Nebraska's 23,000 family corn farmers are preparing to plant what again promises to be the third largest state corn crop in the nation, according to Tim Scheer, a St. Paul farmer and chairman of the Nebraska Corn Board.
"At the same time, they continue to invest in their future—and in the economic success of the state—through the checkoff program they helped establish 35 years ago," he says. "Nebraska's corn farmers invest a half-cent per bushel of corn in the Nebraska corn checkoff program. These funds are managed and invested by the nine-member Nebraska Corn Board, who are corn farmers themselves. Farmers' checkoff investments in market development, research, education and promotion have leveraged Nebraska's strength in corn production into economic vitality all across the state."
In recent years, Nebraska corn checkoff investments have increased in the area of consumer education and communication. "Growing global demand for food, feed and fuel has raised the profile of agriculture," says Scheer. "As a result, it has become critically important for those of us in agriculture to tell our story in order to combat myths and misinformation that are being circulated by groups and individuals who have an anti-agriculture agenda."
In addition to Nebraska-focused communications programs, Nebraska corn checkoff dollars support a number of consumer outreach programs that involve collaborations with other state and national agriculture organizations to better leverage checkoff investments. These initiatives include:
•CommonGround, a national effort which features women in agriculture having conversations with female consumers about farming and food.
•U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance, a coalition of more than 80 agricultural organizations nationwide focused on engaging with consumers regarding food production, stewardship, and food safety.
•Farmers Feed US, a program led by the Center for Food Integrity that connects farmers and ranchers with consumers through the Internet.
•A major NASCAR sponsorship, which has raised the profile of American ethanol as a clean-burning, renewable, domestic fuel source.
In addition to consumer education initiatives, Nebraska corn checkoff dollars are invested in research and market development programs designed to expand the use and value of Nebraska corn in the areas of livestock production, biofuels and new uses for corn. "Nebraska corn checkoff dollars helped get the ethanol industry established and bring jobs and economic development to rural Nebraska," Scheer says. "We remain focused on growing demand for biofuels as well as on research related to the next innovations in biofuels and other uses of corn that can replace petroleum-based products."
Supporting the state's livestock industry is also a key component of Nebraska Corn Board investment as checkoff dollars support research and promotion of Nebraska's beef, dairy, pork and poultry industries. Emphasis is placed on the use of distillers grains--a co-product of ethanol production—in livestock rations. "With distillers grains, we are able to provide a high-quality feed product for our livestock customers while also producing a renewable domestic fuel for America," he adds. "Ethanol production transforms corn into fuel, food and feed."
Nebraska corn checkoff dollars also go to support the efforts of the U.S. Meat Export Federation and the U.S. Grains Council, organizations focused on building export markets for corn, corn products and corn-fed red meat. "While domestic use of corn has been on the rise, we cannot ignore the fact that the majority of the world's population lives outside the United States," Scheer adds. "As other nations improve their standard of living, they will need more protein, grain and fuel. Nebraska can be a global leader in meeting this demand—and we can build economic vitality in our state as a result," Scheer says.For more information on Nebraska's corn checkoff program, visit www.nebraskacorn.org.