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In the Field • Tuesday, March 15, 2011 • Kearney Hub

Salute to Agriculture LEAD 29

ARTHRITIS

TE MANIA

People are people everywhere, learn participants in international tour. Pages 6-7

The ways people in ag use their bodies make them vulnerable to arthritis. Page 11

Angus ranch in Australia relies on intense rotational grazing. Page 14

Fed expert: Top-dollar land sales won’t last forever Nebraska ag land values jump alongside net farm income in 2010 By LORI POTTER Hub Staff Writer KEARNEY — Some eyepopping prices are being paid for ag land in Nebraska and other parts of the Great Plains, and that will bring rewards and risks to ag producers and their communities. Jason Henderson, vice president of the Omaha Branch of the Federal Jason Reserve Bank Henderson in Kansas City, said Nebraska farmland is selling for an average of about $5,300 per acre, with much higher prices in some areas, particularly in eastern Nebraska. Tim Lemmons, a University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension educator in Madison County, said supply and demand is only a part of the price-setting process. “The true price and rent for any parcel is ultimately what one party is willing to pay and another party is willing to accept,” he said. The March 2011 edition of The Nebraska Economist published by the Federal Reserve Bank says Nebraska’s cropland values increased by more than 17 percent in the fourth quarter of 2010, and ranchland was up 13 percent. A report for the bank’s entire 10th district — western Missouri, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Wyoming, Colorado and northern New MexiIT’S NOT co — shows EASY TO FIND similar A SELLER, numbers for KEARNEY Kansas and BROKERS SAY single-digit price jumps PAGE 2 for the other states. Averages were 14.8 percent for irrigated cropland, 12.9 percent for nonirrigated cropland and 9.2 percent for ranchland. At the recent Nebraska Governor’s Ag Conference, Henderson said the ag economy is known for ups and downs in commodity prices and land values. One sign that the current highs in both probably aren’t sustainable is that land values are rising twice as fast as cash rents. “Are these farmland values sustainable?” he asked. “Is there a bubble?” The Nebraska Economist attributes increases to rising farm income and a limited number of farms for sale, which created the demand behind the price increases. Henderson said the U.S. LAND VALUES, PAGE 2

Courtesy

A HIGH TUNNEL on the Schwarz farm southeast of Smithfield protects crops including greens, turnips and carrots from a cold Nebraska winter. A step inside is like a mini-vacation to a green, lush, earthy-smelling tropical oasis.

More Work, Better Ratios It’s not for everyone, family says, but switch to organics made sense when Schwarz farm downsized By JENNIFER CHICK Hub Regional Correspondent BERTRAND — Organic farming helps Tom and Linda Schwarz squeeze more profit out of every acre of their farm southeast of Smithfield. In the late 1990s, Tom’s father died, leaving the farm to Tom and his sister. His sister did not want to continue farming so Tom and his wife, Linda, decided to downsize from

2,300 acres to less than 1,000. “To make it work, we had to shift gears,” Tom said. “We needed more profit per acre relative to what conventional farming had been doing.” So they began investigating the process of converting their farm from conventional production to organic. The Schwarzes already were growing alfalfa as a commercial hay business and had determined that alfalfa fit well into an organic rotation. Alfalfa builds

nitrogen in the soil, which allows for a corn rotation the next year. One field at a time, Tom and Linda converted their farm to an organic operation, adding soybeans and wheat to the rotation. Now, less than 10 percent of their farm uses conventional farming. The alfalfa still is sold to local feedlots and cow-calf producers through their ORGANIC SWITCH, PAGE 4

MORE Learn more about value-added agriculture in these stories: ■ Choquette Gardens in Upland, page 5 ■ Buy Fresh Buy Local, page 5 ■ Organic agriculture and tips, page 8 ■ Alternative crops and tips, page 13

Higher yields, environmentally friendly practices Twin-row, diamond-pattern strip-till planter one of brothers’ ‘better methods’ By BETSY FRIEDRICH

“It’s a systems approach. It really is,” Gene said. “We’ll combine the fertility placement with the twin row together, which is not done very often MINDEN — Twin brothers Gene in the country, and that combination is and Dean Carstens want to help what makes it work.” change the way crops are planted and The brothers already owned and fertilized around the world. The Carstenses own Twin Diamond operated First Ag, a fertilizer business Industries on the south side of Minden at the same location south of Minden, where they design, engineer, assemble, when Gene purchased a farm in market and distribute Strip Cat equip- Franklin County in 1994. “Being in the fertilizer business, we ment for strip-till farming, a method continually looked for better methods they say creates higher yields and is of farming and fertilizer management. more environmentally friendly than We were some of the first ones in the other tillage methods. area to strip-till. We did this for This fall they also plan to unveil Betsy Friedrich, Kearney Hub their business’ namesake: a twin-row approximately nine years on our farm, basically using it as a research plot. TWIN BROTHERS Dean, left, and Gene Carstens own Twin Diamond Industries planter that will space plants in a diaBefore getting in the retail end of this, on the south side of Minden. The company designs, engineers, assembles, mar- mond pattern, making more efficient use of land and allowing plants to get kets and distributes equipment for strip-till farming, a method the Carstenses STRIP TILL, PAGE 3 say results in higher yields and better soil and water conservation. maximum sunlight.

Hub Staff Writer


Page 2 • Kearney Hub and The Shopping Link • Tuesday, March 15, 2011

SALUTE TO AG

Local land brokers: Ag land demand and prices high, but sellers few By KEVIN HERVERT

He and Batie said that with demand for farmland so high, it’s tough to find something to sell. KEARNEY — Agriculture land is in high demand as profit They said the majority of sales come from estates margins increase for farmers. following a death. However, Kearney land brokers “That’s why the price say land for sale is tough to find. Dean Batie Miles Marshall Gary Anderson Jim Anderson Ken Bramer Dean Batie, an associate bro- is getting pushed so per acre are much higher than for U.S. corn and soybeans. hard,” Gary Anderson said. ker with United Farm and they’ve ever been, which drives Jim Anderson, an associate “There are just not too many Ranch Management, said the up demand and land prices. broker with Bramer Auction willing sellers.” much higher land prices have Ken Bramer, an associate bro- and Realty, said commodity Another farmland broker surprised him. “This last year ker with Bramer Auction and prices are the key factor in agreed that land demand is has exploded,” he said. “I higher land values, but ethanol haven’t seen anything like this being driven by the better prof- Realty, said land prices have doubled on good, irrigated farm- production also has contributed it margins created by high last year, ever, and I’ve been land over the past two years, to higher corn prices. commodity prices. doing this for 28 years.” from around $2,250 to $2,750 “We’re now burning our Miles Marshall of Marshall Gary Anderson, the sales and per acre to $4,000 to $6,000. He food, as opposed to selling business development manager Land Brokers and Auctioneers said dryland fields and pasture overseas,” he said. remembers when farmland for United Farm and Ranch Jim Anderson said the higher prices increased dramatically in also are selling for a lot more. Management, said there is a Bramer explained that the big land prices will raise assessthe 1970s because of inflation. limited supply of farmland on Now, he said, the increases are boost in the prices U.S. farmers ments for property tax purposthe market. “There’s a strong are seeing for their grain is a es. “When someone sells a driven by profit potential. demand because of the result of lower production by piece of ground at these inflat“It’s really driven by the increase in commodity prices, other ag regions of the world at ed prices, that affects everyand the profitability in farming income the land was produca time when U.S. production body in that county,” he said. ing,” Marshall said. “That at the moment,” he said, with has increased. That’s created He doesn’t know how long corn going from $3.50 to near- makes more sense.” He added that gross incomes more demand and better prices the current prices can be susly $7 per bushel.

Hub Staff Writer

Kevin Hervert, Kearney Hub

IRRIGATED FARMLAND in the Kearney area that sold for about $2,600 per acre two years ago now is priced at $4,000 to $6000 per acre.

tained. “We’ve been high levels before, and we’ve been at low levels before. This is a very cyclical industry,” Jim Anderson explained. He said higher inflation also could lead to higher taxes. If

prices go back down, but valuations and taxes stay the same, that will be a burden on farmers. “It could be a double-edged sword,” he said. e-mail to: kevin.hervert@kearneyhub.com

LAND VALUES: With recent purchases, Mormon church supplants Ted Turner as largest landowner in Nebraska CONTINUED FROM 1

ON THE WEB

Department of Agriculture estimates an increase in net farm income of 25 percent in 2010 and 18 percent in 2011. He added that land values will decline as net income goes down or interest rates increase, or both. Today’s farmers seem to have learned the lessons of the 1970s and 1980s about the perils of taking on huge debt to purchase high-priced land. However, Henderson said, there is temptation every time a farmer hears a comment such as, “They never make any more land.” He said cash, not debt, is king in a volatile market, and farmers who maintain working capital weather economic storms better. Farmers are purchasing about three-quarters of the ag land being sold, Henderson estimated. Although a few more non-farmers may be see-

nebraskaeconomist.kcfed.org www.kansascityfed.org/ Omaha www.kansascityfed.org/ agcrsurv/agcrmain www.ers.usda.gov

state’s 45.8 million acres. Sleight said a survey today probably would show a higher percentage of non-operator ownership. USDA predicts that 70 percent of all ag land in the United States Courtesy will change hands in the next 20 CHARTS FROM the Federal Reserve 10th District newsletter show farmland values annual gains, left, and a state-by-state compari- years. Sleight said key questions son of gains, right. Both are listed in percent change from the previous year. are whether the next generation of Nebraskans can afford to be ing ag land as a good investers of ag land in recent years, provide little in support of local aren’t farm or ranch operators. landowners and how sales trends ment, he said the 4 percent including non-profits. He said infrastructure, education and In a guest editorial written will affect the viability of rural long-term rate of return isn’t the Mormon church has surgovernment,” Lemmons said, for the March 2011 edition of communities and schools. high enough to attract institupassed businessman Ted Turner which can be devastating to Nebraska Cattlemen magazine, “We hear repeatedly that farm tional investors. as the state’s largest landowner. local communities that depend University of Nebraska College and ranch land is priced beyond Lemmons said that in north“The challenge is that nonheavily on property taxes. of Technical Agriculture Dean financial reach of beginning west Nebraska, out-of-state profit organizations do not pay Much of Nebraska’s ag land Weldon Sleight of Curtis says a farmers and ranchers, and that interests have been primary buy- tax at any level and, therefore, already is owned by people who USDA survey done 11 years non-operator owners needn’t ago showed that 51 percent of sell their land at prices that Nebraska’s ag acres were assure agricultural production owned by people who don’t do profitability …,” he wrote. the day-to-day work. That was e-mail to: nearly 23.5 million of the lori.potter@kearneyhub.com

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Page 3 • Kearney Hub and The Shopping Link • Tuesday, March 15, 2011

SALUTE TO AG NEBRASKA AG FACTS

STRIP TILL: Twin Diamond Industries caters to markets in Europe as well as all over the United States

■ Cash receipts from farm marketings contributed more than $15 billion to Nebraska’s economy in 2009 and 5 percent to the U.S. total. ■ Nebraska’s 10 leading commodities, in order of importance by cash receipts, are: cattle and calves, corn, soybeans, hogs, wheat, dairy products, chicken eggs, hay, dry beans, and grain sorghum. They represent 98 percent of the state’s total cash receipts. ■ Every dollar in ag exports generates $1.36 in economic activities. So Nebraska’s $4.8 billion in annual ag exports translate into $6.4 billion in overall economic activity. ■ Nebraska had 47,200 farms and ranches in 2009, averaging 966 acres. They averaged a net income per farm from 2005-2009 of $64,145. ■ In 2010, Nebraska ranked second in ethanol production capacity, with 24 operating plants and 2 billion gallons of capacity. More than 40 percent of the 2009 corn crop was used in ethanol processing. ■ The top five counties ranked by 2007 ag sales were Cuming, Dawson, Custer, Phelps and Lincoln. ■ In 2008, Nebraska ranked eighth nationally in certified organic crop and pasture acres. ■ Farms and ranches utilize 45.6 million acres, or 93 percent of the state’s total land acres. ■ If poured over the surface of the state, groundwater aquifers would cover Nebraska to a depth of 37.9 feet. ■ The 92,685 registered, active irrigation wells supply water to more than 8.5 million acres, including 46 percent of all harvested cropland. ■ There are nearly 24,000 miles of rivers and streams. ■ Half of the state’s nearly 23 million acres of rangeland and pasture are in the Sandhills. Source: Nebraska Field Office, USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service

what we’ve done, is to show them techniques that we’ve we try to prove it ourselves been using,” Gene said. “Like before we take it to the general we talked about before, the public,” Gene said. deep placement of phosphate Owners: Dean and Gene Carstens Strip-till is a method of and potash—this is not done Address: 1306 K Road, Minden tillage that incorporates no-till there. We’re sharing our Contact: 877-347-7824 or practices with nutrient manageknowledge of the ultimate www.twindiamondind.com. Employees: Eleven to 15, dependment, the brothers said. Stripplacement of fertility, the most ing on need till equipment clears a path to efficient methods. Business: First Ag, the Carstens’ create a seedbed, but leaves “We’re all concerned with fertilizer company, began in 1992. some organic matter similar to the bottom line, with the end Twin Diamond Industries began as no-till practices. Dean Carstens Gene Carstens result,” he added. “We’ve tried an offshoot in 2004. The company “We feel it’s a step above to share with them because we designs, engineers, markets, assembles and distributes Strip Cat strip-till equipment and true no-till,” Gene said. “What all want the same end: environplans to add twin-row planters this fall. the strip-till apparatus does, it mentally sound practices that On working together: “We obviously hate it,” Gene joked, laughgoes through the trash and are economical to all ing. “We’re in the same office but we don’t see much of each opens the soil up to warm it up involved.” other. We work both sides.” and at the same time it places The men said that, so far, the “We have the ability to do both jobs. But rather than overextend the fertility under the row, timing hasn’t been right for ourselves, Gene, I would classify as the agronomist, and I’m the mechanic,” Dean said. where the plant will be … twin-row planters on the marYou’re looking at placing the ket, but they look forward to ta, so one of the unique parts nutrients, nitrogen, phosphate, soils and conditions. So the unveiling the machine this fall. about our strip-till unit is it unit has been adaptable to go potash, the trace elements, “We started twin-rowing in from sugar beets in Montana to has, we feel, a state-of-the-art underneath the soil versus 1978. The time was never right rock-tripping mechanism,” cotton in Texas to farming throwing it over the top.” to bring the twin-row planter to Gene added. They said they saw improved around rocks in Minnesota,” the market, not when you have Dean said that within the last $1.80 corn and a surplus of moisture and soil conservation, Gene added. three months, their internation- corn. What’s the purpose of Now, Twin Diamond caters higher yields, lower fertility to markets in Europe as well as al dealer has purchased about costs, reduced tillage, better growing more corn?” Dean 110 strip-till units, which repall over the United States. carbon dioxide sequestration said. “But because of world “I think how that occurred is resents about 20 percent of and a higher build-up of organdemand, the timing has been their annual business. no matter where you’re at in ic matter in their field using leading up to this point right “And that’s increasing,” he the world, all farmers have the strip-till methods. It also took now where we need to produce said. same issues,” Gene said. less time and less fuel than more with fewer inputs and on Catering to customers on “Through the Internet, people other methods. less ground with less environ“Twin Diamond became the in France and U.K. were look- another continent comes with mental impact. ing for alternatives to solve the challenges. The men said they division end (of the business) “Change is always difficult problems they face. When they do about 75 percent of their where we took the equipment for a farmer, but I think the international business via ethat was existing on the market looked at our piece of equipreason we’re not on the market ment, it fit their bill better than mail. and made it adaptable to yet is because things have not The rest is over the phone, Nebraska farmers,” Gene said. anything else on the market.” been perfected. It’s not just a He said that because of trav- but the Carstens aren’t just The brothers improved the piece of iron,” he added. el restrictions and narrow roads dealing in machinery. They durability of existing strip-till Gene doesn’t think it will be also are sharing technique. in European countries, they planters. hard to convince farmers to use “They’re impressed not just designed a special unit to fit “We had to make it more the twin-row planters. flexible, meaning that it had to the size and horsepower needs with the machine, but also the “It would just take a new agronomy that follows with it,” planter, and they trade planters of their European customers. be able to do what the farmer Dean said. “And they have rocks over wanted it to do at the time he all the time,” he said. “The “Basically what we’re doing, planter is probably the most there, too, just like in Minnesowanted to use it in different CONTINUED FROM 1

TWIN DIAMOND INDUSTRIES AND FIRST AG

important thing you’ve got on the farm. If we can go to a higher level of production, they’ll buy a planter in a heartbeat.” To improve knowledge of the strip-till and twin-row practices, the brothers have hosted educational meetings with agriculture producers around the country. “Dean has been to France, and I think I’ve been to every corn-producing state in the country,” Gene said. “We talk about agronomy, and we talk about environmental issues, how to get around that. It’s been well received, and it’s growing, the more aware we get of environmental issues and more people are trying to undo what’s been done over the last 40 or 50 years.” Gene said he and his brother describe themselves as environmentalists. They want to combat soil erosion while also helping producers improve their bottom line. “We actually recommend less fertilizer than most people, but we think that through placement and timing, farmers can raise more with less,” Gene said. “Basically what I talk about in my meetings is with the carry-out of corn, the way it is, every farmer should kick it up a notch,” Dean said. “Basically what that implies is that through some simple micromanagement in the future, I think we can dramatically increase our production, and that’s basically what we’re promoting.” e-mail to: betsy.friedrich@kearneyhub.com

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Page 4 • Kearney Hub and The Shopping Link • Tuesday, March 15, 2011

SALUTE TO AG ORGANIC SWITCH: Schwarzes are passionate about growing organically, but they warn it’s challenging and isn’t for everyone CONTINUED FROM 1

commercial haying business. They grow organic popcorn for delivery to Europe, white food-grade milo that’s ground into flour for people with celiac disease, and soybeans used for Natto, a popular Japanese breakfast food of fermented soybeans. Organic soybeans can sell for $15 to $25 per bushel, compared to $8 to $12 for conventionally grown bushels. In February, a partner from Japan toured the Schwarz farm. Tom said the Japanese like to make a personal connection with the people with whom they do business. “He loved seeing pictures of us doing the work,” Linda said. “I think they were going to use that in promotions. “That’s proof for them that it’s really organic,” daughter Becky added, “if they see weeds in the field.” For the first years, the Schwarzes worked through Prairieland Organics of Hastings. Once they could handle the paperwork associated with certified organic crops and understood the different strategies involved with growing organically, they set out on their own. Tom said that even when he was in college in the 1970s, he would run across people passionate about growing without chemicals. He was intrigued by the idea, but he wasn’t sure how a farm could be profitable growing crops that way. “I always said, ‘I don’t have a problem not using those chemicals, but if I’m going to grow without those chemicals, it is going to cost you more.’” he recalled. But now, with more consumers turning to organically grown crops, the organic food movement is creating opportunities for producers to convert and make a profit doing it. “I like the idea of not exposing our kids to the chemicals that I

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BECKY SCHWARZ thins turnips in the family’s movable high tunnel. The Schwarz family has grown organic row crops for the last 10 years and added organic produce last fall.

was exposed to growing up,” Tom said. “And I think they’ll be healthier in the long run.” Tom and Linda’s children, Alex, 25, and Becky, 24, both work on the family farm. Alex keeps the equipment running, and Becky helps with fieldwork and the family’s bee hives. The bee hives were added two years ago to benefit the alfalfa. Honey is sold through their label, Black Baron Apiary. Tom also does fieldwork in between his responsibilities on various ag boards and committees. Linda keeps the records that prove the farm is conforming to organic guidelines. “The cornerstone of organics

is traceability,” Tom said. “If someone identifies a problem with a product off our farm, we can trace that back not only to the farm, but to the bed it came out of.” In addition to the row crops the Schwarzes have grown organically for more than 10 years, this fall they diversified further by planting organic produce. They have two high tunnels and several low tunnels for growing carrots, beets, turnips, greens, onions, garlic, tomatoes and herbs. The tunnels are passive solar greenhouses. One of the high tunnels will be heated and the other is movable so plants can

going right now,” Tom said. “The local produce market is getting stronger and stronger. People are increasingly disenchanted with the flavor of some of the food they get out of some markets, and we think we can improve on that.” NEW SEED packets bring excitement but represent a lot of work Although the Schwarzes are in the coming weeks for, from left, Becky, Alex and Linda Schwarz. passionate about growing organically, they admit it isn’t for everyone and they don’t try to push their ideas on others. “You’re going to catch a lot of ribbing at the local coffee shop,” Tom said. “And if you can’t handle that, this isn’t the business for you.” They have taught classes at the local community college for people interested in organic production, but they always caution that going organic can Jennifer Chick, Kearney Hub be a challenge. FOR THE SCHWARZ family of Bertrand, going organic has Weeds are the biggest obstameant more dollars per acre for their family farm. From left, Alex, cle. Since they can use only Tom, Linda and Becky all have roles in the business that include products on their fields that are field work, recordkeeping and marketing. certified organic, they must find other methods to control weeds. from-the-garden, organically finish growing outside in the “It’s not rocket science, but grown produce. warmer months. some of it you can learn from They also are talking with “As a little kid, I loved going reading and some of it you learn owners of local restaurants into the greenhouse in Holfrom doing,” Tom said. “We’re about setting up a partnership drege,” Tom said. “I was still learning on every level. The to supply organic produce. always attracted to that. It’s learning curve is steep.” “There are a lot of people that always fun to go out and have The family wants to promote buy because it’s local,” Linda things growing in the winter.” the benefits all types of The Schwarzes sold produce said. “They like that it was Nebraska agriculture bring to picked fresh, that it tastes better.” the state and its economy. at the Bertrand grocery store As seeds arrive this spring, and SunMart in Holdrege last “We’re ag first,” Linda said. they will sift through the pack- “The organic is a subcategory. fall and winter. They hope to set up a Community Supported ets, grinning like kids in a “There are so few ag people Agriculture program this sum- candy store as they imagine the in the world, we’ve got to stick mer through which consumers varieties of vegetables soon to together.” buy subscriptions for weekly or be sprouting in their tunnels. e-mail to: “This is the direction food is lori.potter@kearneyhub.com bi-weekly deliveries of fresh-

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Page 5 • Kearney Hub and The Shopping Link • Tuesday, March 15, 2011

SALUTE TO AG

Networking, marketing focus of multifaceted growers association By LORI POTTER Hub Staff Writer LINCOLN — Billene Nemec began her food production career as a vendor at the Haymarket Farmers Market in Lincoln and then became the market’s manager. Now, she’s the part-time coordinator of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln-based Nebraska Chapter of the Buy Fresh Buy Local project. Nemec said the chapter, one of 78 across the country, began in 2006 with the mission of encouraging the purchase and enjoyment of locally grown food. She spends much of her time presenting workshops, often with the Nebraska Sustainable Agriculture Society, diversified ag groups and community development groups, about how to start and sustain farmers markets. Buy Fresh Buy Local has more than 100 members that include producers, restaurants, caterers, bakeries, independent grocers, specialty stores, cooperatives, food service entities and related organizations. There are varying membership fees. A brochure on the Buy Fresh Buy Local website lists a $45 annual fee for farmers and ranchers. Eligibility requires growing or raising foods or other ag products, such as ornamental or bedding plants, in Nebraska primarily for consumption within the state. Membership is open to growers in bordering states with sales primarily in Nebraska, but eligibility is determined on a case-by-case basis. Fees for restaurants and other businesses range from $2,000 to $1,200 and are at three levels, depending on the size of the business. Nemec said membership benefits are “networking and marketing.” The website at www.buylocalnebraska.org has a lot of information for producers, businesses and consumers looking for farmers markets or other sources of locally produced food. An annual guide listing Buy Fresh Buy Local members is published each spring. Nemec said 20,000 copies of the newsprint tabloid were printed in 2010 and distributed through Nebraska tourism outlets and RC&Ds, or Resources Conservation and Development. The 2011 guide that will be out by mid-April had a Feb. 28 membership deadline to be included. e-mail to: lori.potter@kearneyhub.com

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Couldn’t Just Sit Choquette Produce started as retirement project, and couple find it a natural fit By GINA WELSH

“If you have really good, clean vegetables, people will buy them.You don’t have to advertise. They will come back for more.”

Hub Regional Correspondent UPLAND — After retiring in 2000, Upland farmer Edwin Choquette couldn’t just sit. He had to do something with his time, so he turned to gardening. “We just had a small garden to start with and now we have a four-acre garden,” he said. “It came natural to me. I love it … It just went from small to what we can handle the two of us.” The “two” in the busiEdwin Choquette ness is his wife of 54 years, Pat. They have eight grown children. “Just my wife and I,” Edwin said Pat Choquette about the labor for their garden. “I also have a garden tractor, so I have a helper there.” The Choquettes can’t begin to eat all the produce from a four-acre garden, so they created Choquette Produce and sell vegetables, fruits and nuts at several area farmers markets each summer. “We are a family of engineers,” Edwin said. “We have three sons that are engineers (two mechanical and one environmental) and one grandson that is, and another grandson that wants to be.” “And really, gardening is an engineering project,” he added. This winter, he’s been putting the finishing touches on a greenhouse expansion that is nearly doubling its length — from 22 feet by 36 feet to 22 feet by 60 feet. Edwin cut down a windbreak on his property and had 2-by-6 boards milled from the cedar trees. He used his own to hands to build the greenhouse with polycarbonate and wood. Also part of the expansion is a larger wood stove to keep the greenhouse warmer at night and an incubator he built to keep the temperature more constant for Pat’s plants. With the gas prices on the rise, Edwin said he’s uncertain what their farmers market schedule will be during the 2011 garden season. Last year, he was at markets three days a week, in Holdrege, Minden and Kearney, while Pat went to Franklin on Saturdays. Edwin credits Pat with the success of Choquette Produce. “My wife has a green

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Edwin Choquette

Gina Welsh, Kearney Hub

EDWIN CHOQUETTE built an incubator as part of this winter’s greenhouse expansion and improvement projects. It will help his wife Pat start vegetable plants from seed. LEFT: A SPOT WITH sandy soils produces abundant sweet potatoes and watermelons on the Choquette farm. The area is surrounded by nut trees.

thumb and likes to start the plants. So we start everything from seed,” he said. With the incubator and greenhouse addition, they’ll have some early tomatoes this year that Edwin hopes he can sell at a Minden store. “Our tomatoes (plants) are 3 to 4 inches tall already,” he said in early March. The Choquettes have little time in the summer for anything except gardening. “I do drive a tractor for my son to

haul hay and drive the truck at soybean harvest,” Edwin said, “but other than that, the garden keeps me busy in the summer.” He spends a lot of time in the winter reading up on the new garden crop varieties that are coming out. “If there is something new in the catalog, we like to try them. I like to do the droughtand disease-resistant plants,” Edwin said. “… We get around 20 seed catalogs every year.”

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The Choquettes both are Master Gardeners who keep up with new things by reading about them. Edwin said they’ve learned many things in the past 11 years. “If you have really good, clean vegetables, people will buy them. You don’t have to advertise. They will come back for more,” he said. “Cleanliness and freshness are my two top priorities. “I’ve learned how to cure sweet potatoes so they will keep all winter. I’ve also raised

up to 700 pounds of sweet potatoes. There is a place that I have here that is really sandy that works well for the sweet potatoes. Last year I had one that weighed 10 pounds.” Edwin’s advice to other gardeners is to start small and get their markets established. “Grow the things that people like the most,” he said. “Last year I had the best radishes I’ve ever grown and they went like hotcakes. Peas are another thing. People will really buy peas in the pod.” Not only do the Choquettes grow 30-some different vegetables, they have an orchard with 10 varieties of apples. “There are new crosses in apples that are coming on, so we are going to try them,” Edwin said. The produce list also includes apricots, plums, cherries, blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, hazelnuts, English walnuts, black walnuts, chestnuts, hickory nuts and pecans. “You name it, we grow it,” Edwin said. At least if the weather cooperates. “We didn’t grow okra last year because it’s a warmweather item and it wouldn’t have done well,” he added. e-mail to: lori.potter@kearneyhub.com


Page 6 • Kearney Hub and The Shopping Link • Tuesday, March 15, 2011

SALUTE TO AG

FISHING AND TOURISM are the foundations for the local economy of San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua. The local fishermen have a cooperative that includes a refrigerated warehouse. HUB TERRITORY LEAD 29 class members Tim Lewandowski of Ravenna, left, and Curt Rickertsen of Lexington check out a coffee farm in Costa Rica. Their international travelstudy seminar in January also included stops in Nicaragua and Panama.

Courtesy

AN OUTDOOR MARKET at Granada, Nicaragua, is like a superstore. People can buy groceries — meat, potatoes, fruits and vegetables — as well as diapers, deodorant and other household goods.

People are People Family, safety, fun: Humanity shines through for participants in LEAD seminar to Central America By LORI POTTER

pile of Jonas Brothers backpacks. “We were really in their place there,” Rickertsen said. “That certainly was not a KEARNEY — All LEAD tourist thing.” fellows have moments of awe His LEAD 29 classmate Tim during their international travLewandowski of Ravenna, a el-study seminar when they Pioneer Hi-Breds agronomist, can’t believe where they are said it was one of several times and what they’re doing. For Curt Rickertsen, ag engi- when they started with a wrong impression of Nicaragua. neering manager for Orthman Manufacturing in Lexington, it Another was going to dinner at the vacation home of retired was a mid-January morning Nebraska farmer Rich Mazour walk with two LEAD friends through a huge outdoor market of Lawrence. “Our preconceived notion of at Granada in western Third World countries was that Nicaragua. “It was the most outside anything I’d ever done we needed to watch our backs,” Lewandowski said. So that’s before,” he said. “We were three 6-foot white what they did as the exited the bus near Mazour’s house. guys with cameras and travel “There were shacks everybags mixed with all those Nicaraguans,” Rickertsen said. where … tin and pallets,” “I was a little nervous because Rickertsen said. “We were in a shack neighborhood.” we stood out.” Lewandowski said he was The market was a Central tense for the first 100 yards. America superstore. They Then when he saw the peowould walk by a booth of ple smiling at the 31 chicken parts and then see a

Hub Staff Writer

10-foot huts with dirt floors. “You hear the cliché about poor people who don’t know they’re poor,” Rickertsen said. During their 14-day tour of Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama, the LEAD fellows found that just like in the United States, rural residents were more friendly than city folks. “It seems that people are people,” Rickertsen said. “They want to feel safe and take care of their families, and they want to have fun.” LEAD stops in Nicaragua included a fishermen-owned cooperative and warehouse at San Juan del Sur on the west coast and a nearby ranch where they watched cowboys brand NICARAGUAN COWBOYS brand Brahma calves that were Brahma calves. roped by the only man on horseback. The border crossing from Nicaragua into Costa Rica was Nebraskans, he decided the and enjoyed having their picalmost too easy. “We didn’t feeling in the small neighbortures taken. bribe anyone … but someone hood was similar to Ravenna. Rickertsen said Mazour’s Mazour’s neighbor kids were modest home at least had walls, might have,” Rickertsen said, because they walked right grateful for the small gifts they a gate and electricity. The through with their bags, past a received from the Nebraskans neighbors lived in 10-foot-by-

long line of individuals waiting on both sides of the border. “There were no questions. No bag check. Nothing,” Lewandowski said.

Costa Rica The better economy in Costa Rica was clear immediately. Rickertsen said one LEAD classmate described it as going from a Third World country to Southern California in just 30 miles. They did have a Wild West moment near Liberia, Costa Rica, he said, when a U.S.educated cattle rancher said they had convinced four guys who’d been stealing cattle to stop by giving them a beating. “He said he was glad they quit or they (the ranchers) would have had to kill them,” Rickertsen said. The Nebraskans were LEAD 29, PAGE 7

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Page 7 • Kearney Hub and The Shopping Link • Tuesday, March 15, 2011

SALUTE TO AG HOW TO APPLY TO BE PART OF LEAD 31 LINCOLN — Applications are due June 15 for the Nebraska LEAD (Leadership EducationAction Development) Group 31. Up to 30 individuals involved in production agriculture or agribusiness will be selected for the twoyear program, with preference given to those ages 25 to 50 who have demonstrated leadership potential. The program includes monthly three-day seminars at colleges and universities throughout Nebraska from September to April each year.

LEAD Fellows also participate in a 10-day national study-travel seminar during the first year and a two- to three-week international study-travel seminar during the second year. Seminar themes include economics, foreign cultures, government, communications, international trade, politics, business, labor, environment, finance and industry, and agriculture. The goal is to prepare spokespeople, problem solvers and decisions makers for Nebraska and its ag industry.

The LEAD program is operated by the nonprofit Nebraska Agricultural Leadership Council Inc. in cooperation with Nebraska colleges and universities, businesses and industries, and individuals from throughout the state. Applications are available from the Nebraska LEAD Program, Room 318, Biochemistry Hall, University of Nebraska-Lincoln 68583-0763 or by calling 402472-6810. More information is posted on the website at www.lead.unl.edu.

NEBRASKA LEAD 29: NICARAGUA, COSTA RICA, PANAMA Jan. 12-15 — Nicaragua: U.S. Embassy briefing At Granada, visits to a cigar factory and local market, and dinner at the vacation home of Rich Mazour of Lawrence, Neb. At San Juan del Sur, visit fishermen’s co-op and attend branding at nearby cattle ranch Jan. 15-20 — Costa Rica: In Venecia area, visits to a cattle ranch, two dairies and two auction barns, and overnight homestays with farm families. In San Jose area, visits to the

Dos Pinos dairy co-op, the InterAmerican Institute of Cooperation on Agriculture headquarters, an organic farm, Case-New Holland dealership, call center with Nebraska ties, and U.S. Embassy Jan. 20-25 — Panama: In Santiago area, visits to CNH farm equipment dealership, Melo cooperative, cattle ranch, teakwood plantation, a local rodeo, and a cattle- and horse-breeding center At Panama City, visits to the U.S. Embassy and Panama Canal

TIM LEWANDOWSKI Age: 39 Hometown: Rockville, now of Ravenna Education: Ravenna High School, 1989; University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 1994, bachelor’s degree in general agriculture Past employment: Crop consultant and seed industry Current profession: Agronomist for Pioneer Hi-Breds Professional and community organizations/activities: Nebraska Independent Crop Tim Lewandowski Consultants Association Family: Wife, Katie; sons, Jaden, 10, and Zach, 5; and daughter, Abby, 3 Hobbies/interests: The kids’ activities, college and pro football, NASCAR, and all aspects of production agriculture and ranching

North

Mexico Belize Guatamala Honduras El Salvador

NICARAGUA

Managua COSTA RICA San Jose Pacific Ocean

Caribbean Sea

Panama Canal

Panama PANAMA City Colombia

CURT RICKERTSEN Age: 29 Hometown: Lexington Education: Lexington High School, 1999; University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 2003, bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering Past employment: On the family farm Current profession: Ag engineering manager at Orthman Manufacturing in Lexington Professional and community organizations/activities: DawCurt Rickertsen son County Planning Commission, Dawson County 4-H volunteer and First Presbyterian Church Family: Wife, Holly; daughters Greta, 2, and Lorelai, 5 months Hobbies/interests: Maintaining a small cow herd and working in the home shop

LEAD 29: Disco in Panama doubles as livestock sale arena CONTINUED FROM 6

impressed by the sustainable farming and other environmental practices in Costa Rica, where government officials said they want to be carbon neutral by 2021. One farm had a dairy, sawmill, pineapple fields and a processing plant. Trees on the farm were made into pallets to ship pineapples. The sawdust provided cattle bedding and the used bedding was composted and applied to the pineapple fields. Pineapple tops not needed as seed were chopped for cattle feed. Rickertsen said another dairy had a similar approach, but with fewer cows and less sophistication. He added that most labor-intensive jobs in Costa Rica are done by illegal immigrants from Nicaragua. Near the Costa Rican capital of San Jose, the Nebraskans learned about the country’s biggest dairy cooperative, Dos Pinos, that provides its members with everything from feed to processing. At a 10-acre organic farm, they saw a biodigester turning waste from goats, dairy cows and pigs into methane and fertilizer. “Everything piece of the operation was tied into another piece in at least one way,” Rickertsen said. Other tour stops included the Inter-American Institute of Cooperation on Agriculture headquarters; a Case-New Holland dealership that sells farm and construction machinery,

plus generators, biodigesters, derby,” Lewandowski said. seed and chemicals; and a tele- “Everyone was there.” marketing call center owned by At the Panama Canal visitors an Omaha company. center, where they could watch from four levels as a ship went through the locks, they learned Panama about changes since the United Then it was off to Panama States turned the canal over to and a much more challenging Panama 11 years ago. border crossing. Rickertsen said fees had First, the guide was left been about $1 billion a year behind because he didn’t have when the U.S. ran the canal as the correct required fee. a not-for-profit enterprise. Lewandowski said the guide Today, fees total about $5 bilgave a street kid directions to lion for Panama, ranging from get the LEAD group onto two 36 cents to swim through the rental buses. canal to $500,000 for the “They (Panama officials) largest ships. searched our luggage in a Rickertsen said that’s still very unorganized way,” he about half the cost and 22 days said. less time than it takes to sail Then, five miles down the around the tip of South Ameriroad, they were stopped at a ca. Panamanians plan to make military checkpoint and asked infrastructure improvements to pay a fee to have the bags they hope will double or triple checked again. No payment the current 5 percent of world was made, but Lewandowski commerce that goes through said there was about a half the canal. hour of wondering “are we Rickertsen and Lewandowski gonna be put in prison someboth talked about people when where.” describing their favorite parts The Panama tour included of the seminar and LEAD in Melo y cia, a public-owned general. cooperative selling everything “This is gonna sound pretty from Pioneer seed to building corny, but the best part for me materials; a horse- and cattlewas to get to know my LEAD breeding and embryo transfer fellows better,” Lewandowski business with a nightclub-disco said. that doubled as a livestock Rickertsen said he was skepsale arena; and a teakwood tical at his first state seminar in plantation managed for sustain- the fall of 2009 when LEAD ability. alumni talked about lasting They took a side trip in suits friendships with their classand ties to a small-town rodeo mates. “I thought, ah, I have that featured calf roping. “To friends. But it’s really true.” me, it was exactly like going to e-mail to: a (Nebraska) small town’s car lori.potter@kearneyhub.com

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Page 8 • Kearney Hub and The Shopping Link • Tuesday, March 15, 2011

SALUTE TO AG

Value-Added: It’s the Process Nine-year organic rotation works for Vetter, but he says adding value is very individualized By LORI POTTER

GET STARTED

Hub Staff Writer KEARNEY — Marquette farmer David Vetter knows that one word is most associated with organic crop production: No. No chemicals. No genetically modified seeds. “That’s what we commonly hear. No. No. No. That’s a piece of it, but there also are prescribed practices,” Vetter said at the Nebraska Women in Agriculture Conference in Kearney. He said certified organic is David Vetter defined by law, while other labels such as “natural” or “ecofriendly” can mean almost anything. “It’s about production practices and processes, not the final product” that qualifies for an organic label, Vetter said. “… My definition is it’s management of living organisms within a local ecosystem so it is productive, resilient, profitable and has the capacity for self-renewal.” His management focus always has been to improve the soil quality. Organic production must be specific to the location, the person in charge and the dayto-day management used, Vetter said, so “it depends” applies to many decisions organic ag producers must make. It also depends on the types of crops grown, local climate, previous and current land uses, the larger production context, and the ecological and financial resources available. A marketing plan must recognize that individual customers and other countries may have different product requirements. “When we started our farm that way (organic), there were no specialty markets,” Vetter said, so his farm was managed to grow crops that could be sold to local markets when spe-

■ Keep it simple. ■ Grow what you know. ■ Think long-term. ■ Focus on management to improve soil quality, which determines crop rotations. ■ Develop marketing relationships with customers and a high level of customer service. ■ Understand the needs of end users. ■ Be reliable. ■ The key to selling into a premium market is selecting quality varieties. ■ Select crops for the largest market options. ■ Design an operation for the highest potential return. ■ Have storage facilities that will maintain quality. ■ Keep harvest and transportation equipment clean. ■ Factor in risk management and weed management. ■ Be prepared to adjust to meet cash flow and customer needs. ■ Focus on natural resources, not markets.

Jennifer Chick, Kearney Hub

TOMATO SEEDS soon will go into soil Alex Schwarz inspects in one of two high tunnels on his family farm near Bertrand. Garden crops protected by low tunnels over the winter were onions, garlic, carrots and beets. LEFT: THE GARDEN AREA in the Choquette greenhouse at Upland was planted in early March to asparagus, lettuce and radishes. Edwin is looking forward to having early lettuce because grocery suppliers may be late this year because of Gina Welsh, Kearney Hub recent freezing temperatures that went as far south as Mexico.

work with an organic certifier during the transition can save a lot of money in the long run. www.grainplacefoods.com Also, be prepared for lots of paperwork. He said documencialty buyers couldn’t be found. tation is the key to certifying Local markets also can be used that products were organically produced and qualify for preif a crop has damage or otherwise doesn’t meet organic mar- mium markets. Vetter said there is greater ket or customer standards. enforcement of standards today “Keep it simple,” Vetter advised. “You don’t want to try and a grower can lose organic to grow a crop, if you’re start- certification if he doesn’t have ing organics, that you’ve never the records to prove there was no mixing with non-organic grown before.” products. He said organic proHis objective, achieved over duction is a challenge when nearly 35 years of organic production, is to have no inputs (fer- small plots are surrounded by non-organic crops. tilizer, nutrients) for his crops. A new law expected this year He said some inputs may be or in 2012 that organic seed valuable when transitioning to organic production, “but I don’t must be used will create new issues for organic growers. Vetwant to be dependent on someter said enough organic seed thing to buy year after year.” The first transition step is to probably won’t be available and more paperwork will be make sure to use materials required to seek an exception. approved for organic producHe and other family memtion. Vetter said farmers who

ON THE WEB

Source: David Vetter

OPPORTUNITIES THROUGH VALUE-ADDED GRANTS WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Agriculture has announced changes in the ValueAdded Producer Grant Program that take effect March 25. Deputy Agriculture Secretary Kathleen Merrigan said the changes will provide additional opportunities to beginning and socially disadvantaged farmers, as well as assisting independent producers, farmer and rancher cooperatives, ag producer groups, and local and regional

bers operating Grain Place Foods Inc. have settled on a nine-year rotation for their 280 acres. After three years of haying and grazing of a grasslegume mix by their grass-fed beef, the rotation continues with soybeans, corn, heirloom barley, soybeans, popcorn and barley. Individual fields average 12 acres. Popcorn, which has been grown since 1978 and is processed at an on-farm plant for shipment throughout the United States, is the company’s highest-value crop per acre. Vetter said organic crops should be selected for the best rate of return and market options, not the highest yield. The processing plant added later now has 25 employees

supply networks. The revisions include: ■ Provide up to 10 percent funding to beginner and socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers. ■ Provide up to 10 percent funding to local and/or regional supply networks that link producers with companies marketing their products. ■ Give priority for grants to beginner and socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers, and to operators of small- and medi-

who clean and process products for Grain Place Foods and other organic businesses that contract for services. Vetter said all of his farm’s beef is direct marketed to consumers, while grain products go all over the world as ingredients in value-added organic products. He cautioned that growing specialty crops is risky without a contract with a buyer. Other marketing options for small organic growers include farmers markets, cooperatives and brokers or traders. Growing a high-value crop is only half of the responsibility. Great care must be taken during harvest and transport to keep combines and trucks clean to preserve the value. “It only takes about 50 bushels of (nonorganic) corn to contaminate

um-sized family farms. ■ Extend grant eligibility to producers who market products in their state or within a 400-mile radius. Grants may be used for feasibility studies or business plans, working capital for marketing valueadded ag products, and for farmbased renewable energy projects. Contact Rural Development specialists at USDA Farm Service Agency offices for more information. South-central Nebraska’s office is in Kearney, 308-237-3118.

two or three semi loads for some customers,” Vetter said. Attention to detail also prevents damage. He said popcorn shouldn’t be harvested if it’s too wet or too dry, and stored grain must be in bins with good aeration systems and that are safe from rodents, birds and insects. Crops in the fields and bins must be inspected regularly for quality control, which, along with dependability, is a key element of first-rate customer service, Vetter said. The biggest change when transitioning to organic production is developing a mindset to do things differently, he said. “The hardest conversion isn’t on the farm. It’s between the ears.” e-mail to: lori.potter@kearneyhub.com

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Page 9 • Kearney Hub and The Shopping Link • Tuesday, March 15, 2011

SALUTE TO AG

Lori Potter, Kearney Hub file

THERE ARE an estimated 3 million deer in the United States. In some Nebraska locations, 100 deer can be found per square mile.

Pastoral Scene — or Scene of the Crime? Deer browsing and skunks trundling may appear peaceful, but nuisance animals can cause serious damage By KIM SCHMIDT Hub Staff Writer KEARNEY — From bats to skunks to deer and porcupines, problems with wildlife are constant in rural Nebraska. But whether it’s deer in your orchard or badgers burrowing dens in your field, a wildlife expert says there are humane solutions to minimizing wildlife damage. “With wildlife damage management very seldom do we have a magic potion. Often times you have to take an integrated pest management approach,” said Scott Hygnstrom, a University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension wildlife specialist. “We look at a variety of effective techniques that we use to reduce

damage to a tolerable level. It’s really difficult to eliminate damage, especially with wildlife.” At the Nebraska Women in Agriculture Conference in Kearney, Hygnstrom talked about trapping methods for deer, skunks, squirrels and porcupines, and lethal control of those animals. He also described non-lethal control methods, such as scaring animals or modifying their habitat. “Some things work better than others,” he said. Hygnstrom based his presentation on questions from his WIA audience, which focused on deer. He said there are an estimated 3 million deer in the United States. In some Nebraska locations, 100 deer

can be found per square mile. “We probably have more deer than we ever have,” Hygenstrom said. He showed a photo of a southwest Nebraska field in July that had been trampled by deer running through it. There isn’t much farmers can do to protect their field crops, he said. According to the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, during the most recent 126-day deer season, hunters harvested 88,034 deer. That’s 10,000 more than in 2009. The numbers included a record 37,967 whitetail bucks and a record 39,198 antlerless whitetails. It was the first time that the antlerless numbers surpassed the whitetail buck harvest. A record 141,573 deer per-

SCOTT HYGNSTROM, a wildlife biologist from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, demonstrated to a group of about 20 earlier this month a safe trap to use to capture skunks after the cage is tightly wrapped in a tarp. Kim Schmidt, Kearney Hub

mits were sold for 2010. For landowners with smaller properties to protect, such as a

garden or orchard, Hygnstrom suggested trying to train deer by using an electric fence

made of poly tape, with portions covered with peanut butter. He said deer will be attracted to the peanut butter, but when they sniff it they will get a shock that will scare them off. The concept also works on raccoons, Hygnstrom added. Deer repellents also are available, he said, but many products don’t work. As for skunks, Hygnstrom said the options are to shoot the animal or trap it for release elsewhere. “Wildlife has an extensive value, but when there are too many of them or where they’re in the wrong place at the wrong time, it’s a nuisance,” he said. e-mail to: kim.schmidt@kearneyhub.com

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Page 10 • Kearney Hub and The Shopping Link • Tuesday, March 15, 2011

SALUTE TO AG

JUDY BOWMASTER, left, and Jo Bek, instructors at the University of Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture at Curtis use toys as props during their Farm Pet Health presentation at the 2011 Nebraska Women in Agriculture Norfolk Daily News Conference in Kearney.

Farms’ Good Citizens Pets may not make money — but teach them well and keep them healthy anyway, urge experts By MARY PAT HOAG Norfolk Daily News KEARNEY — Fido and Fluffy may sometimes find themselves neglected in their nutrition and health care because more daily attention is paid to a farm’s money-making animals, cattle and pigs. Judy Bowmaster and Jo Bek, faculty members at the University of Nebraska’s College of Technical Agriculture, gave tips on farm pet health at February’s 26th-annual Nebraska Women in Agriculture Confer-

ence in Kearney. Bek said “having a good citizen” is important in a farm pet. Bowmaster added that 95 percent of animals in shelters are there because they misbehaved. Farms often are home to a menagerie of companion animals that can range from typical cats and dogs to the children’s 4H poultry, rabbit and pocket pet projects to horses and canaries. “These are good pets and good for children and adults to have,” Bek said, but family members must be knowledgeable about their nutritional,

health and training needs. She said small dogs such as border collies and Australian shepherds may come to the farm to be work animals, but they can be trouble makers. Guard dogs often come “hardwired,” she added. Horses, even more dangerous at 1,100 to 1,200 pounds, and their owners also may need training. “Horses need to learn to stay back,” Bek said, adding that you can pet a horse but never let them touch you. She described the relationship as an

likened that plan to buying a Corvette for a newly licensed “Don’t take them from their mother too early. 16-year-old driver. They need to know they’re a cat (or a dog) “If you’ve got a kicker (horse), I would sell it,” Bek before you bring it in (as a pet).” added. The women gave advice for Judy Bowmaster the health of babies on the farm. “invisible bubble” between the Bowmaster recommends that Bowmaster said it’s imporhorse and owner. young riders, including 4-H’ers tant that kittens and puppies Horses can be too aggresenrolled in the equine science be kept with their litters until sive, especially around children project, buy an older horse that they’re seven or eight weeks and small adults. “Horses need doesn’t have a lot of bad habits. old to allow them to form natudiscipline,” Bek said, and peoBek said people often buy ral instincts of their species. ple need to know there is no colts, but lack the knowledge “Don’t take them from their “bomb-proof” horse. to train a young horse. She mother too early,” she said, or you’ll assume the role of their mother. “They need to know they’re a cat (or a dog) before you bring it in (as a pet).” Bek said it’s important to know that some breeds of dogs and cats are better as indoor pets than others. One of the best things an Box 1428 • 2777 N. Broadwell owner can do for a pet is to give it some form of identificaGrand Island • 382-0160 tion, Bowmaster said, such as a For over 55 years, we have been tattoo on the inside of a leg, providing the best crop production microchip or collar with an ID. 2132 Archer Rd., Archer, NE 68816 programs availiable. Nutrition is another impor(308) 795-2202 tant component of pet care. Bowmaster said food must For your chemical, fertilizer, be appropriate to the species. Box E, Boelus, NE 68820 rental equipment and “They are not people,” she added. custom applications (308) 996-4406 “You can kill them with needs, stop into kindness,” Bek said, by supplyone of our 6 ing the wrong food or too Box 346, Cario, NE 68824 much food to a pet. Conselocations (308) 485-4848 quences of poor nutrition can today. include skin conditions, food allergies, diabetes and obesity, Box 174, Doniphan, NE 68832 which can be especially hard on the joints of larger dogs. (402) 845-2779 Bek said that when a pet is viewed from above, it should have an hourglass figure. Box 158, Wood River, NE 68883 Proper health care also (308) 583-2725 includes a core vaccination regimen started at an early age and continued on a regular schedule to prevent disease, Bowmaster said. Cats and dogs can be vaccinated for rabies as early as three months of age. Veterinarians can be consulted for more details about vaccinations and other preventive measures, such as heartworm medication. “Think proactively,” Bowmaster advised. Pets can find many items in the home and around a farmstead that can be hazardous. The women’s list included: antifreeze, tiles and rug fibers, human medicines, such foods as bread dough and grapes, insecticides, pesticides, fertilizers, and toxic plants such as poinsettias, Easter lilies, aloe vera, holly and mistletoe. “Chocolate is highly toxic to dogs,” Bowmaster said. “No chicken bones,” Bek added. Pet owners should keep the number for their veterinarian by the phone as well as the number for the Animal Poison Control Center, 888-426-4435. Unless a family is raising Contact Curtis Baetz in Kearney: purebred stock, pets should be spayed or neutered. Bowmaster Home/Fax: 308-238-0910 said they’re more likely to stay home and will be better pets. Mobile: 308-233-7576 Plus, it won’t be “raining cats and dogs” on the farm.

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Courtesy

A GROUP OF women demonstrate basic water aerobics exercises. Water exercise is especially beneficial to individuals with arthritis because it reduces stress on major joints.

Arthritis and Agriculture Exercise is key in prevention, management By REBECCA McMICKELL

Project coordinator for the National Arthritis Foundation headquartered in Indianapolis, stressed the importance for KEARNEY — Agriculture workers are familiar with long farmers and ranchers to be hours and hard work. For many aware of their increased risks. of them, joint pain and arthritis She spoke last month at the Nebraska are also part of the job. Women in Agri“Estimates are around anyculture Conferwhere from 30 percent to 80 ence in Kearney. percent of people who farm “Agriculture have some sort of wear-andworkers should tear arthritis or osteoarthritis,” realize that the said Dr. Kent Blakely, a work they do rheumatologist at the Kearney Arthritis Institute. Kent Blakely puts them in danger of develAccording to Blakely, it’s no surprise that farmers often suf- oping arthritis,” Wolfe said. “The condition is not only fer from arthritis. “It’s the nature of the work,” painful, it can really impair he said. “It’s hard work climb- things like dexterity and mobiling in and out of cabs, whether ity, things that are essential to farmers.” it’s trucks, combines, tractors The hard work and hazards or climbing up and down grain bins. Of course lifting is part of of life on the farm can especially increase the chances of it. I’ve also seen several folks who have gotten injuries at dif- osteoarthritis, according to Blakely. ferent times with livestock, Although there are about 120 particularly getting kicked in different types of arthritis, he the knees or stepped on.” said osteoarthritis and rheumaAmber Wolfe, AgrAbility

Hub Staff Writer

toid arthritis are two of the most common types. While the causes of rheumatoid arthritis are vague, Blakely said osteoarthritis may be caused by general wear and tear of the joints, along with family history, prior joint injuries and even obesity. He noted that the factor of weight is becoming a more common problem for many agriculture workers because of the mechanization of jobs that were more strenuous in the past. “There are a lot of folks who are doing less manual work during the day, but the calories have stayed up in the tradition of the farm family and so weight is becoming an issue, particularly for backs and knees. So I think that it’s something we really need to pay attention to,” he said. Blakely and Wolfe agree that diet and exercise are important for preventing and managing arthritis.

ing early makes all the difference in the world.” “I tend to find spring in my business is Blakely also said it’s espeprobably the time that I see the most changes. cially important to be aware of arthritis and how to manage it A lot of us have been a little more inactive with spring approaching. “I tend to find spring in my during the winter and I think a lot of it is just business is probably the time getting back at it and doing more, and we feel that I see the most changes,” he said. “A lot of us have the joints more at that point.” been a little more inactive during the winter and I think Kent Blakely a lot of it is just getting back “Any type of exercise is ture, using the largest joint at it and doing more, and we good in terms of helping pro- possible to complete a task feel the joints more at that tect joints, but there are cerand pacing yourself through point.” tain exercises that are better the day.” He added that many of his for those with arthritis,” Once arthritis has hit, Blake- farming patients are passionate Wolfe said. “Water exercises ly said there are several options about their profession, which in particular are good to help ag workers continue makes care and awareness even because they reduce the living a productive life on the more crucial. stress on major joints while farm. “If you’re doing exercise and providing many of the same “For osteoarthritis, we have taking good care of your body, benefits as other types of a variety of medications that which includes a little prevenexercise.” help with inflammation and tive maintenance, our bodies She said exercise, along joint pain and stiffness. For keep working longer,” Blakely with other measures, also can rheumatoid, the most important said. “That way, people can help prevent arthritis. “Some thing is early treatment and not keep doing what they love to of the major things for prejust putting it off,” he said. do.” vention include using proper “The new medicines actually e-mail to: lifting techniques and posprevent joint damage, so start- rebecca.mcmickell@kearneyhub.com

NEBRASKA’S POPULATIONS People — 1.75 million Cattle — 6.6 million Hogs — 3.3 million Chickens — 13 million Sheep — 95,000 Goats — 23,000

Comparison — There are more than 13 head of livestock for every Nebraskan. Source: Nebraska Department of Agriculture

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Page 12 • Kearney Hub and The Shopping Link • Tuesday, March 15, 2011

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Nebraska in good position to take on ag challenges By GREG IBACH

cialties. This is everything from financial planners, to food scientists, to crop consultants, to food safety information specialists. Nebraska agriculture The list is long and exciting launched a new decade in 2010. when you consider all the posAfter plugging through the sibilities for our youths. 2000s, with its years of The world needs agriculture drought-ravaged now more than ever. I know pastures and lack of water for there are plenty of challenges irrigating crops, on the horizon, but I think it may have been Nebraska is well-positioned to fitting to end the meet that need. We have the natural 10-year span with some areas resources, the physical infratoo wet to plant structure, and the education, Greg Ibach research and development necand pastures with enough grass in most cases essary to usher us toward success in the new decade. for the cattle to share with the grasshopper population. For the most part, the past year has been good for Nebraska agriculture, and net farm income is predicted to reach a record when figures are announced later this spring. It’s a good way to start the 2010s for an industry critical to our state’s economy. But record net farm income is more than a figure of relevance to our farms and ranches. It represents significant changes in the past decade and a host of opportunities for the future. It’s about improved genetic Steve Nelson of Axtell technology in both the crop Nebraska Farm Bureau and livestock sectors, which vice president allows our producers to get more bushels per acre and more pounds per animal. What are the top two or It’s about creating new value three 2011 issues for your and improved export opportuni- commodity? ties for our agricultural goods, The top issue facing agrifrom biofuels, to Nebraskaculture in Nebraska is the branded beef, to growth in the attack by those outside of farmers’ market sector. Nebraska who want to restrict Additionally, it’s about fosthe food buying choices of tering an atmosphere of consumers both research and development that in the United will take agriculture into the State and worldnext decade and beyond, when wide. our industry is expected to feed If they are and fuel a population estimated allowed to conto reach 9 billion people. trol the issues Perhaps the best news in all there will be the advancements over the past Steve Nelson less food pro10 years is how the changes duced and it have opened up a whole new will cost more. Those with world of agricultural employresources will have all the food ment opportunities for young they want. Those with fewer Nebraskans. resources will suffer the most. It’s not just about becoming Other issues of importance a farmer or rancher anymore, are federal and state budget although it is still a worthy and deficits, water resources mancritical profession, of course. agement, trade, increased input The choices have multiplied, as costs impact on profitability, shown in a study conducted by and regulatory uncertainty. the U.S. Department of AgriAs discussions begin on the next farm bill, what culture and Purdue University. program or feature is vital for It estimates 54,500 annual your ag business and why? job openings between 2010 The most important and 2015 for individuals with aspect of the 2012 Farm degrees in food, renewable energy and environmental spe- Bill that needs to be retained

Nebraska Department of Agriculture Director

NEBRASKA AGRICULTURE

Q. A.

Q. A.

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and improved is a well-funded crop and livestock insurance program. This can provide a reasonable safety net for agricultural producers and food production.

to capital and A.Access credit.

In the cattle feeding business it will require 20 percent to 30 percent more credit than just three years ago and more than 80 percent more credit will be needed as compared to 5 to 10 years ago. It has been estimated that the amount of money required to man- Chris Schluntz age just one 5,000-bushel futures contract for corn has increased from $2,000 to about $8,750 just in the last five to six years Loyd Pointer of Sargent because of the higher price levsoybean grower els and increased volatility. The opportunity for profWhat are the top two or itability in agriculture looks three 2011 issues for your very good, but along with the commodity? increased opportunity comes As much as we appreciate increased risk and it will profits, recent market require guaranteed capital to instability has me worried. manage the risk. How long will Rebuilding cow numbers. these high soyThis year will be the 13th bean prices year of beef cow herd liquidaremain and how tion out of the past 15 years far and how fast and will bring the U.S. beef could they cow herd to the smallest numdrop? ber since 1963. This is positive Input costs for prices in the short term. But also concern Loyd Pointer if we cannot supply our soybean producdomestic and foreign cusers. As commodity prices tomers with the amount of beef ratchet higher, this encourages they want, they will switch to our suppliers (chemical, fuel an alternative protein source and fertilizer) to increase costs and this will be very detrimenfor our inputs. tal to beef prices long term. As discussions begin on It’s also important to correct the next farm bill, what misinformation about beef program or feature is vital for nutrition and beef production your ag business and why? practices to be sure consumers A safety net needs to be have the truth about our prodincluded in any farm bill. ucts and how we produce them. We need a cheap, safe and reliThe Humane Society of the able food supply. In our coun- United States has an annual try we take this for granted. budget of more than $200 million. Beef producers can’t match those deep pockets, but we do need to realize the importance and value of having a voice in telling consumers how their food is produced and why we use best management practices to care for our animals. We can do that on a local level, and we can also encourage consumers to visit the checkoff-funded website ExploreBeef.org to learn more about what we do on our farms and ranches every day. Chris Schluntz As discussions begin on of Republican City the next farm bill, what National Cattlemen’s program or feature is vital for Beef Board your ag business and why? Offering an affordable insurance option for a What are the top two or three 2011 issues for your safety net in the event of crop failure or price collapse. commodity?

Increased prices for ag commodities will result in continued increases in input costs and make risk management even more important. As more capital is tied up in the production of crops and livestock, it will become even more important to have a reliable and affordable safety net. I believe the crop insurance option in the farm program is one viable way to do this.

SOYBEANS

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Q. A.

CATTLE

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Q.

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program or feature is vital for your ag business and why? I anticipate that cuts will continue to be made as our nation’s leaders look to tighten the spending in our nation’s capital. But one important part of this bill that directly affects pork producers is funds available for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program. Pork producers increasingly are being required to develop and implement nutrient (manure) management plans and to use technologies to address various conservation issues. USDA programs such as EQIP that are designed to provide financial and technical assistance to address water and air quality issues must work for all livestock producers. EQIP currently is not meeting pork producers’ needs. Changes to the program probably will be looked at and made through the next farm bill.

A.

are the top two or Q.What three 2011 issues for your commodity? year will definitely A.This be a volatile year for the swine industry as with many of the other commodities. The swine industry has seen the steady decline of pig numbers over the last several years, which has led to prices reaching some all time contract highs on the CME, especially for the summer Bart Beattie months. Unfortunately, the price of feed inputs, which include corn and soybeans, have been the leaders in the commodity run and will put a strain on the industry as feed prices continue to rise. Overall, I think that 2011 will prove to be a good year for producers, especially if they can use risk management to keep input costs under control. Other issues that will continue to be monitored in 2011 for the swine industry will be the free trade agreements between the U.S and South Korea. As South Korea continues to battle issues with foot-andmouth disease, they are looking to the U.S. for high-quality pork products to import and the pork industry stands to make big gains with the implementation of this important agreement. Exports continue to be a vital part of the pork industry as one out of every four pigs produced in the U.S. is exported to other countries. As discussions begin on the next farm bill, what

Q.

ETHANOL Chuck Woodside of Minden KAAPA Ethanol CEO are the two or three Q.What 2011 issues for your commodity? of the largest issues A.Two facing the ethanol industry in 2011 are: 1. Higher ethanol blends. Ethanol is currently blended in almost every gallon of gasoline in the United States at 10 percent. The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) has approved the use of E15 (15 percent ethanol) in 2001 and newer Chuck Woodside model vehicles. For this to have an impact on the industry, the consumer must be allowed to make a choice of fuels. The ability for the consumer to have that choice will require investment in infrastructure as well as blender pumps to dispense the higher level blends up to and including E85. 2. VEETC reform. The Volumetric Excise Tax Credit was extended through December 2011. As a part of that extenCOMMODITIES, PAGE 13

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SALUTE TO AG CONTINUED FROM PAGE 12

sion, the industry made a commitment to reform the VEETC going forward. VEETC has proven to be a very effective tool in growing the demand for ethanol, but all proposals must be considered and fully vetted. As discussions begin on the next farm bill, what program or feature is vital for your ag business and why? I hope the next farm bill includes robust energy title with programs to commercialize advanced ethanol, reduce oil imports and promote rural economic development.

products around the world. We must remember that the U.S. has only approximately 3 percent of the world population.

By LORI POTTER Hub Staff Writer

Q. A.

DAIRY Steve Wolfe of Kearney dairy producer are the two or three Q.What 2011 issues for your commodity? concern in the dairy A.Aindustry is volatility in

the markets. The strong grain markets have pushed input costs on dairies to record high levels. Rising energy costs also effect several input costs trucking to Kelly Brunkhorst of Lincoln from repair services. Nebraska Corn Board The only way director of research for the industry to recover the Steve Wolfe What are the two or three cost is from the sale of milk. Fortunately, on2011 issues for your farm milk prices are increasing commodity? and look profitable starting the Priorities second quarter of 2011. for the As on-farm prices rise, board at the prices for consumers also rise. state level are Dairy product prices, along ethanol and livewith most food prices, could stock promoreach levels never before seen tion. Within in the United States. The highethanol, we Kelly Brunkhorst er food prices are due to the have a strong U.S. being a part of the world push for blender market more than ever before. pumps across the state and The United States has always partnering on awareness of flex had inexpensive food, but this fuel vehicles. With livestock, we will con- seems to be changing. Higher prices could hurt consumption tinue to look at promotional of dairy products causing a surefforts on beef, pork, poultry plus of the commodity and and dairy, and on education driving prices down. (for the public) on positive Another ongoing issue is the animal welfare practices that public perception of the dairy producers undertake today. At the national level, ethanol industry. Animal rights groups promotion and policy are prior- have a stronghold in the U.S. ities. These would include pro- They seem to have a large following and are well funded. moting ethanol use to conThey work hard at misleading sumers and our partnership consumers about the livestock with NASCAR. Policy issues include discussions on ethanol industry. As an industry, we have to and farm policy. get our story out and ensure As discussions begin on consumers that we have good the next farm bill, what practices in place that take care program or feature is vital for of our animals as well as the your ag business and why? environment. Programs that are vital As discussions begin on as discussions begin on the next farm bill, what the next farm bill are risk program or feature is vital for management, a safety net, and foreign market access for your ag business and why? Some dairymen hope proour grains and livestock prodposals in the next farm bill ucts. Risk management as in insur- will move toward a risk manageance to disaster programs; hav- ment program that offers protection based on gross margins, taking a solid safety net, because ing feed costs into account. we saw in 2008 how fast comIdeas to help balance supply modity prices can come back and demand are also being prodown; and foreign market posed. These items would help access to promote our grains the industry become more stable. and meat, poultry and dairy

CORN

Q. A.

Q. A.

To add value, do homework first

Q. A.

KEARNEY — Valueadded crops from Nebraska’s farms and ranches can be organic or traditionally grown, but the planning, labor-intensive management and marketing involved are similar for both. “Do a ton of homework before you do any of these things,” University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension Educator Vaughn Vaughn HamHammond mond of Nebraska City said at the Nebraska Women in Agriculture Conference in Kearney. Hammond, who is an adviser on specialty crops, said the grape and wine industry has proved there are opportunities beyond the typical Nebraska grain crops. “It’s a change in lifestyle … This is farming in a different way and farming is not easy,” he said about tending a vineyard. Weather risks are high for grapes and other high-valued crops. Hammond said it can cost $8,000 an acre to start a vineyard and it probably will take 10 years to break even. Then profits can be good in an industry dependent on tourism. The big benefit of valueadded crops is they can yield good profits from small spaces. Hammond said UNL Extension and grower groups are among the best sources of information to successfully produce and market highvalue crops. Marketing and education groups include the Nebraska Food Co-op, which matches consumers and producers on

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community supported agriculture in which people subscribe with a farmer for weekly deliv■ Options include flowers, LINCOLN — U.S. Departeries of fresh produce throughfruits, vegetables, nuts, ment of Agriculture Rural out the growing season. The hops and woody florals. Development staffs in customer pays some money in ■ Do your homework before Nebraska are seeing applicaadvance to help cover planting starting. tions for the Rural Business ■ Understand risks and marEnterprise Grant Program. and growing costs. kets. Grants are public bodies, “That’s shared responsibili■ Prepare for the labor non-profit entities and Indian ty,” he said, because a customer involved. Tribes to assist in development may get less produce in a ■ Determine whether to be of small and emerging private drought and more when there certified organic. businesses in rural areas. are timely rains. “… We are not ■ Identify a marketing plan – Grants may be used for techsell from home, farmers nical assistance, land acquisitalking about cheap food. It’s markets, to wholesalers, tion, buildings and infrastrucabout what a product is worth.” through cooperatives or by ture or to establish small busiAn important on-farm tool customer subscriptions. ness revolving loan funds. for serious growers of value■ Find a good network or Applications are due by added crops is a high tunnel, group to join. March 31, priority to requests for $50,000 or less. NebrasSource: Vaughn Hammond an unheated, plastic-covered ka funding for FY2011 is hoop greenhouse. “If you do unknown, but expected to be about 1,700 kinds of products, things right, you can almost $200,000 to $300,000. and the Nebraska Fruit and grow things all year without For more information, visit Vegetable Growers Associaputting any heat into it,” www.rurdev.usda.gov/BCP_r tion. Hammond said. “ … Now beg.html or contact area Research into production that won’t always be tomaRural Development specialist requirements, market opportu- toes.” Kelley Messenger at the USDA Service Center in nities and economic thresholds He added that high tunnels Kearney at kelley.messenfor pest damage will help also can be used for poultry, ger@ne.usda.gov or 308growers determine whether to berries or flowers. They typical237-3118 extension 1120. seek organic certification. ly are 30 feet wide and 70 feet Hammond said some Calilong, and cost about $2,000. fornia vegetable growers see Hammond said benefits of the potential for expanding into growing vegetables inside the middle of the country to include reduced risks of really LINCOLN — The Nebraska save on production and transcold weather and damage from Department of Economic portation costs. California land wind and insects. The produce Development has an April 7 is selling for $40,000 to also is bigger and kept cleaner. deadline for applications $70,000 per acre, which makes through the Value Added Act Other value-added opportugrant program for farmers, irrigated cropland in Nebraska nities he listed are fruit trees ranchers, other ag businesslook like a bargain even at and bushes, nuts and woody es, communities and other $6,000 to $8,000 per acre. florals. organizations that ad value to Compared to California, “The key to all this (niche) basic ag products. Nebraska is half the distance to stuff is how to sell it. You can’t Completed pre-applications New York City, which has the are due to DED by Friday and just grow it and hope to sell it,” can be revised until April 7. largest wholesale produce mar- Hammond said. “… It’s hard to The maximum grant request ket in the world. So transporta- be a great grower and a great is $75,000 and requires a 25 tion costs could be cut in half. marketer at the same time.” percent match. For more Plus, Hammond said, Nebraska e-mail to: details, visit www.neded.org/ has water for drip irrigation lori.potter@kearneyhub.com content/view/374/555. systems. “So you may as well get on the bandwagon,” he told the ag women, even if it’s meeting area or state demand for localReplacement Irrigation Gates, Gaskets, Aluminum ly grown produce. Marketing Fittings and Socks and Wires opportunities include more than 70 registered farmers marSurge Valves, Water Meters, PVC and Aluminum Pipe kets throughout Nebraska. Hammond said one trend is • Parts & Service for

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ANDREW UDEN learned about intensive grazing and other cattle management methods last year as an intern at Te Mania, an Australian cattle farm. Uden, 21, and a 2007 Lexington High School graduate, will graduate from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in May 2012 with an animal science degree.

Australia: Cattle Contrast Specialized cattle farm Te Mania tracks 17 traits, practices intense land management By MALENA WARD

can be used that are good for producers and the environment. “We need to be efficient in LINCOLN — An internship terms of making things lower cost for the producer and effiat a state-of-the-art cattle farm cient in making things environin Australia in 2010 gave Unimentally sustainable,” he said. versity of Nebraska-Lincoln Uden brought home many senior Andrew Uden a new perspective on cattle genetics, land ideas from working at Te Mania Angus, which originated management and marketing. in New Zealand “It was an eye-opening expebefore expandrience,” Uden said of the time ing to Australia. he spent with Te Mania Angus. Overall, the He calls the company “a diaTe Mania cattle mond in the rough” because its farm — ranch is exceptional ag practices weren’t an American typical in all of Australia. word not used in “Our (U.S.) industry overall is better,” he said. “We need to Andrew Uden Australia — has 3,700 cows on continue to take the steps as 5,000 acres. The Australia farm individual producers to make is based at Mortlake, Victoria, sure it stays that way.” the mainland’s southern state. He made his own internship The company is an industry and travel plans, working for Te leader in cattle genetics, having Mania from Jan. 28 to April 5, developed a computer-synchrotouring New Zealand’s south island for about a month, intern- nized breeding process. “The U.S. is nowhere near to this ing as a cowboy with the Auslevel,” Uden said. tralian Agricultural Company in Breeding decisions are made Queensland from May 1 to July using expected progeny differ6, and returning home Aug. 7. Uden, 21, is the son of Craig ences, or EPDs, a tool that estimates the genetic value of an aniand Terri Uden and a 2007 mal as a parent, based on ancesgraduate of Lexington High School. He will graduate from tral information, its own records and the records of its progeny. UNL in May 2012 with a How well certain traits will major in animal science and be passed on is predicted in minors in ag economics and estimated breeding values, or international agriculture. EBVs, which are based on the Uden has learned that innogenetic merit of individual anivative ag production practices

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mals and records describing results from previous breeding. Typical factors breeders observe include birth weight, weaning weight and carcass traits. “This family had actually taken it a step further,” Uden said, “and made bone structure its own factor (as) a predictor of movement ability.” EBVs were calculated from detailed data kept on all Te Mania cattle for up to 17 traits known to influence fertility, growth and carcass performance. “They were the first farm of the world do that,” Uden said. Te Mania also is a land management leader. Uden learned about its highly intensive grazing strategy that places 600 cows on 40 acres for three days at a time. The cows grazed on grass and weeds, with no herbicides used on the land. The spacing of cows as they ate their way across the land meant they spread manure evenly and there was no need for fertilizer. The timing of placing and removing cows is critical, Uden said, with a herd commonly all moved in a day. “Now, if left for five days it would have completely ruined the ground,” he added. The system produces healthier grass for the animals and is a return to more natural beef production, which put the

the United States. Uden said cows will eat what tastes good, so in a big pasture they’ll eat Andrew Uden spent the fall only certain grasses and not all semester in 2009 in Scotland the nutritional vegetation presin a UNL-arranged study ent. The result is overgrazed abroad experience that and undergrazed areas. included taking economics and international relations The Australian cattle he courses at the University of worked with “just put their Aberdeen. heads down and mow it like a He also visited farm and lawn. It kind of takes their selecAngus shows, learning that tional grazing out of them.” breeding practices for cattle Te Mania marketings involve too huge for U.S. markets were influenced by the Euroworking with a team of regispean market quota system. tered Angus breeders. With the purchase of a Te Mania franindustry in a positive light, chise right, team members get Uden said. first pick of the 400 to 500 The herd’s 600 weanlings bulls Te Mania produces annualso are in a managed grazing ally. system. Uden said they were “They get the top pick of the fed silage in the morning and genetics, but they send all the turned out to a canola field in data back,” Uden said, explainthe afternoon. A temporary ing that team members lease electric fence kept the weanthe bulls and supply Te Mania lings in a long, narrow pasture with breeding data. After three to keep them from overgrazing. years, certain bulls are returned “They could only graze so to the Te Mania farm to much of the canola per day,” become semen collection sires. Uden explained, and the fastOffspring of Te Mania bulls growing crop would grow back are placed in special feedlots, in three weeks. “It was just an Uden said, and the Te Mania interesting way to manage name and label are sought weanlings.” after. “It only works if the cows All Australian cattle are in have a herd mentality,” he the National Livestock Identifiadded. “It makes moving cattle cation System that can track to new pastures a very, very their history from birth to easy task.” slaughter. The system’s uses The system contrasts to the include disease control, biosefree-range grazing common in curity, food safety, product

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integrity and market access. Uden believes the United States needs a national ID program to remain competitive in world markets that are increasingly focused on beef quality and safety issues. He said a main reason a system hasn’t been developed is fear of high start-up costs. “If we don’t have national ID in the next 10 to 15 years, I can see us getting left in the dust by big competitors,” Uden said. His intern duties included cleaning and grooming bulls for sale, vaccinating weanlings, and rotating cattle on the land. He also helped renovate a 120-year-old sheep sheering shed, transforming it into a new sale facility. During the work, items were found that illustrate the area’s history and culture. “All while supposedly being at work,” Uden said. “It didn’t feel like work.” Another benefit was seeing Australian wildlife. He’d be outdoors grilling and see kangaroos 40 to 50 yards away. There also were platypuses and koalas. “It is almost like a dream being able to work down there and be a part of that,” Uden said. e-mail to: betsy.friedrich@kearneyhub.com

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Salute to Agriculture: In the Field 2011