(Posted Tue. Jul 10th, 2012)
July 10: With Corn Congress fast approaching, corn farmers across the country are turning their attention to Washington, where delegates from their home states will convene to determine the policies and leadership that will guide the National Corn Growers Association into fiscal year 2013. Today, Off the Cob spoke with NCGA First Vice President-Elect Martin Barbre about his recent election to the post, the vice presidential ratification vote that will occur during Corn Congress, and his views on where NCGA must lead the industry to ensure a bright future for farmers.
Selected June 13 by the Corn Board to serve as NCGA First Vice President in 2013, Barbre will take office on October 1. Barbre brings to the position the insight gained through many years of service both at the national level, as a current Corn Board member and chair of the NASCAR Advisory Committee. Previously, Barbre served as chair of Biotechnology Working Group, co-chair of the 2012 Commodity Classic Committee and on the Ethanol Committee. At the state level, Barbre served on the Illinois Corn Growers Association Board of Directors for nearly eleven years beginning in 1995 and culminating in a term as president in 2004 and 2005.
“I have always felt that it is important that someone gives back to his industry,” said Barbre. “It is something that I have done for my whole life, also serving at Farm Bureau and in other capacities around the agricultural field.”
He explained his motivation in committing so much time and energy to his fellow farmers further. In addition to his deep appreciation for the value of civic service, he draws inspiration from his commitment to family and tradition.
“I have a son farming with me and a goal of making sure that, should he wish to, he can farm for the next 40 years,” Barbre explained. “At the core of it, that is what really drives me.”
When asked what major issues he sees as key to maintaining the ability for younger generations to farm, Barbre notes both regulatory challenges and emphasizes the importance of defending the market for corn ethanol.
“Obviously, farmers continually confront challenges in Washington,” he said. “From water issues to regulatory issues, we must monitor possible regulations. We can see that the RFS has come under fire recently, and we can’t expect that to wane any time soon.”
Barbre sees vital roles for NCGA to play in ensuring farmers are heard on these issues and in other arenas key to the viability of future farmers.
“We must vigorously defend the RFS and keep the corn ethanol industry moving forward,” Barbre explained. “Also, issues that could impede foreign trade are important to farmers. We must work closely with the U.S. Grains Council to maintain and grow overseas markets. Government programs that help maintain our agricultural markets abroad have also come under fire, and we must remain vigilant in our efforts to support them.”
While many issues confronting farmers will be tackled through work in Washington, Barbre places significant importance in NCGA’s programs to defend the image of farmers, educate consumers and open markets through research and technology.
“In addition to working toward the 2012 farm bill and other regulatory goals, we must actively cultivate the image of American farming by educating the public,” he noted. “Our goals need to include this component in our overall mission of maintaining the profitability of our nation’s corn farmers.”
To listen to the full interview, click here.