NEWS STORIES

FEBRUARY 2017

(Posted Tue. Feb 28th, 2017)

The National Corn Growers Association today applauded President Donald Trump for issuing an executive order repealing the 2015 Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule.   “We appreciate the Trump Administration’s commitment to reducing regulatory burdens for America’s farmers and ranchers,” said NCGA President Wesley Spurlock. “We fully support the repeal of the WOTUS rule. Farmers and ranchers care deeply about clean water, but this rule had significant flaws. It was arbitrarily written, legally indefensible, and extremely difficult to implement.”   The WOTUS rule, which was issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers under the Obama Administration, was challenged in courts by more than 30 states, environmental organizations, and numerous industry groups including the National Corn Growers Association. In October 2015, a federal appeals court issued a stay preventing the rule’s implementation.   “NCGA remains committed to work with the EPA to ensure...

(Posted Mon. Feb 27th, 2017)

U.S. corn farmers reached new heights in 2016, growing the largest crop on record at 15.1 billion bushels, with a record national average yield of 174.6 bushels per acre.   To highlight this achievement, 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 ways corn farmers increase sustainability while also growing demand for their crop.   “America’s corn farmers demonstrated their ability to sustainably produce an abundant crop in 2016,” NCGA President Wesley Spurlock and Chief Executive Officer Chris Novak note in the introduction. “This record-setting crop offers infinite possibilities for feeding and fueling a growing world....

(Posted Wed. Feb 22nd, 2017)

Rancher, Farmer, Fisherman, fresh from its world premiere at Sundance Film Festival, will preview at Commodity Classic in San Antonio, Texas before it airs worldwide on Discovery Channel in August. The Discovery Impact film weaves together the stories of a Montana rancher, two Kansas farmers and a handful of Gulf fishermen who feed the world while stewarding the land and water they work. Based on a book by the same name, the documentary is a tribute to the unsung conservation heroes of America’s heartland.   “The men and women profiled in the book and film work tirelessly to protect America’s natural resources, make their operations more productive and resilient and leave a legacy for their children. They don’t receive much credit for their conservation achievements, and we’re trying to change that,” said Miriam Horn of Environmental Defense Fund.   Horn authored Rancher, Farmer Fisherman: Conservation Heroes of the American Heartland, on which the film is based. NCGA and EDF...

Get to Know the Ethanol - CEO RFA's Bob Dinneen

(Posted Wed. Feb 22nd, 2017)

Keywords: Ethanol

If there is a conversation going on involving ethanol, look over your shoulder – you’ll more than likely see President and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) Bob Dinneen at the center of it. An expert on energy, the environment and issues involving the ethanol industry, he is a sought after speaker and regularly testifies before federal agencies and congressional committees. However, coalition-building seems to be Bob’s greatest talent. Thanks to his tireless advocacy for all things ethanol, Bob has successfully paved an ethanol-friendly pathway that has expanded the Renewable Fuels Standard to reach 36 billion gallons by 2022. NCGA wanted to know what is on Bob’s mind when he’s on the job. Here’s what he told us:   NCGA:       What’s RFA’s number one strategic priority?   Dinneen:   Our top priority is growing demand. In today’s agriculture economy, farmers must sell their product at a price below the cost of production. Similarly, the ethanol industry is challenged...

(Posted Wed. Feb 22nd, 2017)

Keywords: Ethanol

In a letter sent Monday to National Ethanol Conference attendees, President Donald Trump reiterated his commitment to ethanol and the Renewable Fuel Standard.   “Rest assured that your president and this administration values the importance of renewable fuels to America’s economy and to our energy independence. As I emphasized throughout my campaign, renewable fuels are essential to America’s energy strategy,” Trump wrote.   “As important as ethanol and the Renewable Fuel Standard are to rural economies, I also know that your industry has suffered from overzealous, job-killing regulation. I am committed to reducing the regulatory burden on all businesses, and my team… [will] identify and reform those regulations that impede growth, increase consumer costs, and eliminate good-paying jobs without providing sufficient environmental or public health benefit,” Trump added.   “Thank you to President Trump for reaffirming your support for ethanol and the RFS,” said NCGA President...

House Ag Committee Chairman to Speak at Commodity Classic

(Posted Tue. Feb 21st, 2017)

U.S. Congressman Mike Conaway, chairman of the House Committee on Agriculture, will address the thousands of attendees at the 2017 Commodity Classic in San Antonio, March 2-4, 2017.   Congressman Conaway will speak during the popular General Session, which takes place from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. on Friday, March 3.    Serving his seventh term in the U.S. House of Representatives, Congressman Conaway represents 29 counties in Texas’ 11th congressional district, including the cities of Midland, Odessa and San Angelo.  A native Texan, he grew up in Odessa and earned a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in accounting from Texas A&AM University-Commerce.  A conservative Republican, Rep. Conaway’s background as a CPA gives him a unique perspective on fiscal responsibility.   In addition to his role as chair of the House Committee on Agriculture, Rep. Conaway also serves on the House Armed Services Committee and the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.   “We are...

American Ethanol Fuels NASCAR for 7th Season

(Posted Tue. Feb 21st, 2017)

The 69th NASCAR season kicks off this weekend during the Daytona 500. Amid all of the usual team, driver and sponsor paint-out design changes, Monster Energy also takes over as the Cup Series title sponsor, replacing Sprint. One thing that remains unchanged, however, is American Ethanol’s footprint in the sport. “For the seventh straight year in a row, Sunoco Green E15 – a fuel blended with 15% American Ethanol – will power NASCAR,” commented NCGA President Wesley Spurlock. “It’s clear NASCAR is sticking with this winner. With over 500 million miles driven on E15 by American consumers, it looks as if E15 is also a proven winner at the pump.”     Unchanged this season as well, is American Ethanol’s partnership with Richard Childress Racing (RCR) driver Austin Dillon. Last year, Dillon’s racing accomplishments raised American Ethanol’s exposure on the track. In last season’s first American Ethanol paint-out, Dillon won the pole position in the Cup race at the Auto Club Speedway...

(Posted Tue. Feb 21st, 2017)

National Corn Growers Association President and Texas farmer Wesley Spurlock today issued the following statement: “NCGA congratulates Scott Pruitt as the next U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator. We look forward to working with Administrator Pruitt to continue the progress being made in agriculture toward more sustainable farming practices. NCGA anticipates a fresh and productive approach to providing the nation with cleaner air and water through reasonable regulations and sound science. We are appreciative of the commitments Administrator Pruitt made during his confirmation hearings toward implementing the Renewable Fuel Standard in line with congressional intent.”

(Posted Fri. Feb 17th, 2017)

 The National Corn Growers Association’s Stewardship Action Team renewed its commitment to clean water at its recent meeting while both reviewing the success of current programming and expanding efforts to promote voluntary nutrient management.   “At the heart of NCGA’s latest initiative is a program to work with state corn grower groups to develop formal nutrient management programs that fit the needs and goals of each state,” said Stewardship Action Team Chairman Brent Hostetler. “Many states have proactive work underway to assess progress to date and expand and broaden these initiatives. NCGA is providing professional consulting resources to assist.”   Hostetler noted NCGA is currently working with five states on developing and formalizing nutrient management efforts and the plan is to grow to ten states in 2017 starting with a needs assessment to direct budget and resources.   “Most of the farmers I know have spent a lifetime trying to do a better job of managing and...

(Posted Thu. Feb 16th, 2017)

Increasing demand for corn and corn farmer profitability is key to the National Corn Growers Association's mission, and this was clearly evident at the recent meeting of NCGA's Corn Productivity & Quality Action Team (CPQAT).   Farmer team members from across the U.S. discussed several potential avenues for finding new uses for corn to drive demand. Potential areas of focus are new food uses for corn, new plant-based chemicals from corn and more specifically using corn as a feedstock to replace chemicals currently manufactured from petroleum.   "Developing new uses for corn is nothing novel. It has always been important. Within the last 20 years, fuel ethanol went from being a new use for corn to our second largest market.  And look at the impact that has had on farmer profitability," said, Larry Hoffmann, chairman of the CPQAT and a farmer from Wheatland, North Dakota. "But trying to keep corn use ahead of our growing productive capacity is a never-ending challenge. We are...

(Posted Wed. Feb 15th, 2017)

Keywords: Trade

More than 350 attendees had a firsthand look at the new Panama Canal expansion on Monday to kick off events at the U.S. Grains Council 14th International Marketing Conference & 57th Annual Membership Meeting in Panama City, Panama.   The tour of the Agua Clara locks in Colon, Panama, was a unique opportunity to see trade in action, and an important reminder of the dynamic global trade environment for those who last visited the Canal shortly after construction on the new locks began.   “When USGC last met in Panama, the canal expansion was only a construction site,” said Chip Councell, USGC chairman and a grain farmer in Maryland. “Visiting the new locks reflects the long-term commitment of the Council and its members to enable more and expanded trade opportunities for American agriculture.”   Before the tour, meeting attendees in a general session were welcomed to the region by USGC Western Hemisphere Regional Director Marri Carrow and Erik Hansen, agricultural counselor at...

(Posted Tue. Feb 14th, 2017)

American Farm Bureau FUSION Conference attendees enjoyed a first-hand account of CommonGround, a program supported by the National Corn Growers Association, the United Soybean Board and their state affiliates. Attendees participated in an interactive learning session titled “Finding CommonGround.” CommonGround volunteer Kristin Reese, who farms in Ohio, showed a standing room-only crowd how CommonGround, helps foster mutual understanding and trust through conversations between the women who grow and raise food and those who buy it.   Drawing upon the power of her personal experience, Reese explained how farm women across the country are sharing their experiences and helping consumers feel confident about American ag today. She provided insight into the program’s real, inclusive, positive and credible approach to conversations while showing the approach in action through anecdotes about their personal experiences. Active in the program since its inception, Reese offered valuable...

Corn and Ethanol – Fueling a Future Together

(Posted Mon. Feb 13th, 2017)

Commentary by Chris Novak, Chief Executive Officer, National Corn Growers Association         Growth Energy and its members met last week in Miami, Florida for their annual leadership conference.  Next week, the Renewable Fuel Association (RFA) will gather in San Diego, California for their National Ethanol Conference and in less than a month, the American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) will host its annual Fly-In in Washington D.C.  Three different ethanol associations, holding three different meetings – each vital to our collective success.  In the midst of these meetings, it’s a good time to pause and reflect on corn and ethanol’s shared history – and to consider what opportunities and challenges lie ahead. For more than twenty years, the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) and its state affiliates have worked side by side with the ethanol industry to bring ethanol-blended fuels to the marketplace. In so doing, the production of fuel ethanol has contributed significantly...

(Posted Fri. Feb 10th, 2017)

The Evening of Entertainment at the 2017 Commodity Classic puts the cherry on top of America’s largest farmer-led, farmer-focused convention and trade show. Commodity Classic will be held March 2-4, 2017, in San Antonio, Texas.   Saturday night’s Evening of Entertainment will feature the country sounds of Grammy-nominated Pat Green, a Texas hit maker with an “outsider” reputation.  The Evening of Entertainment is sponsored by Monsanto.   Since his early days in Lubbock, Green has sold more than two million albums, with hits such as “Wave on Wave”.  He has appeared on national television shows including Austin City Limits, Jimmy Kimmel Live! and The Late Show with David Letterman.  He has co-written songs with Willie Nelson, Brad Paisley, Jewel and Rob Thomas.  He has also toured with Kenny Chesney, Keith Urban and the Dave Matthews Band.   Admission to the Evening of Entertainment is included in Commodity Classic full registration package.   A Saturday-only registration...

(Posted Fri. Feb 10th, 2017)

Keywords: Ethanol

NCGA joined ethanol producers and supporters this week in Miami, Fla. at Growth Energy’s Executive Leadership Conference to hear Growth’s take on the state of the industry and the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead. Leading this effort is Emily Skor, Growth Energy’s new CEO. Although new to the ethanol industry, Skor has made a career advocating on behalf of the consumer products industry. Having held several previous challenging roles in consumer health care products and crisis communications, she is no stranger to controversy. It is clear Emily Skor intends on making a difference not only at Growth Energy, but also within the ethanol industry as a whole. NCGA had a few questions for Emily to find out more about her vision, concerns, and what makes her tick. Here’s what she had to say:   NCGA:   What’s Growth Energy’s number one strategic priority?   Skor:       We are committed to supporting and expanding the nation’s incredible ethanol industry, and our top goal is...

(Posted Fri. Feb 10th, 2017)

Keywords: Biotechnology

Members of the National Corn Growers Association’s Freedom to Operate Action Team met in Tampa, Florida last week to review programs, budgets and policies associated with the association’s work in areas such as crop inputs, data and biotechnology. While there, the team met with representatives from across the value chain to explore upcoming challenges and opportunities.    Looking at a variety of issues, including goals set out in NCGA’s strategic plan can be achieved, the team used their in-depth knowledge of the subject matter to develop the nuanced, strategic suggestions needed to help the Corn Board guide NCGA policy effectively.   “Over my years working with both NCGA and our Illinois state corn association, I have come to truly appreciate the breadth and scope of the multitude of issues facing farmers today,” said Team Chair Don Duvall, a farmer from Illinois. “By developing teams with specialization in major areas of opportunity and taking the time to analyze the issues...

(Posted Thu. Feb 9th, 2017)

Members of the National Corn Growers Association’s Ethanol Action Team (ETHAT) gathered last week in Savannah, Ga. to review programs aimed at expanding demand for corn ethanol. “Our agenda covered topics from fuel dispenser infrastructure to sports marketing sponsorships,” commented ETHAT Chair Paul Jeschke. “However, discussions were unlike previous years due to excitement over the Trump administration’s stated support for the RFS.”   Chuck Studer of John Deere reported on the Ag Auto Ethanol Working Group’s latest efforts to find common ground on octane with automakers under the Trump Administration. We also heard from Senate staff that the Trump Administration has not abandoned their campaign promise to support the RFS and biofuels. The future economic impact of the RFS beyond 2022 was addressed by Marty Ruikka of PRX.    Mike O’Brien was on hand to share Growth Energy’s E15 branding research process. Growth expects to have results within a few weeks. Prime the Pump...

(Posted Wed. Feb 8th, 2017)

The Soil Health Partnership has created a new position to help lead the organization’s ambitious on-farm data collection efforts as the program grows. Jack Cornell, a plant scientist, will fill the role of operations manager for the organization.      “I’m looking forward to continuing work on opportunities to make agriculture more sustainable,” Cornell said. “But at the same time, I grew up in a small town, understanding the importance of profitability on the farm. I look forward to relationships with farmers, striving to find ways for them to stay profitable and sustainable. It’s something I’m very passionate about.”     Cornell will help the SHP team, which includes several field managers throughout the Midwest, manage the data collected, provide strategic direction, and act as a conduit of information to the organization’s active Science Advisory Committee.   Cornell recently served as a technology development representative for Monsanto, with an emphasis on cover crops...

(Posted Wed. Feb 8th, 2017)

Members of the National Corn Growers Association’s Consumer Engagement Action Team met in Savannah, Georgia last week to review programs focused on the organization’s strategic goals associated with strengthening consumer trust. The team, which was formed in October of 2016 to better align and focus with the goals of the new strategic plan, delved deeply into ongoing consumer engagement efforts while exploring future opportunities.   At the meeting, the team took a thoughtful look at pertinent sections of NCGA’s Policy Book, examining the relevance of current language to the association’s public policy work. They also took a deep dive into the ongoing activities of and budget for consumer engagement programs, such as the Corn Reputation project, CommonGround and the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance.   “With our new strategic focus, the importance of proactively engaging with consumers to foster understanding and mutual trust has come to the forefront as a key to ensuring...

(Posted Mon. Feb 6th, 2017)

Keywords: Trade

By the Numbers   $1.5 trillion: Increase in real incomes due to liberalizing trade efforts since World War II (Peterson Economics) $82 billion: Annual economic output in 2014 due to exports of feed grains and grain products (Informa Economics) 371,536: Number of full-time equivalent jobs linked directly or indirectly to grain and grain product exports in 2014 (Informa Economics)   With trade suddenly a hot topic among Americans who usually may not question where their consumer goods come from - or their agricultural goods go - a few background facts offer important context. For agriculture, the fact is that trade has served the United States very well.    One of the most important issues to many Americans - and rightfully so - related to trade is the impact on our pocketbooks. Critics of trade are often quick to warn that an expansion of trade could significantly drive down wages. But the numbers tell a different story.   In fact, the U.S has 20 free trade agreements...