Farm & Ranch Heartland Express | November 10, 2016 - page 2

Page 2
November 10, 2016
Nebraska Farm & Ranch - Heartland Cattleman
HEARTLAND CATTLEMAN
Dedicated to the Livestock Industry
Farm and Ranch’s
Ricketts, Ag department tout growing EU beef exports
Gov. Pete Ricketts and the Nebraska Department of
Agriculture (NDA) announced last week that a recent trade
mission led by state officials to the European Union led to
agreements expanding markets for Nebraska beef. Recently, a
delegation led by NDA Director Greg Ibach met with leaders
from a number of European companies and signed six letters
of intent formalizing commitments to purchase and promote
Nebraska beef.
“Growth in demand for Nebraska beef in Europe is helping
grow our market share and grow Nebraska,” said Governor
Pete Ricketts, “I am committed to supporting our beef industry
by promoting the Nebraska beef brand all around the globe.
Missions like these continue to help Nebraska’s share of beef
exports grow exponentially both in the EU and around the
world.”
Nebraska is the number one producer of beef in the nation,
and the high-quality, great-tasting beef it produces continues to
grow in popularity across the world.
“Signing these letters of intent is great news for Nebraska’s
farmers and ranchers,” said NDA Director Greg Ibach.
“Nebraska has long been a leader and innovator in beef
production, raising some of the best cattle and beef in the
world. By promoting the Nebraska brand of excellence and
quality we will continue to increase our exports of beef. More
exports mean more jobs and growth in the Nebraska economy.”
Representatives from import companies and restaurant chains
doing business in England, Germany, Italy, Sweden and the
Netherlands met with Ibach and others. The delegation included:
Chris Calkins, professor of Animal Science, University of
Nebraska; Myron Danner, Nebraska Rancher and member
of the Nebraska Beef Council; Jerry Wiggs, Greater Omaha
Packing Company; and Stan Garbacz, Nebraska Department
of Agriculture.
During the trip, the group promoted the attributes of the
Nebraska beef production system. They touted the grasslands,
where families raise their herds to produce calves that will fill
the feedlots across Nebraska and those cattle will consume
locally-grown corn, distiller’s grains, and roughages. The
group went on to share that these finished cattle are processed
in plants that pay special attention to consumer expectations
and food safety. This unique system allows Nebraska’s farm
families to feed families around the world.
In 2005, when NDA started promoting Nebraska beef in
partnership with the Nebraska Beef Council, the United States
exported $36.3 million of beef to Europe. Nebraska’s share
was $1.8 million or 5 percent. Ten years later in 2015, when
the U.S. exported $315.4 million to Europe, Nebraska’s share
of the market had grown to 45.2 percent or $142.7 million. In
the first 6 months of 2016, Nebraska has continued to grow our
market share exporting 50 percent of the U.S. total.
The following is a summary of the delegations activities
during the trip:
— London, England - Met with Goodman Restaurants
to sign a letter of intent for the group to increase purchases
of Nebraska beef. A new customer, Roar Global, signed a
letter of intent to purchase and promote Nebraska beef. This
decision follows a visit to Nebraska this summer where they
saw firsthand, the innovative system Nebraska families and
businesses have created to produce high quality beef.
— Düsseldorf, Germany - Albers GmbH Foods pledged to
continue to promote and expand their sales of Nebraska beef.
While in Germany, the Albers family hosted a promotional
event to hear presentations from Chris Calkins and Myron
Danner where 70 current and potential new customers learned
how to utilize lower-priced wholesale cuts in the chuck to
create value-added consumer cuts.
— Paris, France - The Nebraska delegation attended the
SIAL Food Show where they met with numerous current and
potential customers, including a potential importer for the
China market when it opens. While there, Gunnar Dafgärd AB
of Sweden, and Meta Foods with European operations based in
the Netherlands, signed letters of intent aimed at growing the
Nebraska beef footprint.
— Valencia, Spain - The delegation presented at a workshop
to share the Nebraska beef story with 50 potential customers
of the INALCA company in Spain. INALCA, an Italian
importer, has been a long-term buyer of Nebraska beef and is
working aggressively in the Spanish market to expand its sales.
INALCA pledged to work with Nebraska to accomplish this
goal.
By Cole Epley World-Herald staff writer
CRESTON, Neb. — The midday sun pushed temperatures
past the 70-degree mark late last week while the fifth and sixth
generations of the Brockhaus family gathered the last 20 acres
of the fall harvest near here.
Brothers Terry and Steve Brockhaus, along with Steve’s
sons Jeff and Jon, typically reap corn from these fields, but as
a slight westerly breeze picked up, Steve Brockhaus looked
southward over the last remaining rows of the 2016 corn crop
to the purveyors of their newest cash crop: four 1.7-megawatt
General Electric wind turbines.
“I’m surprised on days like today when it seems like there’s
hardly any wind on the ground and they’re still turning,” Steve
Brockhaus said.
Turning they were on Thursday, feeding clean power into
the Loup Power District grid as they have since they were
commissioned in December 2015.
On top of that, the Brockhauses see other benefits: Farming
around the four turbines that straddle Mason Road on about
200 acres of irrigated farmland is a veritable breeze, said Jeff
Brockhaus, 26.
“They don’t take any ground up,” Terry Brockhaus said.
And the land-lease payments of about $32,000 that landed
in the Brockhaus farm coffers from Omaha-based Bluestem
Energy Solutions in January are a welcome source of income
as millions of American farmers struggle through yet another
year of cratered commodity prices.
Wind energy, the fastest-growing source of electricity in the
U.S., is transforming low-income rural areas in ways not seen
since the federal government gave land to homesteaders 150
years ago. As commodity prices threaten to reach decade lows
and farmers struggle to meet debt payments, wind has saved
family farms across a wide swath of the heartland.
The Brockhauses about four years ago got out of the cattle
business, and they sold off all their hogs the following year.
The family farm is by no means in trouble, but livestock prices
became too volatile and fell too low, said Steve.
“There ain’t no money in them,” he said. “I’d take turbines
any day.”
In states neighboring Nebraska where wind development is
in relatively nascent stages, crop and livestock producers also
have woken up to the benefits of wind.
The money that Richard Wilson earns from leasing his land
for about 35 turbines run by the Golden West Wind Energy
Center outside Colorado Springs, Colorado, has kept him from
having to sell off pieces of the 6,000-acre cattle and wheat
ranch his family has owned since 1948.
“We weren’t making enough money to sustain ourselves,” he
said. “Now we’re in a position where we can operate our farm
for another generation, at least.”
For others, turbines spin off six-figure incomes that have
allowed them to retire from farming altogether.
“One turbine has changed my life,” said Ed Woolsey, a
fifth-generation Iowa farmer and a principal with Crosswinds
Energy Project, a community collective that manages 10
turbines and sells the power they generate to rural electric
cooperatives. “Before, I raised corn and soybeans and cattle.
Now I don’t. I’m a wind farmer.”
Woolsey leases his farm to others to cultivate. Neither he
nor Wilson would disclose how much he earns, but landowners
who sign lease agreements with wind companies typically get
between $7,000 and $10,000 per turbine each year.
The more than $100 billion that companies have invested in
wind power in low-income counties — where about 70 percent
of wind farms are located — has helped double assessed land
values in some of the poorest parts of rural America. That has
provided a much-needed infusion of local tax revenue that’s
being used to rebuild schools and pay down debt.
A five-year extension of a federal tax credit on wind
production, passed at the end of last year, should accelerate the
construction of turbines. The credit pays wind power producers
2.3 cents for every kilowatt-hour of electricity generated for a
10-year period. That incentive should help double U.S. wind
power capacity to 167 gigawatts — enough to power 50 million
homes — by 2030, according to Bloomberg New Energy
Finance.
By 2030 rural landowners are projected to reap as much as
$900 million a year by leasing land to wind developers, said
Alex Morgan, North American wind energy analyst at BNEF.
In Oklahoma, wind farms are projected to return $1 billion
in property taxes to counties and school districts over a 40-year
period. Increased tax revenue has already helped the state
weather the decline in the oil sector and allowed some school
districts to forgo state funding.
In Platte County, Nebraska, where Omaha-based Bluestem
is readying to install four more turbines for a second phase, the
energy developer will pay nearly $24,000 in annual property
taxes for the first phase. According to 2011 data from the Tax
Foundation, that’s the same as adding about 14 new taxpayers
to the rolls.
“That’s pretty good for rural areas losing population,” said
Adam Herink, vice president of Bluestem. “Infrastructure
opportunities for rural Nebraska are few and far between. This
brings income and property tax relief, which everybody needs.”
In Iowa, which got 31 percent of its power from wind in
2015, more than any other state, money from turbines has
protected farmers from falling corn prices. Annual lease
payments of about $17 million helped some avoid foreclosure
as they prepared for a record corn harvest that could drive
receipts to a 10-year low. Tim Hemphill, a corn and soybean
farmer outside Milford, gets about $20,000 a year for leasing
land for turbines. “A few years ago corn was $7 a bushel,” he
said. “Now my cost to raise it is $4.20 and (the price) could fall
to $2.70. It’s going to break a lot of people.”
Wind also is keeping power prices low across much of rural
America. In the 11 states that produce more than 7 percent of
their power from wind, electricity prices fell 0.37 percent from
2008 to 2013; nationwide, power prices were up 7.7 percent
during that period.
Warren Buffett’s MidAmerican Energy is negotiating with
landowners for leases to build a $3.58 billion series of wind
farms across Iowa, the largest economic development in state
history. The company by the end of this year will commission
its Grande Prairie wind farm in Holt County, Nebraska, which
will be home to the largest wind project in state history at 400
megawatts.
Back in Iowa, land agents also are in discussions with
hundreds of farmers there who stand to profit from $1 billion
in new projects planned by Alliant Energy.
“This is our financial future,” said Michael Nolte, a farmer
who sits on the Franklin County Board in Iowa. This year the
board voted to lower property taxes after it paid off a bond
used to fund $18 million in road and bridge improvements.
Surrounding counties had recently been forced to close bridges
that could no longer support heavy farm machinery, and they
lacked the money to fix them.
“It’s helping us survive and maintain services,” Nolte said,
“whereas other counties have had to make cuts.”
In Platte County on Thursday, Steve Brockhaus said the
Bluestem development makes him feel particularly thankful
for his many blessings, including the opportunity to help the
county and local Loup ratepayers:
“It ain’t too often you can help everybody in the county by
lowering taxes and help everybody on the Loup grid.”
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As commodity prices remain low, wind energy lease
agreements offer a welcome new source of income
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