• Don McCabe

    Great American Wheat Harvest

    Nebraska Notebook

     by Don McCabe
     on April 17, 2014

    In my previous Nebraska Notebook blog, I reviewed Farmland, a film about six young producers facing the challenges of operating their own farms. I had the chance to preview it before its release May 1. A few days later, I received an invitation to preview another well-done agriculture documentary, The Great American Wheat Harvest. It is a compelling look into the custom wheat harvesting crews that start each year in Texas and work their way north to the Dakotas, Montana and even Canada to…

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  • Don McCabe

    Documentary Captures Experiences of Young Producers

    Nebraska Notebook

     by Don McCabe
     on April 8, 2014

    I'm not much of a moviegoer, even though my wife prods me to attend one occasionally. So it was a bit unusual for me to catch two movies in a two-week span recently. I sat through two well-made documentaries about farmers and the challenges they face, the rewards earned for their work and the commitment they have to agriculture. The first was a premier screening of Farmland, a documentary film that gives an intimate look at the lives of six young producers, all in their 20s, who are…

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  • Don McCabe

    They Came, They Heard, But They Didn't Listen

    Nebraska Notebook

     by Don McCabe
     on April 2, 2014

    Perhaps it was the 60-day "short" legislative session loaded with controversial issues. Perhaps it was too much time allocated to the mountain lion hunting bill. Maybe it was the fatigue and weariness brought on by a cold winter. Whatever the reason, the 2014 Nebraska Legislature ignored rural Nebraska by failing to provide badly needed property tax relief. The paltry $25 million added to the state's property tax credit program only scratches the surface of alleviating the heavy…

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  • Don McCabe

    Anti-Livestock and Anti-Ag Movement Gaining Ground

    Nebraska Notebook

     by Don McCabe
     on March 24, 2014

    I don't think Nebraska farmers and ranchers fully appreciate the threat to their way of life by the growing animal rights industry in this country. The list of organizations opposing modern farming practices, and livestock production specifically, continues to grow and their message is gaining momentum and influence with consumers. They will affect how you farm and raise livestock. That's not to take anything away from the dedicated farm men and women who stand up and tell the story…

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  • Don McCabe

    Use Your '40 Chances' To Help Feed The World

    Nebraska Notebook

     by Don McCabe
     on March 11, 2014

    In mid-February, I attended a national conference in Omaha on the fast-paced adoption of cover crops across the United States. Leading conservationists and farmer panelists presented useful information on the benefits of better soil health and sustainability through cover crops. The highlight of the conference, for me, was a presentation by Howard G. Buffett, Illinois farmer, author, photographer and manager of the Howard G. Buffett Foundation, a private charitable foundation. The foundation…

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  • Don McCabe

    A Network That Works For Irrigators

    Nebraska Notebook

     by Don McCabe
     on February 27, 2014

    Neighboring farmers have worked together for years. They not only have helped each other out, but they've worked on projects with Extension educators, crop consultants and company reps. Today, we call that "partnering." One of the best partnerships I've seen in this state in some time is the Nebraska Agricultural Water Management Network. It's impressive what this irrigation network, in existence since 2005, has done and what it will do in the future in the area of more…

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  • Don McCabe

    State Senators In Nebraska Unicameral Need Your Input

    Nebraska Notebook

     by Don McCabe
     on February 6, 2014

    What was called the "Nebraska Experiment" in the mid-1930s and ultimately implemented in 1937 remains with us today, 77 years later. The Nebraska Unicameral, a one-house legislature, is the only state legislative structure like it in the nation. For all intense and purposes, a single body of 49 senators is still generally supported across the state. Nebraskans were practical and conservative then, even during an era of new federal programs designed to pull the country out of the…

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  • Don McCabe

    Extension Service to Celebrate Centennial

    Nebraska Notebook

     by Don McCabe
     on January 16, 2014

    About four years ago, in November 2009, Nebraska Farmer published a special issue celebrating the magazine's 150th year of serving Nebraska agriculture. The magazine was first published in October 1859, when it was Nebraska Territory and eight years before the state officially joined the Union. This year, there's another celebration of a major contributor to Nebraska and the nation—the centennial anniversary of the Smith-Lever Act, passed by Congress and signed into law by…

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  • Don McCabe

    A look back with Nebraska Farmer, 1956

    Nebraska Notebook

     by Don McCabe
     on December 30, 2013

    I was a youngster during the 1950s on our farm in northeast Nebraska. I hold no special memories of 1956, although my father did buy a blue 1956 Chevy, a car I wished I had today. I bring up that particular year because during a noon break in our small office library recently I happened to pull from the shelves the 1956 bound volume of Nebraska Farmer. I lost track of time leafing through the pages, reading about Nebraska agriculture trends and issues the staff reported on back then. It's…

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  • Don McCabe

    Speaking 'To The Choir' Frightens Him

    Nebraska Notebook

     by Don McCabe
     on December 11, 2013

    It was one of the largest Nebraska Cattlemen conventions in years, and a big reason was the association's celebration of its 125 years of representing Nebraska cattle producers. NC enlisted a lineup of thought-provoking speakers during the three-day event and I sat through several of them. It was a time of reminiscing about past leaders, events and changes in the industry, of debating present-day issues and looking ahead to challenges. Nebraska's largest ag sector knows how to put on…

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  • Don McCabe

    Wind Farms Are Local Revenue Raisers

    Nebraska Notebook

     by Don McCabe
     on November 27, 2013

    In the December Nebraska Farmer, you'll see that I dedicated the cover and two pages inside the issue with features stories on Nebraska's oppressive farmland property taxes. One of the features I wrote outlined the Nebraska Farm Bureau's three-year proposal to cut local property taxes. Make sure you read about that proposal. I doubt the Nebraska Tax Modernization Committee, when it issues its final report to the full Unicameral later in December, will recommend any serious property…

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  • Don McCabe

    More Than 5 Decades Promoting UNL And Agriculture

    Nebraska Notebook

     by Don McCabe
     on November 7, 2013

    We normally shy away from feature articles about retirements. As a monthly publication, we could fill the Nebraska Farmer each edition with "good-bye and thank you" stories from the many producers, researchers, educators and other leaders in Nebraska who have had a big impact on agriculture. But I'm making an exception in this blog to comment on an education and communications legend who often toiled under the radar in his 57-year career. Yes, that's nearly six…

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  • Don McCabe

    Nebraska College Of Technical Agriculture Is An Innovator

    Nebraska Notebook

     by Don McCabe
     on October 22, 2013

    The fun part of this job is traveling Nebraska and meeting new people. One of my favorite stops in recent years has been the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture in Curtis, in southwest Nebraska. A renaissance of this two-year ag school has been occurring over the past few years with new classrooms, labs, an education center and new academic programs. And to think there was a proposal to kill the school during the 1980s due to budget concerns. It's flourishing today due to its…

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  • Don McCabe

    I'll Find My Burritos Elsewhere

    Nebraska Notebook

     by Don McCabe
     on October 21, 2013

    It's the inevitable question my wife and I pose to each other at the end of the work day: what's for supper? Sometimes neither of us is willing to commit to an answer. And too often, my response is, "Let's go out to eat." One of several eating establishments in Lincoln we've patronized in the past is Panera Bread. I won't patronize them again, just like I won't make my first-ever dining experience at Chipotle Mexican Grill. Panera Bread has joined the…

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  • Don McCabe

    Water, Taxes And A Short Unicameral Session

    Nebraska Notebook

     by Don McCabe
     on October 4, 2013

    Two Nebraska study groups have their work cut out for them in the coming weeks, and each one needs your input. They involve water and taxes. If that doesn't get your attention in Nebraska, nothing will. The adage of "nothing is certain but death and taxes" can be altered in this state to "death, high property taxes and water fights." The Nebraska Water Funding Task Force and the Legislature's Tax Modernization Committee have to produce reports by year's…

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  • Don McCabe

    There Is Much More To HHD Than Field Demos

    Nebraska Notebook

     by Don McCabe
     on September 19, 2013

    Some things never change. Take Husker Harvest Days for instance. I've been to every one of the 36 shows so far at the permanent site west of Grand Island and this year's event was one of the best. It's always a great venue for me to interact with Nebraska Farmer readers and to learn about new technologies and farm tools. And it's a great way to catch up on what the state's farm organizations are up to. And the weather at HHD consistently throws a surprise or two…

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  • Don McCabe

    In The Numbers Game, Nebraska Scores Big Time

    Nebraska Notebook

     by Don McCabe
     on September 6, 2013

    I'm no numbers whiz, but I do find it fun to get caught up in numbers and rankings. To me, baseball is fascinating not only because I love the game but also because there is no end to the statistical possibilities—as in, "What left-handed pitcher, during the ninth inning of playoff games, leads the American League in walks?" No, I don't have the answer. It's just an example. I've read of national rankings that can get downright silly and subjective like…

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  • Don McCabe

    Sandhills: Land Of The Yellow

    Nebraska Notebook

     by Don McCabe
     on September 1, 2013

    A jaunt through the Nebraska Sandhills is always a highlight of my travels in Nebraska. As most Nebraskans know, this mixed grass prairie covering nearly one-fourth of the state presents a unique landscape of undulating grass-covered dunes, consistently flowing streams and some of the best grazing in the world. Windmills and cattle dot the ridges, dunes and meadows. I've heard numerous times of people, particularly in spring and early summer, who say they've never seen the…

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  • Don McCabe

    September Nebraska Farmer Will Weigh Down Your Mailbox

    Nebraska Notebook

     by Don McCabe
     on August 22, 2013

    When this blog was written, we watched with relief as our September issue headed to the presses. It's our largest edition of the year in and of itself, but it also includes the 100-page-plus Husker Harvest Days show program. When you receive your September issue in your mailbox, you'll notice it immediately. It's big, of course, but it's also perfect bound and not saddle-stitched. Producing it takes a bite out of my summer in terms of travels to the country, and…

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  • Don McCabe

    Ranchers Like Homer Buell Demonstrate 'Innovations On The Land'

    Nebraska Notebook

     by Don McCabe
     on August 12, 2013

    Homer Buell is like the vast majority of Sandhills ranchers I know. He and the other members of Buell family of Rose have an abiding love of ranching and cattle and the grass, soil, water and wildlife resources they've protected through the generations. I've been to the Shovel Dot Ranch and seen the grazing management practices implemented by Homer and his family, including wife, Darla, and son, Chad. I saw, too, when the family a year ago was selected as Nebraska's winner in…

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  • Don McCabe

    Plenty Of Outdoor Classrooms To Choose From This Summer

    Nebraska Notebook

     by Don McCabe
     on August 1, 2013

    I can remember in past years that late July and August were a bit more laid back compared to today in the field day arena. The so-called "slow news" times of late summer don't exist anymore. And, of course, the lazy, hazy days of summer never existed for farmers. For ag writers, the calendar is seemingly more packed than ever this year with crop production events sponsored by commodity associations, UNL Extension and the seed industry. It's a testament to the fact…

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  • Don McCabe

    Grain Companies And Cooperatives In Expansion Mode

    Nebraska Notebook

     by Don McCabe
     on July 18, 2013

    Under construction. That's one way to describe the grain handling and shipping business in Nebraska. Despite the impact of last year's drought on dryland crops and concerns over irrigation water withdrawals in parts of the state, several cooperatives and grain companies are expanding grain storage and rail load-out facilities in Nebraska. The days of farmers' cooperatives in most small towns are over, and in effect have been for some years now. We're looking at large…

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  • Don McCabe

    Trade Missions Serve Critical Purpose

    Nebraska Notebook

     by Don McCabe
     on July 11, 2013

    If you don't toot your own horn, who will? That idiom applies to Nebraska crop and livestock commodities and those who produce them. In the past several months, more and more Nebraska producers seem to be taking part in marketing their commodities by way of international trade missions, to countries like Turkey, Cuba, China, Taiwan, Japan and many others. That's a good deal for the state's economy and agriculture alike, considering we export close to 30% of our grains and…

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  • Don McCabe

    Will This Water Task Force Yield Results?

    Nebraska Notebook

     by Don McCabe
     on July 3, 2013

    In Nebraska where irrigation is big business and water conflicts are perennial, there's a new water task force soon to be named. The Nebraska Unicameral, on a 45-0 vote this legislative session, passed LB 517 which created the Water Funding Task Force. Water task forces, committees, commissions, blue ribbon panels, whatever name you give them, have surfaced over the years in Nebraska quite often to study state water issues. There seems to be one about every five years or so. So…

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  • Don McCabe

    Perspectives On Feeding The World's Growing Population

    Nebraska Notebook

     by Don McCabe
     on June 26, 2013

    Feeding 9 billion people on this planet by 2050. How often have you read about that challenge? Assuming the prognosticators are correct, how in the world do we do that? How do we double food and feed production by that time? Those are questions that greatly intrigue me. I don't have the answers. And I don't believe most experts do, either. But give them credit for putting this challenge on the front burner. They are doing just that at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, home…

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  • Don McCabe

    Dollars Still Needed To Defend Beef

    Nebraska Notebook

     by Don McCabe
     on June 13, 2013

    A Nebraska Cattlemen task force this spring made the right decision, at least for now, to back off from pursuing for a state-based beef checkoff in Nebraska. After more than a year's worth of background work, public meetings and a survey, task force members decided against seeking legislative action in 2014 on a $1 per-head state checkoff, one that would have been in addition to the $1 national checkoff. The drought's harsh impacts on cattlemen and poor market conditions were…

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  • Don McCabe

    In 2012, Irrigation Made The Critical Difference In Nebraska

    Nebraska Notebook

     by Don McCabe
     on May 31, 2013

    The differences are stark. It's no surprise that during the blistering temperatures and persistent dryness in 2012 that dryland crop producers in Nebraska farmers didn't fare well. As I drove across much of Nebraska last summer, numerous fields of dryland corn didn't produce enough even for silage. Contrast that with irrigated crop production in 2012. Producers with access to sufficient irrigation water took advantage of high prices and excellent yields. As far as farm…

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  • Don McCabe

    In 2012, Irrigation Made the Critical Difference in Nebraska

    Nebraska Notebook

     by Don McCabe
     on May 27, 2013

    The differences are stark. It's no surprise that during the blistering temperatures and persistent dryness in 2012 that dryland crop producers in Nebraska farmers didn't fare well. As I drove across much of Nebraska last summer, numerous fields of dryland corn didn't produce enough even for silage. Contrast that with irrigated crop production in 2012. Producers with access to sufficient irrigation water took advantage of high prices and excellent yields. As far as farm…

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  • Don McCabe

    ROS Rides The Rails To Stop The Rain

    Nebraska Notebook

     by Don McCabe
     on May 24, 2013

    For those of us in the farm magazine business, the technology tools available today to farmers and the industry are fun to cover and, I admit, a bit overwhelming to explain at times. When I interview leading-edge Nebraska farmers at planting or harvest time, or during irrigation season, I find myself asking this question quite more and more when it comes to precision farming components—could you repeat that again? Monitors fill tractor cabs and combines, displaying instant…

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  • Don McCabe

    CS-CASH Hopes To Make Farming, Ranching Safer

    Nebraska Notebook

     by Don McCabe
     on May 14, 2013

    We recently started planning for the health screening services at the 2013 Husker Harvest Days show this fall in Grand Island. About 30 health and safety professionals sponsor booths in the Nebraska Farmer Hospitality Tent that are a popular stop for show visitors each year. In a way, those crowds taking part in the health screenings each year at HHD sort of belie the sometimes indifferent attitude about health and safety issues around the farm or ranch. The phrase "agricultural…

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  • Don McCabe

    More Digging Into The Benefits Of Cover Crops

    Nebraska Notebook

     by Don McCabe
     on May 3, 2013

    Cover crops, if you haven't heard, have been in the news a lot in recent months. When it comes to cover crops, I believe there are three categories of producers: the true believers, those who are intrigued but want more information and the doubters who would rather continue their current traditional farming practices. Members of the latter category could well be no-tillers and conservation-minded farmers, but some are not. You can see the evidence across Nebraska of native…

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  • Don McCabe

    Leopold Award: A Tribute To Private Farm Land Stewards

    Nebraska Notebook

     by Don McCabe
     on May 2, 2013

    I cover and report on numerous agriculture and natural resources awards given out each year in Nebraska, and all are well deserved. Commodity groups present them to members active in their associations, or to those who win yield or production contests. Farm organizations recognize people who contribute to Nebraska agriculture in general. One award that I especially appreciate is the Leopold Conservation Award. Nebraska Cattleman and Cargill partner with the Wisconsin-based Sand County…

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  • Don McCabe

    Corn Board Wants Out As A State Agency

    Nebraska Notebook

     by Don McCabe
     on April 24, 2013

    It's a big logjam now in the 2013 Nebraska Legislature. In the remaining days—the current 90-day session is scheduled to adjourn in early June—debate on many bills will be sidetracked as state senators quarrel over the budget, proposed Medicaid expansion, capital punishment and other controversial measures. Even the designated priority bills of state senators and committees could get left behind in the debate over these issues. One bill I hope gets its time on legislative…

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