As NCGA entered Fiscal Year 2019 and the new Corn Board was seated on Monday, Wesley Spurlock completed his term as chairman, passing the role over to Kevin Skunes, who was previously president.
The Off the Cob podcast series caught up with Spurlock to discuss what he found most rewarding during his term, explore his thoughts on the future and discuss his views on the importance of grassroots leadership.
Joking that he got into leadership “so that he could see eight years go by in a flash,” Spurlock
found working with his fellow farmers and grower-leaders across the country to be a blessing. Truly dedicated, he will work for corn for the rest of his life. This viewpoint is reflected in his description of what he found most rewarding.
“What you have to be proud about in leadership isn’t any individual thing but how we continually support U.S. corn farmers, about 300,000 of them, and NCGA’s approximately 40,000 members. We spend every day trying to work for them, working for the grassroots and trying to improve their incomes. You have to do any and everything that you can for them.
“This year has been really challenging as I finished my year as chairman. It was challenging whether it was trying to get the farm programs for the future in place or working on trade- an incredibly important market for corn. It is vitally important that we not only ship out corn but also DDGS, ethanol and livestock like beef, pork and chicken. We have customers everywhere, and all of us in the United States is working to get exports moving. Hopefully, the Administration is going to be able to get that done fairly quickly now.”
Spurlock sees great things on the horizon for agriculture and strongly reinforces that NCGA will be working to ensure that farmers can enjoy that bright future.
“In the future, I think farmers should be looking at the great technology that is coming out. On the production side, they should be looking at what we are able to do. With each year that goes by, we see new technologies and seed out there in the fields.
“If there is a drought area and there is a problem, we think that we are going to have this major crop loss. But, with our new technology, we have leveled that out so that even with the problems we face, drought or others, we are able to keep producing. So, I see production continuing to be stable and continue to grow. If that comes to pass, we will be able to produce to meet any need in our country and around the world.
“I think that our grassroots on the ground need to know that we will continue at NCGA to do everything possible to improve their profitability. We know that their income has continued to drop over the past several years, and we continue to fight for them. We work tirelessly to try and get their profitability to a level that will allow them to continue farming and pass down their operations someday to future generations in American agriculture.”
Deeply appreciative of his time in leadership, Spurlock sees stepping up and volunteering as essential to the future of the industry because he truly believes in the ability to impact positive change.
“Your industry and your livelihood depend upon being able to go to your state. If it is your state level capital to deal with state issues that affect every one of us or if it to urban areas where your customers are, working in these areas is vital. Without our voice, urban America does not know what agriculture is.
“Start in your state and, then, with all of NCGA’s action teams and programs you have a chance to bring the grassroots to the national level. When you can get to DC and walk into the office of a legislator or regulator, they want to hear the farmers point of view and what you think. Voice your concerns, and you will get a lot done because, as you will see, your voice really counts.”
To listen to the full interview, click here.
CommonGround is a group of farmers connecting with consumers through conversations about science and research and personal stories about food and misinformation surrounding farming. Supported by the NCGA and state corn organizations.
The Soil Health Partnership (SHP) is a farmer-led initiative that fosters transformation in agriculture through improved soil health. Administered by NCGA the partnership has more than 220 working farms enrolled in 16 states. SHP’s mission is to utilize science and data to partner with farmers who are adopting conservation agricultural practices that improve the economic and environmental sustainability of the farm.
The Corn Utilization and Technology Conference (CUTC) is a biennial event happening this June. Learn more.