NEWS STORIES

MARCH 2013

(Posted Fri. Mar 29th, 2013)

 Mar. 29: The number of family farmers growing the nation’s food is less than two percent of the overall population, so consumers may feel a little disconnected and out of touch with what goes on down on the farm. The good news is a dialogue is emerging that is connecting urban consumers with their rural cousins. “In recent years farmers have gained a new appreciation for how important it is to give the public an opportunity to ask questions about crop and livestock production practices,” said Rick Tolman, CEO of the National Corn Growers Association. “Farming has changed so there is an interesting story to tell. Tractors have gotten bigger, seeds have gotten better and technology and innovation have made our farmers the most productive in the world.” Tolman, who visited Central Illinois media Thursday, noted most consumers like to hear farmers are efficient and helping the economy but what the public is happiest to learn is that the transition has also resulted in “greener”...

(Posted Fri. Mar 29th, 2013)

Mar. 29: With debates over ethanol heating up on the Hill again, the National Corn Growers Association offers a new installment in a series of articles comparing the environmental impacts of ethanol and petroleum as transportation fuels. Scientifically examining a wide array of environmental factors, this side-by-side comparison offers insight into the important differences between these fuels. What sort of air and water pollution do these fuels cause? Since 2005, non-toxic ethanol has replaced groundwater contaminant MTBE as the fuel ingredient used to increase octane. Petroleum refiners use quite a bit of energy to separate aromatic components and very high boiling fractions for the octane needed for fuel. Many of the substances produce particulate substances leading to asthma and other health-related problems. What type of waste is produced in the manufacture of these fuels? How do they compare in respect to the greenhouse gases emitted in the production of these...

(Posted Fri. Mar 29th, 2013)

Mar. 29: Last week, the Center for Food Safety, Beyond Pesticides, the Sierra Club, Pesticide Action Network North America and the Center for Environmental Health, along with four individual beekeepers, filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. The complaint filed by the groups alleges that the EPA violated multiple U.S. laws in its actions related to the approval of two pesticide compounds, clothianidin and thiamethoxam, for agricultural use. "The National Corn Growers Association is closely monitoring progress on this case," said NCGA Production and Stewardship Action Team Chair Dean Taylor. "We are committed to working with industry partners to defend the use of valuable agricultural tools and ensure government regulations are based in sound sciences instead of alarmist claims." The complaint alleges the EPA violated the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide & Rodenticide Act by approving...

(Posted Thu. Mar 28th, 2013)

Keywords: Plantings USDA

Mar. 28: American farmers expect to plant 145,000 more acres of corn in 2013, a slight increase from 2012, according the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Prospective Plantings report released today. If realized, it will be the highest corn planting in the United States since 1937, when 97.2 million acres were planted. In recent years, the record corn planting was in the spring of 2012 when U.S. growers planted 97.155 million acres. “While farmers struggled with drought last year, they remain resilient and dedicated to producing an abundant corn crop in 2013,” National Corn Growers Association First Vice President Martin Barbre said. “This report shows that the innovative American farmer understands the increasing global demands of corn for food, feed, fuel and fiber and that they see the importance of meetings those needs.” The USDA’s estimate for 2013 is for 97.3 million acres to be planted in field corn. Assuming the five-year average 91 percent harvest rate holds and the...

(Posted Wed. Mar 27th, 2013)

Keywords: Biotechnology Exports Trade

Mar. 27: Farmers looking for information about the approval status of U.S.-grown corn hybrids in certain export markets now have access to the most current data through the National Corn Growers Association’s Know Before Your Grow program. Recently updated, Know Before Your Grow, featured on the association’s website, provides a comprehensive look at this vital information in an easily accessible format. “It’s important for farmers and others to know where they can find good markets for their corn,” said NCGA Trade Policy and Biotechnology Action Team Chair Jim Zimmerman. “Each year, we update our database so growers can stay informed and plan ahead. It’s also a valuable tool for others who want or need to track which markets are accepting a certain corn hybrid.” Know Before You Grow stems from NCGA’s firm commitment to the principle that U.S.-grown biotech hybrids not intended for some export markets should not be placed into export channels. Because not all hybrids are...

(Posted Tue. Mar 26th, 2013)

Mar. 26: The National Corn Growers Association congratulates the Corn Refiners Association CRA on their announcement of John W. Bode as its new President and C.E.O. As President and CEO of CRA, NCGA looks forward to continue joint efforts with this longtime partner in promoting opportunities for corn farmers. “During recent meetings in Washington, the NCGA Corn Board had the pleasure of celebrating CRA’s 100 th anniversary with them in person,” said NCGA President Pam Johnson. “Now, we celebrate the announcement of the selection of Bode as CRA president and CEO with them in spirit. Our organizations have a long history of working together for the benefit of America’s farmers and wet millers. We look forward to building upon this in the coming years.” Bode comes to the CRA with 30 years of experience as a lawyer and lobbyist in Washington, D.C., representing many prominent companies. Prior to private practice, Bode served on the Senate Agriculture Committee staff and held three...

(Posted Mon. Mar 25th, 2013)

Keywords: Production

Mar. 25:  A new guide to seed treatment stewardship has been developed by the American Seed Trade Association and CropLife America to promote the safe handling and management of treated seed by farmers and others, a service appreciated by the National Corn Growers Association. “This guide will be an invaluable resource for our members,” said NCGA President Pam Johnson and Iowa corn grower. “We’re encouraging all corn growers to refer to it before, during and after the corn planting season.” Endorsed by NCGA, the American Farm Bureau Federation and the American Soybean Association, The Guide to Seed Treatment Stewardship provides farmers and seed companies with critical information and up-to-date guidelines for managing treated seed effectively to further minimize the risk of exposure to non-target organisms. ASTA and CLA began aggregating seed treatment research and safety information from universities, seed companies, international seed associations and others in early 2012 in...

(Posted Fri. Mar 22nd, 2013)

  Mar. 22: With debates over ethanol heating up on the Hill again, the National Corn Growers Association launches a series of articles comparing the environmental impacts of ethanol and petroleum as transportation fuels. Scientifically examining a wide array of environmental factors, this side-by-side comparison offers insight into the important differences between these fuels. Which fuel is renewable and why is that important? Today, ethanol is primarily made from corn, which is produced annually and thereby renewable. When corn grows, it takes carbon dioxide from the air and converts it into glucose and then starch, from which ethanol is produced. Corn production returns nutrients to the soil through its roots and decomposing stalks, thus giving back to the land used in its production. Petroleum and natural gas were made over millions of years ago from decayed plants and animals. The amount present in the earth is limited, and it cannot be replenished. As it takes tens of...

(Posted Thu. Mar 21st, 2013)

Keywords: Leadership

Mar. 21: Seven corn farmers who are leaders in the industry underwent an extensive session in advanced leadership training this week in Washington, as part of the National Corn Growers Association Advanced Leadership program, co-sponsored by Syngenta. While in the nation’s capital they underwent extensive media training and discussions with NCGA Washington staff about current and emerging issues affecting corn farmers. They also joined in activities surrounding National Agriculture Day, including the National Celebration of Agriculture Dinner, featuring U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and key members of Congress. “This has been a busy, but important, week in Washington,” said program participant Martin Barbre, an Illinois grower who serves as NCGA’s first vice president. “At a time when it is so important for our nation’s farmers to be active and engaged leaders, sessions such as these give us the opportunity to build our knowledge and experience and have meaningful...

(Posted Wed. Mar 20th, 2013)

Keywords: Trade

Mar. 20: The U.S. Grains Council's 2013 Officers Mission is now underway. The delegation, which includes National Corn Growers Association President Pam Johnson, will visit with key customers and end users in Korea, China and Japan, providing details and receiving feedback on the U.S. 2012-13 corn crop. "Ever since the drought took hold last year, we've been getting questions. It's important to service these customers, present our harvest quality report, listen to their concerns and share our thoughts for the upcoming crop year," said Tom Sleight, USGC president and CEO. Don Fast, a farmer from Montana and the Council's chairman, said the mission is also important because of increasing global competition into these markets. "The United States remains the world's most reliable supplier of feed grains,” said Fast. “We'll let them know there will be more than 90 million acres of corn planted in the United States this year, that we are getting some important moisture over the winter...

(Posted Wed. Mar 20th, 2013)

Keywords: CommonGround Ag Week

Mar. 20: CommonGround Nebraska volunteer Hilary Maricle helped Governor Dave Heineman kick off his state’s National Ag Week festivities during a press conference held in Lincoln. Speaking on behalf of her fellow farmers and ranchers, Maricle stressed the pride farmers take in their work and their willingness to have a real conversation with consumers about their food. “As a farmer, I take pride in the fact that I grow and raise food for my own family and for families across the country,” said Maricle. “As a CommonGround volunteer, I am excited to help consumers understand how I farm and why I strive to care for the land and our animals.” Speaking after the conference, Maricle noted the importance of farmer activism. “We must do a better job of answering questions and opening our farm gates because this is what allows us to build relationships for the future,” she explained. “Common Ground has helped me to develop our farm story to be shared in a way that is understood by those...

(Posted Tue. Mar 19th, 2013)

Keywords: Leadership at Its Best

Mar. 19: Corn farmers from across the country traveled to Washington this week to take part in the second phase of an annual leadership development program co-sponsored by the National Corn Growers Association and Syngenta. While in town, they visited numerous members of the Senate and House of Representatives and got an inside look at parliamentary procedure and how lobbying works on Capitol Hill. “For more than a quarter of a century, Leadership at its Best has been an invaluable tool for helping corn growers become leaders at the state and national level,” said NCGA Chairman Garry Niemeyer, himself a graduate of the program. Niemeyer came to Washington to welcome the class and provide an update on NCGA’s issues and programs. “In Washington, we can see first-hand – and very quickly – how decisions made here impact us back on the farm. Having a strong voice here in the Capitol is very important for NCGA and its farmer members.” This year’s class includes Ben Augustine (Wisc.),...

(Posted Mon. Mar 18th, 2013)

Mar. 18: Last week, representatives from over a dozen agribusinesses gathered with National Corn Growers Association leadership in Washington for NCGA’s Agri-Industry Council’s biannual meeting. Over the course of two days, attendees received updates on key NCGA programs, heard from several outside speakers and discussed topics of special importance to the entire agricultural community right now, including issues impacting railroad shipping and the outlook for farm programs given the current political climate. “The discussion in AIC meetings helps NCGA fulfill its mission of creating and maintaining opportunities for corn growers,” said NCGA Chairman and AIC Co-Chair Garry Niemeyer. “Only through sharing NCGA’s position throughout the industry will we make our voices loud enough to reach the best possible outcomes for growers as we face the challenging political landscape.” Policy Analyst Sallie James of the CATO Institute provided attendees with a Libertarian economist’s...

(Posted Mon. Mar 18th, 2013)

Keywords: National Corn Yield Contest

Mar. 18: As farmers across the country prepare for planting, the National Corn Growers Association invites them to register for NCGA’s National Corn Yield Contest early too. Until June 15, growers can also take advantage of a special early entry discount. With fees reduced to $80 until that time, NCGA reminds growers that a small time investment now saves money later this summer. “While it may still seem a ways out, we all know how quickly the time passes once planting season starts,” said Production and Stewardship Action Team Chair Dean Taylor. “Every year, we gain valuable data from the contest that helps develop the production practices of tomorrow. I urge those who haven’t entered before to become NCGA members and try their hand at high yield techniques as contest entrants in 2013.” For access to contest information, contest entry and harvest rules and forms, click here. As of today, entry forms are available for download, with submission through traditional mail. In early...

(Posted Fri. Mar 15th, 2013)

Keywords: Farm Bill Public Policy

Mar. 15: At its recent Corn Congress policy meeting and in a board meeting held this week in Washington, the National Corn Growers Association upheld its call for a new, substantive five-year farm bill that includes a strong federal crop insurance program and a market-oriented risk-management program. “As our country continues to rack up record budget deficits, NCGA appreciates the need for more efficient programs that help farmers better manage risk and cost taxpayers less money,” said NCGA President Pam Johnson. “In the midst of an unprecedented level of national debt, corn growers believe it is time to make fundamental changes to long-established farm programs. We support reforms that will provide growers only when assistance is most needed.” For growers, especially young and beginning farmers, managing the potential loss of revenue is vital. Johnson said that NCGA has long supported risk management tools that complement federal crop insurance to protect farmers against...

(Posted Fri. Mar 15th, 2013)

Mar. 15: The National Corn Growers Association joined more than 60 organizations representing farm groups, food manufacturers and other industry stakeholders to send a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk applauding the decision to launch negotiations with the European Union on a transatlantic free trade agreement. The groups noted that while they support the progress toward an agreement, U.S. agricultural and food industries have a variety of concerns that need to be addressed during negotiations. The groups commended Kirk for his insistence that the agreement be comprehensive and ambitious. However, the letter stresses that negotiations must tackle market access and resolve significant barriers to trade in a single undertaking, citing the Trans-Pacific Partnership as a model. The final report of the U.S.-EU High Level Working Group stated that an agreement “should be designed to evolve over time – i.e., substantially eliminate existing barriers to trade and investment,...

(Posted Thu. Mar 14th, 2013)

Mar. 14: This week, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn and Iowa Governor Terry Branstad called on House and Senate leadership to maintain support of the Renewable Fuel Standard in a letter sent to House Speaker John Boehner Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. The National Corn Growers Association praises the governors for their action and urges Congressional leadership to take the many points outlined in their letter into consideration. “NCGA commends the governors for taking action in support of the RFS and the rural economies that benefit from the jobs that it creates,” said NCGA President Pam Johnson. “As their letter states, uncertainty created by proposed RFS modifications has weakened the market for biofuels and discouraged investment. America benefits from having home-grown, affordable biofuels that build our economies while decreasing pollution. The RFS remains in our nation’s best economic and energy security interest.” The letter sent by Quinn and Branstad combats...

(Posted Wed. Mar 13th, 2013)

Mar. 13: As the Maize Genetics and Genomics Database project moves forward, Off the Cob caught up with MaizeGDB Curator Dr. Jack Gardiner for an update on the progress made over the last quarter. In the interview, Gardiner built upon how the increasing affordability of genome sequencing is allowing the scientists at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service-supported database to share the incredible amount of data being created in Ames, Iowa. “The cost of DNA sequencing a maize genome has literally dropped from $30 million to sequence the first corn genome sequence to about $2,000 to $5,000 to sequence a corn genome today,” he began. “With two and a half billion DNA bases covering the ten chromosomes of maize, its genome is roughly about the size of the human genome, two and a half times the size of the soybean genome and about five times the size of the rice genome. With the amount of DNA sequencing happening now, we are developing an appreciation for all...

(Posted Tue. Mar 12th, 2013)

Mar. 12: The National Corn Growers Association joined more than 40 commodity groups, lending organizations, input suppliers and other agricultural industry stakeholders in sending a letter today supporting meaningful and affordable crop insurance to members of the House of Representatives and Senate Agriculture Committees. Stressing that federal crop insurance is the cornerstone of many farmers’ risk management portfolios, the letter expresses the signatories’ opposition to any changes to crop insurance that would discourage producer participation or undermine private sector delivery. Noting that crop insurance provides an effective risk management tool to farmers and ranchers when facing losses beyond their control while reducing tax payer exposure to risk, the letter expresses the groups’ support of both current programs and their delivery by private insurers, which ensures prompt service and creates much needed jobs in rural America. “The significant, widespread crop losses...

(Posted Mon. Mar 11th, 2013)

Keywords: Biotechnology

Mar. 11: The National Corn Growers Association is pleased to announce that it has become a signatory to the Accord: Generic Event Marketability and Access Agreement. Along with NCGA, the American Farm Bureau Federation and the American Soybean Association also became signatories to the GEMMA portion of the Accord, which was created by Biotechnology Industry Organization and the American Seed Trade Association. “Having the Farm Bureau, ASA and NCGA as signatories to the GEMAA is a major step forward for the Accord,” said BIO Executive Vice President Cathleen Enright. “All three organizations have been key players in the development of the GEMAA and we welcome their commitment to the Accord process.” “We’ve aimed to create an agreement that would enable national farm organizations to participate, so growers can have a role in the process and get access to important information about patent expiration and these organizations have been key stakeholders from the beginning of this...

(Posted Fri. Mar 8th, 2013)

Keywords: Trade

Mar. 8: Implementations of U.S. free trade agreements in Latin America contributed to an increase of U.S. exports to the region by 9.3 percent in 2012, lowering the U.S. trade deficit by 24.7 percent, according to an article in Latinvex, a Latin American business journal. Currently, the 11 Latin American countries involved in the two regional and three bilateral FTAs with the United States account for nearly 80 percent of the country’s trade with this region. “The National Corn Growers Association has a long history of promoting export growth by working collaboratively with the U.S. Grains Council,” said NCGA Trade Policy and Biotechnology Action Team Chair Jim Zimmerman, a corn farmer from Wisconsin. “On our end, we continually work to promote the trade policies that open markets for U.S. corn exports and support the strong agricultural exports which help our overall economy reduce its trade deficits. USGC makes the most of these opportunities by fostering export growth abroad....

(Posted Thu. Mar 7th, 2013)

Keywords: Commodity Classic

Mar. 7: Attendance records continue to be broken at Commodity Classic. This year, record attendance totaled 6,214, including a record number of 3,324 corn, soybean, wheat and sorghum growers. There were also 1,078 first-time non-exhibitor attendees, another record set. “By the growth of attendance at Commodity Classic, it's clear that farmers are seeing the advantage of coming to this great show,” said Classic Co-Chair Bob Worth. “The quality of the trade show and all of the educational opportunities makes attendees happy to come back year after year, and invite their neighbors and friends.” This year’s show also experienced the highest number of exhibitors. The 1,010-booth trade show was sold out with a waiting list of interested parties ready to take advantage of cancelations. Before a standing-room-only house, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack made his fourth straight appearance before General Session attendees. As sequester became a reality in Washington, Vilsack...

(Posted Thu. Mar 7th, 2013)

Mar. 7: National Corn Growers Association President Pam Johnson, a sixth-generation family farmer in Floyd, Iowa, sent the following response to ScientificAmerican.com after an article on corn farming by Jonathan Foley. Click here for Foley’s original article. By Pam Johnson As a farmer, one of the many whom Jonathan Foley regards as “the hardest working people in America” and as “pillars of their communities,” I would like to speak out about how today’s corn farmers, their trade associations and others whom Foley has vilified have not only rethought the so-called “corn system,” but are continually improving it. Thanks to technology in the tractor and on the field, and smart agronomic practices like conservation tillage, things are only getting better. Here are a few thoughts from my field: Versatility. Foley talks about the versatility of corn, and he’s right. It’s now in thousands of products. While some people don’t like that, it makes perfect sense that we can produce a...

 2012 Facts and Figures in New World of Corn

(Posted Wed. Mar 6th, 2013)

Mar. 6: While U.S. corn farmers faced the worst drought in decades in 2012, they managed to produce the eighth largest crop on record (10.78 billion bushels), the National Corn Growers Association reports in its newest edition of the World of Corn. This statistical look at the corn industry, both domestic and worldwide, features a wide array of information on corn production and usage along with insight into the many ways in which corn touches our lives every day. “Corn is part of who we are as Americans,” NCGA President Pam Johnson and Chief Executive Officer Rick Tolman note in the introduction. “From the first tall, leafy stalk domesticated by early Americans to the cutting-edge varieties that help our nation’s most widely grown crop thrive today, corn feeds innovation and fuels our economy.” 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...

(Posted Tue. Mar 5th, 2013)

Mar. 5: As the debate over childhood nutrition gains prominence in national discourse, scientists are weighing in with the truth about high fructose corn syrup through a new report, What School Officials and Parents Should Know about High Fructose Corn Syrup. The document compiles opinions from respected academics and medical professionals on a variety of common concerns about the sweetener, including perceived links between its consumption and obesity, diabetes and attention deficit disorder. While the experts address a broad array of topics, one common theme becomes clear: Sugar is nutritionally and metabolically the same, whether it comes from corn, cane or beet. “Like so many issues, the amount of media attention dedicated to sensationalized reports based in unsound science has created a cloud of confusion surrounding HFCS,” said National Corn Growers Association Chairman Garry Niemeyer. “We are glad to see that resources such as Sweetener Studies are bringing clarity to...

(Posted Mon. Mar 4th, 2013)

Mar. 4: National Corn Growers Association President Pam Johnson today congratulated Gina McCarthy on her nomination as administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, as announced today by President Obama. “We appreciated working with Assistant Administrator McCarthy over the past few years in her role as head of the EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation, which was responsible for the approval of the E15 ethanol blend fuel option in 2012. We look forward to working closely with her and her team on ethanol and other issues that come before the agency.”

(Posted Mon. Mar 4th, 2013)

Keywords: Ethanol Farm Policy

Mar. 4: Delegates to the National Corn Growers Association’s Corn Congress policy meeting and corn growers elsewhere during the 2013 Commodity Classic last week talked up the importance of defending the Renewable Fuel Standard and getting a smart and strong five-year farm bill passed this year after the numerous delays of 2012. At a time when corn yields are still rising strong, the importance of protecting a growing market like ethanol is paramount to corn farmers. Despite the drought last year, for example, more corn growers than ever before had yields of 300 or higher on the National Corn Yield Contest, demonstrating that all markets – livestock feed, exports, and others as well as ethanol – will be important to the organization. “The Renewable Fuel Standard is important because it provides a level of stability to the marketplace and ensure that there is a good supply of domestic, renewable biofuel available,” NCGA President Pam Johnson said. “It helps create jobs and save...

(Posted Fri. Mar 1st, 2013)

Keywords: Corn Yield Contest

Mar. 1: The National Corn Growers Association released a video today offering tops from perennial high-yield entrants of the National Corn Yield Contest during a breakfast at Commodity Classic honoring the state winners of the 2012 contest. The new video, which accompanies the traditional online NCYC Guide, offers farmers across the country a chance to apply the tips learned through the contest to their own operations to improve their yields and their bottom line. To view the video, click here. “The contest not only affords an opportunity for farmers to test their skill against their peers, it also provides NCGA with a significant amount of information about cutting-edge production practices that all farmers might find useful,” said NCGA Grower Services Action Team Chair Brandon Hunnicutt. “NCGA has always looked for new and innovative ways to use this data, sharing the lessons learned with corn farmers. The video provides a quick, simple way for interested farmers to discover...

(Posted Fri. Mar 1st, 2013)

Keywords: Commodoity Classic

  Mar. 1: This morning, emcee Mark Mayfield once again welcomed Commodity Classic General Session attendees to the forum. The packed house listened intently as Mayfield led the program through a series of exciting presentations from sponsor Dow AgroSciences, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and inspirational speaker Chad Hymas. Rounded out by a talk show-style panel during which the presidents of all four hosting associations, General Session 2013 provided insight into the broader political climate affecting farmers as well as inspirational messages to take into the upcoming planting season. Mayfield opened the presidents’ roundtable conducting brief interviews with each participant. Speaking with National Corn Growers Association President Pam Johnson, Mayfield inquired first about the growing push for sustainability and what it means today for farmers. “Sustainability for corn growers means that we continuously improve the way we grow corn,” said Johnson, a farmer from...