Friday, August 30, 2013


During the Senate’s state work period for the month of August, I traveled across the state speaking with Nebraskans, touring businesses and medical centers, and holding roundtables with various groups and industry leaders. Starting in Omaha and Lincoln, I made my way from eastern Nebraska all the way up to Chadron and then west to Gering and Scottsbluff before heading down to Holdrege and McCook, making stops in many other towns along the way.

I traveled more than 1,700 miles to 23 counties, where I held or attended more than 20 public events and met with more than 20 different groups and organizations. I was so pleased to see wonderful turnouts of Nebraskans eager to share their insights and voice their opinions.
In Chadron, I held a roundtable with Western Nebraska Veterans Service Officers and discussed a number of issues, including healthcare for retired members of our military in rural communities. I heard from farmers and ranchers in Bridgeport and Grand Island about topics of concern in agriculture and the need for a multi-year farm bill.
I am thankful for the many organizations that took time to inform me about the work they are doing to make a positive difference in Nebraska’s communities. For example, I was able to tour the Box Butte General Hospital in Alliance and Children’s Hospital in Omaha and speak with the impressive healthcare providers at both of these facilities. Mosaic welcomed me for a visit and tour of its Omaha agency. While there, I was moved by the story of one family I met, Chris and his mother Janey, who told me how Mosaic has helped improve the quality of their lives.
I was also delighted to spend a day at the State Fair, a tradition that brings Nebraskans together from all across the state. Another highlight included the Chamber of Commerce Fly-Back in Ashland with Nebraska’s Congressional delegation.
I was pleased to attend the opening of the new Green Plains Ethanol Plant in Atkinson as well as the Cherry Avenue/I-80 Bypass in Kearney. These events are meaningful opportunities to recognize the economic growth and development strengthening Nebraska’s communities.
If there was one consistent concern voiced at both my listening sessions and private meetings, it was ObamaCare. Nebraskans are concerned with the impact of this law on their healthcare and our state’s businesses. Due to ongoing uncertainty and increased insurance costs resulting from the Affordable Care Act, business owners have cut back their employees, reduced hours, and are delaying plans to expand.
In my August 25 column published in the Lincoln Journal Star, I shared the story of Eileen Marrison, a small business owner I met in Papillon. Marrison owns and operates Nebraska’s “Two Men and a Truck ®” franchises based in Lincoln and Omaha. She was recently forced to hire a costly consultant to understand her new employer duties under ObamaCare. The bottom line of the 40-page report? Increased costs and complex compliance requirements – common burdens now shouldered by many of Marrison’s fellow entrepreneurs.
I join Eileen Marrison and the ever-growing list of hospitals, healthcare providers, disability advocates, and job creators in opposing this law. I remain committed to repealing and replacing it with effective, commonsense reforms, which include: making health insurance portable so workers can take it from job to job; allowing smaller companies to pool their risk to obtain discounts from insurance carriers; increasing competition so health-insurance policies can be sold across state lines; and medical liability reform.
Thank you to all those who took time to attend my local meetings and events. I value these opportunities to hear directly from Nebraskans. Congress returns to Washington in September, and I look forward to working with my colleagues from both sides of the aisle to promote smart, responsible policies.
Thank you for taking part in the democratic process, and I’ll visit with you again next week.
Deb Fischer
United States Senator

Go Visit College


Dear Fellow Nebraskans:
Recently, I joined with leaders of the Nebraska P-16 Initiative and other education leaders to promote the importance of college visits as a way to encourage young Nebraskans to attend college. I chair the P-16 Initiative and my co-chairs are J.B. Milliken, President of the University of Nebraska; State Senator Kate Sullivan, Chair of the Legislature’s Education Committee; Liz Koop, President and CEO of EducationQuest Foundation; and Dr. Scott Swisher, Deputy Commissioner of the Nebraska Department of Education.
EducationQuest has shown its support for campus visits by conducting an annual effort called “Go.Visit.College!” which encourages Nebraska’s high schools and colleges to work together to coordinate group and individual campus visits. Additionally, EducationQuest awards grants to Nebraska high schools and middle schools to help them conduct campus visits for their students.
College and university visits are a crucial part of the college planning process. Students report that college visits have a significant influence on them as they consider where to go to college. Our message is that visiting a college campus is a vital activity for high school juniors and seniors.
Campus visits provide an opportunity to explore academic programs, talk with students and professors, and tour residence halls, classrooms and other campus facilities. Visits provide an opportunity to experience what a college has to offer and can help students find the right fit for them.
Campus visits are especially important for students who don’t think they are a good fit for college, or students whose parents may not have gone to college. Many students report changing their perception once they’ve actually been to the campus.
Thanks to statewide efforts like Go Visit College, Nebraska is now one of the top 10 states in the nation in the number of high school seniors who continue on to college after graduation. The most recent statistics from the National Center for Education Statistics show that Nebraska is ranked seventh in the nation with 69.5 percent of our public high school graduates going on to college. But we can – and must - do better.
If you’re a junior or senior, you should be preparing for ACT and SAT exams and talking with your parents and counselors about the colleges that interest you. You should make plans to visit a college in person. Nebraska is home to an outstanding range of higher educational institutions. Whether you visit as part of a school group or plan an individual tour with family or friends, colleges and universities welcome high school students for visits year round.
College fairs are a great way to get started and identify places of interest. This fall, EducationQuest Foundation will be conducting six college fairs across the state. These include:
  • The Grand Island Area College Fair is Sunday, Sept. 15 from 1 - 3 p.m. at the Exhibition Building – Fonner Park.
  • The Norfolk Area College Fair is Sunday, Sept. 22 from 1 - 3 p.m. at Northeast Community College.
 The Tri-State Area College Fair is Sunday, Oct. 6 from 12:30 - 3 p.m. at the Marina Center in South Sioux City.
  • The Scottsbluff/Gering Area College Fair is Sunday, Oct. 13 from 1 - 3 p.m. at the Gering Civic Center.

  • The Omaha Area College Fair is Sunday, Oct. 20 from 1 - 4 p.m. at the University of Nebraska Omaha.
  • The Lincoln Area College Fair is Sunday, Oct. 27 from 1 - 3 p.m. at Southeast Community College in Lincoln.

More information on college planning is available at
By providing students with opportunities to go visit college, we are preparing them to take the next step in their education. Thank you to the schools that take the initiative by planning campus visits for juniors and seniors. We want every high school and every family to make visiting college a priority this year.

- Dave Heineman
    Governor of Nebraska


Duane A. Lienemann
UNL Extension Educator

     There will be some of our dryland producers and even pivot irrigators that have suffering corners that are going to be making a decision on corn fields and what to do with the deteriorating condition of the crop.  Some producers are trying to figure out what kind of yield may be out there or how much corn may be available for quality silage or perhaps for grazing if that opportunity exists. I have been fielding questions lately on how to find out approximately how much corn may be out in the field or what the potential yield may be considering the array of conditions, ear development and of course pollination.  I think this week it may be good to go over a couple of ways to determine this.  We will start with a simple method and then look at something a little more complicated. 
     The simplest and for sure the least accurate method is to select an ear or ears that represent the average ear size in the field. Simply count the number of kernels per ear and multiply by 0.300 to get a very rough yield estimate. To determine number of corn kernels per ear, multiply number of rows on an ear by number of kernels in a row. Do not count kernels near the tip that are less than half the size of kernels midway up the ear. For example: You count 12 rows per ear and 50 kernels per row to equal 600 kernels per ear - 600 x 0.300 = 180 bushels/acre. For a quick and easy method for a rough estimate, this will do the trick, but please note that drought conditions could affect the accuracy or reliability.
     UNL Extension suggests a proven method to get a more accurate yield potential assessment of drought effected corn that is standing in the fields by following these steps: 1) To estimate potential yield in standing corn, measure a distance equal to 1/1000 acre in one row and count the number of plants that will produce an ear. Repeat this in several areas of the field. The length measured will depend on row spacing (for 30 inch rows measure 17 ft & 5 in, for 38 in rows measure 13 ft & 9 in, and for 40 inch rows measure 13 ft & 1 in, respectively). Multiplying the measured value by 1000 will result in the number of plants per acre that will produce an ear. 2) Take an ear at random from each of these areas and count the number of rows of kernels and the number of kernels per row on each ear. Average the number of rows per ear and the number of kernels per row. 3) Multiply the average number of rows by the average number of kernels per row to get the kernels per ear. 4) The kernels per ear multiplied by the ears per acre results in the kernels per acre. 5) There are about 90,000 kernels per bushel in normal corn. Drought-stressed corn may have 110,000 kernels per bushel. Dividing the kernels per acre by 110,000 results in the estimated yield of most drought stressed corn.
     For example: A dryland field of corn under moisture stress during pollination and kernel fill has 20,000 plants per acre with ears that pollinated but have “tipped back” to an average of only 22 kernels per row. There is an average of 14.1 rows of kernels per ear. The estimated grain yield (assuming enough moisture is received for photosynthesis to occur and transport of starch into the grain) would be 56 bushels per acre (20,000 x 22 x 14.1 / 110,000 = 56 bu/ac).
     Here are some tips to help the accuracy of this method. a) Do not sample nubbins or obviously odd ears, unless they fairly represent the sample area. b) If row number changes from butt to tip (e.g., pinched ears due to stress), estimate an average row number for the ear. c) Don't count the extreme butt or tip kernels, but rather begin and end where you perceive there are complete "rings" of kernels around the cob. d) Do not count aborted kernels and if kernel numbers are uneven among the rows of an ear, estimate an average value for kernel number per row.
     Remember that this method for estimating pre-harvest grain yield in corn indeed provides only an estimate. Since kernel size and weight will vary depending on hybrid and environment, this yield estimator should only be used to determine “ballpark” grain yields. Yield will be overestimated in a year with poor grain fill conditions (e.g., low kernel size and weight from a drought year) and underestimated in a year with excellent grain fill conditions (e.g., larger kernel size and weight from non-stress grain fill periods). Recognize that this method for estimating corn grain yield is probably only accurate within plus or minus 15-30 bushels of the actual yield. Of course the more ears you sample within a field, the more accurately you will "capture" the variability of yield throughout the field. For the mathematically challenged an online yield calculator can be found on the internet by going to: or .  You can also get an app for mobile devices.
     If the corn was successfully pollinated and will produce grain, harvesting grain may be the best alternative. The combine may need several adjustments to accommodate the smaller ear size and lighter test weight grain. Test weight is one of the factors that determines market grade. Drought stress during grain fill can result in light test weight grain, resulting in lower grain grade and considerable price dock at the elevator. Nonetheless, light test weight corn usually makes good animal feed, often having 90 to 100 percent of the feed value of normal corn. It can be a bargain for the feeder, provided the corn does not contain mold toxins.  If you decide to harvest the drought-affected corn via direct grazing or mechanically harvesting the corn as forage, check the labels of all chemicals that were applied. Be sure all pesticides (herbicides and insecticides) applied to the crop are cleared for forage and the minimum harvest interval has been met. You may also want to check for nitrate levels. Also check with the USDA Farm Service Agency to maintain compliance with USDA farm program provisions and crop insurance requirements before harvesting corn as forage. 

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: or go to the website at: 

Thursday, August 29, 2013


The South Heartland District Health Department (SHDHD) reports that mosquitoes collected from three sites in Adams County have tested positive for West Nile virus.  The mosquitoes were trapped by City of Hastings officials on July 15-17.  SHDHD previously reported that mosquitoes trapped in Webster County tested positive for West Nile virus. 
Health Director Michele Bever reminds people that infected mosquitoes can pass the West Nile virus to humans. “As of July 26, the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services had reported four laboratory-confirmed cases of West Nile infection in Nebraskans. With this in mind, and the positive mosquitoes in Adams County and Webster counties, we continue to encourage South Heartland residents to take precautions that will reduce their chances of mosquito bites.” 
According to Bever, prevention steps include the four “Ds”: (1) Dress to protect - in long pants and long sleeves to prevent mosquito bites, (2) use effective insect repellents, such as those containing DEET, (3) limit outdoor activity between Dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active, and (4) Drain standing water to remove places where mosquitoes can breed. 
Efforts by the City of Hastings mosquito control staff are aimed at reducing the mosquito population in Hastings.  “We are constantly monitoring all known mosquito production sites located within the city limits and are taking necessary abatement actions to deal with those mosquito populations,” said Michael Stromer.  “We are also monitoring adult mosquito activity daily and are spraying for adult mosquitoes as weather conditions allow.” 
Symptoms of West Nile virus infection can range from mild to severe.  While 80% of people who are infected with West Nile virus don’t show any symptoms at all, there is no way to know in advance whether you will develop mild symptoms or a more serious, life altering, or even fatal case of the illness.   
About 20% of people who become infected experience mild illness with symptoms such as fever, headache, and rash.  Approximately 1 in every 150 people infected with West Nile virus will experience more serious symptoms such as high fever, neck stiffness, disorientation, muscle weakness, coma, numbness or paralysis.  West Nile infection can be fatal. 
For more information, or to request materials or a presentation about West Nile virus and West Nile virus surveillance activities, go to or contact South Heartland District Health Department at 402-462-6211 or toll-free at 877-238-7595.

Mosquitoes test positive for West Nile Virus in Webster County

The South Heartland District Health Department (SHDHD) reports that mosquitoes collected in Webster County have tested positive for West Nile Virus.  The mosquitoes were trapped by South Heartland staff on June 25.  These are the first south central Nebraska mosquitoes to test positive for West Nile virus in 2013.  They were collected from within the city limits in Red Cloud.

Health Director Michele Bever reminds people that infected mosquitoes can pass the West Nile virus to humans and other animals including birds and horses. “There have not yet been any laboratory-confirmed cases of West Nile infection reported in humans in Nebraska this season. However, knowing that we have positive mosquitoes here in our area is a reminder to take precautions that will reduce your chances of mosquito bites.”
SHDHD submits mosquitoes for testing from 10-12 sites in Adams and Webster Counties.  “Mosquitoes become infected with West Nile virus by biting infected birds,” said Bever.  “In addition to monitoring West Nile virus in mosquitoes, the health department tracks the number of human cases confirmed with West Nile infection and submits dead birds for testing.”  So far in 2013, no dead birds submitted from Adams, Clay, Nuckolls or Webster counties have tested positive for West Nile virus.
Symptoms of West Nile Virus infection can range from mild to severe.  While 80% of people who are infected with West Nile Virus don’t show any symptoms at all, there is no way to know in advance whether you will develop mild symptoms or a more serious, life altering, or even fatal case of the illness.
About 20% of people who become infected experience mild illness with symptoms such as fever, headache, and rash.  Approximately 1 in every 150 people infected with West Nile Virus will experience more serious symptoms such as high fever, neck stiffness, disorientation, muscle weakness, coma, numbness or paralysis.  West Nile infection can be fatal.
Previously, the highest number of human cases in the South Heartland District (Adams, Clay, Nuckolls, Webster Counties) was in the 2003 season, when 179 laboratory-confirmed cases of West Nile infection were reported.
Desiree Rinne, Health Educator for South Heartland, reminds people to practice the Four “D”s for protection against West Nile infection:
  • Dusk to Dawn – stay inside when mosquitoes are most active
  • Dress to protect – by wearing long sleeves and pants when mosquitoes are active.
  • DEET – Use an approved mosquito-repellent, such as one containing DEET
  • Drain standing water around your property to discourage mosquitoes from breeding.
For more information, or to request materials or a presentation about West Nile Virus and West Nile Virus surveillance activities, go to or contact South Heartland District Health Department at 402-462-6211 or toll-free at 877-238-7595.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Here to Serve

Sen. Mike Johanns

The summer work period has allowed me to spend extended time at home, and I’ve had a wonderful time traveling across the state to hear your thoughts. I pay close attention to how decisions in Washington are affecting Nebraskans, and hearing from you directly is helpful in identifying problems within our government, as well as finding solutions. 

Also while traveling, I often hear from folks having difficulty working their way through the bureaucracy of a federal agency.  Too frequently, those seeking help from the federal government experience roadblocks in the form of long delays, confusing paperwork and burdensome layers of red tape. From veterans having difficulty processing VA claims to individuals seeking tax answers from the IRS, my staff and I are here to help. My state offices have expert staff on-hand to assist anyone who needs help navigating a federal agency.
We were able to assist a small business owner this spring who needed help with a visa so that he could continue running his manufacturing company. The holdup jeopardized the jobs of the hard-working employees trying to support their families.  Fortunately, my office was able to connect him with the right people to make sure his problem was rectified, and business operations continued without a glitch.
Just last month, my office became aware that the Western Nebraska Regional Airport in Scottsbluff had been experiencing delays in receiving funding from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for a project long ago approved. A construction contract had been awarded, but it had a rapidly-approaching expiration date, threatening the project. I contacted the FAA about this and other delays, looking for answers. To their credit, almost immediately, the agency approved the funding for the Scottsbluff airport, and construction is moving forward after being stalled nearly four months.
Getting assistance from my office is really as easy as picking up the phone or writing a quick note, and that’s exactly what landowners along the Niobrara and Missouri Rivers did earlier this year. My office began receiving calls from people concerned about a Department of Interior (DoI) proposal that could result in the acquisition or government management of 1.4 million acres of land, the majority of which is in Nebraska.
DoI opened a comment period for the proposed Niobrara Confluence and Ponca Bluffs Conservation area, but landowners were rightly concerned that a decision of this magnitude was being rushed. I, along with my colleague Sen. Deb Fischer, sent DoI a letter asking the agency to extend the comment period, and it was subsequently extended several months, to September 30, 2013.
Whether you’re struggling to find answers from a federal agency or have concerns with action being taken by the government, I am available to lend a helping hand. The votes I cast on the Senate floor are of utmost importance, but ensuring you receive the best service possible from the federal government is another top priority of mine. For more information on how my office can assist, visit my website at or call my Lincoln office at (402) 476-1400.

Saturday, August 24, 2013


Duane A. Lienemann
Unl Extention Educator

     Drought and its effects are often part of growing corn in Nebraska, especially in rain-fed fields. Although we can do little to influence the weather, we can make management decisions that minimize the impact of the drought on the utilization of the crop. Of course we expected to see stunted and some withered corn. We also expected to see no ears or for sure just nubbins on the corn stalks. Let’s take a look this week at what many dry-land farmers and center pivot irrigators are finding on pivot corners. What first comes to mind is how our yield may be affected, but maybe there is more.
     It is no secret that drought stressed conditions may affect corn plant health and result in corn growers observing smut and other fungal activity in their fields. What we are seeing is likely Common, Head, or Boil Smut which is caused by the fungus “Ustilago maydis” which attacks the leaves, stalk or ear. It is most noticeable as grayish black galls on the ear of the plant. The fungus is composed of numerous races that can differ in cultural behavior and pathogenicity. However, most galls seem to be a result of infection by primary inoculum that survived in the soil from the previous growing season. The incidence of common corn smut varies from year to year depending on environmental conditions. The smut contains little or no mycotoxins and believe it or not is considered an edible delicacy in some cultures. I believe that in Mexico it is called “Huitlacoche”, aka Mexican Truffle!  For some reason that does not appeal to me, but then I guess I have never tried it.
     When heavy infestations of corn smut occur, grain yields can be so severely decreased that the most viable economic alternative may be to harvest and ensile the crop. Smut is generally known as one of the dry season diseases. It also occurs from mechanical injury to plants such as machinery, hail, wind damage, herbicides and detasseling injury. Smut usually occurs where hail or hard driving rains occur in earlier stages of growth. Optimum growing temperatures are 80-93° F. The disease is more common when corn is grown in soils with high nitrogen levels, and particularly following manure applications. All corn is generally considered susceptible. Some pedigrees are more prone, but the disease is not prevalent enough to rate hybrids. Despite that knowledge that smut will indicate a much lower yield, it doesn’t bother me as much as some of the mold that I am finding in a lot of ears ….and yes, nubbins out in our dryland corn. Is there any concern?
    We expect smut and other diseases in corn stressed by drought or by other problems. But as the crop deteriorates, decaying molds can become a problem. While ear rots such as Trichoderma, Ustilago (smut), and Diplodia do not produce known toxins, the observations of these molds should serve as warning signs that a mycotoxin could be present from other non-visible molds also growing in the plant. Even those mold organisms that can produce toxins do not always do so depending upon the environment. Most mycotoxin producing funguses are of the Fusarium, Aspergillus, or Penicillium families and are not directly associated with visible foliar or grain fungus diseases. 
     Hot, dry conditions associated with drought years are generally not thought to be conducive to growth of typical Fusarium molds that are common in Nebraska, but if European corn borer damage to the ear is significant, Fusarium molds can develop. Fusarium molds often appear as white or pink molds on the ear and are responsible for most of the mycotoxins we encounter in Nebraska. Hot, dry conditions however are conducive for the development of Aspergillus fungi, which is sometimes reported in Nebraska. Some species of Aspergillus can result in aflatoxin. The Aspergillus fungus is a greenish yellow mold that appears on the ear. Now we have to worry if that will be a problem in grain, forage or silage.
      Usually the presence of the mold does not indicate that mycotoxins will be present. However, the only sure way to determine if mycotoxins are present is through testing if a problem is suspected. Testing corn for mycotoxins is a good idea if mycotoxin concerns exist. You may want to be aware of this if you plan to harvest this corn. If you do make silage out of this corn I suggest following recommended silage management practices and inoculation. Inoculants will produce good fermentation to minimize chances of continued mold activity and mycotoxin production in the silage pile.  
    If you need feed for livestock you might consider putting it up for silage, green chopping or rolling it up in bales. Any corn that has pollinated and stays alive will use any rain to fill grain and that will add to the value of the crop for feed. If you decide to bale it, technically you could lay corn in a swath and let it dry. There are some challenges. Even if run through a conditioner, it can take a long time for wet stalks to dry. Stalks in a swath can start to spoil before they are dry enough to bale. It can be difficult to pick up corn swaths that lay between corn rows without raking through a lot of soil.  
     Another option may be grazing. Grazing saves the cost of fuel and operating chopping equipment. Where possible, use an electric wire or other means to limit access and minimize waste. This may be more feasible with short corn. A more viable alternative may be putting it up for silage. I know that the thought of feeding smut infested corn silage may appear visibly unappealing, however there is no known mycotoxin associated with smut.  I did a little research and couldn’t find much on the effects of feeding cattle however there was a Texas study looked at feeding smut infested corn to sheep and they found no detrimental health effects to develop in the animals. The study showed no changes in digestibility and actually demonstrated that sheep had increased dry matter intakes over feeding of non-infested corn silage. Perhaps the entrepreneurs out there can convince consumers that they should try “Huitlacoche” ....Mexican Truffles anyone?

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: or go to the website at: 

Friday, August 23, 2013

Washington Report: Expanding Opportunities Through Trade

Expanding international markets for American goods and products has benefitted Nebraska producers, manufacturers, and consumers.  Trade also represents an all-too-rare bright spot for bipartisan cooperation in Washington at a time when politics often trumps pragmatism.
Despite widespread complaints of “political gridlock,” we have made substantial progress in opening new markets and reducing barriers for American exports.  In my opinion, the enactment of trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia, and Panama was the best bipartisan accomplishment of the President’s first term.
This week, I held three public forums across the Third District to help individuals and businesses better understand the value of global trade and provide information on expanding market access for local products.  The meetings were attended by a variety of Nebraskans interested in selling their goods to new markets and those with stories of how they have benefited from expanded trade, as well as representatives from state and local resources involved in helping individuals and businesses begin or expand exporting.
Preferred Popcorn in Chapman is one of the best examples of a Nebraska company utilizing the new trade agreements.  On the day the Colombia trade agreement entered into force, Preferred sold ten shipping containers of popcorn to a buyer in the South American country – enough for about 9 million people.  This sale was a direct result of the free trade agreement and is a benefit to the company, its employees in  Nebraska, the producers who grow the popcorn, and the local economy.
Before the U.S.-Colombia trade agreement entered into force, the average U.S. tariff on Colombian goods was 3 percent, while Colombia’s average tariff on U.S. goods was 12.5 percent.  Tariff rates on most products, including popcorn, have now been eliminated.
This trade also helps build positive connections between our two countries.  Colombia is an American ally in a region where several nations, including Venezuela, are not always friendly to American interests.  In the last decade, Colombia has made vast improvements to their national security and in their fight against international drug traffickers.  Increased trade will help solidify these gains, and maintain good relationships while benefiting consumers and businesses in both nations.  
This week I also heard examples of Nebraska companies expanding their footprint in Asia, home to some of the fastest growing economies on Earth.  The United States is currently involved in negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), an agreement among several nations representing more than 40 percent of global trade.  The last round of TPP negations in July was very successful; Japan joined half way through the talks.  With 95 percent of U.S. beef now qualifying for import to Japan, the island nation could once again become our number one market for beef exports.
We are also in the early stages of negotiating the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) with the European Union, which the President announced earlier this year.  TPP and TTIP both have the potential to greatly expand free trade and grow economies around the world.  They also have the potential to exclude some Nebraska agriculture goods if we are not careful.
As we negotiate new trade agreements around the world, we must continue to address tariff and non-tariff barriers, and promote enforceable, science-based regulatory systems.  As a member of the Committee on Ways and Means, which has jurisdiction over tax and trade issues, I will continue to insist on these standards to ensure Nebraska products are treated fairly in the international market.
While we must avoid these potential pitfalls, the future remains bright for increased international trade.  I am optimistic these robust agreements will benefit Nebraska exporters and consumers around the world. 

Member of Congress

Governor Column On line education.

As a new school year begins, I want to bring your attention to an exciting opportunity for Nebraska students to take online courses from the University of Nebraska High School.
University of Nebraska President James B. Milliken has recently announced that the university is continuing its Nebraska Virtual Scholars program, which provides full scholarships for students in our state to take online courses in important areas like math, science, foreign language and others.
The Virtual Scholars program is providing 100 scholarships this year to students so they can take courses for free, if awarded the scholarship. The scholarships may be used for any of the University of Nebraska High School’s more than 100 high-quality, fully accredited courses. Schools must apply on behalf of their students and applications will be accepted until Sept. 13. Applications are available at
I encourage Nebraska schools to take advantage of this opportunity. Education is the great equalizer in our society, and every student deserves a quality education. The Nebraska Virtual Scholars program is an especially exciting opportunity for rural schools, because their limited resources don’t always allow then to offer advanced-level courses or unique electives.
The Virtual Scholars program provides an opportunity for schools, the university and government leaders to learn more about the challenges facing rural schools and discuss how we can work together to solve some of those challenges through online education. Our goal is to establish a statewide Nebraska Virtual School that would make high-quality online courses available to all students in our state.
As chair of the P-16 Initiative, I know how important it is to increase the number of Nebraskans who graduate from high school, go on to college and earn a degree so they can help maintain a strong economy in our state. In just a few short years, two-thirds of all jobs in Nebraska will require education beyond high school. Yet right now only about one-third of Nebraskans age 25 and over have earned at least an associate’s degree.
We need to ensure that many more Nebraskans obtain the skills they need to go to college, and that means providing them with an opportunity to take rigorous courses in high school. In fact, a recent College Board survey showed that 44 percent of the Class of 2010 said they wished they had taken more difficult courses in high school – especially math, science and writing classes – to prepare for college and work. A statewide Nebraska Virtual School would help us accomplish this goal for our young people.
Once again, I encourage Nebraska school leaders to take advantage of the opportunity for students to enroll in University of Nebraska High School. The Virtual Scholars program is an important step forward in helping our students become more successful and creating a stronger economy for Nebraska.

- Dave Heineman

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Happy Birthday Norm

Happy Birthday Norm
Happy Birthday Norm,  Aug 22, 1936 to May 23, 2008
With Chrissy Hubl

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Nebraska State Fair - Non-Stop Fun Pass

The Nebraska State Fair has announced the return of the Non-Stop Fun Pass to the fair’s midway carnival.

"We are delighted our new midway provider, Wade Shows has agreed to offer this great value again,” said Joseph McDermott, Executive Director of the Nebraska State Fair.
Special Non-Stop Fun Pass discounts are available though August 22 online at  Cost per pass is $75.00 and includes gate admission and unlimited carnival rides for all 11-days of the fair.  Beginning on August 23rd, passes will cost $85.00 through the remainder of the fair.
McDermott says, "This is in conjunction with wristbands which will be available each day of the fair for those fairgoers unable to attend everyday.  Single day passes can be purchased for $18.00 for weekdays excluding Labor Day and $21.00 for weekends including Labor Day through August 22nd.   Tickers can be purchased online at or at your neighborhood Walgreens.  Beginning August 23, the price will be $22.00 and $25.00 respectively, so it pays to buy early."
McDermott says, “This is another way to enhance the Nebraska State Fair’s guest experience.  We’ve heard for a number of years that carnival midway enthusiasts wanted wristbands for rides everyday.  Thanks to Wade Shows, we’re now able to offer that to everyone in attendance.”
“Wade Shows will bring a whole new experience to the Nebraska State Fair this year with rides, never before seen at our fair,” McDermott said. 
Wade Shows is ranked number three in the nation according to Carnival Warehouse, based on gross attendance figures.
The Nebraska State Fair runs from August 23 through September 2nd in Grand Island.

Sunday, August 18, 2013


Duane A. Lienemann
UNL Extension Educator
     It seems that we just finished county fair and here I am getting ready for the Nebraska State Fair. I have already been at the State Fair Livestock Office working on stalling assignments for 4-H beef, which looks to be rather challenging.  Involvement in the Nebraska State Fair has been a ritual for me for many years.  I remember going to Lincoln for my very first Nebraska State Fair. I believe it was around 1955 and I had the opportunity to go with my dad and grandfather.  They were going there to look at farm machinery and livestock, but I think in many ways it was social for them too, much like it is for me. Their catching up with relatives or other fellow farmers and stockmen gave me plenty of time to crawl on and marvel at these shiny new wonders or to walk through the barns to see the best livestock in our state and maybe the world! I don’t think I have missed a year ever since, either as a wide eyed farm kid marveling at the carnival rides or all the sights and sounds and “oh – so many people” or in later years as a 4-H and FFA exhibitor, participating in the Nebraska State 4-H Livestock Judging Contest, then college student, and finally my adult years as an FFA Advisor or UNL Extension Educator.
     I know that it is hard for my wife and probably a lot of other people to understand what I see in spending my days and evenings at a “hot, dirty and boring” event like livestock shows, county fairs and especially the Nebraska State Fair.  I have written in former columns about what I like about these venues, the values I see for our youth and the comradeship that comes with sharing that same feeling with other people just like me. The nice thing is that you no longer have to travel to Lincoln as it moved to Grand Island about four years ago to a fabulous location, wonderful buildings and a brand new dedication to agriculture, something that became missing at the old location.  
     I think it was a good move as is evidenced by the participation and attendance at the fair.  There has been new life breathed into the State Fair and it feels good. Nebraska, after all, is about agriculture and one out of three people in Nebraska are employed in an agriculturally based career in agriculture. It is what rural American and especially rural Nebraska is all about.  It is fun to see the amazement on people’s faces when they first walk into the new Livestock Exhibit Hall and Show Arena. It still gives me goose bumps to see a great lineup of cattle, sheep (or you name it) strutting their stuff in the arena soil, or the bevy of activities and efforts of parents and youth getting their animals ready for show.  It is hard to describe the smell, the excitement and the anticipation that seems to hang in the air. Among all the other things that the State Fair provides, this is the major attraction for me.  It never gets old, only my body does!
     Speaking of State Fairs, I heard this past week about an unfortunate happening at our neighbor to the east – the Iowa State Fair.  I had the chance on a couple of occasions to attend that amazing fair and of course like millions of others had to go see the full sized statue of a cow made out of butter.  It is after all a mecca or at least an icon of that fair.  I don’t think that it is any secret that I don’t have a lot of use for animal rights groups and/or their antics. Well they did their usual stupid stunts to this icon, sneaking into ag hall and dumping red paint on the butter cow and writing graffiti on the glass enclosure. Thank goodness, the cow, a fair tradition since 1911, cleaned up well after the dousing. One of the most vile groups, Animal Liberation Front, claimed responsibility and supposedly did this as a “reminder that there are people opposed to the eating of meat and dairy and that the meat and dairy industry is inordinately cruel.”  I see it as just plain criminal and incredibly stupid! I for the life of me cannot get my head into the minds of these people.
     I think that most individuals have heard that our own Nebraska State Fair will be visited this year with a radical animal rights group. PETA has applied and have been granted the privilege to have a booth at the fair.  First I have to tell you that I was infuriated and then after taking in some smelling salts took a more logical approach to the situation.  After the word got out I know I heard lots of discussion from young people and so “not so young” that had all sorts of ideas on their visit to Nebraska. Some were downright disgusted, some other amused, and some were looking forward to confronting the representatives from PETA. Some came up with the idea that they should set up a booth and sell PETA (People Eating Tasty Animal) T-shirts right next to them.  Others were welcoming the chance to see their antics and perhaps communicate with them. Some looked at it a little differently and took real offense to them even coming to our fair, and especially around our youth.  Some things I cannot repeat, but you can probably imagine what some would say or do. I might give some thoughts towards this group and how we in the livestock industry should approach them or react should they confront us.
     While I certainly do not agree with the philosophy or the antics of PETA, like it or not, they have applied for a booth at the State Fair and they do have the right to be there. We also have the right to disagree with them; however, we must remember that they thrive on controversy and confrontation. They are after publicity - and especially if they can put livestock producers into any kind of bad light. The best way to deal with them is to simply walk by, ignore them, and for sure not to argue with them -- even if they harass you. Parents need to visit with their youth, especially 4-H and FFA exhibitors, to guide them along the same lines. We as livestock producers cannot afford to fall into their trap. Instead, use your energy to communicate through social media, and most importantly through your daily work, how we humanely raise and care for these animals and how they are part of our daily lives. See you at the Nebraska State Fair –Aug. 23-Sept. 2!!

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: or go to the website at: 

Friday, August 16, 2013

Washington Report: Health Care Concerns Loom


The health care insurance exchanges set up by the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, are scheduled to open in less than six weeks, but evidence continues to build the law is not working the way the President and other supporters said it would.  The Administration now acknowledges insurance premiums will increase as a result of Obamacare, at least 7 million Americans will lose their employer-provided insurance because of the law, and employers are not hiring and many are reducing workers’ hours to avoid costly mandates.
Americans are right to be concerned, and many are speaking out.  This week, I hosted three health care meetings across the Third District to discuss concerns and questions about the implementation of Obamacare.  Not surprisingly, the majority of the participants in each of these meetings are worried the cost of their health care will go up, and they will lose the coverage they currently enjoy.
At the first stop, I heard from a woman who will lose her current coverage at the end of this year because her carrier is leaving the Nebraska market due to Obamacare.  She is self-employed and has a pre-existing condition, but was happy with the coverage she had.  As of now, she does not know what coverage she will be able to get, or how much it will cost her.
I also heard from constituents who were upset about the Administration’s end-runs around Congress to selectively enforce the law, including the employer-mandate.  While big businesses and insurance companies will get a temporary break from costly provisions of Obamacare, hardworking American families and individuals will still be forced to buy expensive insurance they might not need or want, or be subject to a fine.
Other Nebraskans expressed concern about the enormous costs the law will have to taxpayers, more than $1 trillion in the first 10 years, which will add to an already sky-high national debt. 
Despite the large costs and many problems, the President’s signature health care law does not address the underlying problem of health care costs.  The American people are upset because the cost of insurance is too high, putting quality care out of reach for many, and burdening those who get sick with bills they cannot afford to pay.  It is becoming increasingly clear the new law is making these problems worse, not better.  
Rather than continuing to stall full implementation and create special carveouts for the politically-connected, we need to permanently repeal this misguided law for all Americans.  We must continue to seek repeal because the majority of Obamacare funding is mandatory, and not subject to the annual appropriations process – meaning even efforts to defund the bill would not stop its most harmful provisions. 
After my health care public meetings over the last week, I am more convinced than ever this law is the wrong prescription for America’s health care problems.  I hope my colleagues and President Obama are also taking advantage of the August work period to listen to the people they were elected to represent.  When we return to Washington in September, I will remain committed to finding agreement to rolling back this overreach of the federal government and seek real reforms to address America’s health care needs.

Member of Congress

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Gov. Heineman Announces Upcoming Asian Trade Mission


Lt. Gov. Heidemann to Lead Trade Mission in September
(Lincoln, Neb.) Today, Gov. Dave Heineman announced that Lt. Gov. Lavon Heidemann will lead a delegation of Nebraskans on a trade mission to Taiwan and Japan Sept. 2-13. This will be the 12th foreign or reverse trade mission of the Governor’s administration.
“Our Asian trade missions represent important opportunities to explore agriculture and business development efforts in key markets,” said Gov. Heineman. “We will use this time to strengthen business relationships and pursue opportunities to develop new connections that will benefit Nebraska communities, while also promoting our agricultural products.”
“Nebraska has hosted a variety of business delegations from Taiwan and Japan during the past several years and this trip will be an important opportunity to examine ways to increase investment in our communities and continue strengthening our relationships in the regions,” said Lt. Gov. Heidemann.
Greg Ibach, Director of the Nebraska Department of Agriculture, and Catherine Lang, Director of the Nebraska Department of Economic Development are scheduled to make the trip with Lt. Governor Heidemann. The trade mission will provide opportunities for delegation members to meet with government officials, potential trading partners and investors interested in doing business in Nebraska.
This trade mission will include a visit to Tokyo where the Lt. Governor will participate in the annual Midwest U.S. – Japan Association Conference, a collection of nine Midwestern states and major Japanese businesses. The delegation will have an opportunity to visit the new Nebraska Center – Japan, the state’s first foreign trade office which opened in 2006. The delegation will meet with business and government leaders including the Governors of the Saitama and Kanagawa prefectures.
In Taiwan, Nebraska leaders will receive an update on a trade agreement signed during a visit in 2010. At that time, Nebraska delegates signed an agreement worth an estimated $450 million in future sales of corn, soybeans and wheat between Taiwanese importers and private suppliers.
Japan is Nebraska’s largest foreign direct investor having invested more than $4.4 billion into the state since 2010. Japan is Nebraska’s fourth largest export market with $468 million in exports in 2012. Taiwan is Nebraska’s 13th largest export market with $94 million in exports in 2012, but was the state’s 10th largest agricultural export market that year.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013


Valentine, NE – U.S. Senator Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) released the following statement regarding news that the Obama Administration has selectively delayed a second major provision of the health care law limiting patients’ out-of-pocket expenses:
“Each day brings more news that ObamaCare is not ready for prime time. Last week, we heard that Americans’ personal and financial data could be at risk because of missed deadlines for the new health exchanges’ security systems. Today, we learned that the administration has selectively delayed another major portion of the flawed law. This time, it’s consumer protection. Rather than capping costs for individuals and families – as promised by the law – the delay of a key provision limiting patients’ out-of-pocket costs guarantees that this law will be anything but ‘affordable.’
“This quiet decision by the administration, which was posted on a little-noticed government website in February, is the latest in a long litany of broken promises. Despite the administration’s failure – for months – to fully explain this ‘grace period’ to the American people, my recent conversations with Nebraskans show they are well aware of the disastrous impact of this law on their families, businesses, and communities. The president has already delayed the law for big businesses. Instead of following the president’s lead and selectively delaying the law for some, I remain committed to delaying  – and defunding – this law for all Americans.”
The New York Times reported today: “The limit on out-of-pocket costs, including deductibles and co-payments, was not supposed to exceed $6,350 for an individual and $12,700 for a family. But under a little-noticed ruling, federal officials have granted a one-year grace period to some insurers, allowing them to set higher limits, or no limit at all on some costs, in 2014.
“The grace period has been outlined on the Labor Department’s website since February, but was obscured in a maze of legal and bureaucratic language that went largely unnoticed. When asked in recent days about the language – which appeared as an answer to one of 137 ‘frequently asked questions about Affordable Care Act implementation’ – department officials confirmed the policy.
Before a joint session of Congress on September 9, 2009, President Obama promised, “We will place a limit on how much you can be charged for out-of-pocket expenses, because in the United States of America, no one should go broke because they get sick.”  

Nebraska's First Lady and MADD National President Kick-Off National Victim Assistance Training in Nebraska


Specialized Training Enhances Services to Victims & Survivors in Rural Communities
(Omaha, Neb.)  - Nebraska’s First Lady Sally Ganem is teaming up with Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) National President Jan Withers to raise awareness about the importance of supporting those who’ve been impacted by drunk driving and underage drinking.
As a member of MADD’s National Board of Directors, First Lady Ganem is hosting President Withers and those attending the MADD National Victim Assistance Training Institute (VATI) being held on Friday, August 9 and Saturday, August 10 in Lincoln, Nebraska. President Withers will attend the VATI, which will focus on enhancing MADD Victim Services for impaired driving victims and survivors in rural communities.
“At MADD, we often say ‘first there’s the crash, then the lifelong impact,’” said Withers, whose 15-year-old daughter, Alisa, was killed by an underage drunk driver. “We know that being a victim or survivor of a drunk driving crash is life-altering, but we also know that every person has varying needs and circumstances to consider when providing support, so MADD Victim Services is training victim advocates on how best to serve people in rural areas.”
First Lady Ganem added, “Throughout my years of work with MADD, I’ve learned what an important impact MADD Victim Services can have for an individual and family. Like many states, Nebraska has far too many victims in rural communities who feel isolated from others who may share a similar experience. This training will help reach those individuals.”
According to the Nebraska Office of Highway Safety, in 2012, 87 people were killed in alcohol-related crashes in Nebraska, and 1,209 people were injured in alcohol-related crashes. This includes 11 alcohol-related fatalities of Nebraska teenagers (aged 15-19).
MADD serves more than 63,000 victims and survivors each year; that’s one every eight minutes, at no charge. Services include a 24/7 Help Line (1-877-MADD-HELP), emotional support, court accompaniment, assistance navigating the legal system, information about crime victims’ compensation and more.
Another specialized VATI focused on enhancing services for victims and survivors in Native American communities will be held later this month in Albuquerque, N.M. Both VATIs are funded by a grant from the Office for Victims of Crime, which is part of the U.S. Department of Justice.
For more information about MADD Victim Services, visit
About Mothers Against Drunk Driving
Founded by a mother whose daughter was killed by a drunk driver, Mothers Against Drunk Driving® (MADD) is the nation’s largest nonprofit working to protect families from drunk driving and underage drinking. With the help of those who want a safer future, MADD’s Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving® will end this danger on America’s roads. PowerTalk 21® is the national day for parents to talk with their kids about alcohol, using the proven strategies of Power of Parents® to reduce the risk of underage drinking. And as one of the largest victim services organizations in the U.S., MADD also supports drunk and drugged driving victims and survivors at no charge, serving one person every eight minutes through local MADD victim advocates and at 1-877-MADD-HELP.  Learn more at or by calling 1-877-ASK-MADD.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Working with Our Veterans

Sen. Mike Johanns


Many of our military men and women have honorably served our nation, putting themselves into harm’s way to defend our freedoms, only to return home to an anemic job market and unnecessary employment hurdles. Often, veterans, who have gained valuable skills and work experience while in uniform, face new challenges putting their talents to work right here at home, whether it be working a trade or starting a business.
Last week, I hosted a business roundtable with Nebraska veterans who own small businesses to discuss the challenges they face. As a member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, it’s important for me to better understand how programs in place for veteran-owned businesses are working, and identify opportunities for improvement. Our veterans have given so much for our country; we must strive to ensure they have the tools they need to be successful following their tours of duty.
Many at the roundtable shared stories of sifting through unreasonable paperwork and regulatory requirements from the federal government—a theme that is all too common for business owners. When seeking certification as a veteran-owned business through the Veterans Administration (VA), onerous bureaucratic requirements can prevent many qualified businesses from completing the process, hindering their chances when vying for contracts with the Pentagon, or other industry-specific opportunities.
Businesses are not the only ones who must deal with red tape. Individual veterans eager to apply their knowledge and experience from their service also face challenges getting certified for the same jobs as civilians. For instance, folks who may have served as medics or computer technicians in a demanding environment return home to find that they must undergo redundant training and testing to meet civilian certification requirements.
The endless red tape can be daunting for veterans trying to start a small business or find a job using their military training.  To ease the burden, I introduced legislation last year with Senator Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) to streamline certification requirements between the Department of Defense and state licensing offices. The HIRE at Home Act, was signed into law last year. This is a positive step toward reducing hoops our veterans must jump through to do a job they’ve demonstrated they can perform while on the battlefield. I have also cosponsored various other proposals to assist our veterans with a proven ability to fill civilian jobs.
For folks looking to work in a trade, I introduced a bill with Senator Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) to promote hiring veterans for apprenticeships or on-the-job training. This bipartisan legislation strengthens an existing program to help cover a portion of the salaries for veterans in training.
These legislative efforts are designed to improve the landscape for all veterans seeking civilian employment. For more specialized cases in which individual veterans need assistance with a federal program or agency, I have an experienced team ready to assist veterans. I encourage you to contact my office if we can be of assistance.
Veterans and their families have put so much on the line serving our nation, and it is a privilege for me to focus time and energy ensuring we, as a country, keep our promise to them.

The Area Substance & Alcohol Abuse Prevention (ASAAP) 
Thursday, august 22nd at 7:00 PM  
hastings college-Lynn Farrell Arena 
Friday, August 23rd at 7:00 PM 
Central Community college gymnasium 
Hastings, NE 
John Underwood is the President and Founder of the American Athletic Institute and an expert in the field of athletics and social drug use.  John speaks across the country to advocate for drug-free sports at all levels.  “The Life of an Athlete” program is endorsed by both the Nebraska Coaches Association and the Nebraska School Activity Association.  
We invite the public, parents and coalition membersthose who want to understand alcohol’s impact on the student athlete and student academic performance. 
Several schools across Nebraska have implemented the Life of An Athlete Program – Don’t miss out on the opportunity to see for yourself what Pure Performance is all about.  
Please join us for this important event. 
                         FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT SCOTT STEMPER, Executive Director  
Area Substance & Alcohol Abuse Prevention   835 S. Burlington Ave., Ste#114    Hastings, NE 68901 
 (402) 463-0524 OR E-MAIL 
Funds were provided by Region 3 through the State of Nebraska and the Federal Substance Abuse and Treatment Block Grant 
Division of Behavioral Health