Saturday, January 31, 2015


Duane A. Lienemann
UNL Extension Educator
     Last week I talked about Chipotle Restaurant who in a marketing ploy said that there was a pork shortage and that they would not have pork toppings on their “carnitas”. Another restaurant go some notoriety this week with one of those commercials you probably won’t get to see this weekend during the Super Bowl, although it was supposedly created for that purpose. I think we will look at another fast food restaurant called “Carls Jr.” this week.  I can’t say I have ever ate there or for that matter, don’t even know where one is located, but I did find this a rather interesting marketing ploy and I don’t take near as much offense to it, even though I am sure there will be some that do! Let’s take a look at what they did.
     Burger chain Carl's Jr. released last week with something that is called NSFW (Not Safe for Work) Super Bowl advertisement, featuring a model who is expressing her preference for all things "all-natural." While it won't air in most of the country, you can catch it on YouTube at v=4WTA_8waxTo&x-yt-cl=84503534&x-yt-ts=1421914688. The fast-food restaurant depicts her parading through a farmers' market, daring entrepreneurs that sell rear end shaped apples, to walk away from their stands and take a bite out of life. The descriptor of the video pretty much sums it up: “Charlotte McKinney loves going All-Natural, especially when it comes to her Carl's Jr. burger. Introducing fast food's first All-Natural Burger with grass-fed, free-range beef that has no added hormones, steroids, or antibiotics.”
     I really can’t argue with their advertising acumen. Carl's Jr. does have a tweet that demonstrates their motto - #eatlikeyoumeanit. I guess this takes another step towards that theme. As I mentioned earlier, Carl's Jr. has gone the risque route before, but hasn't really backed down from the backlash that the commercials are objectifying and perhaps a little sexist. In today’s world I guess we shouldn’t be surprised. When it comes down to it, this kind of stuff sells and if nothing else, if it doesn’t make the Super Bowl Commercials list, they certainly will get more clicks on YouTube and more attention on social media. So it's a win-win for them, and I don't think they care one way or the other what feminists or politically correct people think about these ads. It is after all about attention and sales, but different approach than Chipotle.   
     I will have to admit that after watching the video, it took me a while to notice that the whole pitch was not only to sell hamburgers, but to show the world that they have a hamburger on their menu that has been raised from beef that is all-natural, grass-fed, free-range with no added hormones, steroids or antibiotics! It does go to show us though that there is a place with consumers for this niche market and gives us pause to think about the effect of what the consumer wants, or at the very least think that they want. There is room for all kinds of beef producers and quite honestly this is pretty clever!
     Speaking of what a consumer “thinks they want”, I find it interesting that what I predicted about what the results of the HSUS backed Proposition 2 in California would be. It is coming to fruition. That law was passed by voters in 2008 and now is fully in affect. For you that don’t remember, it was the law that passed concerning how farmers could raise and house chickens. The basis of the law is that it required the state’s poultry farmers to house their hens in significantly larger cages which was prohibitive to many because of the cost. California’s cage law is part of the nationwide animal-rights misguided effort to raise the costs of animal food production in the name of more, well, humane treatment.
     Many farmers have hung it up instead of complying, and those that did have had to raise their prices. The California legislature, in all their combined wisdom realized this would put home-state farmers at a disadvantage, so in 2010 it compounded the problem by requiring that eggs imported from other states come from farms meeting the same cage standards, effective Jan. 1, 2015. Did they even think of “double jeopardy?” That is the trouble with knee jerk reactions.
      Government statistics show that the number of egg-laying chickens in California has fallen 23% in two years. Many farmers outside the state are choosing not to sell eggs to California, leaving egg brokers scouring the country for cage-compliant eggs and paying top dollar to meet demand in a state that has imported more than four billion eggs a year. If you understand the basic law of supply and demand, you know what the result have been, less eggs – higher prices. 
     California has a way of living up to the worst regulatory expectations, as grocery shoppers across the country are discovering. The state’s latest animal-rights march is levying a punishing new food tax on the nation’s poor. Egg prices are soaring in California, where the USDA says the average price for a dozen eggs is over $3.00, up from a little more than a $1.00/dozen a year ago. In some parts of the state it’s more than $5 per carton. All I can say is “I told you so!” What is the old adage? “When you make a nest, you must live in it!” I wonder what all the people who depended on low-priced eggs as a protein source for the families are liking their nests now? I wonder how long before we see the same result with hogs?
     Unfortunately, this comes when egg demand is growing, in part because soaring meat prices have caused Americans to turn to other foods. Per capita consumption is expected to reach more than 260 eggs this year, the highest since 1983, according to the USDA. The poorest consumers have been hit hardest by the price spike because eggs have traditionally been a cheap source of protein. The attorneys general from several states, including Nebraska and Alabama, are suing California in federal court, but this will take time. If Californians want to pay a premium for local free-range chicken eggs, they have that right. But in my opinion, they shouldn’t be able to raise food costs for millions of families in an attempt to protect the state’s economy from their own stupid and destructive laws. But then, I guess that is politics!!!

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, January 29, 2015

Gov. Ricketts Announces the 27th Annual Governor’s Ag Conference

Lincoln – Gov. Pete Ricketts  announced the schedule for his inaugural Governor’s Ag Conference.  The 2015 event will be held Wednesday and Thursday, March 4th-5th at the Holiday Inn and Convention Center in Kearney.  This year will mark the 27th anniversary of the conference.
“I am excited to shine a spotlight on agriculture and the issues facing our state’s top industry because agriculture’s ongoing success is important to all of Nebraska,” said Gov. Ricketts.
Topics to be covered include international trade, expansion of value-added agriculture, farm transitions to the next generation, and federal regulatory and policy issues impacting Nebraska farms and ranches.
The conference begins at 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 4th, with a panel who will discuss the importance of planning the transition of a farm operation from one generation to the next. 
The conference will resume at 9:00 a.m. on Thursday, March 5th.  Speakers include: Mr. Jim Wiesemeyer,  a Washington, DC-based policy expert with Informa Economics; Mike Dwyer, with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Foreign Agricultural Services (FAS) Global Policy Analysis Division; and John Heck, the senior vice president of The Scoular Company and Randy Thelen, the senior vice president of economic development for the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce.
Wiesemeyer will cover federal policy issues impacting agriculture, while Dwyer will give an overview of emerging markets for Nebraska exports.
Heck and Thelen will discuss a recent effort by the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce to study ways to build value-added agriculture opportunities in Omaha.
“The Chamber has taken a serious look at this issue and developed a strategic plan to implement the findings of the value-added study,” Gov. Ricketts said. “They recognize that such growth helps all of Nebraska be successful, and I am excited they have chosen the Ag Conference to introduce this plan to the public.”
“It is an exciting time to be involved in the agriculture industry,” said Nebraska Department of Agriculture Director Greg Ibach.  “The conference is a great way to come together as an industry and gain insight into what we might expect in the future and the challenges we will have to meet along the way.” 
Other activities will include the “Celebrate Nebraska Agriculture” reception. The reception begins at 6:00 p.m. March 4, featuring a wide variety of Nebraska food products, and entertainment by Jolene Brown.
Anyone interested in agriculture issues is invited to attend. A $100 registration fee covers participation at activities on both Wednesday and Thursday. Registration and additional information is available online at, or by calling NDA toll-free at (800) 831-0550.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Richard "Ricky" Wayne Whitten May 25, 1961 January 25, 2015

Richard “Ricky” Wayne Whitten, 53 of Bladen, Nebraska was born to Glenn & Bonnie (Ledbetter) Whitten. Rick was born on May 25, 1961 in Fort Worth, Texas and passed away at his home on January 25, 2015. He spent his childhood in the Lebanon, Missouri area before moving to Fairfield, Nebraska where he attended school. In 1978 he met his lifelong partner DaVee Garman and in 1983 they welcomed their son, Michael Wayne. After the birth of their son they lived in the Harvard area for many years before settling in Bladen, Nebraska.
Rick worked at many jobs but his favorite job was truck driving. Through trucking he has made many lifelong friendships and became a well-known member of the trucking community. Rick traveled many places in a truck but his favorite trips were with DaVee.  He grew up very close with his parents Glenn and Bonnie. Together they enjoyed many hunting and fishing trips. He never said no to an easy run down the river in Glenn’s little boat. Rick had three brothers, it was always an interesting time when they were all together. The boys loved to laugh and they loved to fight. They were a rough and tumble bunch who always loved each other.
Rick also enjoyed working with his hands and teaching his son to wrench. On many occasions Rick could be found shining up the Chrysler or fixing that strange noise under the hood of his daughter-in-law's car.  Rick loved spending time with his granddaughters even if that meant letting them paint his nails or chasing down the ice cream truck. It was not uncommon to see Rick on the front step watching his granddaughters play or yelling at the cars that ran the stop sign in front of his house.  Rick was a loyal man who loved his family and loved to get a rise out of people. He was always willing to lend a hand when his friends and family needed him and will be greatly missed.
Left to cherish his memory are his partner of 36 years DaVee Garman, son Michael and wife Stacy, 3 granddaughters Isabella, Olivia, and Adalyn, all of Bladen, Nebraska; his mother Bonnie Whitten of Lebanon, Missouri; a brother Jerry Jones and wife Sandra of Glidden, Iowa and other relatives and many friends.
He is preceded in death by his father Glenn Whitten and his brothers Jim Whitten and Danny Jones.
Memorial services will be held Saturday, 2:00 p.m., February 7, 2015 at the United Methodist Church in Bladen with the Rev. Dan Albers officiating.
A memorial fund has been established by the family in lieu of flowers.

Marion Leroy Duval October 22, 1917 to November 18 2014

Marion Leroy Duval was born October 22, 1917 in a farmhouse 6 1/2 miles south of Bladen, the oldest of eight children born to Earl and Sarah (Hansen) Duval.  He lived 90 of his  97 years in the Bladen community.  Marion died November 18, 2014  in Peoria, Arizona at Amethyst Assisted Living.
Memorial services were 2:00 p.m., Saturday, January 31, 2015 at the United Methodist Church in Bladen with the Rev. Dan Albers officiating.
He graduated from Bladen High School in May of 1934 and married Ina June Potts on November 12, 1940 in Goldendale, Washington.
Marion farmed, worked at the Hastings Ammunitions Depot, owned and operated a livestock semi, owned and ran a gas station, drove a milk truck and ran a feed mill until he retired in Bladen to garden.  In 2011,  Marion and June moved to Amethyst Assisted Living in Peoria, Arizona.
Marion was preceded in death by his parents, his in-laws, brothers, Ken and Earl(Bud) and sisters, Opal Offner and Marjorie Skrdlant and several sister-in-laws and brother-in-laws.
Survivors include his wife, June of Peoria, Arizona, daughters and spouses, Mardelle (Gerald) Grandstaff, Bladen, Evelyn (Ken) Larrick, Bladen and Sun City, Arizona, Marilyn Duval, Glendale, Arizona; 9 grandchildren and spouses,  Cris Larrick Holcomb, Kansas, Stacey (Robert) Hesman Woodbine, Iowa, Brent (Michelle) Falgione, Lincoln, Sarah (Todd) Joyce, Louisville, Janelle (Chris) Wormuth, Blair, Matthew (Jenni) Falgione Phoenix, Arizona,  Amy Larrick (Raul Chavez-Valdez) Baltimore, Maryland, Justin (Sue) Grandstaff, St Paul, Minnesota, Jennifer (Dennis) Sykora, Deweese;  14 great-grandchildren,  Samantha and Ashlee Larrick, Kaitlin and Andrew Bierhaus, Michaella, Beau and Marcus Hesman, Devon and Zachary Wormuth, Michael Grandstaff, Olivia and Lincoln Falgione, and Brianna and Anthony Falgione;  brother, Clair Duval, Hastings; sisters and spouse, Bonnie (Kenny) Lovejoy, Red Cloud; Hazel Henne, Bridgeport; sisters-in-law; Edith Hendrickson, Hastings, Carolyn Cornett, Friendswood, Texas, Pearl Duval, Holdrege; many nieces, nephews, other relatives and friends.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Fischer Announces Commerce Subcommittee Hearing on Surface Transportation Network

Three Nebraska-Based Companies Represented as Witnesses

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) will convene the Subcommittee on Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine Infrastructure, Safety, and Security on Thursday, January 29, 2015, at 10:00 a.m. for its first hearing of the 114th Congress entitled, “Improving the Performance of our Transportation Networks: Stakeholder Perspectives.”
The hearing will feature testimony on: the importance of a reliable and efficient surface transportation network; challenges relating to efficiency, safety, and overall performance; and the role of federal agencies. Details on the hearing are provided below:
Subcommittee on Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine Infrastructure, Safety, and Security hearing entitled: “Improving the Performance of our Transportation Networks: Stakeholder Perspectives.”

Thursday, January 29, 2015
10:00 a.m. in room SR-253 
Mr. Jim Mullen
Executive Vice President and General Counsel, Werner Enterprises
 Mr. Lance Fritz
President and Chief Operating Officer, Union Pacific Railroad
 Mr. Douglas Means
Executive Vice President and Chief Supply Chain Officer, Cabela’s
 The Honorable Ed Rendell
Co-Chair, Building America’s Future

Saturday, January 24, 2015


Duane A. Lienemann
UNL Extension Educator
     This last week was interesting with news considering fast food restaurants and I was going to write my thoughts on a couple of them, but I felt the information on the Farm Bill was more pressing. I put it on the back burner and today seems like a great time to visit this topic.  Let’s start with Chipotle’s little ruse first. If you didn’t see the headlines, Chipotle Restaurant made the news by saying that there was a pork shortage and that they would not have pork toppings on their “carnitas” last week, but it was allegedly after discovering that one of its pork suppliers wasn’t meeting its standards for responsibly raised meat. Sensationalism at its finest. The company demands that its suppliers raise pigs in “humane conditions with access to the outdoors, rather than in cramped pens.” So, because the supplier violated the pig housing agreement, Chipotle will not purchase their pork, which is resulting in a “pork shortage” in over 1700 locations in the U.S. 
     The announcement also should remind us why Chipotle fans are drawn to the chain in the first place. The burrito chain’s popularity has skyrocketed in recent years, in part because it sells itself as a “fast food restaurant with a conscience” -- hawking humanely and sustainably raised meat and beans. I would imagine that you can see why we in agriculture need to be cognizant of this thrust and the effect that salesmanship like this can have on how we have traditionally raised our livestock. It particularly points out that we need to tell our story, and educate consumers about what we do and how we do it – including why pork producers use the methods they do. I personally challenge the “conscience” part of their statement, as they really in my mind do not have a conscience when it comes to America’s farmers and ranchers.
     Chipotle has been a poke in the eye for American farmers for the past 3 years.  As part of its food culture marketing campaign, Chipotle has in this time engaged in egregious name calling, fear mongering, fact distorting, and outright slander against the American farmer. All this was in an effort to convince customers that its food was better, safer, and more sustainable than what customers could get down the street. Let’s not forget the fact that Chipotle is importing grass-fed beef from Australia, let alone denigrating the family farmer as “factory farms”. A talking point they constantly use that just makes my blood boil. Farm groups have tried to communicate, educate, and even placate Chipotle, but to no avail. They have no conscience when it comes to the very people that produce the ingredients that they serve. 
     The news that the supposedly “hottest” fast food chain in the country was out of one of its few menu items made headlines, with carnitas fans taking to Facebook and Twitter to ask when the protein would be coming back. Mission accomplished—they made the news and Chipotle was the focus on social media and once again on the back of American Farmers. Myths, lies, sensationalism and throwing farmers under the bus. Does anyone else get tired of their antics? 
     Let’s get back to the “demands” of Chipotle. What are their basic demands for their pork suppliers? There are two technologies that Chipotle does not allow for pork: farrowing crates and in-door housing. That’s right, two major things that many farmers cannot imagine giving up. Anyone that raises or has raised pigs have trouble understanding that philosophy. I believe that they don’t have a clue about some of the things that we in agriculture know, but obviously most consumers and groups like HSUS do not. That is another reason we have to do a better job of agricultural advocacy and literacy.
     First of all, housing animals outside does not equate to better pork. Genetics, nutrition, health care and management do. The winter weather is downright cruel to pigs. Think about frozen water, frostbitten ears, broken legs (from slipping on ice and snow), and sick pigs from pneumonia, are just a few of the difficulties from housing pigs outdoors in the winter. How many of you have seen pigs in the extreme heat of summer? Most people do not realize that pigs do not sweat and can only cool off through their nose, and summer in the sun can be fatal to them. Pigs also sunburn easily without protection. 
     I just can’t imagine not using farrowing crates if I were to farrow out sows. They protect the sows from other sows, but most importantly the pigs from the sows themselves. For you that don’t know, farrowing crates are small pens, measuring about 6 feet by 2-3 feet, where mother pigs, or sows, are confined for a period that is used just before farrowing, or giving birth. The sows stay in the crates while their piglets are nursing. The purpose of farrowing crates is to protect the baby pigs. The crates keep sows from laying and/or stepping on the piglets. I think it much more humane than carrying out loads of dead baby pigs that are not old enough to understand the danger around them at this critical juncture in their lives.
     How about slatted floors, which meanwhile, are a basic feature of most standard hog houses. They allow farmers to raise pigs indoors, out of the weather, and keep them safe, happy and clean. Manure drops down through the slats into collection pits. Critics say it is unnatural and inhumane to keep pigs inside on a hard, bare surface. How does the hard, frozen ground appeal to you? Or the mud holes that I remember our pigs living in during the summer when I was growing up. So, can anyone tell me where the logic of how that is “better?” Is outdoor housing better for the pigs or just better for someone’s ideological views?  Chipotle furthers the myth that farm animals are raised in factory farms. Well here is my explanation to that statement. Farmers raise pigs, not factories. It’s all about marketing and making themselves look better by trying to show they are superior to their competition by using “fear marketing”. They will of course find some producers who will bend to their ideals, but it is not practical or economically feasible for the bulk of the pork industry to be in a position to supply pork protein for the world’s population following their lead. I will simply grill a pork chop, no carnitas for me!!

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, January 22, 2015

Governor Ricketts' State of the State Remarks

“There is one consistent message I have heard in every corner of the state: property taxes are too high.”
“This property tax relief will help all Nebraskans: homeowners, small business owners, and our farmers and ranchers.”
“…together, we can take important steps toward providing tax relief.”
Lincoln – President Foley, Speaker Hadley, Members of the Legislature, Tribal Chairmen, Distinguished Guests, Friends, and Fellow Nebraskans.
Congratulations once again on the commencement of the 104th Nebraska Legislature. I want to commend all of you for your willingness to serve your constituents and our great state. I recognize your personal sacrifice as well your commitment to public service, which is a high and noble calling.
I look forward to working together in a spirit of collaboration, which is of course the tradition of Nebraska’s unique non-partisan institution.
Our future success as a state depends upon our ability to work together, and I look forward to continuing to work with each and every one of you.
Speaker Hadley, it’s a pleasure to work with you and I look forward to what we can do for this state. Congratulations on being chosen to serve as Speaker. The confidence your colleagues have in you speaks volumes and Nebraska is grateful for your dedication.
I also want to take a moment to recognize the Nebraska National Guard. The role of these men and women, who are truly citizen soldiers, has never been more important, has never put more pressure on families, and has never been more difficult or dangerous. We live in a dangerous world. They not only protect us by deploying to foreign regions, but they keep us safe here at home in situations like the tornados in Pilger and Beaver Crossing. We are grateful for their service and sacrifice.
Nebraska is a special place. We are more than just lines on a map. We are bound together by more than just our common geography. It’s a culture, it’s a way of life. It’s the way we treat each other with dignity, respect, and civility.
We have a great state, built by our ancestors who made Nebraska home for themselves and for their children and grandchildren. Like our ancestors before us, we have a duty to create an even better future for our kids and grandkids. And just as our ancestors before us, we have a duty to Grow Nebraska.
I’m excited to join you to take advantage of our opportunities. I am encouraged by the discussions I have had with many of you about how we Grow Nebraska.
As citizen legislators, you bring all of your life experiences to our work. I too have outside experiences, and I promised the people of Nebraska I would put my business experience to work for the state. To that end, I have worked to develop a budget, a blueprint that slows the growth of spending, provides for property tax relief, has room to make improvements in critical areas like corrections and HHS, and also funds the essential services of state government.
Let me take a moment to talk about my philosophy on the cash reserve. My budget recommendation for the next biennium does not draw down the reserves. However, right now, we have too much money there. My belief is we should work together to return more of that to the taxpayers. The remaining reserves should only be used for emergencies or one-time critical expenses.
It is easy to view a government budget as a collection of numbers in rows and columns next to agencies and programs, but behind the numbers are people’s lives. We must be mindful that every dollar is precious. The dollars that fund our budgets are dollars earned by hardworking Nebraskans. We must also be mindful that the agencies and programs are designed to serve our citizens—and many of them are people in need.
This session, we will meet, we will debate, and we will even compromise, as we set about to fund the important services for the people we represent. That is our job and we will do it with dedication and commitment.
Today, I am privileged to report on the condition of Nebraska. It should come as no surprise that I believe the state of Nebraska to be strong. 
Here in the heartland we have major military installations, academic research centers, and we are at the heart of the nation's agricultural system. Nebraska is on the front lines of bioterrorism preparedness. At the University of Nebraska Medical Center our medical professionals have made national headlines with their success responding to the Ebola outbreak. I want to recognize the members of that team who are here with us today for their success and bravery: Dr. Dan Johnson and nurses Kate Boulter and Shelly Schwedhelm. Thank you!
Our people, everyday heroes all across Nebraska, are the reason the state of our state is so strong. From teachers that prepare our kids for an ever-changing world to the medical professionals at UNMC treating Ebola patients. From the law enforcement officers and firefighters who put themselves at risk each and every day to farm families that feed the world. From the volunteers who build our communities to the crews at Offutt Air Force Base and our military families that answer the call. These Nebraskans love to serve and they make our state strong.
I have long said that Nebraska’s greatest resource is our people. I know from personal experience when you hire a Nebraskan you hire someone who has a great work ethic, is well educated, loyal, and will help your business succeed.
As I have said before: Nebraska is what America is supposed to be.
I traveled Nebraska from Chadron to Falls City and from Norfolk to Ogallala. I have listened to the people of Nebraska. I was privileged in my travels to connect with old friends like Senators Lydia Brasch, Bob Krist, Curt Friesen, and Jim Smith.
I also appreciated new friends, who supported me like Senators Dan Hughes and John Kuehn who served on my Ag Advisory Committee, and Senator Dave Bloomfield who was supportive throughout Northeast Nebraska.
Senators Campbell and Mello were gracious to meet with me about issues, and Senator Bolz came to a Lincoln event we had with Lieutenant Governor Mike Foley.
This budget, which is informed by my discussions with many of you—and by the fact that I grew up here—represents not only the priorities of Nebraskans, but their hopes for our shared future.
I’m eager to work with you on four major priorities to Grow Nebraska: First, strengthening our economy and creating jobs; second, reducing taxes; third, ease regulatory burdens; and additionally, expanding educational opportunities. All of these priorities are interconnected and are reflected in my budget recommendation.
Because it is so important that we boost our economic engine and create jobs, one of my administration’s first steps was to conduct a national job search for a new Director of Economic Development. I’m proud to have Brenda Hicks-Sorensen, join my team. Her expertise will help us realize the untapped potential in our state, and we will be well-served with her track record of recruiting businesses. We want the world to know Nebraska welcomes business investment and has good jobs in great communities, and Brenda will help get the message out. 
But creating jobs is more than just a marketing focus or incentives. We need to evaluate what we are doing to encourage small business to expand and grow. We need to have a plan to attract business investment as well as business relocations. We need to be strategic and aggressive about trade opportunities.
And there is no better place to start expanding export opportunities than with agriculture.
Our farmers and ranchers are feeding the world. According to Ronnie Green at the University of Nebraska, by 2050 there will be two billion more people on the face of this earth and because of rising standards of living, we will have to produce one hundred percent more food. Seventy percent of that will have to come from productivity and innovation. Our farmers and ranchers are the most productive and innovative in the world. Nebraska is number one in cattle on feed, number two in ethanol production, number three in corn production, and we are the fourth largest state for overall agriculture production. And I look forward to working with Senator Johnson and the Agriculture Committee to expand upon these successes.
This budget provides additional funds for more export trade missions in both the Department of Economic Development and the Department of Agriculture, and under my administration these departments will work more closely together than ever before.
Job creation, in part, depends on a tax climate that encourages growth. We have a lot of work to do to stay competitive with neighboring states. And staying competitive is something that is often overlooked when we talk about jobs. We need to attract new individuals and families to Nebraska.
We have a great way of life and great jobs to offer. Now, we need to highlight that and invite people to make a home in Nebraska.  Unemployment in Nebraska is about 3 percent, which is a blessing and a challenge. A recent State Chamber study said retaining a skilled workforce is one of the top concerns of our business leaders. We have long discussed the problem of brain drain, and I can tell you as a dad that I want all roads to lead back to Nebraska. To do that we need to remove the obstacles.
Which is just one reason why we must reduce taxes.
According to one national business news network, we are the third overall highest taxed state behind only California and New York. Think about that for a second. We can do better.
Our high tax reality does not just hit the wallets of our citizens—it creates a reputation. It discourages new business investment. Our high taxes also discourage people from choosing Nebraska as a place to live, work and raise a family.
There is one consistent message I have heard in every corner of the state: property taxes are too high. My budget adds $60 million each year to the property tax credit relief fund—an increase of nearly 43 percent—for a grand total of $400 million in property tax relief this biennium. This property tax relief will help all Nebraskans: homeowners, small business owners, and our farmers and ranchers.
An example of someone we can help is Roger Brandt. Roger is a farmer from Carroll up in Wayne County who is here with us today. Last spring, Roger showed me his tax assessments for the three pieces of property he owns. His assessments increased between 36 to nearly 50 percent for each parcel in just one year. That is not sustainable. That is why I also want to work with you to reduce the ag land valuation. I have funded a phased in approach in my budget to reduce valuations from 75% to 65%.
We did not get to be a high tax state overnight, and we won’t get taxes down overnight either. But together, we can take important steps toward providing tax relief.
I do want to take a minute to talk about funding our priorities. One of the most important things we do in government is take care of our most vulnerable citizens. As elected officials we give a voice to the voiceless. In Nebraska, we can—we must—do better.
My administration is conducting a national job search for a new CEO of Health and Human Services. I am looking for a transformational leader to reform the culture. State government needs to work for the children who are in the care of the state, for individuals who are in state facilities, and for all those who rely on government services.
We need a culture in our state agencies that is people-centric. The people who need our help do not fit neatly into the silos we have created. We need a system that cares for the entire person, helps them reach their full potential and if possible helps them live a life free of public assistance.
There are people who will continue to need our help. We must serve them effectively and with dignity and respect. When we start getting better outcomes for people, our costs will come down too.
Many people who receive services just need a hand up to get back on their feet. We have to prevent government from getting in their way. Last year, I met Susanne Shald in McCook. Susanne is widowed and her three kids receive health insurance through Medicaid. She works hard and is intent on teaching her kids a strong work ethic like her father taught her. So when her 16-year-old daughter got a job and was informed that if she earned more than $6,000 a year, she would lose her health insurance, Susanne was infuriated. I don’t blame her. Susanne and her family have joined me here today. Susanne and her children put faces on our need for a common sense approach in government—one that does not create disincentives for people and families to work.
Next, it is time to pursue comprehensive reform in our corrections system, another department in need of a cultural change. Scott Frakes will be joining my administration as the new Director of the Department of Corrections. He brings over 32 years of experience starting as a corrections officer and working through the uniformed ranks before moving into management. I am confident that he will help chart a new course for this agency.
Inmates released early by mistake threaten not only the public safety, but also the public’s trust in their government. Nobody in corrections wanted these mistakes to occur, but they did, and we have got to do better.
Under Director Frakes, we will create a culture of accountability, common sense, and excellence. The Department of Corrections will seek to improve its rehabilitation and reentry programs to address recidivism. We will immediately evaluate our short term and long term needs and set out on a course of reform to this system.
This budget leaves room to address immediate reform needs in corrections.
Many of you here today have worked to tackle the issues in corrections. There is no branch of government that has cornered the market on good ideas or solutions for this issue. We have to work together, executive, legislative, and judicial for comprehensive reform that includes addressing sentencing and good time laws, mental health, and management of these facilities. I will work with Scott Frakes to get a full picture of what we need to do; and I look forward to sitting down with the leadership of this body to set a time table we can agree on to make substantive changes.
This budget holds the growth of our state spending to a little more than 3 percent over the next 2 years. That is a slower rate of growth than the approximately 6.5 percent in the last biennium.
We will fund our priorities, but in a way that is sustainable. We grow our revenues about 5 percent a year on average. If we can restrain government’s growth, we can afford to put money back in the pockets of taxpayers.  In turn, taxpayers will be able to afford more goods and services, businesses will expand and we will Grow Nebraska.
Another way I have taken action to drive operational excellence in every corner of state agencies is a private sector solution to create the position of Chief Operating Officer. I have hired Felix Davidson, United States Marine Corps Captain and a business executive with a proven track record of success in change management and process improvement.
I have one more tax relief proposal—an important one. Like many of you, I believe we need to eliminate the state income taxes on the retirement benefits of our military families. I have left room in this budget package to work with Chairman Gloor and the Revenue Committee to give our veterans relief. Chairman Gloor, I thank you for your service in the U.S. Air Force, and I know you understand how important it is to take care of our veterans. From the crews at Offutt Air Force Base to the National Guard Armory in Scottsbluff, we cannot thank our men and women in uniform enough, and we do not want to lose these treasured individuals to other states.
Besides high taxes and lost talent, our business leaders say overregulation is a top concern. We all want clean air, clean water, and safe working conditions, but we must also apply common sense so that we do not create barriers for our businesses creating jobs.
When we get our property tax bill we can see exactly how much we are paying. The cost of regulation, however, is hidden—but it’s a job killer all the same. As governor, I will stand up to the overregulation forced on us by Washington.
Whether it is new health care mandates on employers, EPA overreach on carbon emissions and the Waters of the US, or the delay of the Keystone XL pipeline, Washington just does not get it.
I have urged Congress and President Obama to swiftly approve the Keystone XL pipeline. It will bring much-needed tax revenue to Nebraska counties not only during construction, but for years to come.
And back here at home, we want to set a good example. I will be asking all of my state agency directors to make it a priority to innovate ways to reduce regulatory burdens and bureaucratic delays. Proper regulation protects our health and safety. Overregulation delays progress and growth. We can do better and we will.
As we seek to create jobs, slow the growth of government, reduce taxes and fight burdensome regulations, we must also continue to strengthen our education system.
As we balance our budget, we must ensure we put a priority on proper school funding and improving educational outcomes.
In particular I have talked a lot about career and vocational training. Every manufacturer I have talked to has said they cannot find enough skilled labor, and that is a barrier to expanding. To address this I propose an investment in innovation.
My budget includes funding a pilot program—$250,000 each year—to form a public-private partnership to create a career and vocational training program. Good-paying jobs in the skilled labor force, agriculture, and manufacturing are a great option for our young people. I visited Ash Grove Cement in Louisville and they were telling me if you get at 2-year electrician’s degree out of high school, you will start working for them at $22 or $23 per hour. Stay there a year and pass 2 tests and you will be making $28 an hour. Now think about that, that’s a 21-year-old making $56,000 a year plus full benefits. That’s the start of a great career.
As I mentioned before, we honor the service of our national guard. My budget recommendation also includes an additional $120,000 per year for a total of more than $488,000 of tuition assistance for the patriots who serve in the Nebraska National Guard. We need to help them further their education as well.
As we work together, I want you to know about the culture we are fostering in my administration. Every day, I want my team to ask a couple of questions: How can I serve the people of Nebraska better today? As well as, what can we do to make Nebraska a place people want to be?
While many of us in this chamber have differing political philosophies or come from different ends of the state, I know we are united. We are united in our desire to make Nebraska a better place for our communities and for our children and grandchildren. We are united in our desire to make Nebraska a place where people want to be.
From the Native Americans who nurtured our rich land; to the pioneer homesteaders; to the founders of our great businesses, universities, farms and ranches, our ancestors built more than a state.
They built a community that reflects the best of America.  Our ancestors made sacrifices for future generations, for the greater good of Nebraska. And so we too will focus on the future.
We will harness the spirit of our UNMC heroes and all the nurses and doctors across the state.
We will call upon the dedication of police officers and firefighters in Nebraska’s cities and towns.
We will harness the determination of Roger Brandt and Nebraska’s Veterans.
And we will call upon the hard work and aspirations of Susanne Shald and her family and all of the hard working families across Nebraska.
We will work together fueled by their strength and acting on their behalf. We will Grow Nebraska.
Thank you. God Bless you and God Bless the people of this great state.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Fischer Responds to President’s State of the Union Address

Washington, D.C. –U.S. Senator Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) released the following video and statement in response to President Obama’s State of the Union address this evening:
“It was encouraging to hear the president place a priority on providing more opportunity for middle class families. Unfortunately, many of the president’s policy prescriptions miss the mark, reflecting a partisan agenda rather than initiatives that could actually garner bipartisan support. Divisive politics have taken their toll. From promoting burdensome EPA regulations impacting all Nebraskans, to advancing a reactionary foreign policy that has shaken the faith of our allies, this administration has lost its way. We need a change of course, and as the president once noted, elections have consequences.
“My priorities remain the same: bolstering our national security - which is closely tied to promoting our economic security - reducing regulatory burdens on families, improving our nation’s outdated infrastructure, and promoting innovation and economic growth. These are the core duties of a responsible federal government, and this is where we must focus in the year ahead. 
“I am also committed to finding creative ways to provide more flexibility for working families. Last July, I introduced bipartisan legislation with Senator Angus King to encourage employers to voluntarily offer paid family and medical leave. Importantly, our bill does not include costly, new one-size-fits-all mandates from Washington. Instead, it offers a tax incentive for employers to provide workers – particularly low-wage, hourly workers – the chance to have paid time off. This plan can make a difference; I believe it could also realistically pass Congress.
“With your help, we can move our nation forward and pave the way toward new prosperity for our children and grandchildren.”

Smith Reacts of President's State of the Unon Address

Congressman Adrian Smith (R-NE) issued the following statement regarding the President’s State of the Union address:                                           
“Nebraskans tell me they want Congress and the President to work together to find solutions to our national challenges.  Unfortunately, the President’s State of the Union address focused on the same partisan policies which divide us rather than bring us together.
“Rather than seeking common ground with the new Republican Congress, the President suggested more taxes, more spending, more regulations, and more executive power.  The American people flatly rejected this agenda in the last election.  I hope the President will choose to work with us on serious proposals to empower individuals and families, encourage economic growth, and put our country on a better, more sustainable path.”

Saturday, January 17, 2015


Duane A. Lienemann
UNL Extension Educator
     I had the opportunity this week to travel to Lincoln this past week to the new Nebraska Innovation Campus for a Farm Bill meeting featuring the creators of the Texas A&M Farm Bill Decision Tool. While the meeting was in my opinion very helpful and educational, I was really taken by the facility that we were in.  For you that don’t know, Innovation Park is located in what used to be the old Nebraska State Fair Park.  The Conference Center in which we had the workshop is the old 4-H Building which has a lot of history for 4-H’ers across this state. It was an integral part of the 4-H experience since being built in 1928. Many individuals showed their animals there, sat in the bleachers that surrounded the old arena, participated in livestock judging contests, and most likely attended 4-H State Fair dances. Some will remember the UNL Café and Dairy Store on the bottom side of the bleachers. Many more will remember the west part of the facility where all the 4-H static exhibits were displayed, both upstairs and down. I am so glad they kept the building and made sure that key parts of the architecture were preserved keeping the integrity and ambience at least partially intact and visible. 
     You could still see the old beams and ceiling structure, the old brick structures and even where the old sliding doors were. But what a nice facility it now is for conferences, meetings, etc. It was also gratifying to see that they also kept the old Industrial Arts Building (originally Agricultural Hall) that was built in 1913. I always was intrigued by the architecture in that building and it held a special place for me because of the 4-H dormitories there. I spent many a night as a 4-Her and later as an FFA advisor with young livestock exhibitors in those facilities. I, and I am sure a lot of young exhibitors and some parents, remember those dorms. They could be rather warm, had very short supplies of hot water for showers, were a little noisy with people going in and out and how can you not forget the trains that seemed to incessantly roll by, sometimes hitting their horns – I think knowing there was a dorm there. Even with those deficiencies, my memories are still good. It is not often that you can mix the old with the new and have something that is as functional and high tech as this facility. What they are doing at Innovation Campus is incredible. You can find more on Innovation campus at: .
     Now I suppose I should go back to the Farm Bill. It was after all, why I did go to Lincoln. I know a lot of farmers are worried about this new Farm Bill and the decisions that they must make. Some are just going with what they have heard at the coffee shops or their neighbors or perhaps what they have read in farm magazines. This is a completely new approach to risk protection and it is very complex and complicated to say the least. I know it is intimidating, confusing and impossible to predict what the outcomes of your decisions will be.  Even with the decision tools that are available to you, you still are at the mercy of trying to guess what the crop will do, markets, what the price levels will be and what weather conditions we may be subjected to. You just might as well just throw a dart is what many think, and that may be not too far off.
     I am of the opinion however that you should not just throw a dart, or do what your neighbor is doing or just go by what you hear in the coffee shop. I very much suggest that farmers go to at least one and preferably more than one education meeting on the Farm Bill. I would also very much suggest that they use at least one of the decision tools that are out there to help farmers at least have an educated idea of what they should do considering base acre allocation and yield adjustments. These tools can also help weigh the options that producers have in creating a risk protection device as a management tool for their farms. No matter which tool you use, you will need the August 2014 FSA letter or FSA 156EZ or similar worksheet and I also suggest the 10-year crop insurance production report history worksheet from your insurance agent.
     The three main tools that I am aware of can be found on the internet, and each have their own attributes and perhaps some shortcomings, but will be of use no matter what. One of the most in-depth tools I have tried can be found at:   which is a collaboration between Texas A&M University and FAPRI at the University of Missouri. This decision aid tool, much like all other tools available to you includes yield update base acre reallocation, Agricultural Risk Coverage (ARC-Co & ARC-IC), Price Loss Coverage (PLC), and Supplemental Coverage Option (SCO). The A&M model requires you to register an account with name, email address and password. Then it will require you to set up an account type, either a producer/farmer or multi-client user. The multi-client account is useful because it is on the web and allows producers to create as many clients as wanted and keeps each client’s data separate. This is nice because you can utilize collaboration with family members or consultants. Another decision aid may be found at: which is developed at Illinois. While a third choice can be found at:  or  which features a Farm Bill Decision Tool that was collaboratively developed by Oklahoma State University and Kansas State University. Of these three programs, I feel that the A&M model may be more complete.
     There are of course several other excel spreadsheets, programs from other Universities and private firms, but the ones that I have highlighted probably are the major decision tools being used! Producers must remember however, that these materials and tools are designed to aid farmers with their marketing and risk decisions. This information is primarily based on the authors’ interpretation of the 2014 Farm Bill. The tools or decision aids and all information is intended for educational purposes only and should not be considered the silver bullet for making your decisions. It still comes down to you, your records, and your guesswork on what is in the future over the five years of this Farm Bill. Good Luck!

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

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Smith Announces 2015 Congressional Art Competition


Congressman Adrian Smith (R-NE) is encouraging high school students in Nebraska’s Third District to submit their artwork for the 2015 Congressional Art Competition by March 2, 2015
“The Congressional Art Competition is a great opportunity for students to share their talent, and to promote the Third District to visitors from around the world,” said Congressman Smith.  “I hope all interested students will submit their work so we can share the best our district has to offer in the U.S. Capitol and our congressional offices.”
The Nebraska Art Teachers Association is working with Smith to coordinate the competition.  Official rules, guidelines and submission forms are available online at:
The first place artwork will be displayed in the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.  Smith will display the runners-up in his Washington, D.C. and Third District offices. The Congressional Arts Caucus annually sponsors the Congressional Arts Competition for high school students from all fifty states, the District of Columbia, and U.S. territories. 

Monday, January 12, 2015

Margaret Emma (Krueger) Kuhn November 14, 1917 to January 11, 2015

Margaret Emma (Krueger) Kuhn, 97, Blue Hill, passed away peacefully, Sunday, Jan. 11, 2015 at the Blue Hill Care Center, Blue Hill Nebraska.  Services were held Thursday January 15, 10:30 a.m. at Trinity Lutheran church in Blue Hill, with Rev. James Witt officiating.  Burial was held in Trinity Lutheran Cemetery
Margaret was born November 14, 1917 in Adams County to Gustav and Clara (Kort) Krueger.  She grew up on the family farm with her sister Helen and two brothers, Alvin (Cap) and Douglas.  She attended Trinity Lutheran School
On Jan. 14, 1937 she married Gilbert "Gib" Kuhn at Trinity Lutheran Church, Blue Hill.
The couple was blessed with four sons" Dale, Kenneth, Dennis and James.  they raised their boys on the farm until moving to Blue Hill in the 1950's.  Gib continued to farm and Margaret worked at Sawyer's Pharmacy for 16 years.  They were married 62 years until Gib passed away in 1999. 
Margaret was loved by her family and her community.  She was known for her kindness, Generosity and her lively sense of humor   She loved to talk about the hard work she did on the farm, keeping a  nice house, making bread, cinnamon rolls and pies for her hardworking husband and growing boys. Among other things she did for her community she served as president and treasurer for the Helping Hands club   Margaret was also a woman with very strong faith .  She was always read to help and comfort those in need.
She was an active member of Trinity Lutheran Church, singing in the choir for 16 years and teaching Sunday School for 14 years at Trinity Lutheran, Blue Hill and two years in Mt. Calvary Church Holdrege.  She was a member of LWML, serving as Circle Chairman on the Hospitality committee and as historian.
As one of the greatest grandmothers ever, she loved doing crafts, making quilts for each child and painting ceramics.  Even in her 90's she could sing the songs she used to sing to her boys in both German and English to her many grandchildren and great=grandchildren.  She was also an excellent storyteller, regaling her loved ones with tales of surviving the Great Depression and her many adventures growing up on the farm.  All that knew and loved her will sorely miss her sweet smile and beautiful spirit. 
Margaret is survived by her sons, Dale of Blue Hill,  .Dennis (Marlene) of Sioux City, Iowa, and Jim (Pat) of  Stafford, AZ, daughter-in-law Jo Lynn Kuhn widow of Kenneth, 13 grandchildren 21 great grandchildren, and four great great grandchildren.
Margaret was preceded in death by her parents, husband, Son Kenneth, granddaughters Kristina and Kara (Kenneth), daughter-in-law Pat (Dale) Sister Helen and brothers Al and Doug. 
Memorials can be directed to CER of Illinois Harmony House 15841 Terrance drive Oak Forest, Illinois.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Smith Statement on Keystone XL Pipeline

Congressman Adrian Smith (R-NE) made the following statement after voting in favor of H.R. 3 to approve construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, and the Nebraska Supreme Court ruling against a challenge to the proposed route.
“Today’s vote in the House was a bipartisan endorsement of moving forward on this important infrastructure project.  While previous attempts to pass this bill have been blocked in the Senate, I am hopeful a bipartisan majority in the upper chamber will have the votes to get it to the President’s desk. 
“Instead of continuing to impede this needed project, the President has an opportunity now to make good on his promise to find common ground and improve our infrastructure.  Today’s ruling by the Nebraska Supreme Court leaves no more excuses for delay.  Whether he signs this bill or not, I hope he will see the urgency to support private investment in American jobs and energy.”
Earlier today, Congressman Smith participated in the debate of H.R. 3.  Click here for video of the Congressman’s statement.


Lincoln – This morning, Governor Pete Ricketts issued the following statement after the Nebraska Supreme Court announced their decision to uphold the state law used to route Keystone XL through Nebraska:

“Today’s decision by the Nebraska Supreme Court clears the way for approval of the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. It has been demonstrated that it will be the safest pipeline ever built and that it will bring good-paying jobs and property tax revenue to Nebraska’s counties. I urge Congress and President Obama to move swiftly to give final approval to this important project.”


Duane A. Lienemann
UNL Extension Educator
      December was an active month for Congress when it passed a fiscal 2015 omnibus bill that affects agriculture and animal agriculture in particular. I will highlight three areas that were interest to me and then comment further on what we may have to continue vigilance concerning WOTUS. It may interest our cattlemen that Congress passed language that provides a clear directive that USDA Secretary Vilsack should not proceed with formalizing a new beef check-off program under the Commodity, Research, Promotion and Information Act of 1996 that would via the concerns of most cattlemen that I have talked to directly compete and undermine the current beef check-off program. I see that it was almost immediately that he announced that he will not move forward with plans to start a second national beef check-off program.
     As I understand it Congress also voted to continue prohibiting funding to the EPA to require the mandatory reporting of greenhouse gas emissions from feedlots and other confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs) and restricts CAFOs from being defined as Title V sources under the federal Clean Air Act. That has been an ongoing struggle and I think this is good news concerning our confined livestock producers. You might remember the “dust rule” and of course the continued attack on the animal agriculture industry concerning global warming (climate change) and greenhouse gas emissions, mostly pushed by extreme environmentalists and animal rights groups blaming the ills of the world on farm animals.
     Another stipulation of the Congressional omnibus bill is that it requires the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers to rescind a regulation known as the Interpretative Rule which is the first step in promulgating new regulations to govern waters of the United States (WOTUS). I thought first that we had some good news with this announcement, but in looking through the verbiage, I am not so sure. Here is the rest of the story on that…
     Both houses of Congress did pass language regarding the Clean Water Act, which on the surface appears to bring EPA under some control regarding certain agricultural practices. In particular Section 111 says "None of the funds made available by this Act may be used to require a permit for the discharge of dredged or fill material under the Federal Water Pollution Control Act…for the activities identified in subparagraphs (A) - normal farming practices- and (C) - building and maintaining farm ponds of Section 404 (f)(1) of the Act."  Now that sounds pretty impressive but I have read some critiques of this action and it does give one pause for thought concerning one omission.
     Of concern to individuals, who are a lot smarter than me, is that they think that EPA will no doubt say that the bill does not override paragraph (2) if Section 111, which says a permit is needed if you build a pond in a wetland.  Now wait a minute…isn’t that one of the problems that most of us were suspicious of with the EPA proposal of April 21, 2014, Definition of "Waters of the United States" under the CWA?  That EPA proposal now defines such terms as adjacent, neighboring, flood plain, tributary, and of course defines "Significant Nexus," which could give EPA jurisdiction over virtually all waters in the U.S.  This proposed rule is not mentioned!  I think we need to keep vigilant on this and keep in touch with your Senator and Congressman and keep pressure on the EPA as this saga continues.
     Court Calls Cow Manure a Pollutant: Just so we have something else to worry about, I took interest in a court decision that could eventually work its way across the country and could have unbelievable consequences to our livestock producers down the road. Are you ready for this???? Manure is now considered a ‘pollutant’ under farm insurance policies in Wisconsin, the state’s Supreme Court ruled. Accordingly, if pollutants are excluded from general liability insurance policies, farmers could be held liable for any damages that occur from manure runoff.  Specifically, the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled that cow manure is a pollutant when it enters a well. But the justices were not simply stating the obvious in an opinion written by one of the Justices for the majority, he stated that “Because manure applied to farm fields is no longer a crop fertilizer when it seeps into private wells and contaminates the water supply, therefore the general farm liability policy for the farmers excluded coverage for damage to their neighbor's water supplies.
     The ruling arises from a Washington County, Wisconsin case, in which the state Department of Natural Resources alleged that manure from a farm contaminated an aquifer and neighboring wells. The farmer’s insurance company refused to pay damages because it had a “pollutant” exclusion in its policy.  Attorneys note that none of the parties to the suit raised the issue of whether the cow manure spread on the farmer’s land actually contaminated the aquifer or the wells. As you can probably assume from the content of this lawsuit, how many people who do not like animal agriculture or especially the practice of spreading manure or injecting manure into farm fields, could use this law suit to their advantage?  Don’t think for a minute that this suit has not been watched and scrutinized towards that means.
     Interesting enough the Wisconsin Supreme Court actually decided two cases in which the central issue was whether the substance responsible for the alleged property damage constitutes a "pollutant" sufficient to invoke pollution exclusions in relevant insurance policies. The Court held that both seepage and cow manure, respectively, are "pollutants," as defined in commercial general liability policies and that, accordingly, property damage resulting from those substances is excluded from coverage. So at least human waste is in the same category as animal waste. There was a caveat in that the problem was actually nitrates which came from the decomposition of the waste. Somehow that doesn’t make me feel any better. 

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: 

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Ben Sasse sworn-in as Junior Senator from Nebraska

swearing in.jpg

Today, Ben Sasse was officially sworn-in as the Junior Senator from Nebraska. The fifth-generation Nebraskan and former President of Midland University was joined by his wife, Melissa, and three young children for the ceremony in Washington, D.C.
“I am tremendously grateful for the privilege of representing Nebraskans, humbled to follow one of our state’s most distinguished public servants, Senator Mike Johanns, and committed to tackling our country’s challenges with common-sense solutions and big ideas,” said Sasse.
According to Senate tradition, Nebraska's Senior Senator, Deb Fischer, escorted Senator Sasse to Vice President Joseph Biden, who administered the oath of office on the Senate floor.
“Like most Nebraskans, I want a humble politics that has Washington do fewer things but tackle our most important challenges with greater urgency, more transparency, and less partisan shouting,” said Sasse. “When Melissa and I started this project, our motto was ‘Go big or go home’ and that’s going to be our motto every day for the next six years.”
Honoring his campaign pledge to sponsor term-limit legislation, Senator Sasse agreed to partner with Senator David Vitter (R-LA) to become an original cosponsor of a constitutional amendment to limit members of the Senate to two terms and members of the House of Representatives to three terms.
“We promised to fight Washington’s obsession with short-term popularity and permanent political incumbency from day one. I'm pleased to partner with Senator David Vitter to keep that promise and I look forward to the challenges ahead.”
Sasse requested and received the desk previously used by Senator Mike Johanns (R-NE) and Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-NY). 

Thursday, January 1, 2015


Duane A. Lienemann
UNL Extension Educator
     Well, 2015 is officially here. I hope that everyone had a nice New Year’s Eve and have took out the old and ushered in the new in good fashion. I can guarantee that more than one person I talked to decided not to venture too far and I agree. One thing is for sure, this New Year is starting out very, very cold. I guess we are making up for the nicer weather we had in the later part of 2014. When it turns like this it always reminds me of the days when I had cattle and especially when I knew that I had baby calves on the way.  I think it prudent this week that we revisit some material on dealing with the cold.
     While humans are able to cope with this winter’s pattern of relatively warm temperatures followed by extremely cold temperatures over the last couple of weeks, cattle are not so lucky. As we deal with that anomaly and face this current extreme cold, it is important to keep a few cattle management tips in mind. Mammals are inherently equipped to deal with extreme temperatures. Within a range of certain temperatures, their body does not need to use any energy to stay warm or cool. However, when temperatures get below a critical temperature, animals must begin to use extra energy to stay warm.
     The critical temperature for cattle depends on their hair coat. From fall to midwinter, the hair coat continues to grow and the critical temperature for cattle decreases. With a heavy winter coat, the critical temperature for cattle is around 18 F. Below that temperature, the energy demands for a cow to maintain her body temperature increase. With temperatures this winter easily reaching below minus 30 with wind chill at some point, livestock producers need to make some adjustments to their management schemes to protect their cattle. Let’s look at some things we can do to mitigate these needs.
     The cattle are going to have higher energy needs. To deal with these increased energy demands, we can simply increase the amount of feed delivered to the herd. However, if cows are being maintained on relatively poor-quality feeds or temperatures get too extreme, altering the amount of feed will not meet the increased requirements for the cattle. Feeds of higher nutrient quality (more energy dense) must be included to achieve the needed level of nutrition during cold spells. Another strategy for dealing with the cold weather is to feed cattle at night. The heat from digestion peaks a few hours after a meal, so offering meals in the evening can help cattle cope with the cold nighttime temperatures.
     Keeping cattle protected from the elements also is important. Cattle usually can deal with cold alone, but the combination of cold, wind and moisture can be deadly. It is of course best to take steps to ensure cattle are out of the wind. The best bet is to use existing windbreaks of trees or buildings. If no natural windbreaks exist, producers will need to take steps to make permanent or portable windbreaks to protect cattle from the wind. Portable panels with tarps zip tied to them are good options for producers maintaining cattle in relatively open country. I have seen some people set up livestock trailers or line up big round bales in a cigar shape – surrounded by panels to keep them from eating their own windbreak.
     Once the wind is blocked, producers need to take active steps to combat moisture. If we have a choice, snow is preferred to a cold rain. We lose what is called "air insulation" in cattle that get wet versus those that are out in the snow. The air pockets between hair fibers are a source of insulation. We lose this insulation when hair gets matted down in a cold rain. The result is that the dry winter coat goes from having a critical temperature of 32 degrees F to about 59-60 degrees F. This means that a wet animal having to face a night of minus 30 wind chill temperatures is experiencing a cold that is almost 90 degrees below its critical temperature. In cases like this, the combination of cold and moisture easily could end up being deadly. Bedding may not always be necessary for wintering cow herds, but in cases where cattle are wet, bedding is a must. The primary purpose of bedding is to help keep cattle dry. Dry cattle do much better in fending off the cold. 
     Cold, and especially cold with moisture, also can be a problem for animals at birth. Newborn calves are born wet and are very susceptible to frostbite, hypothermia and death as a result of cold temperatures. In mild cases of cold exposure, calves can lose the tips of their ears or maybe have hoof problems later in life. In severe cases, calves die. It won’t be long and several producers in the region will be starting their calving seasons. It’s important to be ready to warm calves up when they become chilled, USDA estimates 95,000 calves die each year due to cold stress and hypothermia. We don’t want that!
     It is obvious that calving can be a stressful time for many cow-calf producers. However, being prepared, and learning more about how to identify and respond to cold stress and hypothermia will allow for it to be better managed, reducing its impact on the calving season. In a year when cattle prices are at record highs, saving every calf possible is at the top of
The producer’s checklist. Understanding the risks of hypothermia in newborn calves and working to identify its severity quickly allows for proper treatment and will increase calf survival. When calves are 24 hours old or less and air temperatures drop below 56.2 degrees, additional energy is needed to maintain their body temperature and health. Several factors impact a newborn calf’s ability to combat hypothermia and cold stress, including maternal diet prior to calving, calving difficulty, hair coat, bedding, colostrum intake, speed of detection, wind speed and shelter – including hot boxes. 
     Our livestock are not the only concern this time of year. We also need for producers to take care of themselves, their families and their employees during extreme weather conditions. This type of weather is very dangerous and, at a minimum, can cause permanent damage to exposed skin. We all want to make sure our cattle are fed and properly bedded as soon as a storm breaks or the temperatures plummet. Just take a few moments to make sure you are also prepared for the cold!

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: