September 29, 2016

Hear from One of Our Mentors!

2016 Corn and Soybean Mentor Tour

Megan Hamling

The 2016 Nebraska Corn and Soybean Mentor group has had a busy and eventful year! The highlight of our program so far has been our Summer Industry Bus Tour that we recently took in August. We were able to tour several agricultural megan-hamlingbusinesses across the state, while learning about all different aspects of the industry.

To begin our tour, we visited Hy-Vee in Lincoln for a tour of their store. We had the opportunity to converse with a Registered Dietician, Johanna Hall, about her role in the grocery industry and the impact she has on consumers and their purchasing and eating habits. It was very interesting to hear about current consumer trends, preferences, and “hot topics,” one being the conversation regarding GMO’s. Johanna explained how consumer trends have changed drastically in recent years, and we noted that communicating the message of agriculture is becoming increasingly more important. Our next stop was at Prairieland Dairy, near Firth, Nebraska. Personally, this was one of my favorite stops on our trip! We had the privilege of getting a tour from a gentleman who had worked on this family dairy his entire life. We were able to walk through a cattle barn, watch cattle being milked, and we even were able to drink milk produced from Prairieland Dairy itself at the conclusion of our tour! We learned that Prairieland Dairy has been working extremely hard to bring the freshest, highest quality milk to consumer’s tables. One thing that caught our attention was their growing business segment, compost. In the upcoming years, they said that the compost could possibly overtake the dairy in terms of revenue for the business. The last tour of our first day was at Monsanto, near Waco, Nebraska. It was so eye-opening to get an inside look at this Dekalb seed conditioning plant. Several of us had never actually been inside a plant14021487_10154037148574132_1155600491726589783_n before! We were able to walk through the plant and follow the same path that a seed would from first being unloaded from a truck, to being sorted and treated, and finally being packaged.

After spending an evening in Omaha, we began day two by visiting a transportation entity. The Union Pacific dispatching center was our first stop. This was such a great experience, as we were able to learn more in-depth about how agricultural commodities are transported to several destinations across the country. It was so interesting to see how much attention to detail, planning, and logistics goes into efficiently and safely operating railcars. Finally, our last stop of the tour was at Werner Enterprises in Omaha. We really enjoyed this opportunity, as we were able to see another mode of transportation, but this time it was trucking! Both of these tours reminded us how important transportation is to the agricultural industry. Without it, our industry would not be as expansive as it is today.

All ten mentors had an outstanding experience on our industry tour, and our eyes were opened to several aspects of agriculture that often times we don’t think about on a daily basis. My favorite take-away from our tour was the idea of collaboration among industries. If we want the agricultural industry to be successful and sustainable in future years, it is so important to communicate with all industry partners, whether those are grocery store dieticians, dairy farmers, or even dispatchers at Union Pacific. Working together is what will allow the agricultural industry to thrive.