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Nebraska Corn Board presents awards

Darreld Domeier accepting the Elevator Industry Appreciation Award from Mark Jagels, District 2, Nebraska Corn Board member.

LINCOLN, NEB — The Nebraska Corn Board presented their annual awards to five Nebraskans during its Cooperator and Awards Dinner in Lincoln recently.

The agricultural awards are the Nebraska Corn Board’s way of paying tribute to an outstanding representative in the grain elevator, livestock, and ethanol industries, as well as awarding an individual in the media, and overall ag achievement each year. It is important to the Nebraska Corn Board to recognize those who help promote, develop and defend not only the corn industry, but agriculture in general.

“It is undeniable that these individuals have had a profound impact on the corn industry, their own community and the state in general,” said Don Hutchens, executive director of the Nebraska Corn Board, of the award recipients. “Nebraska’s strength in agriculture is built on the strength of people who have the vision to grow their own businesses. Each of these individuals have added value to Nebraska’s corn, or helped communicate the importance of corn producers and what they grow.”

(Note: More detailed biographies of award winners are provided below.)

The Elevator Industry Appreciation Award was given to Bruning Grain and Feed with Darreld and Tina Domeier being present to accept the award. Bruning Grain and Feed is an independent elevator owned by local farmers and stockholders and located in Southeast Nebraska. They were chosen for their quality of service to customers, as well as for their support of Nebraska agriculture.

The Livestock Industry Appreciation Award was given to Harry Knobbe of West Point, Neb. This award honored Knobbe for his recognition of the value of corn and corn co-products, the corn checkoff investment towards livestock programs, and consumer education of the importance of the livestock industry to the state.

The Ethanol Industry Appreciation Award was given to Loran Schmit, Executive Director of the Association of Nebraska Ethanol Producers for his commitment and support of Nebraska agriculture through his work developing the ethanol industry in the state.

The Media Appreciation Award was presented to Lori Potter of the Kearney Daily Hub newspaper, Kearney, Neb., for her dedication to the corn industry and helping to tell agriculture’s story.

The Ag Achievement Award annually honors someone who has supported and expanded Nebraska agriculture, not just this year, but for many years. This award was given to Keith Heuermann of Phillips, Neb., for his vision, commitment and deep understanding of the value of agriculture and the corn checkoff to the state of Nebraska.


Editor’s Note: Below is additional information about each of the award recipients. Pictures can be found on under the “2012 Meetings and Awards” set.

Bruning Grain and Feed:
Given annually for over 15 years, the Elevator Industry Appreciation Award recognizes an elevator manager or employee that recognizes and appreciates the mission of the Nebraska corn checkoff program, shows proven leadership in explaining the benefits of the checkoff and its investments and supports Nebraska agriculture.

This year’s recipient of the 2012 Nebraska Elevator Industry Appreciation Award is Bruning Grain and Feed. Incorporated in 1949, Bruning Grain and Feed is an independent elevator located in Southeast Nebraska, a corporation owned by local farmers and stockholders. Their full line of grain products and services include the addition in May 1995 of a soybean processing facility. In November 2001, they added a commodity blending facility to meet customer demand for custom feed mixing.

Bruning Grain and Feed has a total storage of 4 million bushels and handles dry fertilizer as well as anhydrous ammonia. They strive to provide high quality products and superior service to their customers through the US and Mexico. As they originate grain and value add on-site, they are able to be very competitive and convenient.

The award was accepted by Darreld and Tina Domeier. Darreld is the Vice President and General Manager, and Tina is the assistant manager of Bruning Grain and Feed. Darreld has been with the company over 45 years. Darreld is an individual who works very closely with his clients to help make the best marketing decisions they can, as well as looking for long-term sustainability for their company, the local community and for all of agriculture.

Harry Knobbe:
The Livestock Industry Appreciation Award honors a producer who recognizes the value of corn and corn co-products, the corn checkoff investment towards livestock programs, and consumer education of the importance of the livestock industry to the state.

Whether it’s growing crops, adding value to their livestock or helping ‘Plow Cancer Under’ by hosting the 2011 Cattlemen’s Ball, Harry Knobbe is well deserving to receive the Livestock Appreciation Award.

Residing in Eastern Nebraska, Harry and his wife, Doris, have farmed over 50 years near West Point. Harry is the youngest of the third generation of their family farm. He is also the owner/operator of the Harry Knobbe Feed Yard, Knobbe Livestock and Knobbe Commodities.

It truly is a family affair on the Knobbe Farm with their son, Scott, being very involved with the family farm. Besides Harry’s involvement in numerous ag organizations, stewardship of the land, faith and local community involvement are also very important to Harry and his family.

Just like Nebraska corn farmers are Sustaining Innovation by growing more with less, the Nebraska Corn Board recognizes Harry Knobbe for the innovative ways he produces food and takes care of the land and precious resources.

Loran Schmit:
The Ethanol Industry Appreciation Award is to recognize a producer or person in the industry who has worked hard to develop ethanol markets and expand demand for ethanol in the state while appreciating the value of the corn checkoff and its involvement in ethanol market development.

This year’s recipient has a long history and career of developing the ethanol industry in the state of Nebraska. The Nebraska Corn Board recognized Loran Schmit for his commitment, support, and dedication to the ethanol industry in Nebraska.

Loran is currently the Executive Director of the Association of Nebraska Ethanol Producers and lobbies and consults on behalf of the Nebraska ethanol industry, specifically ANEEP.

Loran is a former member of the Nebraska Legislature and began his career in politics at an early age. In 1968, Loran was elected to his first four-year term for the Nebraska Unicameral. During his time in office, Loran introduced many bills including LB776 which established the Gasohol Committee, better known today as the Nebraska Ethanol Board.

Loran is known as the Father of the Gasohol Movement and laid the groundwork for the development of the Nebraska ethanol industry.

Lori Potter:
The Nebraska Corn Board’s Media Award is designed to recognize an outstanding individual or company that helps tell agriculture’s story. Lori Potter of the Kearney Daily Hub newspaper is the recipient of the 2012 Media Award.

Lori is a staff writer-photographer specializing in agriculture and natural resources. She also writes a weekly column, “Potter’s Wheel.” She has been at the Hub for more than 25 years, including 9 and a half as regional editor, and previously worked at the York News-Times for eight years and the Alliance Times-Herald for one year.

She grew up on a Franklin County farm south of Wilcox, graduated from Wilcox High School in 1974 and received a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Kearney State College in December 1977.

Her “higher education” came as a member of the Nebraska LEAD 20 class. A member of Nebraska Press Women and the National Federation of Press Women for more than 33 years, Lori currently is serving a two-year term as national president.

Lori’s diligent efforts to include updates to Nebraska’s 26,000 corn farmers on behalf of the Nebraska Corn Board has not gone unnoted. She gives an objective point of view an always puts her “ag foot” forward when it comes to defending Nebraska’s number one industry…agriculture.

Keith Heuermann:
The Ag Achievement Award was first presented in 1991 with the purpose of recognizing outstanding, unselfish, and sacrificial efforts which further the corn industry. This year the Nebraska Corn Board honored Keith Heuermann, Phillips, Neb., with this prestigious award.

Keith produced the most popular do-it-yourself snack food in this country. He didn’t plan on his life taking this direction, but when he prepared to retire from his career designing feed corn for cattle, he started a little hobby.

Keith graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 1956 and established Prairie Valley Hybrid. The first crop of hybrid seed was harvested on two acres. The progressive and expanded business was owned and operated by Keith and Eugene Heuermann until 1967. The business was incorporated in 1960 and they grew seed corn for the central corn belt and several European countries. The firm had 300 dealers and six full time employees, which greatly increased at the peak of their season of 1967.

Back in the 1940’s Prairie Valley Seed corn sold for $6.90 a bushel. Prairie Valley was one of first if not the first, to introduce single cross hybrids with the production of their hybrid 325 in 1957. The company was sold in 1979 to Stauffer Chemical Company and is now owned by Syngenta Seeds, Inc.

Heuermann worked 11 years for Stauffer Chemical Co. until he “retired” in 1990. While working for Stauffer, Heuermann began experimenting with popcorn production on his own in 1982 and in 1992, BKH Popcorn Inc. distributed its first popcorn product.

In 1997, the QVC Channel held a state-by-state search for new products. When the “Quest for America” came to Nebraska, Heuermann competed with 280 manufacturers, and the mild-mannered retiree walked away with his microwave popcorn chosen as one of 20 “best new products.”

The Nebraska Corn Board is certainly not the first to notice Keith’s achievements. The Nebraska Crop Improvement Association named Heuermann Premier Seed Grower in 1968. He was recognized as Nebraska Entrepreneur of the year and named to the Nebraska Business Hall of Fame by the Nebraska Chamber of Commerce. In April of 2006, he was honored as the 118th person named to the Nebraska Hall of Agriculture during the Nebraska Hall of Ag Achievement annual banquet.

To all consumers of popcorn, Keith’s achievements are just a better bag of popcorn, but to Nebraska and the 26,000 corn producers, Keith’s quest for a better kernel, a higher yielding ear and a more hardy field of corn is an achievement in itself.

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