NEWS STORIES

MARCH 2018

USDA: Farmers Planting Fewer Corn Acres in 2018

(Posted Thu. Mar 29th, 2018)

Keywords: Production

Today, the U.S. Department of Agriculture released the Prospective Plantings report, indicating that farmers will plant 88-million acres, 2.14 million fewer acres of corn, a 2 percent decrease from 2017. If realized, this will be the lowest total corn planted acreage in the United States since 2015.   “U.S. farmers continue to produce more bushels per acre as new technologies are brought to the marketplace,” said National Corn Growers Association President Kevin Skunes. “American corn supplies remain ample as we have a large carryover crop from 2017. U.S. farmers can react nimbly to market conditions and make decisions that make the most sense for their operation.”   Ohio is expected to increase corn acreage from last year, with record high acreage in Nevada and Oregon. In 33 of the 48 corn producing states, planted acreage is expected to be down or unchanged. According to the report, compared to 2017, decreases of 300,000 acres or more are expected in Kansas, Minnesota and...

Ideation Workshop Aims to Surface High Potential Research Needs to Put Corn Productivity, Quality and Usage in High Gear

(Posted Wed. Mar 28th, 2018)

Keywords: Research

Abraham Lincoln famously said, “the best way to predict your future is to create it,” and that’s the goal of the inaugural Corn Research Ideation Workshop on March 28-30, 2018 in St. Louis. With growth in corn production and especially during continued low corn prices, U.S. corn farmers need to be more efficient with inputs while also working to discover new and novel markets for corn.   “America’s corn farmers like me are entering our fifth year of low prices and net farm losses in 2018. Farmer income dropped almost 9 percent last year and net farm income is half of what it was in 2013,” said Dennis Maple, chairman of NCGA’s Corn Productivity & Quality Action Team. “So, building robust new markets for corn and optimizing production inputs are critical. NCGA is working hard to expand existing markets such as exports, livestock and ethanol, but this workshop is about identifying how to enhance corn productivity, grain/silage quality and sustainable production practices in the next...

NCGA Submits Comments to DOJ on Proposed PES RIN Settlement

(Posted Tue. Mar 27th, 2018)

Keywords: ethanol

Yesterday, the National Corn Growers Association submitted formal comments to the U.S Department of Justice on the proposed Settlement Agreement between Philadelphia Energy Solutions (PES) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regarding the outstanding RFS compliance obligations the refiner has included in its Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing.   NCGA is opposed to the proposed settlement, as it would undermine the RFS.   “As producers of the primary feedstock used in the production of conventional biofuel, a key component of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), corn farmers maintain a vested interest in the integrity of the RFS and in the Renewable Identification Number (RIN) compliance system for obligated parties,” said NCGA President Kevin Skunes. “This proposed settlement agreement would have negative policy implications for the RFS and future compliance with the Clean Air Act. As such, NCGA urges DOJ to withdraw and reconsider the proposed Settlement Agreement because it...

Soil Health Partnership Begins Search for New Director as Organization Continues to Grow

(Posted Mon. Mar 26th, 2018)

Keywords: sustainability

Goeser to remain engaged in new role with National Corn Growers Association   As the Soil Health Partnership heads into its fourth year of long-term data collection on working farms, some changes are afoot among the staff due to promotions, and several positions are open. An initiative of the National Corn Growers Association, the program’s goal is to quantify the benefits of soil health-promoting practices from an economic as well as environmental standpoint, showing farmers how healthy soil benefits their bottom line.   NCGA has promoted Nick Goeser, who has served as the project’s director since its launch in 2014, to the position of NCGA Vice President of Production and Sustainability.   Goeser said while the promotion offers a great new opportunity for professional impact, the decision to leave SHP was exceptionally difficult. However, in his new role at NCGA, he will serve as a member of the SHP Steering Committee and remain engaged with the Science Advisory...

Step Up and Lead! Members Called to Higher Service

(Posted Thu. Mar 22nd, 2018)

With only one week remaining, the National Corn Growers Association reminds farmers that they are invited to become a part of the change they desire by actively honing their leadership skills through the NCGA Leadership At Its Best Program, sponsored by Syngenta, or through the DuPont New Leaders Program.    Growers interested in the LAIB Program must be nominated by their state corn association for either program.  Interested members should contact their state associations.   Open to all NCGA membership, Leadership At Its Best provides training to interested volunteers of all skill levels.  The first session, held in August in Greensboro, N.C., addresses interpersonal communications skills, strategic social media engagement, and media training. The second session, which will be held in January of 2019 in Washington, D.C., focuses on public policy issues, meeting with your congressional delegation and parliamentary procedure.  Through this program, participants build the skill...

Aquaculture: Looking at the Potential for Corn Growers

(Posted Wed. Mar 21st, 2018)

Keywords: livestock

The National Corn Growers Association recently attended the Aquaculture America Conference to learn more about the industry and make connections with companies to discuss the benefits of corn and corn byproducts in aquaculture diets.   NCGA met with a number of companies and representatives while at the conference, including tru SHRIMP of Minnesota, Prairie Aquatech of South Dakota, Eagles Catch of Iowa, and various feed mills and feed ingredient companies including Cargill, Zeigler, ADM, Blue Ridge Aquafeeds and BlueWater Feed Company.   “Aquaculture is the fastest growing food sector in the world,” said Feed Food & Industrial Action Team Chair Bruce Peterson.  “However, 90 percent of U.S. seafood is imported today, representing a large opportunity to expand domestic production facilities.  Aquaculture farmers continue to explore opportunities to increase the amount of plant-based feed ingredients used in their operations.  Corn-based feed could provide an economical and...

Sustained Farmer Advocacy Needed to Help Protect the RFS in Washington

(Posted Mon. Mar 19th, 2018)

Keywords: ethanol

Concerns continue this week that the Trump Administration could decide to strike a deal for oil refiners that would have immediate and lasting effects for ethanol demand and, therefore, for corn prices as well. However, the National Corn Growers Association remains active on members’ behalf, including running a major advertising campaign in the nation’s capital.   Thanks to everyone who has already made your voice heard in Washington in support of the RFS. NCGA continues to ask farmers to make sure your views are heard.   President Trump, your Members of Congress and USDA need to understand the economic challenges farmers are facing today and the direct role a healthy ethanol market plays for the future of family farms. The proposal from the oil industry, being considered by the President, could cut farm income almost $4 billion dollars per year for the next two years.  There are better solutions, including RVP parity to allow year-round sale of blends greater than 10 percent,...

Celebrate National Ag Day!

(Posted Mon. Mar 19th, 2018)

Agriculture: Food for Life is the theme for this year’s National Ag Day. The National Ag Day Program was started in 1973 by the Agriculture Council of America.   According to the Ag Day website, Ag Day “is about recognizing - and celebrating - the contribution of agriculture in our everyday lives. The National Ag Day program encourages every American to:   Understand how food and fiber products are produced. Value the essential role of agriculture in maintaining a strong economy. Appreciate the role agriculture plays in providing safe, abundant and affordable products.”   As a part of the day, the U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance is hosting a panel: The Consumer, the Farmer and Sustainability. You can learn more about this session and other Ag Day events by visiting https://www.agday.org/dc-events.   If you’re participating in an Ag Day event, be sure to let people know by using the #NationalAgDay on your social media account. To learn more about Ag Day and download...

NCGA Applauds Midwest Governors for Continued Support on the RFS

(Posted Thu. Mar 15th, 2018)

Keywords: Ethanol

The following is a statement from North Dakota farmer Kevin Skunes, president of the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA), on the letter to President Trump from Midwest Governors regarding the importance of not weakening the Renewable Fuel Standard.   “We want to thank these governors for their leadership and continued support on this very important issue that has such a large impact on America’s farmers and rural communities,” said Skunes. “The RFS is a job creator, economic driver and gives the public an affordable option at the fuel pump. These six governors have a strong understanding of the benefits of the RFS and outlined why other proposals on the table would have a negative impact on rural America.”   The six governors who sent the letter to President Trump include: Kim Reynolds – Iowa; Eric Holcomb – Indiana; Jeff Colyer – Kansas; Eric Greitens – Missouri; Pete Ricketts – Nebraska; Dennis Daugaard – South Dakota. To view a copy of the letter, click

NCGA Statement to 199A Resolution

(Posted Thu. Mar 15th, 2018)

Keywords: Farm Policy

The following is a statement made Tuesday, March 14, from North Dakota farmer Kevin Skunes, president of the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA), in response to the Legislation Amending Section 199A:   “We are pleased with the outcome of the recent negotiations to craft a solution for Section 199A of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. This agreement is extremely important for addressing the provision’s unintended consequences and restoring certainty to the marketplace for farmers.  NCGA has supported coalition efforts to replicate the tax benefits of the original Section 199 within the tax reform bill.  We greatly appreciate the work of Senators John Hoeven (R-North Dakota) and John Thune (R-South Dakota) along with the leadership of House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) to develop this critical legislation.  NCGA urges the Congress to adopt the proposed changes with bipartisan support later this...

NCGA Encourages Participation in Updated Pollinator Initiative

(Posted Tue. Mar 13th, 2018)

Keywords: Conservation

Corn farmers and Midwest landowners who want to help honey bees and Monarch butterflies have a unique opportunity to do this in a strategic fashion through The Bee & Butterfly Habitat Fund’s SEED A LEGACY Pollinator Habitat Program, which is being supported by the National Corn Growers Association.   The updated program, expanded in 2018 to include 11 states, seeks partnerships between landowners and beekeepers to provide cost-effective, high-quality pollinator habitat to ensure honey bee and Monarch butterfly populations thrive.   Applications for each state are being accepted online at BeeAndButterflyFund.org/habitat-programs through March 31, 2018 for spring planting. A second application period will open later in 2018 for projects to be planted in the fall.   Native pollinators, honey bees and Monarch butterflies have experienced population declines over the last two decades. The Habitat Fund offers a way for farmers to incorporate the latest innovation and technology...

Soil Health Partnership Builds One of Largest U.S. Databases of Soil Health Sample Info from Working Farms

(Posted Mon. Mar 12th, 2018)

Keywords: Conservation Sustainability

The seeds of good data have been planted—and the Soil Health Partnership is eager to harvest early results.   The organization’s team is currently preparing for another round of robust soil sampling, a critical part of identifying, testing and measuring farm management practices that improve sustainability through soil health. An initiative of the National Corn Growers Association, the program’s goal is to quantify the benefits of these practices–like growing cover crops in the off-season and reducing tillage—from an economic standpoint, showing farmers how healthy soil benefits their bottom line.   “We have spent the first few years carefully constructing the infrastructure within our program to make sure that we have scientifically credible data,” said Nick Goeser, NCGA Vice President of Production and Sustainability. “We are now beginning to make early sense of the scope and scale of the dataset collected over last 3 and a half years – and we are eagerly anticipating the...

Mr. President, Don’t Cap Our Future

(Posted Fri. Mar 9th, 2018)

Keywords: ethanol

The National Corn Growers Association President Kevin Skunes told US Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue this morning that proposed changes to the Renewable Fuel Standard would trigger significant losses in farm income and in rural jobs.  Skunes asked the Secretary to work with President Trump to ensure the President understands the economic challenges farmers are facing today.   “Corn farmers have fought hard the past ten years, within Congress, with the last Administration, and in the Courts to protect the opportunity for renewable fuels to continue to grow as an option for consumers,” said Skunes. “Today, the President is considering a proposal from the oil industry that could cut farm income almost $4 billion dollars per year for the next two years.  It is a deal that American farmers cannot afford.  My message to the Secretary today was to ask the President not to cap future growth and opportunity in rural America by implementing a bad policy that would only serve to...

NCGA Response to Trade Tariff Announcement

(Posted Thu. Mar 8th, 2018)

Keywords: trade

The National Corn Growers Association issued the following statement in response to the trade tariff actions taken today by the Administration:   “Trade plays an important role in many facets of the U.S. economy and impacts various industries in different ways. Agricultural trade has been a bright spot for U.S. economy, positively impacting our overall trade balance, while providing an important avenue to grow demand for America’s farmers and ranchers. New tariffs on steel and aluminum might not only trigger retaliation from our trading partners, but could also increase the prices farmers pay for necessary equipment, such as tractors and combines. The National Corn Growers Association is hopeful that, as the Administration moves forward, it will work to minimize the impacts upon America’s agricultural sector.”

Latest RFS Bill Ignores Wealth of Science Documenting Ethanol’s Environmental Benefits

(Posted Thu. Mar 8th, 2018)

Keywords: ethanol

Statement by Kevin Skunes, National Corn Growers Association President, and Arthur, North Dakota farmer regarding the Udall/Welch Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) Legislation H.R. 5212/S. 2519)   “This legislation seeks to kill our most successful American renewable energy program. The bill ignores current science reflecting the significant environmental benefits of ethanol and would have catastrophic consequences for our nation’s economy, our energy security, and family farmers.   The sponsors of this legislation need to understand farmers’ productivity. Ethanol production is not significantly impacting land use.  In fact, planted corn acres were lower in 2017 than when the RFS was expanded in 2007, yet we produced significantly more biofuels. We produce more biofuels because average crop yields have increased by more than 25 bushels per acre, not because we are farming more land. The total agriculture footprint in the United States is shrinking.   Corn production is also...

Celebrate the Women Sharing Ag’s Story this International Women’s Day

(Posted Thu. Mar 8th, 2018)

This International Women’s Day, the National Corn Growers Association invites those on and off the farm alike to consider the important role women play in conversations in food and farming through their work in programs such as CommonGround. For more than seven years, CommonGround volunteers have served as resources for consumers who have questions about how their food is grown.   Sharing their personal stories, the volunteers who make up this grassroots movement foster conversations, based in shared values, that help moms off the farm discover that they can feel good about the food they feed their families. America’s farm families provide an amazing array of options but, with so many competing claims, honest questions are understandable. By serving as resources, these women have shared their unique understanding of important topics, such as the difference between organic and conventional crops and how ranchers care for their animals, more than a billion times since 2010.   To...

Purdue University Analysis Confirms Potential Economic Fallout from Changes to RFS

(Posted Wed. Mar 7th, 2018)

Keywords: ethanol

Economists at Purdue University have analyzed the potential economic implications of a price cap on RINs in conjunction with an E15 RVP waiver. Their analysis finds that a price cap—even when paired with an RVP waiver--would prevent achievement of the objectives of the Renewable Fuel Standard, reduce overall biofuel blending, and halt investment in higher blend infrastructure.   Statement by National Corn Growers Association President Kevin Skunes regarding a new study by Purdue University.   “The new Purdue University analysis continues a drum beat of data that makes it very clear messing with the Renewable Fuel Standard, and specifically manipulating the Renewable Identification Number (RIN) system, is a potential economic disaster for farmers and rural America.   A RIN price cap—even when paired with RVP parity for E15 and higher blends—weakens the RFS and would prevent achievement of the clean air and economic objectives that launched this innovative, renewable fuels...

NCGA Welcomes Addition of IRM to Take Action Resources

(Posted Wed. Mar 7th, 2018)

The Take Action Program, supported by the National Corn Growers Association continues to expand with the addition of Insect Resistance Management (IRM) resources for farmers.   After more than four years of providing resources to help farmers manage herbicide resistance, the Take Action program now includes insect-resistance management. No matter the pest, Take Action promotes the use of management practices that prevent the development of resistance and preserve the effectiveness of crop-protection technologies. Stay tuned for new resources, including an Insecticide Classification Chart, coming this spring.   Take Action recently updated its most popular piece— the Herbicide Classification Chart — for the 2018 crop year. Farmers can use these helpful tools as they make weed-management plans for the year. Click here to get yours today.   These educational materials are also available in quantity if you would like to share them at any winter meetings focusing on...

RFS Tinkering Would Deal Substantive Blow to Farmers

(Posted Tue. Mar 6th, 2018)

Keywords: ethanol

Statement by National Corn Growers Association President Kevin Skunes regarding a new study by the Center for Agricultural and Rural Development (CARD) at Iowa State University.   “This economic analysis backs up what corn farmers have been telling the Administration – that manipulating the RIN market mechanism would reduce ethanol blending and impact corn prices. A drop of 25 cents per bushel in corn prices, as CARD economists project from a RIN price cap, would devastate farmers and stagger rural communities.   “This spring farmers will begin planting knowing they face their fifth growing season with corn prices hovering at or below the cost of production. According to the Federal Reserve Bank, we lost 12,000 farms in 2016. This decline must be stopped.    “The CARD analysis clearly shows an artificial cap on Renewable Identification Number (RIN) prices in exchange for an RVP waiver allowing year-round sales of E15 would be a bad deal for rural America and the nation’s...

NCGA Yield Contest’s Top Growers Offer Yield-Increasing Insights

(Posted Tue. Mar 6th, 2018)

Keywords: production

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 Anaheim honoring the state winners of the 2017 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 Team Chair Roger Zylstra. “NCGA has always looked for new and innovative ways to use this data, sharing the lessons learned with corn farmers. The video provides a quick, simple way for interested farmers to...

Corn Congress Stands Up in Support of RFS

(Posted Mon. Mar 5th, 2018)

Keywords: ethanol

During last week’s Corn Congress, the National Corn Growers Association’s biannual delegate meeting, 124 delegates representing 28 states delved into policy and debated the most pressing issues facing America’s farmers. The thoughtful discussion yielded significant insight into many issues, but the most pressing discussion turned to the current debate over the Renewable Fuel Standard.   The farmers in attendance voted unanimously to approve a “Sense of the Corn Congress” motion directed toward President Trump.  The motion states:   “Whereas, the Renewable Fuel Standard has been a successful public policy for our nation’s energy security, the environment and rural America; and   “Whereas, the Renewable Identification Number component of the Renewable Fuel Standard is vital to the success of the RFS; and   “Whereas, RINs are the market mechanism that drives blending to obligated levels; and   “Whereas, any cap or other manipulation of the RIN program would disrupt that...

NCGA Statement on Today's White House Meeting

(Posted Thu. Mar 1st, 2018)

Keywords: ethanol

The following is a statement from North Dakota farmer Kevin Skunes, president of the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA), in response to today’s White House meeting on the Renewable Fuel Standard.   “For corn farmers, the question for the ongoing White House discussions is simple – what is the problem you are trying to solve?” said Skunes.   “According to EPA, refiners don’t have a problem.  EPA concluded in November that refiners are able to recover the cost of RINs through the prices they receive for refined products and that RIN values are not causing economic harm to refiners.    “For farmers, ethanol blending equals corn demand. Farmers care about RIN values, not because we want them to be high, but because we want the RIN market mechanism to work freely to incentivize blending. Increased blending will, in turn, lower RIN values, exactly the way the RFS is intended to work.  Government manipulation of the RIN market, on the other hand, disrupts the incentive to...

Kansas Farm Family Showcases New Sustainability Ethic on the Farm

(Posted Thu. Mar 1st, 2018)

Keywords: conservation sustainability

A Kansas farm family’s soil-friendly, progressive farming practices and contributions to sustainable crop production earned them national notoriety as they were presented with the National Corn Growers Association’s 2018 Good Steward Recognition. Randy and Nicole Small of Neodesha, Kansas received the Good Steward designation at the Commodity Classic convention and trade show in Anaheim, CA. The program and recognition funding is provided by the Howard G. Buffett Foundation as part of their Harvesting the Potential campaign to raise awareness among U.S. farmers of the importance of conservation agriculture. “NCGA is known for taking the lead on many issues in the policy arena that effect our members, but we also work constantly to promote positive change and improvements in how we farm,” said Kevin Skunes, NCGA president from Arthur, North Dakota. “The Small family has a long history of enhancing the farm's soil and natural resources spanning several generations. They provide a...

Explore the World of Corn

(Posted Thu. Mar 1st, 2018)

U.S. corn farmers reached new heights in 2017 with a record national average yield of 176.6 bushels per acre and 14.6 billion bushels of corn produced in the United States, the second-highest production on record.   To highlight these achievements and all they mean, the National Corn Growers Association delves into the facts about corn production, using a historical comparison in its newest edition of the World of Corn. This statistical look at the corn industry, both domestic and worldwide, features a wide array of information on corn production and usage. In addition to the traditional statistics guide, this year’s distribution includes a poster highlighting the many incredible ways which corn makes our daily lives possible.   “In 2017, America’s corn farmers broke yield records yet again to produce another abundant crop,” NCGA President Kevin Skunes and Chief Executive Officer Chris Novak note in the introduction. “This incredible, but consistent, level of production...