Alliance for the Future of Agriculture in Nebraska

Alliance for the Future of Agriculture in Nebraska

Recent News

New Technologies Available for Cow-Calf Producers

New Technologies Available for Cow-Calf Producers

April 10 - OMAHA, NE – Nearly 300 attendees packed a ballroom in Omaha to learn about some of the new technologies available for cow-calf producers. Over the course of two days, participants learned about calving under roof and heard from speakers discussing everything from design, economics, feeding and veterinary care to dry lot options. At the end of both days a panel of producers discussed the reasons they decided to put up a building and how they manage their cows under this type of setting. Drone footage and pictures of their barns gave attendees a better look at the layout of different barns and the panel was able to answer questions from the audience.

This is the second year an event like this has been held here in Nebraska, but this year AFAN, the Alliance for the Future of Agriculture in Nebraska, partnered with the Coalition to Support Iowa’s Farmers (CSIF) as well as the Nebraska Cattlemen and Iowa Cattlemen to make this event a multi-state event. “Both AFAN and CSIF work hard to provide our farmers and ranchers with learning opportunities,” stated Emily Skillett, Livestock Development Coordinator for AFAN, “These types of barns are a newer technology and with the decreasing availability of pasture land in eastern Nebraska and western Iowa, we wanted to make sure our farmers knew that there were some options out there for ways to expand their cow herd.”

With new management styles, comes new considerations to take when it comes to herd health. Cow-calf producers, Chad and Amy Wilkerson of Linden, Iowa, stated that prevention is key when using the calving under-roof approach. The Wilkerson’s answered questions at the symposium as two of the eleven producer panelists. They currently raise 160 cow-calf pairs in a hoop barn they filled for the first time in January of 2016. “In this setting you need a good nutritionist and a good vet,” Chad said. “You’ve got to have those two people in your back pocket that you know are going to be there and understand what you’re up against.”

Dr. Sara Barber, Veterinary Medical Center, explains that controlling the under-roof environment starts with proper bedding management. Dr. Barber says pens should always be kept dry and that bedding can easily be evaluated with what she calls the “dry knee test”. “Fall on your knees and if your knees get wet when you get up, you know you need more bedding.”

According to Kelly Jones, co-manager of Cactus Feeders’ cow-calf division, feed is a major cost in this production system and requires rations that can be modified to coincide with the reproductive stage of the herd. Jones suggests that too much bunk space is far better than too little, and that creep feeding areas featuring lowered bunks should be installed before calving begins. Other barn modifications may include incorporating maternity areas, working facilities and raising dirt levels around water tanks for calves. This kind of intensive management style may not fit every operation, so asking questions and reviewing research is always highly recommended.

To view the presentations and drone footage from the Midwest Cow-Calf Symposium and learn more about livestock development in Nebraska, visit our website at

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Gov. Ricketts Announces National Ag Week Visits

Gov. Ricketts Announces National Ag Week Visits

March 17 - Governor Pete Ricketts and Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA) Director Greg Ibach announced three days of activities and stops across Nebraska to support and celebrate National Ag Week.  During March 21-23 the Governor and agriculture industry representatives will visit several Nebraska communities including Ainsworth, Auburn, Fremont, Friend, Grand Island, Omaha, Plattsmouth, Scottsbluff, Wakefield, and West Point.  National Ag Week will be celebrated on March 19-25, 2017 across Nebraska.

“Visiting these communities during National Ag Week is a great way to highlight agriculture in Nebraska and celebrate our state’s number one industry,” said Governor Ricketts.  “Our planned stopovers around the state pay tribute to those who contribute to agriculture from livestock and crop producers to the innovative technology, processing, and infrastructure that goes along with it.”

NDA Director Ibach stated the three-day tour will showcase Nebraska’s number one industry – agriculture.

“Nebraska’s agricultural industry is quite diverse from the east to west,” said NDA Director Ibach.  “With three days of stops and activities planned, we’re able to highlight a variety of Nebraska agriculture products and family farm operations.  Nebraska is a leader in production of meat, grain, dry beans, and many other commodities while also showing promise in new areas, like hops production.”

Gov. Ricketts said the group will use the stops to talk about the importance of Nebraska agriculture, livestock and value-added agriculture development, international trade, and agriculture education.  The Governor will also unveil the 2017 edition of the Nebraska Agriculture and You magazine.

The public is invited to attend many of these events.  Private events are indicated below.

Tuesday, March 21st

11:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.          Fremont Chamber Agriculture Awards Luncheon

Fremont Golf Club - 2710 N. Somers Ave., Fremont, NE

2:30 – 3:30 p.m.                       Tour of Diamond 6 Feeders 

Diamond 6 feeders - 294 18th Rd., West Point, NE

4:30 – 6:00 p.m.                       Tour of Wakefield Farms, LLP

Wakefield Farms, LLP - 86051 588th Ave, Emerson NE

6:00 – 8:30 p.m.                       National Ag Day Celebration Dinner

Wakefield Legion Hall -211 Main Street, Wakefield, NE

Wednesday, March 22nd

9:00 – 10:00 a.m.                     Tour of Beel Ranch

Beel Ranch – 41347 Beel Lane, Johnstown, NE

11:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.       Luncheon Event  

Mountain Time                          The Flight Deck, 250023 Airport Terminal St., Scottsbluff, NE

3:30-4:30 p.m.                          Raising Nebraska Open House

Raising Nebraska, S Locust St. & State Fair Boulevard, Grand Island

Thursday, March 23rd

8:30 – 10:00 a.m.                  Pork and Poultry Industry Breakfast

                                                          Pour House, 511 2nd St., Friend, NE

11:45 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.          Auburn FFA Tour and Town Hall Student Luncheon

                                                          (PRIVATE EVENT)

2:00 – 3:30 p.m.                       Tour of Midwest Hop Producers

18003 Club View Drive, Plattsmouth, NE

4:00 – 6 p.m.                              Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce Celebration of Ag Week                                                                                                                                                    

Upstream Brewing Company, 514 S. 11th Street, Omaha

RSVP required as space is limited.  Please RSVP directly to:

RSVP Information for Events – You RSVP is not required, but appreciated.

To RSVP to attend any of the above events (unless otherwise noted), please email  In the email please include:  the location you are submitting the RSVP for, and all names / affiliations for all parties attending.

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Kristen Hassebrook Hired as Executive Director

Kristen Hassebrook Hired as Executive Director

January 9 - The Alliance for the Future of Agriculture in Nebraska (AFAN) and We Support Ag (WSA) are excited to announce the hiring of Kristen Hassebrook as Executive Director. Hassebrook, has been selected to lead the combined coalition of AFAN and WSA, beginning February 1.

As AFAN and WSA look to restructure and collaborate more deeply, Hassebrook will be a great addition to provide strategic vision, administrative insight and development as we look to continue to grow livestock in Nebraska. “We look forward to working with Hassebrook on the development and growth of these organizations,” Lori Luebbe, AFAN President stated, “Her background and experience lends itself well towards our mission and the livestock industry.”

The announcement of Hassebrook as Executive Director also coincides with a focus on greater collaboration between AFAN and WSA to benefit livestock growth in which her talents and experiences in the policy and political arenas will help to shape a pro-agriculture and pro-livestock growth agenda.  Pete McClymont, President of WSA said “We’re thrilled to have Kristen share her leadership and expertise with AFAN and WSA. Kristen has wide spread respect from those that have worked with her throughout her professional career.”

Hassebrook comes to this position from the University of Nebraska Foundation, where she was the Director of Development for the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resource.  Prior to that she served as Vice President of Legal and Regulatory Affairs for Nebraska Cattlemen.  Hassebrook is a native Nebraskan and grew up on a diversified farm and feedlot. She is a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and the Nebraska College of Law.

As Willow Holoubek finishes her final days as the AFAN executive director, she conveys confidence in the decision of hiring Hassebrook. “I am so excited about Hassebrook joining the AFAN team and what it means for the future of this organization,” said Holoubek. “With her background in law and her passion for agriculture, I believe that she will be an excellent fit to grow WSA and AFAN.”

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Free Breakfasts and Beautiful Autumn Weather Draw a Big Crowd to a Consumer Appreciation Tailgate Party at Russ’s Market

Free Breakfasts and Beautiful Autumn Weather Draw a Big Crowd to a Consumer Appreciation Tailgate Party at Russ’s Market

November 2, 2016 - Sponsored by Nebraska Farmers and Ranchers

The combination of spectacular autumn weather and a free breakfast drew over 500 people to a consumer appreciation tailgate party at the Russ’s Market parking lot at 66th & ‘O’ Saturday morning, October 29.

The event, called the “Official Game Day-Approved Tailgate with Nebraska Farmers and Ranchers,” was sponsored by Nebraska’s agriculture organizations to show their appreciation to the consumers who enjoy the food that they grow.

(Photo:  Tailgater Dave Arp (left) won the drawing for the grand prize, a gift basket containing a $50 gift card to Russ's Market, a $25 American Ethanol card, two cookbooks, and a variety of other items from the agricultural groups.)

“Our farmers and ranchers were looking for a way to show their appreciation to the folks who consume the food that they grow,” said Emily Thornburg, director of communications for the Nebraska Corn Board. “The Tailgate Party proved to be a wonderful way to bring Nebraska’s food producers and food consumers together for an enjoyable breakfast and great conversation.  Thanks to our sponsors and everyone who tailgated with us for making this a great event.”

In addition to the breakfast and conversation, tailgaters enjoyed games provided by the Nebraska Department of Agriculture. Prizes and other giveaways were provided by the state’s commodity groups. Prairieland Dairy, of Firth, Nebraska, brought along a calf for children of all ages to enjoy.

Tailgate party goers found the event as informative as it was fun.  “We had a good time at the Nebraska Farmer's and Rancher's tailgate,” said Diane Krajicek, a happy tailgater. “The food was delicious and the weather was perfect. We visited with some great folks about agriculture in Nebraska and picked up some great recipes. We liked seeing fun, ag-related things for kids to do."

Sponsors agreed the event was successful in bringing producers and consumers together for a useful exchange of viewpoints.

“Nebraskans love tailgating during football season, and they love good food,” said Marty Jarvis, marketing director for B&R Stores. “Our Nebraska-based company works hard to connect our customers with local food producers, so this party was a great way for them to have a conversation about where their food comes from.”

Tailgate Party sponsors included: AFAN; CommonGround Nebraska; Midwest Dairy Association; Nebraska Beef Council; Nebraska Corn Board; Nebraska Cattlewomen Association; Nebraska Department of Agriculture; Nebraska Farm Bureau; Nebraska Pork Producers Association; Nebraska Poultry Industries; Nebraska Soybean Board; Nebraska Wheat Board; Prairieland Dairy; and Russ’s Market.

About The Alliance for the Future of Agriculture in Nebraska: AFAN is a non-profit organization formed by leading agricultural membership groups with the support of other membership groups, commodity organizations, and private business. AFAN works with individual producers and communities across Nebraska to encourage the development of environmentally responsible and economically viable livestock production in the state.

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