September 3, 2015

Seward-area farmer named to head national grain board

Alan Tiemann

Alan Tiemann

Eastern Nebraska farmer Alan Tiemann, a grower from the Seward area, is being named the new chairman for the U.S. Grains Council.

Tiemann has spent more than 35 years in production agriculture and served as past chairman of the Nebraska Corn Board. He says one priority for the Grains Council is ethanol.

“We see that as a great opportunity to send corn out as a value-added product,” Tiemann says. “We’re really going to focus on key markets in Mexico and Japan and look at the huge potential markets in areas like China and India.”

Tiemann says there are several opportunities in developing markets for ethanol, including the byproducts from the process of making the fuel.

“As the ethanol industry expands, we look at distillers grains opportunities around the world,” he says. “We’ve developed that market and distillers grains is a big part of what we do at Grains Council.”

Tiemann says one of the biggest challenges confronting the Grains Council is dealing with public perception and misinformation.

“Probably perception and GMOs,” he says. “Getting synchronous approval around the world is something we’re really striving for, so everybody’s on the same page. Sound science should dictate what we do but too many times, GMO becomes a trade barrier — when it shouldn’t be.”

Prior to being elected as Grains Council chairman, Tiemann served as a delegate to the group while serving on the Nebraska Corn Board for the past ten years.

By Jerry Oster, WNAX, Yankton



Congressman Fortenberry says trade important for Nebraska

Congressman Jeff Fortenberry

Congressman Jeff Fortenberry

Congressman Jeff Fortenberry defends Congressional action to make it easier for the president to negotiate trade deals with other countries.

Fortenberry says he understands why some people are suspicious about the measure.

“Look, trade is a mixed bag for America. Let’s be honest. It’s very important in Nebraska. It is very helpful to our agricultural sector. It is one of the main economic multipliers that we have in Nebraska. It’s one of the reasons we have one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country,” Fortenberry tells Kevin Thomas, host of Drive Time Lincoln on Nebraska Radio Network affiliate KLIN. “But, in other places, such as in the middle of the industrial Rust Belt you’ve seen the decline of American manufacturing and in other sectors as well. Other countries cheat. They subsidize their currency. They don’t have the same type of labor and environmental laws and protections that we have.”

Fortenberry says Congress simply set up the guidelines for a president to negotiate trade agreements that it then will consider.

In late June, Congress approved Trade Promotion Authority, commonly referred to as fast-track trade legislation. It gives the president broad authority to negotiate a trade bill and submit it to Congress for an up-or-down vote. It cannot be amended. The Senate cannot filibuster the deal.

Fortenberry says he’s well aware trade with other countries often isn’t conducted on a level playing field.

“That is why the Congress actually worked very hard to set up the parameters by which the president can then go negotiate a trade agreement,” according to Fortenberry. “We didn’t vote for a trade agreement. We gave him the authority to do so based upon what we wanted to see. That agreement’s not done. We just simply gave him the authority.”

Fortenberry says trade is very important to Nebraska, especially for the state’s agricultural sector.

Work to keep Ogallala Aquifer flowing continues (AUDIO)

The Ogallala Aquifer/USDA map

The Ogallala Aquifer/USDA map

An effort continues to preserve the Ogallala Aquifer, one of the great water resources in the United States that agriculture depends on.

The Ogallala Aquifer Initiative actually began in 2010 and ran for five years. The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service wants to keep it going.

State Conservationist Craig Derickson notes the importance of the Ogallala.

“The Ogallala Aquifer is responsible for a large portion of all of the crop production in the United States,” Derickson tells Nebraska Radio Network.

The Ogallala Aquifer is one of the largest aquifers in the world, running underneath eight states. Derickson is quick to point out it is not just one big body of water. It actually has three sub-sections. The northern portion of the Ogallala runs underneath Nebraska and Kansas. The central portion runs from southern Kansas to Oklahoma with the southern portion in Texas and New Mexico.

Derickson says ongoing conservation efforts have gotten Nebraska farmers and ranchers involved in conserving water and becoming more aware of the effect fertilizer has on water quality. He says such efforts have kept the northern section healthy.

“The aquifer here is in good shape and is being managed very well,” according to Derickson. “Because the aquifer is so different and it gets thinner the farther south that you go, water scarcity is a huge issue and concern down in Texas.”

According to the USDA, the main goals of the Ogallala Aquifer Initiative are to reduce aquifer water use, improve water quality and enhance its economic viability for crops and pasture in all eight states: Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, New Mexico, Texas, South Dakota, and Wyoming.

Withdrawals from the Ogallala have exceeded the capacity for it to replenish in some areas. Some fertilizer has leached into the aquifer.

Derickson says irrigation management, nutrient management, and crop selection all go into efforts to preserve the aquifer.

Federal money from the USDA will be used for targeted conservation efforts. Proposals were to be submitted by last week.

AUDIO:  Brent Martin reports [:50]

Corn growers aim to rebrand gas pumps nationwide

PrintNebraska and Iowa, the nation’s two largest ethanol-producing states, are launching a joint effort to “rebrand” gasoline pumps nationwide with stickers promoting the American Ethanol brand.

Kelly Brunkhorst, executive director of the Nebraska Corn Board, says the project stems from the past five years of partnership with NASCAR and the pro stock car racing circuit’s use of E-15 fuel.

“This American Ethanol brand has really started to stand out as a very recognizable brand within NASCAR,” Brunkhorst says. “As states work in partnership with NASCAR through this, we thought this was a great opportunity to continue that brand awareness, now on pumps.”

The plan is for stickers with the red, white, blue and green logo to be placed on gas pumps nationwide that offer the ethanol blends.

Brunkhorst says this initiative will help provide consumers with a consistent experience at the pumps, whether they choose E-10, E-15, E-30 or E-85.

“As consumers pull up to the pump, they can see that American Ethanol brand and that American Ethanol label and understand the value it brings to them,” he says. “As they travel across the United States, they’ll be able to consistently see this label on blends, especially in states that require labeling such as Nebraska and Iowa, and they’ll know the consistency of a home-grown, renewable-based biofuel that’s grown right here in Nebraska and Iowa.”

Brunkhorst says the stickers are already going out to hundreds of retailers.

“For those retailers who haven’t submitted their requests for those new, updated American Ethanol labels, they can just go to,” he says, “and there’s a form they can fill out and submit to us and we’ll get them sent out.”

Iowa is the nation’s leading ethanol maker, producing 3.8 billion gallons a year, while Nebraska is second with more than two-billion gallons a year. Iowa has 42 ethanol plants and Nebraska has 24.

By Jerry Oster, WNAX, Yankton

Gov. Ricketts to lead trade mission to Japan

Gov. Pete Ricketts

Gov. Pete Ricketts

Gov. Pete Ricketts and Lt. Gov. Mike Foley will lead a trade mission to Japan.

According to a news release form Ricketts’ office, the governor will lead a delegation of Nebraska business leaders to the 47th Annual Midwest U.S.-Japan Association Conference in Tokyo, September 12th through the 16th.

Lt. Gov. Foley will actually arrive in Japan a week earlier, on September 9th, with a separate delegation promoting Nebraska beef and pork.

Ricketts is scheduled to address the conference September 14th.

“Because Japan continues to be one of Nebraska’s top export customers and business investors, this is the perfect opportunity to continue building on our current relationships and reaffirm our commitment as a key player in Japan and the world marketplace,” Gov. Ricketts said in a written statement released by his office.

Japan plays a major role in the Nebraska economy. Japan is the largest foreign direct investor in the Nebraska economy, investing more than $4.4 billion into the state since 2010. Over 20% of Nebraska beef exports head to Japan; over 50% of its pork exports.

Ricketts earlier this year led a trade mission to Europe.