NEWS STORIES

MARCH 2017

(Posted Fri. Mar 31st, 2017)

American farmers expect to plant four million fewer acres of corn in 2017, a four percent decrease from 2016, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Prospective Plantings report released today.   If realized, total corn plantings in the United States will reach the lowest planted acreage since 2010.   “U.S. farmers produced an abundant crop in 2016. Given the strong carryover entering this growing season, the drop in planted acres demonstrates how farmers can react to market conditions,” National Corn Growers Association President Wesley Spurlock said.  “While many factors may change the reality on the ground as planting progresses, American corn supplies should remain ample for the year to come. Even though production may be down slightly, the work being done at NCGA to grow...

(Posted Fri. Mar 31st, 2017)

This week, the National Corn Growers Association kicked off its seventh 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.   As the season begins, Field Notes met a new farmer, Kyle Kirby, who farms in the southwestern part of Missouri. Kirby farms with his father, his brother and a nephew growing corn, soybeans, wheat and cattle.   “We started rolling, putting on anhydrous and doing our tillage passes, in the first part of February,” he explained. “We had great weather for that work. The days were warm, and we...

(Posted Thu. Mar 30th, 2017)

The Senate Agriculture Committee voted Thursday to send to the full Senate the nomination of Sonny Perdue as U.S. Secretary of Agriculture. The following is a statement from the National Corn Growers Association:   “Thank you to Chairman Roberts, Ranking Member Stabenow, and the Committee for moving quickly to advance Governor Perdue’s nomination to lead USDA. The National Corn Growers Association is proud to support Governor Perdue, and we stand ready to work with him and the rest of the Trump Administration on trade, renewable fuels, risk management programs, and other issues important to our members. We urge the Senate to confirm Governor Perdue as soon as possible.”

(Posted Thu. Mar 30th, 2017)

The National Corn Growers Association today applauded the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for dismissing a petition related to the crop protection tool chlorpyrifos.   “We are pleased with the EPA’s decision today to deny a petition against chlorpyrifos and return to the standard pesticides review process as called for under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA),” said NCGA President Wesley Spurlock. “The overwhelming scientific consensus is that chlorpyrifos is safe for use by farmers, and we are confident that the pesticide review process will reaffirm this.”   In 2015, the Obama administration proposed banning chlorpyrifos, but the decision had not been finalized. Last August, a federal court ordered the EPA to decide by March 31 whether to ban the pesticide....

(Posted Wed. Mar 29th, 2017)

Last weekend, the National Corn Growers Association put newer breeding techniques in the spotlight at Maryland Farm Bureau’s Women in Agriculture Conference, “Speak Up & Speak Out". The presentation, part of a full-day focused on spreading important information about farming and ranching, delved into the importance of providing consumers relevant, relatable information on budding breeding technologies and offered insight into effective communications in the area provided by the American Seed Trade Association.   The session, which offered concrete guidance on approaching a seemingly daunting subject, also offered an introduction to the CommonGround program. With nearly half of the attendees currently uninvolved in this effort, the...

(Posted Tue. Mar 28th, 2017)

Keywords: Farm Policy

The Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) risk management program and crop insurance have been critical to helping corn farmers during a weak farm economy and should be maintained in the next farm bill, National Corn Growers Association President Wesley Spurlock testified today at House Agriculture General Farm Commodities and Risk Management Subcommittee hearing.   “Together, crop insurance and the ARC-County program have helped many farmers weather the storm of a weak farm economy and avoid bankruptcy,” said Spurlock, who raises corn, cotton, wheat, sorghum, and beef cattle in the Texas Panhandle.   Spurlock noted that corn prices have averaged below $4.00 per bushel since 2013, and are projected to average just $3.40 this marketing year.   “At that price, few corn farmers have a...

(Posted Tue. Mar 28th, 2017)

A group of veteran farmer leaders from across the country met in Washington last 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 seventh year, offers high-level training for a select group of Leadership At Its Best alumni. During the program, 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 provides an exciting way to build upon the training offered by Leadership at Its Best,” said NCGA President Wesley Spurlock, himself a graduate of the program. Spurlock came to Washington to provide an update on NCGA’s issues and...

(Posted Fri. Mar 24th, 2017)

  Corn farmers from across the country 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 visited numerous Congressional leaders and got an inside look at parliamentary procedure and how lobbying works on Capitol Hill.   “Leadership At Its Best has been a vital tool for helping corn growers become leaders at the state and national level for more than a quarter century,” said Wesley Spurlock, NCGA’s current president and a LAIB graduate himself. “In Washington, our farmer leaders see firsthand how decisions made in our nation’s capital impact us all back on our farms. Having an effective, compelling voice...

(Posted Thu. Mar 23rd, 2017)

Today the Senate Agriculture Committee held a hearing on the nomination of Sonny Perdue as U.S. Secretary of Agriculture. The following is a statement from the National Corn Growers Association:   “The National Corn Growers Association reiterates our support for Governor Perdue as the next Secretary of Agriculture, and we urge the Senate to move quickly to confirm him.   “Today, Governor Perdue promised to be a ‘strong and tenacious advocate’ for America’s farmers and ranchers and ‘USDA’s chief salesman around the world.’ We could not agree more on the need for strong leadership at USDA, especially when it comes to trade. Governor Perdue pledged to work closely with the rest of the Administration to negotiate strong trade deals that benefit America’s farmers and ranchers....

Get to know the Ethanol CEO – ACE’s Brian Jennings

(Posted Thu. Mar 23rd, 2017)

Keywords: Ethanol

NCGA joined ethanol producers and supporters this week in Washington, D.C. for the American Coalition for Ethanol’s (ACE) annual fly-in. ACE Executive Vice President Brian Jennings led a group of farmers, ethanol producers, fuel retailers and other business leaders on the “Biofuels Beltway March” to Capitol Hill to lobby on behalf of the ethanol industry. A fourth generation South Dakota rancher and farmer himself, Brian knows first-hand the importance of ethanol to rural communities. Before becoming ACE’s top executive in 2004, Brian was education director and lobbyist for the South Dakota Farmer's Union and served on the staff of U.S. Senator from South Dakota Tim Johnson for six years working on agriculture, energy, rural development and trade issues. NCGA had a few questions for Brian to...

We Are All in This Together

(Posted Thu. Mar 23rd, 2017)

When disaster strikes in rural America, you can always count on a neighbor to pitch in and lend a helping hand.  It is who we are and it is part of our tradition and heritage.  In times of large-scale devastation, all of us working in U.S. agriculture feel the effect because we know that our lives and our futures are inextricably linked.   American agriculture has been dealt a heavy blow due to the recent wildfires across the Central and Southern Plains.  More than 1 million acres have been consumed, at least seven lives taken and countless injuries inflicted in the rural areas of Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas.  Persistent dry weather accompanied by strong winds and low humidity continues to produce conditions that endanger neighboring counties.   Our friends in the livestock industry have been the...

(Posted Wed. Mar 22nd, 2017)

Keywords: Conservation

World Water Day is March 22, a good time to recognize the strides farmers are making to adopt practices that enhance water quality for everyone.   I’m a sixth-generation family farmer. My wife, Sara, and I grow corn, soybeans, alfalfa and run a 140-head cow/calf operation. We grow corn almost exclusively using no-till methods, and hope to someday pass the farm on to our four young sons. We also began seeding a variety of cover crops on some of our acres several years ago. They prevent soil erosion, take up leftover nitrogen and phosphorus in the field, and provide additional forage for my livestock.   Our farm is one of about 25 in Iowa enrolled in the Soil Health Partnership, an ambitious long-term, data-driven initiative of the National Corn Growers Association. This unique research...

(Posted Tue. Mar 21st, 2017)

NATIONAL AGRICULTURE DAY, 2017 - - - - - - - BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA A PROCLAMATION   America's farmers and ranchers help feed the world, fuel our Nation's economy, and lead global markets in output and productivity.  The efficiency of American agriculture has provided this country with abundance our ancestors could not have imagined.   The agriculture sector of the United States is endlessly innovative.  It continuously builds on its centuries of progress through advances in science, research, technology, safety, production, and marketing to meet the demands of changing consumer needs and complex world markets.  The agriculture sector provides jobs across our Nation, not just for farmers and ranchers, but for foresters, scientists,...

(Posted Fri. Mar 17th, 2017)

This week, the National Corn Growers Association kicked off its seventh 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.   To begin a new season, Field Notes met Jim Raben, who farms in southeastern Illinois near the Ohio River.    While he is waiting for drier weather to plant, Jim hopes to begin planting corn within the next two weeks.   “We did work some ground three weeks ago, but then we got rain,” he explained. “As you know, it has been cold since then too. The ground is dry now, but more...

Commodity Classic Brings Farmers Together to Share Ideas and Experiences

(Posted Thu. Mar 16th, 2017)

Commodity Classic offers farmers across the country a chance to get together, learn about new technologies and explore innovative ways to improve their own farming operations. While this opportunity is open to all farmers, a special set had the chance to share their unique experiences as 12 of the National Corn Growers Association’s past presidents were on hand to help the association celebrate membership, conservation and excellence in production at the annual banquet.   During an action-packed evening, which included a speech on the importance of grassroots activism by NCGA CEO Chris Novak and a laugh-packed performance by the Cowboy Hypnotist Don Warren, the past presidents stepped outside for a special moment and commemoration of the event.   As always,...

(Posted Wed. Mar 15th, 2017)

In spite of challenging times in the farm economy, thousands of growers and agricultural advocates opted to “Farmer Up!” and attend the 2017 Commodity Classic March 2-4 in San Antonio, Texas, in huge numbers.    “Commodity Classic continued in its tradition of excellence this year, demonstrating the enthusiasm America’s farmers have for continuous learning and improvement,” said Commodity Classic Co-Chair Kevin Ross, an Iowa farmer.  “From the exhibit halls to the learning sessions, the men and women who attended generated an electric energy sparked by their passion for agriculture.”   Total attendance was 9,303, the second-largest total in event history, second only to the 2016 Commodity Classic in New Orleans.  Growers represented 4,102 of that total.  Among the throng were...

(Posted Tue. Mar 14th, 2017)

The National Corn Growers Association put out a call for photographers to help tell the story of farming field corn in America through the fourth 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 recently, interested participants will be able to submit multiple entries until November 30, 2017.   Open to all, the Fields-of-Corn photo contest offers a free opportunity for photographers to share their work while competing for 25 cash prizes, including a $500 grand prize. Entries will also be considered for prizes with cash awards for the top three entries in eight categories including:  Corn, Growing Field Corn, Farm Family Lifestyle,...

(Posted Mon. Mar 13th, 2017)

Keywords: Farm Policy

Private crop insurance company returns have decreased significantly since the 2010 renegotiation of the Standard Reinsurance Agreement (SRA) between the insurance companies and the federal government, and are in line with benchmarks established by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Risk Management Agency, according to a new study released today by the National Corn Growers Association.   “The federal crop insurance program is the cornerstone of farm bill risk management programs, and it is more important than ever given the state of the farm economy,” said Steve Ebke, chairman of the NCGA Risk Management Action Team and a farmer from Daykin, Nebraska. “We commissioned an independent analysis of the crop insurance industry’s performance to determine whether criticisms against the...

(Posted Fri. Mar 10th, 2017)

A number of new corn products will come to market this year, including Qrome, Duracade and Enlist Corn. These new options provide growers with a wider variety of tools to address important concerns but, given market conditions, will only be made available through stewarded launches each provider has designed to ensure the need for technology and international markets is balanced.   The National Corn Growers Association’s Freedom to Operate Action Team has been briefed by all three companies on their respective stewardship plans. Given the information provided, the team is comfortable that the programs created for these products will inform growers of their responsibility to keep grain produced with these traits in appropriate, pre-designated channels and out of...

(Posted Fri. Mar 10th, 2017)

Two public policy veterans have joined the staff of the National Corn Growers Association’s Washington, D.C. office in recent weeks.   Kathy Reding Bergren joined NCGA on February 21 as Director of Public Policy for ethanol. A Kentucky native, Bergren most recently served as Legislative Director for Representative Randy Neugebauer of Texas. She also previously worked for Representative Ron Lewis of Kentucky. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in agricultural communications and journalism from the University of Kentucky and a Master of Public Policy from George Mason University.   Lesly Weber McNitt joined NCGA on February 27 as Director of Public Policy for trade and biotechnology. McNitt joins NCGA from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, where she served as Chief of Staff for the Farm Service Agency...

NCGA Supports Ag Data Transparency Evaluator

(Posted Thu. Mar 9th, 2017)

The age of big data means big decisions for farmers as they decide who to trust with their information. An industry-wide effort to bring transparency to ag technology contracts is gaining momentum with the launch of a new website: agdatatransparent.com.   The Ag Data Transparency Evaluator is a tool designed to help farmers understand how their ag data is used when signing up with technology providers to use precision ag products.   Companies must answer a set of ten questions to determine compliance with certain core principles for ag data ownership, consent and privacy. Products are reviewed by a third-party administrator, based upon the answers to the questions for transparency, and then awarded use of the “Ag Data Transparent” seal if approved.    Since the Ag Data Transparency...

(Posted Thu. Mar 9th, 2017)

The National Corn Growers Association released a video last week offering tips from perennial high-yield entrants of the National Corn Yield Contest during a breakfast at Commodity Classic in San Antonio honoring the state winners of the 2016 contest. The new video, which accompanies the traditional online NCYC Guide, offers farmers across the country a chance to apply the tips learned through the contest to their own operations to improve their yields and their bottom line.   To view the video, click here.   “The contest not only affords an opportunity for farmers to test their skill against their peers, it also provides NCGA with a significant amount of information about cutting-edge production practices that all farmers might find useful,” said NCGA Stewardship Action...

Maryland Grains Producers Recognized for Program Excellence

(Posted Wed. Mar 8th, 2017)

Ongoing curiosity to better understand the environmental ramifications of farming near the Chesapeake Bay brought an unforeseen bonus for the Maryland Grains Producer Utilization Board (MGPUB) recently. Their quest for knowledge earned Maryland corn growers the 2016 Reaching for Excellence Award from the National Corn Growers Association.   Developed through the NCGA Engaging Members Action Team, this award spotlights new approaches to challenges state corn grower associations face and brings forth creative solutions others in similar situations might find helpful. In Maryland’s case they worked to bring people together to find solutions to their region’s environmental concerns.   “The idea resulted in a great educational symposium that brought 250 people from the agricultural,...

(Posted Tue. Mar 7th, 2017)

This year, 35 more farms will join a revolutionary research effort that hopes to show U.S. farmers how sustainability through soil health can also lead to increased profitably. The Soil Health Partnership announced the planned expansion to 100 farms at the 2017 Commodity Classic, March 2 – 4 in San Antonio.   This is the largest farmer-led soil health research project of its kind, said Nick Goeser, SHP director.   “We believe our long-term data on real, working farms will result in a better understanding of the links between soil health and our farmers’ crop yields, economic investments and environmental risk,” Goeser said. “Our enrolled farmers are the backbone of this project, both for their participation in the data collection process, and for serving as ambassadors in this...

(Posted Sat. Mar 4th, 2017)

Joe Breker says learning and adopting conservation practices isn’t a decision so much as it is an ever evolving process and a life-long commitment. After nearly four decades of trying to farm better and more sustainably he is still learning and teaching others on his farm in Havana, North Dakota.   A Breker has been farming the land here since 1800, and it is his dedication to keeping the land productive into the future that earned Joe Breker recognition from the National Corn Growers Association for Good Stewardship during the recent 2017 Commodity Classic convention and trade show.   Breker is the fourth honoree in NCGA’s Good Steward Recognition Program which began in 2014. The program funding was provided by the Howard G. Buffett Foundation as part of their

(Posted Sat. Mar 4th, 2017)

National Corn Growers Association President Wesley Spurlock praised the introduction this week of the Consumer and Fuel Retailer Choice Act (S. 517, H.R. 1311), which would extend the Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP) volatility waiver to gasoline with ethanol blends above 10 percent, allowing retailers to sell E15 year-round.   “The Consumer and Fuel Retailer Choice Act is an important step forward in increasing consumer choice at the pump every day of the year,” said Spurlock. “E15 boosts engine performance, saves drivers money, and is better for the environment. This simple legislative fix will give consumers access to this high-performing, environmentally friendly fuel year-round.”   Currently, E15 cannot be sold during the summer months in approximately 60 percent of the country due to...

(Posted Thu. Mar 2nd, 2017)

BASF, in partnership with the National Corn Growers Association, awarded five passionate and motivated agriculture students with the William C. Berg Academic Excellence in Agriculture Scholarship. The scholarships, which recognize outstanding undergraduate or graduate students pursuing degrees in agriculture, were presented to recipients during a ceremony at the 2017 Commodity Classic tradeshow in San Antonio.   “These students have shown a commitment to the future of our industry through their enthusiasm for learning and desire for sustainable agriculture,” said Neil Bentley, Director of Marketing, U.S. Crop, BASF. “The growth of agriculture starts with promising students like these, and we look forward to seeing their impact.”    “Our industry needs a well-educated and dedicated group of future...