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(Audio) "Chat with the Chancellor" with UNK Chancellor, Doug Kristensen - December 14, 2019

Brandon Benitz continues his “Chat with the Chancellor” series here in the Fall 2019 semester.  He's once again joined by Doug Kristensen, the Chancellor of the University of Nebraska at Kearney. This week, we chat about that past two NU Board of Regents' meetings (one in late October and an...

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(Audio) "Chat with the Chancellor" with UNK Chancellor, Doug Kristensen - December 14, 2019

Brandon Benitz continues his “Chat with the Chancellor” series here in the Fall 2019 semester.  He's once again joined by Doug Kristensen, the Chancellor of the University of Nebraska at Kearney. This week, we chat about that past two NU Board of Regents' meetings (one in late October and an...

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Ag business to grow and market hemp seed

Hemp seed production is vital, as growers get ready to ramp up production. The question is, is there enough feminized hempseed to go around. Western Farms Seed LLC in Scottsbluff will help in filling the demand, by growing seed for producers at its greenhouse. The newly created business is own...

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State Fair Wraps up Final Board Meeting for 2019

Grand Island, NE- The Nebraska State wrapped up their final board meeting of 2019 Friday. After the resignation of Patrick Kopke, chief of finance and administration for the fair at their November board meeting and restructuring resulting in the reduction of staff by roughly 50%, the board spent ...

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Trump says US, China have reached deal; Sunday tariffs off

President Donald Trump says the U.S. and China have reached an interim Phase 1 trade deal. That announcement is seen as de-escalating a 17-month dispute between the economic powers. Trump says the U.S. is dropping plans to impose tariffs Sunday on $160 billion in Chinese imports. The U.S. also is...

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Ag Tech Start-Up Wins $25,000 - Friday Five (Dec. 13, 2019)

The Nebraska Power Farming Show was held in Lincoln this week. It’s the second-largest indoor ag show in the U.S. It spans 9.2 acres and boasts 760 exhibitors and over 2,000 booths. On Wednesday, NPFS hosted its Ag Tech Innovation Competition. Scott Newohner with Dynamic Motion took home bot...

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Crops

The Friday Fontanelle Final Bell with Sue Martin of Ag & Investment

China-Phase One Deal.  Details are pretty quiet.  Cattle was the market that took this all in as there has been a lot of people that have been short.  Holiday trade is in place.  Beans rallied but didn’t have the full fireworks many had hoped for.  Corn turning positive.

Ag business to grow and market hemp seed

Hemp seed production is vital, as growers get ready to ramp up production. The question is, is there enough feminized hempseed to go around. Western Farms Seed LLC in Scottsbluff will help in filling the demand, by growing seed for producers at its greenhouse. The newly created business is owned by cousins, P.J. Hoehn, Mike Hoehn, their uncles Ed and Art Hoehn, and business partner Mark Johnson. The business kicked off when Mike Hoehn received one of the 10 permits the Nebraska Department of Agriculture allotted to individuals in 2019 to grow hemp. Nebraska did a lottery where they allowed only ten businesses or individuals to grow hemp after the 2018 Farm Bill legalized the plant.   Hoehn grew a one-acre test plot outside of Mitchell, with three varieties of hemp seed.  “The current varieties are Wife, Franklin, and Montana, we also have T1s,” said P.J. Hoehn, president of the company. “We’ll be crossbreeding them and making new varieties.” The three varieties have been proven to perform well for growers out in the field for the last couple of seasons. Feminized seeds are bred explicitly in a way that eliminates the male chromosomes, drastically decreasing the chances of producing a male marijuana plant. Male marijuana plants are not desirable to any degree, except for pollination. “The genetics, which we have chosen are specific for industrial hemp,” said Johnson, public relations for the company. “We feel pretty safe that we won’t have an impact from industrial hemp’s cousin (marijuana).” Western Farms Seed is also working in collaboration with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln through the Panhandle Research and Extension Center on hemp production. “We’re producers ourselves, so we want to number one make sure the quality is there and everything else, our germination, our testing will all be there,” Hoehn said.  He adds they are also making sure they will be able to advise growers on the equipment, such which as plates to use and vacuum. So, when farmers go to plant, they are ready, and if needed, Western Farms Seed would provide support in the knowledge of equipment, planting, and harvesting.   In terms of growing the crop, Johnson said a hemp crop is similar to corn or dry edible bean crops. Hemp should be planted by May or June and harvested after a 90 to 110 day growing period before frost.  “We found hemp to be very resilient after our two hail storms this summer,” said Johnson. “The crop was able to recover from both hail storms in really good fashion. Ending up producing a nice crop in light of Mother Nature.” The business, with winter, has moved growing operations into the greenhouse. The five interconnected greenhouse buildings have 21,000 sq feet of growing spaces and house the female plants.  The plants will need light at different times, and when they enter the vegetative stage will need light for up to 16 hours a day.  “Industrial hemp has two different growth stages, vegetative, which requires more light, and reproductive growth,” said Johnson. “So people might notice the greenhouse lights being on longer when we go to the next stage of production.” Both Hoehn and Johnson say producers should start small with an acre or so and of course, make sure they have a buyer before they even plant.  

Wheat Organizations Encouraged by Progress on Phase One Deal with China

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) and the National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) are encouraged by news today that the United States and China have agreed on the text of a “Phase One” trade deal that apparently would roll back tariffs and re-open China’s important market for U.S. agricultural imports. Earlier this year, China agreed to new policies related to new agricultural tariff rate quotas (TRQ), including a 9.6 million metric ton reduced tariff TRQ for wheat imports. China had imported as much as 1.65 million metric tons of U.S. wheat in marketing year 2016/17 and an additional 866,000 metric tons in 2017/18 before implementing retaliatory tariffs in March 2018. We also believe that China’s flour millers and growing baking industry would welcome the opportunity to purchase high-quality U.S. wheat classes again. We want to thank the negotiators in the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative for their dedicated effort and we look forward to learning more details about the agreement.

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Livestock

The Friday Fontanelle Final Bell with Sue Martin of Ag & Investment

China-Phase One Deal.  Details are pretty quiet.  Cattle was the market that took this all in as there has been a lot of people that have been short.  Holiday trade is in place.  Beans rallied but didn’t have the full fireworks many had hoped for.  Corn turning positive.

Cattle Producers Event to Offer Demo and Dinner

(York)--All local cattle producers are invited to attend a free informational event on Thursday, January 23, from 4-6 p.m. in York. The event will offer a demonstration of the Rawhide Portable Corral equipment recently purchased by the Rainwater Basin Joint Venture for use by producers in the Upper Big Blue and the Little Blue Natural Resources Districts. Dinner at Chances R’ will follow, with presentations from Pete Mcclymont, executive vice president of the Nebraska Cattlemen’s Association; Kim Siebert, past president of the York-Hamilton County Cattlemen’s Association; and Andy Bishop, coordinator for the Rainwater Basin Joint Venture. The portable corral is one of three purchased by the Rainwater Basin Joint Venture through a grant from the Nebraska Environmental Trust for the use of cattle producers grazing wetlands in central Nebraska. The equipment makes it easier for producers to load cattle into and out of wetland areas and is provided for free use through the NRDs as an incentive for grazing wetlands. “This event will be a great opportunity for producers to come out and learn more about the equipment and opportunities that are available to them,” said Bishop. “We have had a lot of interest in the equipment and we want to answer everyone’s questions as well as show producers how easy it is to add wetland grazing into their cattle feeding operation.” Access to the new portable corral is a potential cost savings for local cattle producers, notes Bishop. “Many of them have pasture in the Sandhills or the Flint Hills, so they are shipping the cattle for grazing. Having wetlands to graze is great because it keeps animals closer to home…Having easier access to the wetlands with this equipment helps them diversify their operation without significant additional work.” In addition to the portable corral, the Rainwater Basin Joint Venture also offers 85 percent cost-share funds for perimeter fence, livestock wells, and cross fence--the infrastructure to make grazing wetlands and associated grasslands effectively fit into a producers’ operation without a lot of out-of-pocket expense. Kim Siebert, owner of S Diamond Angus in Henderson, has used the portable corral and will speak at the event about his experiences. Siebert runs a herd of about 150 cow-calf pairs annually and grazes them rotationally in local wetlands managed by Nebraska Game and Parks. Grazing in wetlands and river bottoms has been part of Siebert’s operation for 20 years. Nebraska wetlands such as the Rainwater Basin provide essential water filtration and aquifer recharge. They are also habitat for hundreds of species, including some that are at risk, such as whooping cranes, peregrine falcons and bald eagles. Unfortunately, these wetlands have been negatively impacted in the last 150 years through land development and cultivation. Incorporation of these wetlands into local farm and ranch operations through grazing maximizes habitat values in the remaining wetlands. Grazing cattle in wetlands have a similar impact as the bison who once roamed freely across the state. Cattle can mow down many invasive species (such as reed canary grass and smooth brome), turn the earth and fertilize it, as well as spread seeds of native plants (including switchgrass and big blue stem, and native flowers). This promotes plant diversity in the wetlands and uplands providing habitat for waterfowl, pheasants and other wildlife. “We would like to encourage more cattle producers to take advantage of this equipment, as it can benefit their businesses as well as Nebraska wetlands and the migratory bird populations that depend on them,” said Bishop. Central Nebraska provides one of the world’s greatest waterfowl migration spectacles as tens of millions of waterfowl descend on the Rainwater Basin each spring, not as a destination, but as a rest stop between southern wintering areas and northern nesting grounds. Bishop sees use of cattle grazing in the Rainwater Basin as a natural way to manage the ecosystem. “Heavy grazing at the right time means more diverse plant communities in these wetlands,” said Bishop. “By using grazing, we don’t have to use chemical treatments and other mechanical methods to manage the area…..We directly impact the population sustainability of millions of migratory waterfowl by maintaining these wetlands.” The informational event on January 23 will begin at 4 p.m. at the Upper Big Blue NRD office (319 E 25th St, York) with a demonstration of the equipment. Afterward, attendees will relocate to the Chances R’ Beer Garden (124 W 5th St, York) to hear from speakers and enjoy dinner. To register for the event, please call 402-362-6601 or visit www.upperbigblue.org/cattlemensevent.

Livestock Producers Applaud Skipwith Confirmation, Encourage Vote on Pending Nominees

WASHINGTON (Dec. 12, 2019) - National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) President Jennifer Houston and Public Lands Council (PLC) President Bob Skinner today issued the following statements in response to the U.S. Senate’s confirmation of Aurelia Skipwith as the director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service: “Aurelia Skipwith possesses a keen understanding of industry and science and recognizes the value ranching brings to wildlife conservation.  We look forward to working with her in her new role as director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.” -Jennifer Houston “We are pleased the Senate has filled another important vacancy at the Interior Department with someone as qualified as Ms. Skipwith.  A fully staffed Department is critical to the success of the rural West and we urge swift confirmation of remaining nominees, such as Katharine MacGregor to be deputy secretary.” -Bob Skinner

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Technology

USDA to Make $550 Million in Funding Available to Deploy High-Speed Broadband Internet Infrastructure in Rural America

STANTON, Iowa, Dec. 12, 2019 – U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today announced the availability of a second round of $550 million in United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Reconnect Pilot Program funding appropriated by Congress. The application window for this round of funding is set to open Jan. 31, 2020. Secretary Perdue made the announcement alongside Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds while congratulating the Farmers Mutual Telephone Company of Stanton, Iowa, for receiving $6.4 million in first-round Reconnect Pilot Program funding to connect 477 households, 35 farms and 21 businesses in Montgomery and Page counties. “This second round of ReConnect funding will help USDA be an even stronger partner in closing the digital divide in America’s rural communities,” Secretary Perdue said. “Our core mission at USDA is to increase rural prosperity through boosting economic opportunity in rural America. We know that rural communities need robust, modern infrastructure to thrive, and that includes having access to broadband e-Connectivity. Under the leadership of President Trump and in cooperation with Congressional appropriators, USDA is proud to partner with rural communities to deploy this critical infrastructure, because we know when rural America thrives, all of America thrives.” Gov. Reynolds added, “Iowa is home to creative entrepreneurs who are driving technological innovation across the heartland. By leveraging local, state and federal resources, we are investing like never before in broadband connectivity and sparking revitalization across rural Iowa. I appreciate Secretary Perdue for being here today to represent the Trump Administration’s unwavering commitment to growing all aspects of rural America.” Second Round Highlights: USDA will make available up to $200 million for grants, up to $200 million for 50/50 grant/loan combinations, and up to $200 million for low-interest loans. The application window for this round of funding will open Jan. 31, 2020. Applications for all funding products will be accepted in the same application window, which will close no later than March 16, 2020. A full description of 2020 ReConnect Pilot Program funding is available on page 67913 of the Dec. 12, 2019, Federal Register (PDF, 336 KB). To learn more about eligibility, technical assistance and recent announcements, visit www.usda.gov/reconnect.

Water Well Trust Partners with The Chris Long Foundation on U.S. Water Well Projects

WASHINGTON /PRNewswire/ -- The Water Well Trust, a national nonprofit helping low-income Americans get access to a clean, safe water supply, is partnering with The Chris Long Foundation and the Rural Community Assistance Partnership (RCAP) to create a new domestic water program called "Hometown H2o" with the support of corporate partners Xylem and Goulds Water Technologies. Working with the Water Well Trust, "Hometown H2o" will fund and drill water wells for low-income households that do not have access to water at home or within a reasonable distance. By raising funds to build individual wells and small, shared wells, Hometown H2o will be able to provide safe drinking water to American homes in need in one of the most cost-effective ways. According to the latest American Community Survey, there are 460,000 households -- or 1.5 million Americans -- living without access to access to clean, safe, affordable drinking water. Two-time Super Bowl Champion and 2018 NFL Walter Payton Man of the Year Chris Long said he is expanding the mission of his foundation's Waterboys initiative to meet the needs of Americans without access to a clean, safe drinking water supply. "It's always been a passion of mine to connect our work abroad with our work domestically," says Waterboys founder Chris Long. "We are committed to making a huge difference domestically and will focus on the water issues that affect primarily rural, impoverished communities." Waterboys unites professional NFL and NBA athletes and fans from across the world in support of a single, shared cause: providing clean, accessible drinking water to 1 million people. To date, Waterboys has raised more than $4 million with the help of over 45 professional athletes, providing clean drinking water to more than 330,000 people in East Africa. Hometown H2o will also join forces with RCAP's Agua4All program to ensure students and teachers in rural communities have access to safe drinking water by installing water bottle filling stations and filtration stations in schools and other community-centered places. In addition, leading global water technology company Xylem and its corporate social responsibility program, Watermark, will provide financial and product support for the Hometown H2o initiative through its Goulds Water Technology brand. "This partnership will provide fantastic new resources for meeting the needs of Americans without access to clean, safe water," said Water Well Trust program director Margaret Martens. "The Trust has a long waiting list of families who have been hanging on for years, hoping for this kind of help.  For them, every day without water is a struggle. Hometown H2o will help us fulfill the promise of a better life for these American families much more quickly." The Water Well Trust maintains a wait list of American households requesting funding for the drilling of new wells or rehabilitation of non-functioning wells in high-need, low-resource rural areas. Prospective applicants can download the application form and instruction letter from the Water Well Trust website. For more information, visit waterwelltrust.org. About Waterboys Founded in 2015 by two-time Super Bowl Champion Chris Long, Waterboys unites professional NFL and NBA athletes and fans from across the world in support of a single, shared cause: providing clean, accessible drinking water to 1 million people. By working together, players and fans can make a meaningful difference for communities in desperate need by funding sustainable clean water projects. These projects provide life-giving water and all that comes from it – including the opportunities for education, good health, and economic stability. Initially starting with projects in East Africa, Waterboys expanded its work in 2019 to also include U.S water projects. To date, Waterboys has raised over $4 million with the help of over 45 professional athletes, providing clean drinking water to more than 330,000 people as a result. To find out more, visit waterboys.org. About The Chris Long Foundation The Chris Long Foundation is a nonprofit, founded by two-time Super Bowl Champion and 2018 NFL Walter Payton Man of the Year Chris Long, dedicated to serving those most at risk, at home and abroad. Started in 2015, The Chris Long Foundation has engaged in both international and domestic programs focused around clean water, educational equity, and military support. The Foundation's programs strive to generate impactful results by creating opportunities and providing resources, financial support, and meaningful experiences to those it serves. Visit chrislongfoundation.org to find out more. About Xylem Xylem (XYL) is a leading global water technology company committed to developing innovative technology solutions to the world's water challenges. The Company's products and services move, treat, analyze, monitor and return water to the environment in public utility, industrial, residential and commercial building services settings. Xylem also provides a leading portfolio of smart metering, network technologies and advanced infrastructure analytics solutions for water, electric and gas utilities. The Company's approximately 17,000 employees bring broad applications expertise with a strong focus on identifying comprehensive, sustainable solutions. Headquartered in Rye Brook, New York with 2018 revenue of $5.2 billion, Xylem does business in more than 150 countries through a number of market-leading product brands. For more information, please visit us at www.xylem.com. About The Water Well Trust The Water Well Trust (WWT) is a 501(c)3 organization created by the Water Systems Council to provide a clean water supply to American families living without access to a precious resource most of us take for granted. The WWT and its partners build wells for low-income families nationwide that need safe drinking water.  To learn more, visit waterwelltrust.org. About RCAP RCAP is a national non-profit network providing opportunity, assistance, and practical guidance to small communities in all fifty states, U.S. territories, and tribal lands to ensure access to safe drinking water, sanitary wastewater disposal, and economic prosperity for all rural America. Rural Community Assistance Corporation (RCAC), the Western RCAP, launched the Agua4All pilot program in 2014 in California, and the team has installed more than 435 filling stations statewide. To learn more about RCAP, visit www.rcap.org.

USDA Announces Fellowships to Develop the Next Generation of Agriculture

WASHINGTON, Dec. 2, 2019 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Office of Partnerships and Public Engagement (OPPE) today announced fellowship opportunities to connect USDA resources with faculty and staff at Hispanic Serving Institutions, 1994 Tribal Colleges and Universities, and 1890 Land-Grant Universities.   “We are excited to build upon the more than 20 years of success of the E. Kika De La Garza Fellowship Program to offer additional opportunities to empower faculty and staff from our partner institutions to holistically develop the next generation of agriculture,” said OPPE Director Mike Beatty.   The purpose of these fellowships is to connect participants to USDA and other federal resources while focusing on student development. Fellows will receive access to long-term collaboration opportunities, and then share what they learned with students and colleagues at their home institutions.   The E. Kika De La Garza Fellowship Program is designed for faculty or staff at a Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI) or Hispanic-Serving School District. HSIs are accredited colleges and universities with at least 25 percent Hispanic student enrollment. Currently, there are more than 500 HSIs in 21 states and Puerto Rico, serving more than 2 million students. See the 2020 the E. Kika De La Garza Fellowship Program application (PDF, 1.2 MB) for details.   The Terra Preta do Indio Tribal Fellowship is designed for faculty and staff from 1994 Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs) and Secondary Education Superintendents, Principals, Agricultural and/or District Level Teachers working for Bureau of Indian Education designated high schools. See the Terra Preta do Indio Tribal Fellowship application (PDF, 257 KB) for details.   The Booker T. Washington Fellowship is aimed at faculty and staff at an accredited 1890 Land-Grant University and Secondary Education Superintendents, Principals, Agricultural and/or District Level Teachers working for an 1890 Land-Grant University feeder high school. See the 2020 Booker T. Washington Fellowship application (PDF, 349 KB) for details.   Each program offers opportunities for Education Fellows and Science Fellows. Education Fellows participate in a week-long program in Washington, D.C. scheduled to start June 15 and end on June 19, 2020. Science Fellows participate in a two-week program, consisting of one week in Washington, D.C. and a second week at a USDA research location, ending on June 26, 2020.   The application deadline for all fellowship opportunities is 11:59 p.m. on February 12, 2020.  

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Ag Policy

USMEF Statement on U.S.-China Phase One Trade Deal

Today the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) announced that the United States and China have reached a "Phase One" trade deal. More details are in this USTR press release. U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) President and CEO Dan Halstrom issued this statement: China is the world's largest and fastest-growing destination for imported red meat, and the U.S. industry is excited about the prospects for expanded opportunities in China. We look forward to learning more details about this Phase One agreement. U.S. pork and beef products have been subject to burdensome retaliatory duties in China since 2018, and this has made it very difficult for the U.S. industry to capitalize on China's rapidly growing need for high-quality proteins. But long before retaliatory duties entered the picture, non-tariff barriers were a major, persistent obstacle for U.S. exporters looking to expand their business in China. USMEF thanks the Trump administration for bringing these issues to the forefront in an effort to persuade China to follow international standards for red meat trade.  

Trump says US, China have reached deal; Sunday tariffs off

President Donald Trump says the U.S. and China have reached an interim Phase 1 trade deal. That announcement is seen as de-escalating a 17-month dispute between the economic powers. Trump says the U.S. is dropping plans to impose tariffs Sunday on $160 billion in Chinese imports. The U.S. also is reducing some existing tariffs on Chinese goods. Trump says the Chinese have agreed to "massive'' but unspecified purchases of American farm and manufactured products.

House Passes Farm Workforce Modernization Act

The House of Representatives passed the Farm Workforce Modernization Act by a vote of 260 to 165. The bill would ease immigration for agricultural workers. It won the support of over 300 farm groups, as well as the United Farm Workers. The Hagstrom Report points out that the California Farm Bureau supported the bill but the American Farm Bureau Federation did not. AFB fears the bill will lead to higher wages for farm workers and increase the legal vulnerability of farm employers. President Zippy Duvall says several amendments that would have addressed Farm Bureau concerns were blocked from consideration, so they “do not support the final bill passed by the House.” Heritage Action for America says it grants amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants without doing anything to “reform our broken immigration system.” Zoe Lofgren of California, the lead sponsor of the bill, says, “Our bill offers stability for American farms by providing a path to legal status for our farm workers.” Republicans weren’t happy about the bill's formula for calculating farm wages and complained that the year-round visa pilot program doesn't include the meat and poultry sectors. They also objected to providing "amnesty" to undocumented immigrants working on U.S. farms. The bill’s prospects in the Senate and with President Trump are described as problematic.

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Markets

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