NEWS STORIES

FEBRUARY 2014

(Posted Fri. Feb 28th, 2014)

The 2014 Commodity Classic general session took place this morning, featuring a panel of top commodity leaders, keynote remarks by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, and an inspirational and hilarious presentation on happiness by Brad Montgomery.   Program emcee Mark Mayfield opened the presidents’ roundtable, conducting brief interviews with each participant.  Speaking with National Corn Growers Association President Martin Barbre, Mayfield inquired about why so many farmers play an active role in the greater industry both by participating in Commodity Classic and joining NCGA in record numbers. “Commodity Classic is all about communications, about getting our word out to all the people who come, and not only communicating to our members who are here, but listening to them communicate to us,” Barbre said. “It’s a great forum for us to really get a good grasp of what’s going on in the industry and out in the country.”    Mayfield then conducted similar interviews with American...

(Posted Thu. Feb 27th, 2014)

Today, the Commodity Classic Trade Show opened, showcasing the latest farming products and innovations. With opening remarks by National Corn Growers Association Joint Venture Committee 2014 Co-Chair Rob Elliott closing the ribbon cutting ceremony along with his American Soybean Association, National Association of Wheat Growers and National Sorghum Producers counterparts and Michelle Vigna, the Roundup Ready Xtend Launch Lead for Monsanto, the show flung open its doors and welcomed farm families, their friends and industry allies to agriculture’s premier showcase.   “The Commodity Classic Trade Show is always a popular event, and this year is no exception with a sold out event that offers attendees a chance to see the most cutting edge technology while interacting with industry leaders,” said Elliott.  “Those searching for new ideas and a better picture of what is now and soon will be available to farmers will find the most extensive, comprehensive offering to date while...

(Posted Thu. Feb 27th, 2014)

For the seventh year in a row, BASF Crop Protection has teamed with the the National Corn Growers Association to provide the William C. Berg Academic Excellence in Agriculture Scholarships to undergraduate or graduate students pursing an agricultural degree. The five scholarship recipients were announced today during the 2014 Commodity Classic in San Antonio, Texas.   “We are proud to recognize students who make a real impact in agriculture,” said Martin Barbre, President of NCGA. “The support BASF provides allows us to ease the financial burden on these students, letting them focus on their education.”   Recipients received their scholarships during the Commodity Classic media preview on Thursday, Feb. 27.   “BASF is committed to the future of agriculture and is honored to provide scholarship opportunities to individuals who are dedicated to their studies in this industry,” said Scott Kay, Vice President, U.S. Crop Protection, BASF. “These students are passionate about...

(Posted Wed. Feb 26th, 2014)

Today, farmers and industry members are arriving in San Antonio, Texas for Commodity Classic 2014. As the wide array of events begins, the National Corn Growers Association reminds growers that, in addition to the many learning and networking opportunities Commodity Classic offers, it also provides many chances to play an active role in their national corn association.   Wednesday, NCGA is holding an Issues Briefing in the early afternoon during which Vice President of Production and Utilization Paul Bertels and Vice President of Public Policy Jon Doggett will present on a wide array of issues from the production forecast for the upcoming season to the current political landscape for farmers in Washington. Following the presentations, NCGA President Martin Barbre will lead a discussion of the most important issues impacting growers, allowing all in attendance to contribute their point of view.   Tonight, activities will continue as NCGA hosts its annual CornPAC auction.   All...

(Posted Mon. Feb 24th, 2014)

This week, the National Corn Growers Association sends off Rod Snyder with gratitude for his service and best wishes as he assumes the role of president of Field to Market, The Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture.  Snyder departs the position of Director of Public Policy after six years to assume leadership and continue that organization’s commitment to continuous improvements in productivity, environmental quality and human well-being across the agricultural supply chain.   Current NCGA Public Policy and Regulatory Affairs Manager Ethan Matthews, who has been with the association for four years, has been promoted to Director of Public Policy and will assume Snyder’s responsibilities upon his departure.   During his tenure at NCGA, Snyder worked closely with the association’s Production and Stewardship Action Team on key issues including government regulations, sustainability initiatives and production practices.   “Rod led our efforts to educate members of Congress on a...

(Posted Thu. Feb 20th, 2014)

The U.S. Department of Agriculture preliminary 2012 Census of Agriculture results, released today, show an increase in the value of agricultural products sold in the United States totaling $394.6 billion in 2012, up 33 percent from 2007.  While the number of farms and land declined slightly over the period, agriculture as an industry also became more diverse.   “For decades now, the National Corn Growers Association has stressed the importance of farmer participation in the Census of Agriculture as the information found in this survey will be used by federal regulators and legislators as they debate the new programs and policies impacting rural America,” said NCGA President Martin Barbre, who farms in Carmi, Ill. “As the USDA has acknowledged, 2012 was a uniquely difficult year for farmers due to the severe drought conditions that impacted much of the country. While revisions may be made to the final report, the information provided gives us an interesting look at how our...

(Posted Thu. Feb 20th, 2014)

American Ethanol is enhancing its partnership with Richard Childress Racing and driver Austin Dillon for the 2014 NASCAR season. Beginning with the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Phoenix International Raceway on March 2, Dillon will race the No. 3 American Ethanol Chevrolet SS in select races during the 2014 season.   “We want to show consumers coast-to-coast there is a great alternative to imported oil and our association with NASCAR and RCR is doing that extremely well," said Jon Holzfaster, a Paxton, NE farmer and chairman of the National Corn Growers Association's NASCAR Advisory Committee. "Ethanol is also responsible for bringing a rural renaissance from Main Street to the family farm.”   American Ethanol, launched by Growth Energy and the National Corn Growers Association along with the support of other partners, is a breakthrough brand that seeks to expand consumer awareness of the benefits of ethanol and E15.  Since the program launch for the 2011 season, NASCAR...

(Posted Thu. Feb 20th, 2014)

The National Corn Growers Association released the following statement from NCGA President Martin Barbre in response to Syngenta’s announcement of the limited release of Agrisure Duracade through the “Right to Grow” program.   “We are pleased to see Syngenta’s efforts to administer a limited trait release of Agrisure Duracade that seeks to balance the importance of maintaining farmers’ access to technology while maintaining markets for U.S. corn. NCGA consistently strives to optimize opportunities for U.S. corn growers and values efforts from parties across the value chain to support achievement of our goals.”   NCGA will provide information regarding the status of import approvals with key importing markets and reference stewardship plans in place through its Know Before You Grow website as they become available.   “As it is in the best interest of corn farmers and the value chain as a whole, NCGA strongly encourages all farmers to consult with their seed providers and their...

(Posted Wed. Feb 19th, 2014)

The National Corn Growers Association brought the interests of America’s corn farmers to the table yesterday for a lively discussion of federal activity impacting ethanol and gasoline markets during the National Ethanol Conference. The 19th annual event hosted by the Renewable Fuels Association brought together a diverse group of interests to examine the legislative and regulatory issues facing the ethanol industry in Washington today.   NCGA Vice President of Public Policy Jon Doggett brought insight into situations with a potential impact on corn ethanol demand and thus on corn farmers. The panel, which was moderated by RFA President and CEO Bob Dinneen, also included Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers Federal Government Affairs Vice President Shane Karr, American Petroleum Institute Downstream and Industry Operations Group Director Bob Greco, DuPont Federal Government Affairs Senior Manager Aaron Whitesel and Outdoor Power Equipment Institute President and CEO Kris...

(Posted Tue. Feb 18th, 2014)

Approximately 250 delegates met in Long Beach, Calif., last week for the U.S. Grains Council's 11th International Marketing Conference and 54th Annual Membership Meeting. The winter annual meeting included speakers and conversation dedicated to developing markets, enabling trade and improving lives.   The Council's Advisory Teams tackled issues preparatory to developing the USGC's Unified Export Strategy for Fiscal Year 2015. From biotechnology to trade negotiations to market development strategies in key countries around the world, the A-Teams provided the expertise and strategic guidance that keep the Council ahead of the curve in a rapidly changing international marketplace.   Martin Fraguio, executive director of MAIZAR, Argentina's corn and sorghum association and a partner in MAIZALL, offered a South American perspective on the challenges facing corn exporters today. Argentina has emerged as a major global competitor for corn export markets, but the Argentine corn sector...

(Posted Tue. Feb 18th, 2014)

Today, Commodity Classic launched an all-new mobile app allowing attendees to access information, receive messages and engage in social media from their smart phones and tablets. The free Commodity Classic convention and trade show mobile app gives show-goers the ability to make their own schedules, lookup session, event and shuttle times, navigate with maps, fill out surveys, and much more. Visit www.commodityclassic.com/app.   “We’ve seen first-hand how more people are turning to smartphones and tablets for information they need on so many things, and this new app makes sure you’re up-to-date on what’s going on at such a large event,” said Commodity Classic Co-Chair Rob Elliott.  “Each year, the technology gets better and better – not just for farm equipment, but for mobile devices, and our farmers are always very interested in using the best tools available.”   In less than two weeks, a record-breaking number of soybean, corn, wheat and sorghum growers from around the...

(Posted Fri. Feb 14th, 2014)

The National Corn Growers Association’s Production and Stewardship Action Team met last week in Atlanta to discuss programs that deal with livestock nutrition, bee health, water quality and sustainability. “Large consumer manufacturers are committed to supplying their customers with quality products produced sustainably, said Don Glenn, PSAT Chairman. “Farmers naturally approach growing a crop sustainably because it is good business. It makes no sense to overuse expensive inputs or damage the natural resources that keep us in business. Our goal is participate in coming to a common understanding on sustainability throughout the marketplace.”   At a meeting with representatives from Coca-Cola, the team stressed the need for everyone attempting to gauge sustainable practices to use only one vehicle. Currently, the Field to Market calculator is the most robust tool available for farmers to establish a sustainability baseline in which to measure progress. Field to Market’s national...

(Posted Thu. Feb 13th, 2014)

Keywords: USGC

With downloadable market data from dozens of countries and regions, plus highlights of Council activities from 2013, the U.S. Grains Council's 2013 Annual Report at usgcAnnualReport.org is a great resource for those following the global grain trade.   "The downloadable spreadsheet includes production, demand, imports, exports and feed consumption information for 60 countries and regions," says Rex Martin, leader of the Council's Membership and Communications Advisory Team. "Add in web-based country and regional overviews that include everything from gross domestic product to market growth potential to highlights of Council activities, and it's a great tool to see just some of the Council's data and resources, and how we put them to work for members."   Market data by country is located in the "Market Profiles" section, while the "Success Stories" tab emphasizes high-points with accompanying videos. Photo-based highlights and additional notes complete the online report.   A...

(Posted Wed. Feb 12th, 2014)

The National Corn Growers Association’s Research and Business Development Action Team met in California last week to discuss research program topics that deal with genomics, genotyping, phenotyping and sustainability. In addition to program updates, the team toured local produce operations.   “It is important for corn producers to learn how other crops are addressing sustainability and what practices and programs work for them,” said Tom Mueller, Research and Development Action Team Chairman.  “It is vitally important that different sectors of agriculture communicate and work together to improve our production in a sustainable manner.”   The team visited the USDA research station in Salinas and saw a presentation by vegetable breeders about how they identify and address production problems. During the discussion period, team members inquired about what role vegetable checkoff programs play in identifying breeding targets and funding research, and the environmental, safety and...

(Posted Wed. Feb 12th, 2014)

Keywords: Commodity Classic

Farmers and other Commodity Classic attendees will once again have the opportunity to welcome U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack to the annual convention and trade show for corn, soybean, wheat and sorghum growers. For the fifth year in a row, the secretary will deliver a keynote address to an expected crowd of more than 6,000 during the event’s General Session, scheduled on Friday, Feb. 28, in San Antonio, Texas.   “We are honored to welcome Secretary Vilsack—someone who has been a strong advocate and voice for agriculture-to a conference that is both focused on and led by farmers," said American Soybean Association President Ray Gaesser. “As we face many challenges in this industry throughout this next year— trade agreements and access, conservation and water quality, moving the RFS forward and access to innovative technology—we  are excited to hear the secretary speak on these issues and other important topics that impact farmers who grow the nation’s...

(Posted Tue. Feb 11th, 2014)

Keywords: ethanol

The National Corn Growers Association’s Ethanol Committee met last week in Detroit, Michigan to discuss everything from the latest research on ethanol use in small engines to growing opportunities for distiller’s grains. While there, the group also met with representatives of Ford, Chrysler, General Motors and the Environmental Protection Agency.   “Meeting in Detroit provided us with a great opportunity to talk with the Big Three auto manufacturers,” said NCGA Ethanol Committee Chair Jeff Sandborn. “They confirmed ethanol has a lot to offer because it provides non-toxic, economical octane, but we face significant challenges particularly in the policy arena.”   Sandborn, a grower from Portland, Mich., noted ethanol provides the performance characteristics auto-makers want and does so more economically than any other source. However, they are also looking for direction from the Environmental Protection Agency on specific future standards so they know what engines to design and...

(Posted Mon. Feb 10th, 2014)

U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates released today lowered ending stocks estimates by 150 million bushels on increased export estimates for the record 2013 corn crop. This change resulted in an upward revision of the average farm price by 10 cents per bushel at both ends of the spectrum.   “It is clear that America’s farmers have the ability to produce an abundance to meet all needs,” said National Corn Growers Association President Martin Barbre, a farmer from Carmi, Ill. “Given this ability, it is imperative that we maximize markets for this essential national resource.”   Average yield estimates for the crop are 158.8 bushels per acre while harvest area estimates are 87.7 million acres. The resulting yield broke previous records with 13.9 billion bushels of U.S. corn produced in 2013.   Projected corn exports were raised 150 million bushels from the previous month to a new total of 1.6 billion bushels in 2013. At the same time, projected ending stocks declined by the...

(Posted Mon. Feb 10th, 2014)

The National Corn Growers Association’s Grower Services Action Team met last week in New Orleans for updates on NCGA programs dealing with membership, leadership and communications. The meeting came directly after the biennial Membership Symposium.   “NCGA’s many programs to support membership, build new leaders and communicate our work have seen great growth and success lately,” said team Chair Tom Haag, a Minnesota corn grower. “In the past several months, we’ve seen record membership, kicked off a new program for young leaders and seen our communications programs reach high levels of engagement with the non-farming public. Our team is excited about the future for our organization in these three areas.”   At the meeting, the team reviewed this year’s winners of the ongoing scholarship program, who will be announced at Commodity Classic, received an update on coming changes to Commodity Classic with the addition of the Association of Equipment Manufacturers, brainstormed on a...

(Posted Fri. Feb 7th, 2014)

Keywords: farm policy

The National Corn Growers Association thanked President Obama for signing the Agricultural Act of 2014 today. The farm bill passed the House on January 29 and the Senate on February 4.   “This new five-year farm bill means certainty and stability for farmers. It means food on the table for hungry families. And it means taxpayers will save money,” said NCGA President Martin Barbre. “We thank President Obama for signing this important legislation and we stand ready to work with the Administration and communicate the value of this new law for our growers and those they help feed and fuel. Because of its very topic – food and the farms that provide it – this is one of the most important pieces of legislation Congress has passed in some time.”   Among its specific provisions, the bill:   Eliminates controversial direct payments while maintaining decoupled farm support programs that will minimize the possibility of planting and production distortions that could trigger new World...

(Posted Thu. Feb 6th, 2014)

American farmers and representatives from a diverse group of almost thirty industry and non-governmental organizations today announced the formation of the Coalition for Safe Affordable Food and urged Congress to quickly seek a federal solution that would establish standards for the safety and labeling of food and beverage products made with genetically modified ingredients. “American families deserve safe, abundant and affordable food,” said NCGA President Martin Barbre. “America’s farmers rely on this proven technology to protect crops from insects, weeds and drought, enabling us to deliver on that promise and to do so through sustainable means. A federal solution on GMO labeling will bolster consumer confidence in the safety of American food by reaffirming the U.S. Food & Drug Administration’s role as the nation’s foremost authority on the use and labeling of foods containing genetically modified ingredients.”   A federal GMO labeling solution is needed that will protect...

(Posted Thu. Feb 6th, 2014)

The importance of soil health for farmers and the environment took center stage recently as a new Science Advisory Council convened to kick off the Soil Health Partnership, formed by the National Corn Growers Association with support from the Walton Family Foundation and Monsanto.   “The health of a farm depends on the health of its soil, and that’s what makes this new program an important one for our organization,” said NCGA President Martin Barbre, a corn grower in Illinois. “We developed the Soil Health Partnership with our partners to help our growers be the best farmers they can be, and ensure that their farmland remains valuable and productive for future generations.”   The mission of the Soil Health Partnership is to catalyze enhanced agricultural sustainability and productivity by demonstrating and communicating the economic and environmental benefits of improved soil health. The initial objectives of the program include building a network of demonstration research...

(Posted Wed. Feb 5th, 2014)

Keywords: Trade

Today, the National Corn Growers Association’s Trade Policy and Biotechnology Action Team concluded its spring meeting in Portland, Ore., where team members reviewed the organization’s policy in their area of expertise, reviewed recommendations coming out of the Priority and Policy meeting held earlier in January and met with representatives from government and industry to explore upcoming challenges and opportunities.    Looking at a variety of issues, including how to best support agricultural exports, stress the importance of respecting refuge requirements and facilitate successful communication across the value-chain on their issues, the team will use their in-depth knowledge of the subject matter to develop the nuanced, strategic suggestions needed to help the Corn Board guide NCGA policy effectively.   “During the winter months, it can begin to feel like farmer leaders spend a large amount of time participating in meetings for a variety of agricultural groups,” said Team...

(Posted Wed. Feb 5th, 2014)

This week in New Orleans, the National Corn Growers Association held its biennial Membership Symposium to bring together state and national membership staff to share best practices and learn new ones from outside experts.   Staff from nine states attended the 2014 meeting, which was held in conjunction with the NCGA Grower Services Action Team, which focuses on membership, leadership and communications programs.  The event was underwritten by Syngenta, as part of the firm’s co-sponsorhip of the NCGA annual membership program.   “We had a terrific group at this year’s event and everyone learned a lot,” said Tom Haag, chairman of the Grower Services Action Team. “Whether it was brainstorming around the table or learning from visiting experts, the symposium provided key information to assist staff when they return to their offices and focus on recruiting more members and encouraging them to be more active in their state and national organizations.”   The symposium included a...

(Posted Tue. Feb 4th, 2014)

Keywords: Farm policy

The National Corn Growers Association thanked members of the Senate for their passage today, with a 68-32 vote, of the 2014 farm bill. The bill passed the House on January 29 and now goes to President Obama for signing.   “We’re happy to see the farm bill pass the Senate and are looking forward to seeing it signed and implemented,” said NCGA President Martin Barbre. “It was a long time coming for a bill so important for promoting stability in farm policy while saving taxpayers money and feeding the hungry. While it’s not perfect, we’re pleased to see the bill contains many provisions we’ve been working hard for over the years.”   Barbre in particular pointed out that the new legislation provides the farmers the option to participate in either the revenue-based Agriculture Risk Coverage program (with county or farm-level options) or a Price Loss Coverage program with fixed reference prices.  The ARC will provide a band of coverage for 76 to 86 percent of the benchmark...

(Posted Mon. Feb 3rd, 2014)

Nine corn growers from around the country have been nominated for election to the National Corn Growers Association’s Corn Board for the 2015 fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1. New board members will be elected by state delegates at the Corn Congress this July in Washington.   “We were thrilled to see so much interest from the corn growers who want to step up and help lead our organization,” said Pam Johnson, NCGA chairwoman and chair of the nominating committee. “Each of these candidates will serve our industry well, and we thank them for getting involved. This next year promises to be an exciting one for corn growers and NCGA.”   Those nominated are, in alphabetical order:   Bob Bowman, of DeWitt, Iowa. Bowman is running for reelection to the Corn Board, and serves as liaison to the NCGA Research and Business Development Action Team. He also is president of the Iowa Corn Promotion Board and a past president of the Iowa Corn Growers Association. Bowman and his son farm...

(Posted Mon. Feb 3rd, 2014)

Keywords: Biotechnology

  Continued Strong Adoption of Integrated Refuge Products Provide Compliance Convenience   The National Corn Growers Association announced today that it is pleased the enhanced Compliance Assurance Program is seeing strong success. The program,  which includes on-farm refuge assessments, an online survey and IRM education and awareness, has documented an increase in both the overall  number of growers planting proper corn refuge and use of integrated refuge products.    The CAP aims to improve compliance with Insect Resistance Management requirements. The Agricultural Biotechnology Stewardship Technical Committee, a consortium of Bt corn registrants, submits an annual CAP report to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency describing industry-coordinated compliance assurance efforts for Bt traits.   Adoption of integrated refuge products result in automatic compliance in the Corn Belt   Highlights of the survey indicate a strong adoption of integrated refuge products, which...