Posted in Crops, Irrigation, Livestock

2020 Crop & Cow-Calf Budgets

Two decision-making tools created by Nebraska Extension for agricultural producers across the state have been updated for the new year. The 2020 Nebraska crop budgets (https://cropwatch.unl.edu/budgets) and representative cow-calf budgets (https://go.unl.edu/cow-calfbudgets) are now available to provide producers with cost-of-production estimates.  Both sets of budgets are available as PDFs and Excel files, which feature tools that allow users to enter information into worksheets to calculate estimated production costs.

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Both the crop and livestock budget files are made available online so producers can download, then modify, production and expense figures to more closely match their various enterprises. Glennis McClure, a Nebraska Extension educator in the Department of Agricultural Economics takes the lead on completing the budgets and reminds producers that understanding enterprise cost of production in agriculture is important in product mix decision-making, pricing, marketing and financial analysis.

The crop budgets include 82 production budgets for 15 crops produced in Nebraska, along with cost data for power, machinery and labor. They were compiled by a team led by Robert Klein, an extension crops specialist, and McClure, utilizing a template created by Roger Wilson, a retired extension farm and ranch management analyst.

There are five cow-calf budgets that offer representative herd data for different regions of the state. Background stories are included to assist producers with information relevant to each budget, which may guide producers in determining their own costs. McClure led the cow-calf budget effort, which was compiled from information gathered from producer panels that have met as part of the university’s multidisciplinary Beef Systems Initiative.

 

Posted in Livestock, Programming

Cow/Calf College – January 28

Farmers and Ranchers Cow/Calf College – January 28

The annual Farmers and Ranchers Cow/Calf College “Partners in Progress – Beef Seminar” will be held at the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center and Great Plains Veterinary Educational Center near Clay Center on January 28, 2020 with registration, coffee and donuts starting at 9:30 a.m. The program will run from 9:55 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. This program is sponsored by Nebraska Extension’s Farmers and Ranchers College and will feature several outstanding speakers discussing issues and management strategies that can affect the profitability of all beef producers. There is no cost for the event and the public is invited. It does include a noon meal, which means that early registration is necessary to reserve materials and a meal. 1-15 F&R College.jpg

The “Cow/Calf College” will begin at 10:00 a.m. with a welcome by Dr. Mark Boggess of USMARC. Dr. Mary Drewnoski will kick off the program with “Do Your Herd & Your Bank Account a Favor – Test Your Hay”.  She will discuss the benefits and proper techniques for testing your hay and the advantages that can serve in your operation. Mary is part of an interdisciplinary team evaluating economic systems for integrated crop and livestock production in Nebraska.

Glennis McClure, Nebraska Extension Agricultural Economist will present on annual cow costs and provide updates on basic beef economics. Her responsibilities include publishing livestock and crop enterprise budgets, surveying and publishing the Farm Custom Rates Guide, and assisting with special economic analyses in the department.

Lunch is provided and will be handled with a rotation system featuring a session on: “Questions to Ask Your Vet Before Calving Season Begins” with Dr. Halden Clark, veterinarian with the Great Plains Veterinary Educational Center (GPVEC).  Dr. Clark’s duties at GPVEC include teaching veterinary students, engaging in research projects at GPVEC and providing extension service to beef producers and veterinarians.

The afternoon session will start with “Blockchains: Connecting Consumers with their Food” by a representative from IMI Global. IMI Global specializes in verification and certification program for the livestock industry to enable producers, feeders, growers, packers and processors to meet the ever changing needs of both domestic and international consumers.  Wrapping up the program will be a presentation by Dr. Alison L. Van Eenennaam on “Alternative Meats and Alternative Statistics: What do the data say”.  We’ve heard a lot in the news about alternative meats, how they are produced and how the nutrition compares to real meat, but what does the research really show?  Dr. Van Eenennaam from the Dept. of Animal Science at the University of California, Davis will join us via the web to provide insight on her work in this arena. Alison is an animal geneticist who discovered it is possible to splice the “hornless” gene from Aberdeen Angus cattle into the widespread black-and-white Holstein dairy cows so they are born without protrusions.

All presenters will then pull everything together, give their final thoughts and considerations and provide a coffee-shop style panel discussion during which participants can ask questions and get answers on questions that came to them during the day’s sessions. A chance for door prizes will be awarded to those that stay for the entire event.

Please pre-register by January 21st, to the Nebraska Extension Office in Fillmore County or call (402) 759-3712 to assure a seat and lunch. Walk-ins are accepted, but may not get a lunch. You may also complete your registration online on fillmore.unl.edu or http://go.unl.edu/farmersrancherscollege.  Remember, your contact information is required to be on the U.S. MARC property, so pre-registration is helpful and will save you time at the door!

Posted in Crops, Livestock

Characteristics of a Successful Producer

A new year often brings a sense of hope for new opportunities and bright beginnings. For many Nebraskans, the year 2019 brought many challenges and hardships so a new year is welcomed. Last month, the Farmers & Ranchers College conducted a program with Dr. David Kohl titled “Agriculture Today: It Is What It Is… What Should We Do About It”. He provided many insights on key economic indicators that will impact agriculture. What I also appreciate about his message is how he points out key characteristics of what makes a farm or ranch successful. Goal setting is so important and also so under-utilized. I’ve heard and presented the importance of goal setting for years and it was refreshing to hear him emphasize some key points. Dr. Kohl pointed out that 80% of Americans don’t have any goals and of those who have goals, 4% that have written goals obtain more money and success than others who do not write their goals down.

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In any business, it is important to be proactive rather than reactive. Those who pre-market their grain are generally more successful than those who do not. Kohl mentioned that the culture of a workplace or farm is also important. Many leadership development speakers and researchers emphasize the importance of culture in the workplace. For example, in her book, Dare to Lead, Brene Brown points out the importance of a daring leader to cultivate a culture of belonging, inclusivity and diverse perspectives. She states that, “Only when diverse perspectives are included, respected and valued can we start to get a full picture of the world: who we serve, what they need and how to successfully met people where they are.” For years, Dr. Kohl has pointed out that farmers and ranchers need their own advisory board that involves people who will challenge you and differ from your thinking. If we only hear from people who always agree with us, you won’t be challenged to improve your operation.

With a passion for leadership development, I appreciated Dr. Kohl’s message that interpersonal skills will continue to be critically important. He also noted the importance of having a positive attitude and the need to invest as much in human capital as in technology. Effective communication and being able to interpret data with critical thinking skills are also critically important for the future generation.

Finally, I’ve leave you with a checklist of business IQ management factors and critical questions for crucial conversations that Dr. Kohl has created. In the checklist, the most successful producers have the following written down: cost of production, cost of production by enterprise, goals (business, family & personal), record keeping system, projected cash flow, financial sensitivity analysis and understanding financial ratios and break evens. Also, those who regularly work with an advisory team and lender have strong management skills. Successful producers have a marketing plan written and execute it, in addition to a risk management plan. Successful managers have modest lifestyle habits and a family living budget. Progressive businesses also have a written plan for improvement with strong people management, have a transition plan, attend educational seminars such as extension programs and also have a proactive attitude.

For more information about the next Farmers & Ranchers College program which will be the Cow/Calf College on January 28th go to fillmore.unl.edu.

Posted in Crops, Horticulture, Irrigation, Livestock, Youth

New Year’s Resolutions

If you are like many nearly half of the American population, you probably have a New Year’s Resolution set for 2020, while 38% of Americans absolutely never make New Year’s Resolution according to research by University of Scranton, 2016. A majority of those resolutions are self-improvement or education related resolutions (47%), weight related (38%), money related (34%) or relationship related (31%).  University of Southern California’s John Monterosso who is an expert on psychology and neuroscience of self-control offers insight on how to achieve setting those resolutions.

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Monterosso suggests thinking of a resolution as a special kind of plan and visualizing your future-self. If you have already made that resolution or still working to tweak it, he suggested keeping the following in mind:

  • Failed resolutions are not harmless. Most people don’t like to fail; in fact it hurts our confidence and can actually lead to worse behavior. Keeping this in mind and accepting the fact that one might not have accomplished all that was planned is important. If you get off track, you can always start again and don’t have to wait until a new year.
  • Resolutions work by linking single decisions to a bigger picture. For example, if you have a goal of quitting smoking or eating unhealthy foods and let a craving lead to poor decisions, you might think, “it’s just one cigarette or just one meal of fried foods” which may or may not lead to the continuation of a bad habit. If one takes a resolution seriously, think about the health consequences and the potential “relapse” that could occur.
  • Consider being less ambitious in your resolutions. We tend to be overly confident when making a resolution and think we can change our behavior overnight. While it is good to be confident with your goals, be careful not to make overly ambitious goals. For example, if you plan to work out one hour/day every day of the week and have an already packed life with a career, community obligations and a family, consider starting at 20 minutes/day and work up to more minutes if time allows. Setting a good resolution requires being realistic.
  • Resolutions should not be vague. If you set a resolution of “eating healthier.” What does that mean?  Does it mean drinking 64 oz. of water/day?  Does it mean to include a fruit or vegetable at every meal?  Write down a SMART goal that is Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-based.
  • The New Year is a fresh start. Setting resolutions/goals at the first of the year helps us “clean the slate” and put past failures away. It gives us a sense of confidence and optimism. Capitalize on that.
  • Even successful resolutions can be mistakes. If you set restrict your diet to the point of starvation or over-exercise to the point of hurting yourself, you must be able to adapt, know yourself and use common sense and wisdom to correct the resolution.

In summary, Monterosso suggests that done correctly, “resolutions play a role in great human achievements.”

Extension’s Help with Resolutions

As stated above, almost half of resolutions made include education or self-improvement. If you need any educational resources or materials on nearly any subject, Extension has resources. Whether it is information on a website, talking with an extension professional, utilizing an app from your smart-phone, attending a face-to-face program, participation in a webinar or many other avenues, Extension works to solve complex problems for clients. If you haven’t been to Extension’s website recently, I encourage you to go to extension.unl.edu. There you will find an abundance of resources on topics such as food, nutrition and health, cropping & water systems, community vitality, community environment, learning child, beef systems and 4-H youth development. Consider attending a program or utilizing a resource to help you achieve a resolution or goal you may have.

For a list of extension programs in the area, visit our website or call our office at (402) 759-3712.

Posted in Crops, Irrigation, Livestock, Programming

Managing Stress During the Holidays

I love the holiday season! It is a great time for getting together with friends and family and a time to reflect on the year. Holiday baking, looking at Christmas lights, and showing appreciation to those in your life by giving gifts are just a few of the many things I enjoy.  While I enjoy many things and truly do love the holiday season, it can also be a stressful time. Situations may be challenging, especially if there are increased financial stressors.

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For farm and ranch families, the stress is also very real – someone still has to break the ice and feed the livestock, manage financial recordkeeping, tax preparation, evaluate crop yields, and plan for the next growing season; there is lots to do. The downturn in the agricultural economy and weather-related disasters have only compounded the stress many agriculturalists have had to endure. This can make one’s situation seem hopeless. My colleague, Holly Hatton-Bowers shared an article that pointed out the American Psychological Association found that in the US people tend to feel more stressed around the holidays.

Before you become dragged down by negative feelings and stress, try to sprinkle your winter holiday with these seven tips compiled by my colleague, Dr. Holly Hatton Bowers. Doing these practices may help you manage your stress and even find some moments of joy during the holidays.

  1. Challenge Your Thinking – Often when we are faced with challenges, failures or even criticism, we begin to tell ourselves stories that lead to more stress. It can be helpful to ask yourself, “Is this True?” “Am I being Kind to Myself?” “What can I learn from this experience?” It can also be helpful to remember that feelings come and go. Acknowledge your feelings and also take note that they are not here to stay.
  2. Set Your Intentions to Eat for Gains, Sleep, and Move – During the Winter Holidays, many of us take joy in eating sweet, sugary and fatty foods. Sometimes our family and friends bake our favorite pies and cookies. Enjoy these foods in small amounts and also be intentional in eating foods that give you energy or a “net gain” for your wellbeing. Before drinking that next sugar filled coffee or soda, choose water. Choose a side of vegetables instead of French fries. It’s is also important to not skip meals which can lead to headaches, draining your energy and lead to you feeling more down. Set your intentions to get sleep. Turn-off technology an hour before bedtime and wake up at the same time each morning. Finally, set your intention to move your body. It is recommended to move your body every 20 minutes for at least two minutes.
  3. Reach Out and Connect with Your Support System– If you are feeling lonely, sad, or overwhelmed, you are not alone. Sometimes we need a friend or family member to listen or offer us support and help. Expressing your thoughts and feelings with those you trust may be helpful and deepen your relationships. Plan for difficult days by having an activity planned or by checking in with a relative or close friend. If you are having a lot of difficulty, reach out to a mental health expert. If you are feeling very isolated and having serious thoughts of self-harm or suicide call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
  4. Plan and Budget Expenses – It may feel daunting to stick to a reasonable budget during the holidays. In the moment you may think, I can just charge this and pay it later. Often these impulsive buys can lead to more stress later. Miriam Caldwell in her “Get Tips on Making and Sticking to a Holiday Budget” suggests listing out your holiday expenses, stick to a spending limit, and making a shopping list so that you are less likely to overspend.
  5. Embrace the Messy – At time we may have expectations for how events and activities will go. We plan celebrations and expect them to be filled with complete joy and fun. Often these expectations may not go as planned. Let go and be ok when this happens. Stop and breathe. It can be helpful to breathe in for a count of 5 and breathe out for a count of 7. Practice this breathing a few times and then tell yourself to embrace the mess.
  6. Create a To-Do or a Done List – Write down four things you can accomplish and do it! If a to-do list sounds stressful, then try a DONE list. Write down the things that you have accomplished today.
  7. Cultivate Gratitude – Practicing gratitude can help you de-stress by focusing on what you have, and what you value. Make a list of 5 things/people/experiences you are grateful for.

What will you do to combat your stress during the Winter Holidays? Take time to be present and find ways to intentionally create holiday experiences that are less stressful and a little more pleasant and meaningful.

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.