NEWS STORIES

JANUARY 2013

(Posted Wed. Jan 30th, 2013)

Jan. 30: As growers prepare for the National Corn Growers Association’s action team and committee meetings, Off the Cob speaks with representatives from the teams about their group’s activities. During these interviews, the attendees offer information on a variety of subjects covered that they feel to be of particular interest to farmers. Today, Off the Cob features an interview with Research and Business Development Action Team Vice Chair Gary Lamie, a farmer from West Point, Ind. Lamie began by describing his team’s mission. “On the team, we look to apply scientific knowledge to ensure ever increasing opportunities for corn growers,” he explained. “So, we invest in projects that we think fit that mission. For instance, we just started a new plant phenotyping initiative which will support enhanced field phenotying locations and enhanced field-based analytical measurements.” Lamie went on to breakdown what the project does saying simply, “the project will look at how hybrids...

(Posted Tue. Jan 29th, 2013)

Keywords: Drought. Weather

Jan. 29: While the drought no longer dominates headlines, it remains a serious concern for farmers across the U.S. Plains and western Midwest. Dry weather conditions persist and, with only light showers and snowfall on the immediate horizon for many, farmers may encounter fields suffering from depleted subsoil moisture when planting begins across the central United States in about 10 weeks. “Once temperatures drop, public attention shifts away from the drought conditions that persist,” said National Corn Growers Association President Pam Johnson. “News stories have begun speaking of the drought of 2012 as if it were in the past. But, for many farmers, the drought has not ended and there is no relief in sight. While facing the possibility of another dry year, farmers must focus on advocating for the risk management tools that they need by pushing their legislators to pass a new five-year farm bill.” Forecasts from a variety of sources indicate that the drought may impact many...

(Posted Mon. Jan 28th, 2013)

Keywords: Commodity Classic

Jan. 28: Growers who attend Commodity Classic in Kissimmee, Fla. this year will return home armed, not just with memories to last a lifetime, but also with the latest profit-producing information available to farming. Today, farmers are now just one month away from the opening of what’s sure to be one of the biggest and best Commodity Classics ever, featuring the largest trade show in the convention’s 18-year history. Each day at Commodity Classic offers Learning Center Sessions on increasing yields for your corn, soybean, wheat or sorghum crop, protecting the resources that sustain your operation and transitioning your farm to the next generation. What’s New and Mini What’s New Sessions provide the latest innovations in products and services to cover everything farmers need to know about technology, traits, farm management and disease control. ”Farming is all about improvements,” said 2013 Commodity Classic Co-Chair Mark Schwiebert. “Whether you’re looking for incremental...

(Posted Fri. Jan 25th, 2013)

Keywords: Trade

The U.S. Grains Council launched its 2012 online Annual Report, available now at www.usgcAnnualReport.org. The online report includes success stories from the year, video highlights, photographs, and market profiles from more than 25 countries and regions. Market profile pages display supply/demand charts, market growth potential and other information viewers may find useful, including highlights from Council programs in each country. "Since the Council was founded 52 years ago, we have focused continuously on building markets and expanding trade opportunities for U.S. farmers and agribusinesses," said Don Fast, USGC chairman. "By promoting sound trade policies, building relationships between trading partners and being a reliable third-party resource, the Council and its members have enhanced food security and food choice for countless people around the world. This work is at the heart of our mission of 'Developing Markets, Enabling Trade and Improving Lives.' The Council's global...

(Posted Thu. Jan 24th, 2013)

Keywords: Ethanol Sustainability

Jan. 24: Corn-based ethanol may offer significantly lower greenhouse gas emissions than previously believed. This realization comes following the release of a recent study performed by U.S. Department of Agriculture researchers showing that corn grown using no-till methods may sequester larger amounts of carbon more deeply than previously known. The study, which was published in BioEnergy Research, revealed that corn grown over a 10-year period using no-till practices sequesters carbon in the soil down to depths as far as 59 inches under the surface. Previous studies, which looked at depths of less than 11 inches or so, did not take into account carbon sequestration below tillage depths. In doing so, their findings missed more than 50 percent of the increase in soil organic carbon below that depth. With this new information, models used to calculate and predict the environmental benefits or liabilities of corn production will be able to better reflect the actual impact. As the...

(Posted Wed. Jan 23rd, 2013)

Keywords: Trade Government

Jan. 23: The National Corn Growers Association today thanked U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk for his commitment to promoting global trade during his tenure. Kirk announced yesterday he will leave his post at USTR at the end of February. “The National Corn Growers Association greatly appreciates and thanks U.S. Trade Representative Kirk for his tireless efforts to promote American agricultural products in the global marketplace,” NCGA President Pam Johnson said. “We applaud his efforts to pass and implement the three free trade agreements with Korea, Colombia and Panama. In addition, we appreciate the pivotal role he played in lifting the outdated Jackson-Vanik amendment.” The free trade agreements with Korea, Colombia and Panama represent the largest package since Congress passed the North American Free Trade Agreement in 1993. Statistics show full implementation of the agreements will result in an estimated $2.3 billion in additional agricultural trade in 2012 and beyond and...

(Posted Wed. Jan 23rd, 2013)

Keywords: Trade Ethanol Feed DDGS

 Jan. 23: A barrier impeding the rapid export growth of U.S. distiller's dried grains with solubles came down earlier this month as the ethanol co-product gained official classification as a non-hazardous cargo. The reclassification, which became final and mandatory under the code of the International Maritime Organization on Jan. 1, 2013, was the culmination of a process initiated by the U.S. Grains Council, of which the National Corn Growers Association is a founding member. “While DDGS have effectively been shipped as a non-hazardous cargo for years now, the final classification by the IMO is an important success which will benefit corn farmers across the country,” said NCGA President Pam Johnson. “This status provides additional assurance that DDGS buyers and producers can access the lower freight rates assessed for non-hazardous cargo. U.S. farmers work diligently to ensure at every point in the process that we continue to provide the stable, consistent, quality product that...

(Posted Tue. Jan 22nd, 2013)

Today, the U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance announced that four winners have been selected as the winners of its Faces of Farming & Ranching program, a nationwide search launched in summer 2012 to help put real faces on the American agriculture industry. More than 100 applications were submitted from passionate, dedicated farmers and ranchers across the country. The winners will act as national spokespeople, and will share stories and experiences on a national stage to help answer consumers’ questions about how food is grown and raised to feed our nation. The winners are: Katie Pratt and her husband, Andy (a seventh generation farmer), currently farm in partnership with Andy’s family. They raise corn, soybeans and seed corn for a regional family-owned company. They welcome tour groups to their farm as part of a family tradition, which started back in the early 1970s. Chris Chinn and her husband Kevin, are fifth generation farmers – farming with his parents and brother....

(Posted Fri. Jan 18th, 2013)

Jan. 18: As the 2013 calendar flips over, millions of Americans get a new beginning by looking to live healthier lifestyles in the new year. In addition to extra hours at the gym, many grocery shoppers will also spend more time ensuring their carts are filled with healthier options to feed their families. Today’s plethora of labels and buzzwords that adorn food packaging only makes the trip to the market even more daunting. In fact, many of the labels, such as “grass-fed” and “organic,” that often suggest food is healthier refer only to how it was raised, not to the nutritional content. Confused? You aren’t alone. Volunteer farmers with the CommonGround program, a grass-roots movement to start conversations about farming and food, want to help shoppers demystify several common food labels and make their trip to the market a little less stressful. “We are truly blessed to have so many food choices available to us at the grocery store,” said Missouri farmer and CommonGround...

(Posted Thu. Jan 17th, 2013)

Keywords: USFRA

Jan. 17: The National Corn Growers Association’s annual Priority and Policy Conference wrapped up today in St. Louis, concluding a series of discussions on state and national priorities for 2014, NCGA policies and a keynote presentation on the ongoing activities of the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance. This in-depth look at program research, accomplishments and plans allowed the grower leaders and state organization representatives in attendance to share important information about consumer sentiment and effective communications strategies. “This meeting consistently provides a chance for NCGA leadership to gain valuable insight from our state affiliates while fostering deep discussions that help all of us examine the issues more fully,” said NCGA President Pam Johnson, a grower from Floyd, Iowa. “The research coming out of the USFRA program shows that consumers want farmers to listen to public concerns also. With so much of the population removed from agriculture, we must...

(Posted Wed. Jan 16th, 2013)

Jan. 16: Tuesday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia dismissed a lawsuit challenging the Environmental Protection Agency’s approval of E15. The suit, brought by anti-ethanol groups, was dismissed on the grounds that none of the petitioners had standing to bring the action. “The decision of the U.S. appeals court reinforces what we have known for years that continued attempts to block consumer choice will eventually fail,” said National Corn Growers Association President Pam Johnson. “The EPA has tested E15 extensively and concluded that it is safe for use in cars in 2001 and newer. The science is on our side, and we firmly believe that consumer choice will prevail in the end.” The suit alleged that 15 percent ethanol blends harm engines and push up the price of both food and gasoline. While much data to the contrary exists, the lack of subject matter jurisdiction ensured the claim did not proceed. The ruling represents another step forward for the ethanol...

(Posted Tue. Jan 15th, 2013)

Jan. 15: Late Monday, Tom Vilsack announced he had accepted President Obama’s offer to remain Secretary of Agriculture for a second term. The National Corn Growers Association, which has had a strong working relationship with the Secretary and his staff, is pleased to hear he will remain the head of USDA. “I would first like to congratulate Secretary Vilsack on a successful first four years in his position,” NCGA President Pam Johnson said. “He has been a steadfast advocate for American agriculture who has looked for positive solutions during difficult times, such as last year’s historic drought. We thank the secretary for his continued efforts to pass a new farm bill and to improve the lives of those living in rural America.” Over the past four years, NCGA has worked closely with Secretary Vilsack on issues important to our growers including global trade, conservation and renewable energy. NCGA, as part of Commodity Classic, has also had the opportunity to welcome the secretary...

(Posted Tue. Jan 15th, 2013)

Jan. 15: The National Corn Growers Association’s annual Priority and Policy Conference takes place this week in St. Louis, bringing farmer leaders from many corn states to begin the discussion of state and national priorities for 2014 and NCGA’s policies on such subjects as ethanol, public policy and biotechnology. “This meeting provides us with an important opportunity to hear from the leaders of our state affiliates about their concerns and to work together, building a consensus that will pave a path forward in the months ahead,” said NCGA President Pam Johnson, a grower from Floyd, Iowa. “These discussions come at a critical point for our industry, with another round of farm bill discussions on the horizon and renewed discussions of the future of our nation’s energy policy and the role that biofuels will play. With so many issues that will impact the future of farming on the table, we will have a busy week, sharing knowledge and insight that will help form strong,...

(Posted Mon. Jan 14th, 2013)

Keywords: Ethanol

Jan. 14:  The political landscape in Washington changed with the November elections, including that for ethanol. In the past few months, Congress has seen fewer corn advocate members added to the freshman class and also to key committees such as the House Energy and Commerce Committee. In addition, shortly before Christmas, the White House announced the departure of EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson. It will be critical that the National Corn Growers Association use all opportunities to educate the new players on the importance of biofuels. “The upcoming year could be a challenging one for ethanol advocates,” NCGA President Pam Johnson said. “At the same time, we see many new legislators and regulators coming to power. With fewer leaders from corn producing states, education and grassroots action will be essential to successfully defending the Renewable Fuel Standard.” A request to waive the RFS was denied in 2012, but NCGA expects that issue to come under attack again. Rep. Fred...

(Posted Fri. Jan 11th, 2013)

Jan. 11: The 2012 corn crop looked significantly like what forecasts indicated over the past few months, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture reports released today. Slight increases to the national average yield positively impacted overall corn production estimates for 2012, however, with the total one percent higher than indicated previously, for a total production of 10.8 billion bushels. National average corn yields for 2012 were revised slightly higher to a new estimate of 123.4 billion bushels per acre. While slightly higher, the yield average clearly illustrates the toll taken on the 2012 crop by the drought with yields 23.8 bushels below the 2011 average of 147.2. The areas hardest hit by the drought, including Kentucky, Illinois and Indiana, saw significantly lower average yields than in 2011, declining by 17, 52 and 47 bpa respectively. Iowa, Missouri and Ohio all saw average yields decrease by 35 or more bpa from the 2011 crop also. The amount of corn stored...

(Posted Thu. Jan 10th, 2013)

Jan. 10: For the first time in history, China will produce more corn than rough rice, according to reports by the U.S. Grains Council, of which the National Corn Growers Association is a founding member. This change, first projected in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimate, comes as the growing affluence of the Chinese middle class spurs for a protein-rich diet. The USDA report, which upwardly revised Chinese corn production projections by 300 million bushels, illustrate how the economic trends of the world’s most populous country could create opportunities for well positioned corn producers. "Dramatic shifts in corn production are taking place across the globe" said Kevin Roepke, USGC manager of Global Trade. "This is stark evidence that today's corn producer is well poised to take advantage of growing global consumerism." Demand for meat in China experienced explosive growth over the past 20 years, with poultry consumption...

(Posted Wed. Jan 9th, 2013)

Keywords: Commodity Classic

Jan. 9: Commodity Classic is less than two months away, and growers are encouraged to take advantage of the lowest rate by registering before the early discount deadline of midnight, January 20. Registering early will save attendees up to $50. Hotels are currently available, but are booking up fast. Free shuttle service is available to and from all Commodity Classic housing hotels. To take advantage of the early registration discount, register now and reserve rooms at www.CommodityClassic.com. Soybean, corn, wheat and sorghum growers attending Commodity Classic February 28-March 2 in Kissimmee, Fla., will benefit from a wide variety of educational sessions, networking opportunities and a trade show with more than 1,000 booths displaying the newest technology, equipment, ideas and innovations in agriculture. “If you want to know what’s next in agriculture, this is the place to be,” said Commodity Classic co-chair Bob Worth. “The sky’s the limit in 2013 for growers who attend...

(Posted Tue. Jan 8th, 2013)

Keywords: Trade

Jan. 8: As growers prepare to travel to St. Louis for the annual National Corn Growers Association Priority and Policy Conference, Off the Cob revisits conversations held with chairmen of the action teams and committees following meetings in December. During these interviews, the attendees offer information on a variety of subjects covered that they feel to be of particular interest to farmers. Today, Off the Cob features an interview with Trade Policy and Biotechnology Action Team Chair Jim Zimmerman, a farmer from Rosendale, Wisc. The newest of the NCGA action teams, TPBAT was created to foster better communication and an innovative approach to the often overlapping arenas of fostering trade policy that opens international markets to U.S. corn and promoting proper biotechnology stewardship within the agricultural community while encouraging acceptance of this vital technology externally. Zimmerman noted that the recent meeting furthered progress in a number of areas, helping...

(Posted Tue. Jan 8th, 2013)

Keywords: Trade Ethanol Feed

Jan. 8: Last week, the U.S. Grains Council, of which the National Corn Growers Association is a founding member, announced an important milestone in the growth of U.S. distillers dried grains with solubles exports. According to the Ministry of Finance Customs, Japan imported more than 384,000 metric tons of U.S. DDGS between January and October 2012, marking the highest imports on record. “The growth of U.S. DDGS exports to Japan is exciting for a multitude of reasons,” said NCGA President Pam Johnson. “DDGS provide a high quality feed ingredient while making efficient use of an ethanol co-product. The rise in this product’s popularity in Japan, the largest export market for U.S. corn and a valued trade partner, reaffirms that, through innovations in both production and use, America’s corn farmers will continue to meet growing global demand for food, feed, fuel and fiber.” According to USGC Director in Japan, Tommy Hamamoto, imports are on track to reach 450,000 metric tons in...

(Posted Mon. Jan 7th, 2013)

 Jan. 7: Today, Off the Cob spoke with National Corn Growers Association President Pam Johnson on her outlook for corn growers in the new year. Emphasizing the importance of grassroots action, Johnson called on farmers across the country to push for a new, five-year farm bill that protects crop insurance programs. “When I think about 2013, I immediately think about how critical it is to get a farm bill passed that goes beyond just an extension,” said Johnson. “We were disappointed that we could not get a farm bill through the House, up for debate and passed in 2012. We start this new year ready and willing to go back to the table with our commodity group partners and get what needs to be done done.” Johnson went on to stress that crop insurance is included in the farm bill legislation. Thus, as negotiations over a new bill progress, these important programs could experience budget cuts. “I think that many people overlook how important crop insurance is, but last year’s drought...

(Posted Mon. Jan 7th, 2013)

Keywords: Annual Report

Jan. 7: The National Corn Growers Association’s annual report for the 2012 fiscal year is now available online. A printed copy of the report, which highlights the association’s achievements over the previous year and features current financial information, will also be sent to all active members and made available at upcoming meetings. Click here to view the full report. “As the nation’s leading trade association representing corn growers, we’re proud of the work we do to promote opportunities, expand markets and build a brighter future for agriculture,” said NCGA Chairman Garry Niemeyer, a grower from Auburn, Ill., who served as president last year. “We’ve toiled tirelessly over the past year to proactively advance the image of corn growers and create opportunities to increase demand for their product. This report not only outlines the activities and programs grower contributions support; it also demonstrates their importance and effectiveness.” Themed “Staying the Course,” the...

(Posted Fri. Jan 4th, 2013)

Jan. 4:  A new “exploratory” study in the Journal of the American Medical Association makes provocative claims about the effects of fructose on hunger and weight gain, but bases its conclusions on a test conducted on just 20 people who were fed massive doses of sugars in a manner that people do not consume in real life. “It is highly unusual for humans to consume this much sugar in one sitting, particularly if they had just finished a fast,” said Dr. James Rippe, Founder and Director of the Rippe Lifestyle Institute and professor of Biomedical Sciences at the University of Central Florida. “All of these factors could certainly alter the eventual outcomes. It is important that studies focusing on obesity and food consumption mirror real world experiences as much as possible. By failing to do so, we really gain very little practical insight.” The study, “Effects of fructose versus glucose on regional cerebral blood flow in brain regions involved with appetite and reward pathways,”...

(Posted Thu. Jan 3rd, 2013)

Keywords: Production and Stewardship Action Team

Jan. 3: The National Corn Growers Association’s Production and Stewardship Action Team focuses on a wide variety of issues impacting growers including: promoting scientifically-based domestic environmental policy, promoting locally led, voluntary stewardship, strengthening U.S. transportation infrastructure and supporting livestock as the largest market for U.S. corn. In each of these areas, 2013 will continue to bring exciting programs and reenergized efforts under the leadership of the 14 growers who, along with state and national staff assistance, keep a sharp eye on program efforts in these three areas. Following the meetings, Off the Cob caught up with PSAT Chair Dean Taylor, a grower from Prairie City, Iowa, to see what his team discussed and what NCGA members can expect to see in 2013. “One of the most important topics that we covered is the NCGA National Corn Yield contest, which recently released the 2012 results” said Taylor. “We see the contest as important to our...

(Posted Thu. Jan 3rd, 2013)

Keywords: Field Notes

The National Corn Growers Association concludes 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. Field Notes caught up with Brian Scott, an Indiana farmer also blogs about agriculture and tweets as @thefarmerslife. Through the year, he updated listeners on his corn and soybean farm, providing insight into changing perspectives on the 2012 crop, sharing his insight into a wide array of topics presented on his blog and discussing the importance of starting conversations about agriculture with the 98.5 percent of Americans removed from the farm. Looking back on 2012, Scott, like many others, thinks immediately of the drought that impacted corn farmers across the Heartland and dashed what had been high...

(Posted Wed. Jan 2nd, 2013)

Keywords: farm bill

Jan. 2:  National Corn Growers Association President Pam Johnson released the following statement in response to Congress’ inaction to pass a new five-year farm bill before the end of 2012: “America’s farmers have clearly made known the importance and need of a new farm bill in 2012. Once again Congress’ failure to act pushes agriculture aside hampering farmers’ ability to make sound business decisions for the next five years. The National Corn Growers Association is tired of the endless excuses and lack of accountability. The system is clearly broken. “We hope the 113th Congress proves to be more fruitful and that the leaders in Congress can place petty partisanship aside to create a bill that benefits all of America.”