NEWS STORIES

DECEMBER 2011

(Posted Fri. Dec 30th, 2011)

Keywords: Ethanol

Dec. 30: A judge in Federal District Court in Fresno, California, has sided with America's ethanol industry in ruling that the State of California's Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) is unconstitutional. Judge Lawrence J. O'Neill agreed with the arguments that the LCFS is in violation of the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution.  “This ruling reaffirms our position that the state of California violated the U.S. Constitution when it created a low carbon fuel standard punitive to farmers and ethanol producers outside of the state’s border,” said National Corn Growers Association President Garry Niemeyer. “Corn farmers are good stewards and advocates for thoughtful, fair strategies that will improve our environment through the advancement of biofuels. We hope that this ruling will lead to an inclusive discussion where regulators join other stakeholders to find effective renewable energy solutions.”  On December 24, 2009 the Renewable Fuels Association and Growth Energy filed suit...

(Posted Thu. Dec 29th, 2011)

Keywords: Trade

Dec. 29: As the entrepreneurial spirit in Vietnam continues its rapid growth, U.S. farmers see increasing potential in this rapidly growing market. During a recent mission to the country, organized by the U.S. Grains Council, participants saw first-hand the opportunities in this market while also learning the importance of a carefully nuanced approach to the expansion of U.S. agricultural exports in this region.  The nine team members, all of which represent state corn marketing groups, met with international customers and key foreign government officials with whom they shared insight into the U.S. corn supply and quality in 2011. Vietnam, which has the fastest growing corn market in Asia, currently fills its corn needs with domestically grown crop and imports from nearby countries, but the group left meetings encouraged that this market has the potential to import U.S. corn.  “The dramatically changing consumer habits will increase grain demand in Vietnam. We need to continue...

(Posted Wed. Dec 28th, 2011)

Keywords: Livestock Trade

Dec. 28: Increased export demand for U.S. pork is raising pork profitability and leading to an overall rise in the national hog inventory according to a December reports released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service and Economic Research Service. The National Corn Growers Association welcomes this growth, which translates into stronger demand for corn and distillers dried grains.  “Corn farmers value our relationship with the hog industry, which consistently provides an important market for our product,” said NCGA President Garry Niemeyer. “In 2011-12 marketing year, it is estimated that hogs will consume 960 million bushels of corn. As demand grows for pork both internationally and domestically, corn farmers benefit also thus reinforcing the importance of cooperation among all sectors in the agricultural community.”  USDA Economic Research Service projects a significant increase in pork exports during the fourth quarter of 2011, with...

(Posted Tue. Dec 27th, 2011)

Dec. 27: The National Corn Growers Association Nominating Committee is now accepting applications from members for the 2013 Corn Board. Through the Corn Board, members can become an integral part of the organization’s leadership. Click here for the application, which provides complete information on requirements, responsibilities and deadlines.  The NCGA Corn Board represents the organization on all matters while directing both policy and supervising day-to-day operations. Board members serve the organization in a variety of ways. They represent the federation of state organizations, supervise the affairs and activities of NCGA in partnership with the chief executive officer and implement NCGA policy established by the Corn Congress. Members also act as spokespeople for the NCGA and enhance the organization’s public standing on all organizational and policy issues.  In a recent Off the Cob interview, NCGA President Garry Niemeyer stressed that every grower, even if he or she is...

(Posted Tue. Dec 27th, 2011)

Keywords: Conservation

Dec. 27: The National Corn Growers Association is currently involved in two major pieces of environmental litigation that will likely be decided in federal court in 2012. This could have major implications for future environmental regulations.  Earlier this year, NCGA joined with the American Farm Bureau Federation and other agricultural organizations to challenge the Environmental Protection Agency’s Total Maximum Daily Load for nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment in the Chesapeake Bay. The farm groups stated the Chesapeake Bay TMDL goes beyond the scope of Clean Water Act authority, that the science used by the Agency is flawed and that the regulatory process lacked transparency. The case has been filed in a federal court in Pennsylvania.  The outcome of this lawsuit could establish significant precedent for future water quality regulations throughout the country. Many corn growers are concerned that the Chesapeake Bay TMDL could be used as a blueprint for addressing nitrogen,...

(Posted Fri. Dec 23rd, 2011)

Keywords: Trade

Dec. 23: Late last week, the World Trade Organization concluded its Eighth Ministerial Conference in Geneva. The meetings are held every other year and allow international trade negotiators an opportunity to tackle the most pressing trade issues. At the ministerial meeting, U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk joined colleagues assessing the state of the Doha Round of WTO negotiations.  “The National Corn Growers Association appreciates the efforts of U.S. trade negotiators at the WTO to work for more open, free and fair international trade agreements,” said NCGA President Garry Niemeyer. “NCGA remains committed to the development and maintenance of fair and open global trade policies.”  In a statement, Kirk said that participating parties have had a positive, honest discussion on the Doha Round. “Many ministers have agreed with the assessment that we must ‘turn the page’ to solve the Doha impasse,” he noted. “They are willing, as is the United States, to make progress wherever...

(Posted Fri. Dec 23rd, 2011)

Keywords: Trade

Dec. 23: Earlier this month, the National Corn Growers Association joined more than 60 agriculture organizations to send a letter to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack and U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk urging the administration to work with Japan to facilitate Japan’s full participation in the Trans Pacific Partnership. The negotiations currently include Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Vietnam and the United States.  “The addition of Japan to these negotiations would enhance the significance of the TPP and make the agreement much more encompassing,” the letter stated. “It would spur even broader interest among other Asia-Pacific countries, which could lead to the type of Asia-Pacific regional arrangement envisioned by the administration when you embarked on these talks last year.”  TPP aims to achieve a high-standard, 21st century agreement with a membership and coverage that provides economically significant market access opportunities....

(Posted Thu. Dec 22nd, 2011)

Keywords: Biotechnology Trade

Dec. 22: The decision to allow Russia to become a member of the World Trade Organization can be a benefit to American agriculture, the National Corn Growers Association said. WTO ministers adopted Russia’s terms of entry at the Eighth Ministerial Meeting, held recently in Geneva, and Russia has 220 days to ratify its accession agreement.  “Russia’s membership makes the WTO a more universal trade organization,” Chad Blindauer, Chair of NCGA’s Trade Policy and Biotechnology Action team said. “It also ensures Russia plays by the same rules as other WTO members.The deal allows for more fair and open trade policy.”  The Working Party Chair of Russia’s accession, Ambassador Stefan Johannesson of Iceland, said the “documents constituting Russia’s terms of entry into the WTO resulted from a tough and successful engagement between Russia and WTO members.”  As part of the accession deal, Russia has agreed to undertake further commitments to open its trade regime. This includes lowering...

(Posted Wed. Dec 21st, 2011)

Dec. 21: Advanced production techniques, informed growing practices and improved seed varieties helped corn growers achieve high yields in the National Corn Growers Association 2011 National Corn Yield Contest. Despite the challenging weather conditions that plagued the Corn Belt throughout the year, entrants continued to far surpass the national average corn yield, even doubling it in some circumstances.  The National Corn Yield Contest is in its 47th year and remains NCGA’s most popular program for members. With 8,425 entries, the 2011 NCGA National Corn Yield Contest set a new participation record again this year. This is a 18 percent increase over 2010 (7,125) and an incredible 70 percent increase over 2007 (4,932).  Click here for the list of national winners.  Click here for the list of state winners.  “While this contest provides individual growers a chance for good-natured competition with their peers, it also advances farming as a whole,” said Dean Taylor, chair of...

(Posted Tue. Dec 20th, 2011)

Dec. 20: Over the past year, the National Corn Growers Association has monitored issues surrounding the wireless broadband company LightSquared. While the Federal Communications Commission considers approval of LightSquared’s proposed terrestrial based broadband network, NCGA remains concerned about the effects it would have on precision farming. GPS technology has become an important tool for farmers as they improve their efficiency in seed, fertilizer and fuel usage.  “Strong and speedy Internet access is important to our growers, so NCGA supports the expansion of broadband in rural America,” said Ethan Mathews, manager of Public Policy and Regulatory Affairs for NCGA said. “However it must not come at the expense of high-precision GPS.”  Although LightSquared states that solutions to the interference problem have been developed by several independent companies, the company has yet to provide access to either the test results or the devices. Further, the FCC and the National...

(Posted Mon. Dec 19th, 2011)

Keywords: Livestock

Dec. 19: Milk production is on the rise according to reports released today by the National Agricultural Statistics Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.   As the U.S. dairy industry is a major market for feed corn, distillers dried grains and corn silage, the National Corn Growers Association noted that this trend benefits not only dairy but also grain farmers across the country.  “It is important to value our relationship with dairy farmers, a constant and valued customer for our product,” said NCGA President Garry Niemeyer.  “In 2011 alone, it is estimated that the U.S. dairy herd will consume more than 800 million bushels of corn.  As they grow, so do we thus reemphasizing the importance of cooperation throughout the agricultural community.”  The report indicates that production increases came from both a per cow production increase of 16 pounds and a herd expansion of 108,000 head since this time in 2010.  Notably, California continues to lead the nation in milk...

(Posted Mon. Dec 19th, 2011)

Keywords: Trade

Dec. 19: An elite delegation of agricultural leaders , sponsored by the U.S. Grains Council, made history as the first group to meet with key officials in Panama and Colombia following passage of free trade agreements with the United States. National Corn Growers Association Chairman Bart Schott and USGC Chairman Wendell Shauman, along with Council staff, explored the outlook for FTA implementation with government officials, private sector grain customers, and with U.S. ambassadors and USDA officials during this momentous tour.  "Our purpose was to see how far those folks have gone on implementing the FTAs,” said Schott, who spent much of his year as NCGA president working for U.S. ratification of the agreements. “It appears the implementation of these agreements will progress smoothly in both Panama and Colombia, and the U.S. will soon be exporting corn to them under this legislation.”  “The Council has been committed to regaining unfettered access to markets in both Panama and...

(Posted Fri. Dec 16th, 2011)

Keywords: Production

Dec. 16: The National Corn Growers Association launched the next-generation of its Insect Resistance Management refuge calculator online today to help growers as they begin planning for the 2012 growing season. The product of a collaboration between agribusiness and NCGA, under the leadership of the Trade Policy and Biotechnology Action Team, the calculator allows users to easily clarify refuge options and develop a plan, even for the latest products available on a web-based framework while providing the added convenience of smartphone and desktop application accessibility.  “This new version of the IRM calculator provides an ease of access unavailable in other versions by allowing users to work online and on their smartphone. Like the previous desktop application, which has been updated as well, this tool helps farmers navigate the broad and complex variety of refuge requirements presented by the wide array of new technologies available,” said NCGA Trade Policy and...

(Posted Thu. Dec 15th, 2011)

Keywords: Ethanol Livestock Trade

Dec. 15: The U.S. Grains Council continued efforts to educate Chinese feed ingredient buyers about the many advantages of dried distillers grains from the United States. DDGS, an ethanol coproduct, act as a competitively priced, environmentally friendly source of protein for animals and present an excellent opportunity for both ingredient buyers and ethanol producers alike.  The Council, of which the National Corn Growers Association is a founding member, held workshops in Guangzhou and Qingdao, China. These day-long sessions provided the more than 450 attendees a comprehensive overview of the most current data on the DDGS market, including discussions about and analysis of the value of U.S. DDGS in particular. Organized in cooperation with FoodChina Company, the learning sessions also included presentations from respected industry officials on the use of DDGS in swine, poultry and dairy rations and on quality control procedures.  The events benefitted Council members as they...

(Posted Wed. Dec 14th, 2011)

Dec. 14: The National Corn Growers Association Nominating Committee is now accepting applications from members for the 2013 Corn Board. Through the Corn Board, members can become an integral part of the organization’s leadership. Click here for the application, which provides complete information on requirements, responsibilities and deadlines.  The NCGA Corn Board represents the organization on all matters while directing both policy and supervising day-to-day operations. Board members serve the organization in a variety of ways. They represent the federation of state organizations, supervise the affairs and activities of NCGA in partnership with the chief executive officer and implement NCGA policy established by the Corn Congress. Members also act as spokespeople for the NCGA and enhance the organization’s public standing on all organizational and policy issues.  In a recent Off the Cob interview, NCGA President Garry Niemeyer stressed that every grower, even if he or she is...

(Posted Tue. Dec 13th, 2011)

Dec. 13: The St. Louis AgriBusiness Club today presented National Corn Growers Association Chief Executive Officer Rick Tolman with its prestigious AgriBusiness Leader of the Year Award. This honor is conferred upon a person who has made a substantial contribution to the well-being of agriculture in the St. Louis area, either on a local or national scale.  Tolman was selected for this award because his service to agriculture reflects exceptional personal accomplishments and leadership that demonstrates outstanding abilities in administration, initiative in serving others, and a commitment to the improvement of agriculture, according to Stephanie Regagnon, past president of the St. Louis Agribusiness Club.  "Rick's dedication to our nation's farmers and ranchers, as evidenced by his decades of service to American agriculture and his passion and vision for the USFRA, makes us extremely proud to award him with the award," she said.  “I’m honored by this award in great part because...

(Posted Tue. Dec 13th, 2011)

Keywords: Farm Policy

Dec. 13: After efforts to pass the Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act of 2011, H.R. 872, failed in the Senate earlier this fall, a bipartisan group of Senators sent a letter to Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) asking for full consideration on the Senate floor before the end of the year. The legislation previously passed the House of Representatives in March and passed the Senate Agriculture Committee in June.  “We are aware that efforts had been made to come into a bipartisan resolution before these new permitting requirements went into effect,” the letter stated. “However, we believe there is still an opportunity to resolve this matter in a way that will protect the environment while avoiding undue costs on rural communities and municipalities nationwide. Thus, it is our sincere hope that you will allot floor time for the Senate to have a full, open debate on this matter.”  The legislation would clarify that National Pollutant Discharge...

(Posted Mon. Dec 12th, 2011)

Keywords: Production

Dec. 12: While U.S. corn production this past year was impacted by several major weather-related events that cut acres and yield, taking a broader look shows how grain demands can be met by taking into account overseas production. This year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is reporting record global corn, wheat and rice production.  “We always hold that, no matter the challenge we face, the global marketplace will respond to make sure all needs are covered,” said National Corn Growers Association President Garry Niemeyer. “When our production is reduced, we appreciate that other options are available for some of our end users. We live in a diverse and global marketplace and it’s important to support and expand trade, whether through pushing for beneficial trade agreements or improving outdated transportation infrastructure.”  In its monthly World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates Report issued Friday, USDA notes that global corn production this year is projected at a...

(Posted Fri. Dec 9th, 2011)

Dec. 9: This week, the National Corn Growers Association’s Corn Board, Action Teams and Committees convened in St. Louis to delve into the issues and opportunities that will affect corn farmers across the country during the coming year.  Gaining information from presentations by leaders from industry and government, the team members explored possible changes to team policies and activities that could help their respective programs improve efforts to create and maintain opportunities for growers.  “I was inspired by the energy that these volunteers bring to our organization and the dedicated passion to service they exhibit,” said NCGA President Garry Niemeyer. “By dividing the variety of issues facing our industry into subject areas, we allow growers to delve deeply a single area and gain more nuanced insight. Together, our leadership can then tackle each subject with a full understanding of its intricacies and the broader perspective our shared sessions offer.”  The NCGA’s six...

(Posted Wed. Dec 7th, 2011)

Dec. 7: With only two days remaining before the December 9 deadline, the National Corn Growers Association reminds members that it, along with the BASF Corporation, will again award five $1,000 scholarships to undergraduate and graduate students pursuing a degree in an agriculture-related field during the 2012-13 school year.  “This program is important for candidates as it helps fund their ongoing education, but it is also important for the industry as a whole,” said Brandon Hunnicutt, NCGA’s Grower Services Action Team Chair. “By helping tomorrow’s leaders further their studies, we proactively create a generation ready to lead agriculture for decades to come.”  Applicants for the NCGA Academic Excellence in Agriculture Scholarship Program must be entering at least their second undergraduate year or any year of graduate study, and they, or a parent or legal guardian, must be an NCGA member. Scholarship applications must be postmarked on or before Dec. 9. Scholarship recipients...

(Posted Wed. Dec 7th, 2011)

Keywords: Farm Policy

Dec. 7: During a Farm Journal Forum Tuesday in Washington, National Corn Growers Association Senior Director of Public Policy Sam Willett outlined NCGA’s priorities for a new farm bill. Willett was joined on the panel by representatives of USDA’s Risk Management Agency and the National Sustainable Ag Coalition.  “NCGA continues advocating for our members as Congress begins writing the new farm bill,” Willett said. “Our farmers are looking for legislation that will provide risk management tools that will help them only when they need assistance. They understand farmers need be able to take on a certain amount of loss in any one year. However, it is very important to protect growers, especially young farmers, from depleting their emergency funds when these types of losses occur over multiple years.”  Willett also outlined the importance of a an effective, affordable crop insurance program and a revenue-based safety net that addresses significant losses not adequately covered by...

(Posted Tue. Dec 6th, 2011)

Dec. 6: The National Corn Growers Association’s 2011 Social Media Training Program will feature a final webinar next week that will recapping material covered throughout the year and linking each social media tactic to the larger overall agricultural picture. The program is generously supported by Pioneer Hi-Bred, a DuPont Business.  “Throughout this year, the social media webinar series has offered growers a variety of tools and tips that are helpful when using Facebook, Google+, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr,” said Grower Services Action Team Chair Brandon Hunnicutt. “If you have missed any one of these informative sessions, or simply would like a refresher course, I urge you to tune in next Thursday and become a part of the ongoing conversation about agriculture.”  This webinar will offer a review of the main points from past presentations and provide expanded information on these topics. The session will also offer best practices and case studies for topics including Facebook,...

(Posted Tue. Dec 6th, 2011)

Dec. 6: Starting tomorrow, dozens of corn growers who are respected leaders in their industry and actively involved in the National Corn Growers Association will gather in St. Louis for a round of meetings to discuss the issues that will affect farmers heading into 2012. Many growers are braving difficult weather conditions and delaying preparation for the upcoming growing year to attend these meetings.  “The December action team meetings help the organization explore upcoming issues and begin developing policy recommendations while providing a face-to-face forum for grower leaders to share ideas and build relationships,” said NCGA President Garry Niemeyer, a grower from Auburn, Ill. “As team members meet for the first time, they cement the bonds that will help us move forward on a variety of issues and create cohesive leadership that draws upon the varied experiences inherent in a grassroots organization.”  The NCGA’s six action teams and committees define, implement and...

(Posted Mon. Dec 5th, 2011)

Keywords: Biotechnology Production

Dec. 5: High-yield technologies like those used in the United States will have to be effectively adapted for use world-wide in order to meet growing global food demand, according to the findings of a study released by University of Minnesota Professor David Tilman and colleagues in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.  Estimating that global food demand will double by the year 2050, the scientists project that, in order to meet that demand without causing serious environmental damage, less developed nations must significantly improve yields by the adoption of nitrogen-efficient “intensive” farming practices that allow farmers to grow more crop on less land using fewer inputs more strategically.  Reporting on the findings, Science Daily noted Tilman stressed the importance of modern U.S. agricultural practices in preserving the environment while feeding a growing population.  “Agriculture’s greenhouse gas emissions could double by 2050 if current trends in global...

(Posted Fri. Dec 2nd, 2011)

Dec. 2: The National Corn Growers Association helped to motivate and educate the next generation of women farm managers and owners through participation in the landmark Executive Women in Agriculture Conference, hosted by Top Producer magazine in Chicago, Ill.  During this seminar, NCGA First Vice President Pam Johnson spoke to attendees both about her personal experience as a female association leader and the goals of the organization in general during the opening panel discussion on “Women in Agribusiness – Success Stories” and during several breakout sessions. For the 135 attendees, Johnson provided not only advice as a mentor, but also a clear pathway to follow for those interested in pursuing a more active leadership role in the industry.  “At this point, agriculture needs more men and more women to step up to the plate and lead the industry forward,” said Johnson. “We gave attendees ideas and venues that would help them to do so. Whether they choose to do so through NCGA,...

(Posted Fri. Dec 2nd, 2011)

Dec. 2: The National Corn Growers Association’s Washington office is on the move this weekend, relocating to 20 F Street, NW, Suite 600, from its former C Street location. The new space more adequately accommodates staff and allows for the use of updated information technology options as well as improved synergies by collocating with the U.S. Grains Council.  “This move will provide our staff with the physical room and technical tools necessary to increase productivity even further,” said NCGA Vice President of Public Policy Jon Doggett. “In addition to upgrading our facilities, our new location will provide easier access for those visiting the office as it sits just a short walk away from Union Station.”  In early January, the U.S. Grains Council will move into the offices. While the organizations will remain separate, the joint office space will allow the organizations to better coordinate joint activities while minimizing overhead.  For a map of the new location in relation...

(Posted Thu. Dec 1st, 2011)

Dec. 1: In the spirit of gratitude prevalent around the holidays, CommonGround volunteers from Iowa and Nebraska jointly hosted a dinner last night to thank the consumers for purchasing the foods they grow. This event brought dieticians, bloggers and parents together at Anthony’s Steakhouse in Omaha, Neb., to discuss food and farming with the volunteers and Dr. Ruth MacDonald, Department Chair of Food Science and Human Nutrition at Iowa State University.  “So often, consumers are urged to express gratitude to farmers for another bountiful harvest around the Thanksgiving holidays,” said National Corn Growers Association First Vice President Pam Johnson. “This activity highlights the important role that consumers play in the lives of farmers also. Each of us should be grateful that the public purchases our crop and, therefore, facilitates our ability to continue the proud tradition we all love. Thus, we should not only thank them but also happily open a conversation through which...

(Posted Thu. Dec 1st, 2011)

Dec. 1: The National Corn Growers Association, along with 47 other agricultural organizations, sent comments to the Department of Labor outlining concerns with proposed child labor regulations.  “Our members understand the dangers associated with working on a farm and they are committed to ensuring youth are safe,” NCGA President Garry Niemeyer said. “NCGA has also taken a proactive role in farm safety by providing a video on the dangers of grain bins and a website. We fully support existing provisions in the Fair Labor Standards Act that permit the Department of Labor to establish appropriate standards for youth employment on the farm but we do not support hindering family farmers.”  The proposed rules would raise the minimum age of employment to 16 on farms and 18 for facilities that handle raw commodities, such as grain elevators. The rules also place limits on pesticide handling, heavy machinery operation and working with animals.  The submitted comments explain the...

(Posted Thu. Dec 1st, 2011)

Dec. 1: The National Corn Growers Association and the Iowa Corn Growers Association, in partnership with the Illinois, Kentucky, Minnesota and Nebraska Corn Growers Associations, have released a tool to help voters quickly determine where candidates stand on a variety of agricultural issues.  Aimed at keeping corn farmers informed and engaged in the political process during the 2012 presidential campaign, the Corn Caucus report card and accompanying information offer succinct information gathered through a survey of major candidates on issues relating to NCGA’s legislative priorities.  “While NCGA does not endorse any candidate, we do work to educate voters on candidate stances on the issues affecting farming,” said NCGA Grower Services Action Team Chair Brandon Hunnicutt. “Similar to other industries, agriculture has many areas that are touched by government activities. The information made available through the Corn Caucus project is a valuable tool for anyone considering how...