(Posted Wed. Jan 25th, 2012)

Biotech/Trade IconJan. 25:  The National Corn Growers Association’s Trade Policy and Biotechnology Action Team convened today in Orlando, Fla., to review the organization’s policy and recommendations coming out of the Priority and Policy Conference held earlier in January. Additionally, team members will meet with representatives from government and industry to explore current challenges and opportunities in the areas of trade and biotechnology. 


Looking at a variety of issues including how to best support agricultural exports, stress the importance of refuge compliance and facilitate successful communication across the biotechnology value-chain on their issues, the team will use its in-depth knowledge of the subject matter to develop the nuanced, strategic suggestions needed to guide NCGA policy effectively.


“During the winter months, it can begin to feel like farmer leaders spend a large amount of time participating in meetings for a variety of agricultural groups,” said team Chair Chad Blindauer. “As my involvement has increased, I have come to appreciate the breadth and scope of the issues facing farmers today.  By developing teams with specialization in major areas of opportunity and taking the time to analyze the issues in a critical, thorough manner, we are able to effectively provide input to shape NCGA policy and, subsequently, maximize the effectiveness of farmer-funded market development and production activities.”


The meeting began Wednesday morning as growers dug into the specific policies rel


ated to trade and biotechnology. Discussing the implications of any proposed changes, team members worked diligently to craft a precise, well-constructed document for presentation to Corn Congress.


“Through these discussions, we develop an appreciation for the importance of the exact connotation of each word in our policy document,” said Blindauer. “But these


discussions generate greater thought and analysis than a simple word-smithing


exercise.  Examining the future of the industry, we debate policy recommendations that play a vital role in determining how the organization will proceed on our behalf.”


Tomorrow, the team will build upon today’s work through presentations and discussions with leadership from the agriculture industry, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Office of the United States Trade Representative. Looking at topics ranging from enhanced seed traits in development to government discussions on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the farmers gain up-to-the-minute information to incorporate into future recommendations.


Meetings will conclude on Friday as the team tours Wish Farms citrus production facility and meets with Plant City, Fla., grower Terry Benefield.  Investigation of the unique issues facing this fruit farm will aid the team in future considerations involving the similarities and differences between commodity and specialty crop producers.


In addition to Blindauer, team members include Vice Chair Jim Zimmerman of Wisconsin, Corn Board Liaison Bob Bowman of Iowa, Daniel Ebelhar of Kentucky, Chris Edgington of Iowa, Robert Gordon of Texas, Joel Grams of Nebraska, David Howell of Indiana, Donna Jeschke of Illinois, Scott Miller of Michigan, Gary Schmalshof of Illinois, David Ward of Minnesota, U.S Grains Council representative James Stuever and Jared Coppess of the Indiana Corn Growers Association.