Ridin’ Green: E85 Promotion

By Paige McFarland, Intern

If you are familiar with the Kansas Corn Commission, you know there has been a multitude of cars and trucks used to promote ethanol over the last 20 or 30 years. Some of you may be having flashbacks of the Chevy Silverado, the Ford Mustang convertible from the 1980s, or the more recent corn cars engulfed with green and yellow ears of corn.

So what’s next for Kansas Corn? Here’s a hint: the familiar face you see in the current corn car, will most likely not be the same face you see on the new and improved Harley! Kansas Corn Growers Executive Director, Jere White recently took his motorcycle to Comb’s Custom Cycles of Lawrence, Kansas to have a few cosmetic changes made after converting it to run on e85.

Jere had his motorcycle converted in Rapid City, South Dakota in the spring of 2011. In order to convert this bike to run on E85 they had to replace the computer and injectors. A bike like his normally runs on 91 octane, which is a higher octane than a normal car would run on, and is roughly a dollar more in cost than E85. E85 fuel is naturally high in octane, and costs less than regular unleaded. This is one of the many benefits of converting the bike to run on American ethanol.

The question has surfaced time and time again, are ethanol blends safe to use in our vehicles? The sole purpose of the eye catching corn cars is to promote the use of ethanol as a renewable fuel. By using E85, we are showing that it used safely. Nothing is more American than a Harley Davidson motorcycle, so it makes sense to use American-made ethanol. The bike is the next step in demonstrating the benefits of American ethanol.

“Over the years we have utilized different vehicles and ideas to engage discussion in what we are promoting. The presence of ethanol has definitely increased,” Jere said. “We have to branch out to engage others. If we are going to be successful we have to promote ethanol to a variety of audiences. The bike will offer us the traditional audience at the 3i Farm Show in Dodge City, and also the non-traditional audience at the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in South Dakota.”

The flex fuel motorcycle is accented with a glossy green environmentally sound paint. 

On the tank is an eagle holding an ear of corn. This image represents the foundation in which American ethanol originates from.

The front fender holds more of a whimsical theme. There is a skeleton farmer (skeletons are popular with the bike crowd) sitting on an old John Deere tractor with a jar of moonshine. Ethanol is an alcohol fuel–essentially moonshine. Ethanol has been used to fuel vehicles since before the moonshine days. (In fact, the first Flex Fuel vehicle was Henry Ford’s Model T.) This part of the bike ties the farming industry and biker imagery into one.

Over the years, we’ve put ethanol in just about everything—pickups, cars, airplanes, and now motorcycles. Kansas Corn staffers have driven hundreds of thousands of miles using ethanol blended fuels as they’ve crisscrossed the state over several years. They can definitely answer any questions you might have about ethanol’s performance in a variety of vehicles.

 “Probably the most important thing is that we are using fuel that is made right here in our state,” Jere said. “When you are using 85 percent ethanol, that’s 85 percent fuel made right here in several small Kansas communities and not imported from the Middle East.”

The bike will make its first appearance at the 3i Farm Show in Dodge City July 12th-14th. Come take a look!

Final Farewell

By: DeEtta Bohling, Communications Specialist

Today is the day. After nearly three years, this is my last day in the Kansas Corn & Grain Sorghum office.

It has been a pleasure to work with all our growers and to meet so many genuine folks. Thanks to social media, I’ve been able to connect and learn from farmers across the nation—and world. With the U.S. Grains Council I had the opportunity to travel with corn growers to China for the Spring Corn Tour last May. I learned about Chinese corn production and gained more knowledge about exports.

2011 Spring Crop Tour to China with U.S. Grains Council

One of my favorite projects over the past year has been CommonGround Kansas. I’ve met so many strong and talented women who inspire me. Thanks to each of the volunteers who have been a pleasure to work with.

CommonGround Shared Voices Conference

I’m leaving the communications specialist position with a strong social media presence on Facebook and Twitter, a brand new website (if you haven’t checked it out yet, please do), new logos for the Kansas Corn Growers Association, Kansas Corn Commission, Kansas Grain Sorghum Producers, and branding for Agriland at the Kansas State Fair.

Topeka Farm Show Display

The best compliment I received came from one of our corn growers at Commodity Classic the first year I attended. He asked me to tell him about my family farm back home and was shocked when I informed him that I didn’t grow up on a farm and I didn’t study agriculture in school. I must have blended in well! He asked how I was able to share so much about agriculture though our website and social media platforms and I explained that everything I had learned had come from the research I did or the folks I met.

Wiscombe plants corn near Overbrook, KS

I thank those who answered my e-mails, tweets, and Facebook questions. A special thanks to Pat and Mary Ross and Kirk Wiscombe for letting me visit their farms each time I asked. I greatly appreciate you taking time out of your busy schedules to teach this Iowa girl a few things about Kansas agriculture!

At Ross-Nunemaker Farms in Lawrence, KS

I’m on to new adventures at William Jewell College in Liberty, MO where I’ll be the Communications Manager for the Harriman-Jewell Series. Please continue to keep in touch with me on Facebook and Twitter! It’s been a pleasure getting to know each of you.

Farewell,

DeEtta

What’s the beef with antibiotics?

By: Paige McFarland, Intern

I recently read an article in Redbook magazine called “Antibiotics are not Candy”. In this article it discusses the risks of antibiotics developing superbugs. This article defines a superbug as a medicine resistant disease. The most well-known superbug is Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, better known as MRSA. It also discussed how these “bugs” could potentially become uncontrollable if the dilemma is not addressed.

As a farm girl myself, I experienced the trials and tribulations that went with raising cattle. I am frustrated with the misinformation I read the Redbook article regarding antibiotics in animals.

Medicines are used in animals just as they are used in humans- to treat and prevent illness effectively and to keep or maintain good health. Cattle are often given an antibiotic when they are sick, just like humans. These antibiotics are not the same as the antibiotic given to humans. They are utilized to create healthy animals so they can produce nutritious meat.


Farmers and ranchers monitor their livestock closely to know when, and if, these medicines are needed. If antibiotics are not needed they will not spend the money to administer the medicine. It doesn’t make good business sense to spend money on resources that aren’t needed.

Precautions are taken by the producers because they are fully aware of the potential harm antibiotics can cause. This is where groups such as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) come in to save the day. Meat cannot be released into the food supply with any antibiotics above the strict safety limits set by the FDA. They undergo rigorous testing before seeking FDA approval to keep humans healthy.

TV shows, magazine articles and other sources often lead consumers astray with faulty accusations of animal agriculture. It is important to research the facts, and if you have questions, farmers are happy to speak with you. Groups like the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance and CommonGround are just two of the grassroots programs that Kansas Corn are involved with.

Image from Redbook

The article showed a graphic that depicted animals on farms being fed low doses of antibiotics in their feed and water. They claimed the use of these antibiotics correlates directly with antibiotic-resistant bacteria that develops in animals and is then transferred to humans, making them sick. Contrary to popular belief, animals are not injected with antibiotics and directly put into our food supply to cause illness.

As I stated before, I grew up around cattle on my family farm. We have used antibiotics strictly for sicknesses in our cattle. Between the times the vet prescribes the antibiotic and the time it is injected, it is recorded. When we record an injection such as this one it is very important to have the type of antibiotic, date, time, and reason for the injection.

The antibiotics are subject to a thorough review process by the FDA before they are approved for use in food production. Antibiotic use in animal agriculture is not the reason for antibiotic resistance in humans. There are three key reasons for this:

1) It is unlikely that the resistant bacteria would survive the animal processing phase
2) It is unlikely that the bacteria would survive if the meat is cooked properly

3) The antibiotics used in animals are different from those used in human healthcare

A more likely reason for the uprising of the resistant bacteria is the over-use of antibiotics in human healthcare.

Animal agriculture is under a microscope now more than ever. There are activist groups out there looking to completely abolish animal agriculture, which is why I chose to write about this specific Redbook article. I could have read it and looked the other way, but I know how important it is to share my story. It is important to continue advocating and I encourage you to do the same.

More great articles:

Livestock Antibiotics: Super Bugs?

Antibiotic Superbugs: Why Farmers Aren’t To Blame

Introducing the Kansas Corn, Kansas Sorghum Summer Intern!

Paige McFarland

By Paige McFarland, Intern
Kansas Corn, Kansas Grain Sorghum

I am a Kansas farm girl and also the newest face in the Kansas Corn, Kansas Grain Sorghum office in Garnett, Kansas. I am taking on a summer internship to better my knowledge of the agriculture industry and also taking a huge step toward my future career.

Our family farm is located about five miles south of Ottawa. My dad farms roughly 2,000 acres of corn, wheat and soybeans combined, with approximately half of that being corn.

This fall I will be a sophomore at Kansas State University pursuing a double major in Agriculture Communications and Agriculture Education. I am transferring from Hutchinson Community College where I studied ag education and also played on the HCC softball team.

In my trek to Hutchinson for my freshman year of college, I said goodbye to my 4-H Club, FFA chapter and also my family farm. Going to college, I left the peace and quiet of living in the country. Let me tell you, living in the city is a TOTALLY different atmosphere after living in the country for the first 18 years of your life. Lying in bed, I heard sirens and yelling outside of my dorm room instead of the familiar sound of crickets and coyotes howling.

4-H and FFA have been important parts of my life. I was a 12 year member of the Rambling Ranchers 4-H club based in Ottawa. Throughout my 12 years I held numerous offices including Historian, Recreation Leader, Trip Committee, 4-H Council Representative and President. These leadership roles were overwhelming and scary at first, but during the 12 years, I found my place in the Rambling Ranchers 4-H club and 4-H found its way to my heart.

After gaining knowledge from 4-H and hearing what the older 4-Hers had to say about FFA, I discovered that was something I would come to love as well. I was a three-year member of the Ottawa FFA chapter. I participated in career development events such as Parliamentary Procedure, Ag Communications, Dairy Foods Judging, Food Science, and also Nursery and Landscape. During my three years I was the Chapter Photographer, Vice President and President. FFA became very influential in my life during those three years of my high school career.

It was during my high school years that I decided Agriculture was definitely the field that I wanted to pursue a career in. I had been on the fence between education and some sort of Ag major so I decided, why not Ag education? I’ll have the best of both worlds! After hearing the way some of my classmates interpreted the so-called “life on the farm”, I was in awe of how uninformed the average American citizen could be. Growing up on the farm I just assumed that everybody had the same knowledge about agriculture as I did, but I couldn’t have been more wrong!

During my high school Ag Business class, we spent a class period discussing input and output prices for the average farmer. We first discussed the total returns of farmers after harvest. It was then that I heard a kid that sat in the back of the classroom mutter, “Man, I wish my parents were farmers.” Being a farmer’s daughter I couldn’t help but laugh at this statement, I replied laughing, “Just wait, we aren’t finished.” Then we talked about the endless expenses of equipment and machinery, seed, fertilizer and everything else that it takes to run a farm. I turned around again and the boy’s jaw had dropped. That day was enough to open my eyes as well to notice how important advocating for agriculture really is.

This summer I will spend the majority of my time learning more about the business side of the agriculture industry instead of the hands-on experience I gained growing up on the farm. I am very eager to broaden my horizons this summer and make the most of this great experience. I believe in the future of agriculture, do you?

Follow me on Twitter!  @ksgrainbrain

Choose Ethanol this Memorial Day

By: DeEtta Bohling, Communications Specialist

Memorial Day weekend marks the official start of the summer travel season. It is predicted that more than 34 million will travel 50+ miles during the upcoming holiday, up 1.2% compared to last year. As you pull up to the gas station this weekend, I encourage you to choose a clean-burning, high octane motor fuel that is produced from renewable sources- ethanol.

Why? There are a number of reasons I choose ethanol.

#1. Cheaper at the Pump
Corn growers are finishing planting what appears to be a record-breaking corn crop, continuing to meet all needs for food, feed, fiber and fuel. Their hard work is also helping consumers nationwide by keeping fuel prices down.

On May 15, 2012, The Center for Agricultural and Rural Development (CARD) released a study by economists at the University of Wisconsin and Iowa State University examining the impact of increased ethanol consumption on wholesale gasoline prices.

Key conclusions derived from the report include:

–In 2011, ethanol reduced wholesale gasoline prices by an average of $1.09 per gallon.

–Regular grade gasoline prices averaged $3.52 per gallon in 2011, but would have been closer to $4.60 per gallon without the inclusion of more than 13 billion gallons of lower-priced ethanol.

–The average American household consumed 1,124 gallons of gasoline in 2011, meaning ethanol reduced average household spending at the pump by more than $1,200.

–Since 2000, ethanol has kept gasoline prices an average of $0.29 per gallon cheaper than they otherwise would have been.

–Based on the $0.29-per-gallon average annual savings, ethanol has helped save American drivers and the economy more than $477 billion in gasoline expenditures since 2000 – an average of $39.8 billion a year.

#2. Energy Security
Ethanol, created from crops such as corn and grain sorghum is domestically produced which helps to reduce America’s dependence on foreign oil. With ethanol representing 10% of the nation’s motor fuel supply, less petroleum must be reminded to meet America’s fuel needs. With 13.9 billion gallons of domestic ethanol production, the U.S. required 485 million fewer barrels of imported oil in 2011. For perspective, that is a total greater than all the oil we import from Saudi Arabia. Global fossil fuel subsidies reached almost half a trillion dollars in 2010. This figure is up $110 billion over 2009 and could reach $660 billion by 2020.

All oil-related external costs are estimated to be $825 billion per year. The U.S. spends between $27 billion and $137 billion a year on military operations securing the safe delivery of oil from the Persian Gulf, equivalent to adding an extra $1.17 per gallon of gasoline. And new oil supplies are getting harder and more expensive to find. Nonconventional reserves, like Canadian tar sands, pose significant environmental and economic risks.

#3. Environmental Impact
Ethanol is one of the best tools we have to fight air pollution from vehicles. And there is no fuel available at scale today that matches ethanol’s ability to improve overall environmental quality compared to gasoline. From its biodegradable nature to reductions in greenhouse gas and tailpipe emissions, ethanol provides a tool to address environmental concerns without requiring an entirely new way for goods and people to get from one place to another.

Ethanol contains 35% oxygen. Adding oxygen to fuel results in more complete fuel combustion, reducing harmful tailpipe emissions. Ethanol also displaces the use of toxic gasoline components such as benzene, a carcinogen. Ethanol is non-toxic, water soluble and quickly biodegradable. Ethanol is a renewable fuel produced from plants, unlike petroleum-based fossil fuels that have a limited supply and are the major contributor of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, a greenhouse gas (GHG).

Ethanol has a positive energy balance. Whether produced from corn or other biomass feedstocks, ethanol generates more energy than used during production. Plants used in ethanol production harness the power of the sun to grow. By releasing the energy stored in corn and other feedstocks, ethanol production utilizes solar energy, replacing fossil energy use. A 2010 USDA study of ethanol production – from the field to the vehicle – found that ethanol yields about 40% more fossil energy than is used to grow and harvest the grain and process it into ethanol, even without allowing for the processing component of the byproduct credit. After fully allowing for heat used to produce byproducts, ethanol yields between 90-130% more energy than is used to produce it. Also, according to a University of California-Berkeley study, the production of ethanol reduces petroleum use by about 95% on an energy basis compared to gasoline refining.

#4. Economic Impact
The economic impact of domestic ethanol production is felt far outside the biorefinery. In hundreds of communities across the nation, ethanol production is creating well paying jobs where jobs are too often few and far between. In 2011, the production of 13.9 billion gallons of ethanol supported 90,200 direct jobs and 311,400 indirect jobs all across the country. These are quality jobs in fields like engineering, chemistry, and accounting, that provide a good wage and important benefits. In 2011, ethanol contributed $42.4 billion to the national Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and added $29.9 billion to household income. Using American ethanol keeps $50 billion in our economy.

#5. Engine Performance
Ethanol, an alcohol fuel, provides high quality, high octane for exceptional engine performance and reduced emissions. Ethanol has been used in cars since Henry Ford designed his 1908 Model T to operate on alcohol. Trillions of miles have been driven on ethanol-blended fuel since 1980. In fact, NASCAR runs on a 15% ethanol blended fuel, called Sunoco Green E15. The American Ethanol used in each and every race is derived from American grown corn.

RCR owner, Richard Childress stated, “Last year, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency approved E15 for all vehicles built in the last decade, which is more than 80 percent of the cars and trucks on the roads today. I like to think that if E15 is good enough for my racing team, it’s certainly good enough for everyday street cars.

Headed for the lake this weekend? Did you know you can even use ethanol in your motorboat? Most marine manufacturers have allowed the use of E10 for decades but may specify certain precautionary actions such as a water separator filter. In fact, ethanol is the oxygenate of choice in some water-recreation areas because of its clean air and clean water benefits.

The National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) has indicated that lower level ethanol blends – E10 or lower usually present no major problems. However, they oppose higher blend levels.

There are over 12 million recreational boats in the United States, some of which are vintage watercraft, so it is difficult to make a blanket statement on every make and model year. Most watercraft operate fine on E10. For instance, Honda, Kawasaki, Mercury Marine, OMC (Johnson/Evinrude), Pleasurecraft, Tigershark (Artco), Tracker and Yamaha allow the use of ethanol fuels in their products. Mercury Marine has indicated that their outboard products produced after 1979 should not have problems operating on ethanol. Further, they indicate that MerCruiser products produced after 1987 should not experience problems.

However, it should be noted, there have been isolated reports of materials compatibility issues in some vintage (pre 1980) watercraft. Ultimately, your watercraft operator’s manual should be consulted. For more information on ethanol and your marine equipment, click HERE.

Ethanol is American made and American grown. I hope you’ll join me in supporting U.S. agriculture by filling up with ethanol as you hit the road this Memorial Day weekend. For more information on ethanol and to find a station near you, visit www.chooseethanol.com.

We’d love to see your photos! Snap a photo at the pump of you filling up with ethanol this weekend and upload it to our Facebook page or tweet us @ksgrains for a chance to win a cap, work gloves and other prizes!

Safe travels!

 

More ethanol information:

Kansas Ethanol Production

National Corn Growers Association: Ethanol

Renewable Fuels Association

NASCAR/American Ethanol

Social Media & the Customer Experience

By DeEtta Bohling, Communications Specialist

Social media is a large part of my life. Some of it was on accident, but a lot of it I brought on myself. Even five years ago I wouldn’t have thought social media would be such a large part of my career. I currently manage social media for Kansas Corn and Grain Sorghum through this blog, Twitter, Facebook and occasionally YouTube. Away from my job responsibilies checking Twitter and Facebook are a regular part of my daily routine and I’m currently obsessed with Pinterest and finding the latest fashions, graphic design inspiration and dinner recipes.

My friend Travis (former news producer and currently the Multi-Media Producer-in-Residence at Wartburg College) would be very disappointed to hear that I haven’t watched the morning or evening news in… well, nearly two years. Don’t worry, I don’t have my head buried in the sand. I am up to date on current events thanks to text alerts from my local news station and following various news outlets through social media.

Social media isn’t a trend and it isn’t going away any time soon. It is revolutionizing the way we distribute and obtain information. So, what does this mean for companies, and specifically the agricultural industry?

I can instantly convey a message to my 2,000 followers. Will they all see it? Most certainly not, but it has the potential to spread like wildfire. People share experiences and advice through social media. This is done instantaneous through social media. In the past, a person would probably have to wait to tell his/her friends about an experience. Today, with the use of smartphones and tablets, we can send a message (factual or not, good or bad) about a grocery store product or a conversation with farmer instantly to the internet.

My friend/mentor, Dr. Bill Withers recently posted this photo on Facebook about a visit to Granite City:

The caption read, “It’s THIS SIMPLE! And I asked our waitress if she was trained to do this… “Yes!” Great QCS [Quality Customer Service]. My Granite City leftover container showed Dish, Date, Server, and “GC” brand-logo, all signed by her… http://www.gcfb.net/

Did I click on the link which lead to their website? Yep, sure did! Did I happen to check out the restaurant locations in my area and browse the menu too? Uh-huh.

Bill also wrote, “And, would I ask for Sam’s server-section next time down there? Of course. When you TRAIN for QCS, everyone wins, trust me. And yes, “leftovers” were delicious tonight!”

Not only did his experience leave a good impression on him, but also his Facebook followers- including myself.

Word-of-mouth is huge and a very valuable part of marketing. 90% of consumers trust peer recommendations; 14% trust advertisements. While it’s great for ag groups to sponsor events and purchase media buys, it’s obvious that the farmer-consumer conversations are a must. This is one of the many reasons I enjoy the CommonGround movement so much. Our farm women volunteers do their best to reach out to the consumer (both in person and through social media) to tell them about their farms and the food they produce. One good conversation with a consumer is valuable. Hopefully, that consumer will share the good experience she had with others.

Ross Schafer, the author of Nobody Moved Your Cheese, Customer Empathy, The Customer Shourts back, Are You Still Relevant, and Grab More Market Share recently spoke at the National Agri-Marketing Conference. One of the many great things he said was, “When you study human behavior, you will always win.” Think about that for a moment. When you’re at a store, what motivates you to buy certain products? Name brand? Cost? Health? Convenience?

Emotions. Emotions influence every purchase decision. When consumers write to complain about a business they often use the words rejected, unimportant, or embarrassed. Farmers need to be able to communicate to consumers in a way that shows them that their concerns are valid and that they care. Let’s not overthink this- people like to feel cared for. 

Women don’t just buy a brand- they join it then talk about it. You better believe that I’ll be talking about good purchasing experiences (such as my recent purchase from Gracie & Me Design on Etsy) and bad ones (my recent DISH fiasco) on social media platforms.

Today, consumers want NOW. The faster we can respond, the better. “Normal business hours” no longer exist. Consumers can shop online at all hours and more and more banks are opening on Sundays or have later hours.

Earlier I mentioned how Bill told all his Facebook followers about his great experience with Granite City.  He went a step further and commended the restaurant, personally. Bill received the following response shortly later, which was also documented on Facebook:

Social customer service at its best? Most definitely.

The agricultural industry will continue to grow in social media. (If you don’t think we’re already active, just search #agchat or #foodchat on Twitter.) My hope is that though face to face conversations, social media and traditional media, farmers will continue to build relationships with consumers. So many folks are disconnected from livestock and fields but want to know more about food. They are listening. Are we talking? More importantly do we care for our consumers? Certainly! Let’s show them by going above and beyond.

 
Additional resources:

9 Ways Top Brands Use Social Media for Better Customer Service

Supermarkets and the social Web

Social Media- Generation II

Cause Matters: Ag & Food Resources

Give Good Customer Service Through Social Media

How Social Media has Changed Customer Service

NASCAR Green Drives Home Environmental Benefits of Ethanol Through Earth Day Promotion

This Sunday, NASCAR, Kansas Speedway and several of NASCAR’s Official Partners will showcase the environmental sustainability programs that take place each week at racetracks across the country in celebration of Earth Day.  These efforts, taking place every day and at NASCAR races year-round, are part of the sport’s NASCAR Green initiative which shows the value NASCAR places upon the environment through real-world, sustained action.

The National Corn Growers Association, along with many state corn associations and the American Ethanol partnership, will help play a key role in promoting an aspect of NASCAR Green supported by agriculture and environmentalists alike, the sport’s move to a 15 percent ethanol fuel blend.

“Our promotion of mid-level ethanol blends through our partnership with NASCAR, including the events in Kansas this Sunday, constitutes one of the largest, most aggressive educational efforts that farmers have ever undertaken,” said NCGA NASCAR Advisory Committee Chair Martin Barbre.  “Farmer investment of checkoff dollars, through NCGA and state organizations, makes carrying out such visible, national activities possible and demonstrates the value modern agriculture places on shining a public spotlight on the environmental and economic benefits of this important biofuel.”

As part of the festivities, American Ethanol will prominently feature an ethanol message painted in green across the backstretch of the track. This placement will shine a spotlight on the sport’s use of E15 for both those sitting in the stands and watching on television. This race directly follows last week’s NASCAR Green milestone, when the sport celebrated running over two million miles on Sunoco Green E15, which has fueled every car in every race since the beginning of the 2011 season.

Additionally, a new 30-second television spot about the NASCAR Green platform will air during Sunday’s NASCAR on FOX national broadcast at 1 p.m.

NASCAR also issued an informative paper today detailing the various programs that have made NASCAR a leader in green initiatives across all sports. The data in “The Sports Leader in Sustainability”* illustrates the steps NASCAR has taken in educating fans, reducing the sport’s environmental impact, and validating green technologies – both on and off the track.

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