Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Gov. Heineman Announces Nebraska and China Sister-State Agreement with Shaanxii


(SHAANXI, CHINA) - Gov. Dave Heineman and his delegation ushered in a new era of Nebraska and China relations today in Xi’an, the capital city of the Shaanxi Provence. After years of economic development efforts, educational exchange and cross-cultural exchange, Gov. Heineman and Shaanxi Governor Zhengyoung Zhao signed a letter of intent to form a Sister-State or “twinning” relationship between the two states.
“This is a momentous day for Nebraska and China relations,” said Gov. Heineman. “Formalizing the already strong relationship between the heartland of the United States and the heartland of China will pay dividends as we continue pursuing a mutually beneficial relationship.”
An inland province with a strong agricultural industry and rich history, Shaanxi and Nebraska share many similarities and relationships. Geographically, Shaanxi is near the center of China; economically, Shaanxi is a strong province that has rapidly grown its economic ties with the U.S. during the last ten years.
Nebraska’s first Chinese investment came from Easyway International, located in Shaanxi Province and was a result of the 2008 Reverse Trade Mission. In addition to economic and geographic similarities, Nebraska and Shaanxi also share numerous educational and cultural ties. The letter instructs the Department of Economic Development and Sister-State Division of Shaanxi Provincial Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries to implement the formal relationship.
In April, 2012, the University of Nebraska and China’s Xi’an Jiao Tong University celebrated the official opening of the American Exchange Center, a University of Nebraska initiative that aims to expose Chinese students and faculty to U.S. history, law, medicine, art, culture, and government, and strengthen Nebraska’s collaboration with China.
Xi’an Jiao Tong University provides support for the University of Nebraska - Lincoln's Confucius Institute, a non-profit public institute with a mission of promoting and teaching Chinese language and culture in Lincoln and the state of Nebraska. The Chinese Ministry of Education fund the Confucius Institutes to promote friendly relationships with other countries; enhance understanding of Chinese language and culture among world Chinese learners; and provide a good environment for learning. Each Confucius Institute has a partner university in China. UNL’s institute’s partner is Xi’an Jiao Tong University. Teachers from Xi’an Jiao Tong University help staff and teach at the UNL center.
Prior to the signing, the Governor and the delegation started their time in Xi’an at Xi’an Jiao Tong University where the Governor and trade mission participants attended scheduled meetings and visited the recently-opened American Exchange Center.
During the visit, Gov. Heineman was briefed on UNMC and Xi'an Jiao Tong University School of Medicine’s a one-of-a-kind training center for family practice physicians in China.
After the visit to Jiao Tong University, the delegation visited Shaanxi Governor Zhengyoung Zhao, where the governors signed the letter of intent. After the signing ceremony, the delegation was welcomed at a banquet held in their honor by Shaanxi Governor Zhengyoung Zhao.
The banquet included numerous Shaanxi companies that are considering investing in the United States. Gov. Heineman presented an overview of advantages that Nebraska has to offer such Chinese companies.
Gov. Heineman is in China on the second leg of a trade mission that will also travel to Beijing, Xi’an and Shanghai.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Governor Heineman Arrives in China With Several Business Meetings Underway


(Beijing, China) Gov. Dave Heineman led several meetings today with top level government and business groups, as well as Nebraska and Chinese companies to promote stronger economic and educational collaborations. The Governor is in Beijing on the first leg of a trade mission that will also take him to Xi’an and Shanghai.
Gov. Heineman addressed a crowd attending the one-year anniversary ceremony of Right at Home China, the newest international franchise of Right at Home, a homecare services provider that originated in Nebraska under the leadership of Brian Petranick, President and Chief Operating Officer. Joining Petranick, was Ms. Yao Li, President of Right at Home China, and Tony Buccheri, International Support Specialist with Right at Home.Ms. Li is founder of the world-renowned BN Vocational School that provides free vocational education to underprivileged youth.
In 30 years, the number of people in China, age 65 and older, is projected to eclipse the entire U.S. population, making senior care service crucial to China’s task of caring for its senior population.
Taking place next in close proximity was a signing ceremony between the University of Nebraska Medical Center’s (UNMC) UneMed, Vireo Resources, LLC, a specialty nutraceutical product processing and packaging company in Plattsmouth, Neb., and their newest distributor in China. UNMC developed “Con-cret,” a Creatine supplement targeting weight lifters and athletes, and licensed the product to Vireo Resources, LLC.
The new market is expected to so significantly boost production at the Plattsmouth plant that a facility expansion 4-6 times the current size may be called for, as well as increase the number of full-time employees, and overall company revenues.
In attendance were Gov. Heineman, Michael Dixon, Ph.D., and President/CEO, UneMed Corporation, Qian Zhang, Ph.D., Licensing Assistant, UneMed, Jialin Zheng, MD, and Professor, UNMC College of Medicine, Department of Pharmacology & Experimental Neuroscience, and Mark Faulkner, Chief Executive Officer and Owner of Vireo Systems, Inc., Madison, Tenn., and Vireo Resources, Plattsmouth, Neb.
Following this event, the Governor participated in the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the State of Nebraska and its long-time partner China Council for the Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT), which has officially sponsored all of the state’s trade missions to China since 1991. The MOU represented a “good faith” agreement between the two entities to continue enhancing economic relations in trade, industry, services and investment, facility increased involvement of the private sector in trade and commercial cooperation, an promote a favorable environment and complementary activities to encourage private sector investment between participants.
The Governor spoke to the beneficial Nebraska-CCPIT relationship during a luncheon attended by Jifei Wang, CCPIT Chairman. During the past three years, China has been the second most active investor in the state with six new investments, in addition to five Chinese companies locating their main U.S. operations here. China also is one of the state’s fastest growing markets, having more than doubled during the past five years with a 36% increase in 2011.
Following lunch, Governor Heineman was invited to Zhongnan Hai, the location of the State Council for a very special meeting then took place with Vice Premier Qishan Wang, and members of to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The governor and Vice Premier conversed about Nebraska’s past two successful Reverse Trade Missions and the mutual trade and investment goals and objectives the country and state share. Gov. Heineman pointed out the numerous Nebraska investments in China and the fact that over the last three years Nebraska has had 5 Chinese companies decide to have their main US operations in Nebraska, as well as one merger between a Nebraska and Chinese company that has led to substantial growth.
The day culminated with a duck dinner hosted by Governor Heineman. In attendance were mission participants, Chinese company business leaders considering investing in Nebraska, and four Nebraska “experts” currently working and doing business in China. While the Governor dined with the Chinese Company business leaders, other attendees selected one of four tables anchored by the experts that included Dr. Shaunglin Lin, Professor, University of Nebraska at Omaha; Alan Beebe, Managing Director, China Greentech Initiative; Charles Peace, Regional Director-Asia, Leo A. Daly; and John Long, Jarvis China.

Nebraska State Fair Forms Exclusive Fan Club for Fairgoers

The Nebraska State Fair has formed a Fan Club that gives fairgoers a number of benefits that include Fan Club t-shirts, membership cards, gate admission, shorter lines to free concerts and more for Nebraska's largest entertainment event.
According to State Fair Executive Director Joseph McDermott, "The fan club will create an alternative option for folks who want to become a member of a very exclusive group of fairgoers and get all the benefits the fan club provides."
The Nebraska State Fair Fan Club is a paid membership of $75.00 and includes:
1. Two adult single-day gate admission tickets
2. Two guaranteed easy-entry preferred seating wristbands to one free concert
3. Two Fan Club t-shirts and membership cards
4. Sign-up for the State Fair Fan newsletter
5. Notification of concert announcements and news

McDermott says, "Club members will no longer have to wait in line for wristbands or entry to the Heartland Events Center. The will be allowed to enter much closer to show time, and get preferred seating once inside. It takes away the long lines normally associated with the process."
Fairgoers who don't want to take advantage of the Fan Club benefits will still be able to acquire free wristbands at the Heartland Event Center, as has been the case in past years. This year, the Nebraska State Fair offers four free concerts:
August 24: The Charlie Daniels Band 7:30pm
August 25: RFD TV presents The Marty Stuart Show 7:00pm
August 29: Larry Gatlin & The Gatlin Brothers 11am & 3pm
August 30: MercyMe 7:30pm

The Nebraska State Fair Fan Club can be acessed by going to statefair.org and clicking on the Fan Club Icon on the home page.
Paid Concert tickets are available at the Heartland Events Center box office or at Ticketmaster.com.
The Nebraska State Fair runs from August 24 through September 3 at Fonner Park in Grand Island.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

RFD-TV & RURAL TV Present “The Marty Stuart Show” at the Nebraska State Fair

Country music icon Marty Stuart and His Fabulous Superlatives will be performing live at the Nebraska State Fair on Saturday, August 25th at 7pm. Stuart with his wife Country Queen Connie Smith and special guests, The Quebe Sisters will perform for two-hours, with the first hour broadcast live to a nationwide audience on RFD-TV and RURAL TV.
According to Patrick Gottsch, Founder and President of RFD-TV and RURAL TV, "We couldn’t be more pleased to be a sponsor of the Nebraska State Fair. Our fans and viewers from across the nation have asked that we take Marty’s show on the road—we’ve listened—and decided to make our first live show on the road in our home state of Nebraska."
The Marty Stuart Show will be free with a wristband which does not include gate admission. Wristbands may be picked up at the Heartland Events Center day of show— while supplies last.
Chelsey Jungck, Events and Entertainment Director with the Nebraska State Fair says, "Marty Stuart started out singing gospel as a child, worked with bluegrass legend Lester Flatt in the 70s, with Johnny Cash in the 80s and used all of these early influences in his release of hits like "Hillbilly Rock," "Tempted" and "You’re a Wild One" in the 90s. In addition to touring internationally, Stuart also hosts the weekly show, "The Marty Stuart Show," now in it’s fifth season on RFD-TV and RURAL TV."
Marty Stuart is a four-time GRAMMY winner, platinum recording artist and Grand Ole Opry star. He personifies deep country roots with all the musical ingredients to make him a stand out performer, musician and singer for all ages.

Missoula Group To Bring "Hansel and Gretel" to Red Cloud Stage.

Area chldren and teenagers are invited to become part ofthe Missoula Children's Theatre production of "Hansel and Gretel"planned for next week here.
Auditions will run from 10 a.m tonoon Monday as two actor=directors from MCT begin a week long residency at the Red Cloud Opera House.  Rehearsals begin Monday afternoon and will culminate in public performances at 7 p.m. Aug 3 and 4 pm. Aug 4.
The performances will be in conjunction with street car Days, Red Cloud's annual summer celebration.
Young people in first grade through 12th grade are welcome to audition for arts in the usical production orfor slots as assistant directors.  No advance preparation is necessary.
Those auditioning should arrive by 9:45 a.m. Monday and plan to stay until at least noon.  Some cast members will be asked to stay and begin rehearsing immediately following auditions.
Rehearsals Tuesday through Friday will run 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m..
MCt is a nonprofit theater company with its home venue in Missoula, Mont.  The organization sends its teams of actor-directors across the country for the week long residencies and other community programs.
The actor-directors come with all the costumes, props and set materials needed to present the show.
For tickets to next weekend's performances, call the box office at 402 746 2641 or visit www.willacather.org. for more informaiton on the Missoula Children's Theatre, visit www.mct-inc.org.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Fire At Harlan Co. Recreation Area.

Campers were evacuated from camping areas at Harlan County recreation area when a fire broke out there Friday. .  A baler pulled by a tractor apparently ignited the fire in a field adjacent to the camping area. campers were told to evacuate immediately.   Fire departments were called in from Republican City, and Franklin to help fight the blaze.  The tractor and baler were a total loss.  But the fire was contained shortly by the multitude of volunteer firemen who arrived to help with the blaze. . 

 Photo of the blacked field next to the camping area.
 Fire equipment arrived quickly and contained the fire.
 The tractor and baler were lost to the fire.
Campers quickly loaded up and left the area.
Thank you to Tammy Gregory for these photos.

Fighting Fires

Dear Fellow Nebraskans:
This week, we are monitoring the status of the drought-related fires throughout the state. While the magnitude of the fires and the drought impacts weigh heavy on Nebraskans and the economy of our state, I have been reminded the past few days of the strong resolve and resiliency of our state’s citizens.
Since the fires broke in north-central Nebraska, I have been to the affected communities twice and monitored the damage firsthand. While seeing 72,000 acres of scorched Earth is striking, what I saw in our people is inspiring. In every community, brave volunteer firefighters were on the frontlines, facing temperatures of 120 degrees. At the command posts, responders worked tirelessly to update and coordinate efforts to contain the massive fires, and anticipate the fire’s next moves through behavior modeling. In the communities, family-members and friends of the community provided aid and comfort, gathering donations of food, ice, water, ibuprofen, eye wash, and other necessities.
When meeting with volunteers, firefighters and responders, I heard story after story of the truly remarkable generosity and thoughtfulness of Nebraskans and caring strangers throughout our nation. At the Ainsworth Fire Hall, I spoke with local firefighter Ann Fiala who told me they have received much needed donations from throughout the state and as far away as Maine. Ann said they have had people walk into the Fire Hall and hand them checks for as much as $500 and $1000.
In Norden, volunteer Cathy Fauren, told me she had been volunteering for days on end. Her husband and son were in the fires, and that a simple phone call from them was all she needed to know they were ok. A volunteer in Springview, Linda Sheehan, told me about the Springview Nebraska Community Facebook page, which is covered with photos and encouraging messages.
While driving the recent fire paths in the Niobrara River Valley, the ground was still smoking and smoldering in many spots. As we drove down a dirt road, surrounded by burnt trees on both sides, we stopped to talk with a father and son from Grand Island who were driving the roads, putting out the residual fires in order to prevent a second round of immense burns.
These stories are examples of what makes Nebraska a wonderful place to live. Nebraskans are generous. We care about one another. We are always willing to help others.
At the incident command center in Ainsworth, I was briefed on current efforts. More than 32 volunteer fire departments have helped. Low humidity, high temperatures, extreme drought, and dry lightning in the weather forecast continue to be major concerns.
This week, we activated the State Emergency Operations Plan in response to the fire emergency in Cherry, Brown and Keya Paha Counties. I declared a State of Emergency in early July, which activated parts of the State Emergency Operations Plan and allowed us additional options for use of state resources. Resources from the State Patrol, the Department of Roads, the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency and the State Fire Marshal’s Office are also responding to the emergency.
The Nebraska National Guard continues to mobilize available resources as the response grows. This included the mobilization of three Nebraska Army National Guard UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters equipped with “Bambi buckets” and approximately 28 personnel to provide support to local firefighters. I also want to acknowledge and thank the Rocky Mountain Incident Management Team for their continued efforts on site.
As I write this column, we are close to having the fires contained – thanks to everyone’s hard work and support. We are very proud of you.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Sara Bockstadter to Serve Webster Co. as Attorney

Attorney Sara  Bockstadter, 31,  of Kearney has been hired by the Webster Co. Commissioners to serve as the County Attorney following the retirement of  Jerry McDole.  McDole retired in June. 
Bockstadter was sworn in on July 3 by District Court Judge Stephen Illingworth.
Bockstadter lives in Kearney and will commute to Red Cloud for the time being.  To be elected to the position of Webster Co. Attorney a nominee must be a resident of the County but since Bockstadter was not elected but hired for the position that reguirement is not valid. There was no attorney in the county willing to take on the position. 
Bockstadter graduated from the Creighton University School of Law in Omaha in 2009 so has limited experience.
She will be working in the County attorney's office on the third floor of the court house in Red Cloud on Tuesdays, and Thursdays and any other day she has court.
Bockstadter and her husband, a sergeant with the Nebrska State Patrol are the parents of two children, Levi, 17 months and Shiloh who is only 8 weeks.  She presently has a law office in Kearney.

Familar Face mssing at County Fair

A familiar face was missing from the Webster Co. Fair grounds this past week.
Dewey Lieneman has participated in the Webster Co. fair for longer than a lot of people attending the fair can remember but this year he was sidelined at home with injuries he received after a couple of falls.
After the first fall he posted on face book “
I think an explanation is necessary to explain a couple of things. I actually fell from the top steps of our back door as I was leaving for my class reunion one week ago. Landed on the sidewalk resulting in a broken left arm and a severely bruised left hip. I had figured that I could not do this year's fair, and good people stepped up to make it happen. However, after a week of taking it easy, I was feeling pretty good and was walking with a cane so I decided to drive over to the fair for just a few minutes, and now you know the rest of the story..” Later he added, “Just so people know, I was not there to run the show, as it was in very capable hands. I only was coming for a little while to deliver a cd with Star Spangled Banner on it and to see if there were any questions or problems, and was actually just a couple of steps away from going home. I did not fall out of the crow's nest or off a ladder as some have heard. Just stepped on uneven ground or perhaps a small hole and unceremoniously went to the ground. I do want to thank the Bladen ambulance crew for their quick response and for taking care of me and wish all the 4-H and FFA kids a great horse show and the rest of the fair. I will miss being a part of it this year!

With the fair, almost history, Dewey continues to accept emails, text messages and phone updates at his home where he is “resting comfortably” in the air conditioning? While he heals.
The broken arm and broken leg did not prevent him from completing his weekly column on time.
We wish him well as he continues to “take it easy”.


Duane A. Lienemann,
 UNL Extension Educator,
Webster County
July 27, 2012 Edition

Well, our local county fair has come and went and I didn’t get to attend any of it at all. I reported last week that I would probably be an observer this year, never dreaming that I would be confined to my home and to my bed. I was stubborn and a bit stupid after “just bruising” my hip and breaking an arm, and after healing for a week, I decided I had to go over to the fair for the opening of the horse show. Bad move -worse idea. Even with my cane and head strong stubbornness, I guess I was not sure-footed as I thought I was, and found some uneven ground while actually walking to the bleachers to rest a bit. I slipped, the damaged hip went out, and down I went into a heap, turning a badly bruised hip into a fractured one. The horse exhibitor mothers were there and made sure that this stubborn German did not get up, and they were right. That pretty much ended my chances of taking in the fair. From all reports I think those that stepped up in my absence did a great job and the fair went rather smoothly, other than the hot weather for which they had no control whatsoever. I want to take this opportunity to thank all of those that did step up and all the exhibitors and parents for understanding why things may have been a little different this year. I also want to thank everyone for the kindness you showed with food, cards, phone calls, Facebook comments, emails and visits. It really does make the time go faster! Now back to reality…
A lot of Nebraska’s dry land and even some irrigated producers in our area may be faced with having to use their corn or other crops for hay, grazing or silage because of this year's drought conditions. One only has to look at the fields and how the pivot corners look to get a good idea of what the dry land fields are looking like after one of the longest dry, hot spells that I can remember. To add to that, we have not had a good year to put in hay, either alfalfa or prairie hay, so we are going to be really short of feed for our cows come this fall and winter. Compounding that is the bumper crop of hay we were blessed with just one year ago was severely cut into by sales and gifts to producers in Texas, Oklahoma and parts of Kansas who experienced this same drought last year. There wasn’t a day this past year that I didn’t see trucks coming down Highway 281 loaded with hay going south. I was afraid that this may short us in the case of a drought – Bingo!
Now, not only are we short of hay and our crops are suffering from the effects of drought, I think we also have something else that we may want to watch very close. One of the major concerns with using corn or other forages in drought areas is the level of nitrates. I know a lot of producers are or will be using corn this year for silage. If you are in this category, whether haying or ensiling corn, I highly suggest that you need to cut the stalks higher off the ground because nitrates accumulate in the lower portion of the corn stalk. Not only will that cut back on potential nitrates it will leave something in the field to catch any snow we may get this winter. I know that ensiling will reduce the nitrates significantly, but we do face a problem in that ensiling whole corn plants can be difficult because of the challenges in getting adequate oxygen exclusion necessary for proper fermentation which is the process that cuts down the nitrates.
Another problem is that immature corn silage will likely have higher crude protein content and lower energy content than normal corn silage. In addition, immature corn will have greater levels of moisture, making ensiling more challenging. One thing is for sure, if you do come back with forages that are high in nitrates then you need to introduce these nitrate-containing feeds slowly into livestock rations. Nitrate poisoning symptoms include increased pulse rate; heavy, quickened breathing; muscle tremors; weakness; staggered gait; blue mucous membranes and blindness. Should any of these symptoms occur, producers should remove the animals from the feed, and contact your veterinarian.
We have not been in a situation for many years and a lot of producers have gone away from utilizing corn and other forages for silage. It stands to reason that we have lost account of what silage is worth. Therefore, I have had several inquiries on the value of corn silage in the field. The best answer that I can give is that the old rule of thumb (the 5-7-9 rule) has been that each ton of 65% moisture corn silage standing in the field is worth 5 times price of a bushel of corn (earless corn), and 7 times price of a bushel of corn (low grain corn-less than 100 bu/A) and 9 times the price of a bushel of corn (normal, well-eared corn) delivered. I have seen variations of that rule of thumb. Harvest costs on a per ton basis from drought damaged corn undoubtedly will be higher than normal due to lower tonnage yields per acre. In the past UNL Extension has suggested using custom rates for Nebraska and discounted grain harvest as you would normally do, as an alternative to update these old rules of thumb. It varies with grain price but ranges from 8.5 to 9.0 times bushel price for normal silage and that is delivered into a bunker. Again this is for 35% DM silage and as-is bushel price of corn. Two sources of added information you might use:  http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/extensionhist/352/ NebGuide: Estimating Corn and Sorghum Silage Value  ; or http://www.ianrpubs.unl.edu/sendIt/g1865.pdf NebGuide:The Use and Pricing of Drought-Stressed Corn .   Remember that these are older documents and were put together with much lower corn prices. If you like using spreadsheets there are available to calculate corn silage value. One is available from University of Wisconsin Forage web site. It allows a customized price by varying grain content and whether the user is a buyer or seller of standing corn. It can be found at: http://www.uwex.edu/ces/crops/uwforage/silage.htm   I might also suggest the UNL Drought Resources web site,  http://DroughtResources.unl.edu for valuable information and links. Good Luck!

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

Letter from Adrian Smith regarding the Budget

Knowing of your interest in receiving updates about the federal budget, I am writing regarding recent developments.
As you may know, the Budget Control Act (Public Law 112-25) requires the federal government to reduce spending by at least $1.2 trillion over the next ten years. This reduction will occur through either defined spending cuts or an automatic, across-the-board reduction known as sequestration. Sequestration arbitrarily would cut both defense and non-defense discretionary spending and programs.
You may be interested to know, the Sequestration Transparency Act (H.R. 5872) passed the House of Representatives on July 18, 2012, by a vote of 414-2. This legislation would require the President to submit to Congress a detailed report on the implementation of the mandated sequestration cuts for Fiscal Year 2013. I supported this bipartisan bill because Americans deserve to know how the President plans to administer sequestration cuts, including the specific programs and activities which will be affected. The House previously passed the Sequester Replacement Reconciliation Act (H.R. 5652) in an effort to replace arbitrary, across-the-board cuts with targeted spending cuts and reforms.
Congress must use this opportunity to find a sensible, bipartisan and permanent solution to our spending-driven debt crisis. As a member of the Committee on Ways and Means, rest assured I will continue to promote meaningful spending reforms to balance our budget and pay down our debt. For more information on this issue or to receive additional legislative updates, please visit http://adriansmith.house.gov.

Keeping a Close Eye on Russia

Rep. Adrian Smith

America’s relationship with Russia is complex. Russia is currently the world’s ninth largest economy and growing. In 2011 alone, Nebraska exported $154 million worth of goods to Russia, which directly supported an estimated 560 jobs here at home. However, I and many others remain concerned regarding Russia’s recent behavior and trading policies.
Among other concerns, Russia is currently abusing sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) requirements by basing new measures on unscientific food safety concerns to reduce imports of American meat and poultry. This practice violates internationally established science-based standards, and puts Nebraska producers at a disadvantage in the Russian market.
Russia will join the World Trade Organization (WTO) later this summer, giving the United States new opportunities to hold Russia responsible for its trading policies and to promote our exports abroad. The WTO provides a forum to facilitate the easing of international trade barriers, and enforces trade standards and requirements among its 155 member nations.
The House of Representatives soon will consider bipartisan legislation to grant permanent normal trade relations (PNTR) with Russia, which is required for the U.S. to take advantage of the benefits and enforcement mechanisms of Russia’s WTO membership. The bill, which is supported by a diverse coalition of agriculture groups and business organizations, contains provisions to address concerns about Russia’s compliance with its WTO obligations, and address bilateral trade issues with the United States.
Importantly for Nebraska beef and pork producers, the bill would require the United States Trade Representative (USTR) to negotiate a bilateral sanitary and phytosanitary equivalency agreement with Russia, and to annually report on whether Russia’s WTO commitments are fully implemented. USTR would also be required to submit an action plan to address the problems if they are not fulfilling their obligations. These safeguards would ensure the United States maintains a watchful eye on Russia’s progress, and Russia is held accountable if it fails to live up to internationally recognized science-based rules.
Failing to pass PNTR would put American and Nebraska exporters at a distinct disadvantage in this market once Russia joins the WTO. For example, Russia imported $16.5 million in irrigation equipment from Nebraska in 2011. We hope this figure will continue to increase; however, if Congress does not grant Russia PNTR, U.S. manufacturers of agriculture equipment will not enjoy many of the protections and market access provisions which their global competitors in China and Europe will.
Russia’s WTO entry requires it to reduce top tariffs on irrigation equipment in half from 10 to 5 percent. In addition, Russia will be required to open its services market which will allow engineers to accompany the irrigation systems to Russia to set up the equipment. Finally, the United States will have access to WTO dispute settlement mechanisms, to ensure Russia’s compliance with the WTO trade rules.
While I and many others remain concerned regarding Russia’s recent behavior, PNTR combined with the safeguards and requirements included in this legislation would provide a means to engage Russia and encourage it to reform. Further, passing this legislation and extending normal trading relations to one of the world’s largest economies has the potential to benefit Nebraska’s exporters and improve relations between our two countries.
Similar legislation already has passed the Senate Finance Committee. The House Committee on Ways and Means, on which I serve, recently completed a markup of this bipartisan bill. As the legislation moves toward House passage, I will continue to work to improve our complex relationship with Russia and seek new trade opportunities for Nebraska goods and products.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Smith Votes to Freeze New Regulations

“Regulations in America are out of control and hindering economic growth. I am happy to join a bipartisan majority of my colleagues to support this important regulatory reform bill which contains several provisions to help streamline the regulatory process and prevent new economically significant regulations from taking effect while our economy continues to stall. This bill would give small businesses, producers, and other entrepreneurs the ability to grow by providing certainty, and ensures the government will weigh the costs and benefits of new rules before imposing them on the American people.”
The Red Tape Reduction and Small Business Job Creation Act is a package of six bills to prevent and eliminate excessive government regulations and reform the regulatory process.
The six bills included in the package are:
  • H.R. 4078, Regulatory Freeze for Jobs
  • H.R. 4607, Midnight Rule Relief Act
  • H.R. 3862, Sunshine for Regulatory Decrees and Settlements Act
  • H.R. 4377, Responsibly and Professionally Invigorating Development (RAPID) Act
  • H.R. 373, Unfunded Mandates Information and Transparency Act
  • H.R. 2308, SEC Regulatory Accountability Act
  • H.R. 1840, Consideration by Commodity Futures Trading Commission of Certain Costs & Benefits.

Mike Kort inducted into Nebraska Demolition Hall of Fame.

After being inducted into the Demolition Derby Hall of fame last March Blue Hill resident Mike Kort has said that he will give up his participation in the sport. Kort has been active in the sport for 32 years, building derby cars, driving them and helping with the derbies in the area. As a teenager he and his brothers, were introduced to the sport by their father, Larry Kort. He in turned taught the sport to his boys. It was a family activity. And they were good at it. “Mad Mike” drove his last derby in 2007.
Last week Mike Kort helped inspect entries for the Demolition Derby held at the Adams County Fairgrounds.
In 2010 Dan Botsch and Leon Pearson came together and created the Nebraska Figure 8 and Derby Hall of fame. Its purpose being to perpetuate the memory of those individuals who brought lasting fame to the state of Nebraska and who have had a positive impact on the sport of figure 8 and/or Derby.
Kort was one of seven individuals who were considered for induction into the Nebraska Demolition Derby Hall of fame.
Seven individuals were nominated, four were inducted.
The purpose of the Nebraska Figure 8 and Derby Hall of Fame is to perpetuate the memory of these individuals who have brought lasting fame to the state of Nebraska through their efforts in Figure 8 and Demolition Derby.
When Kort is not involved in Demolition Derbies the 53 year old is active on his farm near Blue Hill and with his business, L&M tire.
He and his wife, Nancy, have raised their family on the farm near Blue Hill. Nancy is employed by Glenwood Telephone in Blue Hill, has actively supported Mike’s involvement in the demolition derby

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Johanns Opposes Tax Hikes on Nebraskans; Calls for Current Rate Extension, Tax Reform

WASHINGTON – Sen. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) today opposed legislation supported by Senate Democrats to increase the tax rates paid by many small businesses and allow the death tax to return to 1990’s rates, impacting family farms and ranches in Nebraska. This bill passed largely along party lines.
Johanns also voted to support separate legislation extending the current income and estate tax rates as well as patching the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT). This bill, which Johanns sponsored, did not receive the required votes necessary for passage.
“Common sense tells us raising taxes in a weak economy is counterproductive and will do nothing to help working families, small businesses, senior citizens, and farmers and ranchers,” Johanns said. “A massive tax increase like this one will only force our economy to its knees and bring about another recession. Luckily, this tax hike is dead on arrival in the House of Representatives. Now it’s time for Congress to extend the current rates and renew our efforts on comprehensive tax reform.”
The Johanns supported legislation was introduced by Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah). It extends the current income and estate tax rates, and also patches the AMT. Without adjusting the AMT, this tax will impact nearly 135,000 Nebraska households earning as little as $33,750 a year according to the Congressional Research Office.
The Democrats’ tax increase would have resulted in tax hikes on approximately 940,000 businesses – including many small businesses – classified as flow-through businesses, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation. The National Federation of Independent Businesses estimates nearly a quarter of the American workforce is employed by businesses impacted by this proposed tax hike. A study released this week by Ernst and Young estimated the tax hike proposed by Senate Democrats would result in 700,000 fewer jobs and lower wages for American workers.
On the death tax, the Democrats’ legislation remains silent, which allows the tax to return to 55 percent with a $1 million exemption. This increased rate would impact family-owned ranches and farming operations.
Both the current and former Senate Budget Committee chairmen, Sens. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) and Pete Domenici (R-N.M.), and Alice Rivlin, budget director under President Bill Clinton, have said all current tax rates should be extended while Congress works to reform the current tax code.
When signing a two-year extension of current tax rates in 2010, President Obama said it was a bad idea to raise taxes in a struggling economy. Our economy, as measured by our nation’s Gross Domestic Product, is actually growing at a slower pace now than it was in 2010.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Gov. Heineman Surveys Fires in North Central Nebraska, Deploys National Guard


(Lincoln, Neb.) PHOTO GALLERY - Gov. Dave Heineman has activated the State Emergency Operations Plan in response to the fire emergency in Brown and Keya Paha Counties. Earlier today, Gov. Heineman surveyed firsthand the affected areas in north central Nebraska and met with local responders in Ainsworth, Long Pine and Norden.
“I am continually impressed with the hard work of Nebraskans in difficult situations,” said Gov. Heineman. “The local communities are working very hard and are supportive of the efforts of local responders and firefighters, including providing aid in the forms of food and water. We will continue to work closely together as we fight these fires.”
The Nebraska National Guard continues to mobilize available resources as the response grows. This includes the mobilization of three Nebraska Army National Guard UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters equipped with “Bambi buckets” and approximately 28 personnel to provide support to local firefighters fighting a wildfire in Keya Paha and Brown Counties at the request of the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency. The helicopters are equipped with “Bambi buckets” which can scoop water from local sources and place the water where needed by ground firefighters.
The Nebraska National Guard is also preparing to send up to 35 additional ground, red-card certified Nebraska National Guardsmen to support local firefighters if needed.
Resources from the Nebraska State Patrol, Nebraska Department of Roads, the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency and the State Fire Marshal’s Office are also responding to the emergency.
At the beginning of this month, Gov. Heineman authorized an emergency declaration for statewide drought and fires that allows state personnel and resources to assist with emergency situations and prevention, and allows maximum flexibility to the state to deploy Nebraska National Guard and Nebraska Emergency Management Agency assets and resources as needed.
The Governor and the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency will continue to monitor the situation throughout the state, as the drought continues.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Don’t Overtax Our Economy

Senator Mike Johanns
Recently in the Senate, we’ve been debating whether to allow a massive tax increase on our job creators and every American taxpayer at the end of the year. This is exactly what will happen if Congress doesn’t act. I strongly oppose allowing a tax increase with our economy still struggling and our job creators still struggling to put Americans back to work.
The bills being considered in the Senate approach our economic struggles from the completely wrong direction. For example, one bill I opposed, which did not pass, sought to punish businesses which establish aspects of their operations outside our borders. Beyond political talking points, this would do nothing to confront the reasons why businesses are moving overseas in the first place.
Why aren’t American businesses staying in America, and how can we encourage them to stay? These are the questions we must be asking. The answer lies in the fact that, despite class-dividing messaging about taxes, the corporate tax rate in the United States is the highest of any country in the world. You can literally set up shop anywhere around the globe and you’d be paying lower tax rates than if you did so in Kearney or Cozad.
Business owners have to make smart business decisions to thrive, and the bottom line is our tax code discourages locating operations in the United States. Instead of making the tax code more conducive to American job creation, the Senate is wasting time on political messaging votes. Job creators could be hiring more at home if tax rates elsewhere weren’t so much lower than they are here.
Instead of playing politics we should be working to update our tax code and deal with our crippling debt, and the first step should be preventing the January 1 tax increase. In 2010, when he signed a two-year extension of the current tax rates, President Obama himself asserted it was a bad idea to raise taxes in a struggling economy. He has since changed his mind and would have you believe it’s now a good idea.
This despite the fact that our economy is growing at a slower rate than two years ago, when the President said the economy was too fragile to raise taxes; despite the fact that, according to a new study, letting these taxes go back up will actually shrink the economy by about 1.3 percent and lead directly to about 710,000 job losses; and despite the fact that, according to IRS data, the average Nebraskan’s taxes would go up by nearly $2,500. Some argue it would cost too much to prevent this take hike on our job creators, yet the additional revenue from the President’s plan would fund the federal government for less than three days.
The answer to our economic struggle is not to raise taxes, making it harder for job creators to grow and compete, and decreasing the buying power of Nebraska families. Nebraskans need less government in their lives, not more. Nebraska families and businesses need more of the money they’ve earned to help make our economy and their own lives better. I will continue pursuing policies in the Senate toward that goal.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Miscellaneous Tarif Bill Keeps Nebraska Manufacturers Cmpetitive

America’s economy is stagnant and showing few signs of growth. The private sector is being strangled by government regulation, an overly-complex and uncompetitive tax code, and uncertainty generated by the threat of tax increases, an onerous health care law, and the ever expanding national debt.
One of the bright stars, though, remains our ag economy, driven by expanded trade and finding new markets abroad for Nebraska products. As an advocate of increased international trade and a member of the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Trade, I am committed to reducing taxes and tariffs to increase trade and American competitiveness in a global economy.
In the past, Congress acted to close our borders, believing doing so would protect U.S. manufacturing and producers. Multinational manufacturing and international supply chains have evolved, though, and we now know free and fair trade is economically advantageous for America and Nebraska.
To keep pace with our international competition, Congress developed the Miscellaneous Tariff Bill (MTB) to temporarily suspend previously levied import taxes on necessary manufacturing inputs which are not sold or available in the U.S. Suspending these tariffs reduces the cost of U.S. manufactured goods, making them more affordable and attractive to domestic and international consumers.
The reduced cost of production benefits consumers both here and abroad, protecting jobs at home and reducing our trade deficit. The largest category of goods imported into the United States is not consumer goods, but capital goods used to create value-added finished products. For example, Nebraska manufacturers import raw materials not found in the U.S., and then export their manufactured products to consumers around the world, benefiting our local economy.
The MTB process also fosters more competition between domestic producers because prohibitive tariffs can prevent smaller start-up businesses from gaining a foothold in an industry.
The MTB supports an estimated 90,000 jobs, increases U.S. production by $4.6 billion and expands U.S. GDP by $3.5 billion. Congress must renew the MTB by the end of this year to expand opportunities for U.S. manufacturers to benefit from suspended duties on imports. Failure to act only benefits foreign manufacturers who do not face the same punitive tariffs.
In the past, the duty suspension process has been conducted with little transparency, raising concerns the bill could be open to earmarks or limited tariff benefits to a single entity. However, I have supported an updated process developed in the Ways and Means Committee to increase transparency and ensure the MTB is in accordance with House Rules and the earmark moratorium.
The MTB provisions now are fully vetted by the public, the independent International Trade Commission and the Executive Branch before being included in the final bill. The additional steps ensure the proposed tariff suspension would not be limited to a few entities, but instead available to anyone wishing to import the product.
Despite the unprecedented transparency of this process, some continue to call for Congress to cede this authority to the Executive Branch. Providing more unchecked authority to an already bloated Executive Branch, however, would be misguided. The MTB process promotes good government, allowing Congress to carry out its constitutional responsibility to “lay and collect taxes and duties,” under Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution, while providing an open process for individuals to submit public comments.
Given the weak state of our economy, Congress should use any and all means to reduce burdens imposed by government to encourage private sector growth and jobs. Congress can accomplish this goal in part by passing an MTB before the end of the year to give certainty to manufacturers and promote American exports and competitiveness.


Duane A. Lienemann,
UNL Extension Educator,
Webster County
July 20, 2012 Edition

Well, it is here for many Nebraska Counties, including mine, – It’s Fair Time! I know that by the time that many will read this column that we, in the county in which I live, will be in the middle of County Fair. I also know that a couple of surrounding fairs are just finishing up, right in the middle of, or perhaps just beginning their run. It tiz the season……
This fair is special to me as it is my 40th Webster County Fair as a volunteer, FFA Advisor, and now the last 13 years as an Extension Educator, and head of the 4-H program. Unfortunately this year is special in another way, because this is the first one I will be attending as more of a spectator. I have always been a little accident prone and those that have been at the fair with me each year will remember some of my “shocking” experiences, falls off ladders, dropping panels on toes – well you get the idea. Only this time I did it really good right before the fair. For you that hadn’t already heard via the small town grapevine, I took a rather nasty fall and ended up fracturing my arm and bruising my hip. Needless to say, that has left me rather helpless and impotent when it comes to being much good at setting up, preparing and helping to run the fair. I know, my timing was really rotten, and regardless as some may suggest, was not planned!
I have found that even this klutzy move, or unfortunate landing, has actually turned out to make this fair even more special, because of all the great support that has come from other educators across our area, 4-H leaders, Junior Leaders, FFA Advisors and many volunteers in the county who have called, and have stepped up to take the pressure off of me and my staff. It speaks volumes about what makes up a community and a small rural community. All I can say is Thank You!
In last week’s column I spent some time outlining the virtues of the county fair, and in particular -the country in county fair. I knew when I wrote the piece that fair was just around the corner, but Holy Cow – did that week go fast. Every year I wonder if we will get everything done that needs to be done. You hope the judges will remember to come, that the weather cooperates, and behind it all is the hope that everything goes like it is supposed to, or at least how you have it planned. Ultimately people, like me and the many volunteers and staff that work to pull off this wonder of country life, just hope that the young people, their families and the people in our collective communities have a great time, and that the experiences and opportunities are positive ones for our youth. I know in visiting with fair board members and particularly the parents, FFA advisors and 4-H Leaders that this is a labor of love. Almost to a “T” they all say it is about the kids!
It will not be long now and all the static exhibits will be in place, and you will hear that cacophony of sounds that make each and every fair what it is. The sounds of chickens, roosters and ducks, as well as the incessant bleating of sheep and goats, the grunts and squeals of pigs always wanting to eat, and of course the gentle mooing of the bovine species as they lay in their stalls or are walked to their tie outs or perhaps to the watering tank. What is especially music to my ears is the excited chatter of the kids as they catch up with their friends and discuss how much better their animal is than the one they had last year. It just doesn’t get any better than that for this old “crippled” fair junkie. It is what makes me tick!
The “tank.” I have to tell you that when you see that water tank – you know what the future will hold as the fair winds down and the last day arrives. That is when you know the work is done, the awards have been presented and it is time to let your hair down. You never want to turn your back to a young 4-H’er on the last day of the fair unless you are prepared to change clothes or at the very least cool down with an impromptu shower. Then these young people are off to the demo derby and the rodeo or perhaps the carnival rides, just as excited and full of energy as they were on opening day.
As this column hits the newspapers, we will be right smack in the middle of our fair and I should know if everything is going smoothly, as you would hope it will. It seems we always get a couple of blistering days and hopefully a good shot of rain or likely a quick storm during the fair - and one thing is for certain - it is over much quicker than what you thought it would be. I do know that the old bones and muscles don’t forgive the extra workout they receive this time of year like they used to. I end up hurting in places I didn’t know I had. Feet, hips, legs, arms, and back all start giving detail to the abuse of former years, and that will be even more obvious this year I am sure. And this will be the end result, even if I will spend most of my time with a cane or in a golf cart or gator this year. It is always hot, but it does seems much hotter than it used to (even in cooler days), the distances between buildings and events seem a lot further apart, and the nights seem later and the mornings earlier. But you know what? I wouldn’t have it any other way.
The main reason is that it is about the kids. I can’t wait to see them prepare and show their animals, to watch them run, yes, I said run – from one building to another or perhaps to the 4-H Food Stand, or maybe to help chase a wayward lamb or calf that slipped its halter. I can’t wait to see the parade of animals in front of the judge, and walk through the 4-H and FFA exhibit hall to the smell of fresh baked goods and the beauty of photography, horticultural items, unique wood or metal projects, sewed goods, etc. It really doesn’t get any better than this for people like me. Strangely those inflictions I spoke of miraculously seem to go away. If you haven’t made it over to the fair yet – come on over. And when you do, give me a holler and then sit in the bleachers at the show arena or one of the many benches around the grounds and watch. See if you can see what I see. Sit back and enjoy this little bit of Americana – while we still have it!

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

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Rae N. Wormuth 1942 to July 13, 2012

Blue Hill resident Rae N. Wormuth 70, died Friday, July 13, 2012, at Blue Hill Care Center in Blue Hill.
More information will be added as it becomes available to us.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Johanns: DISCLOSE Act Unfairly Shields Some from Transparency

WASHINGTON – Sen. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) today opposed a flawed effort to address transparency in campaigns, which forces reporting requirements on some while shielding others from them. A procedural measure to begin debate on the DISCLOSE Act, which needed 60 votes to pass, failed 53-45. “It is unfair to the American people to, on one hand, proclaim to want more transparency in the political process, while allowing others such as international unions to operate anonymously in our national campaigns,” Johanns said. “We are wasting valuable time on misguided efforts like these instead of focusing on legislation to rein in our debt, and provide some certainty so our job creators can put people back to work.”
In 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the case of Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission that corporations, nonprofits, and labor unions could use their own general treasury funds to make independent expenditures. The Court ruled in 1958 in NAACP v. Alabama that forcing the disclosure of union members would discourage people from freely associating with a cause or group.
The cases are important because the Court has already ruled efforts such as the DISCLOSE Act violate the First Amendment, and restrictions to the Constitution cannot be enacted through simple legislation. The only course to make changes to the First Amendment, as DISCLOSE Act supporters want, is a constitutional amendment.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Bruning Leads Intervention in EPA Lawsuit

LINCOLN – Attorney General Jon Bruning today announced Nebraska is leading the nine-state group that filed a motion to intervene in the lawsuit, Gulf Restoration Network (GRA) et. al v. Jackson U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana. Nebraska filed the motion to ensure states retain authority to establish water quality standards under the Clean Water Act.

"Additional federal water regulations threaten our state’s top economic producers and serve only to negatively impact the future of Nebraska agriculture," said Bruning. "This intervention protects states’ rights while supporting our farmers and ranchers who are already fighting many uphill battles to provide food for this great nation."

GRA and other groups have asked the Court to force the EPA to institute specific, numeric criteria for total nitrogen and total phosphorus discharges in Nebraska and the entire Mississippi River watershed. The groups also want the EPA to impose total maximum daily load (TMDL) requirements for nitrogen and phosphorus within the watershed. The EPA maintains it has worked with states to address nutrient pollution issues, and that states should develop and adopt their own standards for nutrient runoff, consistent with the Clean Water Act.

Nebraska is joined in the intervention by: Alabama, Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri, North Dakota, Oklahoma and South Dakota. Louisiana has also intervened in the case.

Column: Nebraska to the Rescue When Wildfires Hit

Senator Ben Nelson
Column: By Senator Ben Nelson
Did you know that Nebraska is home to the nation's oldest federal tree nursery? It's located in the Nebraska National Forest, and yes, Virginia, there is a national forest in Nebraska and it houses an active seedling nursery that is in the National Register of Historic Places.
Some visitors only see our state while driving through on I-80 and think of us only as the nation's breadbasket with our fertile farm and ranch lands. When they get off the Interstate they'll see so much more including Nebraska's 20,000 square miles of sand dunes, which is the largest area of sand dunes in North America, and home to a forest.
Forest in the Sand
It is known as the Nebraska National Forest and Grasslands and is unique because it is the largest hand-planted forest in the U.S. What a remarkable achievement. It is also unusual given that these are pine and cedar trees that are actually growing in the sand.
It is divided into two separate ranger districts; The 90,000 acre Bessey District is located in the Sandhills of central Nebraska near Halsey in Blaine and Thomas Counties, midway between North Platte and Valentine. It comprises about 67% of the total forest area. The second section is the rugged Pine Ridge District in northwest Nebraska near Chadron stretching into South Dakota.
Bessey Nursery Helps After Wildfires
The U.S. Forest Campground Guide says Native American legend tells of a time when the gentle, rolling Sandhills of Nebraska were covered with a pine forest. In the late 1800's, Dr. Charles Bessey, a Professor of Botany at the University of Nebraska, envisioned the return of such a forest. In 1902, with the blessings of President Theodore Roosevelt, the Nebraska National Forest began as an experiment to prove trees could be grown on treeless tracts of Nebraska's Sandhills.
Today, the Bessey Nursery not only provides visitors insight to this critical component of managing the nation's forests, the USDA says they raise up to 3 million seedling trees that are sent annually to forests, especially after wildfires such as we've seen this summer in Colorado and other western states. The Bessey Nursery also keeps a frozen 10 year supply of seeds in case of emergencies.
This year, the forest had its own wildfire when lightning started a blaze that burned about 1,000 acres before it was brought under control.
Vacationing in Nebraska's National Forest
Besides learning about the historic and unique nature of the Nebraska National Forest, there's a lot for tourists to do including camping, tubing on the river, volleyball, a full playground, baseball/softball, fishing, hiking and horseback riding.
Our little-known unique treasure of the Nebraska National Forest is just one of the reasons that more and more people are discovering Nebraska and its many tourist attractions including our national forest that provides a valuable natural resource for the entire country carrying on the tree planting tradition of Nebraska; home of Arbor Day.

Saturday, July 14, 2012


Duane A. Lienemann
UNL Extension Educator,
Webster County
July 13, 2012 Edition
This time of year is bitter/sweet. The “bitter” this year has been the early and incessant heat that has permeated all across Nebraska and from what I hear the entire Midwest. Several “old-timers” (and yes even older than me) have told me that the last 9 months reminds them of the 30’s. That is a pretty strong statement, but I am not doubting their insight at all. It is disheartening to see the condition of our pastures and crops and particularly in the south half of the south tier of counties in our region. It is obvious to me, and particularly our farmers and ranchers, that we are experiencing drought conditions.
I think the location of my UNL Extension office is a good reference point. In Red Cloud there has not been appreciable moisture since 8” of rain that fell during the month of August in 2011. We had the driest and warmest fall in recent memory, and throughout the winter Red Cloud collected only a total of about 6 inches of snow. That brought us into spring of 2012 with deficit subsoil, aggravated by early and often record heat in May and June. As far as rainfall, Red Cloud accumulated only about 2.5 inches of moisture during the entire month of June which of course is a critical month for crops and pasture. This has all come together to further complicate the already dire straits that our hay ground, pastures and especially dry land crops were already in. We had unusually hot conditions from June 20 through July 9 with temperatures in the mid to high 90’s and even into the 100’s with winds that further added insult to injury.
The dry-land corn and even some irrigated corn show dead and dying plants. Wind burned corn leaves and blue and cupped soybeans can be found everywhere. Alfalfa is flowered and only 6 inches tall and the grass crackles when you walk across it. I have had several inquiries concerning making silage and also about high nitrates in corn and forage that may be destined for silage or gathered feed for livestock. We had a small break the last 3 days from the incessant heat and unending winds. But are now facing a 10 day forecast for above average heat and below average moisture. We need to pray for rain!
I mentioned the “sweet” part of this year. Well, the one thing I love about this time of year is that it is County Fair time! Ever since I was a kid the county fair has been an object of fascination and wonder for me. Let’s take a moment to reflect on what makes the County Fair! I like to share the following piece that I put together a couple of years ago.
The Country in County Fair: Forget Ferris wheels and cotton candy. At the Webster County Fair, it's all about "just bein' country." The 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, discussing how their steers fared in the live show or showmanship events.
Fairs are a unique summer and harvest celebrations that have been a part of the American scene since the early 1800's. They're the smells, candy apples, barnyard manure, roasting sausages, 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. Childhood memories lure us back to a fair each year where we admire lipstick-red tomatoes, can ride a carousel, eat cotton candy even if it sticks to our face. Fairs celebrate rural America, vegetables, farm animals, sewing and home cooking. Fairs from their earliest days have been yoked to the carnival culture with its sideshows and games of chance.
We all like Fairs. They are an important part of America and Nebraska, and the Webster County fair 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. People are nostalgic in nature and we try to maintain the basics of what life was 50 years ago. The Webster County fair, now in its second century in Bladen, relies mostly on livestock shows, rodeo and children's contests for entertainment, just like they did not only 50 years ago but much longer.
As an old time 4-Her and FFA member, fair time is far more work than what I remembered as a kid. The 100° days seem hotter, and the snow cones and funnel cakes seem more expensive. 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. Fair time gives dads a chance to really connect with their kids – their efforts focused on helping them achieve their goals. Meanwhile, the moms just continue what they do all the time -- keep the family together, and sacrifice mightily for their kids. Both parents wanting their children to experience what they did when they were young. Grandpa and grandma will be attending to make it all the more enjoyable for the kids. They will vocalize the praise for their grandchildren to anyone who will listen, filled with hope and pride.
It doesn't really matter what your goals are, or the activity you choose to compete in. There's just something special about melding community, kids, animals, ag and fun into an annual event. I consider spending time at a county 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. See you there --at the fair!

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

Friday, July 13, 2012


The 106th Webster County Fair at Bladen, Nebraska is just around the corner. This year it goes back to a slot that was familiar for so many years. The fair begins on Saturday, July 21 with the annual clean-up. The first of many youth events start at 1:00 pm on clean-up day when 4-H youth bring their favorite recipes for home-made ice cream and will participate in an ice cream roll using duct tape, coffee cans and ice to make ice cream that will then be judged.

The livestock portion of the fair starts officially at the Rodeo Grounds at the Webster County Fairgrounds in Bladen with the Working Ranch Horse Competition which is set to begin at 7:00 pm on Saturday evening, July 21st and features 4-H and FFA working their horse through events that emulates tasks that would be required on a cattle ranch. The following morning (Sunday, July 22) the 4-H & FFA Horse Show gets underway with a 9:00 am start time.

The youth portion of the fair continues through the week with many activities for the youth including the 4-H music contest and fashion show starting at 7:00 pm at the Blue Hill high school gymnasium in Blue Hill on Monday evening July 23. The rest of the week will bring a little different schedule of events than what has been followed in previous years. The following information will help both exhibitors and attendees prepare for the fair.

There is reserved parking for 4-H and FFA members and parents again this year. Vehicle and camper parking will not be allowed on the rodeo grounds this year and two special lots located east and south of the sheep barn has been set up for camper parking. This area requires passes that can be obtained from the 4-H office at the fairgrounds. Livestock trailers and vehicles are expected to be parked on the south end of the lot located to the east of the beef barns on the Timm lot which is just north of West Avenue. The overflow will be asked to part on the north end of the lot directly east of the fairgrounds just south of Helen Street. The south end of that lot is reserved for 4-H & FFA camper trailers. Additional 4-H & FFA camper trailer parking new this year is the west half of the lot just north of Mariel Street and adjacent to the fairgrounds.

Tuesday, July 24 brings the judging of the home environment, miscellaneous agriculture exhibits, foods, horticulture, photography, and other static exhibits starting that morning, with the 4-H and FFA Poultry and Rabbit show starting at 8:30 am. All other livestock with the exception of 1st year bucket calves and stocker feeders will be checked in and weighed throughout the day. Please check your Webster County fair premium book for exact times for each species.

The 4-H/FFA Sheep Show starts at 8:30 am on Wednesday morning, July 25. The 4-H/FFA Meat Goat Show will follow the 4-H and FFA Sheep Show. Once again there will be a “Best Dressed Goat” contest that will be held at the conclusion of the live show. This should prove to be an entertaining and fun event for exhibitors and spectators alike. The 4-H/FFA Beef Show is split once again this year with the Beef Showmanship event beginning Wednesday afternoon at 1:00 pm. A fan favorite, the 4-H/FFA cat, dog and exotic animal show begins at 4:00 pm in the evening starting with the dog show followed at 7:00 pm with the cat, small and exotic animal show.

Thursday, July 26 is a very busy day at the Webster County Fair. It starts at 8:30 am with the 4-H and FFA Swine Show. The swine show includes a breeding gilt class which is separate from the market swine show. The First Year Bucket Calf competition will be held during the day and includes record book review, an interview and a complete bucket calf evaluation and showmanship event. The competition continues on Thursday with the State Fair qualifying Round Robin Showmanship starting at 2:30 pm and we will terminate that day with an Ak-Sar-Ben qualifying 4-H/FFA Beef Team Fitting Contest starting at 4:00 pm. There is a new format for the Round Robin Event again this year that spectators may find rather interesting.

Webster County is famous for the number and especially the quality of its beef exhibits. This year is no exception. The 4-H/FFA Market and Breeding Beef show will go all day Friday, July 27, starting at 8:30 a.m. with finals of the Webster County Beef Showmanship. The top two senior and top two intermediate beef showmen will be determined at the Wednesday afternoon show, but will come back on Friday morning to compete for Grand Champion Beef Showman under a different judge.

Upon crowning of the Grand Champion Beef Showman, the Market Beef competition will begin, including the Grand Champion Market Beef final drive and results of the Beef Carcass contest. The 4-H/FFA Breeding Beef show will begin at 1:00 pm, or ½ hour after the completion of the market beef show, whichever is later, on Friday afternoon. The breeding beef show will conclude with the crowning of the Grand Champion Webster County Breeding Heifer and then the Supreme Champion Breeding Beef.

The annual 4-H & FFA Livestock Premium Auction and special Webster County Youth Foundation activities will be held on Saturday morning, July 28th starting at 9:00 am. There will a return of the Silent Auction with items donated by area businessmen and producers to go towards the benefit of the Foundation. The items and further information will be highlighted on flyers put up across area communities and a later news article. Premium on the Grand Champion of each species will each be sold at the beginning of the auction with the opportunity for the buyer to have their picture taken with the animal and exhibitor that they are supporting, and that picture will be given to each of them and forwarded to local newspapers. The premium auction would then follow the procedures as it has in previous years.

Saturday afternoon also features a very popular event each year with the Rainbow Classic where pre-4-H youth have a chance to show their pets and sibling’s exhibits in front of a dignitary judge. This fun event will start at 12:30 p.m. There will be a special guest judge again this year. The last event of the day and the Webster County 4-H and FFA Fair is a fun afternoon of activities for all ages being organized by Red Cloud and Blue Hill FFA Chapters and the Webster County Junior Leaders. The Webster County Junior Leaders will also sponsor a “Boot Scramble” each night before the rodeo with two age groups – 4 to 6 and 7 to 9. New this year will be an “Adult Boot Scramble” on Friday or Saturday evening’s rodeo.

All exhibits will remain in place throughout the day on Saturday and through Saturday evening so that fair-goers will have a chance to see the exhibits that the youth have worked so diligently on during the year, bring to the fair for competition, and to show the public what they have accomplished. This includes static exhibits at the 4-H Exhibit Hall and the animals from the livestock barns. There will be “Champions Under the Lights” again this year which will feature and highlight the different Grand Champions and Reserve Grand Champions in the market division of each livestock species (beef, swine, sheep, goat, rabbit and poultry). They will be put in pens in the show arena for all to see under the lights of the arena, with the exception of swine that will be highlighted on the west end of the hog building. The other outstanding exhibits will be in the barns for all to see. The champions in the 4-H Exhibit Hall will be highlighted in the “Marilyn Davis Hall of Fame”.

All non-auction exhibits will be released at 11:00 pm on Saturday night or Sunday morning before noon. All leaders, 4-H and FFA youth, parents are expected back at the fairgrounds on Sunday morning (July 29) to load out the market animals on the trucks for the buyers and to participate in the post-fair clean-up day. We ask that everyone grab shovels, brooms and pitchforks and have them ready on Sunday morning and help put the fairgrounds back into its pristine shape and ready for the 107th edition of the Webster County Fair at Bladen, Nebraska next year.

The 4-H and FFA events are just a part of the Webster County Fair. There are of course Open Class Exhibits, vendors and booths, and Amusement Associates are this year’s Carnival. Tickets are available in advance at local banks, UNL Extension Office & 4-H Fair Office ($10.00 per sheet of 24 tickets). Don’t forget the annual great Webster County Rodeo, a main stay since the very early years of the fair. It will be held at the Webster County Fair Rodeo Arena located on the west half of the fairgrounds. The rodeo kicks off on Thursday, July 26 with a Beef Barbeque at 5:00 pm followed by a watermelon feed, and the Rodeo Princess Contest. The Friday Rodeo is “Tough Enough to Wear Pink” night with a portion of the gate going to fight cancer. It kicks off with a Pork Barbeque at 5:00 pm and ends with a dance with music provided by “West Wind.” Saturday is the big day with the Demolition Derby starting off at 4:00 pm. Steak lovers will have to get the South Central Cattlemen steak sandwich which will be offered from 4:00 pm until gone. Registration for the KRVN “Cash Car” will take place between 6 & 8 pm. The rodeo will have its last go-round that night followed by the second night of dancing to “West Wind”. There is a wild cow race each night of the rodeo and a chance to win a special Montana Silver belt buckle.

For a more complete list of activities or any questions concerning the youth portion of the fair, please contact the Webster County extension office in Red Cloud at 402-746-3417 or check out the web site at:   http://www.webstercountyfair.org/   .

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Nebraska Can't Afford Medicaid Expansion


(Lincoln, Neb.) Gov. Dave Heineman  sent a letter to Nebraska’s State Senators outlining the potentially devastating impact to education funding and the progress made to lower taxes on Nebraska’s hard-working, middle class families. An optional, unfunded expansion of the federal Medicaid program in Nebraska would cost Nebraska taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars in coming years.
Gov. Heineman reiterates the importance of education and the economy in Nebraska saying, “My priorities are the education of Nebraska’s children and job creation for Nebraska’s families. Cutting funding for the education of Nebraska’s children and increasing taxes on Nebraska’s families are not my priorities.”
The text of the letter, carbon copied to all State Senators, follows:
“Dear Senator Campbell, Senator Gloor and Senator Nordquist:
“Senator Nordquist has sent several emails on behalf of the three of you inviting Director Chaumont to your organizational meeting on July 12 to discuss expanding the Medicaid program as part of the new federal health care law. Additionally, you asked for information about exchange planning and the implementation of Obamacare. Those issues are the responsibility of the Department of Insurance, and the Department of Insurance will be providing the Legislature’s Banking, Commerce and Insurance Committee an update at its formal public hearing on July 19th.
“Regarding the unfunded Medicaid expansion and the implementation of Obamacare, I am very concerned that the new federal health care law will continue to dramatically increase the cost of health care. In overhauling America’s health care system, President Obama should have focused on controlling health care costs.
“America needs patient-centered health care that emphasizes prevention, wellness and quality outcomes. For example, the State of Nebraska has implemented a wellness program along with plan design changes that have significantly reduced the normal increases of health insurance premiums. America needs an efficient electronic medical system that reduces costs to replace an outdated inefficient paper-based system. I want to note that America’s electronic financial system has efficiently reduced costs through electronic transactions. Electronic payments are cheaper, more efficient and more secure than paper transactions. The health care industry has lagged in the use of technology to develop a comprehensive electronic medical system.
“America needs hospital transparency for the consumers of health care. The prices of routine medical operations ought to be posted on the Internet so that citizens can make more informed decisions about the cost of medical care. Competition in health care could reduce costs.
“More specifically about the unfunded Medicaid expansion, the United States Supreme Court ruled that this expansion is optional and that the federal government cannot force the states to expand Medicaid.
“My biggest concern is that an unfunded expansion of Medicaid means state aid to education for the Omaha, Lincoln, North Platte and Lexington Public Schools and many other Nebraska school districts will be cut.
“Special education funding for all Nebraska school districts will be cut.
“Funding for the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, Omaha and Kearney and the University of Nebraska Medical Center will be cut.
“Funding for Western Nebraska Community College, Mid-Plains Community College and Nebraska’s four other community colleges will be cut.
“Funding for Chadron State College, Wayne State College, and Peru State College will be cut.
Or taxes will be increased.
“My priorities are the education of Nebraska’s children and job creation for Nebraska’s families.
Cutting funding for the education of Nebraska’s children and increasing taxes on Nebraska’s families are not my priorities.
“According to the Legislative Fiscal Office, the State of Nebraska has a projected shortfall of $619.7 million for the upcoming biennium. Expanding Medicaid would add to the projected shortfall. Implementing Obamacare would add to the projected shortfall.
“As you know, the Supreme Court decision is very intricate and deeply complex. Reviewing this decision in a detailed, thoughtful and responsible manner will take weeks and months before a complete determination can be made on what this ruling means for Nebraska.
“The National Governors Association, the National Conference of State Legislatures and the National Association of Insurance Commissioners are planning meetings in late July and early August to brief the states about the comprehensive nature of the Supreme Court ruling.
“The bottom line is the unfunded Medicaid expansion will ultimately cost the State of Nebraska hundreds of millions of dollars. Furthermore, the federal government has a history of not fulfilling their financial commitment. A good example of this is the federal government’s failure to adequately fund special education.
“My position is very clear - Nebraska can’t afford an unfunded Medicaid expansion. Since your meeting is an organizational meeting with advocacy groups that support an expansion of Medicaid, even if it means a tax increase, Director Chaumont will not be attending your meeting.”

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Smith’s Hydropower Act Included in House Passed Energy Bill

Washington, DC – Congressman Adrian Smith (R-NE) issued the following statement after passage of H.R. 5892, the Hydropower Regulatory Efficiency Act introduced by Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA). The legislation included amended language of Smith’s Small Scale Hydropower Enhancement Act (H.R. 795):
“I applaud passage of the Hydropower Regulatory Efficiency Act in the House of Representatives, and thank Congresswoman McMorris Rodgers for her leadership on this issue. I am particularly pleased the bill included language from the Small Scale Hydropower Enhancement Act to encourage economic growth in rural America and increase domestic energy production at no cost to the taxpayers.
“This commonsense legislation passed the House with bipartisan support and deserves prompt consideration by the Senate and President.”
Congressman Smith, along with Congressman Jim Costa (D-CA), introduced the Small Scale Hydropower Enhancement Act (H.R. 795) to exempt hydropower projects generating less than one and a half megawatts from the Federal Regulatory Commission's (FERC) permitting rules. FERC regulates the licensing and inspection of private, municipal, and state hydroelectric projects.
H.R. 5892 increases the exemption level for conduit-type hydropower projects from 1.5 megawatts proposed under H.R. 795 to 5 megawatts.
This legislation would allow, for instance, irrigation districts and municipalities to partner with local power districts to generate up to 5 megawatts of existing conduit hydropower without going through the lengthy and burdensome FERC permitting and exemption process.