(Posted Mon. Apr 23rd, 2012)
Apr. 23: Last week, staff from the National Corn Growers Association and state corn associations across the country met in St. Louis to share insights gained over the past year and coordinate efforts for the next. With more than 100 attendees including state association executives, program directors and communicators, the conference also provided a forum to discuss pressing issues facing farmers including potential farm bill legislation and ethanol promotion.
“We all understand that, by working together, we magnify the effectiveness of our organizations and subsequently our ability to create positive change for farmers,” said NCGA CEO Rick Tolman. “While each state organization has specific circumstances unique to its area, farmers across the country share many common issues. Accordingly, it only logically follows that the state and national organizations serving them collaborate in such a fashion.”
The week began as NCGA staff from both the Washington and St. Louis offices met to discuss ongoing projects and opportunities to increase communication. Following the traditional meetings, the group toured the Cargill elevator and grain loading facility located directly across the Mississippi River in Illinois. During the tour, staff had the opportunity to delve into the importance of inland waterways to corn farmers, explore possible production and usage shift which would influence the flow of grain, and see first-hand how corn is tested, accepted and loaded.
Then, state association staff joined with national to begin an in-depth look at some of the exciting activities and programs that have achieved success since they last met in April 2011. Each state took a chance to share some of their accomplishments, knowledge gained from the process of implementing tactics and to provide a glimpse of projects on the horizon. In turn, national staff deeply involved in various legislative and regulatory issues and those heading a broad array of communications and market support programs presented brief overviews of recent successes and forecasts of what is to come.
In addition to sharing experiences and ideas, attendees participated training seminars that focused on a variety of state-requested areas of interest including improving social media presence, discussions on major market changes, analysis of consumer attitudes and new technology workshops. Using the chance to fine-tune skills, update knowledge of rapidly evolving issues and tools and further discuss broader situations with important implication, state and national staff alike worked diligently to improve skill sets and hold constructive conversations that will aide them in forming and implementing programs.