NEWS STORIES

JULY 2011

(Posted Fri. Jul 29th, 2011)

Keywords: Ethanol

July 29: Working with a coalition of renewable energy and agriculture advocates, the National Corn Growers Association signed a letter sent to all members of the House of Representatives this week, urging opposition to amendments that would weaken efforts to reduce our nation’s dependence on foreign oil and cost U.S. jobs.  In addition to NCGA, the letter was signed by Growth Energy, Advanced Ethanol Council, American Coalition for Ethanol, National Farmers Union, National Sorghum Producers and the Renewable Fuels Association. It directly addresses a series of amendments offered by Reps. John Sullivan, R-Okla., Gary Peters, D-Mich., and Michael Burgess, R-Texas, that would block the legal implementation of the Green Jobs Waiver for E15 approved after more than a year of extensive laboratory testing.  “These amendments would inhibit new innovation to provide alternatives to foreign oil,” the groups wrote. “The Sullivan/Peters and Burgess amendments would solidify the status quo –...

(Posted Fri. Jul 29th, 2011)

July 29:  The National Corn Growers Association and the Iowa Corn Growers Association, in partnership with the Illinois, Kentucky, Minnesota and Nebraska corn growers associations, have launched the Corn Caucus Project to keep corn farmers informed and engaged in the political process during the 2012 presidential campaign. The Corn Caucus Project will track candidate views on corn policy issues and inform candidates about the issues facing farmers today.  “Simply, we are committed to knowing where the candidates stand and making sure that the candidates know where corn farmers stand on the issues as well,” said NCGA President Bart Schott. “While we do not endorse presidential candidates, we want to ensure a strong flow of information between our members and the candidates and their staffs.”  By forming a relationship with the major campaigns and discussing NCGA policy with key staff, the project promotes the consideration and subsequent incorporation of corn-friendly policy...

(Posted Fri. Jul 29th, 2011)

July 29:  The "Field Notes” podcast series opened the farm gate this spring and provided followers with an inside look at the activities of several farmers from a variety of geographical areas. Today, this series caught up with Maryland farmer Chip Bowling following a hiatus during which he conducted a successful campaign for a seat on the National Corn Growers Association’s Corn Board.  In the interview recorded Thursday, Bowling talked about his planting experience during a damp season.  “We had a wet planting season and hard a hard time getting the crop in because things were so wet,” Bowling said. “That lasted until about a month after planting season and then all of a sudden the rain quit coming and the sun came out and we got hot in July. Here in Maryland we’re going to have an average crop, nothing really to brag about. We’ve been getting a few timely rains when we needed it, but we definitely need some right now.”  With the heat, some plants are feeling stressed,...

(Posted Thu. Jul 28th, 2011)

Keywords: Conservation Farm Policy

July 28: During testimony before an Environmental Protection Agency Scientific Advisory Panel evaluating the effects of atrazine on human health, NCGA Director of Public Policy Sarah Gallo explained the importance of the product to combat weeds effectively and affordably. She also discussed how farmers have been safely applying atrazine for more than a half century.  Click here for her testimony.  “The United States is the world’s largest producer and exporter of corn and one of the key inputs that makes this possible is atrazine,” Gallo said during her testimony. “Atrazine is applied on well over half of all corn acres in this country and, according to the EPA, saves corn farmers as much as $28 an acre in reduced herbicide costs and increased yields.”  Gallo said atrazine safety has been verified by more than 6,000 studies and nine reviews by the EPA. She also pointed to a study released in May that concluded there is no association between atrazine worker exposure and any...

(Posted Thu. Jul 28th, 2011)

July 28: America’s Heartland, the award-winning national television series celebrating American agriculture, begins its seventh season on public television and the RFD-TV cable and satellite channel the week of September 5. This season, America’s Heartland continues its coverage of informative, in-depth stories about issues important to viewers in both urban areas and rural communities. The National Corn Growers Association provides promotional support for the program.  “America’s Heartland offers a positive, educational and entertaining look at today’s agriculture,” said NCGA President Bart Schott. “NCGA is proud to support this program by helping draw attention to it as a vital resource for bringing Americans from all walks of life back to the farm in a visually interesting and enjoyable way.”  Season Seven will take viewers all across the heartland to meet the people who play a critical role in the well-being of all our lives. In addition to long-form stories on farm families...

(Posted Wed. Jul 27th, 2011)

Keywords: Conservation Ethanol

July 27:  A study published in the July 2011 Biomass and Bioenergy Journal on indirect land use change (ILUC) due to biofuels production indicates that the real impact of U.S. biofuels production on ILUC domestically and internationally is negligible or nonexistent.  The study, “Indirect land use change for biofuels: Testing predictions and improving analytical methodologies” was coauthored by Drs. Seungdo Kim and Bruce E. Dale of Michigan State University. Click here for the article abstract.  “This is the first evidence-based evaluation of ILUC utilizing actual historic data, employing a “bottom-up”, data-driven, statistical approach based on individual world regions’ land use patterns and commodity grain imports,” said Dr. Roger Conway, senior partner at Rosslyn Advisors LLC and former director of the United States Department of Agriculture's Office of Energy Policy and New Uses.  Very few previous studies have attempted to find empirical evidence for or against indirect...

(Posted Wed. Jul 27th, 2011)

Keywords: Conservation

July 27: Last week, staff for the National Corn Growers Association participated in an aerial crop tour of the Corn Belt taken by Water Street Solutions. Covering eight states over the course of two days the group surveyed growing conditions across the Midwest to gather data and develop an assessment of the current condition of the U.S. corn crop. This is the second of three aerial surveys the company will take this growing season.  “As we covered such a wide swath of land and accumulated an abundance of data in such a short time, I chose to focus on three indicators: stand consistency; nitrogen or other abiotic stresses; and overall crop maturity in forming my assessment,” NCGA Vice President of Production and Utilization Paul Bertels said. “All in all, I think the most recent USDA forecast of an average yield of 158 bushels per acre is still achievable, and it is possible that a slightly higher average could be reached. However, the weather over the next four weeks will play a...

(Posted Tue. Jul 26th, 2011)

Keywords: Conservation Farm Policy

July 26: In comments submitted to the Environmental Protection Agency today on the draft guidance that identifies which waters are protected under the Clean Water Act, the National Corn Growers Association outlined concerns including the new proposal could expand EPA’s authority over isolated waters such as ditches and farm ponds.  Click here for the letter.  The draft guidance, which was announced in April, was developed to clarify the scope of protections under the law following two Supreme Court decisions over the past decade. While the guidance maintains existing exemptions for normal farming and ranching activities, NCGA remains concerned that the new proposal could expand EPA’s authority over isolated waters which would require growers to obtain additional permits. For example, the proposal could significantly expand the scale of the pending NPDES permit program for pesticide applications. In addition, NCGA believes states should have the authority to regulate certain...

(Posted Tue. Jul 26th, 2011)

Keywords: Production

July 26:  The maturity of the U.S. corn crop is still on track in most areas according to the most recent U.S. Department of Agriculture crop progress report. Additionally, with only spotty exception, the majority of the crop is of comparable condition as that of 2009, when U.S. corn growers set the current production record.  “While its doubtful yields will set records this year, corn growers are still projected to produce a record crop with slightly higher acreage” said National Corn Growers Association President Bart Schott. “Farmers are at the mercy of the weather but advances in biotechnology and production techniques allow us to better withstand difficult conditions and cultivate enough corn to meet all demands.”  Based on conditions as of July 24, 62 percent of the crop was rated in good to excellent. Corn is also maturing nearly on schedule with 65 percent of the crop reportedly already in the silking stage, only four points behind the 5-year average at the same time....

(Posted Mon. Jul 25th, 2011)

July 25: Last week, growers from across the Corn Belt met in St. Louis to share ideas and practice effective communications techniques.  This group, which included female farmers and association staff from 10 states, listened to presentations by industry experts and participated in workshops designed to improve presentation skills and social media presence.  Sponsored by the CommonGround program, a joint activity conducted by the National Corn Growers Association and the United Soybean Board, was the second of its kind.  Following up on the initial national session held last January in San Antonio, the summit included veteran volunteers who aided in introducing new participants to the CommonGround philosophy which stresses the importance of grassroots activism, positive messaging and opening an honest, personal dialogue with consumers about food production and the story of modern agriculture.  The diverse array of volunteers grow crops including corn, soy, wheat, cotton,...

(Posted Fri. Jul 22nd, 2011)

July 22: As part of its first phase of activity, the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance is seeking individual farmer and rancher input and involvement. Growers are urged to visit the USFRA website, provide comments on what they want the American public to know about farming, and take a short survey about their operation by July 29. The National Corn Growers Association is one of dozens of proud USFRA affiliates representing a broad spectrum of American agriculture.  “We’re proud to be part of this initiative at a time when more Americans are becoming more distant from our farmland roots,” said NCGA President Bart Schott, a North Dakota corn grower who sits on the USFRA board’s executive committee. “From grains to livestock to dairy to fresh produce, we are collaborating in ways we never have before, to listen to people’s concerns and address them head-on.”  USFRA is a newly formed alliance consisting of a wide range of prominent farmer- and rancher-led organizations and...

(Posted Thu. Jul 21st, 2011)

Keywords: Research

July 21: Today, Off the Cob speaks with Carolyn Lawrence, a research geneticist with the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service. Coming from the understanding that growers need the results of research such as the Maize Genome Sequencing Project to result in technology that produces real world results, the National Corn Growers Association will fund a functional genomic data base coordinator. This project will incorporate needed software tools into the Maize Genetics and Genomics Database.  “The project itself is aimed at making the data that has gone into sequencing the maize genome more useful for plant biologists to turn it into a product that farmers can use,” said Lawrence. “In order for us to make sense of the data already there, these tools can filter data sets into a manageable unit that allows researchers to see images, manipulate data and distinguish what the genes are doing so more functional products can be made.”  Lawrence also addressed the results expected from this...

(Posted Thu. Jul 21st, 2011)

July 21: Today, women are gathering from across the Corn Belt in St. Louis to share their experiences and ideas at the CommonGround Shared Voices Summit in St. Louis, Mo. This summit, hosted by the National Corn Growers Association and United Soybean Board, will provide veteran participants the opportunity to share their experiences and hone their social media skills while introducing new volunteers to the program.  Beginning today and running through Saturday afternoon, the program will feature a variety of guest speakers and many hands-on activities designed to maximize the women’s online presence. NCGA CEO Rick Tolman will welcome the group, leading off the experience with an opportunity for the women to discuss the misconceptions about agriculture they wish most to correct. This summit serves as the kickoff event as new states including Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Maryland, Ohio and South Carolina launch their participation in this movement.  CommonGround is a program to...

(Posted Wed. Jul 20th, 2011)

Keywords: Research

July 20: Keeping research at the forefront of our national agenda is always a challenge. However, the research done today has a direct impact on the technologies available for farmers to utilize ten and fifteen years from now. NCGA understands this situation, and will fund a functional genomics data utilization project that will incorporate needed software tools into the Maize Genetics and Genomics Database (MaizeGDB).  “Congress is talking about a day ahead, not years ahead in their approach to budget cuts, and many of the research projects that are important to the long-term viability of our industry are at risk of losing their funding”, said Research and Business Development Action Team Vice Chair Jay Nissen. “Genomics research is important to NCGA. We have devoted time and resources towards its development, and we will continue to push strongly to make sure this work doesn’t get left behind.”  The current challenge for the research community is to make sense of the...

(Posted Wed. Jul 20th, 2011)

July 20: With only days to register remaining, the time to sign up for the National Corn Growers Association National Corn Yield Contest is now. Growers can utilize a quick and easy online application or download a traditional paper entry form. To qualify for the contest, entries must be postmarked no later than Monday, July 25.  “The National Corn Yield Contest remains one of our most popular programs year after year,” said Production and Stewardship Action Team Chair Steve Ebke. “By entering the contest growers not only have a chance to be recognized for their accomplishments, but also to benefit the industry as a whole by providing valuable knowledge that will continue to help us increase yields to meet ever growing demand.”  Now in its 47th year, the contest has been trending toward increasingly higher levels of participation with a record 7,125 entrants in 2010. Winners will receive national recognition in such publications as the NCYC Corn Yield Guide and at the National...

(Posted Tue. Jul 19th, 2011)

Keywords: Production Trade

July 19: The Chicago Mercantile Exchange has added a new product to their portfolio. Contracts for urea, urea ammonium nitrate (UAN), and di-ammonium phosphate (DAP) began trading last week on the New York trading floor and are cleared through CME ClearPort.  These new fertilizer contracts provide opportunities for fertilizer companies and farmers to manage their risk. Ideally, the option to manage risk will make contracts between fertilizer retailers and farmers less risky and impacts to farmer margins will be minimized.  “For more than 150 years, agricultural producers and agribusinesses have relied on our benchmark grain futures and options contracts to manage their commodity price risk,” said Tim Andriesen, Managing Director, Agricultural Commodities and Alternative Investments, CME Group. “The fertilizer products we’re introducing allow market participants to manage fertilizer prices, one of the key and most volatile price inputs into grain production, further allowing a...

(Posted Tue. Jul 19th, 2011)

Keywords: Ethanol Livestock

July 19: According to reports released by the USDA this month and data supplied by PRX, domestic and international livestock continues to be the No. 1 use for U.S. corn, totaling approximately 7.7 billion bushels per year. An estimated 1.5 billion bushels of corn, or 80 percent of projected U.S. corn exports, is used for feed overseas in the past year. Additionally, U.S. livestock consume totals 6.2 billion bushels, 5.0 billion in whole corn and an additional 1.2 billion bushels of corn displaced by ethanol coproducts.  “While media attention has focused more on ethanol production recently, the livestock industry continues to purchase more corn than any other sector year after year,” said National Corn Growers Association President Bart Schott. “Livestock and poultry continue to be a valuable market for corn farmers and one which we continue to provide with an ample supply of corn and corn coproducts.”  When discussing corn usage by livestock it is completely inaccurate to...

(Posted Mon. Jul 18th, 2011)

July 18: While farmers across the United States join the National Corn Growers Association for a variety of reasons, most members value the representation the organization provides in Washington. Legislation and regulation that supports agriculture is essential to the long-term success of the agricultural industry but, with less than 1.5 percent of the population engaged in agriculture, these issues often fall to the wayside.  This is especially true given the partisan political climate prevalent at the federal level. As the polarized parties deal with critical economic issues, growers must now remain in constant contact with their state’s representation in order to draw legislative focus to how these issues affect our nation’s farmers.  Last week, the grower leaders and state staff participating in Corn Congress, held in the nation’s capital, did just that. Many corn-producing states sent delegations to Capitol Hill where they spoke with their state’s members of the House and...

(Posted Wed. Jul 13th, 2011)

July 13:  In a meeting today in Washington, 124 delegates from the National Corn Growers Association’s 28 affiliated states elected five growers to the NCGA Corn Board for the 2012 fiscal year, which starts October 1. Elected were Chip Bowling of Maryland, Martin Barbre of Illinois, Lynn Chrisp of Nebraska, Bob Bowman of Iowa and Keith Alverson of South Dakota.  “With today’s election at our Corn Congress, we are going into 2012 with a very solid leadership team,” said NCGA President Bart Schott of North Dakota, who becomes chairman in October when Illinois grower Garry Niemeyer becomes president. “I am proud of the high level of commitment shown by our grower leaders who bring a great amount of diverse experience and expertise to our national organization.”  Also at the meeting, corn-state delegates unanimously ratified Pam Johnson of Iowa to serve as the next first vice president for the organization, on track to become president in October 2012. They also began to update the...

(Posted Wed. Jul 13th, 2011)

July 13: National Corn Growers Association President Bart Schott today presented the President’s Award to Senator Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) during NCGA’s Corn Congress events in Washington. The President’s Award is given annually to a leader who has worked to advance issues important to corn growers and agriculture.  “I have had the privilege of working with Senator Conrad for several years both on the state and national levels,” NCGA President Bart Schott, a grower from Kulm, N.D., said. “NCGA greatly appreciates his continued leadership and support for the agriculture community, including his work on biofuels legislation and two previous farm bills.”  "I am honored to receive this award from the National Corn Growers Association,”Sen. Conrad said. “America’s agriculture producers are the backbone of our nation. They deliver the safest, healthiest and least expensive food supply anywhere in the world.”  Senator Conrad is a fifth-generation North Dakotan and has represented his home...

(Posted Mon. Jul 11th, 2011)

July 11:  Action teams and committees of corn growers began meetings in Washington today talk about farm-related issues in anticipation of Corn Congress and visits to Capitol Hill scheduled for later this week.  "Action teams play a vital role in our organization," said National Corn Growers Association President Bart Schott. "They allow small groups of grower-leaders from our various states to develop deep knowledge of specialized areas and then collaborate solutions that help NCGA create and increase opportunities and markets for our members."  Click here for information on the action teams and committees.  Many of the team meetings included presentations from special guests. During the Trade Policy and Biotechnology Action Team meeting, for example, growers spoke with Mike Dunlap, the subcommittee staff director from Rep. Frank Lucas for the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Agriculture's Subcommittee on Rural Development, Research, Biotechnology and Foreign...

(Posted Fri. Jul 8th, 2011)

Next week, delegates attending the National Corn Growers Association Corn Congress in Washington will elect five farmers to serve on the organization’s Corn Board. Taking office in fiscal year 2012, the leaders selected will help shape the policies that guide the organization and will best serve corn farmers across the United States.  Corn Board Candidates for 2012 are Keith Alverson, Chester, S.D.; Martin Barbre, Carmi, Ill.; Chip Bowling, Newburg, Md.; Bob Bowman, DeWitt, Iowa; Lynn Chrisp, Kenesaw, Neb.; and Don Elsbernd, Postville, Iowa. The four new members receiving the most votes will begin serving three-year terms Oct. 1. The candidate elected to the board receiving the fewest votes will serve a one-year term beginning the same day.  “Again this year, we are lucky to have dedicated, experienced candidates running for our Corn Board,” said NCGA President Bart Schott. “The candidates’ willingness to give of their time to serve in this capacity is a testament to NCGA and the...

(Posted Fri. Jul 8th, 2011)

Keywords: Trade

Senate Finance and House Ways and Means Committees held mock mark-ups Thursday of the pending free trade agreements with Korea, Colombia and Panama. The National Corn Growers Association is encouraged that both committees reported all draft implementing language out favorably without any amendments. The White House will now prepare final implementing bills to be sent to Congress for an up or down vote.  “NCGA is pleased members of both committees were able to come together to report the draft implementing language out of committee favorably,” NCGA President Bart Schott said. “We look forward to working with both the House and Senate to ensure swift passage of the final implementing bills in the near future.”  Next week, growers from all NCGA state affiliates will be participating in congressional visits during Corn Congress. NCGA encourages grower members to express the importance of the pending FTAs to their members of Congress during Capitol Hill...

(Posted Thu. Jul 7th, 2011)

Keywords: Ethanol

National Corn Growers Association President Bart Schott released the following statement in response to today’s announcement of a bipartisan compromise on ethanol tax incentives. Senators John Thune (R-SD) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) have tirelessly led efforts on behalf of the ethanol industry for the past several weeks.  “NCGA is grateful to Senators Thune and Klobuchar for the hard work and dedication they have put in to reaching a final deal. There are many positive components of this compromise that are important to the ethanol industry and rural America. The final compromise reflects both the importance of the ethanol industry to achieve energy independence and the need for fiscal responsibility. The ethanol industry continues to have a positive impact on all parts of America, and we are committed to working with Congress in the future on steps that can move the ethanol industry and the nation’s economy forward.  “At the same time, we call on Congress to level the playing...

(Posted Thu. Jul 7th, 2011)

With Corn Congress fast approaching, corn farmers across the country are turning their attention to Washington, where delegates from their home states will convene to determine the policies and leadership that will guide the National Corn Growers Association into fiscal year 2012. Today, Off the Cob spoke with NCGA First Vice President-Elect Pam Johnson about her recent election to the post, the vice presidential ratification vote that will occur during Corn Congress, and her views on leadership.  Selected June 15 by the Corn Board to serve as NCGA First Vice President in 2012, Johnson will take office on October 1. Johnson brings to the position the insight gained through many years of service both at the national level, as a current Corn Board member and past chair of the Research and Business Development Action Team. In her home state, she is a director of the Iowa Corn Growers Association and a past chair of the Iowa Corn Promotion Board.  “I am honored to be selected as the...

(Posted Wed. Jul 6th, 2011)

Keywords: Ethanol

July 6: If you were a Congressional subcommittee and you were going to hold a hearing "Examining the Science Behind E15," whom would you invite to testify? Would you invite some of the researchers that looked into how E15 and other mid-level blends work in automotive engines? Would you invite the ethanol industry to explain why they asked for a waiver so gas stations could offer E15 blends and what science they might have to explain their actions?  While these may seem to be logical organizations to invite to the table, the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology’s Subcommittee on Energy and Environment decided to invite chicken lobbyists, environmentalists and Big Oil – each of whom have real or imagined concerns about ethanol itself at any level, the National Corn Growers Association said.  “The Environmental Protection Agency has been thorough in its work on the E15 waiver request and several outside researchers have been evaluating and analyzing E15 and other blends...

(Posted Wed. Jul 6th, 2011)

Information on America’s family farmers and the positive contribution they make to the nation’s economy is now just a click away as the 2011 edition of the Corn Farmers Coalition’s Corn Fact Book is now available online.  The educational publication, funded by corn checkoff programs in 14 states, is being widely distributed in Washington in support of a major educational campaign that includes print, radio, online and large scale outdoor messages. It is now available to the general public.  “The Corn Fact Book highlights the real story behind American farming by showing both the numbers, explaining farming practices and introducing readers to some of the farm families who actually grow our nation’s most abundant crop,” said National Corn Growers Association President Bart Schott. “This publication is a celebration of the amazing advances farmers have made. It explains how farmers in the United States have become the most productive in the world, and the economic benefits farmers...

(Posted Wed. Jul 6th, 2011)

Keywords: Trade

The National Corn Growers Association today applauded the House of Representative’s Ways and Means Committee announcement of a meeting to consider draft implementing language for the pending free trade agreements with Korea, Colombia and Panama. The committee, chaired by Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.), is planning to consider the draft implementing bills on Thursday.  “We’re happy to see movement toward the ratification of the pending FTAs,” NCGA President Bart Schott said. “The United States is the world’s largest corn producer and exporter. By developing new markets for our country’s agricultural products, we build a foundation that allows our sector to lead the nation in economic growth.”  Last year, the United States exported 50.4 million metric tons of corn worldwide. Corn coproducts such as distillers grains also represent a growing export market for domestic producers.  “It is frustrating for me as a producer to watch as trade barriers make it increasingly difficult to remain...

(Posted Tue. Jul 5th, 2011)

Keywords: Ethanol Livestock

July 5: As the debate over ethanol policy continues in Washington, reviewing recent research on the subject of ethanol and corn prices may prove insightful especially when one set of ethanol opponents blames the biofuel as the leading cause of higher livestock and poultry feed prices.  “There is a lot of false rhetoric out there about the impact of ethanol policy on corn prices and by extension the price of food and feed,” said NCGA President Bart Schott. “The research does not support this rhetoric and it is time to move past this and work together for stronger economic security and a broad approach to energy independence that can help reduce costs.”  Last month, Bruce Babcock of Iowa State University released a report for the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development that looked at the impact of the ethanol blender’s credit on corn prices and found that corn prices would have been only up to 17 percent lower had the credit not been extended in late 2010. The...

(Posted Fri. Jul 1st, 2011)

This is the seventh installment of a series featuring interviews with executives from organizations representing corn growers at the state level on the specific issues affecting their growers.    Today, Off the Cob speaks with Iowa Corn Growers Association CEO Craig Floss for a look at the organizations efforts to reach consumers with serious messages about corn through entertainment channels they already enjoy. With campaigns featuring an Indy car race and a college rivalry series, ICGA reaches a diverse crowd to help grow public understanding of issues surrounding farming and ethanol.  The Iowa Corn Growers Association started the Iowa Corn Indy 250 in 2007 when the Indy racing league made the decision to switch their fuel and use 100 percent fuel grade ethanol. At that same time, the Iowa Speedway opened in Newton.  “It was really a perfect marriage for us,” said Floss. “We brought together the interests of corn growers and ethanol with the new speedway and the excitement...