NEWS STORIES

SEPTEMBER 2014

Johnson Reflects on Leadership Experience, Urges Farmers to Take Action

(Posted Tue. Sep 30th, 2014)

As the fiscal year comes to an end, the National Corn Growers Association’s Corn Board prepares to seat new members and officers on October 1.  When the 2014 Executive Committee steps down, NCGA Chairwoman Pam Johnson will complete her term, passing the role of chairman to current president Martin Barbre.   The Off the Cob podcast series sat down with Johnson to discuss her perspective on her years in leadership, her insight into the future and to explore how members can work together to make NCGA an even more effective advocate for farmers.    To listen to the full interview, please click here.   Reflecting upon her time on the Corn Board, Johnson explained that, while the breadth of the issues faced by the Corn Board was wide, NCGA offered programs to support...

(Posted Mon. Sep 29th, 2014)

Corn growers in more states have seen harvest progress drive on this fall, with all but one of the 18 states tracked by the U.S. Department of Agriculture now reporting progress. Twelve percent of the corn crop has been harvested as of Sunday, still below the five-year average of 23 percent.   “While we’ve seen a lot of great weather across much of the Corn Belt, farmers are still taking their time to make sure the crop is mature enough to bring in,” said NCGA President Martin Barbre, a corn grower in southern Illinois. “With our second record crop in a row, corn farmers know they have a lot more work to do this harvest and want to ensure the quality remains high as the corn dries to an acceptable level.”   States reporting harvest progress for the first time this season include...

(Posted Fri. Sep 26th, 2014)

An updated slate of farmers will serve their industry as members of the National Corn Growers Association’s action teams and committees in the next fiscal year, which begins Wednesday, actively shaping the future of their industry by guiding programs carrying out the policies and priorities that guide NCGA.   “We’re going to be facing a lot of challenges and opportunities in the year ahead, and it’s great to have such smart and dedicated farmer-leaders helping this organization carry out its mission,” said Maryland corn grower Chip Bowling, who becomes NCGA president on Oct. 1. “We had so many terrific volunteers and are excited to be kicking the year off with this team of leaders. As often happens, we had more outstanding candidates than we had positions for, and we encourage them to stay...

(Posted Fri. Sep 26th, 2014)

This week, National Corn Growers Association First Vice President Chip Bowling and Corn Board member Keith Alverson, along with NCGA staff, met with senior U.S. Environmental Protection Agency officials to discuss their concerns regarding the “Waters of the U.S.” (WOTUS) proposed rule. During the substantive and constructive conversation, Bowling and Alverson provided real-world examples on how the rule, which was designed to clarify the Clean Water Act, actually muddy the waters.   “During this meeting, we made some important points that brought the officials attention to how the rule does not serve their purpose of increasing clarity,” Bowling explained. “Farmers requested clarification because it was, and still is, necessary. We greatly hope that, through this process, we can come...

(Posted Thu. Sep 25th, 2014)

Keywords: Farm Policy

The National Corn Growers Association today thanked U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack for rolling out regulations related to the new revenue-based Agriculture Risk Coverage program and other risk management options designed to help growers facing sharp declines in commodity prices or significant production losses.   “Many farmers are facing a difficult harvest this year – a lot of corn coming in, but at a very low price,” said NCGA President Martin Barbre. “The end goal of our work on farm policy is to make sure growers get the help they need – when they need it. This key objective defined our leadership role in advocating for Ag Risk Coverage, and it’s coming just in time, when many farmers are seeing their incomes fall below the cost of production.”   Vilsack today announced...

As the 2014 Fiscal Year Comes to a Close, Off the Cob Looks Ahead with Corn Board Member Elect Zimmerman

(Posted Thu. Sep 25th, 2014)

When the National Corn Growers Association enters a new fiscal year on October 1, Wisconsin farmer Jim Zimmerman will become the newest member of the Corn Board. Off the Cob spoke with the new board member to explore his goals, insights and aspirations for NCGA as he takes on this role.   Corn Board elections were held during the session of Corn Congress held this July in Washington. While the election provided second terms for current board members Bob Bowman, Lynn Chrisp, Kevin Skunes and Paul Taylor, Zimmerman was the only new candidate selected by the delegates to serve in fiscal year 2015.   While Zimmerman may be new to the Corn Board, he brings a wealth of experience on nuanced issues to this new role.   “I have served on...

(Posted Wed. Sep 24th, 2014)

Keywords: Sustainability Conservation

National Corn Growers Association Corn Board member Paul Taylor, a farmer from Esmond, Ill., participated in the inaugural meeting of the Global Alliance for Climate-Smart Agriculture. The meeting brought together partners of the alliance to discuss the organization of the alliance in its inception year and a program of work.   The meeting followed the official launch of the alliance on Tuesday at the United Nations Secretary General’s Climate Summit.   “With increasing public focus turning to the climate, farmers must take a seat at the table to ensure our interests and concerns on this topic are accurately represented,” said Taylor. “American corn farmers have a dynamic story of constant improvement to share. We have a long history of finding innovative ways to meet...

(Posted Tue. Sep 23rd, 2014)

Keywords: Biotechnology Trade

The National Corn Growers Association has launched an online campaign reminding growers of the importance of properly channeling grain this harvest. Through a series of online placements on AgWeb.com, email blasts and text message alerts, the association will focus farmer attention during this critical harvest period, running from mid-September through early November.   “NCGA’s Trade Policy and Biotechnology Action Team always stresses the importance of balancing access to technology and export markets,” explained team chair Jim Zimmerman, who farmers near Rosendale, Wis. “The Know Before You Grow online tool plays an important role in this by empowering growers with the knowledge that they need to make educated decisions. With a potentially record crop on the way,...

(Posted Mon. Sep 22nd, 2014)

With both harvest and maturity progress lagging behind the five-year average, the condition of the U.S. corn condition remains strong, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Report released today. Seventy-four percent of the crop remains in good-to-excellent condition as of September 21, 19 percentage points more than at this time last year. With only 42 percent of the corn crop at full maturity, lagging progress has not harmed forecasts of potentially record-breaking production.   “The corn crop may be running behind schedule in many areas, but it still appears to far surpass previous years’ both in terms of quality and quantity,” said NCGA President Martin Barbre, a farmer in Illinois. “This year’s abundance has come at a price for many...

(Posted Mon. Sep 22nd, 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 agvocate blogger who farms in Indiana. While his soybean harvest is already underway, corn harvest remains a few weeks out for him.   “No corn has been harvested yet that I have seen,” said Scott. “The majority of corn harvest is still a ways out. By Wednesday though, we hope to try a little for a premium. At basis, I am not sure if you could call...

(Posted Fri. Sep 19th, 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 April Hemmes, a farmer from northern Iowa. While reports show that many farmers have begun to harvest, that is not the case in her community.   “I would like to say that the combines were rolling, but we are not so lucky here,” said Hemmes. “Everyone that I have talked to is a minimum of two weeks from harvesting. All of my corn, even the 99-day corn, has not black...

Decatur Gets Grounded on Soil Health

(Posted Thu. Sep 18th, 2014)

Keywords: Conservation

This week, corn farmers David, Joe and Chase Brown hosted area growers, soil health experts and neighbors on their farm near Decatur, Illinois for a Soil Health Partnership field day. The day’s agenda kicked off with the Brown family describing how they started using cover crops during the drought in 2012 to feed livestock. Now, they are committed to seeing what else cover crops can deliver in terms of keeping the soil healthy and making more accurate maps to show exact soil types in their fields.   “The Soil Health Partnership is focusing its field day efforts in Illinois, Indiana and Iowa this year because of established programs using cover crops as a soil health best practice,” said Nick Goeser, NCGA’s manager of soil health and sustainability. “However, the program is looking to get more farmers...

(Posted Thu. Sep 18th, 2014)

The National Corn Growers Association asks photographers and farmers to help tell the story of farming and harvesting field corn in America through the first annual Fields-of-Corn Photo Contest. Through this contest, NCGA captures high-resolution photos of corn growth from seed to harvest and the families that grow it. While the contest opened in June, interested participants will be able to submit multiple entries until November 30, 2014.   Open to all, the Fields-of-Corn photo contest offers a free opportunity for photographers to share their work while competing for a $500 grand prize. Entries will also be considered for prizes with cash awards for the top three entries in five categories including: Farm Family Lifestyle, Farming Challenges, Growing Field Corn, Scenery/Landscape, and...

(Posted Wed. Sep 17th, 2014)

Keywords: Biotechnology

The National Corn Growers Association applauds the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s approval of Dow AgroSciences 2,4-D and glyphosate-resistant corn, a part of the ENLIST system. This approval, which will still require U.S. Environmental Protection Agency approval of the accompanying pesticide before the system comes to market, represents the first time in which USDA approved a crop modified to be resistant to more than one herbicide.   “Gaining approval for this important technology has been a long, hard fought battle,” said NCGA Trade Policy and Biotechnology Action Team Chair Jim Zimmerman, a farmer from Rosendale, Wis. “It is important that farmers continue to gain access to the tools that they need in the field through a science-based, timely regulatory...

(Posted Tue. Sep 16th, 2014)

Keywords: Ethanol

The National Corn Growers Association submitted comments on the updated carbon intensity (CI) scores being considered for the California Low Carbon Fuel Standard Program to the California Air Resources Board this week. The comments, which related specifically to the direct CI scores, follow comments NCGA submitted in March pertaining to the preliminary indirect CI scores assigned to corn ethanol.   In a short letter from NCGA President Martin Barbre, the association explained that, while it was pleased to see the preliminary scores ethanol received for carbon intensity using the new lifecycle analysis model, much scientific data supporting the benefits of ethanol has yet to be incorporated.   “We are pleased to see the preliminary CI scores from the new GREET...

(Posted Tue. Sep 16th, 2014)

Keywords: Biotechnology

Ohio corn grower John Linder, a member of the National Corn Growers Association’s Trade Policy and Biotechnology Action Team, testified before  a committee of the National Research Council (NRC) on the importance of innovation and biotechnology to agricultural production during  a hearing Monday. The hearing, which was held in Washington, was part of a broader review of crop biotechnology.   “Farmers take pride in producing food not only for American families but also for our own,” Linder testified. “Modern biotechnology provides American farmers with safe and sustainable ways to protect our crops, allowing us to continue producing the safest, most reliable food supply in the world.”   Linder, who grows both genetically modified and non-genetically modified crops, spoke with...

(Posted Tue. Sep 16th, 2014)

Keywords: Conservation

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced yesterday that the National Corn Growers Association was among the recipients of the Conservation Innovation Grants. The National Corn Growers Association CIG award will be utilized to support the Soil Health Partnership.  The Soil Health Partnership represents a cooperative effort among several organizations working together with farmers to demonstrate and communicate the benefits of soil health to agricultural production.    “The Soil Health Partnership is identifying, testing and measuring management practices that improve soil health and benefit farmers’ operations,” said NCGA President Martin Barbre. “NCGA believes projects that share information from farmers to farmers provide platforms that create greater understanding and...

(Posted Mon. Sep 15th, 2014)

With harvest underway in the southern states and southerly portions of the Corn Belt, the crop condition remains strong, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Report released today. Seventy-four percent of the crop remains in good-to-excellent condition as of September 14, a full 21 percentage points more than at this time last year. Now, with 27 percent of the corn crop at full maturity, the potential for record corn production is coming closer to fruition.   “While maturity trails the average in some areas, the outlook for the 2014 corn crop remains impressive,” said NCGA President Martin Barbre, a farmer in Illinois. “While farmers have worked hard to grow such an abundant quality crop, they continue to see a decline in the price that will be paid for...

Online Harvest Forms for 50th National Corn Yield Contest Now Available

(Posted Mon. Sep 15th, 2014)

With harvest underway in some areas and soon to begin in others, the National Corn Growers Association announces that online harvest forms for the 2014 National Corn Yield Contest are now available. While the harvest information form deadline may seem distant, entrants are asked to report within seven days of their final yield check or by Nov. 21, whichever comes first.   “While harvest has only begun in a few areas, we ask contest applicants to submit harvest forms within one week of their final yield check to allow NCGA staff adequate time to thoroughly review each form,” said Production and Stewardship Action Team Chair Don Glenn, a farmer from Alabama. “The National Corn Yield Contest plays a significant role in recognizing excellence and finding new, more...

(Posted Fri. Sep 12th, 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 Jay Beckhusen, who farms an hour’s drive from Austin, Texas. While many farmers prepare for corn harvest, his area is on the verge of completion.   “About 95 percent of the corn acres have been harvested already in Texas,” said Beckhusen. “There are still a few acres left in the field, but there is a reason that those haven’t been harvested. Down here, all of...

American Ethanol and Rookie of the Year Competition Rolls On

(Posted Fri. Sep 12th, 2014)

Keywords: Ethanol

American Ethanol is guaranteed to be in victory lane at the NASCAR Sprint Cup Race for the Chase Championship in Chicago this Sunday. With E15 fuel powering every car in the race, and American Ethanol branding on every fuel port, our exposure will remain high through the end of the season.   Last week at Richmond, Austin Dillon, driving the No. 3 American Ethanol Chevrolet, did not secure the victory he needed to make the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Race for the Chase™. Though the regular season is now over, Dillon will still be one to watch in the NASCAR® playoffs that begin in Chicago Sunday, as he battles Kyle Larson for Sunoco Rookie of the Year™.   The top rookie position has changed back and forth between Dillon and Larson throughout the season, and the competition is sure...

(Posted Fri. Sep 12th, 2014)

Keywords: Conservation

Soil Health Partnership field days resume their schedule of presentations and demonstrations on Tuesday, Sept. 16. Corn farmers David, Joe and Chase Brown will host area growers, soil health experts and neighbors on their farm near Decatur, Illinois.   The day’s agenda topics will include the benefits of soil health and advanced nutrient management, cover crop integration in corn systems, and new equipment for seeding cover crops. The event runs from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. CDT, regardless of weather conditions.   Registration will occur on-site and a continental breakfast and buffet lunch will be served to participants. The field day location is at 3965 Strawn Rd., on the northwest side of Decatur, Illinois.     Additional field days continue to be added to the schedule. For the most...

(Posted Thu. Sep 11th, 2014)

With the U.S. Department of Agriculture today estimating a record corn supply of 15.5 billion bushels this coming year, the National Corn Growers Association is closely tracking corn prices and fighting back against efforts that will reduce demand for the bountiful supply.   “With a record crop on the way and prices continually sinking, it is critical our federal policymakers do not cut into the ethanol standard, impose undue regulations or go slow on trade agreements,” said NCGA President Martin Barbre. “America’s farmers are doing our part, working hard and smart on their farms to bring in a good crop. It is critical for Washington to remove obstacles and clear a path now so we can sell America’s biggest and most versatile crop at a good and fair price.”   In its crop production and supply-and-demand...

(Posted Thu. Sep 11th, 2014)

Keywords: Biotechnology

The National Corn Growers Association is pleased that the Environmental Protection Agency indicated it will provide flexibility for farmers in Herbicide Resistance Management (HRM) plans for new herbicide products, a position which NCGA has strongly urged.   “By moving toward a more flexible, yet still effective stance, the EPA made progress toward a set of real world solutions to an important issue,” said NCGA Trade Policy and Biotechnology Action Team Chair Jim Zimmerman, who farms in Wisconsin. “The circumstances farmers across the country encounter in terms of herbicide resistance vary widely, thus the tools which farmers must use to respond to them must be tailored to effectively address the specifics of that farm. Farmers want to act as good stewards of both their environment and...

(Posted Thu. Sep 11th, 2014)

As farmers begin harvest preparations across the country, a select group of growers are ramping up their efforts to become the most effective leaders possible through a National Corn Growers Association training program. NCGA’s Advanced Leadership Training Program, sponsored by Syngenta, launched its fifth class this week in Minneapolis, Minn. The session helps qualified and motivated candidates fine-tune their leadership skills and prepare them to lead the industry forward.    "Advanced Leadership training provides our experienced leaders an effective program through which they can further enhance their skills for national leadership,” said NCGA President Martin Barbre, a grower from Carmi, Ill.  “I had the chance to participate in the program two years ago and can...

(Posted Wed. Sep 10th, 2014)

America’s Heartland, the only weekly series focused on farming and ranching in all 50 states, announced the return of its popular series for an unprecedented tenth season. America’s Heartland will combine new themed episodes and the return of popular features and hosts as it premieres this week on PBS stations and RFD-TV.   “We’re thrilled to offer a new season of 22 episodes that introduce viewers to new stories of the hard-working men and women who produce food, fuel, and fiber to the nation and the world,” said series producer Jim Finnerty. “This year, we’re focusing on a wide range of unique themes for each episode, so there will be something to educate and entertain everyone.”   One of the highlights this season is “Bacon U.S.A,” an all-bacon episode...

(Posted Tue. Sep 9th, 2014)

Keywords: Biotechnology

The National Corn Growers Association reminds growers of the importance of properly channeling grain this harvest, particularly that planted as part of the Right to Grow system for limited release of Duracade.   The Right to Grow system tightly controlled the sale of seed corn produced using Duracade technology in a vigorous attempt to keep it out of export channels and limited the amount of Duracade released to ensure corn grown could be effectively managed by the trait provider. Through a marketing agreement signed with Gavilon, Right to Grow provides a specified marketing channel for all corn grown with Duracade technology and acts as another line of assurance farmers will be able to steward their grain into proper channels.   NCGA urges growers to double recheck any seed...

(Posted Mon. Sep 8th, 2014)

Keywords: Conservation

Soil Health Partnership field days begin their schedule of presentations and demonstrations on Wednesday, Sept. 10 in Iowa. Bruce Kent will host area farmers, soil health experts and neighbors on his farm near Lu Verne, Iowa.   The day’s agenda topics will include the benefits of soil health and advanced nutrient management, cover crop integration in corn systems, and new equipment for seeding cover crops. The event runs from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. CDT regardless of weather conditions. Registration will occur on site and a continental breakfast and buffet lunch will be served to participants. The field day location is on the Kent Farm at 1506 190th Ave., north of Lu Verne and southeast of Algona, Iowa.   The next field day events will take place in Forrest and Decatur, Illinois Sept. 15 and...

(Posted Fri. Sep 5th, 2014)

Keywords: Transportation

The National Corn Growers Association submitted comments to the Surface Transportation Board on the ongoing railroad service problems impacting corn growers. The comments, which detailed shipping delays and the industry-specific nuances of grain shipment, provided insight into the negative repercussions railroad delays have on family farmers.   “Based on the large railroad volumes of corn and corn products and relatively short peak seasonal shipping periods, timely and efficient railroad service is obviously extremely important for corn producers and shippers,” the association stated, summarizing the situation farmers face in regard to rail shipments. “NCGA members have been adversely impacted by recent railroad delays and service problems,...

(Posted Fri. Sep 5th, 2014)

Keywords: Ethanol

Pull your hat down tight and buckle up for a wild ride this weekend as one of NASCAR’s most dramatic races of the season unfolds in Richmond, Virginia. It’s make-or-break time for a dozen drivers fighting to take one of the two remaining spaces in the Chase for the Sprint Cup, and American Ethanol will be center stage.   American Ethanol spokesman Austin Dillon remains on the short list of those still in a position to make the championship, so he will attracting a lot of eyes as he hits the track in a full American Ethanol paint scheme on his No. 3 Chevrolet. To earn a spot, he must win the Federated Auto Parts 400, scheduled for 7:30 p.m. EDT Saturday, airing on ABC. He should be doubly motivated because the Sunoco Rookie of the Year honor remains in play, with Dillon continuing his...

(Posted Thu. Sep 4th, 2014)

Keywords: farm bill

Farmers have until late September to verify their current base acres, yields and 2009-2012 planting history with their Farm Service Agency office. This marks the first step growers will take under the farm bill’s new risk management programs.      Farmers should have received a letter from USDA in late July or early August, with a report of their base acres and yields for the past several years. These figures are used to calculate eligibility and payment for crop risk management programs through 2018, so it’s imperative that the information be accurate. Later this fall, farmers and ranchers will have an opportunity to update their crop yield information and reallocate their base acres.   “These risk management programs are only as good as the information used to calculate them,” said Jim...

(Posted Thu. Sep 4th, 2014)

Today, CommonGround volunteers took the story of American farming, their story, to people across the country through a series of interviews with television and radio stations. Answering questions focused on GMOs and the use of biotechnology in agriculture, Julie Kenney of Iowa, Kristin Reese of Ohio, Jennifer Schmidt of Maryland and Kristina Sutton of Missouri opened the barn doors, offering themselves and their fellow CommonGround volunteers as a resource for consumers with questions about where their food comes from and how it is grown.   “It is natural for people who aren’t involved in the raising or growing of their food to have questions about how that is done,” said Reese. “What I want to do, along with my fellow volunteers, is start a conversation with people who have...

(Posted Thu. Sep 4th, 2014)

Congress returned to Capitol Hill this week, and so did the positive corn farming messages at the heart of the Corn Farmers Coalition education program. Conventional print ads and digital ads will be in all the major Washington publications. Advertising in the Metro system will also be expanded to include “station domination,” with Coalition messages featured in every available ad space in the heavily trafficked Capitol South transportation hub behind the House office buildings.   “The public disconnect with food and farming is a growing societal issue and the Corn Farmers Coalition seeks to reconnect us all with America’s family farmers,” said Martin Barbre, National Corn Growers Association president and Illinois farmer. “Through innovation, technology and ingenuity, farmers are meeting our...

(Posted Wed. Sep 3rd, 2014)

Keywords: Trade Biotechnology

Japan is consistently among the world’s leaders in biotechnology regulation, boasting a system that is science-based and, therefore, effective, timely and transparent. This does not happen by accident. Among the key contributing factors are the sophistication and scientific integrity of the regulatory teams that implement the system.   To help sustain this benchmark of success within one of our most important trading partners, the U.S. Grains Council, of which the National Corn Growers Association is a founding member, was privileged last week to host a team of Japanese biotechnology regulatory officials, who were visiting the United States to learn about the latest developments in the field.   “In Japan, many central government officials, including biotechnology...

(Posted Wed. Sep 3rd, 2014)

The corn crop condition improved again by slight margins according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Report released late yesterday. With 74 percent of the crop rated good or excellent (as of August 31), corn maturation remains only slightly behind-pace overall while quality continues to far surpass that seen in 2013, when only 53 percent remained in good-to-excellent condition at this time.   “As harvest draws closer, the crop quality reports remain impressively strong,” said NCGA President Martin Barbre, a farmer in Illinois. “Yet, corn farmers continue to see a decline in the price that will be paid for their potentially record crop. For some, current market conditions could result in prices possibly below that of production. We have done the work in the fields; we...

Ag Leader Chris Novak to Become NCGA's Chief Executive Officer

(Posted Tue. Sep 2nd, 2014)

After a comprehensive recruitment process with many strong candidates, the National Corn Growers Association announced today that Chris Novak will become the organization’s next chief executive officer, taking the place of 14-year veteran Rick Tolman, who earlier this year announced his intention to retire from the organization.   “We’re thrilled to have Chris join us at NCGA,” said NCGA President Martin Barbre, a corn grower from Illinois. “He has all the right qualifications to take the reins of this growing organization and keep it moving in the right direction, continuing the tradition of success we saw under Rick Tolman.”   Novak’s first day as NCGA CEO will be Monday, Oct. 13. He currently serves as chief executive officer of the National Pork Board, a position he has...