Implications of carbon reduction plan for Nebraska ag

The EPA’s proposal to reduce carbon emissions from existing U.S. power plants by 30 percent by 2030 has both short-term and long-term implications for Nebraska agriculture.

So says Nebraska Extension water and ag law specialist Dave Aiken.

“In the short term, we’ve got to watch what happens with natural gas. If more of that goes into electricity production, then that could affect fertilizer prices,” Aiken says, “and, if there’s an increased interest in wind development, then we should get ourselves ready to take advantage of that here in Nebraska.”

Aiken says there could be long-term implications as well.

“We may look at confined livestock operations putting in waste-to-energy add-ons, where they can generate electricity and sell it,” he says. “In addition, we may see a comeback of some of the Chicago climate exchange contracts for soil sequestration through enhanced pasture management.”

Under the EPA’s plan, Aiken says, Nebraska would be required to cut carbon emissions by 26 percent.

Iowa pork producer strives to be a good neighbor

Being a good neighbor is very important to pork producer Jason Russell of Monticello, Iowa. 

One way to do that, Russell says, is to demonstrate a strong commitment to the environment. 

“We just want to kind of shine a positive light on the pork industry,” Russell says. “There are so many things a person can do that are perceived as good for the environment—and neat—and we just wanted to do a few things to try and make ourselves less of a target for bad publicity, I guess, if that makes sense.

In recognition of their efforts, the Russells have been named a 2013 Pork Industry Environmental Steward by the Pork Checkoff.  Russell Farms is one of four pork farms nationwide to receive that award. 

Russell says the centerpiece of their efforts is a 50-kilowatt wind turbine that helps the farm conserve electric energy. 

“We’ve probably been getting 60 to 80 percent of our actual power out of it, that we use in a given year,” he says. “And we’ve got a net metering agreement with the power company.  We don’t actually sell power—we just get to store it on the grid until we need it again.

“That’s a real good deal for us because then you’re getting paid full price to generate electricity.”

Russell says the wind turbine has garnered a lot of positive publicity for the farm.  Other practices include grass waterways, conservation tillage, precision farming and the planting of trees around confinement buildings.

“We want to be the good graces of the community and show that we’re trying,” Russell says.

Russell Farms is a wean-to-finish operation.  They market more than 14-thousand hogs a year as part of The Maschhoff production network.

Other winners of the 2013 Pork Industry Environmental Stewards award are Bacon Hill Farm of Dodge, Nebraska; Krikke Pork, Greenwich, Ohio; and Blue Mountain Farm, Milford, Utah.

AUDIO: Jason Russell (9:28 MP3)

Environmental award winner strives to be a good neighbor

Being a good neighbor is important to pork producer Jason Russell of Monticello, Iowa. 

One way to do that, Russell says, is to demonstrate a strong commitment to the environment. 

“We just want to kind of shine a positive light on the pork industry,” Russell says. “There are so many things a person can do that are perceived as good for the environment—and neat—and we just wanted to do a few things to try and make ourselves less of a target for bad publicity, I guess, if that makes sense.

In recognition of their efforts, the Russells have been named a 2013 Pork Industry Environmental Steward by the Pork Checkoff.  Russell Farms is one of four pork farms nationwide to receive that award. 

Russell says the centerpiece of their efforts is a 50-kilowatt wind turbine that helps the farm conserve electric energy. 

“We’ve probably been getting 60 to 80 percent of our actual power out of it, that we use in a given year,” he says. “And we’ve got a net metering agreement with the power company.  We don’t actually sell power—we just get to store it on the grid until we need it again.

“That’s a real good deal for us because then you’re getting paid full price to generate electricity.”

Russell says the wind turbine has garnered a lot of positive publicity for the farm.  Other practices include grass waterways, conservation tillage, precision farming and the planting of trees around confinement buildings.

“We want to be in the good graces of the community and show that we’re trying,” Russell says.

Russell Farms is a wean-to-finish operation.  They market more than 14-thousand hogs a year as part of The Maschhoff production network.

Other winners of the 2013 Pork Industry Environmental Stewards award are Bacon Hill Farm of Dodge, Nebraska; Krikke Pork, Greenwich, Ohio; and Blue Mountain Farm, Milford, Utah.

AUDIO: Jason Russell (9:28 MP3)

Wind energy tax credits survive

Wind energy tax credits have also been extended in the bill passed by Congress to avert the “fiscal cliff.” The American Wind Energy Association says the extension of the wind energy Production Tax Credit and Investment Tax Credits for community and offshore projects will allow the renewable energy source to continue growing. The credits would cover all wind projects started in 2013. The wind energy extensions were in the Senate Finance Committee tax extenders package put together last August.

The association expects the continuing incentives will save 37-thousand of the 75-thousand jobs in the wind energy industry and “create far more over time.”

Noem says her focus is a farm bill

South Dakota Congresswoman Kristi Noem says she’ll stay focused in her second term on what needs to get done, including a farm bill.

Noem was reelected in November and has decided against running for a leadership position for her class.

“You know, not having a farm bill is a bad situation for us and I really need to focus on that. And, beyond that we’ve got the PTC wind tax credit, we’ve got some education funds that the president has cut that we need to continue to fight for.”

Representative Noem says with this being her first lame duck session of Congress, she’s interested in seeing what will happen.

“It’s been kind of interesting because we won’t have much for committee hearings. We’ll be working a lot on negotiations but a lot of those negotiations happen, really, between the very top leadership and the president. So, we sit there and try to give as much input as we possibly can.”

Does Noem says a farm bill needs to be passed this year, “Look at this year, we don’t have any livestock disaster programs. If we don’t do anything before the end of the year, all of our livestock guys are sitting here with high feed costs and no relief.”

Noem says she’s motivated to pass the bill for farm policy. But, she says other lawmakers want to pass a farm bill this year for fiscal reasons – to use the savings from it to pay for other things and some want to postpone a farm bill until next year as part of a bigger package. She’s working to convince colleagues a farm bill is needed now.

~Thanks to Jody Heemstra, KWAT~

Wind energy industry optimistic for extension

There’s optimism in wind energy circles that the production tax credit will be extended rather than expiring at the end of the year. Dan McGuire is the outreach coordinator with Wind Powering America.  He tells Brownfield Ag News, “With the elections behind us now and the administration supports extension of it and the Senate does – so, they’re optimistic from the American Wind Energy Association, that it’ll get extended.”

McGuire says lots of governors, both Republican and Democrat, are pushing for an extension because he says wind energy is a big economic driver that is bringing manufacturing back to the U.S.  He says, “In previous years, we were importing most of the components into the U.S. but there’s been manufacturing and it’s pushed by the Wind Production tax credit.”  McGuire says there are 500 manufacturing facilities for wind energy equipment in 44 states.

McGuire is also co-chair of the Nebraska Wind Energy Working Group.  He says, “I like to always point to Iowa, even though I’m from Nebraska. Iowa has 20% of its electricity now being generated by wind energy. They have really gone great guns over there and I tip my hat to ‘em for doing so well. They are an example of what we could do nationally.”  McGuire says the U.S. Department of Energy’s target for wind energy is also 20% by 2030.

While it’s not the total answer for renewable energy production, McGuire says wind energy is an important part of it — as well as being a rural economic driver.  “People say, well, that’s just for those landowners. No, it isn’t. It’s property tax revenue streams into your local county tax coffers which helps all the schools. And, it’s sales tax revenue into your state tax coffers and it’s hundreds of thousands of jobs.”

In their pitch to Congress to renew the wind energy subsidy, wind energy groups, such as the American Wind Energy Association, are increasingly pointing to its economic benefits.

AUDIO: Dan McGuire (10:00 mp3)

At 87, she’s still passionate about ag issues

At 87-years old, Eleanor Zimmerlein of Lamoille, Illinois still drives the tractor when needed—and she’s as passionate as ever about the issues impacting agriculture. 

At the recent American Agri-Women meeting in Nebraska City, Nebraska, we visited with Eleanor about some of those “hot button” issues, including the need to modernize the nation’s locks and dams system.

AUDIO: Eleanor Zimmerlein (4:33 MP3)

 

 

 

Cooper Farms install wind turbines

Two 1.5 megawatt wind turbines have been installed at Cooper Farms Cooked Meats plant at Van Wert, Ohio. The turbines will provide over 50 percent of the plants power once fully functional in mid-February.

Jim Cooper, CEO of Cooper Farms says after exploring the possibilities, a team of individuals determined it made economic and sustainability sense to use wind energy. Cooper says the company will study the effectiveness of the two turbines and if they perform as studies have predicted, wind energy could be used in other areas of the company.

Loan guarantee for SD wind energy project

A USDA loan guarantee has been announced for the Basin Electric Power Cooperative. It will allow for the construction of more than 100 wind turbines in the PrairieWinds wind farm energy project in central South Dakota. Basin Electric will purchase the electricity that is produced.

NFU priorities include Farm Bill and Energy

It’s a harsh reality, 37 farm programs going into the next Farm Bill are without baseline funding, $9 to 10 billion in farm programs that will have no money. Roger Johnson, President of the National Farmers Union says the challenge of keeping those programs is finding the funding and it’s especially critical for energy programs.

AUDIO: Roger Johnson, President, NFU (3:00 MP3)