Posted in Crops, Irrigation, Livestock

Husker Harvest Days

Don’t forget to visit the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s IANR building at Husker Harvest Days! “Small Changes, Big Payback: Strengthening Nebraska’s Agricultural Economy” is the theme for the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources exhibits at the farm show Sept. 12-14 near Grand Island.HDD17

Exhibits inside IANR’s Husker Red building will provide information on:

  • Strategies for managing family budgets during challenging economic times;
  • The relationship between cost, nutritional value and impact of various feed sources for cow/calf operations;
  • Understanding the county-by-county differences in the risk factors that affect crop insurance rates and how they impact profitability and management decisions;
  • How farmers can better utilize the Farm Bill safety net;
  • Benchmarking the costs of pumping irrigation water to better control input costs and make decisions related to pump efficiency and energy usage;
  • Crop production strategies that can have a positive impact on cost per acre and profit margin;
  • Using crop budgets to analyze the operating costs for a farm to become a low-cost producer;
  • The university’s annual survey of agricultural land value and rental rates in Nebraska.
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Posted in Crops, Livestock, Youth

Hurricane Harvey’s Impact on Agriculture

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If you are connected with social media, you might have seen the video or pictures of cattle being moved by horses down the streets of Texas to higher ground. You might have seen pictures of destroyed cotton crops, grain bins and flooded farm houses. Prior to Hurricane Harvey, farmers worked around the clock to harvest their cotton and ranchers worked to move livestock to safety. For many cotton farmers, they were looking at record yields and Texas A&M AgriLife Extensionreported that at least 1.2 million beef cows graze in the 54 counties on the disaster list as of this article. Texas rice producers had already harvested about 75 percent of their rice, but wind and water likely damaged storage bins leading to more crop losses.

Of course, time will tell how the actual economic impact of this storm, not to mention the impact of fuel prices. The great thing about the agricultural community is that we stick together and help one another during these difficult times. Many local people gave money to assist our Kansas neighbors following widespread fires. Now, farmers and ranchers in Texas could use assistance. There will be a lot of fence to repair, buildings, bins, and just help restore these farm and ranch family’s lives. So how can you help?  There are many options. A close and local option is to give blood!  Some other ways to help include:

Texas A&M AgriLife Extension agents have set up the following Animal Supply Points and are requesting square bale horse quality hay, various types of hay for cattle in round or square bales, all-stock feed and range cubes/protein supplements at this time. They are not currently taking donations for fencing supplies. Before collecting or delivering donations, contact the AgriLife Animal Supply Point Hotline at 979-845-7800 to confirm needs and delivery.

A New Day: Texas Agricultural Education Disaster Relief Fund 

This fund will help FFA chapters and agricultural education programs rebuild following natural disasters such as Hurricane Harvey. Donations to this fund will be dispersed via an application process directly to the programs and chapters affected by the storm. More more information, go to https://www.texasffa.org/NewDay.

Texas 4-H Relief Support Campaign for 4-H Programs Affected by Hurricane Harvey

The Texas 4-H Youth Development Program and the Texas 4-H Youth Development Foundation are facilitating a monetary campaign to directly support 4-H clubs and county programs in the hurricane zone. The website is https://texas4hfoundation.org/.
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STAR Fund

The STAR Fund is used to assist farmers and ranchers in rebuilding fences, restoring operations and paying for other agricultural disaster relief. If you’d like to help farmers and ranchers impacted by floods, wildfires, tornadoes or other natural disasters. To donate to the STAR Fund, go to https://www.texasagriculture.gov and search for the STAR fund.

Of course, there are many other organizations and ways to help. This will take a long time for all of the victims to rebuild their lives. Keep them in your thoughts and do what you can to make a difference.

Posted in Crops, Livestock, Uncategorized

Ag Land Management, Back to the Basics

Anyone who owns or leases farm ground or leases it to someone else will want to attend this day-long seminar providing information and education about that ownership.  Learn management strategies for this asset by attending this seminarnature-field-sun-agriculture.jpg at the Adams County Fairgrounds, 947 S. Baltimore Ave, Hastings, NE. The event will be held Thursday, August 31st with registration starting at 9:00 a.m., program starting at 9:30 and ending around 3:00 p.m.

Participants can use this seminar to learn about: Am I keeping the farm, or selling it? How do I manage a farm? If leasing, what are key lease provisions?  What legal considerations do I have with this decision? And, how do we manage family communications and expectations when other family is involved? What does a soil test tell me?  I hear about organic or natural production; how does that vary from what my farmer is currently doing?  If corn and soybeans aren’t making money why don’t we raise other crops? What should I expect for communications between the landlord and tenant?  What are key pasture leasing considerations?money bag.jpg

“I am contacted monthly from citizens who have had their parents pass away, and now they are managing a farm for the first time in their lives,” said Allan Vyhnalek, Extension Educator and event speaker.  “They may have even grown up there, but haven’t been around for 30 or 40 years, and need to understand that farming practices and management concepts have changed,” Vyhnalek continued.

The workshop is designed to provide primer education for those that haven’t been on the farm much, or on the farm much recently.  It is also designed to be a refresher course for those that would like to have the latest information on land management and rental.

Pre-registration is requested by Monday, August 28, 2017.  Registration fee is $20 per person or $30 per couple.  The fee covers handouts, refreshments and lunch.  Contact Twila Bankson at the Adams County Extension Office, P.O. Box 30, Hastings, NE 68901, twila.bankson@unl.edu, or 402-461-7209 to register.

The program is being provided by Allan Vyhnalek, Aaron Nygren, and Jim Jansen, Extension Educators from Nebraska Extension.  They provide the farm land management and agronomy education in eastern Nebraska.

Posted in Crops, Livestock

The Great American Eclipse & Agritourism

Some of my summer has been spent creating lessons to accompany the solar eclipse event which will occur August 21, 2017. Over 200 Nebraska communities fall within path of totality, or the path of the shadow where observers will see the moon completely over the sun for roughly two and a half minutes.  During the total solar eclipse, the moon’s umbral shadow will fly across the United States from Oregon to South Carolina, in a little over 90 minutes. This is the first eclipse through the contiguous United States since 1979, according to NASA records.

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Photo Credit: NASA

An eclipse will only occur in the same spot once every 375 years and we are fortunate to be in the area of totality. With thousands of tourists expected to visit Nebraska to visit the eclipse, I’ve heard of people as far from Japan and Sweden coming to our area to view this amazing event. There may even be a few rural landowners wanting to capitalize on this economic development opportunity. There are a few things that David Aiken, Extension Agricultural Law Specialist has pointed out to be aware. Landowners have legal protection against tourist personal injury liability if they do not charge a fee to campers or eclipse viewers. If they do charge a fee, they must meet 2015 Nebraska agritourism legal requirements in order to reduce their injury liability risk.

In short, if you are charging people to camp on your land, you could be liable of that person gets hurt. There are ways Nebraska landowners can obtain limited agritourism liability protection such as posting your property with the specified agritourism liability signs and include the same language in any agritourism activity contract like a camping lease. The landowner must also exercise reasonable care to guard against unusual dangers associated with the property, maintain the property, facilities and equipment, train and properly supervise any employees and comply with any related state or local legal requirements (i.e. capping an abandoned well). There are other legal options as detailed in a recent University of Nebraska news release, “Great Plains’ ecotourism initiative produces liability study”.

Aiken suggests contacting your insurance agent regarding whether your current liability insurance will cover any eclipse-related incidents. Your attorney can advise you regarding agritourism liability, agritourism leases, and agritourism liability waivers.

Posted in Livestock, Youth

Sportsmanship & Youth Development

Webster’s Third International Dictionary defines sportsmanship as “conduct becoming to 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.

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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 than 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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As a first-time 4-H’er, one of the things I try to emphasize to my daughter is the importance of doing the best you can, learning and having fun! It can be disappointing to put a lot of work into a project and not receive champion or desired results, but the sooner she learns that you can’t always win, the better!

Three reasons adults and teen leaders should be concerned with developing sportsmanship are:

  1. Youth programs are easier to conduct and are more positive experiences for everyone involved if good sportsmanship is demonstrated.
  2. The development of sportsmanship is an important part of youth development. Youth and adults who develop and show good sportsmanship get along better, and are much more successful on a long-term basis in becoming self-directing, productive, contributing, competent, caring, capable adults, than are those whose behavior is un-sportsmanship-like.
  3. Sportsmanship is one of the key elements of civilized society. Those who think of the “big picture” know the reasons for developing sportsmanship extend beyond an individual, a community, or a program. When societies allow sportsmanship to decline, their civilizations also decline.

As we get ready for anotherCounty Fair, let’s be reminded that the end result is not the ribbon placing, but the skills that each youth learned!

Source: Kathryn J. Cox, Ohio Extension 4-H Specialist, Youth Development, Developing Sportsmanship- A Resource For Preparing Youth And Their Families For Participation in Competitive Programs and Events, 2006

Posted in Crops, Livestock

Reminders for Farmers

For those you receive the electronic Farm Service newsletter, the information below is just a reminder to:

  • CERTIFY YOUR PLANTED ACRES:  If you do not have a certification appointment, call and get it scheduled. The deadline to complete 2017 acreage reporting is July 17.
  • ARC/PLC CONTRACT SIGNATURES DUE AUGUST 1:  Producers are reminded that the deadline to return signatures for the 2017 ARC/PLC farm safety net program is August 1. All signatures must be returned by this date to ensure payment for the 2017 crop year.

FSA Loan Servicing, Other Organization Resources Available During Financial Stress

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Credit: bubaone

There are options for Farm Service Agency loan customers during financial stress. If you are a borrower who is unable to make payments on a loan, contact Ben Herink, your local FSA Farm Loan Manager, to learn about the options available to you.

Farmers and ranchers also can access assistance through other entities in Nebraska that offer services during financially challenging times. The Rural Response Hotline provides referral and support services for farmers, ranchers and rural residents and their families. The number to call is (800) 464-0258.

The Nebraska Department of Agriculture manages the Negotiations Program, which offers mediation services for agricultural borrowers, creditors and USDA program participants. Through this program, participants also can access free one-on-one education on agricultural financial and legal matters. For information, call (800) 446-4071.

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Credit: Alex Belomlinsky

Nebraska Extension has developed an initiative called “Strengthening Nebraska’s Agricultural Economy” that features a series of educational materials on the Extension Crop Watch and Beef websites. The materials are designed to provide producers with ideas for reducing input costs, increasing efficiencies and improving profitability. Find the materials at CropWatch.unl.edu and Beef.unl.edu.

Posted in Livestock, Uncategorized

2017 Summer Grazing Tour

Mark your calendars for the Nebraska Grazing Lands Coalition (NGLC) –Nebraska Extension joint Summer Grazing Tour scheduled for June 13, 2017 in south central Nebraska. The tour will involve two Nebraska grazers with three stops including the Bruning Cow Camp near Reynolds, John Lange Land and Cattle near Belvidere and Bruning Family Farms Headquarters near Bruning.Calf Baby Farm Mother Cow Cattle

Stop I — Reynolds, NE – Bruning Cow Camp

  • Started in the 1950’s with the first purchase.
  • Currently 2100 acres of native grass pastures with 60 acres of prairie hay grown. Cross fenced with 50 paddocks- none larger than 80 acres. All served by well water and tanks with 5 wire barb wire fences and corral systems.
  • Rotationally grazed from May 1-November 1 using approximately 6-7 aces per Spring cow/calf unit.
  • Reseeded farming area to Big and Little Bluestem, Side Oats Gramma, Indian Grass and Switch Grass. One area seeding with Intermediate Wheat Grass.

Stop 2 — Belvidere, NE -Lange Land & Cattle, LLC Angus

  • Larry and Rosalie Lange purchased this 320 acres in 1970.
  • In 2004, John Lange installed NRCS EQUIP water tanks and fencing.
  • In 2016, two small pivots were reseeded to grass and more cross fencing is planned to utilize the irrigated grass with the native pasture.

Stop 3 — Bruning, NE – Bruning Family Farms LLC Headquarters

  • Currently 300 acres of irrigated cool season grasses with approximately 20 paddocks- mostly 10-20 acres.
  • Figure approximately 1-2 acres per pair, mostly Fall calving cows.

Preregistration is $20 per person (pay at the door) and includes an evening steak fry provided by Bruning Family Farms. Preregistration is required for meal counts by contacting the Nebraska Extension Office in Furnas County (308 268 3105) by Tuesday, June 6. You can also contact Erin Laborie, Nebraska Extension Beef Systems Educator at erin.laborie@unl.edu. Tour starts with registration beginning at 7:30 AM at the Fairbury Livestock Auction (if coming from the east) and at 8:30 AM at the Bruning Cow Camp south of Reynolds (if coming from the west).

The Nebraska Grazing Lands Coalition is an independent organization of ranchers, interest groups, and agencies whose mission is to collaborate on projects that improve the management and health of Nebraska grazing lands and ensure long-term stability of rangeland resources. The NGLC is funded through grants from the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service, the Nebraska Environmental Trust, and the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, USDA.