Tag Archives: agriculture

(Lenexa, Kan) – Four Nebraska school districts were awarded $100,000 by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to replace five older diesel school buses. The new buses will reduce pollutants that are linked to health problems such as asthma and lung damage. The districts, cities, number of buses, and award amounts are listed below:

School District               City                Number of Buses             Amount
Hayes Center High School Hayes Center 1 $20,000
Johnson County Central Public Schools Tecumseh 1 $20,000
Palmer Public School (North of Grand Island) Palmer 1 $20,000
South Platte Public Schools Big Springs 2 $40,000

“Children’s health is a top priority for EPA, and these grants will help provide cleaner air and a healthier ride to and from school for America’s children,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “This DERA funding reflects our broader children’s health agenda and commitment to ensure all children can live, learn, and play in healthy and clean environments.”

Nationally, EPA will provide more than $9.3 million to 145 school bus fleets to replace 473 older buses in 43 states or territories, each of which will receive rebates through EPA’s Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA) funding.

Applicants replacing buses with engine model years of 2006 and older will receive rebates between $15,000 and $20,000, depending on the size of the bus. Regional, state, or tribal agencies including school districts and municipalities, or private entities that operate school buses under contract with state, tribal or local agencies were eligible to apply.

Over the last seven years, EPA has awarded approximately $39 million in rebates to replace almost 2,000 school buses. Bus replacements funded through the rebate program reduce emissions and exposure to particulate matter and nitrogen oxides for children at schools, bus stops, and on the buses themselves.

School buses travel over 4 billion miles each year, providing the safest transportation to and from school for more than 25 million American children every day. However, exhaust from diesel buses can harm health, especially in children, who have a faster breathing rate than adults and whose lungs are not yet fully developed.

EPA has implemented standards to make newer diesel engines more than 90 percent cleaner, but many older diesel school buses are still operating. These older diesel engines emit large amounts of pollutants such as nitrogen oxides and particulate matter, which are linked to instances of aggravated asthma, lung damage, and other serious health problems.

The 2018 DERA school bus rebate recipients can be found at: https://www.epa.gov/cleandiesel/awarded-rebates.

CURTIS, Neb. – Excellence and dedication exemplified by the faculty and staff of the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture are valued traits.

Year-end awards were recently announced at an appreciation luncheon for all campus employees.

An awards selection committee sought individuals who made a difference for the NCTA student body and the entire campus community, said Mary Rittenhouse, agribusiness professor and committee chair.

“Multiple nominations were received in each category,” Rittenhouse said. “I think we all agree that this was not an easy task as all of the nominations not only met the criteria for the award but also went beyond.”

The Excellence in Service Award went to Mark Gardner of the custodial and security department. Gardner is well known around Curtis for assisting individuals on and off campus.

“If we would take a poll, I bet there would not be too many people who do not have a story of how Mark aided them in their time of need,” Rittenhouse noted.

“He is the go-to person to find stuff, always helpful and cheerful,” she read from nominations. “It doesn’t matter what time of day or night, if a student needs assistance with a dead battery or if their vehicle is stuck (on or off campus) they know who to call to save the day.”

Gardner started his employment with NCTA in October 2000.

Tee Bush, associate professor of math and horticulture, received the Bruntz Family Award for Teaching. She joined the NCTA faculty in September 2010.

The award was established in 2016 by an alumni couple, Ann and David Bruntz of Friend, in tribute to their daughter, Julie, who also was an alumna of the NCTA vet tech division. She passed suddenly in August 2016.

Recognizing the extraordinary impact an NCTA faculty member can have on students, David and Ann chose to recognize faculty at their alma mater.  The award comes with a cash prize.

Horticulture program graduate Andrea Burkhardt’s commentary of Tee Bush, her teacher, mentor and friend was sincere and compelling.

“Andrea spoke of her instructor’s passion to not only teach subject matters but also life skills and values,” Rittenhouse said.


“She never made me feel like I was beneath her,” Burkhardt shared. “I always felt like I had a voice and my voice mattered.  I feel that she looked out for me, as well as her other students, more than we realized.”

MANHATTAN, Kan. — Continuing to deliver on its promise to meet the grand challenge of helping feed the world, Kansas State University and its partners brought together nearly 100 researchers and funding recipients in west Africa last month to share their work.

K-State’s Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Collaborative Research on Sustainable Intensification (SIIL) conducted its annual meeting April 8-10 in Saly, Senegal. Participants presented their research on sustainable agriculture projects in seven developing nations: Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Malawi, Senegal and Tanzania.

The theme of this year’s SIIL meeting was “Suitability, Scalability and Sustainability.” It highlighted the use of the systems approach to creating innovations that can be embraced by and successfully practiced in their intended environments and eventually expand to larger and more diverse farm operations.

“Our activities aren’t just about crop production, although that’s certainly part of the equation,” said Vara Prasad, University Distinguished Professor and director of the SIIL. “Our research takes a holistic, long-term view at the variety of factors that will allow farmers and others along the agricultural value chain to adopt innovative technologies.

Prasad said the end goal is to develop innovations that increase production, nutrition and resilience of the farming systems – all the while looking for ways to ensure sustainability and scalability from the smallest to the largest farms.

A systems approach can solve critical problems for farmers and lead to stronger commodity prices, better nutrition for children, and higher standards of living.

Prasad said a systems-based perspective helps researchers solve complex problems by considering all the factors that lead to the success — or failure — of agricultural innovations. The goal is to assess outcomes across multiple domains — productivity, economics, environment, human and social.

Truly international cooperation

The SIIL is funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) as part of Feed the Future, the U.S. government’s global hunger and food security initiative.

Each project has a unique research focus and set of collaborating organizations, such as other innovation labs, international research institutes, and universities in the U.S. as well as the target countries.

Members of USAID, affiliated international research institutes and the SIIL External Advisory Board members attended the gathering in Senegal. Discussion and presentations centered on innovations developed by the projects and their outcomes over the last four years of the SIIL partnership.

Nora Lapitan, division chief of research at the USAID Bureau for Food Security, was particularly excited to see the synergies and collaborations made evident throughout the three-day event and was encouraged as to what that would mean for future collaborations across the SIIL focus countries.

Additionally, Jerry Glover, senior sustainable agricultural systems advisor at USAID, emphasized the need for systems thinking, participatory approaches and strong collaboration between biophysical and social scientists to address the needs of farming communities.

Up close with progress

Meeting attendees got a firsthand look at some of the projects currently being implemented in several communities in Senegal.

They were able to see how dual-purpose millet is being used as nutrition for people, especially young children and nursing mothers, as well as fodder for sheep and goats.

They were also given a tour of an agricultural high school where a dynamic principal is encouraging collaborations between the students and the local agricultural scientists, as youth engagement was one of the key components highlighted at the meeting and field visits.

The school is focusing on improved composting techniques, improved varieties, conservation agriculture practices and sustainable agricultural intensification innovations.

“Most of the time we work at different levels,” Prasad said. “We have some research which is at the plot level, some at the household level, some at the community level, some even at the larger scales of landscapes, across regions and countries.”

Another way to encourage farmers to adopt new practices is to work alongside them to develop innovations and showcase them in the communities in which they live.

Making these projects available for the community to see and participate in helps ensure that the technologies and practices being implemented will be suitable, sustainable and scalable.

“The biggest strength of the innovation labs at K-State is that each of them brings a unique perspective on the issues the agriculture sector around the world is facing, along with the knowledge and research to back up the innovative solutions that they provide,” said Nina Lilja, associate dean for international agriculture programs in Kansas State University’s College of Agriculture.

Building partnerships

Collaboration between research entities and other national and international organizations, such as those between the SIIL, the Institut Sénégalais de Recherches Agricole (ISRA) and the Peace Corps, were also highlighted and celebrated.

“We are excited that after only a year of collaboration with ISRA and the Peace Corps, we are already seeing the fruits of their labors, as the researchers and the volunteers build relationships with farmers in their communities, and are working to provide them with technologies that are suitable for them,” said Jan Middendorf, associate director of the SIIL.

Involving university students, especially those from ISRA, helps the SIIL-funded researchers accomplish their goal of building capacity and increasing the ability of educational institutions in the target countries to carry out their own research projects. Many of the projects require collaboration between U.S. university researchers and faculty and students in the target countries.

Making a difference for all

In a complex and globally connected agriculture ecosystem, K-State leads the way in improving food production and local economies in Kansas, the United States and developing countries around the world by helping to solve the myriad of problems that beset farming communities.

The SIIL brings together more than 120 scholars from more than 60 organizations, including 12 universities in the U.S., to address the challenge of increasing food production to meet the demand of growing populations, all while protecting our environment.

“Conducting innovative research and building human and institutional capacity is the strength of U.S. universities,” Prasad said. “We have the ability to identify the problems, solutions and options through research, and translate them into appropriate innovations for our target populations. Then we create networks and relationships with in-country organizations around the world to scale up those innovations for maximum positive impact.”

U.S. Senator Ben Sasse, an outspoken trade advocate and a China hawk, issued the following statement regarding the Trump Administration’s deal to lift steel and aluminum tariffs on Canada and Mexico.

“China is our adversary; Canada and Mexico are our friends. The President is right to increase pressure on China for their espionage, their theft of intellectual property, and their hostility toward the rule of law. The President is also right to be de-escalating tension with our North American allies. Today’s news that the Administration is dropping steel tariffs on Canada and Mexico is great for America, great for our allies, and certainly great for Nebraska’s agriculture industry.”

MANHATTAN, Kan. — Farmers and ranchers face uncertain times, which can lead to depression, stress, addictions and other mental/behavioral health concerns. Get the help you need.


  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
  • Crisis Text Line: Text “CONNECT” to 741741

Ag Behavioral Health:


The website of Michael Rosmann, rural psychologist, contains resources related to behavioral health for farmers and ranchers.

AFBF Rural Stress Poll

Recommended Videos/Webinars:

Mental/Behavioral Health Videos

Mental/Behavioral Health Webinars

MINNEAPOLIS — Syngenta’s seed corn facility in Waterloo, Nebraska, has been recognized as a “Nebraska’s Safest Company with Distinction” for 2019, the fifth consecutive year the site has been honored. The award was presented today at a celebration luncheon in La Vista.

The Nebraska’s Safest Companies Award, administered by the National Safety Council, Nebraska (NSCN), was established to recognize and celebrate companies that make safety a priority, have a commendable safety program, and maintain impeccable safety records based on their industry and size.

The Syngenta Seeds site in Waterloo has remained accident-free for more than two years, representative of more than 250,000 hours safely worked. Additionally, the site has not reported a lost-time injury for more than eight years, translating to more than 1 million hours worked without a lost-time injury.

“Seeing our employees embrace safety for themselves and those around them has been rewarding,” said Kiel Larson, Health, Safety and Environment (HSE) lead at the Syngenta Seeds Waterloo site. “They have really taken ownership and are continuously seeking to improve HSE performance.”

The NSCN evaluates all companies that apply for its Safest Companies Award. The council reviews a number of factors, including injury rate, hours worked, safety procedures and management commitment. The Waterloo site ranked the highest in these categories, when compared with other companies within the industry.

“The Waterloo management team’s dedication to safety has fostered a culture that has enabled the site to become one of Nebraska’s Safest Companies,” said Larson. “Our Goal Zero safety initiative drives the performance of the site to continually strive for total compliance on HSE.”

As one of the largest commercial seed corn production facilities Syngenta operates in North America, the Waterloo site is a critical link to delivering corn seed to farmers throughout the Midwest.

The NSCN serves organizations across the state that focus on keeping their employees safe.  Council members regularly visit companies and learn about their programs. More than 1,000 companies in Nebraska are NSCN members.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says the Senate will vote on disaster relief next week, right before the lawmakers leave town for Memorial Day. He’s hopeful that the Senate will vote on legislation that the president is willing to sign.

While the House passed a disaster bill last week, congressional leaders and the White House have been hard at work on a bipartisan bill that can get through both chambers easily. Senate Appropriations Chair Richard Shelby says that senators are on the verge of an agreement. Politico says McConnell, Shelby, and Trump all have interests that have been holding up the deal. McConnell is a big supporter of the hemp industry and is looking to make sure crop insurance by 2020 for hemp producers is in the legislation. Shelby wants more money for harbor maintenance while Trump is pushing for more funds to address border security.

Negotiators say the biggest points of contention yet to work through are nearly settled. Both sides have agreed to provide Puerto Rico with hundreds of millions in additional aid, an important point that Democrats had asked for.

I have never been able to bring myself to wear jeans to church. It might seem antiquated but putting on a nice dress before heading to Sunday service makes me feel like my grandmother is smiling down on me. I understand God does not care what you wear, and “Sunday Best” is no longer in fashion. This choice of wardrobe is my own way of showing respect and humility to God and His church.

As our culture evolves, so do the rules of what is acceptable, proper etiquette. Many rules of how to be proper or polite were cemented during previous generations. They are no longer expected or required.
However, good manners will never be completely forgotten. Etiquette continues to have a place in the modern world. It is just no longer expected. What were once rules have become a choice we make, a way to show respect, deference, humility, kindness and any number of other positive regards.

When I reflect on my choice to conform to proper etiquette, it is part of my character, my brand and my style. Etiquette is not a set of rules that leave me in a constant state of fear of making a mistake. I see it as a set of reminders to be kind, not to make a scene and try to make others feel comfortable.

The Collegiate Farm Bureau Chapter at our local community college has a tradition of hosting an etiquette dinner at the start of finals week for sophomores graduating from the agriculture department. I serve as the hostess for the evening’s three-course, narrated meal. During the meal, I share the rules of etiquette – how to recognize the proper fork, eat a dinner roll properly, when it is appropriate to put your elbows on the table, and to pass the salt and pepper together because they are “married.”

None of these are vital rules but they all have a purpose. They make the meal move smoothly, help participants feel more comfortable or keep the focus on good conversation. Understanding the guidelines helps turn situations that are often met with trepidation or unease into a fun and enjoyable events.

Etiquette is not meant to be a scoreboard to track who is breaking the rules. It is a way to conduct yourself, so people enjoy your company. We all can benefit from that reminder.

If you find yourself lamenting a rule of etiquette that seems to have been dismissed as a relic, ask yourself: Do you miss it because it was drilled into your head that it is proper behavior or is it something that brings value to your actions?

If there is value in the practice, be a trendsetter. Take pride in the knowledge you are living by a standard that is slightly more than what is expected. People will always notice when you are kinder than you need to be, more respectful than is deserved and humbler than you should be.

Good manners and proper etiquette will never go out of style. Don’t worry about what is proper or what other people are doing. Make the conscious choice to do what is kind, gracious or respectful to the world around you and you can be confident you have nailed etiquette in the modern world.

Niigata, Japan– Western Hemisphere agriculture leaders met Sunday on the margins of the G-20 Agricultural Ministerial in Niigata, Japan, affirming their intent to work together to champion global food security and agricultural trade on the basis of sound science and risk analysis principles. Following the meeting, top agricultural officials from Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Mexico, and the United States issued the following statement.
“Together, we stand to work in partnership, and jointly with additional countries, to support regulatory approaches that are risk- and science-based, predictable, consistent, and transparent. Our five nations recognize that innovations in the agriculture sector contribute to improved productivity, including by smallholder and young farmers, and rural women, in a safe and sustainable manner, and to our countries’ ability to meet the ever-growing global demand for food. With the world’s population projected to reach 9.8 billion by 2050, science and innovation will play a key role in enabling agriculture producers to safely feed everyone.
“As Western Hemisphere agricultural leaders, we affirm our intent to work together to champion global agricultural trade based on sound science and risk analysis principles. We also affirm our intent to allow farmers and ranchers access to the tools needed to: increase productivity; reduce food loss and waste; protect soil, water and biodiversity; and produce safe, nutritious, affordable food products year-round, to the benefit of the world population.”

U.S. Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue is in Japan this week, talking with officials from America’s fourth-largest agricultural customer. In a Twitter post, the secretary says he was on the phone with President Trump and discussed the increase in tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese imports and the negative impact it will have on farmers.

Perdue’s tweet says, “While China may backtrack, @POTUS is steadfast in his support for U.S. farmers. He directed @USDA to quickly put together a plan to help American farmers. @POTUS loves his farmers and will not let them down!” Perdue will make stops in Japan and South Korea, participating in the G-20 Agriculture Minister’s Meeting.

President Trump said in a Friday Twitter post that the increase in the tariffs will be used to buy farm goods. He expects the new duties to generate more than $100 billion in extra revenue. The president was unhappy with the pace of negotiations and increased duties from 10 to 25 percent on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods. In a Friday tweet, Trump said, “You’re all-time favorite president got tired of waiting for China to help out and start buying from our FARMERS, the greatest anywhere in the world!” Beijing has promised to retaliate in kind.