NEWS STORIES

AUGUST 2012

(Posted Fri. Aug 31st, 2012)

Aug. 31: Now more than ever, Americans rely on the Internet and social media to learn about hot-button issues and connect with others who share similar social views. For moms, food production is an issue that is constantly top of mind. Hundreds of Colorado moms have taken to blogs to communicate how food impacts their lifestyles with readers around the globe. Colorado rancher Cindy Frasier, farmer Danell Kalcevic and dairy farmer Jennifer Koolstra set out to build understanding and initiate a conversation with these online influencers at the first annual CommonGround Colorado blogger conversation luncheon this week.    The three women are volunteers with the CommonGround program, a national grassroots movement launched by the National Corn Growers Association, the United Soybean Board and their state affiliates to bridge the gap between the women who grow food and the women who buy it. This luncheon brought together nearly a dozen mommy and lifestyle bloggers for discussion about...

(Posted Fri. Aug 31st, 2012)

Aug. 31: The National Corn Growers Association is seeking applications from members interested in working on an NCGA action team or committee in the 2013 fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1. This service provides growers an opportunity to play an active role in shaping the future of their industry and to become a part of the national agricultural leadership community. With a Sept. 4 deadline rapidly approaching, NCGA urges growers to act today.  “As a grassroots organization, NCGA relies on its members to step forward and take an active role in developing the policies that will lead our industry forward,” said NCGA First Vice President Pam Johnson. “This year, we have opportunities in all of the areas the organization touches, thus allowing members to take their involvement to the next level while exploring in great depth the areas which interest them the most.”  Positions are available on all teams and committees: Production and Stewardship Action Team, Research and Business...

(Posted Fri. Aug 31st, 2012)

The National Corn Growers Association continues the second season of Field Notes, a series that takes readers behind the farm gate to follow the year in the life of American farm families. While these growers come from diverse geographic areas and run unique operations, they share a common love for U.S. agriculture and the basic values that underpin life in farming communities.  This week, Field Notes caught up with Brian Scott, an Indiana farmer and agvocate blogger. While harvest remains roughly one week out in his area, Scott was out in his fields today assessing the moisture content of his corn and planning out the next steps as he plants cover crops for the first time. Last week, he took a few days away from his farm to attend a social media conference in Kansas City, where he presented to fellow farmers on using mobile applications.  To listen to the audio interview, click here.  Field Notes also caught up with Sam Hancock, a Kentucky farmer also featured in the first...

(Posted Fri. Aug 31st, 2012)

Keywords: Production

Aug 31: This week, Iowa farmer and NCGA Production & Stewardship Action Team member Jay Lynch participated in a briefing for EPA’s Office of Pesticide Programs regarding the benefits of seed treatments.  Neonicotinoids, a seed treatment used on the vast majority of corn in the U.S., have come under increased activist pressure in recent months due to concerns that the products are contributing to Colony Collapse Disorder in honey bees.   “Seed treatments are critically important to growers because they protect the seed from disease and pests after planting and through the germination period,” Lynch said during his briefing.  “Unpredictable weather patterns mean that the seed could remain in the ground for an extended period of time. Without these neonicotinoid products, yields would be reduced and entire fields may need to be replanted.  Farmers work diligently to minimize dust from planters and often establish relationships with nearby beekeepers to minimize exposure to...

(Posted Thu. Aug 30th, 2012)

Keywords: Biotechnology Research

Aug. 30: The second edition of the National Corn Growers Association’s Research Glossary is now available online. This glossary, which covers the terms most frequently used in agricultural discussions of genomics, genetics and biotechnology, provides a simple, accessible resource for those looking to better understand and communicate on programs such as the corn genome sequence.     Click here for the online glossary. A pocket guide version is also available through the mail by contacting NCGA at corninfo@ncga.com.     “While farmers understand the important role research plays in modern agriculture, an enriched understanding of scientific terminology facilitates discussion,” said NCGA Research and Business Development Action Team Chair DeVonna Zeug. “We are extremely proud of NCGA’s work to advance biotechnology through projects such as the National Plant Genome Initiative, and the glossary builds upon these achievements.  In this edition, we have refined the glossary, improving...

(Posted Thu. Aug 30th, 2012)

Keywords: Ethanol

Aug. 30: This week, the Environmental Protection Agency started the 30-day comment period on the waiver request of the Renewable Fuel Standard.  Today, NCGA President Garry Niemeyer sent a letter to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson requesting an additional 30-day extension, citing harvest and the uncertainty of this year’s corn crop.  “Across the nation our members are beginning harvest, one of the busiest times of the year,” Niemeyer wrote.  “Given the demands of harvest, I am concerned that the proposed 30-day comment period will not provide sufficient time for a thorough analysis of the proposed waiver and would hinder farmer participation in this important policy process.  Also, with the crop still in the field, it is too early to determine this year’s final corn supply.”  Currently, the comment period will close at the end of September.  After that time, EPA will have an additional 60 days to make a decision. NCGA plans to submit comments before the deadline.  During the...

(Posted Wed. Aug 29th, 2012)

By Rick Tolman, NCGA Chief Executive Officer  The 19th Century British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli has been credited with pointing out that there are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics. While no one knows for sure whether he really said this, what we do know for sure is that we are experiencing a devastating and widespread drought in the United States that has decimated our corn and soybean crops and ravaged our hay and pasture lands across the Midwest.   It is easily the worst drought in our lifetimes, and many will suffer because of it.  In particular, the livestock industry is being hard hit and with high feed prices and short supplies.  We also know that it is a time for agriculture to pull together and seek realistic solutions. The national media does not help when they continue to sensationalize the issue and report misinformation. Here are few examples where the national media needs to do a little homework and get the story straight rather than...

(Posted Tue. Aug 28th, 2012)

Keywords: Trade

Aug. 28: Demand for distillers dried grain with solubles in China is growing at a robust pace according to a recent U.S. Department of Agriculture Economic Reporting Service report. While use of the ethanol coproduct, widely considered a high quality feed ingredient, remains experimental, the agency expects to see a steady rise as China’s feed demand expands rapidly over the next 10 years.  “As the people of China continue their climb into the global middle class, they are moving toward a diet rich in both protein and taste,” said National Corn Growers Association President Garry Niemeyer, a farmer from Auburn, Ill. “Given the incredible size of its population, a shift in the average Chinese diet can generate impressive demand. U.S. farmers and ethanol producers look forward to working with the Chinese feed industry to fill this need with quality U.S. distillers grains. DDGS represent a tremendous opportunity for so many, truly maximizing the usefulness of our corn crop and its...

(Posted Tue. Aug 28th, 2012)

Aug 28: As the Farm Progress Show kicked off today in Boone, Iowa, National Corn Growers Association First Vice President Pam Johnson participated in a Farm Bill Now press conference with six other commodity groups.  Today’s participants are part of the larger Farm Bill Now coalition that currently has 46 agricultural group and organization members.  “Agriculture is one of the few bright spots in the American economy,” Johnson said during the press conference.  “Our farmers continue to be more productive and innovative.  But to continue that trend, we need to have some certainty about how we plan our business. And that is exactly what the farm bill does.”  Farm Bill Now is a coalition of agricultural groups, each with strong and varied policy priorities.  The have now come together in a united front to call on Congress to pass a new, five-year farm bill before the current law expires on September 30.  According to the USDA, one in every 12 jobs is directly tied back to the farm...

(Posted Mon. Aug 27th, 2012)

Aug. 27: Harvest is progressing more quickly than average this year. With six percent of acres already complete nationally, many states are progressing well ahead of schedule, according to a U.S. Department of Agriculture report released this afternoon.  Corn condition overall remains stable as the growing season nears an end, with no significant changes evident since last week.   “Farmers have faced many difficulties this year, with a long, intense drought impacting much of the Corn Belt in 2012,” said National Corn Growers Association President Garry Niemeyer.  “After an early planting season and optimism surrounding the large numbers of acres planted, much of the Midwest saw corn that failed to reach its full potential due to unfavorable weather during critical periods. Despite these setbacks, farmers across the country are drawing upon their inner reserves, resiliently working to make this harvest as abundant as possible for our nation.  As their work continues, it is...

(Posted Fri. Aug 24th, 2012)

Aug. 24: This week, the National Corn Growers Association and the American Soybean Association brought together key industry stakeholders to continue a dialogue on ways to improve cooperation and communication on biotechnology and market access issues.  The meetings built upon prior discussions, during which representatives from a broad array of interests agreed that it would be beneficial for the industry to communicate more regularly and openly on such matters.  ASA President Steve Wellman and NCGA Chairman Bart Schott opened the meeting by welcoming farmers, members of the grain trade, biotechnology company leadership and others from the grain and oilseed trade and by extending thanks for the efforts invested in this dialogue.  In his remarks, Schott reinforced that NCGA and ASA chose to play a leadership role in this process because of the value their members see in providing the entire industry with an open space in which to find ways to improve communication.  “Only...

(Posted Fri. Aug 24th, 2012)

The National Corn Growers Association continues the second season of Field Notes, a series that takes readers behind the farm gate to follow the year in the life of American farm families. While these growers come from diverse geographic areas and run unique operations, they share a common love for U.S. agriculture and the basic values that underpin life in farming communities.  This week, Field Notes caught up with Billy Thiel, who farms in Marshall, Mo. Thiel, who farms in an area hard-hit by the summer’s drought, is now harvesting his corn, a full three weeks ahead of what would be normal for his area. While he had prepared himself for the worst, he has been pleasantly surprised by how well his corn has survived despite the dry conditions. Although his farm has been drier than it was during the multiple droughts of the 1980s, Thiel believes that the many advances in seed technology helped him preserve his yields.  To listen to the audio interview, click hereStay tuned...

(Posted Thu. Aug 23rd, 2012)

Aug. 23:  The deadline is approaching for the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance’s “Faces of Farming and Ranching” to help put a real face on agriculture and show its true spirit. A proud affiliate and board member of USFRA, the National Corn Growers urges interested farmers to consider this opportunity.  “I’ve met a lot of corn growers with inspiring stories to share about what they do and the passion that helps make their stories more meaningful,” said NCGA Chairman Bart Schott, a grower from North Dakota who also serves as USFRA vice-chair.  “This is a terrific opportunity to help them share their personal story with new, larger audiences while helping highlight agriculture’s continuous commitment to improvement. Now is the time to raise our voices and tell our real story.”  USFRA is looking for standout farmers and ranchers, farming-ranching couples and/or families who are proud of what they do, eager to share their stories of continuous improvement with others and are...

(Posted Thu. Aug 23rd, 2012)

Keywords: Ethanol

August 23:  In celebration of the agricultural industry’s annual migration to the Farm Progress Show next week in Boone, Iowa, the National Corn Growers Association is inviting show attendees to stop by the Iowa Corn Growers Association booth to learn about what NCGA and its state affiliate are doing for their members.  “With school starting, NCGA is taking this opportunity to reach out to high school and college students, along with FFA and Ag Club coordinators to sign up for our “Ethanol Rocks” video contest,” said NCGA First Vice President Pam Johnson. “In addition to finding out more about this program, show attendees can stop by the Iowa Corn Growers Association booth, visit with corn growers and learn what NCGA and Iowa Corn are doing to promote our industry at the national and state levels .”   Students and coordinators attending the Farm Progress Show can enter to win a Sony Handycam and NCGA backpack filled with goodies to get them started on their video project. The...

(Posted Thu. Aug 23rd, 2012)

Aug. 23: The National Corn Growers Association appreciates the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s most recent decision to allow emergency haying and grazing of cover crops for livestock producers.  NCGA and the Iowa Corn Growers Association have worked on this issue with USDA’s Risk Management Agency as an additional drought resource for livestock producers.   According to the USDA, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack plans to file special provisions with the federal crop insurance program to allow haying and grazing of cover crops without impacting the insurability of planted 2013 spring crops.  This announcement will help provide much needed forage and feed for livestock during the fall and winter months.  “We are pleased to see the USDA continue to take important actions to help those affected by the drought,” NCGA President Garry Niemeyer said.  “The use of cover crops for emergency haying and grazing immensely helps our livestock partners but also corn farmers who have...

(Posted Wed. Aug 22nd, 2012)

Keywords: Transportation

Aug. 22: The National Corn Growers Association last week attended a series of meetings that underscored the need for significant changes to lock funding. The meetings looked at infrastructure repairs, transportation situations and ecosystem projects on the Upper Mississippi River. These events, which brought a broad array of stakeholders together to explore the future of this inland waterways system, were held just as drought conditions forced the closure of an 11-mile stretch of the river, highlighting the impact of disruptions to this important transportation channel.  The first meeting, hosted by the Army Corps of Engineers, examined navigation and ecosystem issues on the waterways and detailed the Corp’s long-range goals and priorities for repairs and improvements to the infrastructure along the river.  Attendees, including representatives from environmental groups, the grain trade, organized labor and shipping interests, looked at the various river projects while touring...

(Posted Wed. Aug 22nd, 2012)

Keywords: Farm Policy

Aug. 22:  The National Corn Growers Association has joined a coalition of 39 of the nation’s foremost agricultural organizations in an effort to raise public awareness of the need for Congress to pass a new, comprehensive, five-year farm bill before current farm programs expire in September.  The coalition, called Farm Bill Now, comprises associations and coalitions representing commodity crops, livestock, dairy, specialty crops, state and local governments, minor crops, energy and biobased product groups, farm cooperatives and financial groups, as well as the nation’s two largest farm groups, the American Farm Bureau Federation and the National Farmers Union. Each organization has strong and distinct policy priorities, yet all 39 are committed to passing a new, comprehensive bill this year.  Today, the group issues the following statement, titled “Why We Need a Farm Bill,” on the importance of new farm legislation for America’s farmers:  “Calling the farm bill the ‘farm bill’...

(Posted Tue. Aug 21st, 2012)

Keywords: Ethanol

Aug. 21: The National Corn Growers Association has supported a study that will be released this fall, reporting that supplementing cattle feed with corn stover actually decreases the amount of greenhouse gases created during corn ethanol production.  This study, by Life Cycle Associates, was designed to assess the impact on the carbon intensity, as measured by greenhouse gas emissions, of a corn ethanol pathway by taking into account the replacement of a portion of corn grain for feed with corn stover. The project received NCGA funding as part of a greater organizational effort to help find the answers farmers need in order to run the most efficient, environmentally friendly operations possible.  “It only makes sense that farmers place an incredible priority of caring for the environment,” said NCGA Ethanol Committee Chair Chad Willis, a grower from Willmar, Minn. “Natural resources, such as healthy soil and clean air and water, enable us not only to make a living but also  to...

(Posted Mon. Aug 20th, 2012)

Aug. 20: National Corn Growers Association officers and senior staff recently gathered with representatives of 12 leading agribusinesses for the biannual NCGA Agri-Industry Council meeting to discuss vital issues facing agriculture, share information on their companies and sectors, hear from recognized speakers and learn from NCGA about its current initiatives.  The Agri-Industry Council was established in 2007 to facilitate dialogue between agribusinesses and NCGA to collectively address issues of mutual concern.  “Providing growers with cutting-edge technology and constantly improving seed varieties, U.S. agri-business works hard to improve farming,” said NCGA President Garry Niemeyer. “These meetings bring key leaders from across the value chain together so that we move forward with a better understanding of the big picture and can coordinate to build a brighter future.”  Over the course of the meeting, NCGA officers, staff and consultants provided updates on the legislative...

(Posted Mon. Aug 20th, 2012)

The National Corn Growers Association continues the second season of Field Notes, a series that takes readers behind the farm gate to follow the year in the life of American farm families. While these growers come from diverse geographic areas and run unique operations, they share a common love for U.S. agriculture and the basic values that underpin life in farming communities.  This week, Field Notes caught up with Donna Jeschke, who farms a short drive from Chicago.  An avid agvocate, Donna updates listeners on how she and her husband, Paul have been helping consumers understand how the drought impacts corn and corn farmers through recent interviews with reporters from a variety of national media outlets. Already well into harvest preparation, Jeschke is also preparing for another activity that she enjoys, hosting farmers from other parts of the world to discuss the many similarities in their operations and ways in which they can learn from one another.  To listen to the audio...

(Posted Fri. Aug 17th, 2012)

Aug. 17: This week, volunteers from CommonGround Kentucky took their personal stories of America agriculture straight to the market, greeting grocery shoppers at a Louisville Kroger to discuss their questions about food.  Over the two-day event, dozens of interested consumers stopped to discuss how these farm women grow and raise the food in their carts.   “Having a conversation about food came so easy once ‘common ground’ was established,” said Jennifer Elwell, communications director for the Kentucky Corn Growers Association. “All our volunteers had to do was find something they had in common with the shoppers, and the conversations came about very easily.”  Many of those who stopped expressed their appreciation for the women’s willingness to start a conversation about the topics that mattered to them.  The event, organized by Elwell and Brent Burchett of the Kentucky Soybean Board, brought farmers Becky Thomas, Michelle Armstrong, Tommee Clark, Tonya Murphy and Carly Guinn to...

(Posted Fri. Aug 17th, 2012)

Keywords: Ethanol

Aug. 17:  The U.S. Appeals Court ruled today to dismiss a lawsuit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for its approval of E15. The National Corn Growers Association is pleased with the decision and supports the use of E15 for vehicles of model year 2001 or newer.  The original suit was filed by petroleum, engine, and grocery trade associations claiming the new ethanol and gasoline blend would cause damage to engines.  “Today’s decision by the Court of Appeals clarifies the known facts about the safe use of E15,” NCGA President Garry Niemeyer said.  “This sets the stage for consumers to have more choices at the pump.  In addition, the expanded use of ethanol will continue to create jobs and help strengthen America’s rural economy.”  The EPA began testing the use of E15 on vehicles in March 2009.  A combined six million miles have been driven and analyzed since the initial waiver.   The ethanol industry currently directly employs 70,000 Americans, many in rural...

(Posted Fri. Aug 17th, 2012)

The National Corn Growers Association continues the second season of Field Notes, a series that takes readers behind the farm gate to follow the year in the life of American farm families. While these growers come from diverse geographic areas and run unique operations, they share a common love for U.S. agriculture and the basic values that underpin life in farming communities.  This week, Field Notes caught up with Brian Scott, an Indiana farmer and agvocate blogger. While harvest remains a few weeks out in his area, Scott has already begun preparing his equipment and considering any possible issues which may occur. In addition to traditional farm work, Scott also discusses his experiences this summer in hosting both an Under Secretary of Agriculture and major media outlets interested in a first-hand account of the drought.  To listen to the audio interview, click here.  Field Notes also caught up with Sam Hancock, a Kentucky farmer also featured in the first season. With...

(Posted Thu. Aug 16th, 2012)

Aug. 16: As growers head to the fields to begin harvest, the National Corn Growers Association announces that harvest forms for the 2012 National Corn Yield Contest are now available online.  While the harvest information form deadline of Dec. 3 may seem distant, entrants are invited to report online at their earliest convenience to facilitate the expedient processing of information.   “As growers in many areas are already beginning final harvest preparations, we invite contest applicants to submit harvest forms early thus allowing NCGA staff time to thoroughly review each form,” said Dean Taylor, chairman of the NCGA Production and Stewardship Action Team. “The National Corn Yield Contest plays a significant role in recognizing excellence and finding new, more productive techniques. We hope that growers continue to support the contest by seeing their entry through and submitting their completed harvest data forms.”  The National Corn Yield Contest (NCYC) is in its 48th year and...

(Posted Thu. Aug 16th, 2012)

Aug. 16: The Corn Farmers Coalition is back in Washington to continue its mission of telling the story of the revolution going on in modern farming and the significant role family farmers have in this success.   After a brief absence, large format ads featuring real farm families and fact-based messages about America’s largest crop will return to the nation’s capital. The ads will be seen in ten metro stations throughout the city starting Monday.  “The focus of the CFC campaign is to educate decision makers and those who influence them by assuring a better awareness of agriculture and the positive changes being embraced by farmers,” said Lou Lamoreux, a Lanark, Ill., farmer whose family is featured in the campaign. “The idea is to build a foundation of knowledge related to growing productivity trends and environmental improvements and that’s still relevant even in light of the current drought.”  The lighted dioramas will be located on the passenger boarding areas in Forest...

(Posted Wed. Aug 15th, 2012)

Aug. 15: National Corn Growers Association President Garry Niemeyer released the following statement in response to formal petitions filed this week with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for a waiver of the Renewable Fuel Standard.  “We are in the midst of a historic and devastating drought.  Its impact will be felt well beyond the farm sector.  We have great concern and empathy for not only our members who are suffering, but all who we supply.  This includes the domestic livestock sector, our export customers, the domestic food industry and the ethanol industry.  All are suffering because of the drought.  “We continue to believe in the value and efficacy of the open market system.  It is the most efficient and effective way of allocating resources.   “There currently is a lot of public discussion about the role and impact of the Renewable Fuel Standard.  Unfortunately most of this discussion is unencumbered by facts and reality.  The facts clearly show that the RFS has...

(Posted Tue. Aug 14th, 2012)

Keywords: Production

Aug. 14: This week, the U.S. Grains Council, of which the National Corn Growers Association is a founding member, released an in-depth analysis of recent U.S. Department of Agriculture reports which revised corn production and market forecasts. Looking closely at the broader, international implications, the Council examines how natural market forces will stabilize corn markets and push corn users to find innovative ways to maximize efficiency and improve marketing and risk management strategies.  The Council report begins acknowledging that in its monthly agricultural supply/demand update the U.S. Department of Agriculture on August 10 again lowered the outlook for U.S. corn production, reflecting the continued deterioration of this year's crop due to the once-in-a-lifetime drought that affects most of the U.S. Corn Belt.  The latest USDA projection lowers both world and U.S. corn production forecasts to levels below those achieved in 2011/2012, but notes world production...

(Posted Mon. Aug 13th, 2012)

Keywords: Production

Aug. 13:  In its weekly crop progress update today, the U.S. Department of Agriculture rated 23% percent of the nation’s corn crop as good or excellent – the same rating as last week and an indication that corn quality has leveled off for the time being. Despite the challenges, the National Corn Growers Association reports, farmers have already begun harvesting crops in some areas. Expected production will still come in at more than 10 billion bushels, the eighth highest on record.  “We recognize the severity of the drought and we also recognize the need for patience and perspective as the season continues,” said NCGA President Garry Niemeyer, a grower in Illinois.  Due in great part to an earlier planting, corn crop progress is ahead of schedule in many areas, Niemeyer noted. USDA tracks crop progress according to various stages of corn development, with 42 percent of the crop now in the dent stage, compared to an average of 16 percent at this time. Ten percent of the crop has...

(Posted Fri. Aug 10th, 2012)

National Corn Growers Association President Garry Niemeyer released the following statement in response to the U.S. Department of Agriculture reports released this morning which further decreased the estimated U.S. corn production in 2012.  “Farmers across the country are coming to grips with the full impact of this devastating drought. The August USDA crop report confirms our concerns that corn production may be several billion bushels less than previously anticipated, due to a summer heat wave which kept temperatures well above normal and offered only sporadic rain.  “Our nation’s farmers have done all they can to increase the corn supply, planting the most corn acres our country has seen since 1937 this year. Thankfully, this additional acreage and innovative agronomic practices will make an important difference, and we remain hopeful that above average yields in some areas will further augment the crop. At the same time, we recognize that it will not fully cover yield...

(Posted Fri. Aug 10th, 2012)

Aug. 10: This week, National Corn Growers Association CEO Rick Tolman shared the farmer’s perspective to the American Coalition for Ethanol’s conference while addressing the group on the 2012 corn crop, the drought and NCGA’s support for ethanol and all markets for U.S. corn.  Speaking on Friday morning, Tolman stressed the importance of withholding judgment on the final size of the total corn crop until more complete information is available and harvest is complete.  Reiterating NCGA’s support for the ethanol industry and the Renewable Fuels Standard, he reminded attendees that a few short months ago it appeared that farmers would produce a record crop, far exceeding forecast demand. Despite the significant short-term impact of the drought, he noted that conditions will improve, production will increase and ethanol will remain a key market for corn.  ACE, which held its conference in Omaha, Neb., was formed in 1988 to bring together a wide range of groups in support of ethanol....

(Posted Thu. Aug 9th, 2012)

During a White House Rural Council meeting this week, President Obama outlined new disaster assistance efforts for those impacted by the drought.  Obama established the Rural Council in June 2011 to coordinate programs across government, to encourage public-private partnerships and to promote further economic prosperity and quality of life in rural communities nationwide.  It is chaired by Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack.  According to a White House release, USDA will use nearly $16 million in financial and technical assistance to immediately help crop and livestock producers in 19 states cope with the impacts of the drought. In addition, USDA will initiate a transfer of $14 million in unobligated program funds into the Emergency Conservation Program. These funds can be used to assist in moving water to and providing forage for livestock and rehabilitating lands severely impacted by the drought. These combined efforts should provide nearly $30 million to producers affected...

(Posted Thu. Aug 9th, 2012)

Last week 154 members of the House of Representatives sent a letter that included inaccuracies to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson urging a waiver of the Renewable Fuel Standard.  Today, National Corn Growers Association President Garry Niemeyer sent a letter to every member of the House of Representatives setting the record straight.   “Unfortunately, the letter sent to EPA Administrator Jackson did not provide accurate information about the amount of corn used to produce ethanol or livestock feed,” Niemeyer stated in the letter.  “Furthermore, it lacks a comprehensive description of the “burden of proof” required under the RFS waiver provisions. The letter relies on long discredited claims that opponents of the RFS have continued to reference in their on-going efforts to repeal the RFS.”    Niemeyer also pointed out research has shown that increased worldwide demand and the rising cost of oil and other inputs have had far greater effect on the price of corn than the ethanol...

(Posted Wed. Aug 8th, 2012)

Aug. 8: Growers are gathered today in Greensboro, N.C. for the first session of the NCGA Leadership Academy, co-sponsored by Syngenta. Upon completion of the program in January, the participants will join more than 500 colleagues who have graduated from this program in the past 26 years.  At the meeting, participants will get up-close look at NCGA from President Garry Niemeyer, who is also a Leadership Academy alumnus. Farmers will take part in media training and public speaking exercises as well as association management skill building. In addition, the class will look at future trends that will impact the industry and a comprehensive economic forecast from futurist Bob Treadway.  “As a Leadership Academy graduate, I have a deep appreciation for the confidence and skills attendees develop in such a short time, and of the ability of Syngenta and other presenters to hone in on what is most needed,” Niemeyer said. “As NCGA president, I am excited to see new leaders who want to...

(Posted Wed. Aug 8th, 2012)

Aug. 8: The benefits of membership in the National Corn Growers Association continue to grow with the recent announcement of a new benefit offering members the chance to save drastically on reservations at any hotel around the world, anywhere and at any time.  Through the program, NCGA members, their family and their friends have unlimited access to discounted hotel rates online or over the phone that can be used for business or leisure travel.  Offering discounts that are, on average, ten percent deeper than other online travel sites, members now have access to exclusive savings.  “It is an exciting time to be a NCGA member for many reasons,” said NCGA Growers Services Action Team Chair Brandon Hunnicutt.  “In addition to benefitting from the association’s work in research, market development, communications and stewardship, members now have a deep benefits portfolio custom designed to bring the greatest possible value to farmers on the goods and services that they already...

(Posted Tue. Aug 7th, 2012)

Aug. 7: During the U.S. Grains Council's 52nd Annual Board of Delegates meeting in Vancouver, Wash., members voted in a new slate of board of directors, selecting Don Fast as Chairman.  “We congratulate the new officers of the U.S. Grains Council and look forward to working with them to increase opportunities for U.S. corn farmers,” said National Corn Growers Association President Garry Niemeyer. “NCGA and the Council have historically enjoyed a productive, successful relationship, and these new officers will help us continue this legacy.”  Niemeyer addressed the delegates during the meeting with an update on the 2012 corn crop.  Noting the impacts of the drought, he pointed out the important role that an increase in planted acres will play in determining the eventual outcome of this year’s growing season. He vigorously stressed that, until the grain has been harvested and is in the bin, it is too early to accurately assess the size of this crop.  Addressing the conference,...

(Posted Tue. Aug 7th, 2012)

Aug. 7: CommonGround, first created through a partnership among the National Corn Growers Association, the United Soybean Board and their state affiliates, has grown into a movement of more than 50 women from a diverse group of farming operations.  These passionate volunteers give of their time and open their lives to start real conversations with moms about farming and food.  This week, CommonGround volunteer and Kansas farm mom LaVell Winsor spoke with the National Association of Farm Broadcasters about the program, saying consumers domestically and internationally have many questions about how farm families like hers grow food.  “Only one to two percent of our population farms,” Winsor explained. “So, the 98 to 99 percent of people who do not have a farm background could be two, three or maybe even four generations removed from agriculture. It makes sense that people have many legitimate questions about where their food comes from and what type of farm grows it. As...

(Posted Mon. Aug 6th, 2012)

Aug. 6: KVIE Public Television, producers of America’s Heartland, announced new consumer features, themed episodes, and new hosts as it premieres an unprecedented eighth season of the public television series celebrating U.S. agriculture starting the week of Sept. 10. The National Corn Growers Association is a proud promotional partner of this important effort to educate audiences about today’s agriculture.  During Season 8’s 22 new episodes, veteran reporters Jason Shoultz, Sarah Gardner and Rob Stewart are joined by Sharon Vaknin, video host and editor at CNET and a popular online chef. Vaknin debuts in Episode 801 as the host of Farm to Fork, where she introduces viewers to real-life farmers or ranchers to learn about the products they grow or raise. Together, she and her guests then prepare some delicious dishes using those same ingredients. All of the recipes will be posted on the America’s Heartland website.  The expanded reporting team is also joined by Kristin Simoes,...

(Posted Mon. Aug 6th, 2012)

Aug. 6: The National Corn Growers Association is seeking applications from members interested in working on an NCGA action team or committee in the 2013 fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1. This service provides growers an opportunity to play an active role in shaping the future of their industry and to become a part of the national agricultural leadership community.  “As a grassroots organization, NCGA relies on its members to step forward and take an active role in developing the policies that will lead our industry forward,” said NCGA First Vice President Pam Johnson. “This year, we have opportunities in all of the areas the organization touches, thus allowing members to take their involvement to the next level while exploring in great depth the areas which interest them the most.”  Positions are available on all teams and committees: Production and Stewardship Action Team, Research and Business Development Action Team, Public Policy Action Team, Grower Services Action Team,...

(Posted Fri. Aug 3rd, 2012)

Aug. 3:  The Wall Street Journal today published a letter to the editor from National Corn Growers Association President Garry Niemeyer, sent to the newspaper on July 27 in response to an opinion article by the CEO of Smithfield Foods, titled “The Ethanol Mandate is Worse than the Drought.” Here is the complete version of the letter, as submitted.  “To the editor: C. Larry Pope’s July 27 opinion article on ethanol (“The Ethanol Mandate is Worse than the Drought”) makes numerous invalid assertions. In the first place, he ignores the great flexibility inherent in the current Renewable Fuel Standard for biofuels, a flexibility that has greatly eased the potential impact on the corn supply in this drought year, with a significant surplus of ethanol and credits that equate to about a billion bushels of corn. According to one new independent study, because of this flexibility of the RFS, it has less than a 5 percent impact on the current price of corn -- even in this time of...

(Posted Fri. Aug 3rd, 2012)

Aug. 3: The July Corn Congress meeting in Washington, D.C. could not have come at a better time for the Public Policy Action Team.  As Congress continued consideration of the 2012 farm bill, the two-day meeting centered on the five-year farm bill and crop insurance during this historic drought.  “Our action team has spent a significant amount of time working on a new farm bill over the past two years,” Anthony Bush, chair of the Public Policy Action from Mount Gilead, Ohio. “We are pleased to have had the opportunity to discuss contents of the bill and meet our lawmakers as debate continues.”  Members were briefed by Senate Agriculture Committee staff on farm and risk management policy and received numerous farm bill analyses from agriculture economists. In addition, the team spent a significant amount of time discussing messaging strategy for the House, since the Senate had passed the legislation prior to these discussions.  PPAT members were also briefed on the Dodd-Frank...

(Posted Thu. Aug 2nd, 2012)

Aug. 2: Membership at the National Corn Growers Association continues to climb. This July, NCGA’s membership hit an all-time record of 38,369 members. The previous record of 37,447 members was reached just the month before in June.   “NCGA’s record membership numbers are not only a testament to the popularity of our activities and member benefits but also a reflection of the growing interest of farmers to have a greater say in crafting legislation and regulations that impact their livelihood,” said NCGA Grower Services Action Team Chair Brandon Hunnicutt. “Representing the voting power of over 38,000 farmer members means something on Capitol Hill when you are fighting to secure an equitable farm bill or preserve the Renewable Fuels Standard.”  Throughout NCGA’s history, grassroots efforts have been the strength and driving force behind the organization.  “If it’s an NCGA program, you can be assured that farmers thought of it, organized it and implemented it so that the broadest...

(Posted Thu. Aug 2nd, 2012)

Aug. 2:  Consumers across the Mid-Atlantic are looking at how farmers impact Chesapeake Bay water quality in a new way, thanks to the efforts of the CommonGround programs in Delaware and Maryland. Working with national staff, these women have developed a brochure which they are using to start conversations about this important issue in a variety of venues including state fairs and at baseball games. Stressing the important role that each stakeholder can play, this brochure clearly outlines 12 ways in which farmers are already working to improve water quality in the Chesapeake Bay and offers five concrete ways homeowners can implement their own efforts.  For a copy of this brochure (7.5 MB), click here.  With six states and 17.4 million people sharing the 64,000 square miles that constitute Chesapeake Bay, many of the area’s inhabitants have voiced concerns over this important ecosystem.  As is often the case in such complex situations, confusion over the cause of damage to the...

(Posted Wed. Aug 1st, 2012)

Aug. 1: This week, Off the Cob caught up with Maize Genomics Database Curator Jack Gardiner to find out how the project has progressed over the past three months.  The MGD, which is supported by the USDA ARS, is a tool being developed, with assistance from the National Corn Growers Association that will help scientists efficiently apply the knowledge gained from the Maize Genome Sequencing project to develop varieties that perform for farmers in the field.  Gardiner began by explaining that the largest development since the last update in April was the implementation of MapMan, a freely available software developed by a group at the Max Planck Institute in Germany.  “This software has improved the functionality of the database by taking the data and translating it so that we can see what genes are turned on and off,” Gardiner explained. “Then, it maps this data, translating it to show which biochemical processes are active and which ones are not.  It allows us to compare and...

(Posted Wed. Aug 1st, 2012)

Keywords: Ethanol

Aug. 1: Corn supply projections, research regarding the environmental impact of corn production as well as new efforts to expand uses for corn were topics for discussion when the National Corn Growers Association’s Ethanol Committee met in Washington recently.  While drought-reduced yields in the 2012 crop have gotten the attention of many elected officials in Washington, the longer-term vision of the Ethanol Committee reflected optimism for future corn production and supply.  “The current drought is real and it will be weeks before we fully understand the effects on farmers and the U.S. economy. However, as leaders part of our mission is to juggle both long- and short-term goals and challenges,” said Ethanol Committee Chair Chad Wills, a Minnesota corn grower. “Future yield projections indicate growing productivity, so our committee reviewed ongoing projects that look at how we can continue to lessen the environmental impact of corn production as well as finding new uses for...

(Posted Wed. Aug 1st, 2012)

Keywords: Farm Policy

Aug. 1:  The undersigned farm organizations support finding a path forward to reaching agreement on a new five-year farm bill before current program authorities expire on Sept. 30.  We are disappointed that the House Republican leadership has decided to not move forward with the House Agriculture Committee’s bill before adjourning for the August recess. That bill would provide the disaster relief our farm and ranch families need at this time.  Instead, we understand the House may consider a separate disaster bill, under suspension of the rules on August 2, to make supplemental agricultural disaster assistance available for Fiscal Year 2012.  Specifically, the bill retroactively extends the Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP), the Livestock Forage Program (LFP), the Emergency Livestock Assistance Program (ELAP) and the Tree Assistance Program (TAP) so that producers are helped for Fiscal Year 2012.  All of those programs expired in 2011.  Offsets to pay for the disaster assistance...