(Posted Fri. Jan 6th, 2012)

Jan. 6: As growers prepare to travel to St. Louis for the annual National Corn Growers Association Priority and Policy Conference, Off the Cob revisits conversations held with some members of the Corn Board following the organization’s Action Team and Committee Meetings in December. During these interviews, the attendees offer information on a variety of subjects covered that they feel to be of particular interest to farmers.


First, Off the Cob caught up with Corn Board member Guy Davenport, a farmer from North Carolina. Davenport cited NCGA’s efforts to reach out to animal agriculture groups and engage in joint efforts as one of the more interesting topics that he encountered during the meetings.


“There are many legislative issues where our positions coincide and a variety of other areas where we share common ground,” said Davenport. “In working together, we must rely on our common interests. We both face challenges from groups seeking to regulate agriculture without understanding our industry and how farmers and ranchers both work to be good stewards of the land.”


Next, Maryland farmer Chip Bowling focused on the work in which he participated as Corn Board liaison to the Public Policy Action Team.


“We have wrapped our heads around the upcoming farm bill for the past year-and-a-half,” said Bowling. “National Corn Growers has already made great strides with the development of the ADAP program. What we are really trying to do, in essence, is build a stronger safety net for our nation’s corn farmers.”


Corn Board member Keith Alverson, a South Dakota farmer, noticed common themes as he sat in on the meetings of the Production and Stewardship Action Team and the Ethanol Committee.


“Sustainability is getting to be quite the buzzword, and I really appreciated the way that our teams are facing the implications of this movement head on,” Alverson said. “Sustainability, as a mainstream movement, continues to gain steam that we must incorporate into our plans to protect farmer interests.”


A member of the CornPAC, Nebraska farmer and Corn Board member Jon Holzfaster noted that it is incredibly important that growers work with potential legislators who understand agricultural issues and invited NCGA supporters attending Commodity Classic in Nashville this year to the annual CornPAC auction.


“We are already seeing great items that will be available at the auction this year,” Holzfaster said. “The event theme in 2012 will again be NASCAR, which is always fun, and I greatly encourage farmers to show their support by attending what is sure to be an enjoyable evening.”


Next, Corn Board member Wesley Spurlock, a Texas farmer, spoke enthusiastically of advancements in the ethanol industry presented during the meetings.


“As we went through this week, there were many exciting new technologies presented,” said Spurlock. “In particular, two very different groups showed us cutting-edge technology that will increase the efficiency with which engines burn ethanol a great deal. It could help the ethanol industry immensely if there is a push in this direction.”


Finally, Corn Board member and Missouri farmer Mike Geske shared insight into the implications of the federal Corporate Average Fuel Economy regulations, set for implementation in 2016.


“In their current form, these standards could represent a major roadblock for ethanol,” said Geske. “These regulations set out a roadmap for auto manufacturers about the type of vehicles which they will be allowed to sell in the U.S. and involve the implementation of many new, costly technologies that favor particular types of alternative fuels. As farmers, we will have to work diligently on this, in addition to many other issues.”


To listen to the full set of interviews, click here.