NEWS STORIES

MARCH 2014

(Posted Mon. Mar 31st, 2014)

Keywords: Exports

During the last week, the officers of the U.S. Grains Council and National Corn Growers Association traveled to Colombia and Mexico and met with key customers and end-users, expressing appreciation for their business and reaffirming commitment to the export market. In both countries, customers anxious and excited to do business with the United States greeted the delegation.   For this marketing year, Mexico leads the world as the top U.S. corn export customer with accumulated exports of more than 216 million bushels from Sept. 1, 2013, to March 20, 2014, an increase of 253 percent over the same time period last year. Colombia is making a comeback as a regular buyer of U.S. corn, with accumulated exports totaling more than 59 million bushels from Sept. 1, 2013, to March 20, 2014.   NCGA President Martin Barbre commented that, "the simple comeback of the Colombian market after the free trade agreement is a true success story for both the Council and NCGA and highlights the fact...

(Posted Mon. Mar 31st, 2014)

American farmers expect to plant 3.7 million fewer acres of corn in 2014, a four percent decrease from 2013, according the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Prospective Plantings report released today.   If realized, total corn plantings in the United States would total 91.7 million acres for the lowest planted acreage since 2010. Notably, it would still be the fifth-largest U.S. corn acreage planted since 1944.   “In 2013, U.S. farmers produced a record crop abundant enough to meet all needs and provide an ample carry over into 2014,” National Corn Growers Association President Martin Barbre said.  “While it is still early in the season and many factors may change the reality on the ground as planting progresses, the public can rest assured that bountiful stockpiles and adequate plantings will ensure our corn security for the year to come.”   The USDA’s estimate for 2014 is for 91.7 million acres to be planted in field corn.  Assuming the five-year average 83.9 percent harvest...

(Posted Fri. Mar 28th, 2014)

The National Corn Growers Association now offers its fourth 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.   Today, Field Notes caught up with Brian Scott, an Indiana farmer who began sharing his story with NCGA in 2012.   “I am a fourth-generation family farmer in northwestern Indiana,” said Scott. “I farm with my dad and grandpa every day, and together we raise 2,100 acres of both dent and waxy corn, soybeans mainly for seed production, a little bit of wheat and a few hundred acres of popcorn.”   In addition to farming, Scott helps cultivate public understanding of agriculture through social media.   “My social media involvement is really centered around my blog, www.thefarmerslife.com,” he explained....

(Posted Thu. Mar 27th, 2014)

The National Corn Growers Association reminds farmers they are invited to become a part of the change they desire by actively honing their leadership skills through the Leadership at Its Best Program or the Advanced Leadership Academy, both co-sponsored by Syngenta.  Growers must be nominated by their state corn association for either program.  Interested members should contact their state associations now for further information and get completed applications in to state offices by April 9.   “Since it began in the mid 1980s, Leadership at Its Best has helped train strong, confident volunteers who have helped shape the industry through their subsequent work at the state and national level,” said NCGA President Martin Barbre.  “This year, we again ask that farmers come forward and act upon their desire to give back to their peers. NCGA depends upon grassroots leadership, and I can personally attest that the time and effort dedicated are repaid in full through the incredible...

(Posted Wed. Mar 26th, 2014)

Keywords: Ethanol Video

A new six-part miniseries debuts today on the National Corn Growers Association’s YouTube page, with the first episode providing an up-close look at how corn growers are active in areas to promote the use of ethanol as a motor fuel.   “Ethanol has been an amazing success story,” said Jeff Sandborn, chair of the NCGA Ethanol Committee. “In less than a decade, we’ve transformed the fuel market. Ethanol has been a great boon for the rural economy.”   In addition to talking about how ethanol has helped farmers, Sandborn relates its importance to increasing energy security and clearing the air by reducing greenhouse gas emissions. He also discusses the importance the Renewable Fuel Standard and explains why it should not be reduced.   “There’s no reason to reduce the growth (in renewable fuels),” he said. “There’s plenty of corn available.”   Click here to watch the video. The video series will continue each week with upcoming segments on biotechnology, leadership,...

(Posted Tue. Mar 25th, 2014)

Keywords: Water Production

Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers jointly released a proposed rule that seeks to clarify stream and wetland protections covered under the Clean Water Act. At this time, the National Corn Growers Association is reviewing the 370-page draft and plans to submit official comments to Federal Register during the 90-day public comment period.   NCGA will examine the rule to ensure that it provides greater certainty for farmers as to which waters fall under Clean Water Act jurisdiction while honoring all existing protections for farming practices.   In communications accompanying the release, the EPA directly addressed the relevance of the proposed rule to agriculture. “The proposed rule preserves the Clean Water Act exemptions and exclusions for agriculture,” the release stated. “Additionally, EPA and the Army Corps have coordinated with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to develop an interpretive rule to ensure that 53 specific...

(Posted Tue. Mar 25th, 2014)

Keywords: USFRA

Academy Award-winning filmmaker James Moll’s new feature length documentary, Farmland, will be released nationally May 1.  The film will be distributed via D&E Entertainment in more than 60 major markets. Numerous national exhibitors will be carrying the film, including Regal Cinemas, Marcus Theatres, Carmike Cinemas, Landmark Theatres and many key independent theaters.   The film will have its New York premiere at a private screening April 17, during the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival. Additionally, Farmland has been selected to be in competition this year at Cleveland International Film Festival on March 28-29; Atlanta Film Festival on April 6; Nashville Film Festival on April 19; and Newport Beach Film Festival in April 2014.   Farmland offers viewers an intimate and firsthand glimpse into the lives of six young farmers and ranchers across the U.S. chronicling their high-risk/high-reward jobs, and their passion for a way of life that has been passed down from generation to...

(Posted Mon. Mar 24th, 2014)

The National Corn Growers Association reminds potential attendees that early registration savings for the 2014 Corn Utilization and Technology Conference will only last until March 30.  The biennial event will be held June 2-4 in Louisville, Ky. The 2014 CUTC will feature the cutting-edge technologies and new uses that continually improve and dynamically change the corn industry with a focus on wet and dry milling.   “While June may seem a ways away, registering now for CUTC provides an opportunity to save with valuable early registration discounts,” said NCGA Research and Business Development Action Team Chair Tom Mueller. “The 2014 conference remains a must-attend event on calendars of many throughout the industry. The conference maintains its position at the forefront of technology, fostering innovative ideas and the important networking connections necessary to move the industry forward.”   The conference session topics will address genetics, biotechnology, and grain...

(Posted Fri. Mar 21st, 2014)

  Today, the National Corn Growers Association launched its fourth 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.   First, Field Notes caught up with a central Nebraska farmer first introduced last season, Andy Jobman. In addition to growing a wide variety of crops, including corn for chip production, and ranching, Jobman also helps other farmers through his work as a crop consultant.   Through his crop consulting work, Jobman plays a role in agriculture across his area by helping other farmers spot potential problems and improve the efficiency of their input use. Stressing that the role he plays is collaborative, he explains how a dialogue informed by agronomic knowledge and awareness of the newest...

(Posted Thu. Mar 20th, 2014)

This week, officers from the National Corn Growers Association joined with U.S. Grains Council leadership to begin a ten day mission that will promote U.S. corn exports in Colombia and Mexico.  Through a series of high-level meetings and on-site visits, the U.S. delegation will explore key trade issues including biotech policy, the outlook for both countries feed industries and the future of trade talks such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Pacific Alliance.   “Corn farmers today are keenly aware of the need to foster all markets, both at home and abroad,” said NCGA President Martin Barbre. “By working hand-in-hand with our partners at the Council, we have developed a schedule that will maximize the impact we have as we work cooperatively to expand the market for U.S. corn in these two important trade partners.”   While in Colombia, the group will visit Italco Feed Company before a series of meetings with: Agri-BIO; Contegral; Ingredion; National Business Association of...

By Martin Barbre, NCGA President

(Posted Wed. Mar 19th, 2014)

Recently, ethanol opponents in the livestock and poultry sector signed a letter supporting the EPA’s proposed cuts in the Renewable Fuel Standard. In the letter, they complain about how high corn prices have affected the viability of the industry.   It is one thing to complain about the price of corn when it is $8 per bushel, as it came close to doing in the late summer of 2012, when the drought reduced the corn supply by four billion bushels. Now, with corn nearly half that price, livestock and poultry producers are still complaining and singling out ethanol. The fact is, there are a lot of people who want corn to be priced around its historic, if unsustainable, two bucks a bushel. We’re sure they’d even prefer it to be free, and so we call them the Free Corn Coalition.   In order to bolster their point, these critics also greatly exaggerate how much corn is converted to ethanol. In their letter, they claim that “Today, roughly 42 percent of the corn crop goes into ethanol...

(Posted Wed. Mar 19th, 2014)

As planting season gets underway in southern parts of the country, the National Corn Growers Association reminds growers to visit its updated version of the “Know Before Your Grow” website. The newly revamped site offer growers important new information to help inform planting decisions in light of the release of new seed varieties currently unapproved in some export markets.   “In a globalized agricultural economy, it is important that farmers understand the delicate balance that must be struck between ensuring access to the technologies while also safeguarding export markets remain open to U.S. corn,” said NCGA Trade Policy and Biotechnology Action Team Chair Jim Zimmerman. “The balance is especially challenging in the case of China since the  country already has an asynchronous approval system for biotech traits. This is only compounded as China has currently fallen behind even their normal asynchronous approval timelines. While we must make vigorous efforts to maintain market...

(Posted Tue. Mar 18th, 2014)

Keywords: Trade

The National Corn Growers Association hosted guests from the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture Chicago Branch today for a series of presentations on the U.S. corn crop outlook  for 2014, recent trends in demand and supply, and updates on trade negotiations, the farm bill, and transportation and infrastructure. This annual visit provides an opportunity to build relationships and foster understanding with important representatives from the Japanese market, historically the largest importer of U.S. corn.   “As always, we are glad to welcome these important officials and foster our valued trade partnership with Japan,” said NCGA CEO Rick Tolman. “The open discussions and productive dialogue reinforce our trade ties and offer a unique opportunity to reiterate our dedication serving this vital market.”   Prior to the meeting, Japan External Trade Organization Chicago Agriculture Department Director Daisuke Ito noted interest in exploring more deeply the recent trends in demand and...

(Posted Mon. Mar 17th, 2014)

The National Corn Growers Association invites graduates of the Leadership At Its Best Program the opportunity further refine their leadership skills through the Advanced Leadership Program, co-sponsored by Syngenta. With two sessions, Advanced Leadership provides intensive training that will hone their media, leadership and lobbying skills, and prepare participants to lead the industry.   “We are excited to again offer this program through which another class of leaders will truly elevate their skillset and further their work on behalf of U.S. farmers,” said NCGA President Martin Barbre.  “NCGA depends upon grassroots leadership, and, as a graduate of the program, I personally understand the important role this program plays in helping develop the skills and build the relationships necessary to lead such a dynamic organization in an ever-changing environment.”   Advanced Leadership training aims to help develop top-notch state and national leadership that is empowered to...

(Posted Mon. Mar 17th, 2014)

U.S. corn exports to Japan have begun to rebound with projections indicating a strong return for the remainder of the 2013/2014 marketing year that began Sept. 1. Current U.S. Department of Agriculture reports show outstanding sales and accumulated exports to Japan totaled 331 million bushels for this marketing year through March 6.   In the 2012/2013 marketing year, the U.S. Corn Belt experienced a crippling drought that drove U.S. corn export prices to uncompetitive levels. While many longtime Japanese buyers continued to express a preference for U.S. sourcing, the cost disadvantage imposed too high a premium. Thus, Japan turned to South American corn. However in 2013, U.S. corn production rose to 14.0 billion bushels, an all-time high, with an average yield of 160.4 bushels per acre. Prices have responded accordingly, and Japanese buyers are again sourcing U.S. corn.   Even during the drought, the U.S. Grains Council, of which the National Corn Growers Association is a...

(Posted Fri. Mar 14th, 2014)

This week, representatives from 15 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 a review of recent research on DC policymakers attitudes and opinions about agriculture and farmers.    “The discussion in AIC meetings helps NCGA fulfill its mission of creating and maintaining opportunities for corn growers,” said NCGA Chairwoman and AIC Co-Chair Pam Johnson. “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.”   Rebecca Naser of Hart Research Associates presented “DC Policymakers and Influencers Attitudes and Opinions about America’s...

(Posted Thu. Mar 13th, 2014)

The following is a statement from National Corn Growers Association President Martin Barbre.   “Earlier this week, Rick Tolman shared with the NCGA Corn Board his desire to step down as chief executive officer of NCGA at the end of September.   “Rick has been a tireless advocate for corn farmers and our organization. However, Rick told us – as much as he loves representing our way of life – he is ready to enjoy more time with his wife, Linda, and their five children and eight grandchildren, and other pursuits. As he said it, we all put off things until ‘someday,’ and, for him, ‘someday’ has finally come, after 14 years of service to the organization and a 37-year career in agriculture.   “While we are certainly happy for Rick and his family, it was with great trepidation that we heard the news initially. Change is hard for some to accept. Once we all realized that we could not talk Rick out of his decision, we offered him a hearty thank you for his dedicated service. Rick is...

(Posted Tue. Mar 11th, 2014)

 The National Corn Growers Association invites farmers to become a part of the change they desire by actively honing their leadership skills through the Leadership at Its Best Program, co-sponsored by Syngenta.  Growers must be nominated by their state corn association.  With applications due April 11, interested members should contact their state associations now for further information and get completed applications in to state offices by April 9.   “Since it began in the mid 1980s, Leadership at Its Best has helped train strong, confident volunteers who have helped shape the industry through their subsequent work at the state and national level,” said NCGA President Martin Barbre.  “This year, we again ask that farmers come forward and act upon their desire to give back to their peers. NCGA depends upon grassroots leadership and, I personally can attest that the time and effort dedicated are repaid in full through the incredible relationships built with like-minded...

(Posted Mon. Mar 10th, 2014)

U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates released today lowered ending stocks estimates on increased export estimates for the record 2013 corn crop for the second consecutive month. Despite the overall demand increase demonstrated by this revision, the season average farm price remained stable.   “America’s farmers have produced an abundance that is meeting meet all needs,” said National Corn Growers Association President Martin Barbre, a farmer from Carmi, Ill. “Given the record-setting crop, it is imperative that we maximize all markets for this essential national resource.”   Projected corn exports were raised 25 million bushels from the previous month to a new total of 1.625 billion bushels in 2013. This followed an upward export totals revision of 150 million bushels in the February report. At the same time, projected ending stocks declined by the same amount. The season-average farm price held at $4.50 per bushel, still sharply down from the record $6.70 to $7.10 the...

(Posted Mon. Mar 10th, 2014)

The National Corn Growers Association released a revised version of its “Know Before Your Grow” website this week to offer growers updated information to help inform planting decisions in light of the release of new seed varieties currently unapproved in some export markets. The information provided allows growers to make informed decisions on potential marketing restrictions well before harvest.   “In a globalized agricultural economy, it is important that farmers understand the delicate balance that must be struck in trying to ensure access to the technologies necessary to combat production challenges while also ensuring export markets remain open to U.S. corn,” said NCGA Trade Policy and Biotechnology Action Team Chair Jim Zimmerman. “In the case of China, the balance can prove challenging given that country’s asynchronous approval system for biotech traits, and its current trend toward falling behind even the normal asynchronous approval timelines. While we must make robust...

(Posted Fri. Mar 7th, 2014)

The National Corn Growers Association reached a new membership milestone at the end of February, with 40,287 on the rolls. This membership record replaces the former record, of 40,244, set in August 2013.   “We’re thrilled to set yet another membership record at a time when the average membership in trade associations like ours is flat or declining,” said NCGA President Martin Barbre. “Not only do we offer a terrific set of member benefits, but our growers know the value NCGA offers in Washington and throughout the country and recognize that grassroots efforts have been the strength and driving force behind their organization.”   Barbre cited the recent effort by NCGA and its allies to demand the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency rescind its proposal to cut corn ethanol in the Renewable Fuel Standard by 10 percent. In that effort, NCGA and its state affiliates drove more than 24,000 comments to the EPA, and additional thousands of calls to the White House.   NCGA has...

(Posted Thu. Mar 6th, 2014)

Keywords: Commodity Classic

With more than 7,300 total attendees, the 2014 Commodity Classic convention and trade show, which took place last week in San Antonio, Texas, shattered previous records for the landmark event.   “We knew it was the biggest event ever, but the numbers really surprised us as we saw them rolling in over the course of the event,” said Commodity Classic Co-Chair Rob Elliott. “San Antonio was such a perfect venue for our growers, and Commodity Classic had so much to offer this year. We’re thrilled with the numbers and the great feedback we had from our growers.”   Total attendance was 7,325, representing an 18 percent increase over last year's record-breaking number of 6,214. Other records broken were the number of growers, at 3,874, a 16.5 percent increase over 2013’s record-breaking number of 3,324; and the number of first-time attendees, at 1,261.  Additionally, the trade show featured an all-time high of 301 participating companies, representing a record 126,200 net square feet of...

(Posted Thu. Mar 6th, 2014)

U.S. corn farmers soared to new heights in 2013, growing the largest crop on record, at 13.9 billion bushels. To celebrate these heroics, the National Corn Growers Association delves into the facts about corn production, use and offers a historical comparison 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. In addition to the traditional statistics guide, this year’s distribution included a compendium edition which brought back Captain Cornelius for an educational comic exploring how corn benefits our world in so many ways.   “In 2013, America’s farmers showed how, with resilience and resolve, they truly are heroes,” NCGA President Martin Barbre and Chief Executive Officer Rick Tolman note in the introduction. “Following a year of record drought and confronting a late, wet planting season, these strong, independent men and women worked tirelessly...

(Posted Thu. Mar 6th, 2014)

The National Corn Growers Association recognized good stewardship last week during the 2014 Commodity Classic convention and trade show in San Antonio, Texas.  Tim Smith from Eagle Grove, Iowa was honored as the inaugural honoree in NCGA’s Good Steward Recognition Program. The program and award funding was provided by the Howard G. Buffett Foundation as part of their Harvesting the Potential campaign to raise awareness among U.S. farmers of the importance of conservation agriculture.   “NCGA is known for taking the lead on many programs that are now commonplace in the corn industry,” said NCGA President Martin Barbre. “We expand awareness of best practices in sustainable corn production by recognizing the special efforts of those who demonstrate the economic and conservation value of soil management, and Tim has really proven a superior commitment to sustainability through innovation.”   “We are pleased to support the Good Steward Award to recognize farmers who demonstrate...

(Posted Thu. Mar 6th, 2014)

National Corn Growers Association Chief Executive Officer Rick Tolman this week will receive Purdue University College of Agriculture’s highest honor for achievement, the Distinguished Agriculture Alumni Award.   Tolman is one of 11 alumni to receive the 2014 award, which recognizes Purdue Agriculture alumni who have demonstrated outstanding accomplishments, made significant contributions to their professions or to society in general, and exhibit high potential for future professional growth. In 2012, he was awarded the Certificate of Distinction from the Purdue Ag Alumni Association.   “Everyone at NCGA is extremely proud of Rick,” said NCGA President Martin Barbre. “He is a proven, visionary leader who has taken our association to new levels of success and has done great work not only for our growers, but for all of American agriculture in a long career of service. This award is very deserved.”   Tolman joined NCGA in September 2000. He previously served as executive...

(Posted Wed. Mar 5th, 2014)

Yesterday, the White House released a proposed budget which has been deemed “dead upon arrival,” as budgets of this nature have been for many years now. Primarily important in its symbolism, the budget released by the Administration reflects current values but is highly unlikely to impact policy in the near future.   Notably, the budget proposed by the Administration is not likely to move forward for many reasons. Senate Democrats expressed they do not find a reason to pass a budget at this time as the agreement which Congress came to in December on the matter will be in place for two years. Additionally, the proposed budget does not contain traditional enticements to encourage bipartisan discussion.   House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) also plans to release his own budget for his committee to consider. While neither budget is likely to have immediate ramifications, the documents’ significance comes mainly from its expression of party priorities entering an...

(Posted Tue. Mar 4th, 2014)

Keywords: NCYC

The National Corn Growers Association has released video offering tips from perennial high-yield entrants of the National Corn Yield Contest. The new video, which premiered during a breakfast at Commodity Classic honoring the state winners of the 2013 contest, 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 Tom Haag. “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 new ideas that might work for them.”   The National...