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Special Features Section, Superior Express

Jenny's REESources

Letter to the 38th District

 

Jenny's REESources, By Jenny Rees, UNL Extension
Last week, I attended and spoke at the Weed Science School. It was an interesting day of learning, discussion and reflection. Amit Jhala, weed science specialist, did a nice job of organizing the day and creating opportunities to hear from university, industry and Nebraska Dept. of Ag speakers, in
addition to providing hands-on activities.
While dicamba was a topic discussed, we didn't hear about EPA's ruling until the following day, that RUP products for soybean will be re-registered. Tim Creger with NDA said six other dicamba products, most with pre-mixes, will be registered this year. He also said there are 40 ag labeled dicamba products that are not restricted use pesticides, and as long as they aren't registered for soybean use. He doesn't anticipate they will become restricted use pesticides. Comparing NDA claims from 2017 to 2018, they received 95 claims (24 investigated because of lack of resources) in 2017, compared to 106 (50 investigated, but only 31 resulting in full investigations because of the desire of the person filing the complaint) in 2018. Of the 106 claims in 2018, 17 were non-ag related.
In last week's column about fall burndown apps, I mentioned that 60 percent of marestail (horseweed) in Nebraska germinated in the fall. An updated number of 90-95 percent fall germination for eastern Nebraska has been shared. This once again emphasizes the importance of considering fall apps for fields with marestail pressure.
Kevin Bradley from the University of Missouri shared seven points he's learned from 15 years researching waterhemp. They include: Never underestimate waterhemp (I'd say the same for palmer); the era of simple, convenient, quick control is over; use full herbicide rates and pre-emergence herbicides with residual; overlap pre and post applications (which we also see with palmer; put that post on a week earlier than you think you need it); Glufosinate, dicamba, and 2,4-D may work now but they're tools being abused; new traits won't solve the problem; and get rid of herbicide-centric way of thinking; we need an integrated approach.
He thought he was sharing something shocking in that last statement, but I'd say several of us seek an integrated systems approach to what we
do, including weed management. So, ultimately, herbicides aren't the answer for weed control and we need to be thinking about management from a systems perspective, including crop rotation, use of cover crops, residue management and seed destruction, etc. From the industry perspective presented, it takes an average of 12 years and investment of $250 million for new chemistry to be developed. They are seeking chemistries that work on specific sites of action (how it targets within the plant) within the mode of action (specific group or chemistry number).
On Nov. 14, there will be a farm and ranch transition workshop at the 4-H building in York. The workshop will focus on the needs of the sandwich generation, between parents who still own land and children who might want to join the operation. The sandwich generation will learn how to communicate with family to understand the transition and practice asking difficult questions.
Legal topics will include elements of a good business entity, levels of layers for on-farm heirs' control and access and turning agreements into effective written leases. Joe Hawbaker, estate planning attorney, and Allan Vyhnalek, Nebraska Extension transition specialist, will share stories and experiences to successfully plan on the legal side. Dave Goeller, financial and transition specialist, will cover financial considerations, retirement and compensation versus contribution. There is a cost. Pre-register at (402) 362-5508 or jrees2@unl.edu for meal count. Funding for this project was provided by the North Central Extension Risk Management Education Center, the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

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Letter to the 38th District
By Sen. John Kuehn,
Nebraska Legislature
The common justification for poor academic proficiency and low rates of college readiness among graduates of Nebraska high schools is poverty. At first look, the claim makes intuitive sense. Children who come from poor homes without adequate food, medical care and housing are not able to learn during the school day. They experience stress other children do not. There is no doubt children who come from families in poverty face greater challenges in reaching academic proficiency. However, the claim that poverty is the primary reason for Nebraska high school students' poor levels of college readiness quickly falls apart under even basic scrutiny.
Using U.S. Census Bureau figures, the poverty rate for school aged children 5-17 in Nebraska is 13 percent. However, three times that many graduates, 39 percent, don't reach any of the college readiness benchmarks established by the ACT. Clearly, poverty does not explain two out of three of the students who fail to meet a single proficiency benchmark. Moreover, the evidence used to justify the claim, such as a graph produced by the Nebraska Department of Education, compares rates of lower income students in a school to average ACT composite scores in the same school. It does not link student socioeconomic status to their individual performance. They are not actually demonstrating that poor kids are less prepared, but rather showing that schools with more poor students, on average, tend to graduate students with poorer average composite scores.
That data tells us about schools, not kids. A numerical trick used to justify the poverty claim is to use a non-equivalent metric other than income-based poverty as a substitution. In Nebraska, the NDE uses free or reduced school lunches as the variable for poverty. Children from families below 130 percent of the poverty level are eligible for free school meals. Schools are paid $3.31 per child for lunch and $1.79 to provide breakfast. That group alone encompasses more than just children who live below the poverty level, but would be a reasonable measure of poverty. However, the statistic used by NDE is lumped together with students who also receive reduced price school meals, being required to pay the school only $0.30 per meal. To qualify, the family can make between 130 and 185 percent of poverty. A single parent with two children who makes $19 per hour at their job would qualify. A family of six, like I grew up in, making $62,000 per year, above the Nebraska median household income of $59,000, would qualify for reduced price school meals. The Nebraska Department of Education includes those children in their poverty statistic. Lumping the two groups together and not providing separated data at the district or state level is an attempt to inflate the poverty numbers and perpetuate the excuse.
The argument also ignores the significant resources provided to children in poverty to overcome the lack of family income. Nutritionally, a child in poverty receives free breakfast and lunch at school. In addition, the average low income Nebraska household with children receives $395 per month to buy food through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. That does not include additional food benefits through WIC, the Women Infants
and Children program.The impacts of poverty on children and their ability to learn are addressed through multiple additional programs. The average child on Medicaid in Nebraska receives $3,400 in health care benefits annually. Furthermore, more than 11,000 school age children from low income
families receive an average annual subsidy of $3,200 to pay for child care. Federal rental assistance is paid to 27,000 low income Nebraska households for housing, and another 43,000 Nebraska households receive LIHEAP money for their utilities. Nutrition, medical care, child care and housing assistance are all provided to improve the stability of the home for poor kids and improve their ability to be academically successful. Also, the Nebraska school equalization aid funding formula, TEEOSA, provides schools districts increased state-aid per student based on the proportion of students in poverty. These additional direct instructional resources are to help children from low income families overcome the hurdles presented by their home life. Despite evidence to the contrary, the poverty excuse for widespread academic failures in the state's education system persists, perpetuated at even the highest levels of the education bureaucracy in Nebraska.
It is convenient, as it avoids anyone's accountability for failure to teach our kids. If statistics are manipulated and misrepresented cleverly, the concept appears to make sense. Dismissing the academic ability of an entire population of children based purely on their socioeconomic status is unbridled discrimination. Poor children can learn. Two out of three Nebraska graduates who do not meet any of the ACT benchmarks are not in poverty. We must rethink education in Nebraska.