Corn Farmer Input Drives Nebraska Corn Checkoff Research Investments

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LINCOLN, NE—When determining how to invest corn checkoff dollars in research projects, the Nebraska Corn Board asked for ideas from the very people who have the most at stake—Nebraska’s corn farmers.

The Nebraska Corn Board recently conducted a survey of Nebraska corn farmers, researchers, crop consultants and extension educators, asking them to identify the areas of greatest importance to the future of profitable, sustainable corn production in the state.

“As we allocate checkoff dollars to research, we want to focus on the issues that present the greatest challenges and opportunities for Nebraska corn farmers,” said Debbie Borg, a farmer from Allen, Nebraska, and chair of the Nebraska Corn Board’s research committee. “Through this survey, the farmers who invest in the checkoff and advocates of the corn industry have told us what’s important to them and helped us determine the priorities for research projects.”

As a result of the survey, the Nebraska Corn Board has issued requests for research proposals related to the following areas of focus:

• Sustained economic viability of corn production in Nebraska
• Production of sufficient human food, feed, and fuel to meet the needs of a sharply rising global population
• Improved efficiency of agricultural inputs
• Minimizing threats from pests and diseases specifically resistant to commonly used inputs
• Improved quality of groundwater and surface water resources
• Improved soil health

“It’s clear that Nebraska corn farmers are looking to balance meeting growing global demand with protecting and improving the quality and quantity of resources for future generations,” Borg added.

To amplify the impact of current research, the Nebraska Corn Board is also soliciting proposals from Nebraska educators on ways to educate consumers and students on the importance of food and feed production to the health of humans and animals. The objective is to link current research to educational efforts designed to improve scientific and agricultural literacy. Proposals may involve K-12, two-year postsecondary and higher education programming.

The Nebraska Corn Board will review relevant education-focused proposals that may include:

• Teacher preparation and professional development programs
• Linking food and agricultural sciences to programs in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math).

“We want to help young people connect the dots between corn production and their families and communities,” Borg said. “We also want to expose them to the wide range of career opportunities in agriculture and food production right here in Nebraska.”

Any Nebraska-based researcher or educator may submit a proposal relevant to these objectives outlined by the Nebraska Corn Board.

The deadline for proposals is January 15, 2016. For application materials or more information on the proposal submission and review process, visit NebraskaCorn.org.

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The Nebraska Corn Board’s market development, research, promotion and education programs are funded and managed by Nebraska corn farmers. Producers invest at a rate of 1/2 of a cent per bushel of corn sold.

SOUND BITES FOR BROADCAST USE

CUT #1

INTRO: Debbie Borg, a farmer from Allen, Nebraska, and chair of the Nebraska Corn Board research committee, says that gathering corn farmer input helps guide research dollars funded by the corn checkoff:

BORG_Farmer Input.mp3 0:19
I think it’s important that we ask farmers what is on the top of their minds when it comes to what type of research we should be doing. Obviously, they’re the ones funding this and we want to make sure that we’re doing the right thing…and so getting input from a wide variety, it really helps us to narrow our focus down.

CUT #2

INTRO: Debbie Borg, a farmer from Allen, Nebraska, and chair of the Nebraska Corn Board research committee, says that the impact of farmer input on research projects also communicates something important to those submitting research proposals:

BORG_Researchers.mp3 0:13
Well, as we send out our RFP to the researchers, we want them to know that this came about as input from our farmers—and so I think it helps them to better understand what’s happening out in the country.

CUT #3

INTRO: Debbie Borg, a farmer from Allen, Nebraska, and chair of the Nebraska Corn Board research committee, says that soliciting proposals from educators is important in career development and career education:

BORG_Careers.mp3 0:25
I think one of the exciting things about asking for research with the K through 12—particularly the high school level—is that we need more people thinking about agricultural careers. And unfortunately, the majority of our high schoolers—they only think that farming is available in agriculture. And we need to share that there are so many opportunities in agriculture—and farming is a very small percent.

CUT #4

INTRO: Debbie Borg, a farmer from Allen, Nebraska, and chair of the Nebraska Corn Board research committee, says checkoff-funded research is focused on today as well as on the years to come:

BORG_LongTerm.mp3 0:25
I think it’s obvious that today our biggest challenge is price, but on the flip side, I know that every farmer works to make his farm sustainable because it is the long term—and that’s what research is about, is the long term. What are those specific issues that farmers are dealing with to not only helps remain economic viability but also improve our sustainability for future generations?

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