish new pumps in key markets that offer a wide range of American Ethanol blends.
  • Oversaw the launch of the new American Ethanol brand at fuel pumps, making Nebraska one of the first states in the nation to implement the consumer branding effort that emerged from the American Ethanol partnership with NASCAR.
  • Participated in continuing discussions with the nation’s auto manufacturers regarding the next generation of automobile engines capable of operating on higher ethanol blends.
  • Worked with its national cooperators to increase exports of corn, ethanol, distillers grains, red meat and other value-added corn-based products.
  • In partnership with the University of Nebraska—Lincoln (UNL), the Nebraska Corn Board has helped fund research managing herbicide-resistant weeds, canopy sensor research for improved nitrogen fertilizer efficiency, the use of distillers grains in beef and dairy feed rations, and the development and release of the new Decide NOW marketing app.
  • Conducted a strategic survey of Nebraska corn farmers to help guide overall research priorities for Nebraska Corn Board investments.
  • Nebraska corn checkoff funds have also established a new Presidential Chair faculty position at UNL which will be focused on new uses for corn. That position should be filled in early 2016.
  • The Nebraska Corn Board also supported a number of youth development initiatives including scholarships and internships with the Board’s major cooperators including the National Corn Growers Association, U.S. Grains Council and U.S. Meat Export Federation.
  • NCB also initiated its new Ag Champions competition which engaged Nebraska’s FFA chapters in becoming advocates for agriculture.
  • Promoted the responsible expansion of Nebraska’s livestock industry through research, partnerships and engagement with the Alliance for the Future of Agriculture in Nebraska (A-FAN).
  • Continued to provide financial support and expertise for Raising Nebraska, the award-winning exhibit on the Nebraska State Fairgrounds focused on helping consumers discover more about their food and the families who grow it.

The Nebraska Corn Growers Association is a membership association supported by dues-paying corn farmers and others who support the state’s corn industry. NeCGA complements the activities of the Nebraska Corn Board by serving as the “boots-on-the-ground” grassroots advocacy organization for Nebraska’s corn farmers.

“NeCGA is the voice for Nebraska corn farmers in the State Capitol and on Capitol Hill,” said Larry Mussack, a Decatur, Neb., corn farmer and president of the Nebraska Corn Growers Association. “Our focus is on creating a positive policy and regulatory environment for corn farmers and developing and empowering the grassroots network needed to tell our story to decision-makers and the public. This past year certainly kept us busy on all fronts.”

  • During 2015, the Nebraska Corn Growers Association:
  • Continued to advocate for the interests of corn farmers as the Nebraska Legislature especially in the area of property tax relief.
  • Became highly engaged at the federal level on issues such as the Waters of the U.S., the Renewable Fuel Standard and trade promotion authority and the Renewable Fuel Standard.
  • Announced the formation of the new Central Plains local chapter, which involves corn farmers in Boone, Nance and Platte counties.
  • Spearheaded the development of a new “Nebraska Corn” specialty license plate in the state.
  • Sponsored training on grain engulfment prevention and response—and helped place five grain engulfment rescue tubes with first responders across the state.
  • Sponsored highly successful “Ethanol Night at the Races” events at four race tracks across Nebraska—and promoted renewable fuels at the NeCGA booth at Husker Harvest Days.
  • Sponsored thirteen Nebraska farmers, including farm couples, as part of its annual leadership event in Washington, DC, to inspire involvement and engagement in key issues and advocacy for the corn industry.
  • Sponsored its third Grassroots Advocacy Training workshop to help Nebraska corn farmers become informed and confident spokespersons for their industry.
  • Helped raise funds for the Food Bank of Lincoln and the Food Bank of the Heartland through golf tournaments and other activities.

Nebraska Corn was also well-represented on the national level this past year. Alan Tiemann, a corn farmer from Seward, Neb., and a farmer-director on the Nebraska Corn Board, is the current chairman of the U.S. Grains Council. Jon Holzfaster, a corn farmer from Paxton, Neb., and a farmer-director on the Nebraska Corn Board, is on the board of the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA). Lynn Chrisp, a Kenesaw, Neb., corn farmer and board member of the Nebraska Corn Growers Association, also serves on the NCGA board.

“In response to lower commodity prices, 2015 saw a high priority on building demand for corn and corn-related products — and on helping farmers improve efficiency, sustainability and profitability.” Kelly Brunkhorst, executive director of the Nebraska Corn Board