NEWS STORIES

AUGUST 2017

NCGA Officers Highlight the Need for Action to Strengthen Markets

(Posted Thu. Aug 31st, 2017)

The National Corn Growers Association leaders interacted with farmers, ag media, academic and industry partners, and participated in the House Agriculture Committee’s farm bill listening session at this year’s Farm Progress Show in Decatur, Illinois.   “We need stronger markets to help drive the agriculture economy, but we cannot do that by ourselves,” said Kevin Skunes, NCGA’s incoming president.  “We need Congress and the Trump Administration to work to break down trade barriers, increase the availability of renewable fuels and assist in building new markets.”   All NCGA officers including President Wesley Spurlock and incoming First Vice President Lynn Chrisp engaged with company leaders from DuPont Pioneer and Monsanto, learning about new technologies that are available to farmers. They also had the opportunity to interact with Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue as he stopped by the Illinois Corn Growers Association tent.   NCGA Chairman Chip Bowling provided comments...

(Posted Thu. Aug 31st, 2017)

Keywords: ethanol

In comments submitted today to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the National Corn Growers Association asked the Agency to maintain the proposed amount of conventional ethanol blended into the nation’s gas supply for 2018, and to raise the amount of cellulosic, advanced, and total biofuels.   In a letter to EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, NCGA President Wesley Spurlock writes, “In the 10 years since Congress expanded the RFS in 2007, corn farmers have responded to the growing market for ethanol, increasing production efficiency to help meet the RFS goal of moving the United States toward greater energy independence and security, boosting production of clean, renewable fuels and protecting consumers.”   In its proposed rule for the 2018 standards for the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program, EPA proposed an implied volume of 15 billion gallons for conventional ethanol in 2018, consistent with the level intended by Congress. This is a change from the previous four...

(Posted Tue. Aug 29th, 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.   Field Notes caught up with Patty Mann, who farms in Ohio.     “We are approaching the end of our growing season,” she explained. “After a wet May, June and July, we had a dry August. We were hoping for some rain and, last night, we did get a little over an inch of precipitation. It was a surprise shower that built up in the late evening, and we were very blessed.   “The crops look they are decent. The corn is going to have average, if not slightly above average yields.”   To find out more, click here.   Stay tuned over the coming weeks as Field Notes follows the growers who have...

(Posted Mon. Aug 28th, 2017)

A fewer number of corn acres have reached dented stage than the five-year average according to a report released today by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. With 51 percent of total corn acres planted by August 27, maturity in progressing to dent reached only 44 percent, seven percentage points short of the five-year average. Additionally, 62 percent of all corn acres in the top 18 corn-planted states in 2016 remained in good or excellent condition, 13 percentage points lower than last year at this time.   Only Tennessee surpassed the five-year average for crop progress with 38 percent of corn acres having reached mature stage, six points ahead of the five-year average of 32 percent at this point in the year.   To view the full report released today, click here.

(Posted Fri. Aug 25th, 2017)

The National Corn Growers Association joined with the other members of the Coalition for Safe Affordable Food (CFSAF) today, uniting to develop recommendations to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) as it develops regulations to implement the National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Law. In response to a series of questions posed by AMS, CFSAF achieved a strong consensus on a broad range of topics critical to the successful implementation of the law.   NCGA, as a part of CFSAF, believes that its responses to questions posed by AMS also fulfill a number of goals originally set out in the law. These recommendations foster consumers’ access to information about the food they eat; provide continued access to a nutritious, affordable and sustainable food supply; ensure that farmers and ranchers have access to the technologies that provide numerous environmental and sustainability benefits; and adhere to Congress’ intention that USDA implement...

(Posted Thu. Aug 24th, 2017)

There was a time it was rare to see environmental groups in the same room with agricultural organizations unless it was a court room or a Congressional hearing. Those days are gone as evidenced by a Celebration of Collaborative Conservation in America’s Heartland held at the Donald Danforth Science Center in St. Louis this week.   The event, hosted by the Environmental Defense Fund and the National Corn Growers Association, focused on the importance of a partnership built on shared goals and values as the most direct and efficient route to substantive change, according to Chris Novak, NCGA CEO.   “In our work on agriculture sustainability we focus on science, economics and partnership. We want to make sure we are doing the right thing and that potential changes or solutions work economically or they will never get up to scale,” said Suzy Friedman, senior director of agriculture sustainability for EDF. “We feel very strongly working in collaboration is the key.”   It is...

(Posted Thu. Aug 24th, 2017)

Keywords: Ethanol

The following piece originally ran as a press release created and distributed by the Renewable Fuels Association.     A new economic modeling study that will soon be published in the American Journal of Agricultural Economics finds that the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) has substantially benefitted the U.S. economy by lowering gasoline and crude oil prices, cutting crude oil imports, adding value to U.S.-produced agricultural commodities and reducing U.S. greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.   “The results confirm that the current RFS program considerably benefits the agriculture sector, but also leads to overall welfare gains for the United States,” according to the study’s authors, Iowa State University economists GianCarlo Moschini, Harvey Lapan and Hyunseok Kim. “We find that the RFS has indeed proved to be a remarkably effective tool for farm support.”   The analysis found the RFS in 2015 saved the U.S. economy $17.8 billion in gasoline expenses, compared to a case where no...

Julie Busse Joins NCGA as Communications Manager

(Posted Tue. Aug 22nd, 2017)

Today, the National Corn Growers Association welcomes Julie Busse to the team as communications manager in the St. Louis office.  Busse brings more than 10 years of agricultural communications experience, including media relations and strategic planning. In her position, she will provide support for market development programs including ethanol and livestock, along with other key communication initiatives.   “We are excited to have Julie as a part of the communications team,” said NCGA Vice President of Communications Mary Hagan. “Her passion for agriculture and depth of experience make Julie a great addition to NCGA. She has experience working with farmer-led organizations, working closely with the media and crafting communication strategies.”   Busse most recently worked at Osborn Barr as an associate director, where she coordinated the fiscal year planning process and managed marketing initiatives for several ag industry clients.   Previously, Busse worked at DuPont...

(Posted Mon. Aug 21st, 2017)

National Corn Growers Association officers and senior staff gathered last week in Montana for the biannual NCGA Agri-Industry Council meeting. Here, representatives of 14 leading agribusinesses discussed vital issues facing agriculture, shared information on their companies and sectors, heard from recognized speakers and learned about NCGA’s current initiatives.  Established in 2007, the Agri-Industry Council facilitates dialogue between agribusinesses and NCGA to collectively address issues of mutual concern.   “By providing growers with inventive technology, new seed varieties to better address ever-changing challenges and competitive financing that makes it all possible, U.S. agri-business improves farming,” said NCGA President Wesley Spurlock. “NCGA’s AIC plays a vital role in bringing key leaders from across the value chain together. Through open dialogue, we can all move forward with a more nuanced understanding of the big picture and collaborate to build a brighter...

(Posted Fri. Aug 18th, 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.   Field Notes caught up with Kyle Kirby, who farms in southwestern Missouri.     “We have had a very good August. We have had a lot of rain,” he explained. “A lot of times in southwest Missouri, if we can catch an inch or two of rain in the first few weeks of August, we are thrilled. But, after yesterday’s rain event, we are at eleven inches in the period.”   To find out more, including what silage is and why farmers are late chopping it, click here.   Lowell Neitzel, who farms outside of Lawrence, Kansas, also took time to catch Field Notes up on his corn crop’s progress.   “We are a...

(Posted Wed. Aug 16th, 2017)

The confidential crop survey from the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) will be arriving in the mailboxes of Southern farmers soon, and it is very important that recipients take the time to complete it.   The number of farmers completing the confidential NASS crop survey has been declining in recent years—and that’s bad news for farmers. This is bad news for farmers as results of the confidential NASS crop survey play a key role in determining the implementation of farm payments and programs, including the Agriculture Risk Coverage Program (county option), Price Loss Coverage Program and even farm appraisals.   If NASS does not receive an adequate number of farmer-completed surveys from a certain county, it must use other less reliable sources of data to calculate actual production in that county. The downward trend in farmer-completed surveys has led to the inability of NASS to publish reliable data in numerous counties across the country. If this continues, NASS...

(Posted Tue. Aug 15th, 2017)

Growers gathered in Minneapolis, Minn. last week for the first session of the NCGA Leadership Academy, co-sponsored by Syngenta. This year’s class includes 15 aspiring leaders from nine states. Upon completion of the program in January, the participants will join more than 500 colleagues who have graduated from this program in the past 30 years.   At the meeting, participants got an up-close look at NCGA from President Wesley Spurlock, a Leadership Academy alumnus. Spurlock also provided an insightful examination of the main issues facing the association, and the nation’s corn farmers, today.   The farmers attending took part in public speaking exercises and social media advocacy training as well as association management skill building. In addition, the class enjoyed a look at the future trends that will impact the industry and a comprehensive economic forecast given by futurist Bob Treadway. Also offering presentations focused on core communications, the training provided not...

NCGA Welcomes Sarah McKay as New Manager of Market Development

(Posted Mon. Aug 14th, 2017)

The National Corn Growers Association welcomes Sarah McKay, who joins the organization this week as manager of market development in the St. Louis office. McKay brings an excellent combination of experience in public policy and food industry supply chain management to the team. In this new position, she will provide key support to NCGA’s animal agriculture, industrial use and new use efforts as a direct report to the director of market development.   “Sarah’s notable educational history, along with her work experience in the food industry and policy, have provided her with a skillset which will be uniquely advantageous in her new role” said Chief Strategy Officer and Vice President of Market Development Amie Gianino.  “We look forward to seeing how her perspective and understanding of our industry partners’ issues will help progress our work in these crucial areas.”   McKay most recently worked as a part of the procurement/supply chain team supporting dairy operations at...

(Posted Fri. Aug 11th, 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.   Field Notes caught up with April Hemmes, who farms in Iowa.   “We have a great crop growing, but we have gone two weeks now without measurable rain. It is really starting to show,” she explained. “I just went to the great Iowa State Fair yesterday. What I saw on my trip down there really showed signs of stress. The wear-and-tear on Iowa corn is really starting to show.”   To find out more, including how Hemmes will be helping federal legislators and regulators have a first-hand experience with the incredible technology used to increase sustainability on modern farms, click here.   James...

(Posted Fri. Aug 11th, 2017)

Keywords: Conservation

What will improve soil health to make farmland more productive, efficient and sustainable for the next generation, and how does it impact the business side? Get the scoop from area farmers and other experts at a field day across Illinois throughout August, including:   Aug. 15: Oglesby, Ill. John Hochstatter Cover Crop Meeting Aug. 16: Monticello, Ill. Lieb Farms Soil Health Meeting Aug. 22: Decatur, Ill. Dave and Chase Brown Soil Health Meeting Aug. 23: Newark, Ill. Brad Scalf Soil Health Meeting Sept. 5: Rutland, Ill. Kirk Kimble Water Quality Site Field Day Sept. 8: Vermillion County, Ill. Tom Kentner Soil Health Field Day   The Soil Health Partnership, partnering with other organizations, will host the events alongside local farmers.  The meetings will include in-depth discussions on soil health and cover crops. The field day events include topics like:   Advice on cover crop management for beginning and advanced users Local farmers discussing soil health...

(Posted Thu. Aug 10th, 2017)

U.S. average corn yield was estimated today at 169.5 bushels per acre, down from last year's record 174.6. This is the first report of the year based on actual survey results rather than the previous 170.1 bushels trend yield used in earlier WASDE projections.    Yield projections were generally higher than last year in the south and east, and lower in the central and western Corn Belt.  North Dakota and South Dakota saw the largest projected decrease in average yield from last year at 37 and 21 bushels, respectively. Alabama saw the largest increase in average yield at plus 45 bushels per acre.   Based on the new yield estimates, American farmers are projected to produce a total corn crop of 14.2 billion bushels in 2017, down 995 million bushels from last year's record 15.1 billion bushels. This new crop production estimate is 100 million bushels lower than the July projection.   "Frankly, this is not great news for corn farmers. We have seen significant weather issues...

(Posted Wed. Aug 9th, 2017)

Keywords: Conservation

The Soil Health Partnership has endorsed a set of 19 soil health measurements, encouraging the agriculture industry to quickly adopt them. Once widely adopted, the indicators are expected to help farming become more sustainable and precise in areas such as nutrient management.   Research shows that the benefits of improving soil health include: Improved crop yield, enhanced water quality, increased drought resilience and flood resistance, and decreased greenhouse gas emissions.   After three years of collaboration with scientific and agricultural partners, the Soil Health Institute announced its endorsement of the “Tier 1” national soil health measurements earlier this week. Examples of the specific Tier 1 measures include organic carbon, pH, and available water holding capacity. A complete list of all 19 endorsed soil health measurements is available at the Institute’s website.   “We recognize the vigorous scientific collaboration that went into the development of this list...

(Posted Tue. Aug 8th, 2017)

Keywords: Ethanol

Every successful industry needs advocates of heroic stature. If they happen to be gregarious, fearless and zealous in their beliefs that’s a huge bonus. Keith Holmes was that guy, and today he is being remembered at a memorial service in Spring Lake, Michigan.   Keith, who was killed in a crash recently during the St. Clair River Classic offshore powerboat race in Michigan, throttled and raced boats in the Offshore Powerboat Association, American Powerboat Association, Offshore Super Series and Superboat International series competitions. He also was a believer in the benefits of ethanol fuel.   As the owner of CK Motorsports and throttleman of the American Ethanol Cat Can Do Catamaran, he used his love of racing to show recreational and professional powerboaters that ethanol worked on the water as well as the road.   Keith worked with NCGA and a number of the state corn organizations to set the record straight on ethanol use in marine engines.  His voice will definitely be...

(Posted Tue. Aug 8th, 2017)

Keywords: Trade

Last month, a delegation from the International Maize Alliance (MAIZALL), including NCGA Past and MAIZALL current President Pam Johnson, met with their South American counterparts in Argentina to collaborate on strategic planning for MAIZALL and to meet with a number of senior Argentine government officials.   While the participants in MAIZALL compete for markets abroad, they came together to reaffirm their commitment to and discuss their work toward common goals that benefit corn farmers in America, Brazil and Argentina. MAIZALL works to: enhance public support for trade, grow public understanding of and support for biotechnology; encourage transparent, predictable, science-based regulatory systems; promote synchronicity in approval processes; and encourage trade-enabling low level presence policies.   During the meetings, the board also re-established its priority activities. It was determined that tier one priorities included: working through the World Trade Organization to...

(Posted Mon. Aug 7th, 2017)

With harvest nearing across the country, the National Corn Growers Association announces that online harvest forms for the 2017 National Corn Yield Contest are now available. While the harvest information form deadline may seem distant, entrants are asked to report within two weeks of their final yield check or by Nov. 17, whichever comes first.   “While harvest has only begun in a few areas, we ask contest applicants to submit harvest forms within two weeks of their final yield check to allow NCGA staff adequate time to thoroughly review each form,” said Stewardship Action Team Chair Brent Hostetler. “The National Corn Yield Contest plays a significant role in recognizing excellence and finding new, more productive techniques. We hope that growers continue to support the contest by seeing their entry through and submitting their completed harvest data forms.”   The online harvest form is available to both farmers and seed representatives using the same login process as the...

(Posted Fri. Aug 4th, 2017)

The National Corn Growers Association is seeking applications from members interested in working on an NCGA action team in the 2018 fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1. This service provides growers an opportunity to play an active role in shaping the future of their industry and to become a part of the national agricultural leadership community.   “As a grassroots organization, NCGA relies on its members to take an active role in shaping the course of our activities, programs and policies to unify and lead our industry forward,” said NCGA First Vice President Kevin Skunes. “With our new team structures, we have more unique, specific opportunities to participate in all of the areas the organization touches. I urge all interested members to take their involvement to the next level while exploring in great depth the areas which interest them the most.”   The teams, which will be entering their second fiscal year in this format include: Corn Productivity and Quality; Consumer...

Have a Corn Story? Tell It in Pictures and Win

(Posted Thu. Aug 3rd, 2017)

If a picture is worth a 1,000 words, the National Corn Growers Association Fields-of-Corn Photo Contest will provide enough fodder for a novel telling the story of American agriculture.   Photographers can help tell that story of farming field corn in America through this fourth annual contest by capturing high-resolution photos of corn growth from seed to harvest and the families that grow it. Interested photographers wishing to help tell that story 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...

(Posted Wed. Aug 2nd, 2017)

Today, growers from across the Corn Belt wrapped up a conference in St. Louis where they shared ideas and practiced effective communications techniques.  This group, which included female farmers and association staff from nearly 20 states, listened to presentations by industry experts and participated in workshops designed to improve presentation skills and social media presence.   This national conference, which looked back at both the program’s nearly seven years of activity and forward into the future, brought together both those who have volunteered tirelessly for years and fresh faces, including newly launched state-level programs in Arkansas, Illinois and Georgia. Together, a record number of attendees collaborated to elevate communications centered upon the CommonGround philosophy, which stresses the importance of grassroots activism, positive messaging and opening an honest, personal, empathetic dialogue with consumers about food production and the story of modern...

(Posted Tue. Aug 1st, 2017)

Renewable fuels benefit our economy, our energy security, and our environment, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) should set a strong volume for all renewable fuel types, National Corn Growers Association Board member Keith Alverson testified today at an EPA hearing on the 2018 renewable fuel volumes under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).   “My local ethanol plant was constructed one year prior to my college graduation. That plant and the economic opportunity it created is a large part of what enabled me, as well as other young farmers, to return to the farm,” said Alverson, a sixth-generation farmer from Chester, South Dakota. “Because ethanol production is a vital market for corn farmers, we are pleased EPA proposed an implied volume of 15 billion gallons for conventional renewable fuel.”   While praising the EPA’s proposed volume for conventional renewable fuels, Alverson expressed concern that EPA proposed an overall volume of renewable fuels that is 40 million...