(Posted Mon. Oct 1st, 2012)

Pam Johnson PresidentOct. 1: The National Corn Growers Association enters a new fiscal year today and seated the 2013 Corn Board with Pam Johnson of Floyd, Iowa, assuming the presidency.  Off the Cob spoke with the new president to explore her views on what lies ahead for corn farmers in 2013, the challenges she expects the board to face, and some of the programs she is excited to see coming to fruition.


Beginning by thanking the delegates of Corn Congress and the Corn Board for selecting her to lead the organization, Johnson noted that she is excited to serve her fellow corn growers and to advocate for them in 2013.


 “We certainly will have a lot on our plate in the coming year,” she said. “We are coming through the worst drought in my lifetime, which in and of itself presents many challenges. I think that we need to remember that this drought is a near-term challenge, and we must keep our eye on the big picture and our long-term goals as we build for our future.”


Looking at the assets that NCGA brings to the table to confront both long- and short-term challenges, she stresses her belief that the organization’s greatest strength comes from the many people who come together to form the farmer-driven, grassroots group.


“The strength of NCGA has always been in the people who make up the organization, from its grassroots to its leadership,” said Johnson. “As we start this new year in the midst of a drought, I am fully aware and thankful that we have assembled a great group of talented and dedicated leaders and staff to meet the challenges facing us. Our work on the issues at hand did not just start this year though. We have been working very hard on behalf of corn growers for many years, and I think that it will become more apparent how important this work is in the climate we will face.”


Johnson proceeded to note her excitement for working together with all of NCGA’s grower leaders, the staff, with state organizations and with the grassroots membership. Directly addressing the major issues she sees on the immediate horizon, Johnson reiterates the critical importance of passing new farm bill legislation immediately.


“I think that the first thing on everyone’s mind is getting a five-year farm bill passed,” she said. “It has been laying there in Congress this year, and we are keeping federal legislators’ feet to the fire to get that passed. We must remember that the farm bill is of such importance because crop insurance is part of the farm bill. This year in particular, we have seen how important crop insurance is to farmers and ranchers. We need this key legislation complete as soon as possible- no excuses, no extensions. Farmers need the certainty of knowing what risk management tools will be available in the years ahead before heading back into their fields.”


Johnson went on to speak about how the drought has brought another issue to the forefront that must be addressed in order to secure a bright future for farmers.


“Of course, the drought has also raised concern over demand destruction in all of our major markets, from ethanol to livestock to exports,” she explained. “We are going to have to work very hard to get that demand back and make sure that, when we do turn this ship around, we have increasing demand for corn. We know the productivity corn farmers are capable of currently and see how it will only increase in the future. So, ensuring demand for corn in the years to come is essential.”


Johnson went on to list many of that will continue to be of relevance to farmers in the coming years including sustainability, transportation infrastructure and agricultural research. Speaking candidly not only about the myriad issues the organization will face but also about the resources it brings to bear, she expressed the dedication of leadership to improving the climate for all corn farmers and her faith in NCGA’s ability to accomplish this task.


To listen to the full interview, please click here.


In the following days, Off the Cob will offer more interviews and insight from NCGA grower-leaders, both current and past, as the new year unfolds.