Friday, May 18, 2012

Getting the Experience

It is hard to believe how fast time goes by as you get older, which has made me start appreciating the time I have with friends and family. Every year seems to get shorter and shorter with time, so I don't even want to imagine how fast time will go by as I get older since I am only 22 right now.

Speaking of how fast time goes by, this last year I had the opportunity to intern with the Nebraska Corn Board. For me it is hard to believe that a year has already went by when it seems like I just started yesterday. This last Monday was my last day at the Nebraska Corn Board and right before I left for the last time I noticed a saying that I had never payed attention to, even though it was right above the clock. I felt like this saying really summed up how my year went since I truly did pass the time at the Nebraska Corn Board working with a great staff and board! Not only did I have the opportunity to pass the time working with a great group of people, I also had the opportunity to learn more about the corn industry and the corn checkoff, which I believe is important to Nebraska's corn industry.

So you may be wondering why the corn checkoff is so important to Nebraska corn farmers. Well first, the main role of the NCB is to promote Nebraska's corn while also providing funding for research, education, and market development. Coming from a family farm that raises corn, I appreciate the efforts of the NCB to try and add value to the corn that my family produces. However, this hasn't only benefited corn farmers, but has also benefited consumers as well since they can purchase products made from corn that can be less expensive and more environmentally friendly.

Along with learning how important the checkoff is to Nebraska's corn farmers, I also was able to experience some other great opportunities such as being able to tour different corn farms and also being able to attend the Commodity Classic down in Nashville, TN. While attending Commodity Classic, I was able to learn about the issues that agriculture is facing, such as getting a Farm Bill passed this year that includes a safety net that protects farmers during rough times.

Although those were just a couple of the highlights of my internship experience, probably the greatest thing I learned was how to be a good advocate for agriculture and how to use social media to share my story about Ag. Before starting my internship, the only social media experience I had was Facebook. That soon changed, and all of a sudden I had a twitter account and then several months later, I decided to start this blog. I learned that it is important for those of us involved in agriculture to share our story about how we raise food for a growing world population.

Even though my internship experience has come to an end, I plan to continue being an advocate for agriculture. There is no doubt in my mind that agriculture will face some tough challenges down the road, such as a growing disconnect between the farmer and the consumer, and the growing amount of regulations being placed on agriculture. I hope to get involved with some of the Ag organizations when I return to the farm one day and help form solutions for the future challenges agriculture will face. Even though time may seem to get shorter and shorter as I get older, I definitely plan on using my time doing something I have a passion for, which is agriculture!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Wordless Wednesday

The calves are coming up for some breakfast this morning. In another day or two we will be sending all of our cows and calves to pasture where they will graze this summer.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

From the Field to the Movie Theater

What is the most common snack a person gets when they go to the movies? Popcorn!! Popcorn is the most popular snack when it comes to watching movies, and Americans consume roughly 17.3 billion quarts of popcorn each year! That is a lot of popcorn!

Although it is easy to just grab a bag of popcorn and throw it into the microwave, have you ever thought about how those popcorn kernels ended up in that bag?

The popcorn that you eat comes from fields located all over the Midwest. Farmers will usually plant their popcorn crops in April and then harvest the popcorn the following fall, usually around September. After harvesting the popcorn, farmers then sell their popcorn to food processors, such as ConAgra, where the popcorn then gets produced into brands like Orville Redenbachers. From there the popcorn gets shipped out to places all over the U.S. where it can be enjoyed either at the movies or even at home!

So how do I know about all of this? Well, my family has actually grown popcorn for several years. We usually will grow on average around one million pounds of popcorn, but it varies from year to year. All of the popcorn we grow is non-GMO, which means it has not been genetically engineered. After harvesting our popcorn, we then sell it to ConAgra who then packages it and sends it out.

Over the next few months, I will post a popcorn update on the first Thursday of each month so that you can get an idea of how popcorn is grown! This will allow you to see the different growth stages of popcorn along with the harvesting of the popcorn.

So here is the first update for May:

This is what the popcorn seed looks like before it is planted. Looks a little different than the stuff you buy in the store! All seed corn will usually have a pink color to it, which is a coating for the seed.

As soon as the planter is filled up with popcorn seed, we can begin to plant. Usually we will plant the seed about an inch to an inch and a half deep with a seed population of 34,000 seeds per acre. All of our popcorn that we are growing this year was just recently planted. We also use the latest technology so that we can ensure that we are being efficient with all of our resources!

Be sure to check out the next popcorn update on June 7th!