Tokyo Here I Come

Posted: September 8, 2014 in agriculture, farming, seed, technology, water

As many people know, agriculture, especially corn, is near and dear to my heart. Getting to talk to groups about what we do in Nebraska and specifically on our farm is something I love to do. So when the opportunity arose for me to travel with US Grains Council on a trade mission to Japan and Korea I was more than willing to accept the challenge of presenting half way around the world.

One of the great partnerships the Nebraska Corn Board has is with the US Grains Council (USGC). We are proud supporters of them, understanding the importance of foreign markets to the farmers in the United States. With these foreign markets we have many great rewards and many challenges depending on the quality and quantity of the crop produced. Because of this, it is important to get farmers in front of the foreign markets from time to time.

This year I have the privilege to be one of those “faces of the American corn farmer”. As it turns out I also get to be the technology spokesman, which is something that I thoroughly enjoy. And I get to spend this time with 4 other farmers from some of the major corn growing states. They are
– Denny Vennekotter, Ohio Corn Marketing Program
– Dan Cole, Illinois Corn Growers Association
– Kevin Hurst, Missouri Corn Growers Association

– Carl Jardon, Iowa Corn Growers Association
Also on the trip are
– Sean Broderick, CHS

– Lyndsey Erb-Sharkey, Director of Industry Relations, USGC
– Manuel Sanchez, Manager of Global Trade, USGC

– Tetsuo (Tommy) Hamamoto, Director USGC Japan


After a long day of travel with a couple hour “maintenance” delay in Denver, we hit the ground in Tokyo, made it through customs, changed the dollar to Yen and crashed at the hotel.

Outside our hotel

On Monday morning we found my home away from home…Starbucks. It did cost me about 50% more than back home but it was worth it. After this we had our briefing meeting at USGC’s Tokyo Office followed by an amazing lunch.


This all lead up to our first official presentation in the afternoon in front of different Japanese groups and media. This was a great time which allowed me to appreciate the challenges in communication. As I was presenting in English they needed to translate into Japanese. The challenge was speaking mainly in 2 sentence bullet points so as not to get too far ahead of the interpreter. But it was a great and receptive audience which had very good questions.

Kevin Hurst gave a great “farmer” look at the 2014 corn crop followed by an overall look at the corn crop from Manuel Sanchez. After this was a great look from Sean Broderick at DDGs with the pricing, usage worldwide and consistency of the overall product.

The importance of explaining how we do things in America to produce our corn crop should never be forgotten or minimized. We need to continue to spread this message whether to our neighbors down the street or our neighbors across the globe.

Tomorrow is another day of meetings but with more face to face time instead of a seminar format. We will see what tomorrow holds.

In Nebraska we have been blessed with a very deep bench of Republicans to run for many different offices. The primary for Governor is no different. We have had guys declare and then withdraw because of health issues with their wives. (Impressive because i don’t know how many of us would actually do that). We have had guys declare the withdraw to seek offices that are probably better suited for them. The bench is very deep and very talented which only makes the decision of who to vote for even tougher.

Being the political geek that I am, I started paying attention to this race over a year ago. This race and outcome was going to be a great indication of where we wanted to go as a state. Where we wanted to be tax wise, energy wise, technology wise as well as many other issues. Who was it I thought I could or even wanted to support? There were guys that are my 1, 1A and 1B. There were guys who I would not vote because of varying reasons. So the decision was not an easy one to make.

A few months back, I had the opportunity to spend a lunch hour with some fellow Hamilton county residents as we ate pizza and talked to Pete Ricketts on his view of where he wanted the state to be.

For full disclosure here, when I ran for Legislature four years ago, I approached Pete about donating to my campaign. During that conversation we had a long discussion on different topics, and while I did not agree with him on everything, I could tell he had some very strong convictions on certain issues that would not he swayed.

Now back to the pizza. Questions were asked and answered and a vision for what he wanted for the state was laid out. A vision that I knew I could latch on to and wanted to see for the state. From agriculture to renewable fuels to growing good paying jobs it became very clear this was a man I wanted to join up with to be the next Governor. It became clear that his business experience and his understanding of technology is what we need at this moment in time to take us to the next level as a business friendly, tax friendly state that is looking to grow and bring and keep young people back in the rural areas to keep Nebraska growing and vibrant.

At the end of the day it was about looking him in the eye on more than one occasion and realizing he believes in what he says and his core values are truly his core values. He is not changing who he is to get elected. That man that helped run TD Ameritrade is the right man to run this great state.

Those are just a few of the reasons why I am supporting Pete Ricketts for Governor and I think you should too.

If you are in Nebraska you realize we are in the home stretch of primary season. A primary season that has not disappointed for the news outlets and the political pundits. One in which I have chosen to support Ben Sasse for US Senate to replace the retiring Sen. Johanns.

Up until a few months ago I wasn’t sure who I would support. Was there anyone worth supporting or would I just wait until my ballot showed up in the mail and colored in the box next to one of the names? Then I got to hear Ben Sasse in person at our homeschool legislative day. Ben, along with 3 Gubernatorial candidates (Pete Ricketts, Beau McCoy & Mike Foley) spoke to our group after lunch. I had heard about Ben but wanted to see for myself what he was like. From the moment he walked into the room he meant business. He was there to deliver a message and that he did. I introduced myself and gave him one of my business cards.

After that we went to his Pro Life platform kickoff in south Lincoln. Again I was impressed with what he had to say and his Pro Life platform. I would say that was the moment I was sold. BUT that is not the only reason I am supporting him. I believe in what he has to say about Obamacare and agriculture. And as I continued reading his Issues page I realized more and more he thought like I thought.

The final impression point in making my decision was watching the way he interacted with his kids and wife. Not only that but also spending time talking to his oldest daughter and realizing that they have done an excellent job raising their kids and that what he talks about at the town halls he talks about at home. This allows me to see that he is deeply passionate about his beliefs and his desire to try to fix this country.

At the end of the day there may be more than one solid candidate to represent Nebraska in the US Senate. But in my view there is only one man who truly has the full out passion to be the voice we need in Washington DC. That man is Ben Sasse. On Tuesday May 13th, I ask you to vote for him as well.

I love baseball. I collected baseball cards when I was little and still store some of my “valuable” ones in the basement in case of a tornado. (My iPad isn’t that protected). I enjoy listening to all the great announcers while sitting in the tractor or driving down the road. I love most baseball movies but most of all I enjoy the craftiness of pitchers.

Greg Maddux is known for his craftiness on the ball diamond. He was the type of pitcher that could get into your head and set you up to make you look ridiculous and get you to do what he wanted. ( It was fun to watch unless you were cheering for the opposing team.

In our state legislature we have a Senator who is like Greg Maddux. He can get you to do what he wants and how he wants when you try to engage him in a debate on the floor. No time was that more impressive than yesterday during a debate on a change to our Corn Checkoff program in our state.

ernie chambers

Senator Ernie Chambers the Greg Maddux of filibusters

Senator Chambers masterfully threw his array of pitches at  “not as experienced” senators constantly setting them up. Then as soon as he had them where he wanted he would lead them to the answer he wanted not the answer that they wanted to give.

Senator Chambers was Greg Maddux yesterday and while it was masterful to watch it was frustrating as a supporter of the bill. Senator Larson’s cockiness reminded of any young hitter that thought they could hit Maddux’s 90mph fastball out of the park. They went back to the dugout dragging their bat. Here though, Larson had to pick up his 16 page bill, now shredded into a million pieces, go back to his office and try not just to save his bill but save his reputation as a policy maker as he wanted, he threw a changeup that every single senator swung at and missed. During this time poor Senator Larson, the introducer of the bill, looked extremely foolish. Senator Chambers could have told him the answer he wanted, re-asked the question, and Larson still would have been made to look foolish. (Much like a pitcher actually telling a batter what pitch is coming next)

Any young batter or pitcher would be wise to seek out Greg Maddux even now that he is retired to find out how he did it in his prime and what they should be doing to be able to mimic his ability.  Any senator, young or old, fresh or veteran, would also be wise to seek out Senator Chambers and learn from the master.