Thursday, October 31, 2013

Blue Hill 21 Kimball 6

The Blue Hill Bobcats football team won Thursday's home playoff game against Kimball by a score of 21-6.
Follow Blue Hill as they take on St. Patrick's in North Platte Wed, 11/6 in the 2013 Class C2 Championship playoffs.
North Platte defeated Cambridge Thursday.
 Blue Hill with a 7-1 record was rated 5th in the state while North Platte with a matching 7-1 record was rated #4.  The winner of the North Platte vs Blue Hill game will go on to face the winner of the Doniphan-Trumbull vs Crofton game on Tuesday November 12. 

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Pvt. Tele Vision laid to rest

Photo: This past week, I laid to rest, PFC Tele Vision.  PVT Vision joined Apache Troop, 3rd Squadron, 7th Cavalry, 3d ID in Camp Udairi, Kuwait in January of 2003.  Although of European descent, PVT Vision became a beloved member of the Troop almost immediately.  While in Kuwait, he was fond of performing scenes from the Soprano's.  PVT Vision received a battlefield promotion to PFC in the summer of 2003 at Camp Anaconda in Iraq for Meritorious Service towards Troop Morale.  

PFC Vision suffered from damages in the war and had trouble adjusting to civilian life in the United States.  PFC Vision found employment as a Game Companion, working with youth, for several years before the "sands" of time caught up to him.  

PFC Vision now heads to his eternal resting place, known as Fiddlers' Green.
Pvt. Tele Vision, Iraq war veteran. 

This past week PFC Tele Vision was laid to rest.    PVT Vision joined Apache Troop, 3rd Squadron, 7th Cavalry, 3d ID in Camp Udairi, Kuwait in January of 2003. Although of European descent, PVT Vision became a beloved member of the Troop almost immediately. While in Kuwait, he was fond of performing scenes from the Soprano's. PVT Vision received a battlefield promotion to PFC in the summer of 2003 at Camp Anaconda in Iraq for Meritorious Service towards Troop Morale.

PFC Vision suffered from damages in the war and had trouble adjusting to civilian life in the United States. PFC Vision found employment as a Game Companion, working with youth, for several years before the "sands" of time caught up to him.

PFC Vision now heads to his eternal resting place, known as Fiddlers' Green. 

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Sharing Some Fun Halloween Pictures

If you would like to share your Halloween picture send it to us and we will include it in this collection.




 The Banks family, plus Bert and Mary Poppins from the movie, Mary Poppins.
Winner of the Best Costume Award

Friday, October 25, 2013

National Prescription Take-Back Day is October 26, 2013

LINCOLN - Attorney General Jon Bruning today joined representatives from the Nebraska MEDS Coalition and Dillon’s House founder David Hayes to announce collection sites for the Nationwide Prescription Drug Take-Back Day to be held Saturday, October 26, 2013.
“Parents, teachers and kids should know that prescription drugs are dangerous,” said Hayes. “People need to get these medications out of their homes to reduce the risk of another life lost to prescription drug abuse.”
On February 6, 2010, David’s 15-year-old son Dillon Hayes died in his sleep from an unintentional drug overdose.
Each day, an estimated 2,500 teenagers use prescription drugs to get high for the first time according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. More than three out of four people who misuse prescription painkillers use drugs prescribed to someone else.
“We encourage Nebraskans to use this take-back event as a deadline to remove unused medication from their homes,” said King. 
This is the sixth take-back event organized by the Attorney General’s Office. Past events have resulted in the collection and safe disposal of nearly 28,000 lbs. of unwanted drugs across the state, including more than 3,500 lbs. at sites coordinated by the Attorney General’s Office and the NSP.
“No one wants their medicine cabinet to be the source of deadly experimentation,” said Bruning. “To help avoid the dangerous consequences of prescription drug abuse, Nebraskans should dispose of unused medication before it gets into the wrong hands.”
Attorney General Bruning also was joined at today’s press conference by Marcia Mueting with the Nebraska Pharmacists Association and Major Russ Stancyk and Captain Mike Jahnke from the NSP.
National Take Back Day, October 26, 2013
The following locations will host collection sites coordinated by the Attorney General’s Office and the NSP. For more information, visit
More information can be found at the following websites:

Washington Report: "Glitches" Reflect Greater Problems

After spending more than three years and hundreds of millions of dollars building and promoting the online health care marketplaces, the Obama Administration launched the new website on October 1st.  Despite the raised concerns and repeated assurances by the administration it would be fully functional, very few people so far have been able to use even some of the most basic functions such as creating an account. 
The administration initially claimed the problems were due to technical “glitches” and because of overwhelming demand.  It is now clear the problems are much deeper.  The website simply doesn’t work for the vast majority of users.  In addressing the website’s ineffectiveness, the President directed users to call the toll free help line which also faced long delays and usually referred users back to the defective website.  For the few users who are able to actually log on to the website, price estimates frequently are wrong, the system often misidentifies individuals, and the information sent to insurance companies many times is inaccurate.
Next week, the Committee on Ways and Means will hold a hearing on implementation of the health care law with Marilyn Tavenner, Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services which oversees the operation of the exchanges.  This hearing will be a good first step to identify how the administration has addressed implementation, and what is being done to correct the problems.
While we do not have all of the answers yet, the website problems have highlighted that the health care law is overly-complex, expensive, and not ready for implementation.
Third District residents have been contacting my office to share their stories and frustrations with the law and the website.  The new mandates and regulations included in the law are forcing up the cost of insurance.  One recent caller said her premium is set to go up about $5,000 next year with a high deductable.
Another Nebraskan e-mailed me after he was notified by his insurance company his plan would no longer be offered, and a comparable plan would cost him 110 percent more than he is currently paying.  He hoped to be able to find more affordable coverage through the online exchanges, but so far has been unable to because the website cannot verify his identity.  He argued, “We should not be forced to get insurance from a government that can’t run things right.” 
I agree.  It is not fair to penalize Americans with a tax for not buying insurance through a website which makes it nearly impossible to buy insurance.  I am pleased even many Democrats have now joined Republicans in calling for a delay in the individual mandate.  The administration has also agreed to extend the enrollment period before which Americans would be penalized for not having insurance.  This decision is a good start but it is not enough. 
We need to put the brakes on implementation of the law before more damage is done to the cost of health care and to the American economy.  While I continue to favor repeal of the law, given its disastrous debut, even supporters of the law should favor a delay to identify and fix the problems.  Until these serious issues are resolved, I hope all sides would be willing to alleviate and lessen the problems this law is creating for the American people.

Member of Congress

Mother, Son Held on Murder Charges in Webster County

Shelley Casterline (41) and her son Andrew Casterline (23)  appeared in Webster County Friday on charges of killing Sixty eight year old Virginia Barone of Guide Rock.
The pair allegedly stabbed and beat Barone and stole her vehicle on October 4th.
In court proceedings today mother and son  were appointed their "court appointed " attorneys. 
The Casterlines arraignments were held separately on Friday.
Each are accused of numerous felonies including first degree murder, use of a deadly weapon, burglary and theft.
A first degree murder conviction could lead to life in prison without parole.
Charles Brewster was appointed by Judge Michael Offner to represent Andrew Casterline. 
Brewster recently represented Peter Draper of Naponee who was convicted on charges of child abuse resulting in death.

Shelley Casterline  will be represented by an attorney from Nebraska's  Commission on Public Advocacy.
The Casterlines will return to the Webster County Courthouse on  November 1st ..    At that time they will determine if a preliminary hearing will be held.
They are presently being held without bail  in the Hall County Jail awaiting further proceedings..


Duane A. Lienemann
UNL Extension Educator
 It seems that October has been a month of National significance for several things including one that is significant for me as I had a child afflicted with it - National Spina Bifida Awareness Month.  Also of major importance to me, and many that I know, it is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  It is particularly important to my wife’s family. You probably have figured that out from all the support that is being given by college volleyball and football teams as well as professional football teams and many ads on radio and TV. I certainly am very aware of the importance of this effort and support it.
     Just so you know October is a Month celebrating among others: National Chiropractic Health, Health Literacy, Domestic Violence Awareness, Depression Awareness, Healthy Lung, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) Awareness, National Brain Injury Awareness, National Down Syndrome Awareness and even National Liver Awareness.  We don’t want to forget that October is also the designated Month for: National Arts and Humanities, Pastor/Clergy Appreciation, National Pizza, Hispanic Heritage, Black History, National Kink (I have no idea what this is!), Dyslexia Awareness, National Book, National Work and Family, National Cyber Security Awareness, Filipino American History, LGBT History, National Bullying Prevention, National Youth Justice Awareness, National Pregnancy and Child Loss Awareness, and Dwarfism Awareness.  We must not forget that it is also the month declared for: American Pharmacists, Apple Jack Awareness,     Computer Learning, Cookie Month, International Drum, Lupus Awareness, National Diabetes, National Vegetarian, National Popcorn Popping, Seafood Month and my favorite - National Sarcastic Month.  Whew – Who knew?
     Now that we have those out of the way let’s look at something more down my alley. You may not know that October is also designated for celebrating “National Ham Month!”  So let’s learn a little about ham this week. I thank the National Pork Producers for the information. Did you know that ham has existed ever since Cato the Elder, a famous Roman Statesmen wrote about salting pork legs in 160 B.C.? Well hogs have been a part of the American culture over the past 300 years in the form of bacon, ham, pulled pork and more. For more than 2/3rd of that time, Americans have been curing and eating ham.  Curing ham originated in Virginia during the mid-1700s and spread across the country over the years.
     Here are ten fun facts about pigs, ham and the industry; 1) During the War of 1812, a packer named Uncle Sam Wilson sent off several hundred barrels of cured ham and pork for the troops.  Each package was labeled ’U.S.’ and it didn’t take long for ‘Uncle Sam’ to be a household name for the government. 2) Swine were among the first of all animals to be domesticated - around 10,000 years ago.  The Chinese were the first to raise wild pigs for food. 3) Of course we all know that baby pigs appear very greedy when they are competing for food from their mothers.  For this reason, the words “pig” and “hog” have come to be associated with greedy behavior. 4) George A. Hormel & Company pioneered canned hams in America in 1926, which cost around $4.00. 5) Country Ham was first mentioned in print in 1944, referring to a method of curing and smoking done in the rural sections of the Eastern United States. 6) A ham from the right leg is tougher than a ham from the left leg; this is because a pig uses his right leg to scratch himself, which means he will use the muscles more often. 7) Pork production creates nearly 35,000 full-time jobs and an additional 515,000 indirect jobs, accounting for more than $97 billion in sales each year. 8) In 1950, there were over 3 million pork operations in America.  Today there are less than 70,000, with over half of those producing over 5,000 pigs per year. 9) On Dec. 1, 2012 - Nebraska had 3,000,000 head of hogs and ranked 7th in the Nation in commercial hog slaughter with 7,889,100 head with a live weight of 2.2 billion pounds processed. 10) On the global level, pork is by far the most widely consumed meat. Now some other tid-bits.
     Ham is traditionally made from only the hind legs of swine, but today can include meat that has been processed and reformed.  Ham exists in many different varieties, cuts and styles.  Some of the most popular are; Aged Hams are heavily cured, smoked hams that have been hung to age from 1 to 7 years and are covered in a mold that must be scraped off before eating; Brine-Cured ham is soaked in salt water brine and then smoked.  This variety is the most common form of ham found in grocery stores; Black Forest Ham is a variety of dry-cured smoked ham produced in the Black Forest region of Germany, and is the most popular European variety; Canadian Bacon is a lean cut taken from the eye of the loin of the middle back.  It is precooked smoked meat, and is much more akin to ham than bacon; Country Cured Ham is also known as country style ham is uncooked, cured, aged and dried and prior to consumption must be cooked with a special process; Prosciutto is an Italian ham that is seasoned, salt cured and air-dried, not smoked and is pressed into a dense, firm texture.
     Ham has a healthy dose of protein and iron, but the type of ham you eat will influence how nutritious the meal is.  The best choice would likely be lean deli ham.  Deli ham is low in fat and pairs well on sandwiches, but it still has a large quantity of sodium.  Cured hams have a small amount of calcium and potassium, but they also have an elevated saturated fat level.  Your best bet will be to look for lean ham and varieties low in sodium.  Many brands also manufacture deli meats that don’t contain nitrates which could affect your health. You can easily use deli ham on a sandwich and even chop it up to put it on a breakfast omelet.  Add ham chunks to a pasta salad or scatter it over a tossed green salad to add a healthy dose of protein.  You can also add chunks of ham to soups and casseroles for flavors.  Ham is a much more versatile food product than one might expect. I think it is pretty cool that amongst all the other celebrations we can have a “National Ham Month”!

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, October 24, 2013

Former Blue Hill resident Dies in one car rollover accident near Firth

Former Blue resident Chad Kranau was pronounced dead on Sprague road west of Hickman  in Lancaster county Wednesday night after his 2012 Cheve pickup failed to make the curve and rolled into a ditch.
Kranau who was presently living in Firth, Nebraska was alone in his pickup.  Authorities said they do not believe he was wearing a seatbelt and they do believe alcohol was a factor in the accident.
Despite rescue efforts, 39-year-old Chad Kranau was pronounced dead at the scene of Wednesday night's crash.
                                      Chad D. Kranau  June 27, 1974 to  October 23, 2013
Chad D. Kranau, 39, of Firth, died October 23, 2013. Chad was born June 27, 1974 to Steven & Geri Lynn (Hinrichs) Kranau in Hastings, NE.
Chad was co-owner of Vision Underground and was a very dedicated hard worker. He enjoyed boating, spending time at the lake, NASCAR and Husker Tailgates. Chad also loved entertaining friends and family. His happiest moments were over a grill preparing wings and other assorted “spicy” treats for all to enjoy. He dearly loved being a father to his children, supporting them in their activities and seeing them grow. Chad will be deeply missed by so many that he encountered during life. He never knew a stranger.
Survivors include his wife, Katie of Firth; children, Nellie and Jacob; father, Steven (Carol) Kranau of Omaha, mother, Geri Lynn Kurtz of Omaha; siblings, Jason (Tanya) Kranau of Hastings, Andrea McCord of Omaha; father-in-law, Larry Alderson of Belden, NE; sisters-in-law, Amy (Reggie) Arduser of Lincoln, Clint (Denise) Alderson of LaVista, NE; grandparents, Mary Kranau of Lincoln, Thelma Hinrichs of Hastings; many nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his mother-in-law, Linda Alderson; grandfathers, DuWayne Kranau and Dean Hinrichs; step-father, Dan Kurtz.
Funeral Services are 2:00 PM, Monday, October 28, 2013 at Sheridan Lutheran Church, 6955 Old Cheney Road, Lincoln 68516. Pastor Ron Drury will officiate.
Chad’s wishes were for cremation and scattering at a later time.
Visitation will be 4:00P-8:00P on Sunday, October 27, 2013 at Butherus, Maser and Love Funeral Home 4040 A Street, Lincoln 68510.
Memorials are suggested to the Nellie and Jacob Kranau Education Fund.


       By Sen. Deb Fischer

While October brings colder weather, fall activities, and the beginning of the holiday season, this month also marks an opportunity to bring attention to an important cause: breast cancer awareness.

Every woman can relate to the worry and anxiety felt when having a yearly mammogram. It’s not uncommon for women to retake the test or have a follow-up ultrasound, because their mammograms showed “irregularities” or signs of what might be breast cancer.
During those days that seem like weeks before receiving the results, women endure a wait filled with uncertainty and fear. We hope for the best, but can’t help contemplating the “worst-case” scenarios flashing through our minds, knowing that our lives could change dramatically in an instant.
In many cases, tests are negative, we breathe a sigh of relief, and go on – back to carpooling and juggling family commitments with busy work schedules. All too often, though, a woman hears those life-altering words from her doctor that she indeed has been diagnosed with breast cancer.
In 2013, the American Cancer Society estimates there will be more than 230,000 new cases of invasive breast cancer, more than 64,000 new cases of in situ breast cancer, and nearly 40,000 deaths due to breast cancer among women. These numbers are devastating and represent the thousands of women affected by the disease in just one year.
Behind those numbers are brave women – our friends, our colleagues, our family members – who battle breast cancer. Like so many Nebraskans, I have many people in my own life who have suffered from this disease.
Recently, a close friend of mine discovered that she has breast cancer. Like many others, she is very young. She and her family faced this battle with grace, faith, courage, and positive determination. The prayers and well wishes the family received from friends helped, but she said it was her family’s strong bond and unconditional love that helped her through the difficult time, both physically and emotionally. Thankfully, her tests are now clear, but she must remain very careful and continue to be checked every few months.
I so admire the fierce strength and courage of all the women battling breast cancer, as well as survivors and those whom the disease takes from us. Their grace and dignity during their treatments are an inspiration, and their family members and friends also deserve great respect and recognition for their devoted care and support.
It’s encouraging to see people come together in support of this cause across the country each year.
The cause transcends gender. Both men and women of all ages participate in philanthropic events and contribute to efforts to raise awareness about how others can get involved. Football teams across the nation have even “gone pink” in support of national breast cancer awareness. The pink ribbon has become a universal symbol of support for all women who have dealt with breast cancer and represents our commitment to finding a cure.
Countless groups and organizations dedicate their time, energy, and resources to fighting the disease this month and year-round. Their inspiring work and leadership are the driving force behind growing public awareness and educating women about how they can catch and treat the disease early. The single best way to fight this disease is early diagnosis. I strongly urge all women – young or old – to receive regular mammograms and screenings.
I am also cosponsoring legislation to ensure women faced with invasive surgery are informed of all care options. The bill would create an educational campaign, at no cost to the taxpayer, to inform breast cancer patients of the availability and coverage of breast reconstruction and other options. Knowledge is power, and it's important that all patients are well informed.
According to the National Cancer Institute, one in eight women born today will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime. Let us continue to work together on behalf of women and all individuals whose lives are impacted by this terrible disease and support efforts that can help us find an ultimate cure.
Thank you for participating in our democratic process, and I look forward to visiting with you again next week.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013


Oct. 24-27: NACAA UNL Ag Extension Educator October Agriculture Tour to Minnesota
Oct. 25: UNL Animal Science Alumni Reunion, UNL East Campus-AniSci Complex, 4 p.m.,  or call 402.472.3571.
Oct. 25: Tom Osborne Leadership Award and Leadership Seminar- Adams Co. Fairgrounds, Hastings, NE
Nov. 2: Nebraska Cattlemen Tailgate Party, Location: Apothecary Building, Hay Market Area,  Lincoln Call: 402-475-2333
Nov. 3: Daylights Savings Time Ends
Nov. 3-5: Rural Futures Initiative Conference, Cornhusker/Marriot Hotel, Lincoln, NE
Nov. 5: Using the Grazing Records Spreadsheet Webinar, 12:30 pm.,  or contact
Nov. 6: Ne Ag Relations Council Awards Banquet, Honoree: Jerry Warner, UN-Lincoln East Campus,6:15 p.m.-9 p.m.
Nov. 7: Ag at the Crossroads Conference, Lancaster Event Center, Lincoln, NE 8 a.m.-4 p.m. or 800-535-3456
Nov. 7: NE Agribusiness Club Banquet, Hillcrest Country Club, 9401 O St, Lincoln  5:30 pm
Nov. 7: Webster County Agriculture Association Meeting, Webster Co. Fairgrounds, Bladen, NE 7:30 pm
Nov. 7: Nebraska Ranch Practicum. 8am-5pm, UNL’s Gudmundsen Sandhills Lab, Whitman, NE
Nov. 11: National Veterans Day
Nov. 12-15: Joint NCEA and UNL Extension Fall Meeting, Younes Center, Kearney, NE
Nov. 16: IANR Alumni Tailgate Party, East Campus Student Union, Prior to Michigan State Football game.
Nov. 19: Nebraska Grazing Coalition & UNL Extension – “Grazing Cover Crops/Gabe Brown”, Hastings CCC Auditorium
Nov. 19: NE Beef Industry Scholars Summit, IANR Ani Sci Complex B101, Lincoln, NE  
Nov. 20: Webster Youth Foundation Meeting, Webster County Fairgrounds 4-H Office, Bladen, NE  8:00 pm
Nov. 20:  Land Leasing Workshop– Shickley Community Building, 9:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. with registration at 8:45 a.m
Nov. 21: Beef Facilities Conference, Ramkota Hotel and Conference Center in Sioux Falls, S.D /
Nov. 22: AG-ceptional Women's Conference, 08:00 AM, Northeast Community College, Norfolk, NE
Nov. 22: Grain and Livestock Marketing Tips Lunch Meeting, Blue Hill CommCenter, 11:00 am,  or AgWest, Holdrege
Nov. 22-24: Nebraska Youth Beef Leadership Symposium (NYBLS),
Nov. 23: Beer and Wine Tasting at Bladen Fire Hall, Tasting 7-10 pm, music by Jared Pete Giles – 9:00 pm -1:00 am
Nov. 25: A-FAN's Annual Stakeholder's Meeting, Embassy Suites, Lincoln, NE 9:00 am.,  RSVP to
Nov. 28: Thanksgiving Day
Dec. 3-5: Range Beef Cow Symposium (RBCS), Rushmore Convention Center, Rapid City, SD
Dec. 4: Webster County UNL Extension Board Meeting, Webster County Courthouse, Red Cloud, NE 7:00 pm.
Dec. 4-6: Nebraska Cattlemen Convention & Trade Show, Younes Conference Center, Kearney, NE NC Office at 402.475.2333
Dec. 5: Webster County Greenery Workshop, Webster County Fairgrounds Exhibit Hall, Contact Carol Kumke 402-746-3417
Dec. 7: Webster County Greenery Workshop, Webster County Fairgrounds Exhibit Hall, Contact Carol Kumke 402-746-3417
Dec. 8: Webster County 4-H and FFA Market Beef Weigh-In, Blue Hill Livestock Sale Barn, Blue Hill, NE  9:30 am to 3:30 pm
Dec. 9: Positioning Your Business for Agriculture’s Next Decade” Featuring Dr. David Kohl, Bruning Opera House - Bruning, NE at 1:00 p.m.
Dec. 10: Landlord/Tenant Cash Lease Workshop, York, 4-H Building, York Co. Fairgrounds, 6:30 p.m. Call 402-362-5508.
Dec. 11: Webster County Youth Council Meeting, Webster County Fairgrounds – Exhibit Hall, Bladen, NE 7:30 pm
Dec. 11: Landlord/Tenant Cash Lease Workshop, Hastings, Adams Co. Fairgrounds, 6:30 p.m. Call 402-461-7209.
Dec. 12: Landlord/Tenant Cash Lease Workshop, Fairbury, North Room, Jefferson Co. Fairgrounds Building, 1 p.m. Call 402-729-3487.
Dec. 12: Landlord/Tenant Cash Lease Workshop, Kearney, Buffalo Co. Fairgrounds, 6:30 p.m. Call 308-234-1235.
Dec. 17: West Central UNL Extension Professional Day, West Central Research and Education Center, North Platte, NE
Dec. 25: Christmas Day
Jan. 28: Farmers and Ranchers Partners in Progress - Cow/Calf College, 10:00 am USDA-MARC & GPVEC, Clay Center, NE

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

“Trick or Treat Street” to raise hunger awareness, provide safe Halloween fun

(Hastings, Neb.) – Hastings College’s 2013 Trick or Treat Street will include a costume parade organized with Food 4 Thought, a student organization which provides food-filled backpacks for underserved school children. The costume parade, intended to raise awareness about hunger in the community, will start at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday, October 27 will include a costume parade organized with Food 4 Thought, a student in the Hastings College Circle Drive (800 N. Turner Ave.) Halloween-themed games and activities for kids of all ages and trick-or-treating at the residence halls will continue on campus until 4 p.m.
 This community event is free and open to the public. Food 4 Thought will accept food donations and freewill donations for its backpack program, which currently serves students at all six Hastings Public Schools elementary schools. 
“For this year, Food 4 Thought’s focus is mainly to raise awareness about hunger, which is a huge reason we wanted to work with Trick or Treat Street,” said Jasmine Khamouna, a Hastings College senior who leads Food 4 Thought. “It is a big crowd.”
 Trick or Treat Street is organized by the College’s Public Relations Ambassadors (PRA). According to Hauli Sabatka, Senior Director of Alumni Relations, and PRA advisor, Trick or Treat Street is the College’s largest campus event for school-aged children – the same audience Food 4 Thought serves.
 “It’s a natural fit for PRA and Food 4 Thought to work together on this event,” Sabatka said. “With the awareness element, the community has an even better reason to come to campus and participate in Trick or Treat Street.”
 Sabatka continued: “I’m also excited for this year’s Trick or Treat Street because we have several new games and activities. The college students are creative and enthusiastic about making this fun.”
Founded in 1882, Hastings College is a private, four-year liberal arts institution located in Hastings, Nebraska, that focuses on student academic and extracurricular achievement. With 64 majors in 32 areas of study and 12 pre-professional programs, Hastings College has been named among “America’s Best National Liberal Arts Colleges” by U.S. News & World Report, a “Best in the Midwest” by The Princeton Review and a “Best Buy in College Education” by Barron’s. Visit for more.

Hastings Exchange Organization Offers Unique Opportunity for Travel to Japan.

Hastings, Neb. – Nearly seven years after the last official delegation from Hastings, Neb., traveled to its sister city, Ozu, Japan, the Hastings International Exchange Organization (HIEO) announces a 2014 travel opportunity.
From May 22-June 2, 2014, central Nebraskans of all ages and backgrounds are invited to travel to Ozu with HIEO. Tour participants will stay in the homes of Ozu-area residents; visit local attractions including Kumamoto Castle and the Honda Motorcycle Plant; and meet Japanese teachers, business owners, government officials, artists and farmers.
Anticipated per person costs are $2,500, including roundtrip airfare, hotels in Japan and most meals. Space is limited so reserve your spot with a nonrefundable $100 deposit by Monday, December 16, 2013. For more information, contact Franc E Wagner at or 402.469.7647.
About Ozu, Japan
Located on Kyushu, Japan’s southernmost island, Ozu is acclaimed for its annual azalea festival and its nearby Honda plant. Hastings’ sister city boasts a slightly larger population of nearly 29,000 residents.
Nearby attractions include Mount Aso, a large volcanic caldera; hot springs; gardens; shrines; and farms.
About the Sister City Relationship
Since 1995, when the Cities of Hastings and Ozu signed a sister city agreement, families from the Hastings area have hosted residents from Ozu nearly every summer. Some of our Ozu guests have included businessmen and scholars; most guests have been young students experiencing their first overseas travel and a very different US from what they see and read about.
From these visits, close friendships have formed as host families and guests visit local businesses, schools, churches, the Adams County FairFest and museums.

Hastings College supports Breast Cancaer Awareness

(Hastings, Neb.) – “Stay Strong and Volley On” is the theme for this year’s Pink Night to raise breast cancer awareness. Working community partners including the Adams County YWCA, Breast Care and General Surgery of Hastings and Mary Lanning Healthcare, Hastings College has planned a variety of activities including a 5K run/2 mile walk and raffles during the volleyball game versus Midland University. All proceeds from admissions, donations and raffles from the Wednesday, October 30 event will support local cancer care at Mary Lanning Healthcare’s Morrison Cancer Center in Hastings, Neb.
Activities consist of the following:
Stay Strong and Volley On 5K Run/2 Mile Walk co-sponsored with the YWCA of Adams County
Registration will take place at the Gray Center for Communication Arts (1100 N. Elm Street) at
5 p.m., with the run/walk starting at 5:45 p.m. A free will donation will be taken. Participants making a donation of $10 or more will get free admission to the Hastings College Volleyball game. For additional registration information, contact YWCA at (402) 462-8821.
Stay Strong and Volley On Hastings College Volleyball
At 7:30 p.m., the Hastings College Bronco Volleyball team will play Midland University in Lynn Farrell Arena (800 E. 12th Street). During the game, raffle tickets will be available for great prizes such as a weekend getaway in Lincoln, Neb., and a pink Kitchen-Aid appliance. Tickets will be $1 each or six for $5.
Stay Strong and Volley On t-shirts will be available for $5 ($7 for XXL and larger) starting at 12 p.m. on Wednesday, October 30 at the east concession stand of the Lynn Farrell Arena. 
All admissions, donations and raffle proceeds from these events support local cancer care at the Morrison Cancer Center.
Founded in 1882, Hastings College is a private, four-year liberal arts institution located in Hastings, Nebraska, that focuses on student academic and extracurricular achievement. With 64 majors in 32 areas of study and 12 pre-professional programs, Hastings College has been named among “America’s Best National Liberal Arts Colleges” by U.S. News & World Report, a “Best in the Midwest” by The Princeton Review and a “Best Buy in College Education” by Barron’s. Visit for more.

Monday, October 21, 2013



Washington, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) announced today she has written a letter to the farm bill conferees to bring their attention to significant livestock losses in western Nebraska due to the severe snow storm earlier this month.
In the letter, Fischer highlighted Nebraska’s significant cattle losses to make the case for a speedy reauthorization of the Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP), which will be included in the final farm bill conference report. LIP provides assistance to producers for livestock deaths resulting from disaster.
Citing the substantial economic impact suffered by livestock producers because of the severe weather combined with drought conditions throughout the region in recent years, she writes, “LIP support would provide some modest assistance to Nebraska producers struggling through these difficult economic times for their industry.”
On October 5 and 6, a snow storm reaching blizzard conditions struck the Nebraska counties of Dawes, Sioux, Box Butte and Sheridan.  Nebraska Emergency Management Officials estimate cattle deaths resulting from the storm number 3,000-5,000 within western Nebraska counties.
Full text of the letter is included below:
October 17, 2013              
Dear Chairwoman Stabenow, Chairman Lucas, Senator Cochran and Congressman Peterson:
I am writing to make you aware of a significant natural disaster that occurred in western Nebraska in early October 2013, which unfortunately killed thousands of cattle and sheep.  As you move forward with the 2013 farm bill conference deliberations, I request that you consider the livestock losses impacting the lives and operations of many Nebraska producers.  Specifically, I ask that you ensure that coverage of these livestock losses is included as part of the Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP) within the farm bill conference report. 
On October 5 and 6, 2013, a snow storm reaching blizzard conditions struck the Nebraska counties of Dawes, Sioux, Box Butte and Sheridan.  Unfortunately, several key factors combined to dramatically escalate the death of livestock, including the lack of physical cover and protection from winter elements, cold wind and freezing rain which preceded the blizzard conditions, and the inability of the animals to naturally protect themselves from the sudden cold weather due to a lack of winter coat and hide conditioning.
Nebraska Emergency Management Officials estimate cattle deaths numbering 3,000-5,000 within western Nebraska counties.  The Nebraska Emergency Management Agency, Nebraska Department of Agriculture, and Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality are currently compiling and coordinating the damage assessment reports necessary to support a U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretarial disaster declaration for western Nebraska.
Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman issued an Emergency Declaration for this region on October 7, 2013, stemming from damage incurred during winter storm and blizzard conditions on October 5 and 6, 2013.
The economic impact suffered by Nebraska livestock producers in the affected area is significant.  In addition, this region of Nebraska has endured drought and near drought conditions in recent years, with the 2012 drought causing substantial economic loss for the livestock industry.  LIP support would provide some modest assistance to Nebraska producers struggling through these difficult economic times for their industry.
Thank you for your attention to this matter and for any assistance you may be able to provide in securing relief for 2013 Nebraska livestock losses as part of the Livestock Indemnity Program within the 2013 farm bill conference report.
cc:  U.S. Senate and U.S. House Farm Bill Conference Committee

Friday, October 18, 2013


Duane A. Lienemann
UNL Extension Educator

     Along with the dust from harvesting beans and dry-land corn exhibiting head smut, there is a feel in the air that I would describe as crisp. That’s right we have either already or well soon experience the end of the growing season with a frost. In driving across the country I have noticed that there have been some cover crops and in many cases some sorghum grasses planted to help out with the hay and winter feed situation with the lack of such brought on by the drought of this past two years.  When I scraped the soft ice off my pick-up a couple of days ago it made me think of several years ago when I got a call from a producer who had lost a couple of cows and we determined that it was likely Prussic Acid poisoning. The conditions were very similar so I opted this week to take another look at this potential problem.
     Prussic acid was discovered in the early 1900s when animal scientists noticed that under certain conditions sorghums are capable of releasing hydrocyanic acid (HCN) or commonly called prussic acid.  Prussic acid when ingested by cattle, is quickly absorbed into the blood stream, and blocks the animal's cells from utilizing oxygen.  Thus the animal dies from asphyxiation at the cellular level.  Animals affected by prussic acid poisoning exhibit a characteristic bright red blood just prior to and during death. 
     Lush young re-growth of sorghum plants is prone to accumulate prussic acid especially when the plants are stressed such as drought or freeze damage. Of course I don’t have to tell you that both of those conditions exist. What we have been experiencing over this past 3-4 is what I would call light frosts. These light frosts that stress the plant but do not kill it, are often associated with prussic acid poisonings.  Producers should avoid grazing fields with sorghum type plants following a light frost. That would include freshly cut milo fields and those fields with sorghum grass-type forage. The risk of prussic acid poisoning will be reduced, if grazing is delayed until at least one week after a "killing freeze".  
     Just how do we depict a killing freeze? Many plants are sensitive to freezing conditions, and will stop their production once temperatures reach or fall below 32 degrees. A freeze will occur when temperatures reach or fall below 32 degrees. While some plants are able to with stand a brief period at or just below 32 degrees, most plants will not survive once temperatures drop to or below 28 degrees for two consecutive hours, or more (often refer to as a killing freeze). 
     As the plants die and the cell walls rupture, the hydrocyanic acid (HCN) is released as a gas, and the amount is greatly reduced in the plants.  One can never be absolutely certain that a field of sorghum is 100% safe to graze.  Sun-curing of hay will reduce HCN, especially if the hay is crimped.  The complex that binds the HCN is hydrolyzed and the HCN evaporates in gaseous form. An easy way to understand the volatility of this gas – just think of cyanide, which it really is. Hydrogen cyanide has been discussed by scientists as a precursor to amino acids and nucleic acids. HCN is proposed to have played a part in the origin of life, so it should not surprise us that it would be present in plants.
     How can we utilize these feeds and reduce our fear of prussic acid? Let’s consider a few things. Cattle that must be grazed on sorghum pastures during this time of year should be fed another type of hay before turning in on the field, and should be watched closely for the first few hours after turn in.  If signs of labored breathing, such as would be found in asphyxiation, are noted, cattle should be removed immediately.  Call your local veterinarian for immediate help for those animals that are affected. 
     Grazing or feeding green sorghums, sudangrasses and sorghum-sudangrass crosses to cattle can be a bit worrisome because of the threat of prussic acid poisoning. This risk is most evident when the plant is at a young, dark green growth or regrowth (less than 18 to 24 inches) and the danger increases just after a frost. However, they can be safely grazed a few weeks after freezing if there is no substantial regrowth. Usually regular sudangrass contains the least amount of prussic acid, while sorghum-sundangrass is more acidic and sorghum has the most risk of poisoning, so it follows reason that if you can, it may be best to mix sorghum or sorghum-sudangrass with other feeds to reduce the danger of prussic acid poisoning. There are some other management practices that you can do should you have feed that needs to be put up. 
     I would consider putting it up as silage. Sorghum and sorghum-sudangrass silage is generally safe for feeding. Although it may have contained toxic levels of prussic acid when harvested, while in storage much of the poison escapes as a gas during fermentation and when being fed. However, as a precaution, do not feed new silage for at least three weeks after harvesting and storing. Another method would be to simply put it up as hay. The prussic acid content of sorghum and sorghum-sudangrass hay decreases as much as 75 percent while curing and is rarely hazardous when fed to livestock. Hay stored for two or more months gradually losses all its cyanide potential.
     I know that most people are considering grazing these fields and that is possible. However, do not graze sorghum or sorghum-sudangrass hybrids following a series of light frosts, as the potential for poisoning increases for a period of time after frosts.  The old rule of thumb is to allow seven to 10 days after a light frost before grazing. I definitely suggest that you don’t graze sorghum or sorghum-sudangrass hybrids following a killing frost until the plant has dried, approximately seven days. Probably the most important thing to do if grazing is to not graze hungry livestock on sorghum or sorghum-sudangrass hybrids. Poisoning potential increases with the amount of high-risk forage consumed. Just play it safe!

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, October 17, 2013

Lyle D. Grabast

Lyle D. Grabast, 78, of Blue Hill, Nebraska, died Tuesday, October 15, 2013, at the Nebraska Heart Institute in Lincoln, Nebraska.
 Services will be Saturday, October 19, 2013, at 10 a.m. at the Merten-Butler Mortuary Chapel in Blue Hill, Nebraska with Pastor Dan Albers officiating.
 Burial will be at the Inland Cemetery in Inland, Nebraska. Visitation will be one hour prior to services. Memorials can be directed to the family.
Lyle Grabast was born July 28, 1935

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

U.S. Supreme Court Agrees to Hear States’ Challenge to Greenhouse Gas Regulations

EPA Regulations will Cost Nebraska Jobs, Hurt Economy
  LINCOLN – Attorney General Jon Bruning today issued the following statement after the U.S. Supreme Court announced it will hear the states’ challenge to the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) greenhouse gas regulations:   “It’s time to stop the EPA’s runaway regulations,” said Bruning. “The federal agency has consistently overreached its authority by imposing costly regulations that stifle growth and negatively impact Nebraska’s economy. We are pleased the High Court has agreed to hear the states’ case defending state sovereignty and common sense regulations.”   Nebraska led the group of states that intervened in lawsuits brought by Texas, Alabama and Virginia challenging the EPA’s endangerment finding in March of 2010.   The Supreme Court consolidated the states’ case with industry petitioners and has limited oral arguments for all parties to one hour. The Court limited review to the following question: “Whether EPA permissibly determined that its regulation of greenhouse gas emissions from new motor vehicles triggered permitting requirements under the Clean Air Act for stationary sources that emit greenhouse gases.”   A link to the Court’s orders:

Friday, October 11, 2013

Blue Hill 39 Centura 0

The Blue Hill Bobcats football team brought their record to 5 - 1 for the year with a shut out against the Centura (Cairo)  team,  39 to 0,  Friday evening on the Blue Hill field.    Their only loss was early in the season to the Doniphan-Trumbull team.  Next Friday the Bobcats will face Superior on the Blue Hill field.  The Superior team has not won a game this season. 

Smith Votes to Send Farm Bill to Conference Committee


Congressman Adrian Smith (R-NE) issued the following statement today after voting in favor of a resolution to send the Farm Bill to a conference committee with the Senate:
“Progress on a new Farm Bill has been uneven and at times frustrating, but today’s vote is another step toward providing long term certainty for producers and consumers.  Hopefully the conference committee works quickly to negotiate a final product which can pass both the House and the Senate.  I appreciate the patience of Nebraska’s agriculture producers and their feedback as we continue working to get this priority done.”


Duane A. Lienemann
UNL Extension Educator

     I would imagine that most of you have likely been close to a dairy, beef feedlot or swine confinement area and have taken a good whiff - with varying results. I imagine that most people have their own take on it, but most everyone in the industry will say-- “that’s the smell of money.” Of course there are retorts to that, but I think everyone, at least in my neck of the woods, has heard that more than once, regardless if there was any money made or not with either the dairy, feedlot or hog confinement system.  What is interesting to me is that in the future--- it surely might be smell of money, even above what the source of that odor is doing as fertilizer for our fertilizer for our fields, as well as becoming a source of energy with the advent of methane digesters. Millions of pounds of raw manure are put out each year in dairy farms, feedlots and beef and hog confinement systems all across our nation. What has in the past, is now, and will likely still be in the future a problem for livestock producers – manure may have a very good side. How is that possible?
     Plastic From Manure? Well it seems that Erik Coats, Assoc. Professor of civil engineering at the University of Idaho, and his research group have developed a way to generate a significant economic return from the beef and dairy industry’s waste stream by converting manure into a biodegradable plastic. Their process uses the unique capabilities of naturally occurring bacteria to ferment manure and then convert the fermentation products to a plastic. Now we are talking!
     The process, which results in the compound “polyhydroxyalkanoate”, or PHA, is simpler than it sounds. The various bacterial strains that they use are actually ordinary microbes that can be found in the soil. Right now, Coats and his research team gets their biomass in bulk from wastewater treatment plants. This research team ferments manure in tanks that creates a slurry of organic acids, which is described to be similar to vinegar, that is then fed to bacteria. The organisms feast on the fermented slurry, bonding carbon molecules inside their cells in the process.
     I am a living example that if we eat too much food on a regular basis, our bodies store the extra as fat. Not really any good for me or anything else for that matter, other than perhaps helping to keep a person warm in the winter. This new process utilizes this smorgasbord in similar fashion, but based on the amazing fact that if we feed bacteria too much, they store the extra inside their cells as carbon polymers, the basis of plastic. Seems pretty simple and it is. After the millions of bacteria bulk up on the fermented slurry, those bacteria are then killed with chlorine. The dried biomass results in “a semi-crystallized, natural, biological, biodegradable plastic. The process is neither labor-intensive nor overly technical. For example on a typical dairy, two people could run the operation and monitor dissolved-oxygen levels and temperature and a secondary income could result for that dairy farm.  The same would go I think for other livestock confinement systems.
     The results are good news for environmentalists, carbon sequestration alarmists and land-fills in that the end product is a biodegradable plastic with the caveat that carbon is also captured. Of course there are many uses for biodegradable plastics today. We’re talking about single-use plastic that we throw away each day, like planting pots for the nursery industry, plastic bottles, garbage bags and packing materials, for instance. There is also a good chance that much of this “bio-renewable” plastic won’t ever hit the landfill. Instead on garbage day, it can be put in a recycling station — feed it to the bacteria again and make more plastic. I do think however that the marketing of this plastic could be interesting. Perhaps the very thought of what that plastic used to be would be a little much for some people that I know.
     Right now the research is being done with a mobile laboratory set in a covered cargo trailer.  The research team can process 10 gallons of wet manure each day, producing two to five pounds of plastic. With PHA selling at a premium, significant economic return could be generated from dairy manure. The concept could easily be used in other industries and perhaps beyond the livestock industry. I understand that they will be moving the research out to a large, full-time dairy in 2014. The technology could be implemented full scale in a few years. It simply amazes me how American ingenuity and our University research can make even a waste like manure into gold if we give them a chance.  This is an example of why we in the ag industry need to back the work done by our land grant colleges, research divisions and extension programs.
     Rangeland Drought Insurance: With the reality of a second year of drought hitting our hay and pasturelands I think it is good that producers take a look at a potential management tool. The USDA Risk Management Agency is once again offering the Pasture Rangeland Forage (PRF) Insurance program for the 2014 crop year to include Nebraska in a Rainfall Index (RI) area. This last year, 2013, was the first year that Nebraska was part of Rainfall Index program. The Rainfall Index model is based on weather data (precipitation) collected and maintained by the NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center. 
     The index reflects how much precipitation is received relative to the long-term average for a specified grid area during a given two-month time frame. Producers can insure their land for either grazing or for haying. For land that is insured for haying, forage production must come from perennial forages such as grass or alfalfa. Annual forages are not eligible under this program. Producers using this insurance will need to choose the time periods throughout the year for which they wish to get insurance. If you are interested I suggest obtaining the UNL Extension “NebGuide G2217” which can be found at your local UNL Extension office or on the web and watch an archived webinar  or try the on-line PRF decision tool which can be found at  I suggest – pray for rain!

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: 

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Johanns Statement on Nomination of Janet Yellen

U.S. Sen. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.), a member of the Senate Banking Committee, today issued the following statement on the nomination of Janet Yellen to serve as the next chair of the Federal Reserve:

“Our economy is in a different place than it was in 2010 when Ms. Yellen was confirmed as Vice Chair of the Federal Reserve. While her resume is notable, the Banking Committee has a duty to hold a thorough hearing on her nomination for this important position. I will pay careful attention to Ms. Yellen’s views on what role she believes the Fed should play as we continue working to strengthen our economy.”

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Johanns Statement on Severe Weather Damage in Nebraska


WASHINGTON —U.S. Sen. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.), today issued the following statement on the impact of last week’s severe weather in Nebraska:
“My thoughts and prayers continue to be with those affected by last week’s severe weather in Nebraska, from those working to clean up tornado damage in the Northeast to Panhandle producers experiencing significant cattle loss from an early snowstorm,” Johanns said. “Though Nebraskans are not strangers to adverse weather conditions, no amount of preparation can fully protect people and property when mother nature strikes. But as with any disaster, I’m confident in our ability to bounce back stronger than ever.
“I’m also concerned about reports of significant cattle loss among ranchers. Although important livestock programs expired last week, I’m hopeful they’ll be restored through the farm bill and I encourage producers who experienced cattle loss to maintain good record and document their losses. Both the Senate and House-passed farm bills authorize these critical programs, which is yet another reason it’s important to move swiftly to finalize a bill in conference and get it to the President for signature.”
The Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP) and other livestock programs are designed to help producers manage risk and shield them from the effects of significant loss. Both the Senate and House-passed versions of the farm bill include provisions to reauthorize and fund these programs. Last week, the Senate named farm bill conferees tasked with working with House conferees in merging the two bills into one piece of legislation. It must then be passed by both chambers and signed by the President.

Calls for Negotiations

Congressman Adrian Smith (R-NE) issued the following statement regarding the government shutdown and President Obama’s remarks today:
“More than a week after the government shutdown began, President Obama and Senator Reid still refuse to negotiate with Republicans.  Finding a solution will not be easy, but it will be impossible as long as only one side is willing to talk.”
In the absence of an agreement on a full Continuing Resolution, the House has passed several bills which would fund and reopen government priorities including:
  • pediatric cancer research,
  • veterans benefits,
  • the National Guard and Army Reserve,
  • disaster relief,
  • backpay for furloughed federal employees,
  • food inspections,
  • nutrition assistance for low income women and children,
  • headstart programs, and
  • national parks, memorials, and monuments.
These bills were passed with both Republican and Democrat votes in the House, and have not been considered by the U.S. Senate.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Gov. Heineman Issues Emergency Declaration


Lt. Gov. Heidemann & NEMA to Tour Severe Storm Damage
(Lincoln, Neb.) Gov. Dave Heineman today announced that Lt. Gov. Heidemann and Nebraska Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) Assistant Director Al Berndt will be traveling to the state’s panhandle region tomorrow, Oct. 8, to continue work with local officials on recovery issues.
“The damaged suffered in our communities as a result of the severe winter storm and tornadoes is extensive,” said Gov. Dave Heineman. “I have asked the Lt. Governor to be on the ground in the Chadron area to see damage first-hand. Nebraska Emergency Management Agency and other state agencies are working diligently to assess the situation and support local efforts. My thoughts are with the Nebraska families affected by the severe storms we have recently experienced throughout the state.”
The Lt. Governor and Berndt will be touring areas affected by the severe winter storm that hit the area this past weekend. The Lt. Governor and Berndt will start the morning in Chadron to meet with local officials.  Further details of the day and the tour are being finalized.
Throughout the weekend, the state’s Emergency Operations Center has been operational and closely coordinating with local emergency responders. Specifically, NEMA has been in close contact with the Region 23 Emergency Manager, Nan Gould. Region 23 encompasses Sioux, Dawes, Box Butte and Sheridan Counties.
According to Gould, local emergency workers are instituting clean-up of heavy debris caused by downed trees and power lines. Preliminary assessment shows heavy tree damage along the Highway 20 corridor from Rushville to Harrison, especially in the communities of Chadron and Crawford.
Additionally, there are initial reports throughout the area from local ranchers of heavy cattle loss due to the freezing conditions of the severe storm. There are no confirmed numbers on cattle loss at this point. The Nebraska Department of Agriculture and the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality are working with NEMA on this situation. The Department of Agriculture is asking Nebraska producers who suffered livestock losses to keep detailed records of those losses as they begin to assess the damage from the weekend.
Gov. Heineman has issued an emergency declaration that encompasses the tornadoes and severe storms that have caused broad damage throughout the state. Gov. Heineman toured the tornado damage in Wayne this past weekend.

One Step Closer to a New Farm Bill

Weekly Column
Despite a government shutdown and ongoing partisan gridlock, a glimmer of good news emerged in Washington for America’s farmers and ranchers last week. The Senate appointed members to work with the House of Representatives in sorting out differences in the two chambers’ versions of legislation to update farm policy. As you know, the current farm bill expired at the first of the month. While the majority of farmers and consumers will not feel an immediate impact, time is running short.
The House and Senate both passed different farm bills earlier this year, and those differences have to be worked out before anything is signed into law by the President.  The first step in working through our differences is coming together in a conference committee—something that hasn’t been done on the farm bill since 2007, when a long-term bill was last passed. Some of these differences are significant, but they are certainly solvable, and I am optimistic that an agreement can be reached for our ag producers.
As Congress works to sort out our federal budget, it is clear that fiscal responsibility must be at the heart of any legislation before Congress and the programs they affect. Just as farmers and ranchers are taking on the task of feeding a growing population with fewer resources, lawmakers must find a way to serve the American people in the face of a sluggish economy. The House bill saves $52 billion, and the Senate bill saves $18 billion. Thus, any final bill ought to save taxpayer dollars and contribute to deficit reduction. An efficient, market-oriented farm bill should be the goal.
One of the key differences that must be worked out in committee includes funding levels for some of the bill’s nutrition programs. We must carefully work to ensure limited resources are targeted to help those truly in need. During the Senate’s debate on its farm bill, I proposed an amendment to prevent valuable Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) dollars from going to those who don’t need the assistance. Currently, a loophole exists that allows states to automatically enroll folks in SNAP based on their eligibility for other state or federal programs even though those programs use different eligibility criteria. As a result, SNAP benefits may be available to individuals who don’t actually qualify to receive them, diverting attention from families who really do. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that only providing SNAP benefits to those families who qualify under the program’s rules would save $11.6 billion over the next ten years, freeing up needed resources.
My amendment didn’t pass, but a similar provision was included in the House-passed nutrition bill. I believe it is something worthy of consideration as the House and Senate work to square their separate versions of the farm bill’s nutrition titles.
Without passage of a new farm bill, no reforms will be made to the SNAP program and the return of outdated 1949 farm policy would cause a spike in prices for essential products such as milk at the start of next year and other crops within subsequent months. The full range of fallout is something I am confident lawmakers on both sides of the aisle want to avoid. So it is important that Congress takes this opportunity to work together for a fiscally responsible, market-based farm bill as soon as possible.
I’m confident that we will soon be able to proceed with the necessary work to bring these two proposals together.  I will continue to push for progress on a new long-term farm bill before the end of the year.  I truly believe it is in the best interest of ag producers and consumers, and I look forward to Congressional action on this needed update to our ag policy.