Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Traveling Nebraska and listening to you.

By Governor Pete Ricketts.
Over the past month, I have been traveling and holding town halls across the state to listen to Nebraskans like you and to share an update on the priorities on which my administration has focused over the first seven months.  Input from the Second House, the people of Nebraska, helps to shape my policy priorities.  These travels have taken me from Falls City to Chadron and Laurel to Ogallala and a number of communities in between.  This is part of my administration’s effort to establish a culture of accountability and transparency in state government.  Holding town halls lets me hear directly from you about your concerns, hopes, and ideas.
At the town halls, I have heard from Nebraskans on a vast array of issues ranging from taxes and corrections to mental health and infrastructure needs.  One issue, however, has stood out from all others.  Everywhere I travel, families, ag producers, and business owners say the same thing: property taxes are too high.  This year, we took steps to cut the growth of government by about half and delivered over $400 million in property tax relief, an over 45 percent increase over the previous biennium.  This is a win for taxpayers, but there is more work to be done.  According to the Tax Foundation, Nebraska has the 13th highest property taxes in the nation.  I have heard countless accounts of the impact of high property taxes.  Nebraskans like Gary in Ord have shared their property tax bills with me, and their taxes have skyrocketed dramatically.  In Gary’s case, his taxes went up over 145 percent over eight years on one parcel of land.
At many of the town halls, I heard from citizens concerned about the Legislature’s repeal of the death penalty this past session.  Overwhelmingly, Nebraskans want to see capital punishment reinstated and carried out for public safety reasons.  Attendees have asked questions about reforms that are happening in the Corrections Department, and I have been able to share with them an update on some of the great progress Director Scott Frakes is making in his agency.  Later this fall, Director Frakes will be announcing his strategic plan for the agency as he continues to change the culture of Corrections.
Another common concern I hear at town halls is the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) overreach on many fronts including the Waters of the U.S. Rule, the Clean Power Plan, and the Renewable Fuel Standard.  The EPA continues to act like an unelected fourth branch of government, and the rules they are legislating through regulation are having a very real impact on the lives of Nebraskans.  One woman who attended my Loup City town hall mentioned that the EPA is forcing her to remove a culvert next to her pasture because the culvert in the EPA’s opinion is prohibiting the natural flow of the water through a ditch.
A multitude of important issues were raised at the town halls, and my administration continues to listen to concerns and ideas from people like you.  This week I will be holding another town hall in Norfolk.  You can find all the details about the town hall by visiting www.governor.nebraska.gov.  Be sure to watch this website for updates, and for other public events which my office publishes on a weekly basis.  If you are not able to make it to any of the town halls, I hope you will take the time to share your thoughts with me by emailing my office at pete.ricketts@nebraska.gov or calling 402-471-2244.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Halftime in a Year of Progress

Senator Deb Fischer
        
I have enjoyed hearing from you as I travel across the state of Nebraska this month. In my meetings and listening sessions from college campuses in Omaha to coffee shops in Chadron, I have appreciated the candid conversations about the challenges facing our nation. This feedback guides my efforts to bring Nebraska common sense to Washington.
We have accomplished many things by restoring important deliberation and debate to the U.S. Senate. It has been refreshing to move away from partisan divide and focus instead on making progress.
As we begin the final half of 2015, I am proud to be part of this new majority – one that is more efficient, more productive, and more accountable to the American people. This year alone, over 80 bipartisan bills have passed the Senate. Thirty-one of these bills have been signed into law, including legislation to expand trade, a bill to bring justice to the perpetrators of human trafficking, and a bill that requires Congress to have a say in the Iran nuclear agreement.
But none of this matters without an open process. All senators – no matter their party – must have the opportunity to have their voices heard. In 2014, then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada allowed only 15 roll call votes on amendments. So far this year, the Senate has taken 160.
In this new atmosphere, I have been able to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to achieve good things for Nebraskans and all Americans.
In January, I introduced a bill to authorize the minting of commemorative coins in honor of Boys Town’s 100th anniversary. This past July, it was signed into law. In the Senate, we spread the message of Boys Town and what this organization has done for countless families across the country. It didn’t take long before we received major bipartisan support for this legislation, collecting 73 cosponsors. During a visit to Boys Town this month, I was honored to present a copy of the law to the current director, Father Steven Boes.
Meanwhile, industries like agriculture and transportation are using new technologies to increase efficiency and drive growth through interconnected devices. This phenomenon is often referred to as the “Internet of Things.” As a world leader in technology, the United States needs to capitalize on the economic potential of innovation. In that vein, I led a bipartisan coalition of senators to pass a Senate resolution that 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 resolution, which passed the Senate in March, is an important first step in promoting new ideas and innovations for years to come. I am pleased to be a leader for new technology in the Senate.
Bipartisan achievements do not stop there. In May, I joined Senator Bill Nelson, a Democrat from Florida, to introduce the E-Warranty Act. This bill would provide manufacturers with the option of posting their warranty information online. In an age where technology is getting smaller, faster, and more efficient, companies need the flexibility to meet the demands of their consumers.
I also teamed up with Senator Joe Manchin, a Democrat from West Virginia, on a proposal to eliminate a ridiculous situation where the government has been spending money on nothing. Together we introduced the Grants Oversight and New Efficiency Act. By requiring agencies to close out expired grant accounts, this bill would help prevent the federal government from throwing away your hard-earned dollars.
These are just a few of the ways I am working hard to represent Nebraska’s interests by reaching across the aisle. We have achieved many successes, but our work is only beginning. Nebraskans deserve accountability and results, not gridlock and uncertainty. With your continued feedback, we can ensure that this pattern of productivity continues.
Thank you for participating in the democratic process. I look forward to visiting with you again next week.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

STRAIGHT FROM THE HORSES MOUTH


Duane A Lienemann
Nebraska Extension Educator
                                        
      I have always been a voracious reader. I guess curiosity and the need to learn has been innate in me. I am sure my mother was hoping that my first words to come out of my mouth as a baby would be “mom” or “dad” but according to my baby book I must have pointed at a light switch and the first words were “What’s that?”  Nobody had pointed that out to me in my first formative months and I wanted to know! I think inquisitiveness and need to know has led me to be whom and what I am. The retention is not as good as it used to be, but that mental thirst always seems to be there. 
     Now what is the point of that discussion you might ask? As I progressed through life I started centering in on things that primarily focus on agricultural topics and most people know that is where I have made my living over the years. To get that base knowledge, not only for myself but for the young people I taught and now adult farmers I needed to go to the well to keep abreast and up to date. Farm magazines, periodicals and now with the internet – blogs, websites and access to articles gleaned from all over the country, all at the tip of your finger, is pure Nirvana to me. In these readings you come across things that you feel you cannot express thoughts any better and it is simply best to share them. I found something written by Tim Lust, who is the CEO of the National Sorghum Producers. I think it is a good read and should give us pause for thought.
     “When the well's dry, we shall know the worth of water," said Benjamin Franklin. Similarly, if ever we lose the hard-working independent family farms that take care of the nation's landscape while producing a diverse set of crops more reliably and efficiently than any farm sector in history, then, and only then, will we truly understand the value they provide. 
I, for one, hope we as a nation never get to that point and I will work every day on behalf of agricultural producers to prevent such a scenario. But, it's a challenge for a number of reasons; chief among them is we take our secure, affordable, national food supply for granted. It's always been there, it always will be.
     To be sure, the "well" that is the American farmer is not going dry, but here are some reasons why we should make certain that the policies we embrace don't put our farmers in danger. First, the demographics are not on our side. The number of farmers continues to decline and the age of farmers continues to increase. These numbers speak to a way of life that is hard and seems to grow harder by the day. Second, the business of farming is getting ugly. The Secretary of Agriculture is forecasting a 32 percent decline in net farm income from 2014 to 2015 and lower commodity prices for the foreseeable future. Third, when farmers aren't dealing with the vagaries of Mother Nature and falling commodity prices, then they're worried about the constant threat of new regulatory burdens. Just consider recent activity in Washington: the Environmental Protection Agency finalized a rule that some have labeled the biggest land grab in the history of the U.S. causing every ditch across rural America to be regulated as a major waterway. Farmers and ranchers will endure the brunt of this new regulation as the primary stewards of land resources in the U.S.
     Finally, to add to this political risk and uncertainty, some lawmakers are trying to use the appropriations process to threaten farm policy one year into the 2014 Farm Bill. This is after the farm safety net has already borne dramatic cuts over the last decade in an effort to reduce our national deficit. Crop Insurance was the primary target. And, while the efforts were rightly rejected, they could have brought an agricultural sector that is already suffering to its knees. Farmers purchase crop insurance to protect against losses due to natural disasters. They only receive an indemnity after suffering a verifiable loss and paying their deductible. Crop insurance enables farmers to rebound quickly after a disaster and it prevents dramatic farm losses, which in turn allows them to pay credit obligations and fixed expenses.
     This system is hugely important for not only farmers, but also to rural communities and the national economy as a whole. Nation-wide, agriculture accounts for nearly $800 billion in economic activity and supports one out of every 11 jobs in the economy. Cutting the farm safety net would serve to reduce farm financial protection and drive independent American farm families out of business. Meanwhile, our foreign competitors seem more than ready to move the U.S. out of the agriculture business as they ramp up support for their own farmers. As Texas Tech University's Darren Hudson recently told a Congressional committee in June, “Other countries are treating their agricultural sectors as a national asset for security purposes and for the U.S. not to consider the implications of those choices would leave us at a competitive disadvantage." Indeed, it would be a tragic commentary if years from now – having squandered our own national asset because we didn't fully appreciate its worth – we look back and remember what we had and lost.”
     Those issues stated above are national in scope, and I can add a lot of things that are state or local based issues. There is so much that hinges on how we in agriculture approach these coming years. We sometimes can become our own worst enemies and not even know it. We can no longer just sit on the seat of our tractors, oblivious to what is around us. We can no longer just sip coffee at the local coffee shop or co-op and complain about what is happening around us. Don’t just be reactive. We must be proactive and most importantly – just become active! Join associations that can work on the problems that are around us. There is strength in numbers and it is powerful when many voices become one. Look at your commodity groups or associations like the local, state or national cattlemen, pork producers, corn growers, sorghum growers, soybean growers and federations like Farm Bureau. Be a part of the solution. The livelihood that you may save could be your own!

The preceding information comes from the research and personal observations of the writer which may or may not reflect the views of UNL or Nebraska Extension. For more further information on these or other topics contact D. A. Lienemann, Nebraska 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, August 18, 2015

49 State Attorneys General Reach $71 Million Consumer Settlement with Amgen

 
The Attorneys General have reached a $71 million settlement with Amgen Inc. to resolve allegations that Amgen unlawfully promoted biologic medications Aranesp and Enbrel.  Aranesp is used to treat certain types of anemia by stimulating bone marrow to produce red blood cells.  Enbrel is used to treat a number of conditions, including plaque psoriasis.  The Complaint and Agreement to Entry of Final Consent Judgment (Agreement) filed today alleges that Amgen violated state consumer protection laws by: (1) promoting Aranesp for dosing frequencies longer than the FDA approved label without competent and reliable scientific evidence to substantiate the extended dosing frequencies; (2) promoting Aranesp for anemia caused by cancer without having FDA approval or competent and reliable scientific evidence to support it; and (3) promoting Enbrel for mild plaque psoriasis even though Enbrel is only approved by the FDA to treat chronic moderate to severe plaque psoriasis.
The Agreement also requires Amgen to reform its marketing and promotional practices.  For example, under the terms of the Agreement Amgen shall not:
  • make, or cause to be made, any written or oral claim that is false, misleading, or deceptive in promoting Enbrel or any drug in the same class as Aranesp;
  • represent that Enbrel or any drug in the same class as Aranesp has any sponsorship, approval, characteristics, ingredients, uses, benefits, quantities, or qualities that it does not have; 
  • use a compendium[1] listing or publication to promote Enbrel or any drug in the same class as Aranesp for an Off-Label use to a Health Care Professional;
  • allow Amgen Marketing and Amgen Sales to initiate interactions with a compendium or determine the content of any materials for submissions to a compendium relating to Enbrel or any drug in the same class as Aranesp; and
  • submit a Special Supplement to a compendium to support an Off-Label Use of Enbrel or any drug in the same class as Aranesp or use a third party to lobby a compendium on Amgen’s behalf without notifying the compendium that it is acting at Amgen’s request.
The other states participating in the settlement are Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.
[1] A drug compendium is typically a non-profit reference book listing drug strengths, quality, and ingredients.  

Monday, August 17, 2015

Lights Out

U. S. Senator Deb Fischer

Presidents are known for rushing new policies during their last two years in office. Without the pressure of re-election, they begin to focus on their legacies and often aggressively pursue partisan proposals.
We have seen this before, and we are seeing it now. What’s new is the scope and consequence of these actions. This month, the Obama administration is targeting our electricity and setting the stage for unprecedented harm to Nebraska families and our economy.
On August 3, 2015, President Obama finalized new Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations. This rule, known as the Clean Power Plan, attempts to reduce our state’s carbon emissions by 40 percent through punishing mandates. For Nebraska, this rule is even worse than initially expected. In fact, we are one of the “biggest losers” under the administration’s final rule because the reductions goals for our state are 50 percent more stringent than they were in the proposed rule.
The so-called Clean Power Plan is designed to favor certain sources of energy over others by unfairly targeting coal-fired power plants and forcing states to meet new emission requirements. To comply with these regulations, states will be rewarded for showing preference to renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar, and severely punished for using the existing abundance of fossil fuels. We have seen this charade before and the results are always the same. When the government interferes with the free market and innovation, the economy collapses. 
Nebraska has the distinction of being the nation’s sole 100 percent public power state. Because of this, our citizens understand the dangers of overregulating our electricity system. This is why President Obama’s rule is so alarming: It will effectively shut down many of the existing coal-fired power plants that produce two-thirds of our state’s electricity. The result? Lights out.
Utilities in Nebraska are already expanding and investing in renewable energy sources. Our coal plants are leading the way by incorporating clean coal technology to reduce emissions while boosting our economy. But “one-size-fits-all” mandates from Washington are not the solution 
The plan’s negative consequences were illuminated in June by a panel of expert witnesses during a hearing of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. As a member of this committee, I asked the witnesses how the president’s proposed carbon regulations would affect middle- and low-income families, minority communities, and energy-intensive manufacturing operations. They provided sobering accounts of how the EPA’s plan would harm families and how these effects would far outweigh the alleged environmental benefits.
To combat the plan, I have joined Senator Shelly Moore Capito of West Virginia to introduce the Affordable Reliable Energy Now Act (ARENA). This bill would halt the damaging effects of the plan by requiring the EPA to demonstrate the viability of its proposal. It would require the EPA to study the rule’s effects at a minimum of six separate power facilities before implementing new mandates. Additionally, ARENA provisions would extend the compliance dates for the EPA’s new regulations until after a final judicial review of the proposal has occurred.
Put simply, our legislation will force the EPA to prove the economic benefits of this rule. It will also hold the EPA accountable for the harm this will inflict on Nebraskans and families across the nation.
I will continue to oppose this rule’s implementation and protect Nebraska from the administration’s unprecedented power grab. We cannot afford to roll the dice with our economy and the electricity you rely on in your daily life.
Thank you for participating in the democratic process. I look forward to visiting with you again next week.

Pushing Back on Washington

By Governor Pete Ricketts


One of the greatest barriers to growing Nebraska is the increasingly burdensome regulations coming out of Washington, D.C.  As Governor, one of my top priorities is pushing back on these regulations and creating a business-friendly climate in our state so that hardworking Nebraskans can find the good-paying jobs that we rely on to keep Nebraska a great place to live, work, and raise a family.  Washington bureaucrats, however, have continued to author new rules that seek to regulate many aspects of our lives.
Earlier this summer, the Obama Administration announced the final Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule which appears to give federal authorities the ability to regulate almost any body of water imaginable.  Previously, the federal government’s regulatory authority was generally limited to “navigable” bodies of water like rivers or lakes.  In fact, the Clean Water Act mentions the phrase “navigable waters” over 80 times.  After this final rule, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) now has the authority to regulate ponds, ditches, or even standing water after a rain.  This is a massive expansion of their authority, and has potentially costly impacts on farmers, ranchers, and businesses who may be required to seek expensive permits when their activities impact even relatively small bodies of water.
At the beginning of this month, President Obama launched a new initiative which he is calling his “Clean Power Plan.”  This plan aims to reduce carbon emissions by forcing individual states to develop plans to reduce emissions to a target level mandated by the federal government.  For example, Nebraska would be required to reduce emissions by 40% with compliance required by 2022, less than seven years away.  While this plan involves state action, compliance by our state was made virtually impossible because of logistical barriers.  For instance, it takes longer to plan new power transmission lines and new sources of power, than the Obama Administration gave states for compliance.
The Clean Power Plan will also prove to be costly for our state and consumers.  In Nebraska, our public power districts have a statutory obligation to provide low-cost power to their customers.  Utility companies are starting to examine the impact of the Clean Power Plan on their ratepayers, and some are already finding that it will force them to move from low-cost sources of power like coal, which means higher utility bills for consumers like you.  Recent studies of how the Clean Power Plan would impact Nebraska have found that ratepayers in our state would face 12% to 35% increases in their utility bills.
Additionally, this mandate from the federal government is unnecessary because Nebraska utilities are already working to diversify their energy portfolio.  Nebraska has almost 500 wind turbines with a combined capacity of over 800 megawatts of power.  In 2014, utility-scale wind energy generated 2.8 billion kilowatthours of electricity.  This year, Nebraska Public Power District announced in conjunction with Monolith Materials that Sheldon Station near Hallam would be the first utility-scale hydrogen powered generator in the U.S., and is expected to produce 125 megawatts of clean electricity.  Ironically, it is unclear under the new rules whether Nebraska will even be able to count this project toward carbon emission reduction requirements. This demonstrates how poorly-written and misguided this new regulation is.
Washington continues to impose a new, unprecedented level of control on states which threatens our state’s sovereignty.  Because the EPA has overstepped the authority given to them by Congress, we have joined a lawsuit with 28 other states against the EPA over WOTUS.  We are also suing the federal government, along with 15 other states, over the Clean Power Plan.  The EPA must follow the law, and we cannot let their actions go unchecked.  I encourage you to contact your federal representatives and the EPA to let them know what you think about these new rules.  As you begin to feel the impact of these new regulations, I also want to hear from you.  Please contact my office by calling 402-471-2244 or emailing pete.ricketts@nebraska.gov

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Saturday, August 15, 2015

STRAIGHT FROM THE HORSES MOUTH


Duane A. Lienemnn
Nebraska Extension Educator
               Duane A. Lienemann, Nebraska Extension Educator, Webster County 
                                

     It is hard to believe that we are getting so close to wheat planting time. This time of year, one of the most requested documents from our office is the UNL Fall Seed Guide. We used to get a bundle of them about this time of year. However, things have changed and like so many other things with computers, smart phones, etc. the best way now to get information like that is to go on line. You can download the guide for interactive investigation of the newest wheat and other fall crop seeds by going to: http://bit.ly/1Plx5il  or if you are more like me and like something in your hands you can download the same guide by going to http://bit.ly/1TrObkc . Either way you will find the information on wheat, barley and triticale. 
     This year we really need to pay attention to our seed, seed varieties and really study before we make our decisions. While the 2015 Fall Seed Guide as linked above is the popular venue, another good way of looking for specific information for a county or area that is closest to you and to your farming method is to go to https://cropwatch.unl.edu/varietytest/wheat . I also like going to the virtual wheat tour page which can be found at https://cropwatch.unl.edu/wheat/virtual
      With the abundance of scab infected wheat this year that has not been shipped to the elevator I have entertained questions concerning feeding the wheat, planting the wheat as a crop and also using this wheat for a cover crop or in a cover crop mix. Let’s look at wheat as a feed. It is not common in our area to use wheat for livestock feed, but certain has and can be done. To get rid of infected wheat it might be a good alternative to use scabby grain as feed for livestock.  However, due to the high concentration of vomitoxin in the grain, it is imperative that care be taken to measure the levels of vomitoxin and ensure they are below the maximum advisory limits before feeding.  Certain livestock are very sensitive to vomitoxin and should not be fed highly scabby wheat grain. While vomitoxin itself is not very poisonous, it can be associated with vomiting (thus the name “vomitoxin”), feed refusal and decreased feed consumption in swine, which can affect animal performance. Cattle are very resistant to the effects of vomitoxin but hogs are much more sensitive. Specific feeding recommendations may be found at: http://www.ianrpubs.unl.edu/epublic/live/ec1896/build/ec1896.pdf .
     I have also been asked about using the straw from these infected fields for feed and/or bedding. It should be noted that vomitoxin has been found in straw but it is not certain if the straw itself was contaminated or if the straw simply contained parts of contaminated wheat heads, which is logical. Straw from scabby fields can contain DON at concentrations that exceed 2 ppm.  Therefore, straw from scabby fields should be tested for DON before using it for feed, hay or bedding. I doubt that treating it with ammonia will have any effect on the contaminant.
     The next question is to using the scabby wheat for seed for this coming season. I certainly do not recommend that you do, as it in my opinion that you are just asking for more or compounded problems next year. Instead, find a source of non-contaminated, certified wheat and then for additional protection you may want to treat that wheat before planting. If you have no recourse and want or need to use your wheat that you feel is not highly contaminated make sure it is thoroughly cleaned and then treated with a systemic fungicide before planting. A good resource for determining which fungicide or amount to use is: http://cropwatch.unl.edu/wheat-seed-treatments-2015   or if you prefer our neighbor to the south also has a good list at: https://www.bookstore.ksre.ksu.edu/pubs/MF2955.pdf .  However, due to the very high levels of scab in most area fields that were not sprayed with a fungicide at flowering, most of the grain is so severely damaged that cleaning and treating it with a fungicide will not be effective and will certainly not be economically justifiable. 
     The last part was to instead of using this wheat as seed wheat to use it as a cover crop, or put in a cocktail mix for a cover crop. There was a good and timely article in CropWatch this week concerning this topic and basically what it said was as follows. Planting scabby wheat grain as seed for a cover crop may sound like a bargain. However, stand establishment will likely be poor because the Fusarium in the seed will infect the seedlings, reducing emergence or causing seedling blight after emergence. Some of the seed will not germinate at all due to Fusarium infection. The result will be in an uneven stand that cannot provide the full benefits of a cover crop. I think it will cost you rather than benefit you.
     Another reason why scabby wheat grain should not be used as seed for a cover crop is the introduction of a high concentration of Fusarium inoculum in the field.  When scabby grain comes in contact with moisture in the soil, the Fusarium spores germinate and form mfycelium.  Survival structures of the fungus, known as chlamydospores, form in the mycelium and remain in the soil for many years, providing inoculum that infects subsequent crops.  Fusarium mycelium will infect seedlings of many field crops including corn, soybean, and wheat, causing damping off and seedling blights.  It also will infect the roots and crowns of plants that survive, causing root and crown rots.  As a result, yield will be significantly reduced. So once again, I suggest just staying clear of using this seed at all. It will probably be best to incinerate it or take it to a land fill. I know that all of this sounds very discouraging but I want to remind everyone that wheat is still a great crop and is invaluable in farms with livestock and for those that are in a rotational system. Don’t give up on it!!
     Last but not least don’t forget this year's South Central Ag Lab Field Day on Wednesday, August 19 near Clay Center. See the latest UNL research on cover crops, BT corn, precision fertilizer management, and soil water monitoring. You can find information on it at: http://cropwatch.unl.edu/south-central-ag-lab-field-day-2015   


The preceding information comes from the research and personal observations of the writer which may or ay not reflect the views of UNL or Nebraska Extension. For more further information on these or other topics contact D. A. Lienemann, Nebraska 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 

Sunday, August 9, 2015

UPCOMING EVENTS:

UPCOMING EVENTS: 
 
Aug. 10: Small Unmanned Aircraft Vehicles (sUAV) Workshop, Colby, Ks  http://fs7.formsite.com/kartaonline/form5/index.html
Aug. 11: Soybean Management Field Days, Bergman Farm, 11289 741 Road, Holdrege, NE http://ardc.unl.edu/soydays
Aug. 11: K-State Beef Conference, 5-9 p.m., 4-H Center, Pratt County Fairgrounds, Pratt, Kan., www.ksubeef.org
Aug. 11-12: Nebraska Grazing Conference, Ramada Inn, Kearney, Neb., http://grassland.unl.edu/current-conference
Aug. 12: Soybean Management Field Days, Bonsack Farm, 3770 S 90th Road, Alda, NE http://ardc.unl.edu/soydays
Aug. 14: Nebraska Farm Bureau Ag Issues Meeting, 8:30 am, Holiday Inn, Kearney, NE
Aug. 14: South Central Cattlemen Golf Tournament, 4 Person Scramble, Red Cloud Golf Club, Hans Burken 402-469-1966
Aug. 14-15: Stargazing at the Willa Cather Prairie, Red Cloud, NE Tracy Tucker, ttucker@willacather.org
Aug. 17: Land Value and Rental Rate Meeting, Hall Co. Fairgrounds, Fonner Park, Grand Island, NE 9:30 a.m. 402-385-5088
Aug. 18-19: Nebraska LEDRS Conference, Holiday Inn, Grand Island, NE
Aug. 19:  UNL South Central Ag Lab Field Day, South Central Ag Lab, Clay Center RSVP to (402) 762-3536
Aug. 19: Land Value & Rental Rate Meeting, Red Willow Co. Fairgrounds Community Bldng, McCook, NE 1:00 p.m. 402-345-3390
Aug. 20: Companion Animal & Equine Afterschool Program Training, 10:00 am, Hall Co. Ext., College Park, Grand Island, NE
Aug. 20:  UNL ‘Project Sense’ Field Day, Fairgrounds York, 6 p.m.  RSVP to 402-624-8000 or e-mail christina.franklin@unl.edu
Aug. 24:  UNL ‘Project Sense’ Field Day, Fairgrounds Deshler, 6 p.m.  RSVP to 402-624-8000 or e-mail christina.franklin@unl.edu
Aug. 26: Gudmundsen Sandhills Lab Open House, Whitman, NE https://westcentral.unl.edu/gudmundsen
Aug. 26:  Crop Management Diagnostic Clinic (Soil & Water), ARDC near Mead, http://ardc.unl.edu/crop.shtml 
Aug. 27:  Crop Management Diagnostic Clinic, ARDC near Mead, http://ardc.unl.edu/crop.shtml
Aug. 28-30: Oregon Trail Rodeo, Adams County Fairgrounds, Hastings, NE www.adamscountyfairgrounds.com
Aug. 28- Sept.7: Nebraska State Fair, NE State Fairgrounds, Fonner Park, Grand Island, NE
Aug. 29: State 4-H & FFA Dairy Judging Contest, Nebraska State Fairgrounds, Fonner Park, Grand Island, NE  mikesr@northeast.edu
Sept. 2: Grain Sorghum Field Day, 5:30 pm, Mike Baker Farm, Trenton, NE  sorghum.board@nebraska.gov
Sept. 9: Webster County 4-H Youth Council Meeting, 8:00 pm, Webster Co Fair Exhibit Hall, Bladen, NE
Sept. 10: Grain Sorghum Field Day, 6:00 pm, John Dvoracek Farm,  Farwell, NE  sorghum.board@nebraska.gov
Sept. 10: Area 4-H & FFA Range Judging Contest, Adams County Fairgrounds, Hastings, NE mfaimon@littlebluenrd.org
Sept. 10-12: Miles of Memories Country MusicFest, Adams County Fairgrounds, Hastings, NE www.milesofmemoriesmusic.com
Sept. 12-13: Old Trusty Antique Engine & Collectors Show, Clay County Fairgrounds, Clay Center, NE www.oldtrusty.org/
Sept. 19: Paw Event, 9 am-1 pm, Hastings Tractor Supply, Hastings, NE
Sept. 20: Earl Bates "Will Rogers in the 21st Century", 7:30 pm, Willa Cather Opera House, Red Cloud, NE  www.willacather.org
Sept. 22-23: Youth Science Field Day, Lincoln Co. Fairgrounds, North Platte, NE
Sept. 22-23: Water Jamboree Liberty Cove, Lawrence, NE
Sept. 23: Silver Lake Farm Safety Days, Webster County Fairgrounds, Bladen, NE
Sept. 24-27: Aksarben Livestock Show, CenturyLink Convention Center, Omaha, NE
Sept. 29: Youth Science Field Day, Phelps Co. Fairgrounds, Ag Hall, Holdrege, NE
Sept. 29-30: State Range Judging Contest, Scottsbluff, NE dwolf@npnrd.org
Sept. 30: Youth Science Field Day, Dawson County Fairgrounds, Lexington, NE
Oct. 7: District 4-H & FFA Land Judging Contests, Locations TBA
Oct. 14-15: Youth Science Field Day, Buffalo County Fairgrounds, Kearney, NE
Oct. 16-18: Fall Home & Garden Exposition, Century Link Center, Omaha, NE  www.showofficeonline.com
Oct. 21: State 4-H/FFA Land Judging Contest, Location TBA
Oct. 21- Nov. 1: American Royal Livestock Show, Kansas City, MO www.americanroyal.com
Oct. 29 -Nov. 1: Nebraska Extension Ag Educators Fall Ag Tour to Purdue University, Indiana
Nov. 4-5: 8th Annual Nebraska Wind & Solar Conference, Omaha Hilton, Omaha, NE http://nebraskawindandsolarconference.com/
Nov. 18-19: 2015 Gateway Farm Expo, Buffalo County Fairgrounds, Kearney, NE http://www.gatewayfarmexpo.org/
Dec. 2-4: Nebraska Cattlemen Annual Convention, Younes Conference Center, Kearney, NE  www.nebraskacattlemen.org/
Dec. 3: Webster Co Christmas Greenery Workshop, Exhibit Hall, Webster Co Fairgrounds, Bladen, NE ckumke2@unl.edu
Dec. 5: Webster Co Christmas Greenery Workshop, Exhibit Hall, Webster Co Fairgrounds, Bladen, NE ckumke2@unl.edu
Dec. 6-8: Nebraska Farm Bureau Annual Convention, Embassy Suites, LaVista, NE

Saturday, August 8, 2015

STRAIGHT FROM THE HORSES MOUTH


Duane A. Lienemann
Nebraska Extension Educator
                                         
     What a difference a week can make! While we probably didn’t get the million dollar rains, but it certainly puts all of our crop and pastureland in a different light, for at least a little while.  There is no doubt that this moisture that we got this past week is a Godsend and is very much appreciated, even by those that had put hay down. That being said, we are still on the edge in many places in South Central Nebraska. This should help the top portion of our soil moisture, freshen the growing plants, improve the attitudes of a lot of dryland farmers and give some relief to our irrigators, but the subsoil is still critically low in many of those places that have not been blessed with rainfall. We will need timely rains now to get us to maturity and harvest. Don’t stop doing the rain dances, praying or going to Church --- we still need all the help we can get!
     Ag Pen Pal Program: There are several things I think it would be good to discuss in this edition and the first is something that is easy to do and I believe is so very important for we in agriculture who will be continually contending with the lack of literacy in agriculture or understanding of farming by consumers, and that starts with our children. I have a little vested interest in this project because it also involves my daughter, but I would support this effort regardless. Nebraska Agriculture in the Classroom is seeking farm/ranch families and classrooms across Nebraska to be part of the Ag Pen Pal Program.  The Ag Pen Pal Program helps educate students about their food, fiber and fuel through creating a personal connection between a farmer or rancher and a classroom. Farm and ranch pen pals are encouraged to write letters or emails as well as visit their classroom in person or via Skype. If you are a farmer/rancher, teacher or are just simply advocates for agriculture and am interested in being a part of the Ag Pen Pal Program, email Deanna Karmazin at deannak@nefb.org or get ahold of me and I will get you to the proper channels.  I know several people who have done this and each of them tell me that it is an incredible experience. This progressive individuals say they probably get more out of it than the young students they befriend! Here is a chance for you to both influence and to educate our future consumers!
     Land Rent Decisions: It is, of course, common knowledge to most landlords and renters alike that decisions concerning land rental agreements, lease termination (including terminating handshake or verbal leases) have a suggested deadline of August 31, 2015. That means that landlord and renters should be engaged in determining their agreements for the coming 2016 crop and grazing year. There has been a lot of discussion because of the increased value of land, increased taxes coupled with the very evident decline in crop prices which has precipitated some angst in the ag communities. 
     2015 cash rental rates for cropland for cropland declined in all ag districts. However grazing rental rates rose from 10 to 35% Monthly pair and stocker pasture rental rates set record levels. It was not a surprise to me to see that hayland prices rose 20% statewide while grazing land rose 9% for tillable land and 16% for non-tillable grazing land. Crop ground prices dropped 4 to 9% with the largest drop in dryland cropland with no irrigation potential. Also the more marginal cropland had a larger value decline than higher quality farmland. Even though land values declined over the past year, all districts and land types are higher than 5 years ago, thus the need to look at some changes that are evident in pasture and grazing rates. It has been evident that many landlords and renters alike have been changing their thoughts on renting pasture from a per acre basis to a cow/calf pair cost per monthly basis. First the drought conditions over the past several years and need for more acres of grass per pair than the normal rates helped precipitate this and now with the higher prices for stocker-feeders and cattle in general, coupled with the spike in the value of pasture and hayland has dictated that many people change their rental agreements to a monthly cow/calf pair rental rate. Let’s take a look at this change and why it is happening.
      Grazing Rates for Cow-Calf Pairs:  The recently published Nebraska Farm Real Estate Market Highlights 2014-2015 report indicates pasture rental rates for cow-calf pairs and stockers have set record highs for the second year in Nebraska even with some fluctuation. Panel members indicated the driving force behind these rates stem from record setting cattle prices along with the expectation for these values to remain high into the future. The average rental rates per month for cow-calf pairs and stockers are reported in Table 1 (http://go.unl.edu/g8ws ). A complete listing of the counties located in each Agricultural Statistics District of Nebraska can be found in the full report which are available electronically via the Nebraska Farm Real Estate website: http://agecon.unl.edu/realestate. It may be good to get a good background.
      Cattle producers across Nebraska have shown their willingness to bid up rental rates as the profitability of the cow-calf and stocker industry remain quite high. As landlords and tenants negotiate grazing rates for cow-calf pairs and stockers, both parties must keep in mind what rate would be viable to satisfy the needs of everyone involved in the transactions. Some of the common elements landlords and tenants must agree upon as part of grassland rental arrangement include which party is responsible for maintaining fences, wells, water tanks, and control of noxious weeds. Other provisions that may be negotiated include the checking of livestock and dispensing of mineral and salt depending upon the distance of the tenants operation from the rented parcel.  It shows an average rate in the South district of just short of $58 per cow/calf pair per month of grazing. Grazing rates for cow-calf pairs fluctuate across Nebraska depending upon the district. Local market forces along with inherent attributes of the ground influence the rental rates negotiated by cattle producers across Nebraska. Actual land values and rental rates may vary depending upon the quality of the parcel and local market for an area. 

The preceding information comes from the research and personal observations of the writer which may or ay not reflect the views of UNL or Nebraska Extension. For more further information on these or other topics contact D. A. Lienemann, Nebraska 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 

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

UPCOMING EVENTS

EVENTS: 
 
Aug. 2-6: Harlan County Fair, Harlan County Fair Grounds, Orleans, NE
Aug. 5-8: Thayer County Fair, Thayer County Fairgrounds, Deshler, NE
Aug. 7: UNL Red Letter Day, Lincoln, NE  http://admissions.unl.edu/visit/on-campus/red-letter-days.aspx
Aug. 7-8: Hot Air Balloon Festival & Nebraska Wine Showcase, Century Link Center, Omaha, NE  www.showofficeonline.com 
Aug. 11-14:  Soybean Management Field Days (locations TBA)
Aug. 14: South Central Cattlemen Golf Tournament, 4 Person Scramble, Red Cloud Golf Club, Hans Burken (402)-469-1966
Aug. 14-15: Stargazing at the Willa Cather Prairie, Red Cloud, NE Tracy Tucker, ttucker@willacather.org
Aug. 19:  UNL South Central Ag Lab Field Day, South Central Ag Lab, Clay Center RSVP to (402) 762-3536
Aug. 20: Companion Animal & Equine Afterschool Program Training, 10:00 am, Hall Co. Ext., College Park, Grand Island, NE
Aug. 26:  Crop Management Diagnostic Clinic (Soil & Water), ARDC near Mead, http://ardc.unl.edu/crop.shtml 
Aug. 27:  Crop Management Diagnostic Clinic, ARDC near Mead, http://ardc.unl.edu/crop.shtml
Aug. 28- Sept.7: Nebraska State Fair, NE State Fairgrounds, Fonner Park, Grand Island, NE
Sept. 10: Area 4-H & FFA Range Judging Contest, Adams County Fairgrounds, Hastings, NE mfaimon@littlebluenrd.org
Sept. 19: Paw Event, 9 am-1 pm, Hastings Tractor Supply, Hastings, NE
Sept. 20: Earl Bates "Will Rogers in the 21st Century", 7:30 pm, Willa Cather Opera House, Red Cloud, NE  www.willacather.org
Sept. 22-23: Youth Science Field Day, Lincoln Co. Fairgrounds, North Platte, NE
Sept. 22-23: Water Jamboree Liberty Cove, Lawrence, NE
Sept. 23: Silver Lake Farm Safety Days, Webster County Fairgrounds, Bladen, NE
Sept. 24-27: Aksarben Livestock Show, CenturyLink Convention Center, Omaha, NE
Sept. 29: Youth Science Field Day, Phelps Co. Fairgrounds, Ag Hall, Holdrege, NE
Sept. 29-30: State Range Judging Contest, Scottsbluff, NE dwolf@npnrd.org
Sept. 30: Youth Science Field Day, Dawson County Fairgrounds, Lexington, NE
Oct. 7: District 4-H & FFA Land Judging Contests, Locations TBA
Oct. 14-15: Youth Science Field Day, Buffalo County Fairgrounds, Kearney, NE
Oct. 16-18: Fall Home & Garden Exposition, Century Link Center, Omaha, NE  www.showofficeonline.com
Oct. 21: State 4-H/FFA Land Judging Contest, Location TBA
Oct. 21- Nov. 1: American Royal Livestock Show, Kansas City, MO www.americanroyal.com
Oct. 29 -Nov. 1: Nebraska Extension Ag Educators Fall Ag Tour to Purdue University, Indiana
Nov. 4-5: 8th Annual Nebraska Wind & Solar Conference, Omaha Hilton, Omaha, NE http://nebraskawindandsolarconference.com/
Sept. 23: Silver Lake Farm Safety Days, Webster County Fairgrounds, Bladen, NE
Dec. 2-4: Nebraska Cattlemen Annual Convention, Younes Conference Center, Kearney, NE  www.nebraskacattlemen.org/
Dec. 3: Webster Co Christmas Greenery Workshop, Exhibit Hall, Webster Co Fairgrounds, Bladen, NE ckumke2@unl.edu
Dec. 5: Webster Co Christmas Greenery Workshop, Exhibit Hall, Webster Co Fairgrounds, Bladen, NE ckumke2@unl.edu
Dec. 6-8: Nebraska Farm Bureau Annual Convention, Embassy Suites, LaVista, NE
 

Monday, August 3, 2015

A Shocking Lack of Compassion

                    
Sen. Deb Fischer
 
Many of you have been following the horrible revelations in the news about Planned Parenthood. The footage detailing their callous role in the harvesting of baby body parts is alarming and potentially illegal. Moreover, comments on these videos stating that certain doctors are intentionally altering the method of abortion by moving bodies within the womb to obtain organs suggest a clear violation of the law.
Americans are right to be outraged by the lack of compassion for these women and their unborn children. This is an organization that receives over half a billion dollars in taxpayer funding each year. Something needs to be done.
Throughout my time in public service, I have been committed to supporting common-sense, pro-life measures that offer compassion for women and unborn children in difficult circumstances.
Nebraska was the first state in the country to pass a 20-week abortion ban, which I supported as a state senator. That legislation passed by an overwhelming vote of 44 to 5. Pro-life and pro-choice senators came together and supported the bill because it was good policy.
In the U.S. Senate, I am a cosponsor of a similar bill, the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. According to numerous studies and medical experts, this is the point at which unborn children are capable of feeling pain. The majority of the American people support limits on late term abortions. This reasonable policy adopted by the Nebraska legislature should now be adopted at the federal level.
Meanwhile, the Planned Parenthood scandal deserves decisive action. We must put an end to these horrific practices. For this reason, I joined Senator Joni Ernst of Iowa and several of our colleagues to introduce legislation that would halt funding for this organization. Our bill would ensure that taxpayer dollars are redirected to state and local health departments, community health centers, and hospitals that provide women’s health care services. The services include, but are not limited to: diagnostic laboratory and radiology services, well-child care, prenatal and postnatal care, immunizations, and cervical and breast cancer screenings.
In Nebraska, there are six federally-qualified health centers and 36 clinic sites that have served over 64,000 people. From Omaha to the panhandle these centers provide care across our state. Ultimately, our bill directs federal funding where it should be: supporting women’s health, not Planned Parenthood.
Targeting this funding is not enough. Planned Parenthood’s actions require a thorough and careful investigation. For that reason, I recently joined 49 of my Senate colleagues in a letter to HHS Secretary Burwell, drawing attention to the legal, ethical, and policy issues raised by these videos. In our letter, we called on Secretary Burwell to cooperate with ongoing and future investigations into these practices.
I hope you will continue to follow this issue and voice your concerns as we move forward.
Thank you for participating in the democratic process. I look forward to visiting with you again next week.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

STRAIGHT FROM THE HORSES MOUTH

Duane A. Lienemann
Nebraska Extension Educator
        
       I woke up in the middle of the night to what sounded like an impressive thunderstorm and then drifted back off into dreamland, assuming we would have copious amounts of rain in the gage by morning.  But as usual for this part of the country it was more bluster than reality. I guess you call these things “dry storms”, and we certainly have been getting our share of those.  It is not too hard to figure out that  in this part of South Central Nebraska  we have been on the short end of the stick on moisture, even as around us there seems to be adequate and in some cases “much more than adequate” rainfall. Folks, we are dry and we will soon be out of subsoil moister. I think the pivot corners and pastures are an indication of that fact. We will soon see cupped bean leafs and “pineapple” corn leafs in our dryland fields as well. I know this is all in God’s hands so it may behoove us to offer up some prayers and then perhaps start planning some alternative practices that we have had to resort to for the better part of this past 15 years. It seems we are right back into – more of the same.
     This could be a very long month and it goes beyond the fact that August 2015 has 5 Saturdays and 5 Sundays. I guess it is fairly normal for August to be long, hot and dry but usually we have some subsoil moisture to kind of get us through. For many years Webster County had their County Fair the first week in August and I remember the heat and dry, but it also seems that we could count on a good rain during the fair, sometimes pretty impressive rains.  Our fair is over and it did not bring much rain and it doesn’t look much better for us this first week in August.  I have been asked if I would go do that rain dance, but I have declined because in the past when I have done that, all I got was lightning and dry thunder. My dancing evidently does not please the “Rain Maker”! 
     If you go across the region there is a difference in how the crops and pastures look and some don’t look too bad while others certainly can be rightfully described as getting the “short end of the stick”. Of course you hear the locals tell those that come to the coffee shops with stories of a good rain or even a timely shower – “You must have a better preacher at your Church!” or “You guys must pay your preacher better than we do.” There is no doubt that if that were the case I know a lot of farmers who would dig a lot deeper into their pockets, but unfortunately it is not that simple or easy. So all we can do is pray and look at being as conservation minded as we possibly can, and then use the tools that God has given us.
     For you that doubt that we are right back into this drought condition, you may want to access the UNL Drought Mitigation website at: http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/Home/StateDroughtMonitor.aspx?NE   I would imagine that most farmers I know have been acclimated towards these dry times and have already adopted things like canopy management, cover crops, no-till, reduced tillage practices, weed control, residue management and planting varieties that are more drought resistant. I might add that milo looks pretty good right now!  I encourage those that have cow/calf operations to look at supplementing your pastures and perhaps early-weaning of your calves to save what grass we can. Many of us are blessed to have irrigation and that is a great insurance program, but even our irrigators need to be conservative when it comes to water. ET monitors have proven to be great help when it comes to scheduling of irrigation and even irrigation amounts. 
     Seed Wheat: Now we need to be thinking of planting wheat, even with these dry conditions. This could be a big challenge this year for many reasons, including dry fields. It is no secret that we didn’t have the best wheat this year because of winter-kill, then a quick influx of striped rust at a most inopportune time, decimating our yields and opening up then to even more problems with head scab. The disease, caused mainly by the fungus “Fusarium graminearum”, is characterized by premature whitening or bleaching of wheat heads. These bleached spikelets are sterile or contain kernels that are shriveled and/or appear chalky white or pink and are referred to as scabby kernels, or tombstones. Scabby grain usually contains the mycotoxin deoxynivalenol or DON, also known as vomitoxin. These mycotoxins are harmful to humans and animals and of course the wheat kernels themselves do not make good seed wheat and should be avoided if possible. That being said, it could be a bit of a struggle to find good seed wheat this year and if you are looking for some, you may want to lay in your seed early this year. Decent seed wheat will be short in supply and some may have to travel miles to get it.
     One of the main questions being asked is whether scab will affect the quality of the wheat seed this fall. Yes, scab will indeed reduce seed quality tremendously, causing germination rates and stands to plummet. However, the vomitoxin that is usually present in scabby seed is not your biggest problem in terms seed germination, damage to the embryo is your problem. Seed treatment I think is a no-brainer, and you should try to do so as soon as possible to reduce further fungal growth. Cleaning will get rid of light, scabby materials, and this will naturally increase the test weight of the lot. In addition to cleaning and treating, seeds should be stored under cool, dry conditions until planting to prevent mold development. Blending of scabby wheat with healthy wheat is another good option to increase the overall quality of the lot. Increasing the seeding rate will also be helpful, but you should determine percent germination first - this will help you to adjust your seeding rate accordingly. I know that some producers feel they don’t have much choice, so if you absolutely have to plant scabby wheat, cleaning, germ test, and fungicide seed treatment are absolutely necessary. I suggest going to: http://cropwatch.unl.edu/wheat-seed-treatments-2015  for guidance on this. It is not that long and State Fair, Husker Harvest Days will be over, school will be going full force and we are in wheat planting season. Where did this summer go?

The preceding information comes from the research and personal observations of the writer which may or ay not reflect the views of UNL or Nebraska Extension. For more further information on these or other topics contact D. A. Lienemann, Nebraska 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 

August Birthdays


August 1 Daniel Kinley
August 4 Alicia Gibson & Walter Witte
August 5 Robbey Willicott & Terry Schunk
August 6 Maintainer man, Toby Alber
August 6 Donelda Hartman (RIP)
August 7   Mildred Willems & Torey Kranau
August 8   Lois “Blondie”Mohlman
August 9 Andy Alber
August 11 Clint James & Amanda Wademan
August 12 Elmer Rae Krueger & Ron Hartman
August 13 Darlene Engel & Kevin C. Kort
August 14 Robert Meents & Sammy Jo Lemke
August 15 Marilyn Alber,  Bryan Groves & Marla Coffey
August 16 Nickol Frazier-Dirks
August 17 Johnny Kearney & Krista Olson Karr
August 18 Mary Schliesinger,  Danece Meyer & Nancy Kort
August 19 Kelli Gilbert & Bessie Skarin
August 20 Roger Bunner
August 22 1936-2008 Norman Alber
August 22 Tami Wells Zubrod,  Chuck Hewitt, Hulda Scheiding
August 22 Gerald Toepher
August 23 Kim Hargis Ernst,  Ron Faber & Jeff Coffey
August 24 Brad Johnson
August 25 Sheila Hesman & Jerry Shaw
  August 27 Jeff Toepher
August 28 Jane A. Moore
August 29 Tim Hoffman
August 30 Kay Jordening, Rocky Premer, Ted Armstrong
August 30 Irene Hesman
August 31 Burnell Kottwitz, &  Evelyn Seeman

Monday, July 27, 2015

STRAIGHT FROM THE HORSES MOUTH

Duane A. Lienemann
Nebraska Extension Educator
  
     I am finally sitting in air-conditioned comfort in my easy chair and reflecting on the past couple of weeks. After months of planning, tons of paperwork and organization, a big part of the summer experience is over. It is hard to believe that our County Fair is over and we will soon be getting ready for the Nebraska State Fair and Ak-Sar-Ben!  In that rumination, it came to me how gratifying it was to see so many people pull together to make their respective county fairs happen. It is what makes the rural areas what they are.  It is indeed a piece of Americana and a validation of the Midwest work ethic. In all of the fairs that I have been involved with over the years, this year’s edition is memorable. Not because of the numbers of exhibits or exhibitors, not necessarily because of the quality of the exhibits, but mostly because of the intangibles. 
     When you spend so much time planning, organizing or even choreographing something like a county fair. it is the little things that speak the loudest. It is how smoothly it runs, the work of the judges and ring stewards. It is how the youth and adults interact and most importantly the feel of the fair! I have to tell you that this fair just plain felt good. There wasn’t the drama that sometimes persists, or the things that just seem to go wrong. It was good seeing people working together, helping each other and the fun that adults and youth were having. There was the pleasant feel of family and community that should come with events like this! It doesn’t matter what county you are in or what time of summer it is, county fairs are special!  
     I know I am not alone appreciating all those that come together to pull off what has become the largest social event of rural America. If you didn’t get a chance to attend your local fair, let me paint a little picture for you. The old adage says “If you can't smell the livestock, you are not at an authentic county fair.” Anyone that walked through the sheep, swine and beef barn knows that aroma and knows it is what makes the fair tick. There was the incessant sound of always hungry beef, sheep, goats, hogs and the cackling of nervous hens, roosters, ducks and geese. It is so nice to see those bright, smiling and sunburned faces of those young kids in their 4-H and FFA T-shirts, excited for the day and for another adventure at the Fair.
     This really is a slice of America that persists here amid the uncertainty of weather during the typical Nebraska summer. “Rockwellion” it may be, but it's something we dare not let go of because it's so real. It becomes a big family reunion, with a sense of camaraderie among people who perhaps haven't seen one another all year. And beneath it all, there lurks the spirit of competition, whether it's for the best sewn dress, best dressed goat, or the Grand Champion Market Steer. You would have seen young people, leaders, parents and even grandparents all helping the exhibitors as they washed, blew out, clipped, combed, and applied various dressing and prepare their respective animal to parade - with hopeful others-  in front of the judge who determines the ribbon placing and perhaps their chance at a championship run.  
     You would have seen appreciative audiences “oohing and ahhing” at the show animals or the laughter as the show pigs race across the show arena – free from their confining pens. You would have had seen giggling kids running through the grounds and petting the plethora of animals that just love the attention. One of my favorite fair events is the Rainbow Classic with our future “showmen” interacting with the judge to the pride of parents- especially when they ask “When can I show animals like the big kids?” which always brings a smile to my face. You would have seen future 4-Hers being rolled around in strollers by mothers and fathers who talk about their days at the fair and the memories that is brings back.
     You would have had seen giggling kids running through the grounds and petting the plethora of animals that just love the attention or itching for the annual water fight. You would have seen future 4-Hers being rolled around in strollers by mothers and fathers who talk about their days at the fair and the memories that is brings back. It’s a mixture of old and the new! 4-H and FFA exhibitor t-shirts, cowboy hats, seed corn caps, and sunburned faces.  It is a site that only people who frequent livestock shows and fairs understand. It's not all livestock, of course. There was the open class entries, static exhibits of photographs, clothing, foods, and all kinds of things in the buildings outside of the livestock area. The music by the band that blasted from the open air auditorium as the sun went down. You would have seen people sitting in the now-empty show arena, just relaxing and talking over the day or taking protection from a fast moving storm. Those things are what make the fair a special thing to people in rural America. That is what it is all about. That is what makes it real. This is rural America. But it is more than that. I encourage everyone to read http://forfarmandranchwomen.com/2015/07/21/4-h-is-not-about-fair/  
     I want to take the opportunity to congratulate all of our exhibitors, for not only their accomplishments, but also for their demeanor and conduct.  It is nice to hear the admiration from the judges about our kids! I want to personally thank everyone who is involved with the local county fair. Not just those at Webster County, but all the county fairs across the country. There are so many volunteers all across our state who work hard to keep this tradition alive and well. Thank those folks and the local ag society, Extension staff or fair board for all they do. Don’t forget the 4-H and FFA leaders who help guide our youth. I for one am proud to be a part of that tradition and am determined to help insure that the Rockwell picture continues.  I cannot even think of summer without the County Fair! I still approach the fair as the wide-eyed kid that saw the championship animals and that big Ferris-wheel at the Franklin County Fair so many years ago!  It is so good to see people pull together to prepare, put on and clean up after another great county fair. That is what it is all about. The county fair is community. It is as the motto of the Webster County Fair contends: “Family owned, farm raised and county proud!”



The preceding information comes from the research and personal observations of the writer which may or ay not reflect the views of UNL or Nebraska Extension. For more further information on these or other topics contact D. A. Lienemann, Nebraska 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 

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Country Music Jam is still going in Blue Hill



We are still having our Country Music Jams. It is good clean family entertainment once a month in Blue Hill at Westgate. It is LIVE Country Music. It is FREE and open to everyone, of all ages. We do have a free will donation, that helps pay our room rent for the Jam. In return you get live music, lots of fun, cookies and a drink.

Our Entertainers come from Minden, Hastings, Carleton, Sutton, Kearney and other places. Sometimes we have some very special Entertainers drop by for a song or two, like the “Mellow D’s” from McCool Junction, NE, Robert Dauwly of Belvidere, NE and Ken Yarbrough of Mtn. View, AR and others.

These people come here every month to play and sing their hearts out to entertain you, but sad to say we only have 8 people in the audience and only three were from Blue Hill. That sure does not speak well of Blue Hill. I’m sure if it were a sporting event it would be well attended.

The music and fun starts at 1:30 and goes to 4:30 pm on the second Sunday of every month at the Westgate community room.

These Entertainers also perform in Hastings and Sutton. The Hastings Jam is the first Sunday of the month at Good Samaritan Village, 2 to 4 pm and the Sutton Jam is the second Thursday of the month at the Sutton American Legion Hall, 10:30 am to 2:30 pm. These Jams are all free entertainment.

The Late Orville Meyers started this event here in Blue Hill. His last wish was to keep it going. You can come and go as you please. Stay for an hour or all afternoon but please come and check us out, we need an audience and Entertainers. More Info contact Lois Frahm 402 461-6650.
Our next Jam is Aug. 9, 2015.

Smith’s Modern Agriculture Caucus Hosts Briefing on Irrigation Technology

Congressman Adrian Smith’s (R-NE) House Modern Agriculture Caucus hosted a briefing today in conjunction with the Irrigation Association to educate lawmakers and staff on the importance of irrigation to productivity and conservation in agriculture.

“As the leading irrigated state, Nebraska’s 8.5 million irrigated acres have played a crucial role in propelling the Third District to the top agriculture district in the country,” Smith said. “Our state is not known for its rainfall, but we are located over one of the largest aquifers in the world. Through the ingenuity of our producers, we are able to tap into this vital resource and transform an arid landscape into fertile farm land.  Irrigation advancements, along with continued advances in biotechnology research, will allow the U.S. to lead the world in sustainably growing crops for food, fiber, and fuel.”
Speakers included:
Derrel L. Martin, Ph.D.
Professor of Biological Systems Engineering, Extension Specialist in Irrigation and Water Resources Engineering
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Kaomine Vang
Project Manager
California State University, Fresno
John Farner
Government and Public Affairs Director
Irrigation Association
Smith is the founder and co-chairman of the House Modern Agriculture Caucus. Smith hosted the hearing with caucus co-chairman Jim Costa (D-CA).

Sunday, July 19, 2015

STRAIGHT FROM THE HORSES MOUTH

Duane A. Lienemann
Nebraska Extension Educator

     The Franklin, Clay, Nuckolls and Adams County Fairs are history and the Webster County fair has started as I write this column for this week. I have to admit that this time of the year always gets my juices going.  Someone asked me at clean-up day if I really enjoyed doing this every year.  In thinking over that question I realized that this is my 43rd Webster County Fair as a volunteer, FFA Advisor or Extension Educator. Can that really be? Gosh, those memories come back and I could write a book on all the activities and nuances, but I think a simple narration of some of my thoughts is in line for this week. I have communicated this before, but with us being smack dab in the middle of our fair I thought it good to bring it back.
     What’s So Good About the County Fair?  Forget Ferris wheels, merry-go-rounds and cotton candy. At the County Fair, it's all about "just bein' country." The county fair, harkens back to the good old days when fun meant family, animals and spending time outdoors. The hustle and bustle of daily life is replaced by the cacophony of bleating animals. Men in blue jeans, sweat stained hats and boots gather in the hot sun to talk crops and the bids on cattle, hogs and sheep. Youngsters lounge in the shade of the animal pens, sit on their show boxes or hang on their clipping chutes, discussing how their steers, hogs or sheep fared in showmanship events. Even some bets are made in a good natured way on who is going to come away with the Grand Champion this year, or whose steer will have the best carcass. All part of the scene.
     Fairs are a unique summer and harvest celebrations that have been a part of the American scene since the early 1800's. I know there are a lot of people just like me. What is it about this time of year that makes this piece of Americana so alluring and so very special? They're the smells, fresh-cut wheat, kettle corn, barnyard manure, cream-can stew in the 4-H and FFA trailer lot, teenage perfume, and the sweat of laboring contestants - there's a distinct aroma that only fairs and festivals possess.  And where else can you find a rodeo, beef, hogs, sheep, rabbits, chickens, and blue-ribbon pickles in one place.  Fairs offer something for everyone.  Some come for the 4-H yum-yums (Sloppy Joes), others crave the funnel cakes or pie at the Methodist food stand.  Many come to watch the 4-H and FFA exhibitors prepare and show their projects which range from static exhibits to livestock, each as important to the exhibitor as it is to the next.  Still others come for their annual pilgrimage or family vacation or just for the social networking and visiting old friends and neighbors and attend the rodeo.
     Childhood memories lure us back to a fair each year where we admire exhibitor’s livestock, bright red tomatoes, sweet corn, cucumbers and youth artwork and pictures. We can get on a daring carnival ride; or eat cotton candy even if it sticks to our face. We can sit at the 4-H snack shack and reminisce. We can even witness the water fight between 4-H and FFA exhibitors, and even 4-H leaders and volunteers that seems to put punctuation on the final day of the fair. 
     Fairs celebrate rural America, vegetables, farm animals, sewing and home cooking, heritage, photography and hundreds of other wonderful craft or animal husbandry projects. There is something to be said about the smell, the lights and the sounds of a fair. We all like fairs. They are an important part of America and Nebraska and our agricultural culture. The County fair in any part of Nebraska is hardly atypical. These ventures always revolve around agriculture and family bonding. People involved with the 4-H and FFA work really hard to maintain the old-fashioned county fair and atmosphere.  There is an effort to do things that people can relate to, but we try to maintain the basics of what life was 25, 50, 75 or even 100 years ago. The Webster County fair, now in its 109th year in Bladen, relies mostly on livestock shows, open and static exhibits, rodeo and even demolition derbies or mud drags for entertainment not unlike many other counties across the nation.
     Fair Time Has Arrived, and We're All Loving It.  As an old time 4-Her and FFA member, fair time is far more work than I remember as a kid. The 100° days seem hotter, and the snow cones and funnel cakes seem more expensive.  The bleacher seats seem harder, the days and the distance between barns seem longer. Nonetheless, I've yet to attend any activity that boasts as much community support, creates so many hours of quality family time, and has a higher percentage of kids who understand the value of competition, sportsmanship, hard work and having fun. I have always said that we have the best livestock and the best kids of anywhere in the country and I still believe that. Yes, things, families, names all change, but we still have the basic core of good hard-working, honest and caring families across the board I have been proud to work with.
     Fair time gives dads a chance to really connect with their kids – their efforts focused on helping them achieve their goals. I fondly remember this with my daughter. Meanwhile, the moms just continue what they do all the time -- keep the family together, and sacrifice mightily for their kids.  Both sets of grandparents, if able, will be attending to make it all the more enjoyable for the kids, and probably to watch their children experience what they lived through. I bet grandma and grandpa will arrive with the hope of feeling the same sense of pride they felt with their children. Can’t you just feel it?
     It doesn't really matter what your goals are, or the activity you choose watch or to compete in. There's just something special about melding community, kids, animals, agriculture and fun into an annual event. I consider spending several days at a county fair or even the Nebraska State Fair as a “Right of Passage”, a reinforcement of what makes America unique and special.  Everywhere you look at the fair you'll see proud dads, super moms, great kids, and the support network of family and community that enables those kids to have an experience of a lifetime. And the neatest thing of all is that it's all in our own backyard. As we enter the lion’s share of our fair, I am happy to say - See you at the Webster Count Fair! Enjoy!



The preceding information comes from the research and personal observations of the writer which may or ay not reflect the views of UNL or Nebraska Extension. For more further information on these or other topics contact D. A. Lienemann, Nebraska 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