Posted in Crops, Livestock, Programming

Farmers & Ranchers College

The Farmers & Ranchers College was formed in January 2000 with the purpose of providing high quality, dynamic, up to date educational workshops for area agricultural producers in south central Nebraska through a collaborative effort between business, industry and higher education leaders. Furthermore, the Farmers & Ranchers College will provide the tools necessary so that agricultural producers will be able to respond positively to these changes using a profitable decision making process.frcollege-logo-front-panel

The Farmers and Ranchers College is a unique opportunity to educate agricultural producers in south central Nebraska. Approximately two hundred fifty producers participated in the 2018-19 Farmers & Ranchers College programs. Producers attending these workshops managed over 100,000 acres and managed nearly 10,000 head of beef animals. Participants surveyed indicated a potential impact of nearly $1 million from knowledge gained from participating. The 18th annual Partners in Progress- Beef Seminar featured a variety of industry, University and agricultural organization presenters. Ninety-eight percent of participants surveyed were very satisfied or satisfied with the program quality and fifty-five percent indicated that previous programming improved their knowledge of making risk management decisions.

Contributions and support of area businesses allow participants to attend at no cost, however for programs that have meals, it is requested that people RSVP at least a week in advance for an accurate meal count by calling Fillmore County Extension at (402) 759-3712.

The Farmers and Ranchers College Committee consists of Fred Bruning of Bruning, Bryan Dohrman of Grafton, Sarah Miller of Carleton, Jennifer Engle of Fairmont, Ryne Norton of York, Jim Donovan of Geneva, Bryce Kassik of Geneva, Eric Kamler of Geneva, and Brandy VanDeWalle of Ohiowa.

2019-2020 Program Schedule

December 9, 2019 – “Agriculture Today: It is What it is…What Should We Do About It” w/ Dr. David Kohl, Professor Emeritus, Dept. of AAEC, VA TECH at the Opera House in Bruning, NE from 1-4:00 pm

January 28, 2020** – “Partners In Progress Beef Seminar” Cow/Calf College at U.S. MARC near Clay Center, NE from 10-3:30 p.m., Registration at 9:30 a.m.

March 2020 – “Strategies for Family Farming Success in the Shark Tank” with Dr. Ron Hanson, UNL Harlan Agribusiness Professor Emeritus at the Fillmore Co. Fairgrounds- Geneva, NE     Details are still being finalized for this program.

 ** Programs are free; however registration is appreciated for a meal count. Please call the Fillmore Co. Extension Office at (402) 759-3712 one-week prior to the program to reserve your spot.

Posted in Crops, Livestock, Youth

Remember Ag Safety

Last week I attended the Progressive Agriculture Safety Day coordinator training. This training provides excellent resources for the annual Progressive Agriculture Safety Day we have each May in Geneva. By participating in this program, national donors provides us the opportunity to provide youth t-shirts, access to vital curriculum materials and other support. At the training, two staggering statistics reinforced my reason for continually offering this program to area youth. In North America, every 3 days, a child dies due to an ag-related accident. Also, in North America, every day 33 youth are injured in an agricultural setting.img_6564

The vision of Progressive Agriculture Foundation is that “no child would become ill, injured or die from farm, ranch or rural activities.” As the mother of two school-aged children, I try to stress the importance of safety in and around crop and livestock areas, but it just takes one moment for an accident to happen so please remember to take it slow and easy this harvest season. The stress of farming and ranching is large and taking care of yourself is important not only for your health but to those around you.

Our local ag safety day planning committee will be meeting after the first of the year to plan our program. If you or your business would like to contribute financially to our local youth or be involved in our program, please contact me at (402) 759-3712 or brandy.vandewalle@unl.edu and I’d be glad to talk about ways to effectively teach our youth about ag safety.

Posted in Livestock

Get The Most From Grazing Corn Stalks

cropped-cropped-cornweb.jpgMy colleague and Extension Specialist, Bruce Anderson recently provided some tips for grazing corn stalks which I’ve decided to share in the first part of my column this week.

One of the most important decisions in all grazing situations is stocking rate, including corn stalks.  Fortunately, you can get a good estimate for corn stalks by dividing the corn grain yield by 3.5 to estimate grazing days per acre for a 1,200-pound cow.UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_85d1

So, for a field that yielded 210 bushels per acre, dividing 210 by 3.5 gives 60 grazing days per acre.  Thus, a 160-acre field could provide 9,600 cow grazing days.  That means you could graze 9,600 cows for one day or 1 cow for 9,600 days.  Not very practical, so some other combinations need to be explored.

One possibility is to graze 60 cows for 160 days.  Starting here at the end of October, that could take you all the way through March.  Sounds pretty good but how will this work nutritionally?  Cows will eat the best feed first, any downed grain and the husks.  After a couple months, all that will be left are stalks and leaves that have been walked over, rained or snowed upon.  Without a lot of supplements, these cows will be in very poor shape by the end of March.

Clearly, shorter grazing periods are needed.  Maybe, instead of 60 cows for 160 days you graze 160 cows for 60 days.  Better, but you still may need supplements near the end of the 60 days.  Better still would be to give those 160 cows just one week’s worth of the stalks to start, a little over 18 acres.  By day 6 and 7 those 160 cows will have cleaned up just about everything, but on day 8 you give them a fresh 18 acres, returning them to high quality feed without so much supplement.

Both stocking rate and changes in the quality of grazing with time need consideration as you plan and manage stalk grazing.  Do it right and corn stalks become a great winter feed resource.

Source: Bruce Anderson, Extension Professor- University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Posted in Crops, Irrigation, Livestock, Programming

Free Ag Law and Farm Finance Clinics

Free legal and financial clinics are being offered for farmers and ranchers at seven sites across the state in October. The clinics are one-on-one meetings with an agricultural law attorney and an agricultural financial counselor. These are not group sessions, and they are confidential.

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

The attorney and financial advisor specialize in legal and financial issues related to farming and ranching, including financial and business planning, transition planning, farm loan programs, debtor/creditor law, debt structure and cash flow, agricultural disaster programs, and other relevant matters. Here is an opportunity to obtain an independent, outside perspective on issues that may be affecting your farm or ranch.

To sign up for a free clinic or to get more information, call the Nebraska Farm Hotline at 1-800-464-0258.

Funding for this work is provided by the Nebraska Department of Agriculture, Legal Aid of Nebraska, North Central Extension Risk Management Education Center, and the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

Clinic Sites and Dates

  • North Platte — Thursday, October 10
  • Lexington — Thursday, October 17
  • Fairbury — Wednesday, October 23
  • Valentine — Tuesday, October 29
  • Norfolk — Wednesday, October 30
Posted in Crops, Irrigation, Livestock

Stress is a Part of Life

First of all, I’d like to give a shout-out to the many volunteers who helped contribute to a successful county fair!  Without great volunteers so freely giving their time and talents to the youth in the 4-H program, 4-H would not be the success it is! I would like to personally thank all of the extension staff, fair board members, 4-H Council members, superintendents, and other volunteers for their dedication to the 4-H program. Fair can be a stressful time; however, when we don’t lose sight of its purpose can create long-lasting and positive memories.

woman working girl sitting
Photo by Alexander Dummer on Pexels.com

Speaking of stress, this week I’ve captured a few stress relieving tips to consider as summer comes to an end and youth will be in school. Stress is a part of life; we can’t live without it, but sometimes we feel that we can’t live with it!

Stress comes from many sources: a family crisis such as death, divorce or long separation; It might be from overloaded schedules; maybe expectations that cannot be met or unexpected circumstances; A loss of job, health, home or friendship; it can even come from a happy event as marriage, the birth of a child, or moving into a new home. Regardless of the cause, the following are three ways you can manage your stress: alter it, avoid it, or accept it.

Alter your life by removing the source of stress. Some stressors can be relieved by better planning or organization in your life. Simple things like having emergency supplies on hand, not shopping at the busiest times of the week, or organizing your work space can each be stress relievers. If morning schedules are tight, lay out children’s clothes or set the table for breakfast the night before.

Avoiding stress is another management strategy. Learn to say no, when an addition to your schedule will only add to your stress. If you are stressed by long waits, plan something to do (like reading a book) while you wait for an appointment. If there is too much tension in your home or office, go for a walk to clear your mind and relieve the tension.

man in blue and brown plaid dress shirt touching his hair
Photo by Nathan Cowley on Pexels.com

Find a way to accept the stressors that we have no control over. Talking to a trusted friend will help you put things in perspective. Keeping in good health by eating well, getting enough sleep and keeping a routine are essential. Look for the good. Even in the worst of circumstances, there are things that can bring a smile to your face, reasons to be thankful, and opportunities to help others.

Source: How to Manage Daily Stress@ by Dr. Herbert G. Lingren, Extension Family Scientist, NF98-388.

Resources for Nebraska Farmers, Ranchers, and Their Families
We hope you reach out if you are feeling stressed.

  • Rural Response Hotline: The hotline offers access to many attorneys, financial advisors, professional counselors, mediators, clergy, and others. There are 167 behavioral health professionals working with the Rural Response Hotline.  Ask about no-cost vouchers for counseling services. 800-464-0258
  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: A national network of local crisis centers that provides free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. 800-273-8255.
    – Crisis Text Line: Free, 24/7 support for those in crisis, connecting people in
    crisis to trained Crisis Counselors. Text GO to 741741
  • Veterans Crisis Line: Connect with this resource to reach caring, qualified responders within the Department of Veterans Affairs. Many of them are Veterans themselves. 800-273-8255, Press 1 or Text to 838255
  • Negotiations Program: Mediation services for agricultural borrowers, creditors, and USDA program participants. Free one-on-one education on agricultural financial and legal matters. 402-471-4876
  • The Boys Town National Hotline: Not just for boys. For all teens and their parents, this hotline is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, with specially trained counselors. A TDD line is available (1-800-448-1833), allowing counselors to communicate with speech-impaired and deaf callers. 800-448-3000
  • SAMHSA National Helpline: Free, confidential, 24/7, 365-day-a-year treatment referral in English and Spanish for individuals and families experiencing issues with alcohol, prescription drug, or other substance abuse. 800-662-HELP (4357)

YOU ARE NOT ALONE.
We care about you!

Posted in Crops, Irrigation, Livestock

FSA County Committee Nomination Deadline

It is important for one to stand for what they believe in and takes an active role in one’s community. Effective leadership is crucial to any community or organization.  An effective leader understands the issues at-hand, is knowledgeable in his/her area, knows the proper ways to motivate others, embraces change, can work in a variety of settings and with a variety of personalities, and involves the group or followers in important decision-making. That being said, remember that a leader is not only a political figure or someone that is well known, but a leader can be a farmer, local businessmen/women, or anyone in a community or organization.  For those individuals desiring to take on leadership roles, consider serving on the FSA County Committee. Details for how to step into this role follow.

houses in farm against cloudy sky
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) encourages all farmers, ranchers, and FSA program participants to take part in the County Committee election nomination process.

FSA’s county committees are a critical component of the day-to-day operations of FSA and allow grassroots input and local administration of federal farm programs.

Committees are comprised of locally elected agricultural producers responsible for the fair and equitable administration of FSA farm programs in their counties. Committee members are accountable to the Secretary of Agriculture. If elected, members become part of a local decision making and farm program delivery process.

A county committee is composed of three elected members from local administrative areas (LAA). Each member serves a three-year term. One-third of the seats on these committees are open for election each year.

County committees may have an appointed advisor to further represent the local interests of underserved farmers and ranchers. Underserved producers are beginning, women and other minority farmers and ranchers and landowners and/or operators who have limited resources.

All nomination forms for the 2019 election must be postmarked or received in the local USDA service center by Aug. 1, 2019. For more information on FSA county committee elections and appointments, refer to the FSA fact sheet: Eligibility to Vote and Hold Office as a COC Member available online at: fsa.usda.gov/elections.

Posted in Livestock, Programming, Youth

Sportsmanship & Youth Development

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My youngest daughter, Meredith has been learning responsibility with her first bucket calf.

Webster’s Third International Dictionary defines sportsmanship as “conduct becoming an individual involving fair and honest competition, courteous relations and graceful acceptance of results”.  Sportsmanship starts with parents teaching their youth how to accept a win or a loss, although in the 4-H youth development program, even if the youth receives a red ribbon, nothing is lost as long as some basic knowledge and skills were gained. Too often in our society we focus on the tangible results of a ribbon or trophy and don’t think about the process that youth went through to achieve the end results and what was learned from that process.

I often use the example that as a youth, I’ll never forget receiving a red ribbon for a market heifer; I was disappointed, but will never forget my dad asking me, what the judge said in the comments.  After we talked it over, I realized his reasoning and was able to understand the type of animal I should select the following year. That was a lesson I’ll never forget.  My parents instilled the value of hard work into my sister and I and any animal we showed we bought with our own money to build a small cow/calf herd or they came from our own herd. We rarely had the award-winning animal and were extremely excited to even receive a purple ribbon. The learning that occurred, memories and fun we had were just as valuable then if we would have received a trophy or plaque.

For these reasons, it is really rewarding to work with youth who are happy with any ribbon placing- white, red, blue or purple. It really is just one person’s opinion on one particular day!

The 4-H Program focuses on providing positive youth development and developing young people as future leaders. A ribbon or plaque placing does not achieve this; rather it is the process, skills and effort that went into the project.  It is also important to mention that the entire 4-H program extends beyond the county fair and is done through educational workshops, career portfolios, leadership experiences and much more and is a year-round program.

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My oldest daughter, McKenzie added pigs to her 4-H project this year and has been having to learn lots more responsibility and patience.

Positive Youth Development

National 4-H reminds us that there are four critical components of a successful learning experience which include a sense of belonging, independence, mastery and generosity. During county fair and all 4-H programming, it is important that youth experience these.

Belonging

Youth need to know they are cared about by others and feel a sense of connection to others in the group. As the facilitator, it is important to provide youth the opportunity to feel physically and emotionally safe while actively participating in a group. Create a safe and inclusive environment and foster a positive relationship with youth learners. Use discussion questions that encourage youth to learn from each other, synthesize and use ideas collaboratively.

Independence

Youth need to know that they are able to influence people and events through decision-making and action. They learn to better understand themselves and become independent thinkers. Throughout each curriculum, youth are given opportunities to develop and reflect upon thoughts and responses to the challenges, explorations, and investigations. Youth begin to understand that they are able to act as change agents with confidence and competence as a result of their learning.

Mastery

In order to develop self-confidence youth need to feel and believe they are capable and they must experience success at solving problems and meeting challenges. Youth need a breadth and depth of topics that allow them to pursue their own interests. Introduce youth to expert knowledge and guide them toward their own sense of mastery and accomplishment.

Generosity

Youth need to feel their lives have meaning and purpose. Throughout each curriculum, youth are encouraged to broaden their perspectives, find relevance in the topic area and bring ideas back to their community.

Adapted from 4-H Essential Elements of 4-H Youth Development, Dr. Cathann Kress, 2004.