Thursday, April 23, 2015

Fischer Statement on Vote Against Lynch Confirmation

   

 

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) released the following statement after voting against the confirmation of Loretta Lynch as Attorney General:
“Throughout the confirmation process, I was pleased to meet with Ms. Lynch and learn about her priorities. During our discussions, I shared with her my concerns regarding the Obama administration’s aggressive executive overreach. I was therefore disturbed and disappointed by her comments at her confirmation hearing, where she affirmed her support of the president’s executive order on immigration.
“Our laws must be enforced as written. It is the duty of the Attorney General to execute this on behalf of the American people. For this reason, I voted against her confirmation today.”
This afternoon, the U.S. Senate voted to confirm Loretta Lynch as Attorney General. The vote had been delayed for several weeks due to Democrat obstruction of a bill to protect women and children from the scourge of human trafficking. Following an agreement to allow the trafficking bill to move forward, the Senate proceeded to vote on the nomination of Loretta Lynch. Senator Fischer voted against the confirmation.

Monday, April 20, 2015

The Truth About Taxes

Weekly Column By  Senator Deb Fischer

As Americans are painfully aware, April 15th was the due date for federal income taxes. This year, Nebraskans once again spent far too much time, energy, and money filling out complicated paperwork in order to get their taxes filed correctly and on time. This process not only causes frustration, it also creates financial hardships on families and businesses in Nebraska and across our nation.

According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, America will spend more on taxes in 2015 than food, clothing, and housing – combined. Our nation’s total tax bill is $4.8 trillion. That is 31 percent of the national income. Furthermore, the U.S. tax code is so complicated that the IRS’s top official, former Commissioner Douglas Shulman, admitted he, himself, hired a tax preparer. All of these statistics underscore the fact that our current tax code just isn’t working.
Tax Day is an annual reminder that our complex tax laws are hurting Nebraska families and job creators. Small businesses are hit especially hard during tax season. Each year, small business owners spend nearly 2 billion hours and $18 to $19 billion complying with the tax code. That is time and money they could spend attracting new business, hiring new employees, or improving their business strategy.
This has to stop. I remain committed to promoting a simpler, fairer tax system that provides more certainty for families in Nebraska and encourages economic growth. The best way to achieve this is through comprehensive tax reform, which I fully support. The vast majority of economists agree that the single best way to create jobs and generate economic growth is by fixing our tax system. I am also working on a number of legislative proposals to decrease these burdens and at the same time, increase transparency at the IRS.
For example, this tax season was the first year Americans were required to answer ObamaCare-related questions on their tax forms. It’s no surprise that we are seeing this unworkable law turn taxes into an even bigger headache. As I continue to fight for ObamaCare’s repeal, I am working on measures to address specific, costly, and unfair tax burdens buried in the nearly 3,000-page law. For example, I am an original cosponsor of the Jobs and Premium Protection Act, which was introduced by Senator John Barrasso of Wyoming. The bill would repeal the annual tax on health insurance plans that was created by ObamaCare. This misguided tax is negatively impacting small businesses and self-employed citizens, and I am hopeful the Senate will act quickly to repeal it.
As the federal agency tasked with administering the U.S. tax code, the IRS has extraordinary influence over the lives of Americans from all walks of life and points of view. I believe it is the role of Congress to provide oversight and ensure they do not abuse this power.
In that spirit, I introduced a new bill, and reintroduced another, that will protect taxpayers from IRS overreach. The first, known as the Stop IRS Overreach Act  would prohibit the IRS from asking any taxpayer questions regarding their religious, political, or social beliefs. The second, named the Taxpayer Accountability Act would require the IRS to provide timely responses to taxpayer inquiries and complete audits more efficiently and effectively. I believe these two bills will serve as an effective safeguard for the constitutional rights of taxpayers, while also increasing transparency and promoting accountability at the IRS.
This agency has a long way to go to re-establish credibility and restore public trust. Nebraskans and all Americans have the absolute right to expect the IRS to be free from political influence, with taxpayers treated fairly and enforcement carried out in an unbiased manner.
I will continue to hold the IRS accountable to the American people and support legislation that will alleviate onerous, costly tax requirements. Doing so will provide certainty and strengthen our economy so that Nebraska families can enjoy a more prosperous future.    
Thank you for participating in the democratic process. I look forward to visiting with you again next week.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

STRAIGHT FROM THE HORSES MOUTH

Duane A. Lienemann
UNL Extension Educator

     I get teased quite a bit about my affinity for two crops – wheat and grain sorghum. But of those two, milo gets the strongest reaction and it is usually involves several four letter words. No, not what you are thinking – they are more indicative of historic encounters including: itch, dust, weed, cane and cash. Now that last part of that equation looks pretty darn good to me. Strong demand from both domestic and international markets is sending strong signals to growers, indicating it may be prime time to consider increasing grain sorghum acres. I will explain that a little later, but first I think we need to look at some other factors in this part of the state that gives other credence to that thought. Let’s explore a crop that used to be a strong staple in Nebraska and particularly in our rain-fed crops part of the world but had lost some favor.
     I know, everyone thinks with a couple of small rains that we are out of the drought. I keep hearing “million dollar rains”. There is no doubt these make you feel a lot better and the clean fresh smell that follows a rain is wonderful. But I just cannot shake the gut feeling that this spring feels a lot like 2012 where we had limited fall rains, very little winter snow and then sparse rains in the spring. One only has to look at the wheat and the pasture grasses to know that we are not even close to the kind of subsoil moisture that we need to raise a great corn crop – even with the “drought-resistance” genetics. Grain sorghum was developed and used extensively because it was the original drought crop. It is also considered the best grazer field grain residue for running cows after harvest. But it has loss favor over the years and acres have dropped.
     We may just see a resurgence of this great crop and not only because of the specter of a potential drought in 2015. Part of this will be dictated by the market place. You are already seeing it with a 80-90 cent spread above corn on a per bushel area, and it looks to get even stronger. This strong demand established by a number of market factors creates positive opportunities for sorghum growers across the U.S, leading to increased profitability. I recently came across the top five reasons producers should consider growing grain sorghum this year. These may just surprise some milo detractors.
     First; we are now looking at the highest new crop bids in history for grain sorghum. For the first time, new crop bids for grain sorghum are highly competitive with comparable grains. Producers are experiencing more options when it comes to marketing their grain sorghum, resulting in more incentive to increase acres with these current competitive prices. Milo producers are seeing very good basis right now. This is the first time we have seen prices above corn. Grain sorghum acres are already increasing and interest is on the rise and for the first time in many years producers are starting to add grain sorghum in rotation. Something I have wanted to see for years. The potential is outstanding.
     What is the reason you might ask? The short answer is that there is strong demand for sorghum grains globally: The recent skyrocketing demand for grain sorghum internationally is no secret. China entered the export market for grain sorghum in 2013 and since then, exports have been on the rise. Domestically, we are seeing grain sorghum expanding and growing in sectors like human food, ethanol and livestock feed. Some of this is due to a new interest; some to the none-GMO attributes; and we must consider the gluten free aspects of grain sorghum, which has become a huge consumer trend. All of this is leading to more opportunity for producers. Especially if they are dry land or limited irrigation farmers.
     Secondly, I believe we have to look at the highest potential profit. During this challenging time for producers with the prospect for continued drought, considering production costs is imperative. Currently sorghum seed prices are marking in at a lower cost than comparable crops, creating a larger profit margin for producers. Now we are on the brink of new multi-seed trait that dramatically increase yields, yet uses the same water and same land. We can get the same yield as corn, using about half the water corn uses. Less water and more profit is a win-win situation. From a purely economic standpoint sorghum potentially could have as much or more profit than competitive grains because the inputs are simply less and in my mind it is a crop that needs to be looked at more seriously every year and especially in a year like this.
     Farming is about risks and the Farm Bill is not the only risk protection we should consider. I like milo because of risk aversion. We all know that for the most part grain sorghum is drought and heat-tolerant, so it has elevated potential to be a high profitability crop in many areas. Water is a precious commodity and will continue to be even more critical in the coming years. Where water shortages are a challenge for producers, grain sorghum can still produce high yields and make profit, especially with the increase in demand for grain sorghum in a wide array of markets. We must consider that with low rainfall, we have still been able to produce a sorghum crop and have something to take to the elevator or put in the bin.
     With the advent of new sorghum varieties plus the arrival of the first herbicide-resistant grain sorghum hybrid, which features resistance to an ALS herbicide we find strong yield potential. High yields in grain sorghum are becoming more prevalent. That more farmers are thinking about growing grain sorghum this year is a testament to the crop's nitrogen- and water-efficiency. Some of the disease traits and drought traits that are coming down the pipeline are giving a farmer the tools to grow sorghum and have really good yields. These new traits plus the combination of grain sorghum’s ability to withstand inclement weather and high basis combine in my opinion to make grain sorghum a smart choice for producers across the Midwest and particularly in SC Nebraska. There is so much more we should address considering this magnificent feed grain. I think we need to look at this crop with more detail next week, but for now – Go Milo! 

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 

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Wilma Willems June 12, 1934 to April14, 2015

 Wilma June (Stroh) Willems, 80, formerly of Blue Hill, died peacefully, surrounded by her
daughters and family members, in Columbus on Tuesday, April 14, 2015.
Services will be held 2 p.m. Saturday, April 18, at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Blue Hill with the Rev. Darrel Wissmann officiating. Burial will be in Blue Hill Cemetery in Blue Hill. Memorials may be directed to St. Paul’s Lutheran Church or Blue Hill Foundation. Visitation will be 5-8 p.m. Friday and 9 a.m.-noon Saturday at the funeral home and 1-2 p.m. Saturday at the church. Merten-Butler Mortuary is serving the family.
Wilma, the only child of Raymond and Sophia (Lampmann) Stroh, was born on the family farm on June 12, 1934. Those were Dust Bowl years, and she was often told that she was the only thing Raymond and Sophia raised that year.
She was baptized, confirmed and married at Calvary Lutheran Church in Rosemont.
 In 1952, she graduated from Blue Hill High School, where in study hall she sat across the aisle from a goofy kid named Russell Willems.
Though she wanted to be a teacher, her father thought she ought to be a secretary. To appease him, she took correspondence courses to enable her for such a career, but she followed her dream, took out a loan for college, and got a teaching certificate from Kearney Teachers College.
 During that time, Russ eventually won her over, and they were married on Dec. 22, 1957.
From 1952-1957, she taught at various country schools; her last teaching assignment was at Ayr. It was clear she loved being a teacher, and she was delighted when former students came up to greet her. Many told her she was their favorite teacher.
 While they lived in Ayr, she and Russ became parents of two daughters. In 1961, they moved to Blue Hill, and two more daughters were born. Wilma was a stay-at-home mom and enjoyed bowling, sewing for the girls and gardening. She taught her four girls how to sew, cook and play the piano. Ever the teacher, she read to them each night and made sure that they their practiced their reading flash cards and, in the summer after third grade, their multiplication tables.
She was active at church as a Sunday school teacher. She also was in the women’s Bible study group for over 50 years, led several programs, helped sew quilts for Lutheran World Relief and served on various committees. She was a member of P.E.O. and she and Russ were also Amway Distributors.
When their youngest child was in grade school, Wilma took a part-time job at Barnason’s IGA Grocery Store. She worked there over 30 years. She and Russ delighted in going to their girls’ musical and sporting activities. In their retirement, they enjoyed several bus tours throughout the United States and Canada.
In 2013, she moved to Columbus.
Wilma was preceded in death by her parents; an infant son in 1963; and her husband in 2009.
Those left to treasure her memory are her daughters, Carol (Brent) McClung of Big Springs, Sharon (Douglas) Hartman of Columbus, Beverly (Patrick) Haschke of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and Nancy (Bryan) Kotschwar of Big Springs; grandchildren, Mark (Lyndsay) McClung, James McClung, John McClung, Jeffrey (Ashley) Hartman, Beth (James) Goodenberger and Susan Hartman; step-grandchildren, Matthew (Elizabeth) Haschke and Jennifer (Wes) Policky; grandchildren, Brandon Haschke, Katelyn Haschke, Lindsey Kotschwar and Grace Kotschwar; five step-great-grandchildren; and sisters- and brothers-in-law, Julane Meyer, Mildred Willems, Glenn and Julie Willems and Orville Willems.

STRAIGHT FROM THE HORSES MOUTH

Duane A. Lienemann
UNL Extension Educator
       I will have to admit as I sit down to write this column that I am having trouble keeping my eyes open.  I guess that is typical for one of my age and especially considering that it is a weekend.  However, I actually have a pretty good excuse this time. Most everyone that knows me is familiar with the fact that I taught agricultural education for many years before becoming an extension educator.  That first career choice also meant that I was the FFA advisor. Now that seems to be a rather weird segue into this week’s topic – and the reason I am so tired. But it is primarily the reason for my current physical state. I attended the 87th Nebraska State FFA Convention these past few days as a convention assistant. 
     While that is not all that remarkable, in that many people volunteer their time and efforts in helping to run the convention and the accompanying agricultural education contests (CDE), it was especially poignant for me to be on the other end of the convention.  I was working behind the scenes, instead of coaching, monitoring and hauling kids to where they needed to be.  I had the opportunity to work with the “cream of the crop” helping with the Legislative breakfast, the State Proficiency finalist interviews and the Star State Degree finalist competition. While being a long couple of days with a lot of pressure, all I can say is WOW!  I come away every year so highly impressed with the young men and women across our state whom I get to know a little better through these processes. I knew the caliber of these young people as a teacher, since I had some of the best in the land in my classes, but this always comes back to remind me and to reaffirm my faith in the future with the talents and skills exhibited by these outstanding young men and women.
     Most people remember the early years when FFA stood for “Future Farmers of America”. It was that familiar moniker when I was a young member in the organization in the 60’s and it was that when my father was in FFA during the 30’s. Some parents would say in those days that it actually stood for “Father Farms Alone.” It was always in good humor though because most every parent that said that, also said they would have it no other way - because of the value that their child received as a member of this organization. Of course the official name has since changed because of the influx of non-farm students into the ag ed programs across the nation to just be “FFA”. Not only has the name changed, so has the program and the demographics. There were no girls as members when I was in. That certainly has changed. You could see that walking through the halls during the FFA State Convention and it would not surprise me if they now outnumber boys. Many will say that we used to be pretty heavy in “Plows and Cows”. That too has changed with the influx of other sciences, horticulture and agribusiness. But the FFA Mission still stays the same – “FFA makes a positive difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education.”
     This year there were big changes with the Convention moving its headquarters to the new Pinnacle Bank Arena located at the Hay Market area. Wow what a nice venue that is! I walked around a bit like that wide-eyed freshman Wilcox FFA member attending his first convention at the East Campus Union auditorium in April of 1964. Oh what changes I have seen over the years! One thing that hasn’t changed is the emphasis on leadership and leadership development. I think most people know that FFA excels in this venture. What many people don’t know is not an extra-curricular organization! 
     The U.S. Congress passed Public Law 81-740 during the year after I was born – yes that long ago. This Congressional Act gave the FFA a Federal Charter and stipulated that it be recognized by Congress as an intra-curricular part of the agricultural educational program. Did you notice that? Intra-curricular, that means it is not extra-curricular as some seem to think it is. That is important to note and a big reason why I think that agriculture education/FFA should be in every school in this state. I don’t think there is another program that gives you so much “bang for the buck!” We must remember that agriculture is the engine that runs this state. UNL research has determined that one out of three jobs in this state is directly involved in agriculture; and we must not forget that over 300 ag-related career choices are available in this state.
     This year, 157 Nebraska schools offered agriculture programs and FFA programs with more than 7,100 members - state wide. I made special note that 8 new FFA Chapters were chartered this year and recognized at the convention, including two new chapters in our area – Silver Lake and Adams Central - and I was pumped to see them at this year’s Convention! While the organization is much larger than when I was teaching, it could be getting even bigger. It amazes me that another 15 other schools are looking at the same possibility for the 2015-16 school year; including Kearney and Lincoln. That satisfies and impresses me that our constituents across this state see the value of agriculture and the accompanying “intra-curricular” organization called FFA.  I just hope we can find enough teachers to fill that need.
     This year’s State FFA Convention theme was “Live A Legacy” and after witnessing a new record of more than 4500 young men and women all dressed in the Blue & Gold at Convention, with the enthusiasm, spirit and unbridled anticipation for their future that they bring, you cannot help but feel really good about our future. If all of my fellow taxpayers were to take in the State FFA Convention, or at the very least attend one of the sessions at the Pinnacle Bank Arena; witness their skills and talents, and see the enthusiasm that permeates the halls and meeting rooms, they would see what I see - and would make sure we keep these programs aliveand available to our young people who strive for a viable agriculture and leadership oriented background. These young people are our “Legacy” and I believe they have a leg up on living it 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: http://www.webster.unl.edu/home 

Monday, April 13, 2015

Exciting Opportunities Here at Home


Sen. Deb Fischer

Every day, we hear more and more about tech “start-ups.” Uber, Snapchat, Instagram, Warby Parker, Blue Apron – the list is seemingly endless. Start-ups and the entrepreneurs behind them are changing our lives. But when we think of these innovative companies, we tend to picture them in New York City, Los Angeles, or Silicon Valley. The truth is, exciting and rewarding opportunities like these exist right here in Nebraska.

Last week, I was delighted to visit with a number of these young entrepreneurs and start-up businesses in Lincoln. The Nebraskans I met with and the inspired work I saw was truly impressive. Many of the start-ups’ founders were born in Nebraska and wanted to stay here. Instead of moving across the country to do what they love, they set up shop in Lincoln. This sort of “can-do” initiative makes me proud, and in that spirit, I would like to highlight some of the people I met during my time in Lincoln last week.
My first stop was at Powderhook. This company has developed an online marketplace that connects outdoor enthusiasts with hunting and fishing locations all over the world. Through their website, you can plan trips, sign up for sporting events, or just browse ways to enjoy the outdoors with family and friends. Powderhook’s founder and CEO, Eric Dinger, showed me around their office and introduced me to the entire Powderhook team. They have created an incredibly valuable 21st century tool that will help our country preserve our rich outdoor heritage.
Next, I met with Paul and Stephanie Jarrett, the founders of Bulu Box, and the rest of their team. Bulu Box provides subscribers with samples of health, nutrition, and weight loss products on a monthly basis. Bulu Box has a wonderful Nebraska internship program – 80 percent of their current employees came through the InternNE program. I also stopped by Nobl, whose company name captures their mission well – the nobility of providing high quality health care for all Nebraskans. Founders Brett Byman and Katie Hottovy won a Bryan Health competition for developing a patient experience program when Katie was still in college and Brett had just graduated. Their win was just the beginning. Nobl now provides software and technology for health care facilities that are improving lives across the state.
Former UNL football players Blake Lawrence and Adi Kunalic fell in love with our state during college. After graduating, they decided they wanted to give back and build something that would provide opportunities for other young Nebraskans. They launched opendorse – a platform that connects athletes with marketers to build powerful endorsement campaigns. The business is based on the things they love: sports, social media, marketing, and data. It was inspiring to see them pursuing their passions while also building opportunities for others.
I was also excited to visit Archrival – a marketing agency founded by Clint Runge 15 years ago. Clint loved his life in Lincoln and set out to prove that you can reach global clients from the heartland. With Operations Director Jessica Marchant, an Omaha native, and the rest of their team in Lincoln, Archrival makes brands relevant to youth culture. They have many clients you might recognize, including Redbull, Nike, and Adidas. Archrival’s location in Lincoln has been one of the company’s unique selling points. Clint likes to tell his prospective clients that his staff thinks differently than other agencies – he doesn’t just believe it, it’s something he guarantees.
Seeing firsthand the creative and exciting work from so many young Nebraskans shows how our state is leading the way in future technology. Their commitment to the community and our state’s economy will result in meaningful and positive benefits for our future. They prove that there’s no need to leave the Good Life in search of exciting, meaningful, and globally-accessible opportunities. We have them right here at home.
Thank you for participating in the democratic process. I look forward to visiting with you again next week. 

Monday, April 6, 2015

Evelyn A. Rose

Blue Hill resident Evelyn A. Rose, 97, died Friday, April 3, 2015, at Mary Lanning Healthcare in Hastings.
Services are 10 a.m. Wednesday at Trinity Lutheran Church in Blue Hill with the Rev. Joshua Lowe officiating.
 Burial is at Trinity Lutheran Cemetery in Blue Hill.
Merten-Butler Mortuary in Blue Hill is in charge of arrangements.

Friday, April 3, 2015

STRAIGHT FROM THE HORSES MOUTH

Duane A. Lienemann
UNL Extension Educator
 
     I have always said that wheat is like a cat…it has nine lives. But after a couple of weeks of looking at wheat fields across South Central Nebraska I have to say I am afraid, in many cases, it has used up all of its lives. I was a little afraid of what we would have when wheat came out of dormancy because of a couple of factors. One is that we didn’t get much fall rain, hardly any snow for cover and moisture, and then a few days of below zero wind that just howled over the exposed young wheat. Oh, I know that every field and location with the bottom tiers of counties is different, and it seemed to me that it digressed in condition as you move from Nuckolls to Franklin County, and I am sure even worse further West. I thought first that we were just short of moisture and felt that with some rain we would see a green-up and the outgrowth of some shoots. Unfortunately the rain was limited and spotty in nature and many of the fields I observed in the Northern half of Webster County got only a sprinkle, which was way short of what we desperately needed. Now in those fields that did get some rain, there was indeed some greening up, but unfortunately winterkill appears obvious in some fields -- on top of the drought stress. It just makes me sick! So drought again - plus winterkill - a double whammy! Let’s explore that this week!
     I had the opportunity to go look at fields all last week and mostly to evaluate if we should fertilize or use any herbicides. We pretty much ruled that out until we seen if we got some moisture or not as most of the fields were showing stress. My first impulse was that it was drought related but then this past week I started seeing more signs of winter kill. That was confirmed when UNL Plant Pathologist, Stephen Wegulo, came out to look at Blue Hill and Bladen area wheat fields. We met up with farmers and looked at particular fields in that region. We also found a team of observers from Norder’s doing the same thing we were. The good news is that we did not find insects or disease, but the bad news is that the confirmation of drought and winterkill effects on our wheat. It also proved to be a little confusing as we saw fields with wheat that exhibited winterkill, other’s that were most likely drought stress and in some fields it showed the ravages of both stressors. 
      As far as winterkill, we saw examples where the same variety would show these affects in one field but not in other fields. There were different varieties that seemed to fair a little better, but then with some fields it did not seem to make any difference. It should be noted that winter wheat survival also can be affected by a number of factors besides variety tolerance to winterkills. Most of the fields we looked at had been planted with “Overland” which is shown to have “good to very good winter hardiness”. One field that was very obvious in winterkill was a half of a field that was planted to the “Cy Wolf” variety. That particular wheat was rated “very good winter hardiness”, but that particular field showed no doubt if it would come back. That cat was dead! Go figure! It would be interesting to find out how other varieties have fared. 
     My guess is that it will be across the board with all varieties as if you look at winterkill or at least injury, several factors may contribute including: 1) lack of rain; 2) lack of snow and snow cover; 3) fluctuating high-low temperatures; 4) loose seed beds; 5) amount and distribution of crop residue; 6) seeding date and depth; 7) type of drill use; 8) soil type and quality; and 9) conservation practices. We also noticed that where there was protection to the north of the field with a windbreak, you just didn’t see the extent of winter kill. It also made a big difference of what had been planted the year before. It seemed that for the most case, last year’s soybean fields had the tendency to show the most damage. I am not so sure that that may have been a combination of stress from lack of moisture plus very little residue with exposure to the cold.        According to http://cropwatch.unl.edu/, with the harsher winter conditions, the effects of practices such as seeding date and seedbed preparation are more evident. Early seeded winter wheat used soil water last fall, leaving little moisture in the soil profile in some areas. Dry soil heats up and cools down six times faster than moist soil, increasing winter injury and winterkill. Late-seeded winter wheat also sustained damage in some areas as it was not well enough established to tolerate the harsh winter conditions. In some fields greener plants in wheel tracks suggest the importance of preparing a firmer seedbed throughout the field. That was evident in at least one field between Blue Hill and Bladen. Too often in wheat, we see the more compacted areas are better established suggesting the need for a firmer seedbed during planting. Temperature fluctuations also can cause damage and winterkill. Since fall we have seen some high temperatures that dropped quickly to some pretty low temperatures. Experience with winter wheat has been that if you get a couple of these cycles where the wheat starts growing and goes in and out of dormancy, it loses its winter hardiness. 
     The type of drill can also be a factor. Did you use a Van Brunt style or a no-till drill? Drill openers also can be a factor. There is normally less injury and kill with hoe drills versus disk drills. This is probably due to the soil sloughing off the sides of the furrow and protecting the crown and roots of the plant. Also, the furrow catches some snow. Seeding depth is also critical because crowns close to the soil surface are more subject to changes in temperatures, dry soil, and harsh winter conditions. Winterkill can be caused by lack of soil moisture which doesn’t allow for a buffer against heating/cooling of the soil.  It can also be caused by late-seeding of wheat which isn’t well enough established to tolerate winter conditions.  Last winter, a few cycles of really high temperatures dropping down quickly to low temperatures also affects wheat as it goes in and out of dormancy affecting winter hardiness. Seeding too shallow also allows crowns too close to the soil surface where they aren’t buffered from soil temperature and moisture changes. All sad! Now we have to look at decisions for that wheat!!

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 

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Fischer Statement on Iran Nuclear Agreement

  
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) released the following statement regarding the proposed agreement between the United States and Iran on nuclear weapon sanctions:
“Today’s announcement on the latest framework for a nuclear deal with Iran is just that – a framework. Between now and the proposed June 30thtimeframe of a final agreement, anything involving a nuclear deal with Iran can change. My bottom line has been and always will be a nuclear-free Iran. 
“The United States began this process with a policy of prevention, and now it has been winnowed down to a loose framework to contain Iran’s ambition. To date, the sanctions we have imposed on Iran are clearly working. The Iranian economy has been severely damaged due to their government’s reckless pursuit of nuclear weapons. But absent any final agreement, nothing involving Iran’s nuclear threat to our country has changed.
“Congress must have a role in any final agreement and I will continue to support legislative proposals to achieve that.”

Continuing the Regulation Rewind

Nebraskans are already wary of the red tape flowing from Washington. As the list of federal regulations under the Obama administration continues to grow, many people are concerned about the impacts these bureaucratic obstacles are having on their lives and livelihoods.  
Throughout the Third District, I hear strong opposition to the Waters of the United States rule, or WOTUS. The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed changes to the definition of WOTUS would expand federal jurisdiction to include nearly all bodies of water, from ditches to prairie potholes. This would place a massive regulatory burden on our nation’s farmers.
Last year, Congress passed and implemented language which blocked WOTUS implementation for agriculture. However, much work still needs to be done. I recently sent a letter to the House Appropriations Committee asking them to include language in upcoming funding legislation to prohibit appropriating funds for WOTUS.
Earlier this year, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) proposed a ban on M855 ammunition. Many Nebraskans contacted me with deep concerns about this unilateral action by the administration. Thankfully, the potential Second Amendment infringement was stopped in its tracks when tens of thousands of Americans, as well as Congress, made their opposition known.   
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is also making Nebraskans uneasy with its track record of using regulations to limit First Amendment rights. The congressional investigation into the IRS’s actions is ongoing. Meanwhile, the Ways and Means Committee passed seven bills last week to cut through red tape at the IRS with needed reforms, such as making political targeting a fireable offense and ensuring private citizens whose information is illegally leaked by IRS employees can be updated on the investigation. 
Though we are making strides on these issues, the list of regulations keeps growing. I launched Regulation Rewind last year to fight back against the overreach of the federal government, and I am continuing this initiative in 2015. With your help, we can identify and find solutions to unnecessary federal regulations which hurt economic growth, limit opportunities for rural Americans, are inconsistent with the law, or are unfair.
We had a number of successes in Regulation Rewind’s first year. For example, many Nebraskans contacted me when the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) stated its intent to regulate small farms, even though this is specifically prohibited by law. In response, I helped organize a coalition of more than 80 Members of Congress from both parties to write the Department of Labor opposing the regulation of small farms and challenging the department’s authority. The department quickly changed course and rescinded its proposal.
After hearing directly from health care professionals in the Third District about arbitrary regulations impacting Critical Access Hospitals, I also introduced two bills to ensure access to quality health care for rural Americans. The Critical Access Hospital Relief Act and the Rural Health Care Provider Relief Act have been referred to the Ways and Means Committee, on which I serve, and are garnering bipartisan support. Congress successfully blocked one regulation regarding physician supervision last year, and I have reintroduced these bills in the new Congress.
This year, we must continue our fight against an out-of-control bureaucracy. Please visit my website at www.AdrianSmith.house.gov/RegulationRewind to see an updated list of our efforts and to contact me with your examples. Thank you for partnering with me to stand against government overreach and reduce the regulatory burden on Nebraskans.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

April Birthdays



April 2 Terri Golter
April 2 Ron Lampman
April 3 Mark Kumke
April 3 Dick Schmidt, Jr.
April 4 Christa Alber
April 4 Terry Jordening
April 4 Lori Toepher
April 4 Jan Wells
April 4 Nina Colburn
April 4 Shalene Medina
April 4 Wanda Wright
April 5 Patty Uden
April 6 Jordan Mack
April 7 Pat Kort
April 8 Penny Witte
April 10 Kristen Ostdiek
April 11 Deb VanBoening
April 11 Jesse Alber
April 11 Clair Duval
April 13 Ruth Elaine Goodrich
April 14, Jennifer Gaede
April 15 Jill Coffey
April 15 Rodney J. Buss
April 15 Ken Skarin
April 15 Wayne Strasberg
April 18 Judy Grandstaff
April 23 Tami Kort
April 23 James W. Mackin
April 24 Peggy Meyer
April 24 Colleen Karmazin
April 24 Kristin Rose Kohmetscher
April 25 Cody Bland
April 26 Lamira Karsting
April 26 Marah Leigh Jensen
April 28 Charlene Feeley
April 29 Larry Gianokas
April 29 Marvin Harrifeld
April 29 Gary Stertz
April 29 Kevin Toepher
April 29 Beverly A. Meyer
April 30 LaMar VanBoening
April 30 Dick Schmidt, Sr.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Leona E. Ruhs March 5, 1920 to March 26, 2015

Leona E. Ruhs, 95, of Blue Hill died Thursday March 26, at Good Samaritan society-Hastings Village, (Perkins Pavilion) Hastings, Nebraska.
Leona was born on March 5, 1920, near Rosemont Nebraska to John and Anna (Johnson) Buss.
She married Ivan L. Ruhs on Sept. 7, 1941. He preceded her in death.
Survivors of the immediate family include a brother, Melvin Buss of Hastings.
Also surviving are 15 nieces and nephews.
She was baptized and confirmed at Trinity Lutheran Church in Blue Hill.
Leona attended school at Plum Valley east of Blue Hill and Lampman School south of Rosemont.  She graduated from Trinity Lutheran School in Blue Hill.
On Feb. 25, 1943, their daughter, Phyllis, was born. Ivan’s career with Tractor Supply took them to Kearney, Kansas City, Mo. and finally Peoria, Ill.  She worked in various jobs at these locations. Following Ivan’s death, she moved to Blue Hill in 1990.
The role most important to Leona was caregiver for her parents, siblings, husband and daughter. Leona enjoyed needlework, gardening and cooking.
She had a strong faith in God and modeled it to all those who knew her. Leona was a member of Trinity Lutheran Church in Blue Hill.
In addition to her husband, Leona is preceded in death by her parents; daughter and son-in-law, Phyllis and Marshall Grimshaw; two brothers, Arthur and Harold Buss; and three sisters, Adeline Goos, Evelyn Magarin and Maybel Scheiding.
Memorials can be directed to Trinity Lutheran Church; Shriners Hospital for Children, 2025 E. River Parkway, Minneapolis, MN 55414; and Children’s Hospital and Medical Center Foundation, 8200 Dodge St., Omaha, NE 68114.


Services were Monday at Trinity Lutheran Church in Blue Hill, with the Revs. Joshua Lowe and James Witt officiating. Burial was in Trinity Lutheran Cemetery at Blue Hill.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Fischer Applauds Passage of Senate Budget


WASHINGTON – Overnight, the United States Senate approved a budget for fiscal year 2016. U.S. Senator Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) released the following statement regarding her vote:
“I’m pleased to support the Senate’s budget for 2016 – one that adheres to three basic rules: cut spending, balance the budget, and do it all without raising taxes.
“This budget forces Washington to live within its means – just as Nebraska families must do every day. To do this, our budget makes significant spending cuts over the next 10 years. It also ensures that taxpayer dollars are being used responsibly, so that each day we are moving our country forward – rather than adding burdens on our families.
“The American people have given elected officials a sacred trust – to be good stewards of their hard-earned tax dollars. This budget meets the government's core duties in a responsible manner.”
Click here to watch Senator Fischer’s floor speech on the budget from Wednesday.

Congressional Caseworker to Visit North Platte and Red Cloud

Constituents of Third District Congressman Adrian Smith (R-NE) who need assistance dealing with a federal agency are invited to attend “Caseworker in Your Community” events on Wednesday, April 1, in North Platte and Red Cloud.
“Caseworker in Your Community” is an opportunity for constituents to meet directly with one of Smith’s congressional caseworkers.  Caseworkers may be able to assist constituents who are having problems dealing with a federal agency such as the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Social Security, Medicare, passports and visas through the U.S. Department of State, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, or the Internal Revenue Service.
“Caseworker in Your Community” will be held on Wednesday, April 1, at the following times and locations:
North Platte Area Chamber of Commerce, Conference Room
502 South Dewey Street, North Platte, NE 69101
9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. (CT)
Red Cloud Community Center Conference Room
142 West 3rd Avenue, Red Cloud, NE 68970
2:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. (CT)

For additional information, contact Congressman Smith’s Grand Island office at (308) 384-3900

Friday, March 27, 2015

Jazz Festival at Hastings College Tuesday, March 31

Jazz Festival
Tuesday, March 31
High School and Middle School Jazz bands will be performing on the HC Campus Tuesday, March 31 in the French Chapel
Guest clinicians and performers include: David Turnbull, trumpet; John Mills, trumpet; and Christopher Kocher, tenor saxophone.
HC Jazz Ensemble, featured guests,  and the Hastings High Tiger Jazz Ensemble will perform at 7:30 in the Chapel. HC Jazz Ensemble is under the direction of Dr. Marc LaChance.
*Come and support the schools participating and HC Jazz Ensemble!
 
Schools participating are:
Blue Hill - 8:00
Hastings St. Cecelia- 8:30
Hastings Middle School – 9:00
Grand Island Northwest – 9:30
Holdrege – 10:00
Waverly – 10:30
Gibbon – 11:00
Hastings High – 11:30
Stanton Community – 12:30
Platteview – 1:00
Nebraska City – 1:30
Norris – 2:00
Fremont Jazz II – 2:30
Columbus – 3:00
Fremont Jazz I – 3:30
 
Call 402-461-7448 to verify dates and times
 
 
Joy Gerdes
Department  Assistant | Music
Hastings College | 710 N. Turner Ave. | Hastings, NE 68901
o. 402.461.7448 | f. 402.461.7428 | jgerdes@hastings.edu
                Music  www.hastings.edu/music
 
emaillogo_hastingscollege

Nate Mohlman has lead role in Hasting College production.

Hilarity ensues in Theatre Department’s production of “Harvey”
 
As its final production of the 2014-2015 academic year, the Hastings College Theatre Arts Department will offer “Harvey” by Mary Chase. Students will perform at 8 p.m., Thursday-Saturday, April 30-May2 and at 2 p.m., Sunday, May 3 in Scott Studio Theatre (806 N. Turner Ave).
The Box Office opens Thursday, April 23 and will remain open Monday-Friday from noon to 5 p.m. Tickets are $8 general and $5 for seniors and non-HC students. To reserve tickets, call (402) 461-7380 or e-mail tickets@hastings.edu.
Hastings College Department of Theatre Arts presents, “Harvey” By Mary Chase.
Elwood P. Dowd, played by Nate Mohlman of Blue Hill,  is a mild-mannered gentleman from a good family. His best friend is an invisible six-foot tall rabbit named Harvey. Elwood's sister wants him committed. The doctors aren't sure who to commit. Hilarity ensues. Mary Chase's Pulitzer Prize-winning comedy was also turned into the hit 1950 movie of the same name starring Jimmy Stewart.
 
Cast and Crew List
Director and Technical Director – Annette M. Vargas, Assistant Professor of Theatre
 
Cast:
Ethel Chauvenet- Laurel Teal – Castle Rock, Colorado
Betty Chumley- Grace Rempp – Hastings, Nebraska
Dr. William B. Chumley- Robby Collins – Papillion, Nebraska  
Elwood P. Dowd- Nate Mohlman – Blue Hill, Nebraska 
Judge Omar Gaffney- James Bachman – Thorton, Colorado
Nurse Ruth Kelly- Sallie Myers – Custer, South Dakota
Dr. Lyman Sanderson- Aaron Pierce – Cozad, Nebraska
Myrtle Mae Simmons- Alyssa Rock – Denver, Colorado
Veta Louis Simmons- Emma Atuire – Denver, Colorado
Wilson- Jeff Burke – Colorado Springs, Colorado
E.J. Lofgren- Nathanael Sass – Hastings, Nebraska
Miss Johnson- Rebecca Holcomb – Parker, Colorado
 
Crew:
Stage Manager – Emma Parrish – Sterling, Colorado
Assistant Stage Manager – Rebecca Holcomb – Parker, Colorado
Scenic Crew Head and Designer - Jasmine Radetski – Calhan, Colorado
Scenic Charge Artist- Carolina Hall – North Augusta, South Carolina
Lighting Crew Head and Designer – Adam Neely – Lincoln, Nebraska
Costume/ Makeup Crew Head – Kat Amyot – Hastings, Nebraska
Sound Crew Head and Designer – Andy Jones – Bladen, Nebraska
Properties Crew Head – Tyler Donovan – Denver, Colorado
Run Crew Head – Cheyenne Knehans – Riverton, Nebraska
Box Office/ House Manager – Megan Lee – Hastings, Nebraska
Costume Designer – Margaret Marsh, Adjunct Professor in Costuming
Nathanael Sass – Hastings, Nebraska
Laurel Teal - Castle Rock, Colorado
Jordan Samuelson – Kearney, Nebraska
Elfie Forbes – Aurora, Colorado
Mason Lindbloom – Omaha, Nebraska
Sienna Athy – Kearney, Nebraska
Alex Goerner – Yuma, Colorado
Dodge Weishaar – Bison, South Dakota
Barrett Russell – Saronville, Nebraska
Doug Johnson – Clay Center, Nebraska
 
Founded in 1882, Hastings College is a private, four-year liberal arts institution located in Hastings, Nebraska, that focuses on student academic and extracurricular achievement. With 64 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.
 
 
 

STRAIGHT FROM THE HORSES MOUTH

Duane A. Lienemann
UNL Extension Educator
                              
      Just to add a little more confusion and uncertainty on our farmer’s decisions on the Farm Bill I have just learned, as I write this column, that Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has officially provided farm owners and producers one additional week to choose between Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC), the safety-net programs established by the 2014 Farm Bill. They now have until April 7, 2015 to make these elections and/or change their minds on earlier decisions. The new deadline also applies to update yield history or reallocate base acres. Because it is of such great importance and these decisions must hold through the entirety of the bill, this additional week will give producers a little more time to have those final conversations, review their data, visit their local Farm Service Agency offices, and make or change their decisions. It is also worthy to note that producers who have an appointment at their local FSA offices scheduled by April 7 will still be able to solidify their decisions even if their actual appointment is after April 7.       Many producers have used the FSA online tools, such as www.fsa.usda.gov/arc-plc , which allow producers to explore how RC or PLC coverage will affect their operation. Many others have used the Texas A&M model which is found at https://usda.afpc.tamu.edu/en  and there was one from Illinois and another from OSU & KSU collaboration. I have obtained information that may be of interest to those who ran the Texas A&M decision tool. It indicates that if you ran the Texas A&M model, in many cases it recommended PLC more highly than other tools. Based on the letter that was sent to users on Tuesday (3/24/15), it appears they have adjusted their price estimates up, possibly causing a reduction in possible PLC payment and shifting some of the decisions more towards ARC-CO.  Anyone who used the A&M decision tool may want to rerun the program to make sure, and if they want to revise their choice must do so before the new deadline.
     No matter, what we must understand that that still is a close call and other factors besides the price will impact the results. For example, if your county has had more than one disaster yield over the past five years, then the Olympic average county yield will be set low, making it easier for the current year’s yield to be above the Olympic average county yield and eliminate the ARC-CO payment. A farm that has a FSA CC yield that is above the county average will increase the size of any PLC payment, if it triggers. The high CC yield does no good under PLC, unless the price is below the reference price. 
     Those who have studied this thing thoroughly have been saying for months that there will likely be no 2014 PLC payments on wheat or soybeans. The same applies to ARC-CO wheat payments unless there is a below average county yield and if your county yields were well above average for corn and soybeans, it is likely that there will be no ARC-CO payments on corn and soybeans in 2014. It looks like if the price estimates for soybeans in Nebraska hold it will eliminate any 2014 PLC payments, but for corn it is close call and could go either way. There are so many factors that play into this.
     Now for you that have grain sorghum base you may want to make note that the difference between February FAPRI and current price forecasts are not materially different on corn and beans, but there may be an exception with milo.  Sorghum has continued to generate a NASS price that is around 30 cents over the corn price during the past two months. The price estimates have not factored in the 30 cent over basis, because economists don’t expect this premium to last, and especially over the next four years.  If on March 30, NASS is still showing a 30 cent premium for sorghum, then the price estimates for 2014 will likely be adjusted.  If the premium holds, it could however eliminate the 2014 sorghum PLC payment. Most likely because of the $3.95 reference price, sorghum has the best chance at a significant PLC payment over the life of the Farm Bill, because it is doubtful that milo premium will last. I still find a good grain sorghum base intriguing.
     Nobody is encouraging farmers to change their commodity program decision with each new price forecast. There are so many factors that have gone into your decision, and they are likely still valid over the life of the Farm Bill. Economists have always said this decision is a close call and because it is mostly based on a price forecast; it is a “Crap Shoot”.  Most farmers will not gain any new insights by re-running any of the tools, but farmers will drive themselves crazy changing their minds with every new price forecast.  It seems to me that price forecasts are usually wrong, we just don’t know the direction of the error! I usually default to error on the conservative side, but that is just me. Most people I know have made their decision and will stick with it, but there are still some big questions and likely will always be! No sense in worrying!!
     LB 106 & 175: There is a lot of discussion going on about these two bills. LB 106 adopts the Livestock Operation Siting and Expansion Act. It balances local control, livestock development and economic opportunities for livestock producers and county boards working through approval for new or expanding livestock operations at the county level. LB 175 establishes a grant program to assist designated Livestock Friendly counties with efforts to grow the local livestock industry. It may be of interest to you that HSUS is in Nebraska trying to derail these public policy initiatives which focus on growing livestock agriculture in Nebraska. HSUS is putting pressure on our Nebraska lawmakers to oppose these agriculture-related measures and neither of the bills relate to animal care. That should tell you something! If you are interested in growing the livestock industry in Nebraska you may want to show your support as I believe they take action on these bills soon! I believe by now you know their agenda – no livestock!! We do not need Animal Rights groups telling us what we should do! We must curtail these attempts by HSUS to inject its radical agenda into our legislative process and urge our Senators to do the same! 

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 

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Senate Passes “The Internet of Things” Resolution


S. Res. 110 Offers Strategy to Expand U.S. Global Competitiveness in the Digital Age

Washington, D.C. – This evening, the United States Senate unanimously approved a bipartisan resolution calling for the Internet of Things to promote economic growth and greater consumer empowerment. The resolution, introduced by U.S. Senators Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Cory A. Booker (D-N.J.), Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), and Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) generated from a Senate Commerce Committee hearing earlier this year titled “The Connected World: Examining the Internet of Things.”
Senator Fischer released the following statement regarding the resolution:
“The United States is well positioned to lead the world in innovation policy. Our bipartisan resolution commits our nation to a strategy for the Internet of Things. It incentivizes the use of new technologies and seeks to maximize consumer opportunity and economic growth. This forward-thinking initiative is an important first step in ushering new ideas and innovations for years to come.”
Senator Booker released the following statement regarding the resolution:
“The Internet of Things has unbounded potential to impact our economy, society, and individual well-being. Passing this resolution underscores our strong commitment to fostering innovation, protecting consumers, and finding solutions to our toughest problems through technology-driven solutions. I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, as well as public and private sector stakeholders, as we continue working together to build on this shared vision to ensure that America leads the world in cutting-edge technologies.”
Senator Ayotte released the following statement regarding the resolution:
“From New Hampshire to Nebraska and across the United States, the economic potential for the Internet of Things is truly remarkable because we have the most creative, capable and talented people in the world. Innovation and free-market principles must drive our hands-off regulatory approach, not overregulation. The Internet of Things resolution would encourage new opportunities to harness the power of the Internet and develop innovative solutions for people and businesses.”
Senator Schatz released the following statement regarding the resolution:
“The Internet of Things holds enormous potential. And with more and more devices connecting to the Internet every day, the United States has a unique opportunity to continue leading this technological revolution. As we work to advance the Internet of Things, we must remain committed to empowering consumers, developing technological safeguards while enabling innovation, and improving the quality of life for future generations.”
Over the past several months, Senators Fischer, Ayotte, Booker, and Schatz have worked on a bipartisan basis to explore new connected technologies and related public policy issues. Earlier this year, the Federal Trade Commission released a report on the Internet of Things following their 2013 workshop on the same topic.
A recent report by International Data Corporation estimates that the Internet of Things will generate nearly $8.9 trillion in global revenues with over 200 billion connected objects by 2020. In 2013, nine of the top 10 most innovative companies in the world were based in the United States. One recent study indicated that 90 percent of all data in the world had been generated in the previous two years. 
The senators’ resolution puts the United States Senate on record supporting a strategy to maintain U.S. global competitiveness in the digital age. It also calls for a modern framework around innovation, recognizing the importance of consensus-based best practices and the need for innovators to drive the future development of the Internet of Things. The rapidly developing market of health wearables, connected homes, and other novel solutions represents an expanding industry of consumer products.
Click here to view text of the Internet of Things resolution.Click here to view the joint press release on the resolution’s introduction.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Reject Obamacare in Nebraska

 

By Governor Pete Ricketts
 
 
This month marks the fifth anniversary of the enactment of President Obama’s healthcare law also known as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) or Obamacare. As this controversial healthcare law has taken effect in the years following its passage, Nebraskans have witnessed its rocky rollout and have suffered from dramatic increases in insurance premiums. I have heard from Nebraskans that this law has rendered health insurance almost unaffordable for many people because of the high premiums and deductibles that have resulted from its mandates.
In spite of the ACA’s continued failures, proponents of the law have chosen to pursue its implementation at the state level here in Nebraska. This session, the Unicameral is considering LB472, also known as the Medicaid Redesign Act, which would expand Medicaid in Nebraska as proposed under Obamacare.
Proponents of Medicaid expansion tout the U.S. Federal Government’s promise to cover 90% of the cost of expansion as money that Nebraska cannot afford to leave on the table. Similar past promises from the Federal Government, however, have only proven short term. Promised federal funding for state administered programs has a history of evaporating, including federal funding for special education programming. Initially, federal funding was supposed to provide 40% of the funding for special education, but today in Nebraska it has dropped to 23%, leaving the State of Nebraska to pick up the difference.
Even at the current federal funding levels, Medicaid expansion in Nebraska would create major, new, ongoing state spending that would compete with priorities that Nebraskans care deeply about like tax relief, education, and infrastructure. A recent study showed that Medicaid expansion in Nebraska would result in spending $3.184 billion in taxpayer dollars including $158 million in state income and sales tax dollars over the first six years of the program. This would redirect money that otherwise could go towards property tax relief, additional education funding, or building better roads.
Medicaid expansion in Nebraska would also dramatically shift the focus of Nebraska’s Medicaid program which is centered on serving our state’s most vulnerable citizens. Currently, Nebraska’s Medicaid program provides coverage to young children, low-income families, persons with disabilities, and others who meet certain eligibility requirements. Expanding Medicaid beyond these individuals would shift the program’s focus away from serving Nebraska’s vulnerable citizens to providing taxpayer-funded health coverage to individuals outside these categories, which was never the original intent of Nebraska’s Medicaid program.
Expanding Medicaid as proposed under President Obama’s failed healthcare law is a dangerous financial risk to state government. Nebraska should reject the failure of Obamacare by rejecting LB472. Because of the ACA’s failures, it is critical that this Congress pursue real healthcare reform that is patient-centered and market-focused while also reversing the dramatic rise in healthcare insurance premiums and holding the line on consolidation in the health insurance market. Without real reform, it is likely the healthcare costs will continue to rise, and Nebraskans will continue to have fewer health insurance providers from which to choose.
Here in Nebraska, we should continue to seek innovative ideas on how we can make healthcare more affordable at the state level without major expansions of entitlement programs. One alternative that our Legislature should look at in the future is budgeting support for community health clinics. These clinics, such as One World Community Health Center in Omaha and Norfolk Community Health Care Clinic, provide quality healthcare to underserved populations who otherwise would have difficulty getting access to critical services. Additionally, with Nebraska’s low unemployment, there are numerous open jobs across our state with great healthcare benefits. We need to ask ourselves: How can we do a better job of helping people take advantage of these employment opportunities?
In the near future, I urge you to contact your state senator and ask them to oppose the expansion of Obamacare in Nebraska by rejecting LB472.
For more information on how you can call or email your senator, please visit www.nebraskalegislature.gov.

Friday, March 20, 2015

STRAIGHT FROM THE HORSES MOUTH

Duane A. Lienemann
UNL Extension Educator
      It is officially “Spring” as I write this edition, and it actually feels like it.  What a beautiful day to kick off another season of the year. It is Nebraska and things can change quickly. One thing we do need very quickly is some moisture.  I don’t think anyone would complain what form that came in right now.  We are dry and it looks to get dryer.  We have already run past at least one “fog day” with little to show for it. One thing is for sure, there is getting to be a bigger and bigger chance of a return to 2012 concerns. Keep your fingers crossed, send up your prayers, do the rain dance! We need it!
    We don’t have a lot of say in whether or not we get that moisture but we can have something to say about some of the things that constantly bombard the agriculture industry. It just seems to keep coming.  I get asked all the time if there isn’t something positive out there – and there is. I do try to point those things out too, but I quite honestly can hardly keep up with the news concerning the disconcerting, myth-laden, agenda driven bashing of the industry I love so much.
     I am going to center this week’s talk on the latest of several things that have really caught my eye. But first I suggest thinking back to your youth and start singing “Old McDonald Had a Farm.”  I have always seen a bit of innocence in that song and a hint of nostalgia, but to others it is an avenue to bring vitriol to our family farmers who try to make a living and feed an ever-hungering world.  I have no beef (no pun intended) with people who raise organic food. We need choices in this world and there is room for all of us in the production of food, but it angers and saddens me when one of our own try to discredit the conventional farmer with myths, lies and mindless theatrics that deepen the chasm between farmer and consumer and within our own ranks and this latest thing isn’t Chipotle’s or HSUS but just as negative.
     “Only Organic”, a coalition of organic food brands including Organic Valley, Stonyfield, and Annie’s Homegrown, recently launched the “New MacDonald” movement, a campaign encouraging consumers to take a pledge to add one additional organic product to their grocery cart each week. That in itself is OK, but here is where I draw the line. The campaign’s big kickoff was this dark video, in they use schoolchildren to give a rousing rendition of Old MacDonald’s Farm, except in this version the song has refrains such as: “with a hormone here and a hormone there”, “a small cage here and a tight cage there”, “here a spray [of pesticides], there a spray, everywhere a spray spray”. You can find the website and the video at: http://newmacdonald.onlyorganic.org/ . This follows an earlier cartoon type video that also shows a disdain for what we do and how we produce our product without much credence, education or in my mind morals. That particular one can be found at: www.youtube.com/watch?v=3PY4tGmdtU8 . That was bad enough, the New McDonald is worse!!
     In agriculture, sometimes we can be a house divided, especially when it comes to marketing our products. When the only competitive differentiation in a commodity is how it was produced, it’s nearly impossible to herald its benefits without disparaging your neighbor’s different production methods, and I believe the end goal of their ill-willed campaign is to drive demand for their products and at the expense of those that are conventionally grown, without regard to their neighbors or honesty that they should be bringing to the total ag industry. It makes an already thin trust, perpetuated by people like Food Babe, Dr. OZ and other charlatans, into an even lesser defined divide. People have a tendency to believe what they see on the internet and are too lazy to research, and of amazement to me is that they don’t listen to science! These types of things seem like hate to me. Farmers may not always agree on all aspects of agriculture, but at least I hope that we all can agree on one thing: hate should not prevail.  Americans should be free to eat safe, quality food regardless of whether they eat organic, natural, or not. What real good comes from this sort of bologna?  And I don’t mean the processed meat type!!
     Speaking of another type of McDonalds, I am sure most of you are aware that McDonald's restaurants is recognized as a founding member of the newly formed U.S. Roundtable for Sustainable Beef. While that is a rather tough topic to put your head around, they have not wasted time in dealing with another hot topic – antibiotics. This time with poultry--but you know what is around the corner. They not only announced last week that it will buy only chickens raised without antibiotics that are important to human medicine, but also that they will serve milk from cows not treated with recombinant bovine somatotropin (rbST) which is a hormone, to evolve its menu to better meet the changing preferences of today's customers. McDonalds introduced a new policy - "Global Vision for Antimicrobial Stewardship in Food Animals" - and added it to the list of new menu sourcing initiatives. You know that a lot of this is being created by the food activists like Food Babe and Animal Rights groups, not with the intent of marketing animal products, but an agenda of no animals at all.
     Oh, maybe we should close today’s edition by also admitting that March 20 is also a very important day for those kind of people. I will have to admit, that I almost missed this utterly pointless and annoying red-letter day on the vegan calendar. Today (March 20) has been proclaimed “World Meat-out Day” by Vegan groups.  It is no surprise that this whole thing is orchestrated by the Farm Animal Rights Movement (FARM) http://www.farmusa.org/ . Here is their Mission Statement. “FARM is a 501(c)(3) national non-profit organization working to end the use of animals for food through public education and grassroots activism. We believe in the inherent self-worth of animals, as well as environmental protection and enhanced public health.”  What you are seeing here is the continuation of an ideological agenda which is not favorable to Old McDonald as we have known him!  I will not wish you a “Meat-Out Day” but will say instead -- Welcome to Spring!!

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