NEWS STORIES

JANUARY 2017

Corn and Animal Agriculture – Poised for Success

(Posted Mon. Jan 30th, 2017)

Commentary by Chris Novak, Chief Executive Officer, National Corn Growers Association   In less than a week’s time, colleagues in the cattle industry will head off to Nashville, Tennessee to participate in the 120th Cattle Industry Convention and Trade Show.  Further south, our friends in the poultry industry will head to Atlanta, Georgia for the largest annual trade show for the poultry, meat and feed industries in the country.  With these two industries coming together, it makes it a good time to reflect on our relationships with those in animal agriculture. Collectively, beef, poultry, pork and dairy producers represent corn farmers’ number-one customer.  It’s a fact of which we’re both proud and grateful.  Over 39 percent of U.S. grown corn goes toward animal agriculture. Adding in distillers dried grains (DDGs), a co-product of corn ethanol production, brings total consumption figures to 47 percent1.  Clearly, what is good for animal agriculture is good for corn...

(Posted Fri. Jan 27th, 2017)

A new honey bee testing service announced this week will allow beekeepers to more effectively identify and address diseases plaguing bee colonies, according to the National Agricultural Genotyping Center.   NAGC conducted the research and developed the testing panel with the support of the National Corn Growers Association and the North Dakota Department of Agriculture. The testing service called “Bee Care” will launch in February 2017.   “It’s the first time we have a panel of the most common honey bee diseases in North America all in one test,” said Pete Snyder, president and CEO of the NAGC. “So we can diagnose problems, get results in 30 days and allow beekeepers to pursue the right treatment.”   NAGC has begun contacting beekeeper groups nationwide with information on the BeeCare testing service and how to submit samples for testing.   “Supporting this research work at the NAGC is just part of Corn Growers overall effort to assure healthy bee populations. BeeCare is an...

(Posted Fri. Jan 27th, 2017)

Keywords: Trade

Newly-inaugurated President Donald Trump has already followed through with key campaign promises related to trade policy - moves that have rightfully caused concern among grain farmers whose price is being supported by robust export sales of this year.   Early this week, the Administration announced it would aim to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico. Monday, the president signed an executive order to withdraw the United States from participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement negotiated with 11 other Pacific Rim countries.   These moves are intended to pave the way for new negotiations. However, in the short term – and coming soon after serious trade policy issues with China – they could severely curtail U.S. grain farmers’ market access globally and open up existing export markets to new levels of competition.   TPP was the product of years of work and dedication on behalf of negotiators and stakeholders and stood to...

(Posted Fri. Jan 27th, 2017)

Leaders of the National Corn Growers Association were in Washington last week to witness the historic Inauguration of Donald Trump as 45th President of the United States.   “This was a once-in-a-lifetime event for me to witness the transfer of power,” said First Vice President Kevin Skunes, who farms in Arthur, North Dakota. “It was an honor and privilege to help represent the National Corn Growers Association at the week’s events.”   Among those joining Skunes were President Wesley Spurlock, Stratford, Texas; Chairman Chip Bowling, Newburg, Maryland; and NCGA CEO Chris Novak and Executive Vice President Jon Doggett.   The week’s festivities included the swearing-in ceremony and inaugural parade, and the Bipartisan Inaugural Gala Celebrating American Agriculture, commonly known as the “Ag Ball.” The Ag Ball, which was co-sponsored by NCGA, included a corn-themed photo backdrop and commemorative cups highlighting NCGA and American Ethanol. The NCGA delegation also attended a...

(Posted Thu. Jan 26th, 2017)

Keywords: Ethanol

All in all, 2016 was a good year for the ethanol industry. EPA followed statute and set renewable volume obligations at the levels intended by Congress.  Shortly after, USDA released its new lifecycle analysis of corn-based ethanol and reaffirmed the fuel’s ability to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions when compared to gasoline. However, as pointed out by Colorado Corn CEO Mark Sponsler in a recent Journal-Advocate article, ethanol advocates should not and will not rest on their laurels any time soon. “Ethanol is a clean-burning, renewable, high-octane biofuel that's reducing our dependency on foreign oil, boosting rural economies, and helping lower gas prices at the pump, commented Sponsler. “There's no good reason, based on fact and sound science, that ethanol advocates have had to spend so much time on the defense.”   Candidate Trump recognized ethanol’s benefits to the U.S. economy by promising to defend the RFS. To thank President Trump for his unwavering support...

(Posted Tue. Jan 24th, 2017)

On the heels of comments from President Donald Trump that his administration may withdraw from the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), more than 130 food and agricultural organizations have contacted the President to highlight the importance of the trade agreement to the industry and urge him to preserve and build upon that success.   "With the productivity of U.S. agriculture growing faster than domestic demand, the U.S. food and agriculture industry — and the rural communities that depend on it — relies heavily on export markets to sustain prices and revenues," the groups say in a letter sent to President Trump on Tuesday.   Under NAFTA, U.S. food and agricultural exports to Mexico and Canada have more than quadrupled, from $8.9 billion in 1993 to $38.6 billion in 2015.   U.S. corn farmers have benefited substantially from NAFTA. Mexico is the number one market for U.S. corn and the number two market for U.S. distiller’s dried grains with solubles (DDGS). Rising...

(Posted Tue. Jan 24th, 2017)

National Corn Growers Association President Wesley Spurlock today issued the following statement :   “Over the past several years, corn farmers and the National Corn Growers Association have been frustrated by a number of U.S. Environmental Protection Agency decisions that undermined implementation of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and burdened farmers with unworkable regulations. We have wanted leaders within EPA who were willing to listen to stakeholders, ensure a scientific foundation for environmental rules, and uphold the law as intended by Congress. Last week, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt testified during his confirmation hearing that he would uphold the RFS and would seek to find common-sense solutions to address our nation’s environmental challenges. NCGA is encouraged by these commitments. Once Mr. Pruitt is confirmed by the Senate, we look forward to working with him to achieve these important goals.”

(Posted Mon. Jan 23rd, 2017)

President Donald Trump’s nominee for U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue, should “bode well for agriculture,” Jon Doggett, Executive Vice President and head of public policy for the National Corn Growers Association, said in an interview with the National Association of Farm Broadcasters last week.   “We’re looking forward to working with [Governor Perdue]. He has a background in ag, and we look forward to working together to further the cause of American agriculture,” Doggett said. “The thing we hear over and over again from our membership is, let’s expand the opportunity to sell our products overseas. Trade is important to all of agriculture but particularly important to the corn industry. We need to move a lot of corn, and we need to move it out of the United States because most of our customers exist outside of the United States. So, we really need an opportunity to access those markets.”   Perdue, a one-time veterinarian and former Governor of Georgia, also has a...

(Posted Mon. Jan 23rd, 2017)

Keywords: Trade

Exports of U.S. feed grains have a promising outlook after the completion of the first quarter of the 2016/2017 marketing year, according to recently published U.S. Department of Agriculture trade data.   Total exports of feed grains in all forms in September, October and November 2016 reached 1.1 billion bushels, up 32 percent from the same quarter last year.   The feed grains in all forms calculation takes into account the grain equivalent of the value-added and processed forms of feed grains as well as unprocessed grains. Sharply higher exports of corn (up 83 percent) and ethanol (up 85 percent) and moderately higher beef (up 19 percent), pork (up 15 percent) and poultry (up 13 percent) exports offset lower shipments of barley (down 82 percent), sorghum (down 60 percent) and distiller's dried grains with solubles (down four percent) in this timeframe.   The strong first quarter and USDA's latest full-year forecasts for many of the product categories indicate that worldwide...

(Posted Fri. Jan 20th, 2017)

Last week, the National Corn Growers Association was recognized for excellence at the Region 2 National Agri-Marketing Association Awards Ceremony. The association’s 2016 World of Corn publication took first place for the region in the Company Publications – Annual Reports category. Additionally, NCGA’s joint program with the United Soybean Board, CommonGround, took both first place and the merit prize in the Social Media Campaign Directed at Consumers category for the “Not a Latte” and “Thriving on Trust” videos respectively.   The World of Corn, a publication NCGA puts out annually, features a statistical guide that shows in a clear, graphic manner the facts about U.S. corn production and use. This publication, which is generously sponsored by Monsanto, includes unique additional components every year. In 2016, the publication, which is sent to members through The Progressive Farmer, included an activity guide helping elementary school-aged children understand the amazing world...

(Posted Thu. Jan 19th, 2017)

National Corn Growers Association President and Texas farmer Wesley Spurlock today congratulated former Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue on his nomination to be Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.   “The National Corn Growers Association congratulates Governor Perdue on his nomination to lead USDA. We look forward to his confirmation hearing, and learning more about his positions on issues important to corn farmers and the entire agriculture industry.   “Agriculture is the backbone of rural America, and we need strong leadership within USDA to keep moving the industry forward through difficult economic times. That means protecting risk management programs, continuing to grow the renewable fuels industry, expanding foreign markets and increasing demand for U.S. agricultural products throughout the world. We stand ready to work with President-Elect Trump and the new USDA leadership to move agriculture and our country forward.”

(Posted Wed. Jan 18th, 2017)

Keywords: Biotechnology

The U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration published documents today addressing the pre-market regulatory oversight of biotechnology-based agricultural tools. The National Corn Growers Association is pleased that the agency has included input given by NCGA and others throughout the rule-making process while focusing on the importance of science-based regulations.   Corn farmers have a strong interest in the availability of new technologies to enhance the sustainability, productivity and competitiveness of U.S. agriculture. Agriculture biotechnology and next generation breeding techniques allow growers to increase yields while decreasing inputs. Meeting demand, improving processes and minimizing environmental impacts are what make modern corn production a dynamic industry. The documents published indicate that, in large part, federal agencies agree with the basis of our stance and strive to create a more efficient regulatory process allowing...

(Posted Thu. Jan 12th, 2017)

Corn ethanol achieves a 43 percent reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions when compared to the 2005 baseline for gasoline, according to a new analysis released today by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Based on current trends in crop production and ethanol production efficiency, the study projected that by 2022, corn-based ethanol will achieve a 50 percent reduction in GHG emissions compared to the gasoline baseline. The study was conducted by ICF International.   Today’s announcement reaffirms the importance of ethanol and the Renewable Fuel Standard, said National Corn Growers Association President Wesley Spurlock, a farmer from Stratford, Texas.   “Ethanol and the Renewable Fuel Standard are a true American success story. Corn farmers and ethanol producers are using less energy than ever before to produce cost-effective, clean and renewable fuel for consumers across the country and around the world. Today, USDA has reaffirmed what we already know: ethanol does more...

(Posted Tue. Jan 10th, 2017)

Last week at CES, the largest consumer electronics show in the world, the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance introduced a new communications concept, called SMART Farm, aimed at bridging the gap between the acceptance of innovation that's a part of consumers' everyday lives with the science and technology happening on today's farms and ranches.    "Science and technology are embraced by consumers in all aspects of their lives," said Brad Greenway, USFRA Chairman and a South Dakota crop and pig farmer. "We want to demonstrate that farmers and ranchers are using similar technology to produce food in a way that is good for the soil, air, habitat and water on and around our farms and ranches - without compromise on cost, quality or taste."   Today's SMART Farms use data and technology to help farmers and ranchers become more efficient, nimble, and more equipped to protect the planet's resources while producing food.  While at CES, USFRA and its partners showcased a few examples of...

(Posted Mon. Jan 9th, 2017)

Last weekend, CommonGround volunteer Dawn Caldwell, who farms and ranches in Edgar, Neb., spoke about how the program addresses consumers concerns about food, farming and ranching as part of a panel at the annual meeting of the State and Ag Rural Leaders. SARL, which fosters cooperation, leadership and educational opportunities among and for state and provincial legislators, brought together this panel and focus group to help attendees better understand consumer concerns and also to look at the best ways to work with agriculture to foster productive communications.   The panel, which opened the conference during initial general session, began with a consumer focus group on food topics including the use of GMOs, pesticides, grocery purchasing patterns and antibiotic and hormone use in animal ag. Following the consumer focus group, Caldwell and presenters from SaksCanola and the Foundation for Biomedical Research shared their own experiences working to address consumer concerns....

NCGA Welcomes 115th Congress

(Posted Thu. Jan 5th, 2017)

National Corn Growers Association President Wesley Spurlock, First Vice President Kevin Skunes and staff from NCGA’s DC office spent Tuesday on Capitol Hill, welcoming the 115th Congress to Washington and discussing issues important to corn farmers and the agriculture industry.   “The National Corn Growers Association welcomes the new Congress. We hope they are ready to roll up their sleeves and work with the incoming Administration to make government work better for us all,” said Spurlock, a farmer from Stratford, Texas. “I was encouraged by the many productive conversations we had with new and returning lawmakers, both Democrats and Republicans. We look forward to working with them to solve important policy and regulatory issues in the coming year.”   Spurlock said the day reinforced to him the important work NCGA and state corn grower associations do in Washington, but he also emphasized the importance of farmers getting involved.   “NCGA and state staff are critical to...