Farm & Ranch April 2020

APRIL 2020




APRIL 2020

COVID-19 presenting new challenge for producers

‘A new normal’ for beef operations as cattle prices drop amid pandemic

There’s no need to negotiate purchases on those weeks, he said. Contract prices on the Chicago Board of Trade have been volatile, but down a lot overall, said Kirk Olson, who with his wife, Tracy, owns Olson Feedlot between North Platte and Hershey. Prior to COVID-19, cattle typ- ically sold in the range of

tween feeders and packers. That tends to suppress beef producers’ income. Depending on the locali- ty and the week, around 80% of cattle are sold on a formula generated by negotiated sales of the other 20%. Now, due to reduced capac- ity, on some weeks packers may have all the formula cattle they can process, al- ready scheduled for delivery.

The disparity between prices for cattle on the hoof and cattle in the box is influ- enced by temporary closures of some meat packing plants, due to COVID-19. It also re- sults from a drawback in the way cattle are marketed, said Mike Henry, a North Platte cow/calf producer and feedlot operator. Only a small per- centage of fat cattle are sold through cash negotiations be-

Prices they are getting for their cattle have deteriorated. At the same time, consumers are paying more and packers are profiting from high retail demand, leading some people to allege market manipula- tion.

By GEORGE HAWS For The North Platte Telegraph A year ago, area cattle pro- ducers were dealing with the aftermath of a hard win- ter, March flooding and mud. Now they are facing challeng- es related to COVID-19.

Please see BEEF, Page F4

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APRIL 2020

Use variety of methods to control common mullein weeds

By Nebraska Extenson Common mullein (Verbascim thapsus) is a weed species that’s in- creasing in northeast Nebraska’s rangeland, woodland and pastures. It is a biennial plant that reproduces only by seeds, but it is a prolif- ic seed producer. The taproot of this species can access soil moisture from a deeper profile at a much better rate than fibrous roots of pas- ture grasses, giving it a competitive advantage, especially in dry years. In lieu of a demon- stration project this year, Lincoln-Logan- McPherson Extension Office is offering several tips to help. Prevention is the best and cheapest manage-

ment option. Having well-established grasses and forbs on a main- tained pasture or rangeland with proper grazing and rotation- al grazing techniques can go a long way to pre- vent its establishment. Detecting infestations early through scouting, monitoring, and prop- er identification are key management factors giv- en how quickly it infests and spreads. To manage com- mon mullein and promote your desired plant community cre- ate an Integrated Pest Management plan com- bining multiple control strategies. » Mechanical control. Pulling or cul- tivating small common mullein plants can be an

Some herbicides labeled for control of common mullein. Herbicide (Active Ingredient) Rate (aminopyralid + metsulfuron methyl) 1-2 dry ounces/acre Groups 2 and 4 Mode of Action Group Chaparral

Milestone (aminopyralid) Escort XP (metsulfuron methyl)

7 fluid ounces/acre Group 4 1-2 dry ounces/acre Group 2 1-2.6 dry ounces/acre Group 2

Telar XP


Graslan L (picloram + 2,4-D)

3-4 pints/acre

Group 4

effective control meth- od, as long as the plants are young (before they go to seed). Mowing can be effective to re- duce seed production but must be repeated throughout the season. » Biological control. Consider using biologi- cal control insects, such as the curculionid wee- vil (Gymnetron tetrum) and the mullein moth (Cucullia verbasci). The weevil larvae feed on the seed in the seed cap- sule and can destroy up

to 50% of the seed. The moth larvae feed on the foliage. Biological con- trol methods should be entered into only af- ter full consideration of potential non-target species impacts. Other management methods must be used in com- bination to reduce and control the infestation. » Chemical con- trol. Consider the site, overall weed complex, forbs, shrubs, and trees when selecting a her- bicide. Consult the

specific herbicide label for recommendations or requirements on the timing of application, amount of water carrier, and herbicide rate and carefully follow all label directions. The dense hairy leaves of com- mon mullein can affect herbicide coverage and uptake and cause erratic control. When the herbi- cide label allows, use of a crop oil concentrate, methylated seed oil, or other oil-based adjuvant may improve herbicide

penetration through the hairy leaf surface, although grass injury may occur. Generally, treatment should occur during the spring ro- sette to early bud/bolt stage. Retreatment of areas infested with com- mon mullein may be needed due to the long life of the seeds. More information is available at cropwatch. mullein-invasive-weed- nebraska%E2%80%99s- horizon.


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APRIL 2020

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Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Neb., who had called on Perdue to take action. U.S. Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., said in a statement that he has urged the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission “to review the market vola- tility” and the widening gap between boxed beef prices and live cattle prices. Producers need stabili- ty, and the futures market should help with that, Henry said. “It’s supposed to reflect the future, but instead it reflects emotionally what the traders are feeling for the day ... we have speculators that make the markets move as much as 40 cents a pound even over a small news story (and) that is inexcusable,” he said. The high level of comput- er trading we have nowadays has made the problemworse, he added. “Technical traders blow the market to extremes” based

farmers and ranchers are less able “to compete in their own market,” he said. Adding to their challeng- es is that distillers grain, is in short supply. DG is a byprod- uct of ethanol fuel production, and serves as an inexpensive, high-protein component of cattle feed. With the demand for oil plummeting as a result of COVID-19, the demand for ethanol has also dropped and plants have suspended or lim- ited production. Alfalfa can be fed in its place, but that increases feed- ing expenses substantially, Kirk said. The situation has some producers looking to the gov- ernment for help. U.S. Rep. Adrian Smith, R-Neb., said in a statement that the Nebraska delega- tion and other members of Congress were urging U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to quickly implement the CARES Act, recent- ly passed by Congress. It

$1.30 per pound, he said, but on a recent day, live cattle sold for 88 cents per pound. That’s a decrease of $588 on a 1,400-pound steer. “It’s like they’ve reset the markets — a new normal,” Tracy Olson said. “Prior to COVID-19 cat- tle (typically) went for $1.30 per pound,” Kirk said. On a recent day, live cattle sold on the Chicago Board of Trade for 88 cents per pound. That’s a decrease of $588 for a 1,400-pound steer. Tad Mathers, a beef produc- er in the Hershey area, said another factor is that produc- ers continue to be hurt by the repeal of country of ori- gin labeling requirements by Congress in 2015. U.S. beef has a well-deserved reputa- tion and is sought after by consumers here and interna- tionally. Without COOL, U.S.

Lori Potter / The Kearney Hub Cattle graze cornstalks southeast of Lexington. Farmers and ranchers will face a new test this year with a global pandemic, just after a challenging year of severe weather.

has agreed to investigate po- tentially “unfair practices in the beef packing industry,” in- cluding practices affected by COVID-19. That is according to a statement issued by U.S.

includes $9.5 billion in assis- tance to farmers and ranchers in response to COVID-19 dis- ruptions. The U.S. Department of Agriculture, under Perdue,

Please see BEEF, Page F10




APRIL 2020

Branding can still go on, but take precautions, says Extension

UNL Extension

your face, particular- ly your eyes, mouth and nose. COVID-19 is also more virulent than the common flumeaning slightest exposure to the virus could be enough to infect you. Infected individuals may un- knowingly spread the virus once infected, even before symptoms appear or withmild symptoms. West Central District Health Department en- listed local ranchers to develop suggestions for brandings to limit the spread of this disease that is especially threat- ening those who are elderly, children, individ- uals with a compromised immune system and in- dividuals with heart and lung issues. These sug- gestions are intended to give ideas of how to lim- it the spread of COVID-19 while still getting the work done. » Consider staying home if, in the last 14 days, you have been sick, have been around some- one who was sick, have been to an area with a confirmed COVID-19 case or have traveled outside of the area. » Consider staying

home if you are elder- ly or have health issues. Also consider leaving children at home. » Make sure those preparing food wear gloves, are not sick and have not potential- ly been exposed. Have servers make plates up to limit how much each individual touches and to help limit the amount of time in line. Eat out- doors while practicing social distancing. » Consider ways to limit the size of the branding crew to de- crease each person’s exposure (Nordfork, calf table, etc.) » Limit who you in- vite from affected areas or anyone living out of the area including family members. This is not the year to have your daughter’s friend from the city out to ex- perience a branding. » Consider not invit- ing someone who is not taking COVID-19 precau- tions seriously because they have a greater like- lihood of contracting and spreading the disease. » Practice social dis- tancing by avoiding close contact: maintain

tion for one reason or another. However, un- derstanding the risks and taking precautions to protect our loved ones is worth the time and ef- fort.

meant to help produc- ers think about the risks and consider alternative practices in this unprec- edented time. Some may be unrealistic, and some may simply not be an op-

a 6-foot distance and avoid handshakes, high fives, hugging, etc. » Consider wearing a respiratory mask while attending. These suggestions are

Branding is the so- cial event of the spring signaling the end of win- ter and the long hours of calving, and the begin- ning of greener pastures ahead. Friends and neighbors come from far and wide to help out and relive the cherished tra- dition. As the U.S. contin- ues to limit the spread of COVID-19 by closing offices and promoting social distancing and working from home, agriculture does not stop. The work must go on. Although calves must be branded, not taking precautions can mean the difference be- tween life and death for some loved ones. Although similar in nature to the common flu, COVID-19 is more contagious and lethal. A cough or sneeze from an infected person aero- solizes the virus which can remain airborne for several hours, affecting individuals as they un- knowingly pass through the cloud of droplets. The virus can be transmitted by touching infected sur- faces and then touching

Photo courtesy of Troy Walz / Nebraska Extension Beef Systems Educator in Custer County. Brandings will continue across west central Nebraska, but Nebraska Extension is encouraging farmers and ranchers to take precaution to help the spread of COVID-19.




APRIL 2020

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APRIL 2020

DHS, USDA amend H-2A requirements amid COVID-19

Telegraph staff reports WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Department of Homeland Security, with the support of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, has announced a temporary final rule to change certain H-2A requirements to help U.S. agricultural employ- ers avoid disruptions in lawful agricultural-related employ- ment, protect the nation’s food supply chain, and less- en impacts from the COVID-19 public health emergency. These temporary flexibilities will not weaken or eliminate protections for U.S. workers, according to a USDA press re- lease.

Under this temporary final rule, an H-2A petitioner with a valid temporary labor certi- fication who is concerned that workers will be unable to en- ter the country due to travel restrictions can start employ- ing certain foreign workers who are currently in H-2A status in the United States im- mediately after United States Citizenship and Immigration Services receives the H-2A pe- tition, but no earlier than the start date of employment list- ed on the petition. To take advantage of this time-limited change in regulatory require- ments, the H-2Aworker seeking to change employers must already be in the United

States and in valid H-2A sta- tus. Additionally, USCIS is temporarily amending its regulations to protect the country’s food supply chain by allowing H-2Aworkers to stay beyond the three-year maximum allowable period of stay in the United States. These temporary changes will encourage and facilitate the continued lawful employment of foreign temporary and sea- sonal agricultural workers during the COVID-19 nation- al emergency. Agricultural employers should utilize this streamlined process if they are concerned with their abil- ity to bring in the temporary

workers who were previously authorized to work for the em- ployer in H-2A classification. At no point is it acceptable for employers to hire illegal aliens. “This Administration has determined that continued agricultural employment, currently threatened by the COVID-19 pandemic, is vital to maintaining and secur- ing the country’s critical food supply chain. The temporary changes announced by USCIS provide the needed stability during this unprecedented cri- sis,” said Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad F. Wolf. “USDAwelcomes these

additional flexibilities pro- vided by the Department of Homeland Security today,” said Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue. “Providing flexibility for H-2A employers to utilize H-2Aworkers that are currently in the United States is critically important as we continue to see trav- el and border restrictions as a result of COVID-19. USDA continues to work with the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Labor and the Department of State to minimize disruption andmake sure farmers have access to these critical work- ers necessary to maintain the integrity in our food supply.”

In your hand or on the web, we have all the news you need!


Telegraph staff reports Don’t forget about chemigation permits The Twin Platte Natural Resources District is reminding chemigators that now is a good time to return their chemigation re- newal permits mailed to them in early March. For those who have questions or need a new

online at article/agricultural-ir- rigation/chemigation Once the applicator has completed the test on- line they will know right away if they passed, and receive their yellow cer- tification card in the mail within about two weeks. Only chemiga- tion applicators certified in Nebraska are able to chemigate in this state, as out of state certifica- tions are not recognized in Nebraska.

permit, call the TPNRD office at 308-535-8080. Chemigation is defined as using an irrigation system to apply any crop fertilizer, or pesticide in- cluding but not limited to fungicides, herbicides or insecticides labeled for such application onto land or crops. For those who still need to achieve certifi- cation as a chemigation applicator, training and testing by UNL Extension is available




APRIL 2020


may also provide a subsidy to help you pay for the plan. You would be able to choose between several different options with 2 different companies, Medica and Bright Health which are both available in Nebraska. You will need a letter either from your former employer or previous health insurer identifying when your policy terminated or will terminate to show that you are eligible. You have a 60-day window to get another plan within the SEP so schedule an appointment with me 308- 532-3180 to find an option that you like. For those of you onMedicare, Medicare Cost Plans are now available in 51 counties in Nebraska. Although, not available in Lincoln County yet, it is available in Custer, Frontier, and Buffalo counties and most counties on the east end of the State. This may be a good option for those younger than 65 on disability that are now on Medicare but can’t get a Medicare supplement yet or for those with a Medicare Supplement that have a pre-

existing condition that won’t allow them to move to a less expensive plan. The Medica Premier Plan costs $125 per month. These Cost Plans are similar to a Medicare Advantage plan and have to cover everything that Medicare covers but also has some Dental, Vision, Hearing, Silver Sneakers, and a Healthline. You do have some co-pays that include $100 for a hospital stay, $25 per day for day 21-day 100 in a Nursing Home, and 20% of the cost of Medicare Part B drugs-usually these are infusion medications. You have a maximum out of pocket of $3400 per year. You would continue to stay on your current Medicare Drugplananduse In-Network providers for your Cost Plan. They have a contract with CHI providers such as Good Samaritan in Kearney, as well as Mary Lanning in Hastings, but I suggest you go to and look up the provider list for the Prime Solutions Network to ensure your physician is

in-network. Any counties that are outside the 51 counties in Nebraska plus service areas in South Dakota, Iowa,andMinnesota, Medica will consider them in-network as long as they acceptMedicareassignment. There is no underwriting so you don’t have to answer any health questions to apply and as long as you are on traditional Medicare, you don’t have to wait until Open Enrollment in the fall. The only requirements are that you have Medicare B, live in the service area, and don’t have End Stage Renal Disease. Again, this is not available yet in Lincoln County but has now expanded to Custer, Buffalo, Frontier, Adams, Hall, Gosper, Furnas, Phelps, and Harlan Counties. If you have questions or want to schedule an appointment, call Rebecca Nordquist at PharesFinancial at 308-532-3180 or I’ll be happy to answer any questions.

By Rebecca Nordquist, RD, MHA, CLTC

As the Covid-19 continues to affect our families and business, the job losses have affected us nationally as well as locally. If you were one of the families affected with a job loss, and the loss of your job included the loss of your health coverage, you may be eligible for a health insurance Special Enrollment Period (SEP) through the Marketplace. Enrollment Period allows you to enroll in a full-scale health plan that This Special





APRIL 2020 Watch for tar spot in corn fields

Disease can cause serious yield losses in cool, wet conditions

corn field can be ideal” for the disease, she said. Jackson-Ziems said UNL Extension staff will survey fields through the growing season but they would like farmers to help doc- ument the spread of the disease by sending their own suspected samples to the university’s plant pathology laboratory for positive identification. For information about submitting a sample, see . When the laboratory re- ports on the spread of the disease, they will do so by county, and will not identify specif- ic fields or farmers, said Jackson-Ziems.

cannot be rubbed off. The spots may grow to up to Þ inch across and may be surrounded by light colored halos. Yield losses were light in the first three years but cool, wet conditions last year resulted in greater disease develop- ment, with losses up to 50% in the hardest hit fields. Air temperature will be an important factor this year, too. However, precipitation may be less important for disease development as tar spot moves across Nebraska, said Jackson- Ziems. That is because so many Nebraska fields are irrigated. “The hu- mid conditions in the middle of an irrigated

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on the lookout, said Jackson-Ziems, is that fungicide applica- tions may be effective, but must be applied in a timely manner. The university is also studying other manage- ment options, including screening corn hybrids for resistance to the disease. Tar spot looks like tiny splatterings of tar or black paint on leaves, leaf sheaths and husks, said Jackson-Ziems. The spots may resemble insect droppings or rust fungi, with an impor- tant difference: tar spot

By GEORGE HAWS For the North Platte Telegraph Tar spot could be headed to corn fields in our area this year. University of Nebraska- Lincoln Extension Plant Pathologist Tamra Jackson-Ziems said the fungal disease was first identified in Illinois and Indiana in 2015, but moved quickly across most of Iowa last year. Significant yield losses are possible, depending on this year’s growing conditions. A good reason to be

NDA order eases restrictions on pesticide applicators

Telegraph staff reports LINCOLN—Due to the ongoing COVID-19 situation, Nebraska Department of Agriculture Director SteveWellman has is- sued an order easing restrictions on pesticide applicators whose licens- es are up for renewal. The order temporar- ily postpones certain training requirements outlined in the Nebraska Pesticide Act and ex- tends valid pesticide applicators’ licenses if conditions are met. According to the or- der, people with valid commercial, non-com- mercial and private applicator licenses which expire on April 15, 2020, must notify NDA of their intent to renew their license and pay the required fees to NDA by May 15, 2020. Upon receipt of pay- ment, NDA will allow

the applicator to defer the required training for license renewals un- til April 15, 2021. “In these challenging times, Nebraska farm- ers and ranchers have a critical and essential role in keeping our food supply safe and strong,” Wellman said. “This order helps Nebraska pesticide applicators, that were unable to complete trainings due to COVID-19 crowd lim- itations, continue their work.” The order also states that the time peri- od will increase from 60 days to 120 days for a noncertified appli- cator to work under the provisions of the Nebraska Pesticide Act for exemption from cer- tification. Annual training for dicamba is still required for crop application of specific dicamba prod-

ucts. Online training is available at nda.nebras-

The order can be found at nda.nebraska. gov/COVID-19.

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APRIL 2020 F10



Corn Growers Association returns from leadership mission

Telegraph staff reports LINCOLN — Last month, new leaders from across the state took part in the Nebraska Corn Growers Association 32nd Annual Washington, D.C., Leadership Mission. From March 9 to March 13, 12 producers, along with five grower leaders, got a firsthand experience of ad- vocating in Washington,

el,” said Andy Jobman, vice president of NeCGA. This leadership mission trip would not be possi- ble without support from our sponsors, the Nebraska Corn Board and Farm Credit Services of America. The Nebraska Corn Growers Association is a grassroots commodity or- ganization that works to

farmers, allows them to network face to face with our congressional repre- sentation and discuss how issues are impacting their farms back in Nebraska. We try to highlight the im- portance of membership in the Association, and hope- fully we can spark interest in some of the attendees to become more involved in leadership opportunities at the state and national lev-

partners. The participants were able to discuss issues with a variety of people and organizations who have a great deal of influence over their farms back in Nebraska. “The Washington, D.C. Leadership Mission is a great opportunity for grow- ers of all backgrounds and ages. It gives our mem- bership a federal look at current issues facing corn

D.C. and the legislative pro- cess. The leadership mission to Washington, D.C. is a great way for Nebraska corn farmers to engage with key individuals and help put a face on Nebraska agricul- ture. The participants had a full slate of meetings over three days. This included meeting with the Nebraska congressional delegation as well as important industry

Please see CORN, Page F11

FARM & R ANCH E XCHANGE Service Directory

BEEF from Page F4

The others are Marfrig/ National Beef and JBS USA. “We need more pack- ers,” he said, and the deficiency is “a hazard to our food security.” Every packing plant requires that a USDA meat inspector be on site, but inspectors are not always available, said Mathers. “There’s government grants for producers to buy in on packing plants” and “(The) USDA should pri- oritize some of these small packers,” but they don’t always do that. “It’s just a game we have to play with them.” Star said he would like the national cattle organizations to work together to find solu- tions to the problems. They “are supposed to represent producers, but they can’t all seem to get behind the same idea,” he said. Mathers agreed, and said there’s also “no reason packers and producers can’t work to- gether.” Market disruptions affect different cattle producers differently. Star said many feeders “aren’t wanting to buy calves now,” so “(pro- ducers who) background calves and are trying to sell them this spring — they’re going to see a

huge hit.”

keep the plants in oper- ation,” Henry said. That is “actually in our favor and in the favor of every individual in this coun- try that eats beef.” Some packing hous- es are dealing with workers not showing up because they are afraid of catching COVID-19, and temporary plant clo- sures due to workers testing positive for the disease. “Cargill is even in- stalling Plexiglas around each worker sta- tion” to protect workers in case one would be carrying the virus un- knowingly,” Henry said. Cargill and Tyson are two of the four com- panies that dominate the meat processing business in the United States, Mathers said.

He added, “We have cattle (that are) market ready now,” but also cat- tle that will be ready in the fall: September, October, November.” Maybe things will be better then, but “there’s a lot of uncertainty” and “it’s hard to want to stick your neck out” be- yond what you already have. Producers are doing what they have to do to keep going, including their own social distanc- ing. Tracy Olson said their feedlot workers don’t usually need to work alongside each other anyway, but they are now staggering lunch breaks to keep apart. Henry said pro- ducers are not having large gatherings for brandings as they usu- ally do. Neighbors still help neighbors, but they brand smaller groups, 40 to 50 calves at a time, to involve fewer people and larger spacing be- tween them. The social challeng- es are enough, but for many, this “could be a year of no profits,” Star said. Unless things im- prove, producers “can only be in business so long.”

on daily news reports. “They did the same thing during the fires we had last fall” at the Tyson packing plant in Holcomb, Kansas, he said. “The market went in the toilet when it real- ly didn’t need to.” “It’s like riding a roll- er coaster,” said Jason Star, a cattle produc- er between North Platte and Hershey. “We know it’s going to end but don’t know when — one day it’s limit down and the next day limit up.” While beef producers are struggling, pack- ers are “making enough money that they’re will- ing to do whatever is necessary to (try to)


Call today to set your marketing plan in motion! 532-6000

We have a rollback for all your special towing needs. 24 HOUR SERVICE Days: 532-7901 Eve: 534-2203 Approved Emergency Service Amoco Motor Club Custom & Dealership Towing

APRIL 2020 F11



Earth Team volunteers help NRCS accomplish its mission

Program helps stretch available resources for landowners, public

The Earth Team volunteer program helps its partici- pants expand their skills and knowledge through community projects. The program also offers partic- ipants community service hours, earned academic credit and an unpaid intern- ship in federal service. Visit and click on “Volunteer” to sign up for Earth Team volunteer opportunities in your com- munity.

Craig Derickson “Last year, Nebraskans donated more than 2,300 hours of service because they believe in our critical conservation work. “NRCS appreciates the important work these volun- teers do. Their efforts help NRCS bring more conser- vation services to farmers and ranchers throughout the state. Nebraska’s Earth Team provided about $58,000 of ben- efit to our customers and taxpayers in 2019.”

release. These activities can include conservation technical assistance, office support and teaching and generating awareness about conservation through com- munity projects. “Whether Earth Team volunteers donate a year, a month or a lifetime to help producers improve their natural resources, the impacts of volunteer ef- forts are felt far and wide,” said State Conservationist

Telegraph staff reports LINCOLN — USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service is honoring Nebraska’s Earth Team volunteers and celebrating their many contributions to natural re- source protection during

National Volunteer week, April 19-25. Earth Team is a pro- gram that allows NRCS to stretch available resourc- es by partnering volunteers with employees to provide a wide range of services to private landowners and the public, according to a press

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Courtesy photo Participants in the 2020 Nebraska Corn Growers Association Washington, D.C. Leadership Program.

CORN from Page F10

Association has more than 2,600 dues paying members in Nebraska. It is affiliated with the National Corn Growers Association, which has more than 40,000 dues paying members nationwide. More informa- tion can be found at

enhance the profitability of corn producers. Now in its 48th year of service to its members, the

APRIL 2020 F12



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