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.

Posted in Crops, Irrigation, Livestock, Uncategorized

Census of Agriculture

According to a news release from the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), America’s farmers and ranchers will soon have the opportunity to strongly represent agriculture in their communities and industry by taking part in the 2017 Census of Agriculture. Conducted every five years by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), the census, to be mailed at the end of this year, is a complete count of all U.S. farms, ranches, and those who operate them.

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Photo Credit: pexels.com

The Census of Agriculture is the only source of uniform, comprehensive, and impartial agriculture data for every county in the United States, according to the NASS administrator Huber Hamer.  The Census of Agriculture highlights land use and ownership, operator characteristics, production practices, income and expenditures, and other topics. The 2012 Census of Agriculture revealed that over three million farmers operated more than two million farms, spanning over 914 million acres. This was a four percent decrease in the number of U.S. farms from the previous census in 2007. However, agriculture sales, income, and expenses increased between 2007 and 2012. This telling information and thousands of other agriculture statistics are a direct result of responses to the Census of Agriculture.

Producers who are new to farming or did not receive a Census of Agriculture in 2012 still have time to sign up to receive the 2017 Census of Agriculture report form by visiting http://www.agcensus.usda.gov and clicking on the ‘Make Sure You Are Counted’ button through June. NASS defines a farm as any place from which $1,000 or more of agricultural products were produced and sold, or normally would have been sold, during the census year (2017).

For more information about the 2017 Census of Agriculture and to see how census data are used, visit www.agcensus.usda.gov or call (800) 727-9540.

Posted in Crops, Horticulture, Irrigation, Livestock, Uncategorized, Youth

Celebrate Agriculture!

The Agriculture Council of America (ACA) hosts National Agriculture Day on March 21, 2017. This marks the 44th anniversary of National Ag Day, which is celebrated in classrooms and communities across the country. The theme for National Ag Day 2017 is “Agriculture: Food For Life.” The purpose of National Agriculture Day is to tell the true story of American agriculture and remind citizens that agriculture is a part of all of us. A number of producers, agricultural associations,Ag Day2017 corporations, students and government organizations involved in agriculture are expected to participate.

National Ag Day is organized by the Agriculture Council of America. ACA is a nonprofit organization composed of leaders in the agricultural, food and fiber community, dedicating its efforts to increasing the public’s awareness of agriculture’s role in modern society. The National Ag Day program encourages every American to:

  • Understand how food and fiber products are produced.
  • Appreciate the role agriculture plays in providing safe, abundant and affordable products.
  • Value the essential role of agriculture in maintaining a strong economy.
  • Acknowledge and consider career opportunities in the agriculture, food and fiber industry.NewAgDay_Original.jpg

Since National Ag Day is one day out of the year, it is important for us to note that we everyday we should promote agriculture and share our story. Did you know how amazing Nebraska agriculture is?  The Nebraska Department of Agriculture publishes some statistics that are interesting to read! For example, nationally, Nebraska ranks first in popcorn production, Great northern bean production and commercial red
meat production. Nebraska ranks second on pinto bean production, number of head of bison and proso millet production. We rank third for corn grain production and corn exports and fourth in cash receipts for all farm commodities. Nebraska ranks fifth soybean and grain sorghum production.

Cash receipts from farm marketings contributed over $23 billion to Nebraska’s economy in 2015 and 6.1 percent of the U.S. total. Every dollar in agricultural exports generates $1.22 in economic activities such as transportation, financing, warehousing and production. Nebraska’s $6.4 billion in agricultural exports in 2015 translate into $7.8 billion in additional economic activity.

One in four jobs in Nebraska is related to agriculture, thus the importance agriculture has on our economy. In Extension, we have several great programs that not only teach youth the importance of agriculture, but also strive to make youth aware of the numerous career opportunities in agriculture. As technology continues to advance, types of careers in agriculture will also continue to expand.

In conclusion, while March 21st is one day devoted to celebrating agriculture, we should celebrate agriculture everyday. If you ate, thank a farmer or rancher who produced your food. From the food we eat to the clothes we wear, tires on our cars, toothpaste, crayons, windshield wiper fluid, etc., we need to thank our American farmers and ranchers for providing us with products that are affordable and good for the environment. Thank you farmers and ranchers!