NEWS STORIES

JANUARY 2015

Soil Health Reaches a Summit

(Posted Fri. Jan 30th, 2015)

The Soil Health Partnership ended its first year of demonstration farm implementation with a Soil Health Summit in St. Louis. The Partnership hosted academic experts, industry representatives, conservation specialists and farmers from among the six states participating in the program.   “This event not only made it possible to gather program representatives under one roof for evaluation purposes, but also gave us an opportunity to put a spotlight on soil health in general,” said NCGA Manager for Soil Health and Sustainability Nick Goeser.  “The United Nations declared 2015 as the International Year of Soils, so what better way is there to celebrate this initiative than to share what we are doing to improve soil health?”   Dr. Wayne Honeycutt, deputy chief for science and technology with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, kicked off proceedings by communicating the value of partnerships, especially when it comes to improving the health of our nation’s...

(Posted Thu. Jan 29th, 2015)

Keywords: Ethanol

The National Corn Growers Association today issued the following statement in response to a study released by the World Resources Institute.   Statement by Keith Alverson, South Dakota corn grower and a member of the Corn Board:   “This ‘new’ study is just more of the same, tired arguments Big Oil have been using for years. They simply are not true. In fact, numerous studies by independent, unbiased third parties have come to vastly different conclusions.   The fact is, ethanol is a very efficient energy source. When calculating the amount of energy used to produce ethanol, from farm to pump, ethanol represents a 40 percent net energy gain. No other energy source comes close. Ethanol is also better for the environment: reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 110 million metric tons, the equivalent of taking 20 million vehicles off the road.   There is more than enough corn to meet all demands: food, fuel, feed, and fiber. Our farmers have grown the largest 11 corn crops in...

Training Champions: Fifth Advanced Leadership Class Graduates from Program

(Posted Thu. Jan 29th, 2015)

Corn farmers from across the country traveled to Washington this week to take part in the second phase of the Advanced Leadership program co-sponsored by the National Corn Growers Association and Syngenta. This program, now in its fifth year, offers high-level training for a select group of Leadership At Its Best alumni. While in town, participants visited numerous members of the Senate and House of Representatives and received an insider’s view of how lobbyists work on Capitol Hill.   “The Advanced Leadership program offers an exciting way to build upon the training offered by Leadership at Its Best,” said NCGA President Chip Bowling, himself a graduate of the program. Bowling came to Washington to welcome the class and provide an update on NCGA’s issues and programs. “These farmers have stepped up as leaders, volunteering their time and talent on behalf of corn farmers and the entire agricultural community. They are passionate about farming. Our goal is to give them the...

New Leaders Program Takes Place in Des Moines

(Posted Wed. Jan 28th, 2015)

The participants of the 2015 class of the NCGA DuPont New Leaders Program kicked off their involvement this week in Des Moines, where they learned how to better tell their ag story and got a deeper education in industry involvement.   “I was really happy to meet this dedicated group of growers new to industry involvement,” said National Corn Growers Association First Vice President Rob Elliott, an Illinois grower who attended the session and was able to spend time getting to know the growers. “These men and women are especially eager to help move American agriculture forward and communicate its importance to those who are removed from farming by a few generations. I look forward to seeing them get more engaged in leadership – and I thank DuPont for its strong support of this program.”   In the program, the participants learned how to enhance communications depending on personality traits, used improv techniques to learn to communicate better, mastered top social media tools and...

Grassroots Movement Grows at CommonGround 2015 Conference

(Posted Tue. Jan 27th, 2015)

Volunteer women farmers involved in the CommonGround program, along with state and national staff, met in Austin, Texas to share their experiences with the program and welcome new members this week.  Over the course of three days, the participants worked intensively on the tools that they use to share their personal story and that of modern farming with urban and suburban moms through sessions on social media, public speaking and interview skills.    Through a series of presentations from representatives of affiliated agricultural groups, such as the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance, attendees explored a wide array of subjects including the most prevalent consumer attitudes toward agriculture and the most effective ways to share their story with a broader audience.   “Spending time with the other volunteers motivates me to push myself toward greater goals and reenergizes my efforts,” said CommonGround volunteer Sara Ross, who farms in Iowa.  “Each of us genuinely wants to...

(Posted Mon. Jan 26th, 2015)

Corn farmers from across the country have traveled to Washington this week to take part in the second phase of the annual leadership development programs co-sponsored by the National Corn Growers Association and Syngenta. While in town, the group will visit numerous members of the Senate and House of Representatives and get 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 Chip Bowling, NCGA’s current president and a LAIB graduate himself. “In Washington, our farmers can see first-hand how decisions made here impact us back on the farm. Having a strong voice here in the capital is very important for NCGA and its farmer members.”   The Leadership At Its Best class will receive briefings from NCGA staffers on the issues facing America’s farmers in the coming year followed by...

(Posted Mon. Jan 26th, 2015)

Three hour-long webinars this week, sponsored by Illinois Corn, will detail the three decisions farmers face when it comes to commodity programs in the 2014 Farm Bill: Keep or update yields? Retain or reallocate base acres? Which program to choose to receive commodity program payments?   The webinars take place at 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. CST Wednesday, Jan. 28, and 7 a.m. CST Thursday, Jan 29. Presenting in the webinars are faculty from the Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics at the University of Illinois: Gary Schnitkey, Professor; Jonathan Coppess, Clinical Assistant Professor; and Nick Paulson, Associate Professor.   These webinars are free. However, registration is required to participate and space is limited. The webinar can be viewed on desktop computers, laptop computers, and mobile devices. Technical requirements for the webinar can be found here.   Click here to register for the webinars.

Corn Farming Photo Contest Winners Announced

(Posted Fri. Jan 23rd, 2015)

The National Corn Growers Association today announced the 16 winners of the 2014 Fields of Corn Photo Contest, a contest that provided aspiring photobugs of all types the opportunity to share in – and visually communicate – the great beauty and hard work that make up American agriculture.   “This is the first time we’ve opened up a photo contest to the general public, and we’re very pleased with the high quality of the results,” said NCGA Graphic Communications Designer Beth Musgrove. “We’ve already started using some of these images on our websites and in our publications, and they help us tell the farming story in a more powerful and meaningful way.”   Winning the grand prize was Krista Kappes of Ada, Minn. Her image of a father and young daughter walking through am emerging corn field struck a nerve with voters and judges alike, because of its emphasis on family farming and sharing agriculture with future generations. More than 400 photos were entered and judged online by...

(Posted Thu. Jan 22nd, 2015)

Today, the U.S. Department of Agriculture released its analysis of statistics from the 2012 census of agriculture as they relate to Congressional districts. This document, which provides insight into the characteristics and value of farming and ranching operations each member of Congress represents, provides growers with key information to clearly document the importance of ag issues to the federal officials they elect.   “Agriculture acts as a consistent engine fueling America’s economy, and every farmer should ensure that his or her Congressional delegation understands the importance of the industry to their constituents,” said National Corn Growers Association President Chip Bowling, who farms in Maryland. “We have all heard many times what a small portion of the population actively farms today, but it is important we fully realize the economic benefit we provide the broader economy. The information in this important document allows us to quantify our impact and, in turn, help...

(Posted Thu. Jan 22nd, 2015)

The importance of soil health and what farmers are doing about it was communicated loud and clear at a meeting this week of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Farm, Ranch and Rural Communities Federal Advisory Committee.   Presenting on behalf of the National Corn Growers Association was Dr. Nicholas Goeser, who manages the Soil Health Partnership, administered by NCGA with financial support from Monsanto and The Walton Family Foundation and technical support from The Nature Conservancy.   “Soil health –the continued capacity to sustain plants, animals and humans – is important to a stable food supply and keeping farmers in business because, while the demand for agricultural products is increasing, farmland is not increasing,” Goeser said. “We have to be more efficient with our farmland.”   In his presentation, Goeser talked about how soil health can sustain higher yields, increase farmer profitability, build resilience to extreme weather and enhance the utilization...

(Posted Wed. Jan 21st, 2015)

The National Corn Growers Association thanked the U.S. Department of Agriculture today for its deregulation of dicamba-tolerant traits in soybeans and cotton. This approval, which came following a thorough yet expeditious environmental impact study, will provide growers access to another tool to combat growing instances of weed resistance.   “With farmers seeing instances of glyphosate-resistant weeds more commonly, the approval of this fourth herbicide tolerant system will be critical for grower success,” said NCGA Trade Policy and Biotechnology Action Team Chair John Linder. “By better dealing with instances of weed resistance, farmers not only increase yields but also improve agricultural sustainability.”   NCGA now urges the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to follow suit in promptly approving the herbicides compatible with this system and issuing stewardship guidelines. Should the EPA act in a timely fashion, the products could be available to farmers in time for...

(Posted Wed. Jan 21st, 2015)

Keywords: Ethanol

With a record corn crop and low corn prices, efforts to alter the Renewable Fuel Standard are coming at the worst possible time for America’s farmers, the National Corn Growers Association said.   “Corn ending stocks – the amount above and beyond current demand – are estimated at nearly 2 billion bushels this year, thanks to two back-to-back record harvests,” said NCGA President Chip Bowling, a corn farmer in Maryland. “And with corn selling at low prices, any legislative attempt to cut one of our key markets will drive prices even further below cost of production. We have a policy that works well not just for the environment and energy security – but for the rural economy. We need to support farmers, not bankrupt them.”   In reference to an attempt in the Senate to attach an anti-ethanol amendment to the Keystone XL legislation, NCGA pointed out the many benefits of ethanol and the reason why it’s an important part of our fuel supply.   “Corn ethanol is better for the...

(Posted Wed. Jan 21st, 2015)

With President Obama and Sen. Joni Ernst each highlighting the importance of trade in the 2015 State of the Union address and Republican response, the National Corn Growers Association urged passage of bipartisan Trade Promotion Authority legislation this year.    “Modernized TPA improves our nation’s ability to advance trade agreements that open markets for U.S. farmers,” said NCGA President Chip Bowling. “Ag exports, at nearly $150 billion, support over one million American jobs.”    Currently, the United States is pursuing an ambitious set of trade negotiations, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. Trade Promotion Authority legislation, which renews the president's authority to submit trade agreements to Congress for an up-or-down vote without amendments, is critical in finalizing agreements such as TPP because it assures our trading partners that a final deal won't be altered by Congress.   “We are encouraged by...

Corn Growers Praise Sheetz for E15 Announcement

(Posted Tue. Jan 20th, 2015)

Keywords: Ethanol

The National Corn Growers Association thanked Sheetz Convenience Stores, a major East Coast fuel retailer, to today’s announcement of an E15 commitment by initially offering the green fuel to its customers at 60 stores in North Carolina by spring 2016.   “This is great news for the nation’s corn farmers who have been promoting the benefits of ethanol blended fuel for more than 30 years,” said Chip Bowling, Maryland farmer and NCGA president. “Sheetz is a leader in the industry, so we expect this announcement to drive competitors to follow suit and also offer cleaner-burning, high-performance E15. This is a fantastic development for the rural economy and consumers who want a real choice in fuel.”   E15 offers consumers a five- to ten-cent price per gallon advantage compared to regular gas. Additionally, consumers are getting a higher-octane, better-performing fuel that burns cleaner and runs cooler in engines, which improves vehicle performance and can extend engine life. With...

2014 Annual Report Now Available Online

(Posted Fri. Jan 16th, 2015)

The National Corn Growers Association’s annual report for the 2014 fiscal year is now available online.  A printed copy of the report, which highlights the association’s achievements over the previous year and features current financial information, will also be sent to all active members and made available at upcoming meetings.   Click here to view the full report.   “Every spring when planters begin rolling across fields in this great country, farmers know there will be challenges,” said NCGA Chairman Martin Barbre, a grower from Illinois who served as president last year.  “It could be an equipment breakdown, the weather or when and how to market the crops we’re hoping to harvest in the fall. Yet, it could also be changes on Capitol Hill, restrictions in key foreign markets or proposals from regulatory agencies that could stymie demand for corn. “In 2014, American corn farmers faced all those challenges and more, challenges from which the more than 42,000 resourceful...

(Posted Thu. Jan 15th, 2015)

The National Corn Growers Association’s annual Priority and Policy Conference wrapped up today in St. Louis, concluding a series of discussions on NCGA policies and state and national priorities for 2016.   “This meeting consistently provides a chance for NCGA leadership to gain valuable insight from our state affiliates while fostering deep discussions that help all of us examine the issues more fully,” said NCGA President Chip Bowling, a grower from Newburg, Md. “The insight and ideas our attendees brought to discussions will provide us with sound guidance upon which to base effective, impactful plans for the upcoming years.”   The meeting includes chairs, presidents and executive directors of NCGA’s state organizations, as well chairs and vice chairs of the organization’s action teams and committees. For two days, these leaders discussed organizational policy and their perspective on the relative importance of each issue facing the industry. While each participant brought...

(Posted Wed. Jan 14th, 2015)

With only one day remaining to take advantage of the early bird registration discount, growers interested in attending Commodity Classic have one last chance to save. Discounted early bird registration ends tomorrow, Thursday, Jan. 15, for the event, which will be held in Phoenix, Ariz., Feb. 26-28.   Online registration and details about the event are available at www.CommodityClassic.com.   “Commodity Classic is on track to be bigger and better than ever this year,” said National Corn Growers Association Commodity Classic Joint Venture Committee Co-chair Bart Schott. “I urge everyone to come to Phoenix to see how the educational opportunities and relationships formed can benefit their operation. For those who act quickly, they can do so at a significant savings as well. With so many offerings and events, the 20th Commodity Classic does truly offer a many chances for farmers to blaze a trail of success into the next growing season.”   Full registration includes admission...

(Posted Tue. Jan 13th, 2015)

The National Corn Growers Association’s annual Priority and Policy Conference takes place this week in St. Louis, bringing farmer leaders from many corn states to begin the discussion of state and national priorities for the remainder of the 2015 fiscal year and to begin the 2016 fiscal year planning process. Together, these grower leaders will carefully assess NCGA’s policies on such subjects as biotechnology, ethanol, public policy and trade.   “I am excited about the important opportunity this meeting will provide for us to learn about the concerns of grassroots leadership and to build a consensus on how to best move forward in the months ahead,” said NCGA President Chip Bowling, a grower from Newburg, Md. “It comes at an important time for our industry, with a record-breaking crop in the bins and a host of challenges on the horizon as well. There will be much to discuss and take action on this week.”   Participants include the chairs, presidents and executive directors of...

(Posted Mon. Jan 12th, 2015)

The U.S. Department of Agriculture lowered projected national average corn yield and planted acreage estimates this month, while leaving harvested acreage the same. Although projected demand from the feed and residual markets fell, projected demand from the ethanol sector increased. Together, these factors resulted in a lower carryout projection and a 15-cent-per-bushel increased in forecast prices.    “Even in light of these minor reductions, corn farmers across America will still set production and yield records this year,” said NCGA President Chip Bowling, a Maryland corn farmer. “At the same time, the slight rise in prices seen in this report will help farmers hoping to recover the investment they put into this abundant crop. Working together through NCGA and our state associations, we can find innovative ways to grow markets and use this abundance to help our world meet a variety of challenges.”   USDA estimates still indicate record-setting total production at 14.2...

(Posted Thu. Jan 8th, 2015)

Keywords: Trade

The National Corn Growers Association today joins U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and fellow farm and food organizations seeking to end the United States’ embargo against Cuba and advance trade relations between the two nations.   The U.S. Agriculture Coalition for Cuba is composed of more than 30 U.S. agricultural and food organizations committed to building a deeper U.S.-Cuba relationship.   Although agricultural exports to Cuba are legal, the financing and trade restrictions have hampered the ability of American farmers to compete with other countries, such as Argentina and Brazil, which do not face the same restrictions. U.S. corn exports to Cuba have decreased from nearly 800,000 metric tons in 2008 to 200,000 tons in 2013.   NCGA President Chip Bowling issued the following statement:   “Cuba is not a level playing field for American farmers. It’s time we have a chance to better compete for Cuba’s business. NCGA has long supported normalized trade...

(Posted Thu. Jan 8th, 2015)

Newly formed action teams met in St. Louis, Mo during their December meetings to discuss issues important to NCGA. The Production and Stewardship Action Team members heard presentations on a wide range of topics covering water quality and use, sustainability programs, the National Corn Yield Contest, soil health, transportation issues and pollinators.   “PSAT concerns itself with issues related to corn production, environmental stewardship, transportation and livestock,” said PSAT Chair Don Glen of Alabama. “Being able to understand the difference between worry and a real threat to our industry is one of the important tasks our farmers undertake serving on this team. So when environmental groups raise concerns, we will work with the science behind the issue to find out if their concerns are real and if or how much the ag industry is a factor.”   Highlights of the presentations included an overview of the Waters of the U.S. Rule and various scenarios related to possible...

(Posted Thu. Jan 8th, 2015)

The deadline for saving on registration fees to the 20th Commodity Classic is approaching quickly. Early bird registration ends Thursday, Jan. 15, for the event, which will be held in Phoenix, Ariz., Feb. 26-28.   Online registration and details about the event are available at www.CommodityClassic.com.   Full registration includes admission to: All educational sessions including Learning Centers, Early Riser sessions, What's New sessions and Mini What’s New sessions The huge trade show, including box lunch on Thursday and Friday and a mid-morning snack on Saturday in the trade show The General Session featuring top-notch speakers and the leadership of the commodity organizations The banquet of the American Soybean Association or National Corn Growers Association (based on space availability and not guaranteed) The Evening of Entertainment, featuring country music star Craig Morgan The Opening Reception   As an added bonus this year, all full registrants will receive...

National Corn Growers Welcomes 114th Congress

(Posted Wed. Jan 7th, 2015)

National Corn Growers Association President Chip Bowling and staff from the NCGA’s DC office spent Tuesday on Capitol Hill, welcoming the 114th Congress to Washington and talking up the importance of agriculture to the American economy.   “We are here to welcome the new Congress, and to encourage them to work together with one another and the Obama Administration to advance policies that help agriculture and family farmers,” said Bowling. “I was encouraged not only by the warm reception we received, but also a hope that lawmakers will set aside past divisions, find common ground, and get things done.”   In his floor speech after reelection as Speaker of the House, John Boehner called on Republicans and Democrats to work together. “I ask that we disagree without being disagreeable. … Every day you and I come here, try to cultivate good seeds, and take care of the pests. And then with patience, sacrifice, and God’s grace, there will be a harvest,” said Boehner. “Let’s make this a...

(Posted Tue. Jan 6th, 2015)

Keywords: Research

The Research and Business Development Action Team reviewed ongoing projects and investigated additional research funding proposals during its recent meeting in St. Louis.   “This team is charged with investing in scientific knowledge to ensure ever-increasing opportunities for corn growers,” said team Chair Tom Mueller, a corn grower in Illinois. “While the impact of what we do today won’t even be felt for 10 to 15 years from now, putting a little NCGA muscle behind promising research could provide the necessary support for industry to develop new products for the marketplace.”   At the meeting, the team reviewed new proposals involving breeding desired crop capabilities through chromosome duplication and technologies for the removal of nitrogen and phosphorous from field runoff.   The team also was briefed by NCGA’s Washington staff on the depth and breadth of the gap between science and public opinion on the issues of biotechnology and climate change.   At the team’s...

USFRA Videos Chronicle How to Farm

(Posted Mon. Jan 5th, 2015)

Just in time for those who made a New Year’s resolution to start farming – or learn more about today’s farmers and ranchers – the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance has assembled a collection of four short educational (and entertaining) videos on farming to give you an up-close look at how four farmers tackle big jobs.   Hosted by blogger mom Kelly Snyder, these videos share a few of the daily activities of farmers and ranchers across the nation who grow and raise our food. Snyder visited four Midwest farms to learn what happens every day – and why. The videos also highlight new technology used on farms and ranches today, and address common misconceptions about food production. The videos include:   “How to Milk 1,200 Cows,” filmed with Brian Rexing at New Generation Dairy in Indiana. Most cows are milked two to three times per day with milking machines. The milk immediately runs through a cooling system and then on to a truck that leaves the farm in less than 24...

(Posted Fri. Jan 2nd, 2015)

Keywords: Farm Policy

Members of the National Corn Growers Association’s Public Policy Action Team met in St. Louis recently to hear more about implementation of the 2014 farm bill as well as updates on other federal programs and trends affecting corn farmers. PPAT’s mission is to offer direction to NCGA in developing public policy issues. The action team is comprised of 16 growers and staff from across the country.   Highlights of the meeting included several presentations and discussions related to the farm bill’s two risk management programs, Ag Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC). Farmers have until March 31, 2015 to make a one-time choice between the two programs for the 2014-2018 crop years.   “NCGA pushed for a market-based approach to risk management, and we’re very pleased it was included in the final farm bill in the form of the ARC program,” said PPAT chair Jim Reed of Illinois. “While we think ARC is a better fit for the majority of our members, it’s ultimately their...

(Posted Fri. Jan 2nd, 2015)

Keywords: Trade

Coarse grains exports could increase dramatically if United States-Cuba diplomatic relations are fully normalized, with the island nation having the potential to become the 12th largest market for U.S. corn if trade is truly open.    The Obama Administration’s announcement that it would seek to dismantle many of the 50-year-old restrictions on how U.S. companies and individuals interact with Cuba was welcome news to the agriculture industry, which has long supported changes to allow U.S. farmers to more freely sell to a market that is both import-dependent and just 90 miles from U.S. coastline.  The new movement related to Cuba policy has accelerated the U.S. Grains Council’s plans to reengage that country in early 2015 as part of the organization’s wider strategy focusing on coarse grains and co-products exports to the Western Hemisphere.    “This is another example of a situation that clearly illustrates both why the National Corn Growers Association’s work in promoting the...