Crops, Livestock

Ag Today: New Era of Prosperity or Temporary Opportunity

Recently at a Farmers & Ranchers College program, Dr. David Kohl emphasized the importance of maintaining working capital or cash for businesses and families, among other important business principles. As always, his global knowledge of events and how they impact U.S. agriculture is fascinating.

One of the mega-trends for producers to pay attention to is the increased focus on healthy soil and water. Healthy soil and water quality creates healthy plants, animals, humans, and environment. Likely there will be paid incentives for producers who excel in these areas. Continuing to reassure consumers where and how food is produced, processed, and distributed remains important. It is also crucial to know your cost of production to plan best, average, and worst-case scenarios. Kohl also recommends overestimating capital expenditures by 25%.

His “Rule of 78” caught the attention of a lot of participants. When most people reach 78 years of age, usually health starts to decline unless you practice 8 habits. Those eight habits to have a quality of life included taking care one oneself physically by drinking water, exercising regularly, eating healthy and getting enough sleep.  Mentally, people should have a support network, life purpose, engage in mental activities such as reading or meditating and practice your faith/spiritual life.  He emphasized the importance of allowing oneself 2 hours per day with no technology.

Farmers and ranchers should also manage things that can be controlled and manage around those that cannot be controlled. He reinforced the idea that for a successful operation, you must plan, strategize, execute, and monitor. Examine monthly or at least quarterly financials to ensure you are on track. Those with a written business plan are four times more profitable than those without a plan. Also, the mental health of those with a business plan have two times the mental health as those without a written plan.

Kohl reminded participants of his business IQ exercise that ANY business should forgo. The areas in the business IQ included cost of production knowledge, cost of production by enterprise, goals (business, family, personal), record keeping system, projected cash flow, financial sensitivity analysis, financial ratio/break evens, those who work with an advisory team/lender, those whom have a marketing plan and execute, those whom have a risk management plan and execute, modest lifestyle habits, strong people management plan, transition plan, those whom attend educational seminars, and their attitude.

To determine what your cost of production is, a hands-on training will be held at the Fillmore County Fairgrounds on Thursday, December 15th from 1-3:00 p.m. This program is free, but registration is preferred for planning. Register at cap.unl.edu/abc/training. Attendees are encouraged to bring their own laptop or tablet to the workshop.

Programming

Land Leasing Strategies for Ag Women

The Power of Negotiation and Communication: Land Leasing Strategies for Midwestern Ag Women is coming to Geneva in January. The Nebraska Women in Agriculture program, in conjunction with Women in Agriculture programs at Purdue University and Kansas State University, will host a four-part extension workshop on the basics of land management, leasing, and conservation for landlords and tenants.

“The Power of Negotiation and Communication: Land Leasing Strategies for Midwestern Ag Women” will begin on January 18 at numerous sites in Indiana, Kansas, and Nebraska. The series will focus on writing agricultural lease agreements, landlord-tenant relationships, negotiations, and conservation practices. Workshops will be held on January 18, January 25, February 1, and February 8.

Photo by u00c1kos Szabu00f3 on Pexels.com

The workshop costs $50 per person and participants should plan to attend each session. A virtual option is available for those unable to attend a workshop site for $75 per person, although in-person attendance is highly encouraged to better network with other attendees and interact with speakers and includes a meal.

According to Department of Agriculture census data from 2017, there are over 90,000 women producers and over 51,000 female landlords in the three states.

“Women represent an important and growing demographic in agricultural land management and this workshop series will teach essential management information while providing women the chance to ask questions, connect with each other and share their experiences,” said Jessica Groskopf, director of the Nebraska Women in Agriculture program.

Each state will host several satellite workshop sites with local extension personnel. Keynote speakers will be simulcast to each location and each site will provide additional speakers and hands-on activities.

Groskopf said the program’s structure is intended to strengthen networks of women in rural areas, which can provide opportunities for building trust and sharing information. “Connections are so important to women farmers,” she said. “We have seen the benefits that come from knowing your peers, having a place to share difficulties and mitigate the isolation that so many of us in agriculture often feel.”

These workshops seek to help participants increase their awareness of local land values and cash rental rates and the factors that influence them. They will also cover the importance of having a written lease and the items that should be included in it to ensure an equitable agreement for all parties. Participants will learn negotiation strategies as well as best practices to improve relationships between landlords and tenants.

Conservation programs will also be covered, so that participants will have a greater understanding of compliance requirements and increase their awareness of voluntary conservation programs that are available to them.

Registration is required by January 13th. 

2022-23 Farmers & Ranchers College Schedule

  • December 8th -“Ag Today: New Era of Prosperity or Temporary Opportunity” featuring Dr. DaveKohl. Registration will start at 12:45 p.m. and the program will start at 1:00 p.m. at the Opera House in Bruning, NE.
  • December 15th – A hands-on training workshop will teach producers about Extension’s Agricultural Budget Calculator. This program will be held at the Fillmore County Fairgrounds in Geneva from 1-3:00 p.m.  Re gister by December 13th at cap.unl.edu/abc/training.
  • January 19th -Cow/Calf College Registration will start at 9:00 a.m. and the program will start at 9:25 until 3:30 p.m. at the Clay County Fairgrounds in Clay Center.

Questions on the Farmers & Ranchers College can be directed to the Fillmore County Extension Office at (402) 759-3712. To participate and register, go to the website: go.unl.edu/farmersrancherscollege.

Programming

Agriculture Today: New Era of Prosperity or Temporary Opportunity?

The 2022-23 Farmers & Ranchers College will kick off December 8th featuring Dr. Dave Kohl. Registration will start at 12:45 p.m. and the program will start at 1:00 p.m. at the Opera House in Bruning, NE. The program is titled, “Ag Today: New Era of Prosperity or Temporary Opportunity.” The business and economic landscape of agriculture can be described in one word as “anxious.”  Global trade uncertainty and the shift from fossil fuels to the green movement coupled with inflation and supply chain bottlenecks are only a few o the challenges.  However, with these headwinds, opportunities exist for those who manage the business proactively despite all the economic megatrend shifts. 

The decade of the 2020s will be one of economic and financial divide. Stimulus checks from the government along with rising commodity prices in some industries have presented profits not seen since the Great Commodity Super Cycle.  Extreme volatility and uncertainty created by geopolitics present an economic roller coaster environment for most businesses. These factors coupled with inflating costs, a shift from fossil fuels to the green movement, consumer and technology trends, and supply chain bottlenecks are only some of the challenges.  Visionary CEOs must strategically analyze the challenges and opportunities.  They must conduct both an industry and business SWOT analysis to identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats in their business plan, and a pathway to remaining on the positive side of the ledger.  Don’t miss out on this engaging session that applies the big picture variables to your business, family, and personal life.   

Many in the area are very familiar with Dr. Kohl, but if you are not, here are some details about him. Dr. Dave Kohl is an academic Hall of Famer in the College of Agriculture at Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA.  Dr. Kohl has keen insight into the agriculture industry gained through extensive travel, research, and involvement in ag businesses.  He has traveled nearly 10 million miles; conducted more than 6,500 presentations; and published more than 2,250 articles in his career. Dr. Kohl’s wisdom and engagement with all levels of the industry provide a unique perspective into future trends.

The following week on December 15th, the Farmers & Ranchers College will be hosting a hands-on training workshop that will teach producers about Extension’s Agricultural Budget Calculator. This program will be held at the Fillmore County Fairgrounds in Geneva from 1-3:00 p.m. Participants are encouraged to bring a laptop or tablet to the workshop but if they are unable to do so, they are still welcome to attend. Please register by December 13th for this program at cap.unl.edu/abc/training.

Questions on the Farmers & Ranchers College can be directed to the Fillmore County Extension Office at (402) 759-3712. To participate and register, go to the website: go.unl.edu/farmersrancherscollege.

Uncategorized

Happy Thanksgiving

The American Farm Bureau Federation annually calculates the cost of a Thanksgiving meal to serve 10 people with plenty for leftovers. This year, with a traditional Thanksgiving meal, Farm Bureau estimated a meal total of $64.05 which is an increase from $53.31 last year. This is a 20% increase in last year’s cost. The turkey price is up about $1.81 per pound compared to last year which is a 21% increase from last year. Included in the meal is a 16-lb. turkey, bread stuffing, sweet potatoes, rolls with butter, peas, cranberries, a relish tray of carrots and celery, pumpkin pie with whipped cream and beverages of coffee and milk. You can thank our American farmers and ranchers who are able to provide us the bounty of safe and affordable food. Another interesting fact about Thanksgiving include that 88% of Americans are expected to be feasting on turkey for Thanksgiving this year (National Turkey Federation).

Now let’s talk trivia:

Q: Why are turkeys raised?   A: Because of their excellent quality of meat and eggs

Q: What is a male turkey called?  A:  Tom

Q: What is a female turkey called?  A:  A Hen

Q: What sound do turkeys make?  A: Only tom turkeys gobble; the female makes a clucking sound.

Q: How many feathers does a turkey have at maturity?  A:  3,500 feathers

Q: How big was the heaviest turkey ever raised?  A: 86 pounds, about the size of a large dog

Q: Which gender of turkeys are usually consumed whole?  A: Hens (females) are usually sold as whole birds. Toms (males) are processed into turkey sausage, turkey franks, tenderloins, cutlets and deli meats.

Q: How long does it take a turkey to reach market size?   A: Hens usually grow for 16 weeks and is 8-16 lbs. when processed while tom usually takes 19 weeks to reach market weight and weighs 24 lbs. Large toms (24-40 lbs.) are a few weeks older.

Regardless of what you do this Thanksgiving, remember to be thankful for what really matters.

If you need tips or resources to help you prepare a turkey or any other food for Thanksgiving, go to Nebraska Extension’s Food Website at https://food.unl.edu/article/thanksgiving-central.

Uncategorized

Gratitude Improves Health & Well-Being

During the month of November, many people think about Thanksgiving. The word “thanksgiving” means the act of expressing or feeling thankfulness. If you are a parent like me, how many times do you tell your children to “say thank you” after receiving something from someone?  When my kids automatically say, “thank you”, it brings joy to my heart. By teaching youth to automatically say those two small words, my hopes are that it will lead to writing thank you notes and expressing warm words of gratitude to those around them.

The art and practice of handwriting “thank you notes” can sometimes get lost with all the electronic methods of communication.  When I receive a hand-written thank you that really brings gladness to my heart, I put those in a special file folder in my desk.  Some of those thank you notes are from 4-H’ers, 4-H Alumni, interns, coworkers, etc.  As I write this, I even have a thank you note displayed on my desk from a summer adult 4-H volunteer. As the receiver of a thank you note, I can say it is nice to receive meaningful mail, rather than bills or advertising, but writing thank you notes also brings happiness to my heart. 

Two researchers from Indiana University, Drs. Brown and Wong (2017) researched an authored an article that provides the following psychological benefits of practicing gratitude.

  1. Gratitude unshackles us from toxic emotions. When you write about how grateful you are to others and how much other people have blessed your life, it might become considerably harder for you to ruminate on your negative experiences.
  2. Gratitude helps even if you don’t share it. The mere act of writing a thank you letter can help you appreciate the people in your life and shift your focus away from negative feelings and thoughts.
  3. Gratitude benefits take time. If you participate in a gratitude writing activity, don’t be too surprised if you don’t feel dramatically better immediately after the writing. You might have that quick “rush” of feeling thankful, however the bigger benefits of gratitude might take time to kick in weeks after your gratitude activity.
  4. Gratitude has lasting effects on the brain. Their research suggested that brain activity was distinct for those who felt more grateful, than those who only performed an act of gratitude related to guilt. Those who were more grateful showed greater activation in their medial prefrontal cortex.

University of Southern California (2019) also found evidence that gratitude can have profound health benefits and provided suggestions on how to practice gratitude. Some of the most effective approaches include maintaining a gratitude journal, writing personal thank-you notes and regularly expressing gratitude to others in person. One might also practice guided meditation, call someone to express thanks or write a note to a friend.

It can be easy to get down with all the negativity on social media, the news or being around negative people, but reminding oneself of the many things one should be thankful for can help improve one’s wellbeing.  I am thankful for all of you who read my weekly column and support Nebraska Extension!  


Upcoming Area Ag Programs:

December 8, 2022 – Dr. Kohl Presents Agriculture Today: New Era of Prosperity or Temporary Opportunity, 1-4:00 p.m. at the Opera House in Bruning, NE. This Farmers & Ranchers College program is free. For more information, call the Fillmore County Extension office at 402.759.3712.

December 15, 2022-ABC’s of Cost of Production Workshop, 1:00 to 3:00 p.m at the Fillmore County Fairgrounds in Geneva, NE. There is no fee to attend the workshop, however pre-registration is required by December 13. Click here to register online: cap.unl.edu/abc/training or call the Fillmore County Extension office at 402.759.3712.

Uncategorized

Cost of Production Workshop

Figuring crop cost of production – it’s as easy as ABC with the new Agricultural Budget Calculator (ABC) Program!

In collaboration with the Farmers & Ranchers College, the University of Nebraska Lincoln’s Center for Agricultural Profitability has scheduled a hands-on workshop from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. on December 15, 2022, at the Fillmore County Fairgrounds, 641 N 5th Street, Geneva, Nebraska. This program is for ag producers, farm managers, bankers and anyone interested in learning more about utilizing the free online Agricultural Budget Calculator (ABC) for enterprise budgeting.

The Agricultural Budget Calculator is a free enterprise budgeting and decision-making tool that is designed to assist agricultural producers in determining their cost of production and projected cash and economic returns for various farm or ranch enterprises. 

As base or foundational budgets are prepared, producers and ag managers can utilize additional program features to help in their risk management and decision-making while using ABC, according to Glennis McClure, an extension educator and farm and ranch management analyst with the Center for Agricultural Profitability. “With the changing cost of inputs and our capital investment in farming, now more than ever, figuring your true cost of production as you budget for the new production season is important,” she said.

McClure, who works closely with the ABC tool and has been involved in its development, will facilitate the workshop. During the first part of the workshop, participants will learn how to use the ABC program to create and/or update crop budgets for their farms or fields on their owned and/or rented ground and create their own cost of production and anticipated return reports. Part two will provide details and hands-on demonstrations of combining enterprise budgets using the “whole farm” component of the program and more on using other features, including breakeven, crop comparison and risk analysis. Visit cap.unl.edu/abc for more information on the ABC program.  

There is no fee to attend the workshop, however pre-registration is required by December 13. Click here to register online: cap.unl.edu/abc/training or call the Fillmore County Extension office at 402.759.3712. Workshop attendees are encouraged to bring their own laptop or mobile device to get started working on their own budgets with the program. Mobile lab computers will be available as needed for the in-person workshops.

Youth

Tips for a Healthier Halloween

For many, autumn events like Halloween are a time to wear costumes, go trick-or-treating, go to parties with friends, and eat sweet treats. Celebrations such as Halloween are a chance to not only have fun, but also provide healthy snack options and be physically active with friends and family. Make your Halloween season healthier this year by getting plenty of physical activity to balance food intake and help children choose wisely and eat their treats in moderation. Below are tips to make your Halloween healthier for trick-or-treaters and guests.

Hand out healthier treats. 

  • Give out healthier treats for trick-or-treaters and party guests this year. The calories in all those bite-size treats can add up quickly. There are lots of options when it comes to healthier food treats.
  • Examples include cereal bars, packages of dried fruit, baked pretzels, trail mix, animal crackers, mini boxes of raisins, graham crackers, sugar-free gum or hard candy, snack-sized pudding containers, individual applesauce containers or squeeze pouches, sugar-free hot chocolate or apple cider packets, individual juice boxes (100% juice), or fig cookies.

Try out non-food treats. 

  • If you want to steer away from handing out food this year, children will also enjoy non-food treats, such as things you would put in birthday goodie bags. Some non-food items are suitable for all ages, but small items should be limited to kids over age three.
  • Examples include small toys, pocket-sized games, plastic costume jewelry, glow sticks, tiny decks of cards, pencils, pencil toppers, fancy erasers, stickers (including reflective safety stickers), bookmarks, bottles of bubbles, whistles, coloring books, or small packages of crayons.

Promote physical activity.

  • Use party games and trick-or-treat time as a way to fit in 60 minutes of physical activity for kids. You can encourage and pump up the enthusiasm for being more active by providing small and inexpensive toys that promote activity.
  • Items could include a bouncy ball, jump rope, sidewalk chalk for a game of hopscotch or foursquare, or a beanbag for hacky sack.

Moderation is key.

  • Halloween is a great time to discuss and demonstrate the importance of moderation. Keep track of children’s candy so they don’t go overboard in one sitting. Let them pick out a few treats on Halloween night and then let them have a few pieces each day after that.
  • Show kids treats can fit into a healthy eating plan in small amounts. Combine a treat, such as fun-size candy, with a healthy snack like a piece of fruit. Be sure they eat the fruit first, so they don’t fill up on the candy.

Survive sweet treats at work.

  • Snack- or fun-size candies are small and easy to eat but eating several throughout the day can add up to extra calories. Keep the wrappers where you can see them, so they don’t accidentally pile up.
  • If you can’t just eat a few treats at work, start bringing healthier alternatives with you. Stock your snack bag or desk drawer with fruit cups, dried fruit, lightly sweetened whole grain cereal, graham crackers, low-fat pudding cups, popcorn, or granola bars.
  • Remember that friends or co-workers may also be struggling to stay motivated to make healthy changes. Lean on each other and be there when others need encouragement. This year make an effort to bring healthier treat options to work.

Find recipes and learn more at https://food.unl.edu.

Horticulture, Uncategorized

Pumpkins

I love this time of year for several reasons. First, it is harvest time; watching the combines in the fields brings back great memories of riding in the combine with my dad as a child. Secondly, I love the changing colors of the trees and a slight chill in the air. Finally, I love pumpkins and going to the pumpkin patch with my girls which is why this week I’m sharing some fun information about pumpkins.

Photo by Ylanite Koppens on Pexels.com

October is National Pumpkin Month. Pumpkins are a member of the Cucurbitaceae family, which also includes squash, cantaloupe, cucumbers, watermelon, and gourds. Every part of the pumpkin was used by American Indians. Pumpkins and squashes were baked or roasted whole in a fire, cut up and boiled, added to soups and stews, or made into porridge and pudding.  Strips of pumpkin were dried and woven into mats and the dried outer shells of pumpkins and squashes found new life as water vessels, bowls and storage containers.

Did you know that pumpkin is an excellent source of vitamin A and a good source of fiber? Also, a one-ounce portion of hulled pumpkin seeds is considered 20ounce equivalents in the Protein foods group. All parts of the pumpkin are used all over the world as ingredients in dishes – even the pumpkin leaves!  Cooked pumpkin leaves and peeled shoots are a staple in many Asian and African countries and served with rice or porridge. The flavor is said to be a mixture of green beans, asparagus, broccoli, and spinach. Use tender, young pumpkin leaves for best results.  Fresh pumpkins are best if you select small, heavy ones for cooking because they contain more edible flesh. Pumpkins for carving are not so great for cooking, but the edible seeds are great for roasting!  My grandma always made the best pumpkin seeds!

 If you have never made roasted pumpkin seeds, here are some tips from the National Center for Home Food Preservation:

  • Drying seeds and roasting seeds are two different steps:
  • To dry: carefully wash pumpkin seeds to remove the clinging fibrous pumpkin tissue. Pumpkin seeds can be dried in a dehydrator at 115 to 120°F for 1 to 2 hours, or in an oven on warm for 3 to 4 hours. Stir frequently to avoid scorching.
  • To roast: toss dried pumpkin seeds with oil and your favorite seasonings such as salt, pepper, garlic, or cumin. Roast in a preheated oven at 250°F for 10 to 15 minutes. Once cooled, place the roasted pumpkin seeds in a sealed container and store at room temperature.

When selecting pumpkins for carving and fall decoration, choose varieties that suit your style! Traditional carving pumpkins are medium to large- in size, deep orange, and lightly ribbed with a strong handle. For painting, look for a small pumpkin with a strong handle and a smooth surface. Add additional interest to fall décor using miniature pumpkins with unique colors and patterns. Miniature pumpkins are typically less than 2 pounds and can be found in a variety of shapes and colors. Diversity among pumpkin varieties is incredible! With sizes ranging from 4 ounces to over 1,000 pounds, various unique shapes, and brilliant colors like orange, yellow, white, green, blue, gray, pink, and tan, there are endless opportunities to select the perfect pumpkin.

This information was taken from Nebraska Extension’s food.unl.edu website which has more great pumpkin and fall recipes and nutrition information.

Youth

Youth to Celebrate National 4-H Week: October 2-8

Every year, National 4-H Week sees millions of youth, parents, volunteers and alumni come together to celebrate the many positive youth development opportunities offered by 4-H. The theme for the 2022 National 4‑H Week is “Opportunity for All”. National 4-H week runs from October 2-8, 2022.

National 4-H Week

With so many children struggling to reach their full potential, 4-H believes that young people, in partnership with adults, can play a key role in creating a more promising and equitable future for youth, families and communities across the country. In 4-H, we believe every child should have an equal opportunity to succeed. We believe every child should have the skills they need to make a difference in the world. 

Fillmore and Clay County 4-H will observe National 4-H Week this year by highlighting some of the inspirational 4-H youth in our community who are working tirelessly to support each other and their communities. Check out the fun activities being done on the Fillmore County website at fillmore.unl.edu, including a pumpkin decorating contest. Wear a 4-H shirt on Wednesday and post on the Fillmore (https://www.facebook.com/fillmorecounty4h) or Clay County (https://www.facebook.com/UNLClayCounty) FaceBook pages!

In both Clay and Fillmore Counties one out of two, age-eligible 4-H youth from the community are involved in 4‑H. One of the most anticipated events of National 4-H Week every year is the 4-H STEM Challenge, formerly known as National Youth Science Day. Designed by Rutgers University, this year’s 4-H Challenge, “Explorers of the Deep”, focuses on the mysteries and adventures of ocean exploration—with robots! Young people learn how to use science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) to explore Earth’s Ocean and how it relates to all life on the planet.

The 2022 Challenge helps young people develop observational and critical thinking skills while exploring the interconnected nature between the ocean and humans, regardless of where they live. They will learn about the incredibly complex relationship between Earth’s oceans and the global climate. According to a recent survey, 84 percent of teens would like to be involved with shaping the future of our environment. Explorers of the Deep can help empower young people to innovate and take action to drive positive change.

To learn more about how you can get involved, visit http://www.4-h.org/.

About 4-H

4‑H is delivered by Cooperative Extension—a community of more than 100 public universities across the nation that provides experiences where young people learn by doing. For more than 100 years, 4‑H has welcomed young people of all beliefs and backgrounds, giving kids a voice to express who they are and how they make their lives and communities better. Through life-changing 4‑H programs, nearly six million kids and teens have taken on critical societal issues, such as addressing community health inequities, engaging in civil discourse, and advocating for equity and inclusion for all.

In 4‑H programs, kids, and teens complete hands-on projects in areas like health, science, agriculture and civic engagement in a positive environment where they receive guidance from adult mentors and are encouraged to take on proactive leadership roles. Kids experience 4‑H in every county and parish in the country through in-school and after-school programs, school, and community clubs and 4‑H camps.

4‑H’s reach and depth are unmatched, reaching kids in every corner of America – from urban neighborhoods to suburban schoolyards to rural farming communities. Our network of 500,000 volunteers and 3,500 4‑H professionals provide caring and supportive mentoring to all 6 million 4‑H’ers, helping them grow into true leaders today and in life.

Learn more about 4-H at www.4-H.org, find us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/4-H and on Twitter at https://twitter.com/4H.