Friday, August 29, 2014

Gov. Heineman Proclaims Nebraska Preparedness Month

 

State Officials Remind Citizens: Be Disaster Aware
(Lincoln, Neb.)   Gov. Dave Heineman is reminding citizens to take the time to prepare for emergencies and disasters in September, which he has proclaimed Nebraska Preparedness Month. Nebraska Preparedness Month correlates with National Preparedness Month.
“When disaster strikes, we need to be prepared to take care of ourselves and our families for at least 72 hours,” Gov. Heineman said. “A disaster supply kit is a collection of basic items your household may need in the event of an emergency. Local officials and relief workers may not be able to help everyone immediately after a disaster, so it is recommended that you have your own food, water and supplies. Nebraska Preparedness Month is a good time to communicate emergency plans with family and friends, and to build a kit or update the one you already have.”
Gov. Heineman has a simple message to share, “Be informed. Make a Plan. Build a Kit.” The Governor, the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and local emergency managers across the state are urging Nebraskans to plan now for what they would need to do in a disaster and to have a kit of materials to take care of themselves and their families.
“Tornadoes, floods and fires could affect Nebraskans with little or no notice,” said Maj. Gen. Daryl Bohac, Adjutant General of the Nebraska National Guard. “We all need to be prepared to take care of ourselves and those we care about until help can arrive. The best time to plan and assemble an emergency preparedness kit is right now.”
A national website, www.ready.gov, has a fill-in-the-blank plan available to make it easy to assemble most of the information needed for personal emergency plans. More information is also available at www.bereadynebraska.com, a site maintained by Nebraska local emergency managers.
“The state’s local emergency managers and NEMA have plans to address a wide range of natural and man-made disasters, but individuals and families must be prepared to assume a role in personal health and safety emergency preparedness,” said NEMA Assistant Director Bryan Tuma. “Plans should include where to meet if a home is destroyed and include a list of important personal information, including medical information, for every family member. Our health, and the health of our loved ones, could very well depend on our kit and our plan if there is a major disaster.”
Dr. Joseph Acierno, Chief Medical Officer and Director of the Division of Public Health at the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services added, “We know planning now saves lives later. Nebraskans can protect themselves and their families by being prepared. We can’t prevent a disaster but we can be better prepared to respond to one.”

Emergency kits should include items such as:
  • battery-powered or crank radio
  • weather alert radio
  • extra batteries
  • first aid kit
  • sanitary wipes
  • dust mask
  • water for drinking and sanitation
  • water purification tablets
  • waterproof matches and/or butane lighter
  • crank flashlight
  • plastic sheeting
  • non-perishable food for at least three days
  • disinfectants and medications.
  • medical information for entire family, including details about dosages of required medications and a list of known health issues

It is important to consider a few seasonal needs such as extra water for hydration and bug repellants in the summer and warm clothes and sleeping bags for winter months. Visit www.ready.gov for a complete list
“Store your kit and support materials where you can find them easily and move them quickly,” Assistant Director Tuma said. “The best-supplied kit may not do any good if you can’t take it with you.  Consider using a buddy system with nearby families, to help and support one another in the case of extreme emergencies.
NEMA works to reduce the vulnerabilities of the people and communities of Nebraska from the damage, injury and loss of life and property resulting from natural, technological, or man-mad disasters and emergencies.
For more information, visit www.nema.nebraska.gov and check out these tips for being prepared for severe weather: http://www.nema.ne.gov/response-recovery/severe-storm-guide.html and
http://www.nema.ne.gov/response-recovery/winter-weather.html
Follow NEMA on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/nema.page?ref=hl
and on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/NEMAtweets
 

Monday, August 25, 2014

Retracing the Steps of a Civil Rights Leader

Sen. Mike Johanns
An imprisoned Native American chief, an unlikely cadre of Nebraskans and a harrowing journey led to one of America’s earliest civil rights victories 135 years ago. In an Omaha court room, Ponca Chief Standing Bear argued that Native Americans are people and should have equal protections under the law.  Holding out his hand, he famously said, “That hand is not the color of yours. But if I pierce it, I shall feel pain. If you pierce your hand you also feel pain. The blood that will flow from mine will be the same color as yours. I am a man. The same God made us both.” His words would help secure new hope and opportunity for Native Americans and finally bring to a close a long and painful chapter for a wandering Nebraska tribe.
In the mid-1800s Standing Bear and his Ponca people lived in what is now northeast Nebraska. As more settlers moved west, the tribe faced increasing pressure to give up their land. To avoid clashes with the government, the tribe agreed to move to what it believed was the nearby Omaha reservation. The agreement, which had been mistranslated, actually forced the tribe to relocate to Indian Territory in present-day Oklahoma, far from their hallowed farming and burial grounds.
In the spring of 1877, the tribe begrudgingly left behind their homes, land and farming equipment. The 600-mile journey was challenging and fraught with risks. More than 150 Ponca died on the trail. When they finally arrived in the sweltering summer of 1878, planting season had ended. The ground was rocky and unfertile, yielding little hope for future crops. By year’s end, nearly a third of the tribe had succumbed to starvation and other diseases.  Standing Bear’s teenage son, Bear Shield, was one of the fallen. His dying wish was to be buried in his homeland of Nebraska.
Standing Bear vowed to honor Bear Shield’s last request, so in early 1879, the Chief and dozens of other Ponca set out once again to return to the Niobrara Valley for the burial. Upon reaching Omaha, they were promptly arrested for leaving Indian Territory without permission by a sympathetic general who was under orders to return them to Oklahoma. Instead, he shared their story with an Omaha journalist. The case quickly gained the attention of a pair of prominent Omaha attorneys who agreed to represent Standing Bear.  In the ensuing trial, the Ponca Chief uttered those famous words, urging the court to treat natives with the inherent respect and dignity granted to all persons under the law. The court agreed, marking the first time the law recognized Native Americans as “persons.”
Chief Standing Bear’s case is an important part of our history, and a shining example of what can be accomplished through our judicial system.  To commemorate this bold stand for civil rights, I recently introduced legislation to begin the process of creating a new Standing Bear National Historic Trail that would follow his journey from his homeland to Indian Territory and back to Nebraska, where the trial was held. Congressman Jeff Fortenberry introduced the House version, and this week, Senator Fischer and I are calling for a Senate committee hearing to consider and approve the bill.
This project would help more Americans understand the significance of Chief Standing Bear’s contributions to civil rights, and the role courageous Nebraskans played in changing the course of American History. I hope Chief Standing Bear’s story will continue to inspire the brave and noble pursuit of equality under the law for all mankind.

Gov. Heineman Provides Ag Update, Promotes Ag Internationally & Discusses State Fair

 

 
(Lincoln, Neb.) Today, Gov. Dave Heineman and Greg Ibach, Director of the Department of Agriculture, highlighted several positive activities within the agriculture sector, including a new ag building being featured at Nebraska’s State Fair and recent international export efforts for Nebraska commodities.
“Today, our state’s agriculture industry is more vibrant and active than ever,” Gov. Heineman said. “The Nebraska State Fair is booming. Livestock development is expanding and exports continue to increase.”
Gov. Heineman added, “With more than a quarter of our economy rooted in agriculture, it’s appropriate that Nebraskans take note of recent activities that continue to strengthen our ag sector.”
Weekend crowds at the Nebraska State Fair were able to enjoy learning about agriculture at the new Raising Nebraska exhibit space at the Nebraska Building. The 25,000-foot space features interactive educational experiences to help answer consumer questions about how their food and fuel is raised. Governor Heineman visited the Raising Nebraska exhibit space while attending the fair on Friday.
“Historically, the Nebraska State Fair has been a celebration of agriculture, and this new feature really highlights that point,” Gov. Heineman said. “I am proud that Raising Nebraska represents the collective efforts of the University of Nebraska, the Department of Agriculture, our commodity groups and agribusinesses.”
Director Ibach said recent livestock development activity is a positive sign that farmers and agribusinesses recognize the ongoing opportunities in the state.
“Nebraska agriculture is on the move. Recent swine and dairy barn openings represent added value to our raw commodities and livestock volume to support our processors. We are looking forward to continuing this momentum,” Dir. Ibach said.
Governor Heineman also highlighted Nebraska’s ongoing agricultural efforts in international markets. The Department of Agriculture recently has hosted international visitors as part of its ongoing work to brand Nebraska agriculture goods in the foreign marketplace. Customers from both Germany and England spent time in the past month meeting with the Governor and state agriculture leaders, touring farms, ranches and processors to gain an understanding of the state’s beef production sector.
“They are taking back promotional materials, such as photos, videos and stories from their visits,” Dir. Ibach said. “They leave for home saying, ‘This is exactly the kind of information our customers want to see and hear.’”
One customer from England began visiting Nebraska five years ago, after receiving an initial shipment of Nebraska beef into his high-end steakhouse restaurant, Goodman, in London. He has brought members of his restaurant team back annually and increased his purchase of Nebraska beef steadily since then.
Nebraska’s beef exports to Europe have increased significantly over the past five years, from about $41 million in 2009 to $132.6 million last year.
 

UPCOMING EVENTS:

UPCOMING EVENTS

 
Aug. 22-Sept. 1: Nebraska State Fair, Fonner Park, Grand Island, NE http://www.statefair.org/fair/
Aug. 27: UNL Precision Ag & Soil and Water Properties Clinic, ARDC, Mead, NE http://ardc.unl.edu/cmdc.shtml
Aug. 28:  Crop Management Diagnostic Clinic, ARDC Mead, NE  http://ardc.unl.edu/cmdc.shtml
Aug. 28: High Plains Nutrition & Management Roundtable, West Central Water Research Lab, Brule, NE http://www.nutritionroundtable.org/
Aug. 31: South Central Cattlemen Association at Nebraska Cattlemen’s Beef Pit at the Nebraska State Fair
Aug. 31: Quilts of Valor Presentation”, Nebraska State Fair beginning at 10:00 a.m. in the 4-H Building. 
Sept. 1: Labor Day
Sept. 3: IANR All Hands Meeting, 9-11:00 a.m., Nebraska East Union, Great Plains Room at http://ianrhome.unl.edu/ianr-2025
Sept. 7: National Grandparent's Day
Sept. 7: CASNR Reunion, UNL East Campus Union, prior to the Nebraska vs. Illinois Homecoming football game
Sept. 9-11: Husker Harvest Days
Sept. 11: National Patriot’s Day
Sept. 11: Webster County Fairboard Meeting, Webster County Fairgrounds, Exhibit Hall, Bladen, NE 8:00 pm
Sept. 13: Red Cloud September Fest, City Park and Community Center, Red Cloud, NE www.redcloudnebraska.com  402-746-2211
Sept. 17: Silver Lake Farm Safety Day, Webster County Fairgrounds, Bladen, NE
Sept. 22: Autumn Officially Begins - 3:44 pm CDT
Sept. 23: Animal Science Open House at East Campus, UNL  6 – 8 pm at the Animal Science Complex at UNL
Sept. 26: Nebraska Expanded Learning Conference, LaVista Embassy Suites, TBA
Sept. 26-29: Ak-Sar-Ben River City Roundup, CenturyLink Center, Omaha, NE http://www.rivercityrodeo.com/
Sept. 30: Webster County Government Day, Webster County Courthouse, Red Clous, NE
Oct. 5: Harvest Celebration, Prairie Loft Center, Hastings, NE 1:00 – 6:00 pm, Amy Sandeen amy@prairieloft.org
Oct. 5: World Teacher's Day
Oct. 8: South Central Land Judging, Little Blue NRD TBA
Oct. 9-10: UNL Extension Front Door Forum - TBA
Oct. 13: Columbus Day
Oct. 13: Webster County Fairboard Meeting, Webster County Fairgrounds, Exhibit Hall, Bladen, NE 7:30 pm
Oct. 29-30: Nebraska Wind and Solar Conference and Exhibition La Vista Conference Center, www.NebraskaWindandSolarConference.com
Oct. 29-Nov. 1: National FFA Convention, Louisville, KY
Oct. 31: Halloween
Nov. 2: Daylight Savings Time Ends, Turn Clocks Back
Nov. 3; 2014 ELAP notice of loss and application for payment deadline, Contact local FSA Office
Nov. 4: Election Day
Nov. 4-5: The State of Beef Conference, Sandhills Convention Center, North Platte, NE Rick Funston rfunston2@unl.edu
Nov. 11: Veteran’s Day
Nov. 17: Final acreage reporting date (2015 perennial forage and fall seeded crops) Contact your local FSA Office
Nov. 22: CSI Barn Brewski, Bladen, NE
Nov. 27: Thanksgiving Day 
Dec. 4: Webster Co. Christmas Greenery Workshop, Webster County Fairgrounds, Exhibit Hall, Bladen, NE ckumke2@unl.edu 402-746-3417
Dec. 6: Webster Co. Christmas Greenery Workshop, Webster County Fairgrounds, Exhibit Hall, Bladen, NE ckumke2@unl.edu 402-746-3417
Dec.10-12: Nebraska Cattlemen Annual Convention, TBA, Kearney, NE
Dec. 11: Webster County Fairboard Meeting, Webster County Fairgrounds, Exhibit Hall, Bladen, NE 7:30 pm
Dec. 25: Christmas
 
 

Saturday, August 23, 2014

STRAIGHT FROM THE HORSES MOUTH

Duane A. Lienemann
UNL Extension Educator
 
     It seems that we just finished county fair and here I am at the Nebraska State Fair. I am at the State Fair Livestock Office working on stalling assignments for 4-H and FFA beef, which can be rather challenging.  Involvement in the Nebraska State Fair has been a ritual for me for many years.
 I remember going to Lincoln for my very first Nebraska State Fair. I believe it was around 1955 and I had the opportunity to go with my dad and grandfather.  They were going there to look at farm machinery and livestock, but I think in many ways it was social for them too, much like it is for me. Their catching up with relatives or other fellow farmers and stockmen gave me plenty of time to crawl on and marvel at these shiny new wonders or to walk through the barns to see the best livestock in our state and maybe the world! I don’t think I have missed a year ever since, either as a wide eyed farm kid marveling at the carnival rides or all the sights and sounds and “oh – so many people” or in later years as a 4-H and FFA exhibitor, participating in the Nebraska State 4-H Livestock Judging Contest, then college student, and finally my adult years as an FFA Advisor and an UNL Extension Educator.
     I know that it is hard for my family and probably a lot of other people to understand just what I see in spending my days and evenings at a “hot, dirty and boring” event like livestock shows, county fairs and especially the Nebraska State Fair.  I have written in former columns about what I like about these venues, the values I see for our youth and the comradeship that comes with sharing that same feeling with other people just like me. The nice thing is that about five years ago it was moved to a fabulous location with wonderful buildings and a brand new dedication to agriculture! There has been new life breathed into the State Fair and it feels good. Nebraska is about agriculture.  One out of three people in Nebraska are employed in an agriculturally based career. It is what rural American and especially rural Nebraska is all about.  It is fun to see the amazement on people’s faces when they first walk into the Livestock Exhibit Hall and Show Arena. I have a feeling it will be even more enhanced with the brand new Nebraska Building which has the theme “Raising Nebraska”, which features  Nebraska Agriculture and does make you go WOW!  Just to the south end of the building is the Nebraska Games and Park exhibit which also is outstanding and very much worth seeing. 
     It still gives me goose bumps to see a great lineup of cattle, hogs, sheep (or you name it) strutting their stuff in the arena soil, or the bevy of activities and efforts of parents and youth getting their animals ready for show.  It is hard to describe the smell, the excitement and the anticipation that seems to hang in the air. Among all the other things that the State Fair provides, this is the major attraction for me.  It never gets old, only my body does!
As a County Extension Educator, former ag teacher/FFA advisor and former cattle producer - who had students and even a daughter that loved to show cattle, I am fully aware of the time and effort of a large number of people that work together to make shows and exhibitions possible. This list of people includes the exhibitors, family members, breeders, veterinarians, 4-H club leaders, FFA advisors, award sponsors, show management, and other volunteers working behind the scenes. There are countless hours of time and significant dollars dedicated to the successful completion of a show. So why do we do it?
     Regardless of what some people may think, I was not around when the concept of holding livestock shows began. I can speculate that the goals of those involved were relatively simple. I am pretty certain that exhibitions or expositions, and eventually county fairs were started as a means to showcase local agricultural production, learn about new technologies, and let folks learn about what was considered the industry standard for crops or of a particular species of animal for that era. I would bet further that those county venues led to a group of people betting on their county stock and deciding that they needed a statewide exhibition or exposition to settle the bragging rights. I'm sure that some folks were motivated by making a little bit of profit off the event or perhaps a chance to show off and especially sell their pedigrees as well!
     As an Extension Educator or Ag Teacher, I would be remiss not point out the direct benefits to 4-H and FFA youth that participate in livestock shows. Youth that participate in junior shows have the opportunity to learn many lessons that can better prepare them for adulthood. Project participation prepares youth who desire to become involved in production agriculture in the future a sound knowledge base to work from when developing their own herds. Besides learning about animal husbandry, 4-H and other youth programs can provide the opportunity to develop leadership, responsibility, teamwork, ethical decision-making skills, etc. through their participation in livestock shows. Our ag youth rock!!!
     I do believe possibly the most important purpose for having venues like the Nebraska State Fair grows in significance with every passing day. Shows and exhibitions provide animal agriculture with a golden opportunity to better educate an uninformed public about what we produce and the methods we use to accomplish food production. The public's disconnect with production agriculture is growing in rural and urban settings alike. I believe it is the responsibility of every exhibitor, family, farm, or ranch that participates in a show to tell the public about our positive role in feeding the world. Outside of family functions or acquaintances at school or your job, when will you have a better opportunity to tell the story about how we raise our product? It is easier to tell the story at a show because you have the animal on hand to assist with "show and tell!" Yes – it really is as easy as that!
See you at the 4-H and FFA livestock shows at the Nebraska State Fair!

The preceding information comes from the research and personal observations of the writer which may or may not reflect the views of UNL or UNL Extension. For more further information on these or other topics contact D. A. Lienemann, UNL Extension Educator for Webster County in Red Cloud, (402) 746-3417 or email to: dlienemann2@unl.edu or go to the website at: http://www.webster.unl.edu/home  

Friday, August 22, 2014

Innovation Campus Newest Piece of NU's Tradition of Excellence

Senator Mike Johanns weekly column

Throughout the years, the University of Nebraska (NU) System has transformed and adapted to meet the ever-changing needs of our state. It continues to innovate and adapt to new technologies, ensuring our students receive a quality education while providing top-tier research for the nation. Part of that evolution is the Nebraska Innovation Campus (NIC) that will bring new opportunities to our students and state. 

I enjoyed touring the new facility this month with Chancellor Harvey Perlman and NIC’s Executive Director Dan Duncan. Still in its first phase of construction, the impressive facility is a research campus designed to facilitate new and more in-depth partnerships between the University and the private sector. NIC is being built on the former Nebraska State Fairgrounds.
The first stage of construction includes the renovation of the 4-H building. The building is being repurposed to serve as a multi-functional meeting space, including a 400-seat auditorium, a 400-seat banquet room and several smaller rooms for breakout sessions, but the architecture and features of this iconic building – both inside and out – still stand strong. While the building’s original purpose has changed, its new occupants will protect and preserve this great cultural landmark for many years to come. As I was visiting the facility, NIC officials were also preparing to move into their new, state-of-the-art office space nearby.
In addition to the conference center, the campus will eventually be home to a wet lab, a food processing pilot plant and a greenhouse complex. A number of private companies are in conversations with NIC about partnerships. Con Agra will move in next year, beginning the public-private partnerships. The campus will also include a business accelerator to help small business owners expand their operations. The partnerships are intended to pursue the mission of providing a “dynamic environment where university and private sector talent transform ideas into innovation that impacts the world.”
NIC, when completed, could contain more than 2.2 million square feet of research, meeting and office space and employ thousands of people on the campus. Roughly a third of those would be employed by the university and two-thirds would be employed by private companies. Additionally, the City of Lincoln is partnering with NIC on a project to use reclaimed, non-drinkable water from the city’s wastewater treatment plant to heat and cool the campus – another forward-thinking partnership with mutual benefits. And those behind the project have their own sights set on achieving many of these goals within the next five years.

Adrian Smith Column

Rep. Adrian Smith
          
During the August work period I have been travelling the Third District meeting with and listening to Nebraskans.  This year, more than ever, I am taking time to hear from veterans, current members of the military, and their families.  Our nation has made a commitment to those who have served in uniform, and it is important policy makers listen to them to ensure we are meeting this commitment.
I recently held open houses to meet with veterans in Scottsbluff, Chadron, and Grand Island to listen to their experiences and opinions regarding the VA.  Veterans told me in each of these meetings access to quality health care is among their top concerns.
Their concerns are well justified.  Recent reports of mismanagement and abuse at Veterans Affairs (VA) hospitals are unacceptable and raise serious questions.   In pursuit of bonuses, some VA employees appear to have created secret waitlists to give the impression the system was meeting goals for wait times for appointments.  In some areas this left thousands of veterans waiting months and even years for appointments.  Dozens of veterans may have died while waiting for care.
Before departing for the August work period the House of Representatives and the Senate agreed to a bipartisan first step toward reforming the VA and ensuring veterans are able to receive the health care they were promised and deserve.  The Veterans’ Access to Care through Choice, Accountability, and Transparency Act will at least temporarily allow veterans who live further than 40 miles from the nearest VA facility, or are unable to schedule an appointment within 30 days to seek care outside of the VA system.
The bill also makes important reforms to allow the VA to fire employees when they abuse the system.  The recently revealed mismanagement should not be tolerated and the VA will now have greater flexibility to hold these employees accountable for their actions.  The bill also provides for new hiring and upgrades to some VA facilities.
I have also been working to prevent the closure of the VA hospital in Hot Springs, South Dakota.  Reducing services at Hot Springs and requiring many rural veterans from Nebraska to drive upwards of six hours roundtrip for care will cause many to not seek or delay seeking the services they need.  At a time when we are working to improve access, increase transparency and accountability within the VA, and improve the quality of care – this proposal simply does not make sense.
Last week, I participated in a House Committee on Veterans Affairs field hearing along with the committee chairman, other regional members of Congress, representatives of the Save the VA Committee, and officials from the VA to discuss their plan to reduce services at Hot Springs.  I had requested Chairman Jeff Miller (R-FL) visit the facility, and I appreciate him going the extra mile to hold a hearing.
At the hearing, I was disappointed the VA did not provide additional information about the costs of closing or refurbishing the Hot Springs facility, or the impact on local veterans.  This hearing was a great opportunity to allow lawmakers on the House Veterans Affairs Committee to see the importance of keeping this facility open and to expose the flaws in the VA’s plans.
Access to quality health care can be a challenge in rural America, but particularly for veterans who have fewer options for care.  As your Representative and Co-Chair of the Rural Veterans Caucus I will continue to oppose all efforts to restrict choice and availability of heath care services for our veterans.  Those who have served our nation deserve nothing less.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Flat on its Face

By: U.S. Senator Deb Fischer
As I visit communities across the state, countless Nebraskans continue to express to me their concerns with overreach by the federal government. Specifically, many Nebraskans are frustrated by the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) increasingly heavy hand. That’s why there’s so much skepticism about EPA’s latest rule regarding the “waters of the United States” or WOTUS. 
On March 25, EPA released its proposed rule redefining “waters of the United States” under the Clean Water Act. If finalized, the rule would represent a massive land grab by the federal government, since few bodies of water would escape the agency’s broad definition of “waters of the United States.”  
Under the rule, federal bureaucrats – not state and local authorities – could assert control over water resources. This means the federal government could regulate almost any body of water, from road ditches to farm ponds. Nebraskans own the surface and ground water within our state boundaries. This overreach by the federal government is dramatic in scope and unprecedented in effect.
EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy recently embarked on a public relations tour to try to alleviate growing national anxiety. She stated, “I have never proposed anything that I thought would be so well-received as this that has fallen totally flat on its face.” 
It didn’t fall flat on its face due to EPA’s failure to properly explain it. It’s fallen flat because, when drafting the rule, EPA failed to listen to those impacted by it.
The WOTUS rule would have a disproportionate impact on agriculture – the backbone of Nebraska’s economy. EPA contends that an entire set of exemptions would protect many farmers, but these exemptions do not cover weed control, fertilizer use, or other common farm practices. An August 17 Omaha World-Herald editorial noted, “Responsible environmental projection is sensible. Bureaucratic overreach and costly complications for agriculture and industry are not.”
The rule would also have a dramatic impact on state and local governments. For example, there would be an increase in the number of county-owned ditches under federal jurisdiction, increasing permitting requirements for routine maintenance. The rule would further complicate road construction projects, which are already unnecessarily delayed by red tape.
Understandably, it’s not just farmers and ranchers who are worried. I hear the same concerns voiced by manufacturers and businesses throughout the state. A growing coalition of Nebraskans including home builders, county officials, natural resource districts, manufacturers, contractors, and golf course owners have come together to push back against this rule. It won’t harm a select few; it will touch the lives of all Nebraskans.
So what can we do about it?
I’ve raised my strong concerns directly with EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy and Ken Koposis, the president’s nominee to head EPA’s water office. I’m also cosponsoring legislation to stop the rule from taking effect. I’ve written EPA numerous letters and I encourage all Nebraskans to take advantage of the opportunity to offer comments explaining exactly how these rules would impact your lives and your livelihoods. 
Public comments are welcome until October 20. Submit your comments, identified by Docket identification (ID) No. EPA-HQ-OW-2011-0880, by one of the following methods:
• Federal eRulemaking Portalhttp://www.regulations.gov. Follow the online instructions for submitting comments.
• Emailow-docket@epa.gov
• Mail: Water Docket, Environmental Protection Agency, Mail Code 2822T, 1200 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20460. Attention: Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OW-2011-0880.
Finally, I was pleased to learn that at long last, Cherry County’s stalled River Road construction project is ready to move forward. Needed repairs and resurfacing on River Road have been a long time coming. No one knows this better than my neighbors in Cherry County, who have been on the front lines battling regulatory red tape for a decade. 
As a state senator and Chair of the Transportation and Telecommunications Committee, advancing infrastructure projects like this was one of my top priorities. In 2011, I wrote a bill allowing state officials to “swap funds” with the federal government. This enabled the county government to use cheaper millings for pavement and get this project going. This was a practical solution to address federal regulations without earmarks or spending more money. I’m glad to hear this project is finally moving forward.
Thank you for taking part in the democratic process and I’ll visit with you again next week

Friday, August 15, 2014

STRAIGHT FROM THE HORSES MOUTH

Duane A. Lienemann
UNL Extension Educator

     I was watching television the other night and made note of how many ads were on trying to get lonely, little old ladies or other tender hearted people to send them money.  It is no secret that many animal lovers are more deeply moved than normal by the pitiful sights and sounds of American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) commercials. The music of Sarah McLachlan plays in the background, and as strains of “Angel” flow through your living room, images of tortured, horrifically abused dogs and cats fill your vision. Fast forward to another national commercial featuring Wendie Malick. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B9gYL8Qz_cY . This is brought to you by the infamous Humane Society of the United States or HSUS. “If you donate today, lives will be saved!” – or so the advertisement claims.  People are moved to open their hearts – and their wallets – for the sake of helping animals in need. 
     This past couple of weeks has been rather interesting to me considering some news and activities concerning the Humane Society of the United States and the ASPCA. It is sweet music to my ears. I’ve written about HSUS and several other animal rights and animal welfare extremist groups many times over the years, and it’s quite clear to me, and now to many others, that these organizations, and especially HSUS are not friends to animal agriculture and are, in fact, downright enemies to animal agriculture, hunting, fishing and other animal related industries. They have spent millions of dollars to sue, legislate, antagonize and trying their best to cripple or eliminate farms, ranches and agribusinesses. What is even worse is that these despicable organizations try hard to motivate people who may not be able to afford it to reach for their wallet or purse and fork over millions of dollars to corrupt "charities". They have not had a good couple of months!!!
     The Humane Society of the United State is finally getting called out for being a “wolf in sheep’s clothing”, which they are! Maybe it’s the fact the organization spends a mere 1% of its $100+ million annual budget on animal shelters, or perhaps it was the $15.75 million settlement following a racketeering and bribery lawsuit. Whatever the catalyst for this change was, I’m pleased to see that not only did Charity Navigator drop HSUS’ four-star charity ranking to a three, but now they have dropped HSUS’ rating altogether, putting the organization on a “Donor Advisory” status. The HSUS has historically bragged about their 4-star rating from Charity Navigator, one of the most trust-worthy charity evaluators in the game. No more! The deceiving game of “bait & switch” has been played for years, with the HSUS and ASPCA inviting misplaced associations between themselves and local animal shelters (sometimes called Humane Societies or SPCA via ASPCA) which they are not involved with, or do they help beyond a small pittance, of in the case of HSUS less than 1% and ASPCA perhaps 11% of their total take. Both a travesty when it comes to the care of animals.    
      I mentioned an almost $16 million settlement. Well that lawsuit involved HSUS money allegedly paying a witness who lied to a federal court in a ruling that came out recently in favor of Ringling Brothers Circus under the related Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), the same law used to go after mafia. How fitting is that. It may interest you that ASPCA, a co-defender had to pay $9.6 million dollars for a total of $25 million. That is not all, aside from the lawsuit, it has come to light that the HSUS diligently moved money to several funds in the Cayman Islands, calling them "investments". They were caught moving $26 million to offshore accounts in the Cayman Islands. That is called stashing money, and that is shady and just wrong! HSUS uses and deceives people to promote corrupt agendas and the Cayman Island accounts confirm just how rotten HSUS has become. So much for helping all those animal shelters.       And to add to that, www.AwesomeOcean.com  has a beef with HSUS for the hidden role it played in the inflammatory documentary, “Black Fish,” their fingerprints were all over that documentary and they're currently leading the smear campaign against aquariums to raise money for their own selfish interests and now these groups are suing them. They may have to withdraw more of their money from the Cayman Islands! This is starting to feel like an old fashioned – pile on!
     Now for a little more sweetness, add to the list the loss they endured in the Right to Farm Amendments that passed in in North Dakota and more recently Missouri this past month. HSUS and its animal rights/welfare partners pumped hundreds of thousands of dollars into defeating it and the people of both states thankfully saw through them. You probably remember the Yellow Tail Wine episode where beef producers video went viral when they were shown dumping out their wine because of the support of this company of HSUS. I would imagine that most of you are aware of the MUCK Boot Company who have received outrage from farmers and ranchers, and especially social media Ag Tweeters, Facebookers and Bloggers for their support of HSUS and they are backing off or denying it. Thousands of people have signed a petition to ask the IRS to investigate HSUS’s 501(c)3 tax exempt status. BINGO! Keep an eye on that!
     The HSUS, PETA and ASPCA have essentially operated under donation-guise where a large portion of their funding comes from people who are clueless about their real agenda. The time has come for American citizens to open their eyes and for those of us in agriculture to educate people to help stop allowing them to misuse their victim’s hard-earned dollars, not for the welfare of animals, but for their own benefits. In the meantime it really fun to see them squirm. To quote Ralph Kramden from the old Honeymooners show, “How sweet it is!” or maybe more appropriate, “To the moon - Alice!”

The preceding information comes from the research and personal observations of the writer which may or may not reflect the views of UNL or UNL Extension. For more further information on these or other topics contact D. A. Lienemann, UNL Extension Educator for Webster  County in Red Cloud, (402) 746-3417 or email to: dlienemann2@unl.edu or go to the website at: www.webster.unl.edu/home   

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Gov. Heineman & First Lady Sally Ganem Encourage Parental Involvement in Education

 

Governor Proclaims August as Parental Involvement Month
(Lincoln, Neb.) With students across the state returning to school this month, Gov. Dave Heineman and First Lady Sally Ganem are encouraging parents to be more involved in their children’s education. Gov. Heineman has proclaimed August to be Parental Involvement in Education Month in Nebraska.
“Working together, parents and teachers can maximize students’ strengths and reinforce each other’s efforts to help children succeed in school and in life,” said First Lady Sally Ganem, a former elementary school teacher and principal. “Good teachers combined with strong parental involvement leads to good learning. We see the positive difference it can make in the life of a young Nebraskan.”
Studies show that when parents are involved in a child’s education, student attendance increases, student attitudes and accomplishments improve, and discipline problems decrease. This generally holds true regardless of a family’s socio-economic status, education level or cultural background.
“It’s important for parents to be actively involved in their children’s learning,” said Gov. Heineman. “Involvement doesn’t mean parents must be experts in math and science, but it does mean taking actions like setting high expectations, creating space at home where children are able to focus and learn, and meeting with teachers while taking an active interest in a child’s educational achievements.
Governor Heineman continued, “I hope parents will make an effort during the school year to work with their child’s school to identify resources that exist to support student learning in all Nebraska communities.”
Governor Heineman and the First Lady highlighted several projects of the Nebraska Children and Families Foundation promote parental involvement throughout the State and support ways communities and parents can work together to help students learn and grow. These include:
  • Sixpence grant programs, where parents across the state are empowered with information they need to support children’s education from birth through age three – critical years when early learning can pave the way for future success in school. 
  • Beyond School Bells, a program that supports community-driven efforts for parents to become more involved in the educational experiences happening outside of the classroom.
  An opportunity for learning in the community will take place at the Nebraska State Fair in Grand Island, where parents and children can learn how the application of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, commonly referred to as STEM courses, provide the foundation for much of our modern society. STEM education opportunities will be located throughout the fair and will be featured at Nebraska’s Largest Classroom, held at the Nebraska State Fair on Aug. 25th, 26th and the 28th.
“A parent’s involvement in a child’s education remains one of the most important factors in a child’s success in school,” said Jeff Cole, Vice President for School-Community Partnerships for Nebraska Children and Families Foundation. “We know that the structure and hectic pace of family life today presents many challenges for parents to participate in traditional parent involvement activities at their children’s schools. That is why Nebraska Children and Families Foundation believes it is vital for schools to work with community groups to develop new opportunities so all parents can be engaged in supporting their student’s education.”

Friday, August 8, 2014

STRAIGHT FROM THE HORSES MOUTH


Duane A. Lienemann
UNL Estension Educator
     About a couple of months ago I made the statement –“What a difference a year can make!” In regards to the condition of our grass and crops.  Well, now I have to say – “What a difference a month can make!” in regards to the same thing, but now to the negative. I never did believe that we were out of the drought, and were actually just on the precipice of the possibility of a recurring drought.  We must remember that we did not get much of anything for fall moisture and certainly not much snow this winter.  We did get some nice rains this spring and early summer that made you think that we were back to normal, but that did nothing to replenish the subsoil moisture that is critical for this time of year.  
     I am not so sure that the crops didn’t root down like they should and now are suffering because of it.  And there just isn’t much water down below for them to go down too, now that they really need it. I would imagine a lot of you have notices the withering, browning or at least the bluish color that permeates throughout our dry land farms. I am a little afraid that we are back to the normalcy we have experienced the last couple of years, and if you really think about it – much of the same that we have experienced since 1999 or 2000. Gosh, if we were in that 15 year dry cycle they talk about, we should be getting close to a wet cycle. I am getting tired of this abnormally dry and extreme drought humdrum!
     One only has to walk through the pastures and hay-land, especially in the southern half of the bottom tier of counties in South Central Nebraska and the bulk of Southwest Nebraska to see the effect of shortage of rain. Dryland crops are also suffering and if you are in “irrigation land” then you just need to look at the pivot corners to see what our rainfed farmers are experiencing. We will likely be running out of grass, and hay will be short as we get to the last couple months of the typical grazing season. I started to notice the change during our County Fair. When we had the horse show on July 19, I noticed that the grass at the rodeo grounds was as nice and green as I had seen it in years.  One week later when we were cleaning up after the fair I noted how brown that grass had turned, a complete turn-around in a few days. Now I can say. “What a difference a week can make!” And that difference is not good news to our crops or our livestock.
     I would imagine that many of our cattle producers are looking at alternatives to help stretch what they do have left including perhaps early weaning and supplemental feeding as well as rotations between or within pastures. It does not look pretty right now, and don’t be surprised if we slip back into the drought notation.  You may want to keep track of the progress of this downturn at:  http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/  which is a part of the National Drought Mitigation Center http://drought.unl.edu/ . I doubt anyone would holler too loud if any of you want to volunteer to do the Rain Dance.
     This brings me to something I would hope that most of our livestock producers have already done, and if not should definitely look into applying for these benefits afforded to us. The 2014 Farm Bill included funding for livestock emergency programs that encompasses most of our area. Depending on the size and type of farm or ranch operation, eligible producers can enroll in one of three programs administered by the Farm Service Agency. The Livestock Forage Disaster Program (LFP), and the Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP) will provide payments to eligible producers for livestock deaths and grazing losses that have occurred since the expiration of the livestock disaster assistance programs in 2011, and including calendar years 2012, 2013, and 2014. The Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees, and Farm-Raised Fish Program (ELAP) provides emergency assistance to eligible producers of livestock, honeybees and farm-raised fish that have suffered losses because of disease, severe weather, blizzards and wildfires.
     Because of the uncertainty of funding with the possibility of ramifications from the sequester, officials suggested not waiting until October to sign up for LFP or LIP or you might not get the coverage you think you should. I suggest getting your records together and make an appointment ASAP if you qualify for any of these programs. And with the higher chance for the last half of 2014 being drought affected, be sure to keep records on forage production, grazing and particularly if you have to sell livestock or make major changes that qualify under these emergency assistance programs.
     Most of the producers in our part of the country will more likely qualify for LFP which is further explained at: www.fsa.usda.gov/Internet/FSA_File/lfp_long_fact_sht_2014.pdf  . This program provides compensation to eligible livestock producers that have suffered grazing losses due to drought or fire on land that is native or improved pastureland with permanent vegetative cover or that is planted specifically for grazing. LFP payments for drought are equal to 60 percent of the monthly feed cost for up to five months, depending upon the severity of the drought which is set by the aforementioned Drought Mitigation Center for your county, or even if you are in any contiguous counties.
     It is possible that we could have some producers who qualify for LIP which is further explained at the USDA website at:  www.fsa.usda.gov/Internet/FSA_File/lip_long_fact_sht_2014.pdf   which provides benefits to livestock producers for livestock deaths in excess of normal mortality caused by adverse weather or by attacks by animals reintroduced into the wild by the federal government. LIP payments are equal to 75 percent of the average fair market value of the livestock. This usually comes from weather related events like freak blizzards, extreme cold or heat and yes - tornadoes. If you have had livestock and were affected with your grazing over the last couple of years – you may want to “Git-r-done!

The preceding information comes from the research and personal observations of the writer which may or may not reflect the views of UNL or UNL Extension. For more further information on these or other topics contact D. A. Lienemann, UNL Extension Educator for Webster  County in Red Cloud, (402) 746-3417 or email to: dlienemann2@unl.edu or go to the website at: www.webster.unl.edu/home  

Gov. Heineman Seeks Applicants for Natural Resources Commission to Represent Ground Water Irrigators

 

 
(Lincoln, Neb.) Gov. Dave Heineman is seeking qualified candidates for one position on the Natural Resources Commission to represent ground water irrigators.  The open position is due to a vacancy.
The Natural Resources Commission is charged with helping to conserve, protect, and utilize the water and related land resources of the state through the oversight of seven state aid programs established for these purposes. The Commission consists of twenty-seven members who represent diverse water and land conservation and related natural resources management interests.
Individuals interested in applying for the Natural Resources Commission should send a resume, along with a completed application form to Kathleen Dolezal in the Governor’s Office, at P.O. Box 94848, Lincoln, NE 68509 or Kathleen.Dolezal@nebraska.gov. The application form can be completed on the Governor’s website or requested by calling the Governor’s Office. Applications will be accepted through close of business on August 29.
Nebraskans with questions about the position may call the Governor’s Office at (402) 471-2244 and ask for Ms. Dolezal.

Governors Column


It’s “back to school” time. Whether you are an educator, parent of a school age child or a student yourself, you are keenly aware that summer vacation is about to come to an end.
We have made it a priority to invest in Nebraska’s young people by strengthening Nebraska’s education system and growing educational opportunities. Educating the students of today for the jobs of tomorrow is critical to Nebraska’s continued success.
Today, students need a quality high school education, and they need a good college education. A two year associate’s degree or four-year college degree is more important than ever before.  The world is changing, and we need to make sure that we are preparing our young people to compete in a knowledge-based, technology-driven, global free-market economy.
Regarding K-12 education, the State of Nebraska now has statewide assessments for reading, math, science and writing so we compare school districts, and help them do better in the future. I believe that we should be sharing best practices among schools just as businesses do all the time. Our focus is on academic achievement and academic improvement. 
Scores are improving. Nebraska’s statewide graduation rate has improved from 87.6 percent to 88.5 percent. We have the second best high school graduation rate in America. Our P-16 Initiative (preschool through college) goal is for every high school in Nebraska to achieve a 90 percent high school graduation rate.
We are witnessing a greater focus on academic achievement and academic improvement than we ever have had before and that’s good news. We’ve strengthened high school graduation requirements and now every student in Nebraska is required to take four years of English and three years of math, science and social studies.
I want to encourage parents to be involved in your children’s education. When parents are involved, decades of studies have shown over and over again that children achieve higher grades, and higher test scores. Graduation rates increase. There’s better school attendance, increased motivation and self-esteem and even decreased use of drugs, alcohol and destructive behavior.
Nebraska is now a top ten college going state and we are focused on affordable access to college and improving college graduation rates. I’m proud of where Nebraska is, but we have more work to do in the future. It’s essential that we eliminate the academic achievement gaps that exist in our state for our future workforce.
Education is a priority for me and it is an investment that will pay dividends for individuals, families and communities across our state. Our goal is to make Nebraska an even better place in the future to live, to work and to raise a family.

- Dave Heineman
    Governor of Nebraska

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Addressing Challenges to Rural Air Service

For rural America, access to commercial air service is more than a convenience; it helps connect us to the rest of the nation and encourages economic growth.  I have worked to maintain access to commercial air service for the Third District because of its importance to rural communities and because maintaining transportation infrastructure is one of the primary responsibilities of the federal government.
However, this year many small airports around the country are facing a barrage of flight cancellations.  At one Third District airport, 59 percent of the scheduled flights have been cancelled this year – while more than one in three flights have been cancelled at others.  I have heard from many Third District residents upset about the unreliable flight schedule and its impact on travel plans and businesses.
Cancelled flights and unreliable air service cause disruptions in our local economy.  Businesses and entrepreneurs are more likely to invest and expand in communities with dependable transportation services including aviation.
There are many causes for the flight cancellations, but certainly new federal regulations which require co-pilots to have at least 1,500 hours of flight time are contributing to the problem.  It is difficult for the small regional airlines which serve rural communities, to hire and retain pilots which meet this certification.  Airlines are then forced to cancel scheduled flights if they are not able to comply with this arbitrary rule.
Cancelled flights also threaten funding for small airports through the Airport Improvement Program which helps pay for projects to improve infrastructure, including runways, taxiways, noise control, navigational aids, safety, and security.  To qualify for program funds, airports must reach 10,000 enplanements per year.  Many small rural airports which previously qualified for the program are unlikely to reach this target because of cancelled flights.
Last week, I introduced legislation which would ensure these small airports are not penalized twice by the unintended consequences of these new rules.  The Small Airport Regulatory Relief Act would require the Federal Aviation Authority to use enplanement numbers from 2012 – before the regulations took effect - when calculating appropriate annual funds for airports through the Airport Improvement Program for the next two years.
While more must be done to address the underlying causes of the flight cancellations, including the new pilot regulations, this legislation is a good first step to spare small airports from more unnecessary harm.  I will continue fighting to prevent further flight cancellations to benefit travelers, communities, and to encourage rural economic growth.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Hastings College planning investments for future growth


 
(Hastings, Neb.) – As Hastings College wraps up significant investments on campus this summer and prepares to welcome another record number of first-year students to the community, it remains focused on plans for future growth and development.
“The $6 million residence hall projects this summer are the first step in important changes to campus, changes that keep Hastings College competitive and a desirable choice for young people and their families,” said Don Jackson, a 1970 Hastings College graduate and President of the College.
Plans for future growth include creating a unified campus through an official campus entrance point on 9th Street between Elm Avenue and Ash Avenue next summer, upgrades and expansion within the Art Department, building a new residence hall and an expanded student union that houses an official welcome center, admissions staff and more.
 “All of these are investments in the College and community as a whole,” Jackson said. “And I don’t think I can understate the importance of the next step, of redeveloping one block of 9th Street, to the overall plan. It will help the College continue to grow, and that has an important economic impact on the entire community.”
 Closing 9th Street was unanimously approved July 14 by the Hastings City Council, after discussions that began more than four years ago, and becomes effective June 1, 2015. Jackson said converting a block of 9th Street to a pedestrian mall and gathering spot for students, as well as an entrance point that shows off the beauty of campus, allows the College to create the atmosphere students seek in smaller liberal arts colleges.
Unifying the Hastings College campus will create a new center of campus that’s flanked by residence halls and the student union.
 “It’s a sensible way to make a dramatic change to campus. It’s an exciting opportunity and will offer students new outdoors space for meeting and will help us present an even more beautiful and open campus to prospective students and those that use our campus during the summer months,” Jackson said.
 The agreement with the City of Hastings includes that the College:
·         Construct new off-street parking spaces to make up for those lost by closing 9th Street, work for which is already underway;
·         Pays for reconstructing 9th Street for two blocks east of the 9th Street and Ash Avenue intersection, and
·         Bears all costs associated with relocation of utilities required in connection with closing the street, including street lighting.
“These costs are not insignificant, but because we believe strongly in this project and its importance to the long-term growth and success of Hastings College, we are willing to make this investment,” Jackson said.
 Jackson recognized the change may increase traffic on 7th Street, and said the College will work with the City to develop a sound plan for 7th Street and any changes the City believes are necessary.
 “We are thankful that 12th Street between Elm Avenue and 6th Avenue was improved, and that, too, may alter how people drive through this part of Hastings,” he said. “Ultimately, we want to be good neighbors and see improvements made to 7th Street should the City believe they are necessary. In the end, closing a block of 9th Street is simply part of a bigger picture for growth and success, for both Hastings College and the community of Hastings.”
 
 
Founded in 1882, Hastings College is a private, four-year liberal arts institution that focuses on student academic and extracurricular achievement. With 60+ majors in 32 areas of study and 12 pre-professional programs, Hastings College has been named among “America’s Best National Liberal Arts Colleges” by U.S. News & World Report, a “Best in the Midwest” by The Princeton Review and a “Best Buy in College Education” by Barron’s. Visit Hastings.edu for more.

Monday, August 4, 2014

OSHA Steps Back In Line with Law

 
Sen. Mike Johanns

 

Drive down nearly any Nebraska country road and you will see bushels of examples of our farmers’ hard work coming to fruition. Clean cut wheat fields mark the near end of a bountiful harvest, and rows of towering corn point to a sky-high yield this fall. But any farmer will tell you that their hard work does not end at harvest.
There’s also the drying and storing of grains as farmers prepare to meet the growing demand of livestock feeders, ethanol plants and food manufacturers throughout the year. It’s an important part of a strong agriculture economy, and a central part of the farming operation. I’m happy that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) formally recognized this reality last week.
Since 1976, OSHA has been prohibited by law from regulating farms with 10 or fewer employees—farms like many family operations in Nebraska. But in 2011, despite this longstanding policy, OSHA surprised one small Holt County farm by showing up and issuing a number of fines totaling roughly $132,000.  Their reasoning: grain storage and other postharvest activities do not count as farming activities, and therefore are not covered under the Congressional exemption.
Of course, OSHA’s claim was about as absurd as a trying to get milk from a bull. Grain bins and family farms have gone together like county fairs and 4-H for generations.
When this was brought to my attention, I was disturbed to learn of yet another demonstration of this Administration’s reckless regulatory agenda. This circumvention of the law could have led OSHA inspectors to just about any farm in Nebraska.  Because of this alarming possibility, I led a bipartisan group of 42 Senators in calling on OSHA to immediately halt their unlawful regulation on small farms.  I also introduced language in a government funding bill earlier this year directing OSHA to follow the 3-decades-old small farm exemption. The language called on OSHA to work with Congress, the Department of Agriculture and ag organizations so that they could better understand what activities are integral to farming operations and should be exempt from OSHA regulations.
OSHA later announced that it had dropped all the fines against the Holt County farm. Just last week, OSHA revised its guidance, clarifying that postharvest activities like grain storage, drying and fumigating are, in fact, part of farming and exempt from OSHA regulations on small farms. OSHA further directed its inspectors to check with its headquarters before stepping foot on a farm if there was any uncertainty about the application of the small farms exemption.
I applaud OSHA’s decision to listen to the concerns of the ag community and step back in line with the law. I hope other federal agencies take note.  Time and again, this Administration, with its overreaching regulatory agenda, has demonstrated a lack of understanding or concern for the burdens it imposes on Americans across the nation. I will continue to pressure federal agencies to reverse their history of backdoor rulemaking.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

STRAIGHT FROM THE HORSES MOUTH

Duane A. Lienemann
UNL Extension Educator

     Can you believe that it is August?  We can count on it being dry, and it is. We just can’t seem to buy a shower right now. It really dampens the enthusiasm we had just a month ago when things looked so good.  A bunch of hail and a week of hot dry weather and no measurable precipitation can really take a toll on crops and a producer’s attitude as well.  Unfortunately I believe that a lot of our crops didn’t root down like they should have and we are now paying the price for that. For “being out of the drought”, this sure looks eerily familiar.  It is disconcerting to see the blue color to the pastures and the dryland soybeans and the corn showing the pineappling and discoloration effects. We at least got further into the season this year and we can still hold out hope for timely and saving rainfall.
The good news is that Husker football will give us hope for another long over-due National Championship. Always something to look towards.
     Alignment of the Planets: I am not much into astrology or the alignment of planets, but I did read that this August is a month for planetary pairings with Saturn meeting Mars in the evening sky, and an amazingly close conjunction of Jupiter and Venus in the morning sky. I vaguely remember a song by the Mama’s and Papa’s about planets aligning or something like that. Well, I guess that kind of information is probably useful to some people, but August means several other things that are more important to me and a lot of other people I know.  Let’s look at a few of these things.
     It means that most County Fairs are done, that two-a-days in athletics will be starting shortly and  that school will begin. Oh how I remember, as a past teacher, the anticipation of summer vacation and the rush that came with the anticipation of a new school year. Believe it or not, I miss that. It to me was the metamorphous each year that gave you a fresh start-- and fresh new faces to blend in with the familiar faces. It is hard to describe, but teachers know exactly what I mean. Good Luck to the teachers as they prepare for a new year.
     August also brings the Nebraska State Fair and it will soon be upon us. I know that our office will be taking down the 4-H static exhibits in just a little over two weeks. All 4-H and FFA livestock entries are hopefully in and I know that we have several open class exhibitors that attend, so I thought it prudent to remind them that all applications for entry must be made online at www.statefair.org   or on an official Nebraska State Fair Entry Form which may be obtained from the State Fair website, or the Nebraska State Fair office (photo copies are acceptable). Using the online method is preferred as it is the most accurate way of entering. All Livestock entries must be made through the State Fair website by August 10, or if mailed in, must be postmarked by August 10. Entries must be accompanied by all fees and other sums due the State Fair or entry will not be accepted. All FFA and 4-H advance entries are due electronically at midnight on August 10. So that does not give any State Fair exhibitors much more time. If you need help please feel free to call our office.
     South Central Nebraska Association Activities: The South Central Cattlemen’s Association has several activities coming up in August as well. If you have an interest in the USDA Forage Disaster Program and how it can help or effect you, there are two meetings coming up that may be of help.  On Tuesday, August 5, come to the KO Bar in Bladen at 7:00 pm to learn about what you may have available to you for help for your livestock considering the loss of forages and hay from the last two years due to the drought and the designation of our area as a drought disaster area. You will also get the chance to listen to Clay Mead from Boehringer-Ingelheim on “Pre & Post-Weaning Health in Calves.” A popular and fun time is involved when the SCCA Steer Showdown Calcutta Results are presented during this meeting.  If you can’t make that one, you have a second chance as a similar meeting on USDA Forage Disaster Program and the SCCA Steer Showdown Calcutta Results will be held on Tuesday, August 19 at the Nelson American Legion starting at 7:00 pm.
     Golf Tournament: For the golfers out there, the South Central Cattlemen’s Annual Golf Tournament 4-person Scramble will be held on August 15 at the Crooked Creek Golf Course in Clay Center with registration at 2:30 pm and a shot gun start at 3:00 pm. You can even have a practice round that starts at 12:00 noon for $10. NOTE: If you bring your own golf cart you can get a $10.00 per person credit. Cost is $30.00/person which includes: 9 holes of golf; Flag prizes; Flight Prizes; and Steak Supper (following golf). If you would like further information on the tournament or on any of the SCCA meetings please contact our office or directly to Hans Burken at hansburken@gmail.com or call 402-469-1966. 
     Nebraska State Fair Beef Pit: I mentioned the Nebraska State Fair coming up. Each year the South Central Cattlemen have a day that they man the Nebraska Cattlemen’s Beef Pit and once again it is on Labor Day Weekend on Sunday, August 31. If you are not afraid of a little intense work, interested in meeting lots of people, serving some great Nebraska Corn-Fed Beef and most importantly- having a great time, contact Hans or any other SCCA officers and they can give you the particulars. If I wasn’t busy with the 4-H shows I would love to be a part of this activity promoting the beef industry!
     Locusts Singing? August obviously brings us a lot of things. I hesitate to mention it, but last night was the first time I noticed something that also is associated with August….How many of you have heard the locusts sing? That’s right, we can start thinking about what many believe will be an early frost.  According to folk legend, when you hear the first song of the dog-day cicadas (we call them locusts), it means there's just six weeks until frost. Grabbing my calendar now!

The preceding information comes from the research and personal observations of the writer which may or may not reflect the views of UNL or UNL Extension. For more further information on these or other topics contact D. A. Lienemann, UNL Extension Educator for Webster  County in Red Cloud, (402) 746-3417 or email to: dlienemann2@unl.edu or go to the website at: www.webster.unl.edu/home  

Friday, August 1, 2014

Hearing From You This August

Deb Fischer 

 

By U.S. Senator Deb Fischer
I am looking forward to spending the month of August meeting with Nebraskans across the state.  This time is important for me to hear from constituents and listen to how federal policies are impacting your daily lives. It will also allow me the opportunity to gather input from you. That is invaluable to my ability to represent your interests in Washington.
I was pleased the Senate took steps before the start of the state work period to ensure our nation’s veterans receive the care they were promised. Both the House and Senate approved an agreement to address the crisis at the VA, which I supported. The bill provides funding to hire more doctors, nurses, and medical staff. It authorizes funding for leases to use medical facilities at 27 existing sites around the country, including an outpatient clinic in Lincoln.
Importantly, the legislation allows veterans to get care from non-VA physicians who participate in Medicare if they live more than 40 miles away from a VA facility, or if agency doctors cannot see them within 30 days. To improve transparency, the department would also be required to conduct regular audits on the care provided and staffing levels at each major medical facility.
The compromise also grants the VA secretary new powers to fire employees. The Senate recently confirmed Robert McDonald as Secretary of the VA. New, bold leadership is critical to fixing this broken agency’s systemic problems, and I am confident in Secretary McDonald’s ability to implement needed reforms and enhance accountability.
These steps to fix our badly broken VA system are encouraging, but our work to keep our promises to veterans is not done. While in Nebraska this month during the state work period, I will be sitting down with veterans to hear their personal experiences and how we can further achieve progress in resolving the VA’s problems to better serve our nation’s heroes and provide them the care they deserve.
I will also be holding listening sessions in more than a dozen communities, hosting roundtables with various groups, visiting local businesses, and speaking with families about a number of different issues impacting our state.
As I’ve mentioned in this weekly column before, I have been focused this year on working to promote more opportunities for the middle class in education, healthcare, and the workplace through my Strong Families, Strong Communities plan. I look forward to discussing this agenda with Nebraskans and hearing your feedback about additional ways we can help hardworking families and strengthen our communities.
Part of my plan seeks to provide Americans more control over their healthcare. Obamacare remains an ongoing challenge for individuals, businesses, and families. I will visit with health care groups and local hospitals across the state during the state work period and will continue to share your stories in Washington of how this law is hurting Nebraskans.
Slow economic growth and overregulation also continue to stifle job creation and create uncertainty for businesses large and small. As I meet with business owners and job creators throughout this month, I will be asking for specific federal regulations that are holding back growth in our private sector, which Nebraskans know is key to jumpstarting our economy.
Finally, I hope you will be able to attend one of the many listening sessions I am holding to hear directly from you about your views and concerns. This constituent input is vital to our legislative process at the local, state, and federal level. The sessions will take place throughout the month in Omaha, Lincoln, Schuyler, Columbus, Norfolk, O’Neill, Stuart, Gordon, Rushville, Curtis, Lexington, Cozad, and Ogallala, More details are available in the schedule of public events I am holding this month on my website: http://fischer.senate.gov.
Thank you for taking part in our democratic process; I look forward to visiting with you again next week.

Johanns’ Opposes EPA’s Attempt to Gain Wage Garnishing Authority

 
WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mike Johanns (R- Neb) this week wrote a letter to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy opposing a proposed rule granting the agency the power to garnish the wages of citizens without a court order. A copy of the letter is available HERE.
“Given this Administration’s regulatory zeal—especially in ag circles, I find it troubling that a federal agency can have the authority to garnish wages for unpaid fines or penalties without a court order,” Johanns said. “If EPA has a legitimate reason to issue a fine, and the fine is past due, the agency should have no problem getting a judge’s blessing to collect it.”
Johanns is also crafting legislation requiring a court order before garnishing the wages of non-federal workers.
The 1996 Debt Collection Improvement Act (DCIA) gave federal agencies the authority to garnish up to 15 percent of a worker’s wages to pay debts owed to the federal government without a court order. Federal agencies seek this authority via regulations and set up hearing procedures before they may garnish wages, which is the process EPA is currently undertaking.