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Nebraska’s ag producers deserve thanks PDF E-mail

by Laurie Pfeifer

What do a Baptist minister, an Omaha lawyer running for Nebraska attorney general, a corn grower from Meadow Grove, newspaper editor, a Nebraska Ethanol Board administrator and a UNL assistant professor of biological systems engineering have in common?

That sounds like the opening line to a joke, but it’s not.

On the surface, it wouldn’t appear those six people have much in common other than the fact they all live in Nebraska and are most likely Husker fans.

But as the conversation progressed around the table at the noon luncheon during the 26th annual Governor’s Ag Conference in Kearney last week, one other commonality surfaced -- a shared interest in agriculture.

The Baptist minister had no background in agriculture, but was in attendance to better understand the issues and interests of the rural congregation he serves near Axtell.

And the candidate for attorney general? Brian Buescher was in attendance for several reasons.

Yes, it doesn’t hurt to hobnob with the electorate, but beyond that, the Omaha lawyer was interested in hearing what Animal Agriculture Alliance president and CEO Kay Johnson Smith had to say about farm animal well-being issues.

Buescher, an agribusiness lawyer, represents ag producers in disputes with the federal government. He’s hired to push back against government over-reach and represents ag interests in fighting animal rights activists.

It’s pretty obvious what drew a Meadow Grove corn grower and ethanol board administrator to the Governor’s Ag Conference. Sessions on ethanol and its implications on the Nebraska economy were right up their alley -- one producers the corn used in ethanol production and the other oversees a board that has helped create, nurture, support and drive the ethanol industry in the state.

And the UNL assistant professor?

Amy Schmidt from the department of biological systems engineering was on hand to hear UNL vice president Dr. Ronnie Green talk about he opportunities for livestock expansion in Nebraska.

She wasn’t looking for brownie points for being in attendance. She wanted to hear the latest White Paper report on livestock expansion since her Extension interest is in animal manure management.

And the newspaper editor?

Beyond the fact I grew up on a farm and love talking to the down-to-earth, hard-working, friendly and passionate people who grow our food -- whether that be crops or livestock -- it just makes sense to have an interest in the industry that drives our state’s economy.

Attending the Governor’s Ag Conference is an eye-opening experience.

If you’ve never been, you’re missing out on the optimism ingrained in ag producers.

You’re missing out on their shared disdain for the Humane Society of the United States’ efforts to bring an end to animal agriculture and the misinformation they’re shoving down the throats of those so far removed from the farm that they don’t know high fructose corn syrup isn’t bad for them, ethanol doesn’t damage your car and that livestock producers care deeply that their animals are treated humanely.

If ag producers follow the advice of speakers at the Governor’s Ag Conference, you can expect to hear more from them in coming weeks and months.

“Don’t let animal rights activists tell your story for you,” cautioned Kay Johnson Smith during her presentation. “Their goal is to drive a wedge between us and the consumer. We’ve allowed the activists to be the teller of our stories and we have to stop that. You need to be the ones telling your story.”

Johnson Smith, who speaks to ag groups across the nation, repeatedly commended Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman’s stance against HSUS, noting it was “so nice to be in a state that has a backbone.”

And she’s right.

Nebraska livestock producers and corn producers have a great story to tell. They ought not let anyone cast a shadow on the industry that feeds the nation and the world.

With National Ag Appreciation Week approaching, now would be a good time to thank our local ag producers for the work they do to produce the food we eat, the milk we drink and the fuel that helps decrease our dependency on foreign oil.

LAURIE PFEIFER can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

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