March Clinic Dates

Farmers and ranchers are invited to attend a FREE clinic.  The clinics are one-on-one, not group sessions, and are confidential.  The Farm Finance clinic gives you a chance to meet with an experienced Ag law attorney and Ag financial counselor.  These clinic staff specialize in legal and financial issues related to farming and ranching, including financial planning, estate and transition planning, farm loan programs, debtor/creditor law, water rights, and other relevant matters.  Here is an opportunity to obtain an experienced outside opinion on issues that may be affecting your farm or ranch.  Bring your questions!

The FREE farm and ranch clinics will be in these locations:

March Clinic dates:

Grand Island – Thursday, March 1

Fairbury, Wednesday, March 7

North Platte – Thursday, March 8

Lexington – Thursday, March 15

Norfolk – Wednesday, March 21

To sign up for a clinic or for more information, call Michelle at the Nebraska Farm Hotline:  1-800-464-0258.

The Nebraska Department of Agriculture and Legal Aid of Nebraska sponsor the farm finance clinics.

negotiationsLegal Aid of Nebraska

Assistance Available to Agricultural Producers through the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP)

LINCOLN, Jan. 19, 2018 – Agricultural producers wanting to enhance current conservation efforts are encouraged to apply for the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP).

Through CSP, USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) helps private landowners build their business while implementing conservation practices that help ensure the sustainability of their entire operation. NRCS plans to enroll up to 10 million acres in CSP in 2018.

While applications for CSP are accepted year round, applications must be received by March 2, 2018, to be considered for this funding period.

Through CSP, agricultural producers and forest landowners earn payments for actively managing, maintaining, and expanding conservation activities like nutrient and pest management, cover crops and tree plantings– all while maintaining active agriculture production on their land. CSP also encourages the adoption of cutting-edge technologies and new management techniques such as precision agriculture applications, on-site carbon storage and planting for high carbon sequestration rate, and new soil amendments to improve water quality.

Some of these benefits of CSP include:

  • Improved cattle gains per acre;
  • Increased crop yields;
  • Decreased inputs;
  • Wildlife population improvements; and
  • Better resilience to weather extremes.

NRCS recently made several updates to the program to help producers better evaluate their conservation options and the benefits to their operations and natural resources. New methods and software for evaluating applications help producers see up front why they are or are not meeting stewardship thresholds, and allow them to pick practices and enhancements that work for their conservation objectives. These tools also enable producers to see potential payment scenarios for conservation early in the process.

Producers interested in CSP are recommended to contact their local USDA service center or visit

2018 Nebraska Cover Crop Conference February 15th

Coming up on Thursday, February 15th is the 2018 Nebraska Cover Crop Conference held at the Eastern Nebraska Research and Development Center near Mead, NE. It will take place in the August N. Christenson building. It is provided by Nebraska Extension, a program within the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources. It runs from 9:00-3:30 p.m.

About: This event is geared specifically towards producers of corn and soybeans, and it provides useful information about the benefits of utilizing cover crops.

Registration begins at 8:30 a.m. the day of the event, but in order to ensure resources and meal planning is accurate, those who wish are able to pre-register by February 9th by calling (402)-624-8030 or sending an email to

Speakers and Presentations: This year Extension offers several informative guest speakers and presentations to answer any questions about cover crops. The presentations are:

The Banker Won’t Like Wheat, but Your Soil Will–Here’s Why!

Nathan Mueller, Nebraska Extension Educator

Will Cover Crops be a New Home for Insects?

–Justin McMechan, Nebraska Extension Entomologist

Cover Crops for Ephemeral Gully Control

–Dan Gillespie, No-Till Specialist, NRCS

How Cover Crops Work on My Farm

–Bill Nielsen, Minden, NE

Why I Encourage My Customers to Use Cover Crops

–Lee Briese, Independent Crop Consultant, Recipient of the 2016 International Certified Crop Advisor of the Year Award, Edgley, ND

Why I Use Cover Crops on My Farm

–Kelly Tobin, Corn/Soybean Grower, New Castle, IA

Cover Crops for Corn and Soybean Producers

–Keith Berns, Green Cover Seed, Bladen, NE

Farmer Panel

–Discussion with Growers, Landowners, and Consultants

More information including a downloadable flyer and a link for maps and directions can be found here at:


February 2018 Clinic Dates

Farmers and ranchers are invited to attend a FREE clinic.  The clinics are one-on-one, not group sessions, and are confidential.  The Farm Finance clinic gives you a chance to meet with an experienced Ag law attorney and Ag financial counselor.  These clinic staff specialize in legal and financial issues related to farming and ranching, including financial planning, estate and transition planning, farm loan programs, debtor/creditor law, water rights, and other relevant matters.  Here is an opportunity to obtain an experienced outside opinion on issues that may be affecting your farm or ranch.  Bring your questions!

The FREE farm and ranch clinics will be in these locations:

Norfolk – Thursday, February 1st

Fairbury – Wednesday, February 7th

North Platte – Thursday, February 8th

Lexington – Thursday, February 15th

Grand Island – Thursday, February 22nd

Kearney – Friday, February 23rd

Norfolk – Tuesday, February 27th

Valentine – Wednesday, February 28th

To sign up for a clinic or for more information, call Michelle at the Nebraska Farm Hotline:  1-800-464-0258.

The Nebraska Department of Agriculture and Legal Aid of Nebraska sponsor the farm finance clinics.

Legal Aid of NebraskaFarm mediation

NSAS Healthy Farms Conference- February 9th and 10th

2018: Plan to attend the Healthy Farms Conference of the Nebraska Sustainable Agriculture Society. The dates for 2018 are February 9th and 10th and it will be held at the Cornhusker Hotel in Lincoln.


Wes Jackson;   founder and president emeritus of The Land Institute, earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from Kansas Wesleyan University, Salina; a master’s degree in botany from the University of Kansas, and a doctorate in genetics from North Carolina State University. He established and served as chair of one of the country’s first environmental studies programs at California State University-Sacramento and then returned to his native Kansas to found The Land Institute in 1976. He is the author of several books, including New Roots for Agriculture, Becoming Native to This Place, Consulting the Genius of the Place, and most recently Nature as Measure. Wes is widely recognized as a leader in the international movement for a more sustainable agriculture. He was a Pew Conservation Scholar in 1990, a MacArthur Fellow in 1992, and received the Right Livelihood Award in 2000. Life magazine included him as one of 18 individuals predicted to be among the 100 important Americans of the 20th century. Smithsonian in 2005 included him as one of “35 Who Made a Difference.”

Lodging- There are several options for lodging including 2 level suites. Make reservations at 1-866-706-7706, attendees will need to ask for Nebraska Sustainable Agriculture Society event rate. The hotel comes with numerous family friendly options and includes a pool and workout area. The hotel will also be providing a complimentary reservation link to the Nebraska Sustainable Agriculture Society for online reservations, coming soon.

Sessions: This year’s agenda offers a number of breakout sessions with topics ranging from farm accounting to organic row cropping and holistic orchards to sustainable vegetable production. We will also once again have a full youth program with many of the presenters being youth and presenting on projects from their farms.

Fly Management

Cover Crops

Hops Production

Holistic Management Financial Planning

HM Biological Monitoring

Grazing Cover Crops

Estate Planning for Sustainable Farms and Ranches

Budgets for small farms including veggies, fruit and small livestock

Increasing Farm Productivity

Farm Accounting

Purchasing a Small Farm


Creating diverse habitats for native wildlife and farms to coexist

Exploring New Ideas In Sustainable Agriculture

Grazing Management

Writing Grants

Pastured Hog Production

Slow Meat; a Slow Food look at sustainable meat production

And more!

 The complete list will be available on our website and will be updated as they are confirmed!

About: The Healthy Farms Conference has been hosted by NSAS for over 40 years.  From Aurora to Grand Island and Nebraska City to Columbus, the conference has laid the framework for promoting sustainable agriculture and local foods in Nebraska and the Midwest. The Healthy Farms Conference features over 20 breakout sessions aimed at equipping farmers, aspiring farmers, foodies, and advocates to with the skills and knowledge they need to be successful.  The conference also features several keynote sessions meant to inspire and motivate people to action, and that what they are doing and why they are doing it makes a difference. Together we can change the world one farmer, one eater at a time! The conference also provides support for current farmers by fostering growth and stability in sustainable farming methods, including organic agriculture and sustainable agriculture.  We do this by helping farmers to develop innovative ideas and projects that can impact their local communities and areas. A variety of interactive educational opportunities are available for adults and youth. Participants will have the chance to network with farmers, university faculty, and fellow agricultural colleagues. Besides providing informative, educational sessions the conferences has commercial and educational exhibits. The Nebraska Sustainable Agriculture Society has been hosting the Healthy Farms Conference for over 40 years.

Roundtable Discussions- We will once again be hosting the roundtable discussions on Saturday morning of the conference.  The format will be similar to last year, and we will set aside additional time for these discussions. Have a topic? Email William @!

NSAS Annual Awards- Each year at the Healthy Farms Conference we recognize farmers, young/beginning farmers, chefs & organizations who are making a difference.  If you would like to nominate someone please email. Nominations should include a brief message as to why this person, farm, or group should be nominated. We request that nominations be received by December 1st.

Exhibitor/Sponsor Information- There are numerous ways to participate in the conference including exhibitor and sponsor opportunities.  If you are interested please email William at

All-Nebraska events & Food!
The first and original local foods event in Nebraska. A majority of the foods for the entire conference including all meals and breaks will be sourced from NSAS members, and from local sustainable farms.  We are creating a menu unique to the season and place and welcome farmers to provide input on what products they might have available at the time to feature at the conference!

The All-Nebraska Evening will consist of a local foods dinner, a live auction fundraiser and we’ll cap the evening with local musicians providing the entertainment. February 9th

Website- Check for complete details to be updated at,
Look for the official conference brochure later this month and December complete with registration instructions and how to register online.

The Healthy Farms Conference is the annual conference of the Nebraska Sustainable Agriculture Society.  

For information and to join please visit,


Nebraska Extension is planning its 9th Farm Beginnings® Program at the Kimmel Education and Research Center at 5985 G Road Nebraska City, NE  68410 for January, 2018. Plans are being made for Nebraska Extension and the Nebraska Sustainable Agriculture Society to facilitate the Farm Beginnings® Program to be held in Nebraska City.  The Farm Beginnings® Program is an educational training and support program designed to help people who want to evaluate and plan their farm enterprise.  Farm Beginnings® participants engage in a mentorship experience and network with a variety of successful, innovative farmers; attend practical, high quality seminars, field days and conferences.  The program is unique in that several successful farmers participate in the program as presenters, explaining firsthand the nuts and bolts of their farming operation.  While this isn’t a program for someone wanting to get into conventional farming, it is a program that has attracted several people interested in farming on a smaller scale, some who have migrated out from urban to rural areas.  One past participant in the class said, “This program had a huge impact.  I have improved my business plan, my overall efficiency and continue to try new ideas I thought to not be possible.”  Any beginning farmer would benefit from attending these training sessions.  Most of the farmers that present come from small to medium sized farming operations that produce and market many different diversified and value-added products.  Many of these farmers direct market their products.

Participants of this course may be interested in becoming involved with growing alternative crops, producing fruits and vegetables for direct sale to consumers, grocery stores or restaurants.  Others may be interested in growing livestock for direct marketing.  This is an opportunity for people interested in learning about this type of farming from farmers that are doing it and making a living at it.

The Farm Beginnings® Program consists of a series of 11 sessions from January through April that cover a variety of topics including: building networks, goal setting, whole farm planning, building your business plan, marketing, business and farm management and financial management.  While the class participants will learn firsthand from the farmers, they will also work on developing their own business plan as they progress through the course.  As part of the class tuition, participants will also have the opportunity to attend the Nebraska Sustainable Agriculture Society’s Healthy Farms Conference in 2018 to be held this winter.  This is a conference that has been held annually for a number of years and has sessions that focus on topics in sustainable agriculture, such as: vegetable production, grass-fed beef, pasture poultry, meat and dairy goat production, composting, cover crops, organic farming, growing crops in high-tunnels, bee keeping, farm transitioning and agri-tourism.  We also schedule farm tours early in the course and tour several farms in the summer to see how the farmers are operating.  If interested, participants also have the opportunity to have a farmer mentor.

Cost of the total program is $500, but you may qualify for a partial scholarship for up to $200.   For more information, a brochure for the Farm Beginnings® Program  or an application go to our website at For more information about the program you can also contact Gary Lesoing, Extension Educator at or at (402) 274-4755, Nebraska Extension in Nemaha County.

Farmer Veteran Coalition Fellowship Fund 2018

The Farmer Veteran Coalition will be opening up applications for their eighth annual fellowship fund on February 1, 2018. The application will be open until March 1st at 5 p.m. pacific time.

The Farmer Veteran Fellowship Fund is a program that provides assistance to veterans who are beginning farmers and/or ranchers. The money does not go directly to the farmer, but instead goes to a third party or toward items that the veteran has indicated will help them with their farming.

Since the start of the fellowship fund, it has awarded over $1.5 million to veterans! Breeding of livestock, fencing, all-terrain vehicles and tractors are the most popular items that have been given.

For more information on eligibility and requirements for the fellowship fund, click here. The application, once open, will be posted there as well.

December Workshop and Clinic Dates

Farmers and ranchers are invited to attend a FREE clinic.  The clinics are one-on-one, not group sessions, and are confidential.  The Farm Finance clinic gives you a chance to meet with an experienced Ag law attorney and Ag financial counselor.  These clinic staff specialize in legal and financial issues related to farming and ranching, including financial planning, estate and transition planning, farm loan programs, debtor/creditor law, water rights, and other relevant matters.  Here is an opportunity to obtain an experienced outside opinion on issues that may be affecting your farm or ranch.  Bring your questions!

These FREE farm and ranch clinics are being held in:

December Clinic dates:

Grand Island – Thursday, December 7th

North Platte – Thursday, December 14th

Norfolk – Friday, December 15th

Lexington – Thursday, December 21st

FREE December workshops covering Ag leases, liens and loans:

Davenport – Wednesday, Dec 13th – Davenport Community Center, South Room – 110 S Linden Ave

Holdrege – Thursday, Dec 14th – Phelps County Ag Center – Education Room – 1308 2nd Ave

What the workshop is about? 

Liens (Hawbaker) – Nebraska’s statutory agricultural liens, from the producer’s perspective:  What are they?  How do they work? These are liens that give creditors rights in certain property, such as crops, feed and livestock, to secure payment of obligations for goods or services, such as seed, fertilizer, ag chemicals, petroleum products, veterinary assistance, cattle care, harvest work and machine repair.  The discussion will focus on identifying the liens and understanding how they work from the producer’s perspective.

Loans (Goeller) – The presentation will provide producers with an inside look at “What your lender is looking for.”  The impact of Collateral, Cash Flow, Credit Score, Character and Trends on loan applications.  A brief overview of Balance Sheets, Trend Sheets and Ratio Analysis will also be included.

Leases (Vyhnalek) – The importance of lease communications between the landlord and tenant and useful lease provisions will be discussed, along with highlights of current lease rates and trends in Nebraska.

New Survey from the National Young Farmers Coalition

The National Young Farmers Coalition (NYFC) conducted a survey named National Young Farmer Survey in 2017. They surveyed 3,517 current, former, and aspiring U.S. farmers under the age of 40. A few interesting findings from the responses were: 60% of the respondents were women, 75% of the respondents did not grow up on a farm, and 69% were highly educated, having degrees past high school. The highest percentage of respondents (30.48%) were in the Northeast part of the United States. The average age of the respondents was 29 and more than 10% of the respondents were farmers of color or indigenous farmers.

For the survey, the NYFC gathered information pertaining to the top challenges that beginning farmers face. They found that the top challenges were access to land, student loan debt, finding labor help, and health insurance. Money seems to be a big factor when it comes to young and beginning farmers. A lot do not have the current means to obtain land, whether it be because they have significant loan debt or do not have enough credit to apply or receive loans to launch their farms. Since farming can be a dangerous career, health insurance is a must. Health insurance also costs money, but respondents say the Affordable Care Act is the most helpful insurance policy for them.

The survey also discusses how lawmakers can help young farmers start their farms despite the obstacles. Lawmakers can help young farmers by addressing land access and affordability, helping them manage their student debt, increase the skilled agriculture workforce, protect affordable health care, enable farmers to invent on-farm conservation, improve finances, and address racial inequality. If lawmakers helped with the above, young and beginning farmers would not face as many challenges of beginning a farming career.

Although beginning farming comes with challenges and risks, this generation has the skills to power through the ups and downs of starting a farming business. The NYFC survey results indicate that the young farmers of this generation are more diverse than those who have been farming for several years. Young farmers now are interested in operating smaller farms, committed to sustainable farming, and are optimistic about the future. The responses surely show that there isn’t one just type of farmer and that you don’t need to have farming history or past experience to want to be in the farming business.

If you are interested in reading the entire NYFC survey report, you can view it here.


Beneficial Use of Your Water Right

This is the second part in a series focusing on water law in Nebraska. The first covered what constitutes a water right in Nebraska. A water right is a permissive right to use the water, not a property right to the water itself. This next section will focus on the provision of what constitutes a beneficial use of water in Nebraska.

As outlined in Neb. Rev. Stat. § 46-229, “Any appropriation of water must be for a beneficial use.” This takes a little work to parse out the exact definition of beneficial use. To figure out what this requirement specifies, case law is the guiding source as to what constitutes beneficial use. The case that outlines a beneficial use is Hostetler v. State, 203 Neb. 776, 280 N.W.2d 75 (1979). In this case the landowners (the Hostetlers) inherited a piece of land which included a water right to irrigate a pasture. The previous owner told the Hostetlers that the water right had been previously lost because of lack of use. After conversations with the Department of Water Resource’s engineer, the Hostetlers were notified that there was no actual cancellation of the appropriation. After this, the Hostetlers built a temporary diversion dam. The dam was used only once to see if water would flow in the canal. After this diversion, Mr. Hostetler did not divert any additional water nor did he irrigate any section of the land, although he did water some cattle via this canal. Later on, the Department gave the landowners notice to cancel their water right based on the non-use of the water appropriation for more than three years. The Hostetlers challenged the cancellation of the water right, arguing that the diversion did in fact constitute a beneficial use.

The court disagreed with the Hostetlers’ argument, holding that “to constitute a beneficial use within the meaning of the appropriation statute, the use must be one described in the appropriation,” which was irrigating the land. In this specific case, the Hostetlers did not use the water for the purpose of one described in the appropriation. They instead only diverted a small amount, which was used to water cattle, which did not constitute a use described in this appropriation. Ultimately the court ruled that “in the case of an appropriation for irrigation purposes, actual application of the water to the land for the purpose of irrigation” is what constitutes a beneficial use.

Now, this case did outline a few excuses for beneficial use. These include the lack of water in the diversion source or, on the other hand, too much rainfall or moisture so that the diversion of water would result in waste of the resource. Ultimately, the beneficial use requirement would be excused if the appropriation purpose could not be met due to natural occurrences such as drought or normal-to-excessive rainfall.

The takeaways from this handout is that water appropriated under Nebraska law must be used for a beneficial use. The beneficial use must fit within the purpose of the original appropriation. So if the purpose of the water right was for irrigation, the water must be used for irrigation or be in danger of being cancelled if not used within a three year timeframe. There are excuses for such non-use, such as too much water to the point that diversion of water for irrigation purposes would go against good farming practices, or that there was too little water in the stream to divert.

If you have any questions regarding water use and your land, please contact us. As mentioned this is part of a series, so please come back often to learn about water law in Nebraska and important terms and issues regarding water and agriculture.