NEWS STORIES

APRIL 2017

(Posted Thu. Apr 27th, 2017)

This week, the National Corn Growers Association continued 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.   This week, Field Notes caught up with Patty Mann, who farms in Ohio and chairs NCGA’s Consumer Engagement Action Team. While many farmers across the country have slowed their tractors due to wet, cool conditions, her planters have been running from dawn to dusk this week.   “We have had a great run for the last week or ten days. We have not been getting rain like much of the country has experienced; we are a bit on the dry side right now,” she explained. “We are approaching the half way point in planting for both our corn and soybeans. We could use rain right now to get the seeds already in...

(Posted Thu. Apr 27th, 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.   This week, Field Notes caught up with April Hemmes, who farms in northern Iowa. With wet weather and unseasonably cool conditions at this point, she finds herself waiting to continue corn planting.   Discussing how farming advances facilitate this ability to wait for better weather, Hemmes notes that modern equipment does allow farmers more flexibility.   “Sometimes, weather conditions have made it where we have to get that crop in quickly,” she explained. “Especially when you get up north where I farm, the window does seem to get shorter and shorter every year for some reason. The new...

(Posted Wed. Apr 26th, 2017)

Keywords: Trade

The National Corn Growers Association today denounced reports that the White House has drafted plans to withdraw from the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The following is a statement from NCGA President Wesley Spurlock.   "Mr. President, America's corn farmers helped elect you. We are strong supporters of your administration and continue to stand ready to work with you to build a better farm economy. That begins with strong trade policy.   "Withdrawing from NAFTA would be disastrous for American agriculture. We cannot disrupt trade with two of our top trade partners and allies. This decision will cost America's farmers and ranchers markets that we will never recover.   "NAFTA has been a huge win for American agriculture. Corn and corn product exports today account for 31 percent of farmer income. Mexico is the top export market for corn. Canada is also a top market for corn and ethanol. With a farm economy that is already weak, losing access to these markets will...

(Posted Wed. Apr 26th, 2017)

A trio of industry groups hosted federal officials for a field day of demonstrations on seed treatments, planting practices, and equipment innovations that are bringing continuous improvement to sustainable farming practices.   The American Seed Trade Association (ASTA), the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) and the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) hosted more than three dozen officials from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Pesticide Programs for a series of hands-on presentations and product demonstrations.   The event offered an opportunity for producers and manufacturers to demonstrate cutting-edge technologies in each respective industry, and how these innovations have made modern agriculture more efficient and sustainable than ever. The product demonstration day took place on the working farm of NCGA Chairman Chip Bowling in Newburg, Maryland.   “AEM members were thrilled to join with our partners...

(Posted Tue. Apr 25th, 2017)

Keywords: Trade

Selling 50 metric tons of U.S. distiller’s dried grains with solubles (DDGS) may seem minor, but Javier Chávez, U.S. Grains Council (USGC) Mexico marketing specialist, views these small sales to cattle and dairy producers in southeastern Mexico as the start of another big opportunity for U.S. feed grains.    DDGS is a well-known and frequently-used feed source in northern Mexico but does not benefit from the same recognition in the southeastern region of the country. Instead, both cattle and dairy operations rely on grazing pasture to feed the region’s estimated seven million cattle.  Chávez explained this substantial market is largely undeveloped due to a lack of knowledge of superior feeding practices and inefficient distribution of feed ingredients. There, available forage provides inadequate nutrition, resulting in poor body condition scores, insufficient daily weight increases, late pregnancies and very large calving intervals.  USGC identified the need in this area for...

(Posted Mon. Apr 24th, 2017)

Today, the United States Senate voted to confirm Sonny Perdue as the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture. The following is a statement from the National Corn Growers Association:   “The National Corn Growers Association congratulates Secretary Perdue on his confirmation. USDA has been without a Secretary for too long, but we are confident that Secretary Perdue will bring strong leadership to the Department. There are still more than 200 political appointments at USDA that have yet to be made. We strongly urge the Administration to move quickly in filling these positions.   “We are ready to partner with Secretary Perdue and the rest of the Administration to build a better farm economy. That begins with strong trade policy and continued investment in renewable fuels. It also means protecting risk management programs during a weak economy, and beginning preparations for the next farm bill. There is much work to do, and we are eager to begin.” 

(Posted Mon. Apr 24th, 2017)

Corn planting progress is nearly even with the five-year average according to a report released today by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. With 17 percent of total corn acres planted by April 23, progress fell only one percentage point short of the five-year average. Additionally, the percentage of acres of corn that has emerged was on track with the five-year average of four percent in this report which first documents this stage of progress for the season.   Progress surpassed the five-year average in Texas by nine percentage points. Minnesota saw the greatest lags in progress with acres planted totaling eleven percentage points lower than the five-year average.     To view the full report released today, click here.

(Posted Mon. Apr 24th, 2017)

Keywords: Ethanol

In response to oral arguments held earlier today by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on the petition for review of the Renewable Volume Obligations for 2014-2016 filed by Americans for Clean Energy, et al. v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in January 2016, the American Coalition for Ethanol, BIO, Growth Energy, National Corn Growers Association, National Sorghum Producers, and Renewable Fuels Association issued the following statement:   “Today’s proceedings reinforced our view that the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) renewable fuel targets for 2014 through 2016 were legally and factually indefensible, as well as wholly inconsistent with Congressional intent behind the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program.  That program was designed to transform the fuel market and force the oil industry to change the status quo—not to perpetuate it, as EPA has done through its annual rulemakings. The statutory basis for granting a waiver based on an...

(Posted Fri. Apr 21st, 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.   This week, Field Notes caught up with Jim Raben, who farms in southern Illinois. While progress is moving quickly as possible, he has also had to contend with a wet spring.   “At the present time, we are wet,” said Raben. “We got nearly two inches of rain last Sunday. It rained off and on yesterday, and it is raining as we speak.   “That said, my county is probably nearly 75 percent planted in terms of corn acres. I finished planting corn, but I didn’t plant as many corn acres this year.”   To find out more about how Raben, and many other farmers, shift acres to plant different crops...

Tune In! CommonGround Volunteer Talks GMOs with Bill Nye

(Posted Fri. Apr 21st, 2017)

Keywords: Biotechnology

Binge watching and GMO-centric conversations come together today as Netflix premiers the first season of Bill Nye Saves the World. The show, which became available at 4 a.m. CDT today, features a panel discussion on the use of GMO technology in agriculture that includes CommonGround volunteer Julie Kenney in episode four “More Food, Less Hype.”   The episode looks at the science behind and fear surrounding biotechnology in agriculture. Presenting the scientific case for GMOs safety and importance as a tool for farmers, Nye explores the topic through interviews, experiments and the panel, which also includes Monsanto CTO Dr. Rob Fraley and North Carolina State University professor Dr. Fred Gould.   While the GMOs are not presented as the only, or even most important tool, it does address many misconceptions about GMOs, pesticide use, environmental impacts and the greater implications for the ecosystem. Stressing the importance of facts and not fear, this upbeat look at an...

Farmers Committed to Soil Health Stand Tall on Earth Day

(Posted Thu. Apr 20th, 2017)

Visit Jason and Misty Lay’s corn and soybean farm outside Bloomington, Ill., and it just may look like Earth Day all year long. They’re among a growing number of farmers adopting modern sustainable ag practices, including cover crops, reduced tillage, waterways and terraces. The techniques help restore soil health, one of our nation’s best opportunities to sequester carbon and improve water quality, while protecting against the threats of climate change.   “My goal is to leave this land better than when I took it over, so conservation has to be in the forefront of everything we do,” Jason Lay said. “We’re in a watershed area, so water quality and nitrate management are key. You have to stay ahead of changes coming to farming practices, and learn at a fast pace to stay at the head of the pack.”   A third-generation family farmer, Lay left the corporate world to return to farming full-time in 2003. His agricultural values led him to the Soil Health Partnership, an innovative...

(Posted Wed. Apr 19th, 2017)

This story was republished with the permission of the original author, the Renewable Fuels Association. To see its format at the time of release, click here.   Gasoline consumed in the United States in 2016 contained more than 10% ethanol on average for the first time ever, according to an analysis of U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) data released today by the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA). The EIA data dispels the myth that 10% is the marketplace limit for ethanol content in U.S. gasoline, and demonstrates that the so-called “blend wall” is not a real constraint on ethanol consumption.   According to EIA data, finished motor gasoline consumption totaled 143.367 billion gallons in 2016. That volume of gasoline contained 14.399 billion gallons of ethanol, meaning the average ethanol content of gasoline consumed in 2016 was 10.04%.  According to the RFA report, the data “…further underscore that statutory Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) blending obligations in...

(Posted Tue. Apr 18th, 2017)

America’s farmers and ranchers will soon have the opportunity to strongly represent agriculture in their communities and industry by taking part in the 2017 Census of Agriculture. Conducted every five years by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, the census, to be mailed at the end of this year, is a complete count of all U.S. farms, ranches and those who operate them.   “The Census of Agriculture remains the only source of uniform, comprehensive and impartial agriculture data for every county in the nation,” said NASS Administrator Hubert Hamer. “As such, census results are relied upon heavily by those who serve farmers and rural communities, including federal, state and local governments, agribusinesses, trade associations, extension educators, researchers, and farmers and ranchers themselves.”   The Census of Agriculture highlights land use and ownership, operator characteristics, production practices, income and expenditures, and...

(Posted Mon. Apr 17th, 2017)

Corn planting progress appears to have fallen slightly behind the five-year average according to a report released today by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. With six percent of total corn acres planted by April16, progress fell three percentage points short of the five-year average and six percentage points behind the same date in 2016.   Progress surpassed the five-year average in Texas by six percentage points, three points fewer than it did last week. Kansas saw the greatest lags in progress with acres planted totaling nine percentage points lower than the five-year average for the state.  The slower pace, in large part, resulted from wet conditions across many of the 18 states that account for 92 percent of the corn acres planted.   To view the full report released today, click here.

 Field Notes Meets Kansas Farmer Lowell Neitzel

(Posted Fri. Apr 14th, 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.   This week, Field Notes met Lowell Neitzel, who farms near Lawrence, Kansas. Stopping his planter to chat, he explained that he is taking full advantage of any dry weather to get planting underway despite the damp spring.   “When you first start the planter, even though you know you put it away in perfect condition, nothing seems to go right. We have all of the bugs worked out now though,” said Neitzel. “We have about 500 acres of corn in the ground so far. That means we have about 2,000 more to go.”    Neitzel, who farms about 5,000 acres, plans to split the acreage planted to corn and...

(Posted Thu. Apr 13th, 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.   This week, Field Notes caught up with April Hemmes, who farms in northern Iowa.   Like many farmers, she is waiting for drier, sunnier weather.   “The neighbors who are always in the field first, they are in the field. We drove 90 miles into Des Moines, and we saw some of the people we know are always out first in their fields,” said Hemmes. “Many of us are getting a slower start. I just started tooling around with my planter today.”    Hemmes also finds herself answering one question repeatedly, “what do you plan to plant in 2017?”   “I wish I had a dime for every time that I have...

(Posted Wed. Apr 12th, 2017)

The National Corn Growers Association invites farmers to become a part of the change they desire by actively honing their leadership skills through the NCGA Leadership Academy, part of Syngenta’s Leadership at Its Best Program.  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 the end of May.   “Since it began in 1986, Leadership at Its Best has trained strong, confident volunteers who have helped shape the industry through their subsequent work at the state and national level,” said NCGA President Wesley Spurlock.  “Having met so many farmers who feel similarly, I know that the desire to give back to their peers motivates an incredible number of farmers to look for service opportunities. NCGA depends upon this grassroots leadership, and I can personally attest that the time and effort dedicated are repaid in...

(Posted Tue. Apr 11th, 2017)

The National Corn Growers Association reminds photographers that they can 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. Prizes include cash awards for the top three entries in eight categories including:  Corn, Growing Field Corn, Farm Family Lifestyle, Scenery/Landscape, Farming Challenges, SHP Conservation, Little Farmers and one for the most popular as determined by Facebook “likes.”   For more information on prizes and on these categories, click here.   It is important to note that the...

(Posted Mon. Apr 10th, 2017)

Corn planting appears to be precisely on pace with the five-year average overall according to a report released today by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. With three percent of total corn acres planted by April 9, progress paralleled the five-year average for this point and sat only one percentage point behind planting progress recorded at this point in 2016.    Progress surpassed the five-year average in Texas by nine percentage points. Tennessee saw the greatest lags in progress with acres planted a full nine percentage points lower than the five-year average.   To view the full report released today, click here.

(Posted Fri. Apr 7th, 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.   Field Notes met a new farmer from Ohio this week, Patty Mann, who also serves as chair of NCGA’s Consumer Engagement Action Team.   Right now, she is waiting for drier, warmer weather.   “I farm in Shelby County, Ohio with my husband and family,” she explained. “This year, we are going to split our acreage evenly between corn and soy.”    Find out more about her planting intentions, clicking here.   Field Notes also caught up with a farmer the series spoke with last year, Dan Erickson from Minnesota.   “We started a few things, applying fertilizer and such, early in the month of...

(Posted Thu. Apr 6th, 2017)

As planting season begins across the country, the National Corn Growers Association joins the American Seed Trade Association in reminding farmers to follow five basic steps for stewardship of treated seed:   Follow Directions: Follow directions on treated seed container labels for handling, storage, planting and disposal practices.  Eliminate Flowering Weeds: Eliminate flowering plants and weeds in and around the field prior to planting. Minimize Dust: Use advanced seed flow lubricants that minimize dust. BeeAware: At planting, be aware of honey bees and hives located near the field, and communicate with beekeeper when possible. Clean and Remove: Completely clean and remove all treated seed left in containers and equipment used to handle harvested grain and dispose of it properly. Keep all treated seed out of the commodity grain channels.    “Seed treatment technologies are an effective agronomic tool that provide seeds with the necessary protection for a strong,...

(Posted Mon. Apr 3rd, 2017)

Keywords: Trade

U.S. grain farmers are voicing their support and appreciation for trade with Mexico, a message U.S. Grains Council (USGC) Chairman and Maryland farmer Chip Councell carried with him when he traveled to meet with Mexican buyers in March.    “If you look at the logistics of Mexico, no other country can replace it as a customer for U.S. grain,” Councell said this week to the National Association of Farm Broadcasting about the mission. “The logistics by rail, truck and boat give the United States such a huge advantage.”   Councell and USGC President and CEO Tom Sleight, accompanied by USGC Mexico Director Ryan LeGrand and Assistant Director Heidi Bringenberg, offered reassurance about U.S. grain producers’ dedication to customers in Mexico, who in turn expressed serious concerns about the state of trade relations between the two countries.   “Quite honestly, they are a little bit confused and they are pretty upset,” Councell said. “They have always depended on the United States...