December 21, 2014

UNL student government turns down Meatless Monday proposal

090423_HerefordTour 084Meatless Monday will not be promoted on the Lincoln campus of the University of Nebraska.

An attempt to convince the student governing body at UNL to promote Meatless Mondays on campus has been defeated, thanks to the efforts of a group of agricultural students.

Bryce Doeschot with UNL’s Collegiate Farm Bureau group says when the group heard about the Meatless Mondays’ resolution, members helped organize a coalition of more than 100 students to attend this week’s student senate meeting.

“A bunch of students in agriculture were definitely interested in protecting our heritage and said, ‘no, we do not stand for such a thing’,” Doeschot says. “So we showed up big at the ASUN meeting and made our point-and, thankfully, it did fail.”

The Meatless Mondays’ resolution was proposed by the Environmental Sustainability Committee of the Association for Students at UNL. Doeschot says committee members didn’t seem to have a strong environmental or animal rights agenda. He says they were basically misinformed.

“Their push behind it was the carbon footprint that beef and other livestock are contributing to the world. They just looked at that and said, ‘Oh, if we take away meat from all the cafeterias-or at least promote that with student dollars-we can contribute to less of that’,” Doeschot says. “They didn’t really do the full research and didn’t understand the harmful impact that could have.”

One of those speaking against the resolution was sophomore animal science major Ashtyn Shrewsbury.

“The student government’s proposal for a Meatless Monday had me baffled,” Shrewsbury said. “We are a land grant university, whose mission, as set forth in the Morrill Act of 1862, is to focus on the teaching of agriculture. Not only is agriculture the backbone of this university, it is the backbone of this state.”

In presenting their case, Doeschot says the agricultural students used a combination of facts and personal stories about livestock production. In the end, he says, the Student Senate voted down the proposed resolution with a clear majority vote.

Meatless Mondays is a global initiative encouraging people to stop eating meat on Mondays.

By Ken Anderson, Brownfield Ag News

Farmers must better answer consumer questions (AUDIO)

HarvestConsumers are asking more and more questions about food.

A vice president of the University of Nebraska says agriculture must respond.

University of Nebraska Vice President Ronnie Green says concerns are being raised about farming, in part, because so few Americans have direct ties to agriculture.

“The majority of people in Nebraska are today one generation, two generations, maybe more removed from having direct involvement in agriculture themselves or in their family,” Green tells Nebraska Radio Network.

Outside the Midwest, the disparity grows.

Only 2% of the United States population is engaged in farming or livestock production.

Perhaps growing out of that, a social movement has emerged questioning farming and livestock production methods. Books are written questioning modern agricultural methods, from seed genetics to herbicides. Groups, such as the Humane Society of the United States, question the methods used in raising livestock. The questions raised tap into the growing concern, especially among the young, about the environment.

Green says all this angst over agriculture comes as the world population is expected to increase by a third in the next three decades, requiring agricultural production to nearly double.

“Those statistics are pretty daunting when you look at what that says relative to what we’ve done historically,” Green says. “It says we’ll need to produce more food than we produced in the last 8,000 years, annually. So, it’s a big challenge.”

Green suggests agricultural groups as well as individual farmers and ranchers need to do a better job of communicating how they operate to consumers who seem less and less knowledgeable about agriculture.

AUDIO:  Brent Martin reports [:55]

Kearney to host international-scale farm equipment auction

CombineLarge crowds are expected as the world’s biggest industrial auctioneer hosts a multi-million dollar auction of farm equipment and other merchandise today in Kearney.

Rick Vacha, with Ritchie Brothers Auctioneers, says items going on the block will be sold on a global scale.

Vacha says, “We’ll be selling to many different countries around the world and many different states across the nation and into Canada.”

A wide range of items will be auctioned, a vast majority of it farm equipment, including more than 20 combines and a large host of implements.

“Combines, tractors, sprayers, construction equipment, planters, grain carts,” Vacha says, “all sorts of equipment that will be handled and sold to the highest bidder.”

As part of the auction, Landmark Implement of Kearney, one of the largest John Deere equipment dealers in the region, is having an inventory reduction sale.

The auction is set to begin at 9 AM at the Buffalo County Fairgrounds in Kearney.

You can bid online at:

By Brent Wiethorn, KKPR, Kearney


Northeast Nebraskan elected to national biodiesel board

SoybeansA farmer from the northeast Nebraska community of Newman Grove is being named to the National Biodiesel Board of Directors.

Greg Anderson says the organization’s priorities include pushing for approval of the tax extenders legislation, which includes the biodiesel tax credit, and getting out robust 2014 Renewable Fuel Standard volume requirements.

“Members of the Biodiesel board are working hard and our staff to get that done in this session, if at all possible, before the end of the year,” Anderson says. “Another thing that’s really important is to protect the RFS against repeal or any weakening of the RFS.”

Despite uncertainty about renewing the biodiesel tax credit, Anderson says the industry is doing well with production in the state.

Nebraska’s refineries are expected to finish the year by producing 1.6-billion gallons of biofuels, which is 12% of the nation’s capacity of almost 14-billion gallons.

“It’s going to be close to what we did last year and in light of all of these obstacles that we’re facing, I think it’s a very good accomplishment for the biodiesel industry,” Anderson says. “It shows it’s a strong fuel and that it’s readily available and it’s the only advanced biofuel that’s commercially available.”

Nebraska is the nation’s number-two ethanol producer behind only Iowa. Biofuels are responsible for about 1,200 jobs in Nebraska.

The state has 24 ethanol plants operating with a capacity of more than 2-billion gallons a year and consuming 700-million bushels of corn.

The National Biodiesel Board is based in Jefferson City, Missouri.

Thanks to Jerry Oster, WNAX, Yankton


Nebraska Farmers Union prez says climate change must be taken seriously

John Hansen, president, Neb. Farmers Union

John Hansen, president, Neb. Farmers Union

A report from the General Accounting Office says climate change could make the crop insurance program more vulnerable to potential losses.

Nebraska Farmers Union President John Hansen says the report is another example of why climate change needs to be addressed and taken seriously by both ag and non-ag interests.

“The GAO report is just one more indication we need to deal with the very real impact of too much carbon in our atmosphere,” Hansen says. “We’re just getting more variability, more volatility and more intensity in the weather patterns that already existed.”

The GAO report shows both the Risk Management Agency and FEMA showed an increase of 8% in potential losses for insured property between 2007 and 2013.

Hansen says there’s no doubt those impacts are still being felt.

“We’ve already seen very substantial changes in property and casualty losses, especially in the Midwest,” Hansen says. “As you study loss ratios and loss experiences and go through the actuarial tables, we’re already seeing an impact.”

Hansen says agriculture is in a good position to help battle the negative effects of climate change by storing and utilizing carbon credits.

He says, “While we emit about 8% of all the carbon that’s emitted, we have the opportunity to store, if we modify how we produce and what we do, around 25 to 28% of all the carbon that’s in the atmosphere.”

The GAO report also indicated that climate change may substantially increase losses by 2040 and increase losses from about 50 to 100 percent by 2100.

By Jerry Oster, WNAX, Yankton