NEWS STORIES

FEBRUARY 2012

(Posted Tue. Feb 28th, 2012)

Keywords: Commodity Classic

Feb. 28:  Commodity Classic isn’t just the largest grower-run convention and trade show, it’s a busy week for members of the National Corn Growers Association, who have a wide variety of association business to tend to, from Wednesday to Saturday afternoon, in addition to numerous learning sessions and other entertainment and networking opportunities.  “Commodity Classic is a great time for us to get together and mix business with pleasure,” said NCGA President Garry Niemeyer, who drove down to Nashville Monday from his farm in Auburn, Ill. “Every day is packed with meetings, and every walkway is packed with people you want to spend time with. It’s not often we can get so many leaders and other members together to learn from them and provide them with information about what their organization is doing. As a grassroots organization, this is vital.”  On Wednesday, an issues briefing and open forum updates growers on issues such as corn production, the farm bill and ethanol...

(Posted Mon. Feb 27th, 2012)

Feb. 27: The National Corn Growers Association invites farmers to become a part of the change they desire by actively honing their leadership skills through the Leadership At Its Best Program, sponsored by Syngenta.  Applications for this best in the industry leadership training program are due to NCGA by March 30.  Interested members are urged to contact their state associations today and be nominated to participate in the program.  “Since the first class in 1986, Leadership At Its Best has helped train strong, confident volunteers who have helped shape the industry through their subsequent work at the state and national level,” said NCGA President Garry Niemeyer.  “This year, we again ask that farmers come forward and act upon their desire to give back to their peers. NCGA depends upon grassroots leadership and, I personally can attest that the time and effort dedicated are repaid in full through the incredible relationships built with like-minded individuals.”  Open to all...

(Posted Mon. Feb 27th, 2012)

Keywords: Farm Policy

Feb. 28: As crop insurance purchase deadlines approach for the majority of the Corn Belt on March 15, the National Corn Growers Association urges farmers to explore how changes in policies can make coverage more affordable.  With lower insurance premiums being offered for most coverage levels this year and adjustments to historical-yield trend calculations, many growers can take advantage of lower rates and increases in coverage.  “At NCGA, we constantly strive to improve the safety net for farmers and hope that in 2012 many will take advantage of the improved options that we have achieved,” said NCGA President Garry Niemeyer.  “We faced difficult weather conditions across much of the Corn Belt in 2010 and again in 2011.  By reexamining crop insurance options, many growers may find that increased coverage is more affordable and will better guard against losses in 2012.”  Lower premiums are the result of adjustments that the Risk Management Agency made based on  updated crop...

(Posted Fri. Feb 24th, 2012)

Keywords: Conservation

Feb. 24:  Ken McCauley remembers getting Maryland’s Jamie Jamison to tackle the sustainability issue during McCauley’s term as NCGA president: “I remember him telling me, ‘this is not fun.’ At that time, people just didn’t want to talk about the issue.”  Times have changed, and sustainability has become an important issue for the National Corn Growers Association, and with good reason, according to Don Glenn, the Alabama grower who serves as vice chair of the Production and Stewardship Action Team.  “So much of what is being brought forward from outside agriculture is practice-based,” says Glenn. “If you do A, B, C, and D, you’ll be labeled ‘sustainable.’  “We think yield and production need to be factored in. If you don’t produce enough to feed the world, it’s not sustainable. And you have to be financially sustainable. If the farmer can’t afford to feed and educate his children, it’s not sustainable.”  McCauley offers another argument for NCGA’s deeper involvement in...

(Posted Fri. Feb 24th, 2012)

Keywords: Ethanol

Feb. 24: The 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series launches this weekend as drivers compete in the Sprint Cup Series Daytona 500, which will again be fueled by Sunoco Green E15.  The ethanol-blend fuel also celebrates a milestone as NASCAR enters its second full season of races in which every car in all three series will again get the power to compete from this domestically-produced, sustainable biofuel. From fuel port decals on all vehicles to the American Ethanol green starter flag, high visibility is ensured at the racetrack – and on television.  “Last year, the American Ethanol partnership to improve awareness of ethanol’s benefits propelled the biofuel into an unprecedented spotlight as the sport’s millions of fans witnessed its performance and reliability week after week,” said Martin Barbre, National Corn Growers Association board member and chairman of NCGA’s NASCAR Advisory Committee.  “In 2012, we look forward to working with our partners again to provide a deeper, richer...

(Posted Thu. Feb 23rd, 2012)

Keywords: Biotechnology

Feb. 23:  When the biotechnology revolution hit the U.S. corn industry, it did more than change the way people farmed. For NCGA, it changed the roles grower leaders had to play if they were going to represent their members effectively.  “With biotech, early on we could see this was something new,” says Leon Corzine, who chaired NCGA’s Biotechnology Working Group before becoming an NCGA officer.  “The biotechnology providers were pushing it out to the farmers, and from a farmer perspective, a lot were excited about what biotech could do. But we could see there were marketplace concerns with this new technology and acceptance was an issue,” he recalls.  “NCGA had to tell the providers, ‘We know this is great technology, but you’ve got to take it slower.’”  Established in 2000, the working group was initially just four growers with help from two staff members, he remembers.  “We saw the huge potential in biotech, and we had a good understanding in the working group...

(Posted Thu. Feb 23rd, 2012)

Keywords: Commodity Classic

Feb. 23: With Commodity Classic 2012 only days away, Off the Cob caught up with National Corn Growers Association Corn Board member and Commodity Classic Joint Venture Committee Co-Chair Martin Barbre to discuss what awaits attendees at this year’s event.  Noting this year the event will break both trade show and attendance records, Barbre explained that of-the-moment learning opportunities, world-class entertainment will take the stage in Nashville next week.  “Attendees should expect a very exciting program this year,” said Barbre.  “We have been working hard to make this event even better with a variety of learning sessions on topics from production to estate planning to social media and marketing.  Through WIN sessions, we will offer in-depth looks at some of the newest, most innovative products hitting the market.  The trade show, which will be the largest that we have ever had, is completely full of interesting exhibitors.  It really is going to be an awesome experience in...

(Posted Wed. Feb 22nd, 2012)

Keywords: Ethanol

Feb. 22:  The ethanol story, fully told, would showcase every aspect of NCGA – the dedication of thousands of grower members, the strategic thinking, state level initiatives, policy work, research, infrastructure, sustainability, even aspects of NCGA’s biotechnology effort – and it would take a whole book.  Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, an ethanol supporter since the 1970s, remembers some of the earliest corn grower efforts to promote ethanol: “They would come with a gravity box with corn and a sign about ethanol, urging support.  “Without the corn growers, we would not have an ethanol policy. Other farm organizations have been generally supportive of ethanol as well, but the corn growers have played the leading role.  “Not only have they made a difference from the standpoint of policy, but also they have been very involved in making sure the ethanol tax credits were extended.”  Yet even in recent years, progress never came easily.  “One of the big issues that marked...

(Posted Wed. Feb 22nd, 2012)

Keywords: Trade Transportation

By Rick Tolman, NCGA Chief Executive Officer  Feb. 22:  Along with others from farm country, I recently returned from a visit to Panama, where we were treated to a tour of the Panama Canal and got to see very closely the third canal and series of locks being constructed to expand capacity.    The existing canal is breathtaking with its scale and scope and what it accomplishes, particularly when one thinks of the timeframe of its construction and the technology available at that time.  The new construction and the pace and scale and scope are even more amazing and truly beyond words.  What Panama is doing will clearly position them for the 21st Century and cement their position of being a world trade hub – to the benefit of their populace and economy.  The project will create a new set of locks and a canal alongside the existing canal.  The new channel is designed to handle “Post Panamax” ships and will essentially triple the cargo capacity of the canal. It includes...

(Posted Wed. Feb 22nd, 2012)

Keywords: Farm Policy

Feb. 22:  As Congress continues work on the 2012 farm bill, the Crop Insurance Industry’s Annual Convention hosted a panel discussion focusing on the farmers’ perspective.  NCGA Public Policy Action Team Chair Anthony Bush participated in the panel and provided his thoughts on farm policy and the new farm bill.  The panel also hosted soybean, cotton, wheat and rice growers.  “Ensuring an effective, affordable crop insurance program is NCGA’s No. 1 priority for the next farm bill,” Bush said.  “This program provides assurance to farmers when they are facing a loss beyond their control. However, uninsured gaps remain.  That is why NCGA is also working with House and Senate Ag Committee leadership to create farm programs that provide additional risk management tools.”  The National Corn Growers Association supports revenue-based risk management tools that complement federal crop insurance in order to protect growers from multiple years of significant declines in prices or yields....

(Posted Tue. Feb 21st, 2012)

Feb. 21: U.S. corn farmers succeeded despite a challenging year in 2011, producing a near-record harvest (12.4 billion bushels) for a crop valued at approximately $76.62 billion despite harsh weather, the National Corn Growers Association reports in its newest World of Corn statistical look at the corn industry both domestic and worldwide.      “The world of corn has come a long way since the single seed kernel was planted next to a fish for fertilizer,” NCGA President Garry Niemeyer and Chief Executive Officer Rick Tolman note in the introduction. “Given those humble beginnings, it’s incredible to imagine that 10 years from now, American farmers will be producing 17 billion bushels annually… We can only imagine how much further it will go.”  World of Corn is a respected collection of the most important statistics about corn production, exports and consumption, providing key information in a readable format, comparing numbers and trends across the years.   This year’s...

(Posted Tue. Feb 21st, 2012)

Keywords: Trade

Feb. 21:  The U.S. Trade Representative announced today that the free trade agreement with Korea will go into effect on March 15, five months after approval by Congress. The move was greeted with praise by the National Corn Growers Association, which remains committed to the development and maintenance of fair and open global trade policies.   “We are very pleased to see the USTR announce movement on the U.S.-Korea FTA,” said Chad Blindauer, Chair of NCGA’s Trade Policy and Biotechnology Action Team.  “Full implementation of all three free trade agreements that were passed by Congress last October will help support thousands of jobs throughout America. Developing new markets for our country’s agricultural products is vital to producer income and also helps our sector lead the nation in economic growth and international competitiveness.”  Korea is currently the United States’ third largest corn market and is a potentially important market for distillers grains.  Imports of U.S....

(Posted Fri. Feb 17th, 2012)

Keywords: Ethanol

Feb. 17:  Trevor Bayne, the unlikely 2011 Daytona 500 winner, kicks off the 2012 NASCAR season today with the American Ethanol green flag in his hand. Bayne will drive his No. 21 Wood Brothers Ford over a section of the old Daytona Beach course to the track's former north turn. Following a news conference, Bayne will continue on to the speedway, where he'll present the American Ethanol green flag to symbolically open 2012 Speedweeks festivities.  The loudest, wildest and most unpredictable week in sports gets underway today with Bayne carrying a very visible reminder that NASCAR made the switch to a 15 percent ethanol blend in 2011 with the introduction of Sunoco Green E15 in every vehicle hitting the track in the Sprint Cup Series, Nationwide races, and Camping World Truck series.  “Thanks to the strong support of our state corn checkoff programs, the National Corn Growers Association is a proud partner with NASCAR in conjunction with Growth Energy and American Ethanol,”...

(Posted Fri. Feb 17th, 2012)

Keywords: Trade

Feb. 17:  At the invitation of the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, an NCGA representative this week attended a U.S.-China Trade Symposium in Iowa that focused on sustainable agriculture, food safety and food security. The symposium was part of Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping’s week-long trip to the United States; also at the meeting were U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and China Minister of Agriculture Han Changfu.  “Secretary Vilsack pointed out during his remarks that the United States and China are the world’s two largest agriculture producing countries,” said Chad Blindauer, chair of NCGA’s Trade Policy and Biotechnology Action and a corn farmer from Mitchell, S.D., who represented NCGA at the trade conference. “We believe in the importance of strengthening trade relationships. We hope to see our countries will continue to build on our agricultural partnership.”   During the symposium, Vilsack and Han signed a Plan of Strategic Cooperation that will guide the...

(Posted Thu. Feb 16th, 2012)

Keywords: Research

Feb. 16:  Feb. 28, 2008, a red-letter day for modern corn production, also marked what may be the National Corn Growers Association’s greatest research achievement to date.  It was the day scientists from Washington University’s Genome Research Center announced the completion of a working draft of the corn genome – a breakthrough expected to accelerate the production of new corn hybrids, allow researchers to develop better varieties without using genetic modification, and exploit corn’s exceptional diversity.  Fifty years ago, NCGA’s leading role in such a multi-year effort would have been as hard to imagine as the gene mapping technology itself.  Scientific research is both time-consuming and expensive, and in its early days, NCGA lacked the resources to pursue serious research.  Only after 1977, when the first state corn checkoffs were established, did the outlook for better research funding begin to change, but with smaller corn crops (just 6.5 billion bushels in...

(Posted Thu. Feb 16th, 2012)

Keywords: Production

  Feb. 16:  The National Corn Growers Association released its 2011 National Corn Yield Contest Guide online, providing a sneak preview of the winner profiles and sustainability information that will hit many farmers’ mailboxes in the mid February issue of Farm Journal.  With a personal message from NCGA President Garry Niemeyer and informative and entertaining information, such as a look at the nation’s oldest corn club, this edition of the annual publication provides the detailed contest information, insightful articles and exciting updates upon which farmers have come to rely.  Click here to view the full guide, which was co-sponsored by BASF, John Deere and Pioneer Hi-Bred, a DuPont Business.  In his letter, Niemeyer praises the ability of America’s corn farmers to resiliently press ahead, achieving a bountiful harvest despite difficult weather conditions across the country.  He notes that this optimism is reflected in the contest as well.  “Farmers demonstrated...

(Posted Wed. Feb 15th, 2012)

Feb. 15: Contrary to popular belief, straightforward answers to your farming and food questions do exist. Now, consumers can find answers in one location as a result of CommonGround’s new Website.  The Website, which launched this week, has transitioned from informing audiences about the CommonGround program to providing a resource for consumers on many of the most popular food and farming topics.  As site visitors search for information on a variety of food-related questions, the program’s volunteers will provide visitors with a combination of firsthand accounts of what happens on their farms and scientific research.  “I hope our Website will make people aware of the fact there is a lot of misinformation out there,” said Jennifer Schmidt, a CommonGround volunteer and diversified farmer from Sudlersville, Md. “Not all farmers live near or have access to urban consumers like I do in the mid-Atlantic region. Our Website is a great way for farm women from all over the country to...

(Posted Wed. Feb 15th, 2012)

Feb. 15:  The National Telecommunications and Information Administration announced to the Federal Communications Commission on Tuesday that LightSquared’s plans to build a nationwide 4G broadband network will impact global positioning systems. NTIA said the latest round of testing showed there is “no practical way to mitigate the potential interference at this time.”  The National Corn Growers Association has been monitoring this issue closely for its members, who rely on using GPS on their farms.   “The announcement is a welcome one for our organization,” NCGA President Garry Niemeyer said.  “Expanded internet access is important to our members but not when it compromises the use of high-precision GPS equipment.  We hope the NTIA’s statement will help put this issue to rest once and for all.”  The FCC will now propose that the conditional waiver, which was granted last year, be revoked.  The waiver required LightSquared prove the interference problems could be fixed...

(Posted Tue. Feb 14th, 2012)

Keywords: Farm Policy

Feb. 14:  From NCGA’s earliest days, long before issues like ethanol or biotechnology arose, farm policy has been at the top of the association’s priority list.  Farm policy was a “natural” for organization founder Walter Goeppinger, who made a point of working with presidents and congressional leaders of both parties on behalf of corn growers. His close relations in government and his stature as a spokesman for growers established an NCGA tradition of initiative and effectiveness in farm policy debates.  That tradition has continued with each farm bill since Goeppinger’s day and spread into additional issues as U.S. farm policy evolved.  In 1965, NCGA went to Congress backing a new concept: a four-year extension of the farm bill’s feed grain section to eliminate the need to revisit it annually. That ushered in the modern pattern of farm bill consideration and renewal.  NCGA and Goeppinger were also leaders in developing coalitions to back farm policy, bringing...

(Posted Tue. Feb 14th, 2012)

Keywords: Ethanol

Feb. 14:  The National Corn Growers Association, in conjunction with the Illinois Corn Growers Association and the Minnesota Corn Growers Association, has filed comments with the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration outlining several concerns with the proposed Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards.   “We are concerned that the proposed CAFE/GHG rule is inconsistent with the RFS2 regulation and the EISA requirement to use 36 billion gallons of renewable fuel in 2022 in several areas,” the letter stated. “In other regulatory actions, EPA continues to express support for achieving the requirements of RFS2, yet there is no mention in the CAFE/GHG rule concerning the role of renewable alternative fuels in achieving the required GHG reductions.”  Commending the agencies on the joint effort to improve fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions at a national level, NCGA urges the agencies to address the concerns outlined through a...

(Posted Mon. Feb 13th, 2012)

Keywords: Ethanol Trade

Feb. 13:  This week, the U.S. Grains Council, a sister organization to the National Corn Growers Association that develops export markets for U.S. corn, barley, grain sorghum and related products, meets in Panama for its annual membership meeting, and a new chart provided by USGC shows how much the global corn supply has grown in previous years to meet all needs worldwide.  “Total corn use outside the United States has not slacked off  but has continued to grow in spite of the high prices of recent years, said NCGA President Garry Niemeyer, who was attending the meeting with other NCGA officers. “It’s interesting to note that the price increase we’ve seen for corn around the world has not dampened foreign corn demand, but have actually stimulated corn production outside the United States.”  Because foreign corn production has risen faster than foreign corn use, Niemeyer noted, there has been a drop in corn imports from countries such as the United States.  A second chart...

(Posted Mon. Feb 13th, 2012)

Keywords: Farm Policy

Feb. 13:  As the Senate begins to prepare for farm bill hearings, the National Corn Growers Association signed a letter with more than 80 other agriculture groups urging Congress to pass a new bill this year.  The letter was sent to the chairs and ranking members of the Senate and House Ag Committees.   “The 2012 farm bill is among the most important pieces of legislation the U.S. Congress will consider this year,” the letter stated.  “We ask you to reject calls for delay and aggressively act to ensure that a new, comprehensive farm bill is passed this year.  Farmers need a safety net that works more effectively, and they need access to tools that help them be good stewards of our natural resources.”  The letter also stated that a temporary extension of current policy would create uncertainty without addressing important issues such as job creation hunger prevention resources.   To read the letter, click...

(Posted Mon. Feb 13th, 2012)

Feb. 13:  With more than two weeks before the 2012 Commodity Classic kicks off in Nashville, Tenn., the show has broken all registration records. Last year, total attendance set a record of 4,826 show participants. This year, registrations for the 17th annual event have already surpassed the 5,000 mark with two more weeks left until onsite registration opens.  “We are thrilled that more and more growers and industry professionals recognize the value of attending Commodity Classic,” said Commodity Classic co-chair Martin Barbre. “Agriculture is both an exciting and challenging way of life. Because Commodity Classic addresses farming from a grower’s perspective, attendees find they can take information they’ve gathered from the show and put what’s practical for their operations into the field.”  More farm families, first-time attendees and agribusiness representatives will be at Commodity Classic than ever before. To celebrate the record breaking attendance, Commodity...

(Posted Fri. Feb 10th, 2012)

Feb. 10:  The National Corn Growers Association’s Grower Services Action Team met in Kissimmee, Fla., this week to review programs under its jurisdiction related to membership, leadership and communications. The meeting followed the biennial Membership Symposium in which association and staff from around the Corn Belt talked about ways to recruit, retain and engage grower members.  “We had a terrific set of meetings this week at a great time to celebrate record membership for NCGA, record program participation, record state corn checkoff investments and, in a few weeks, a Commodity Classic convention and trade show that also will be a record-breaker,” said Brandon Hunnicutt, chairman of the Grower Services Action Team. “We’re looking forward to some great new member benefits rolling out shortly and doing all we can to make our programs better than ever before, building leaders and communicating the importance of corn and American agriculture to audiences...

(Posted Fri. Feb 10th, 2012)

Keywords: Ethanol

Feb. 10:  The National Corn Growers Association’s Ethanol Committee met in Kansas City, Mo., this week to review programs to promote legislation and support opportunities that foster this important market. With guest speakers including PRX economist Bill Hudson and representatives from the farm machinery and aromatics industries, the attendees updated themselves on the latest information on the markets and opportunities while staff provided input on the legislative climate in Washington.  “The market for ethanol has grown exponentially over the past decade, thus utilizing an abundance of corn to meet the already-present need for a renewable, domestic biofuel,” said Chad Willis, chairman of the Ethanol Committee. “Now, we face a myriad of challenges and opportunities as those in the industry continue to innovate while some outside of it continue attempts to deny ethanol’s incredible value to our nation.”  Participants got a first-hand look at the LifeLine Foods business model...

(Posted Fri. Feb 10th, 2012)

Keywords: Ethanol

By Rick Tolman  CEO, National Corn Growers Association     Feb. 10:  A writer for Fortune magazine appears to want to make his journalistic fortune with stories that betray a lack of preparation, depth and balance. What else would explain a recent article on ethanol that is one-dimensional, one-sided and full of personal opinions and petty biases?  The only source the reporter cites in his page-long screed in the Feb. 6 issue of the magazine is someone he hyped in an earlier article as an “investing sage” and who – what do you know? – has invested in a biofuels plant that would compete with corn ethanol. To this person, ethanol is “diabolical” and could lead to starvation. While this investor attacks the Renewable Fuel Standard, his own biofuels plant will benefit greatly from it.  Such is what passes for journalism these days. It would be nice to have the ear of a reporter at a magazine like Fortune, and feed him little comments he can weave into an article that will...

(Posted Thu. Feb 9th, 2012)

Keywords: Biotechnology

Feb. 9:  As planting for the 2012 season approaches, the National Corn Growers Association notes that newly revamped on-farm refuge assessments are part of the enhanced Compliance Assurance Program (CAP) implemented last year, which is designed to improve compliance with Insect Resistance Management (IRM) requirements. Corn growers found to be out of compliance with refuge requirements will be checked more frequently by the Bt corn registrants and have a higher probability of losing access to Bt corn if compliance is not established and maintained.   The Agricultural Biotechnology Stewardship Technical Committee (ABSTC), a consortium of Bt corn registrants, submits an annual CAP report to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) describing industry-coordinated compliance assurance efforts for Bt traits. The year’s report is the first following the implementation of the enhanced CAP.  “To implement the CAP, technology providers made some major changes to their...

(Posted Thu. Feb 9th, 2012)

Keywords: Trade

Feb. 9:  Trade is critically important to U.S. corn growers’ balance sheets – just look at what happens to corn prices when export demand wanes – but trade issues never seem to take center stage the way ethanol or farm programs do.  As a result, NCGA’s sustained efforts in the trade arena are too often overlooked.  But they are still essential.  Walter Goeppinger, NCGA’s founder, recognized the importance of trade.  Within three years of establishing NCGA, he played a leading role in creating the U.S. Feed Grains Council (now the U.S. Grains Council) as a tool to develop export markets for U.S. corn.  Goeppinger, who presided over NCGA from 1957 to 1973, also served as the USFGC’s first chairman in 1961.  Nearly 40 years later, Nebraska grower Bob Dickey, like Goeppinger, served in both roles -- USGC chairman in 1998 and NCGA president in 2009.  Dickey, whose mantra at the Grains Council was “exports move my markets,” made better coordination between NCGA and the...

(Posted Thu. Feb 9th, 2012)

Keywords: Farm Policy

Feb. 9:  As Congress continues the 2012 farm bill process, members of the National Corn Growers Associations’ Public Policy Action Team met in Washington this week to hear more about the subject from experts from inside the beltway.  PPAT’s mission is to offer direction to NCGA efforts to address public policy issues.  The action team is comprised of 17 growers and staff from across the country.  “We came together in Washington this week to review current farm bill proposals and discuss timing and framework,” NCGA PPAT Chair Anthony Bush, a farmer from Mount Gilead, Ohio said.  “Our agenda was filled with briefings from Capitol Hill staff.  The staff have very demanding schedules and we greatly appreciate them taking time to speak with us. Those relationships are invaluable, especially at a time such as this.”  PPAT heard from House and Senate Ag Committee staff and experts on farm and risk management policy.  Members were also briefed on other farm bill proposals and had...

(Posted Wed. Feb 8th, 2012)

Keywords: Corn Sugar

Feb. 8:  As the refined sugar industry continues efforts to revive litigation claims already dismissed by a federal judge, it argued this week against a second dismissal as it defended the rewritten lawsuit filed in November.  The suit, which the federal judge allowed the group to file following dismissal of the initial claims, targets members of the Corn Refiners Association again and seeks to create confusion by suggesting that cane and beet sugar is healthier than its corn-based counterpart.  “Voices in the food debate ranging from Michael Pollan to Martha Stewart have all agreed on one simple fact about sugar- that it is nutritionally equal whether it comes from corn, cane or beat,” said National Corn Growers Association President Garry Niemeyer. “While, like most things, sugar of any nature should be consumed in moderation, corn farmers know that their crop produces a quality, affordable sweetener that offers many benefits.  We support the efforts being made to provide...

(Posted Wed. Feb 8th, 2012)

Feb: 8: Last week, National Corn Growers Association President Garry Niemeyer, along with other members of the organizations leadership, took time away from his farm again to meet with federal legislators in Washington DC for discussions on issues affecting corn farmers across the country.  During this visit, he also took time to speak on the importance of helping government officials understand how potential legislation and regulation could impact farmers. Stressing the key role that grassroots activism plays in the development of government policies, Niemeyer encouraged his fellow growers to cultivate the relationships that will help farming grow.  To listen to the full interview, please click here.  Explaining this trip in particular, he noted that making an impact on the Hill requires sustained efforts.  “This is no different than what we normally do before a farm bill,” he said, speaking on behalf of all NCGA leadership. “During this trip, we [also] talked about our...

(Posted Tue. Feb 7th, 2012)

Feb. 7:  Every two years, corn grower association staff members responsible for building and retaining farmer membership at the state and national level get together to learn from experts and share best practices  -- something crucially important for organizations that respect the value of grassroots involvement. This week in Florida, the National Corn Growers Association will host a meeting of dozens of membership staff from around the country.  “This is a great opportunity to celebrate success, talk about the value of membership and share stories about what works,” said Nebraska corn grower Brandon Hunnicutt, chairman of NCGA’s Grower Services Action Team. “As we look at building membership, keeping them informed and involved is also important.”  To this end, the NCGA Membership Symposium will include presentations on connecting multiple generations of members and how to retain memberships over time.  In addition, NCGA will review its membership program and many membership...

(Posted Tue. Feb 7th, 2012)

Feb. 7:  Last week, the Purdue University Agricultural Alumni Association awarded National Corn Growers Association CEO Rick Tolman a Certificate of Distinction, the highest honor it bestows.  The association conferred this award in recognition of his exemplary and longstanding service to both the agricultural industry and his community.   "Purdue Ag Alumni is honored to present such a distinguished group of professionals with our highest award, recognizing the many ways they have gone beyond the normal call of duty to perform their jobs and to serve others," said Donya Lester, the association's executive director. "Recipients represent the highest degree of achievement and commitment to our industry. Their leadership and their values of citizenship and service have transformed businesses, organizations and communities, and they are an inspiration to all of us who work in agriculture and natural resources."  Under Tolman's leadership, NCGA has grown in membership, checkoff...

(Posted Tue. Feb 7th, 2012)

Keywords: Ethanol

Feb. 7:  The House Science Committee passed a piece of legislation today that will require the Environmental Protection Agency to conduct additional testing on E15 before allowing use of the blend. H.R. 3199 is sponsored by James Sensenbrenner(R-WI) and includes an additional six cosponsors. The legislation was passed by a vote of 19-7.  “NCGA is disappointed to see the House Science Committee vote in favor of a piece of legislation that will hamper consumer choice in fuel,” NCGA President Garry Niemeyer said. “The EPA has thoroughly tested and approved the use of E15 in motor vehicles.  This legislation will create further government bureaucracy and generate unnecessary costs to American taxpayers for something that has already been appropriately vetted.”  The bill will require the EPA to task the National Academies of Science with conducting further research that would compare mid-level ethanol blends  to blends containing 10 and zero percent ethanol.  The National...

New Staffers Bring Expertise, Enthusiasm

(Posted Mon. Feb 6th, 2012)

Feb. 6:  The National Corn Growers Association welcomes Dr. Pam Keck, who joins the organization as director of biofuels programs and business development.  Keck, a multi-faceted scientist and educator, brings more than 20 years of experience in the agricultural and biofuels industry, academia and not-for-profit research to the position.  “Pam is an incredibly valuable addition to our team, and we are excited to be able to utilize her broad knowledge base to further enhance our biofuels program,” said NCGA Vice President of Production and Utilization Paul Bertels.  “She is uniquely suited to the position because, in addition to her scientific achievements, Pam also excels as a communicator, thus facilitating the informed discussion and decision-making that are crucial in this area.”  Keck most recently contracted with Monsanto, coordinating an outreach program that brought together schools and scientists.  She has previously taught chemistry at Southern Illinois University,...

(Posted Mon. Feb 6th, 2012)

Feb. 6:  Farm women volunteers involved in the CommonGround outreach program, along with state and national staff, met in Charleston, S.C., to share their experiences with the program and welcome new members last week.  Over the course of three days, the participants worked intensively on the tools that they use to share their personal story and that of modern farming with urban and suburban moms through sessions on social media, public speaking and interview skills.  CommonGround is a joint program of the United Soybean Board and the National Corn Growers Association.  Also at the meeting, industry experts presented to the group on a variety of relevant topics, including the use of social media in grassroots movements and the science of food safety.  “The energy and passion these volunteers bring to CommonGround is inspiring,” said NCGA First Vice President Pam Johnson.  “The farmers leading our organization have seen first-hand the importance of connecting with modern...

(Posted Fri. Feb 3rd, 2012)

Feb. 3:  Six corn growers from around the country have been nominated for election to the National Corn Growers Association’s Corn Board for the 2013 fiscal year, which begins October 1. New board members will be elected by state delegates at the Corn Congress this July in Washington.  “Each year, we get a great group of dedicated growers who sacrifice their time on the farm to serve their national organization, and American agriculture in general,” said NCGA Chairman Bart Schott, chair of the Nominating Committee. “These six growers have already proved they have the right stuff, through years of leadership at the local, state and even national level. We salute their interest in taking on more of a leadership role, and we know it’s going to be a hard decision for our delegates this summer.”  Those nominated include, in alphabetical order:  Keith Alverson of Chester, S.D. Alverson is running for re-election to the Corn Board and is a former chair of the NCGA Ethanol...

(Posted Thu. Feb 2nd, 2012)

Feb. 2:  The House of Representatives Small Business Committee’s Agriculture Subcommittee held a timely hearing today on the effects of proposed child labor regulations on small-business producers.  The hearing comes a day after the Department of Labor announced it would re-propose the “parental exemption” portion of the regulation.   “We are pleased to see the Administration listened to the thousands of comments received from Members of Congress and farmers on this issue,” said NCGA Vice President of Public Policy Jon Doggett.  “NCGA is an advocate for farm safety and supports organizations such as FFA and 4-H that place a strong emphasis on educating youth on this subject.  However, the decision on what are safe responsibilities for children on the farm should be made by parents, not the federal government.”  Members in today’s subcommittee hearing heard testimony from Department of Labor and USDA officials.  The announcement from the Department of Labor, also discussed...

(Posted Thu. Feb 2nd, 2012)

Feb. 2:  With the Colorado Corn Growers Association’s sponsorship, NCGA’s Washington office welcomes new intern Travis Roth this week.  Roth will spend the next three months getting a first-hand look at legislative and regulatory policy work at the federal level.  “We are thrilled to welcome Travis to the Washington office and greatly appreciate Colorado Corn’s generous sponsorship if this internship,” said NCGA Vice President of Public Policy Jon Doggett.  “Travis will be in our office during some of our busiest months of the year.  His strong background in agriculture will benefit him greatly as he gains first-hand experience how our organization works with government officials on our most important issues.”  During his internship, Roth will have the opportunity to assist the public policy staff with research and briefing documents.  He will also aide staff in preparations for hearings and meetings on Capitol Hill.  Roth grew up in his family’s farm in rural Colorado. ...

(Posted Wed. Feb 1st, 2012)

Feb. 1:  The award-winning America’s Heartland television program is now in its seventh season of introducing non-farm viewers to the men and women who provide the food, fuel, and fiber we use and consume daily.  Currently, the series is seen in 20 of the top 25 television markets and on more than 240 PBS stations, covering 60 percent of the country.  Overall, including its RFD-TV viewership, the series reaches more than 40 million viewers each season.  The National Corn Growers Association is a proud promotional partner of the program.  “We’re very happy to support this program because it provides an important way to make sure people in the cities and suburbs know more about what all of us are doing on the farm to make all our lives better,” said NCGA President Garry Niemeyer. “With the vast majority of Americans having fewer ties to rural America, it’s important to let them know how we work hard to produce the food and other farm products they still depend on, and the many...

(Posted Wed. Feb 1st, 2012)

Feb. 1:  When Walter Goeppinger founded the National Corn Growers Association, he wanted it to be a self-help tool corn producers could use to plan for their industry’s future.  Since 1957, his two priorities – grower control and focusing on the challenges of the future – have become ingrained, and the NCGA has demonstrated an ongoing capacity for strategic thinking and change, as seen with major structural reorganizations in 1977 and 1998.  “The fact that we made the change – I think it was truly a result of the membership of the Corn Growers,” says Ryland Utlaut, the Missourian who presided over NCGA’s 1998 restructuring.  “I think they were more forward-looking than some others.”  The same could be said of the 1977 reorganization, which created NCGA’s federation of state groups just as the first state corn checkoffs were being established.  While many agricultural checkoffs are governed by USDA-appointed boards, the corn checkoffs are all state-based, and almost all...