In The News

Jul 18, 2024

Qualifying Acres in the 40B Conservation Programs

Key Issues: Ethanol

Author: Krista Swanson

Scott Gerlt, PhD, ASA Chief Economist Krista Swanson, NCGA Lead Economist Katelyn Klawinsky, ASA Economics Intern   The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), passed in August 2022, created a sustainable aviation fuel tax credit. This tax credit, called 40B due to its section in the IRA, is in effect for 2023 and 2024. The 40B credit amount is based on the carbon intensity from a lifecycle analysis for the specific sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) obtaining the tax credit. As such, lower carbon intensity (CI) biofuels receive a larger tax credit than those with higher CI scores[i].   While SAF can be produced from many different feedstocks, both soybeans and corn are options that can be used at scale. One option to lower the CI of the SAF is for corn and soybean farmers to implement specific conservation practices. Unfortunately, the requirements in 40B for conservation bundling severely limit the ability of producers to provide additional carbon intensity benefits to the 40B program....

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Apr 30, 2024

NCGA Economic Update 2024: 2Q

Author: Krista Swanson

The United States is a global leader in corn production, producing a record 15.3 billion bushels of corn on 94.6 million planted acres in 2023.    Founded in 1957, the National Corn Growers Association represents nearly 40,000 dues-paying corn growers and the interests of more than 300,000 farmers who contribute through corn checkoff programs in their states. NCGA and its 50 affiliated state associations and checkoff organizations work together to help protect and advance corn growers’ interests.    NCGA Quarterly Economic Report 2024: 2Q (pdf)  

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Apr 8, 2024

Corn Demand Takes a Hit in EPA’s New Tailpipe Rule

Author: Krista Swanson

Motor gasoline use is expected to decline in the future even under a baseline case, but new tailpipe emissions rules really put the pedal to the metal – rapidly accelerating that process. This would be a major shock on demand for corn used to produce ethanol spurring potentially devastating impacts on farmers and the rural economy.       The New Tailpipe Emissions Rule The Environmental Protection Agency recently released its final rule for multi-pollutant emissions standards for model years 2027 and later light-duty and medium-duty vehicles with heavy reliance on the use of electric vehicles. The ruling dictates that sales of non-electric vehicles will drop from over 92% of new vehicle sales in 2023[i] to under 30% of new vehicle sales in 2032. In the EPA central scenario, that translates to a 6.9-billion-gallon reduction in motor gasoline use in 2032, a 5.7% decline from the baseline projection for that year. Motor gasoline use is expected to decline in the baseline, but...

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Mar 27, 2024

EP. 45 - Meet the Newly-Crowned King of the Corn Yield Contest Nitrogen Management Class, with Nick Preissler and Jim Isermann

Key Issues: YIELD CONTEST WINNERS

Author: Dusty Weis

Growers who limited their nitrogen application still achieved incredible results.   Now entering its 60th year, the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) Corn Yield Contest is an institution in the agriculture world.   Growers from all across the country can compete against one another to see who can coax the most bushels per acre out of their ground, blending tried-and-true techniques with new and emerging practices to maximize their production.   Last year, NCGA launched a new pilot class for the contest, the first in its history to limit an input in the hunt for high corn yields.   So in this episode of the Cobcast, we're discussing the Nitrogen Management Pilot Class of the Corn Yield Contest with Nick Preissler, the first-ever winner of the class, and Jim Isermann, an agronomist working with the NCGA to design rules for the class.   Together we'll discuss the impetus behind the development of the class, the challenges and opportunities it presents and the specific...

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Feb 16, 2024

Breaking Down 5 Projections in the USDA 2024 Corn Outlook

Key Issues: Production

Author: Krista Swanson

USDA released the Grains and Oilseeds Outlook this week providing an initial look at the 2024/25 marketing year projections that include lower production, greater domestic use, increased exports, and higher ending stocks as compared to the current 2023/24 market years. The following is a summary and some additional context for five projections from the latest outlook.   Yield Corn yield is projected at 181 bushels per acre. Yield projections depend on the modeling approach and time series used. While a 3.7 bushel per acre increase over the 2023 record 177.3 bushels per acre may seem like a stretch, a regression on annual yields from 2023 to several different historical points including 1934, 1980, and 1996 all predict 2024 yields within about one bushel of the USDA projection.   Trendline yields are a reasonable expectation at this point. Adverse weather is generally thought to have a negative impact on yields but in 2023 a record yield was achieved in a year with widespread...

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Feb 9, 2024

Climate, Conflict, & Currency Impact Cost Competitiveness for U.S. Corn Exports

Key Issues: Trade

Author: Krista Swanson

A combination of climate, conflict, and currency values are factors in cost competitiveness that impacts transits and overall U.S. corn exports.   Climate Climate conditions brought widespread drought to the United States Corn Belt in 2023. Dry conditions in the Mississippi River basin led to record low water levels. As a result, barge weight and traffic restrictions were imposed, and the 7.7 million tons of corn moved by barge on the Mississippi River in 2023 was 30% lower than 2022 and 54% lower than 2021. Ultimately, the cost of added time and weight restrictions were factors contributing to a higher corn price at port but also meant pace of getting grain to the port was slowed.   Climate-induced waterway challenges for U.S. corn don’t end at the Gulf. Extreme drought has forced substantial scaleback of shipping through the Panama Canal, a key global maritime channel. The Panama Canal Authority (ACP) has reduced traffic to 24 ships a day, about two-thirds of the normal...

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Jan 17, 2024

EP. 44 - Ethanol’s Past, Present and Future as a Benefit for Corn, with Scott Irwin, Bradley Schad and Julie Busse

Key Issues: EthanolHigh-Octane Low-Carbon

Author: Dusty Weis

How the Renewable Fuel Standard has changed the corn industry, and what’s on the horizon for this key sector.   Since its adoption in 2005, no other piece of policy has changed the corn industry more than the Renewable Fuel Standard. Ethanol has become one of the most important markets for corn in that time.   But over the last couple of years, there are new developments that could be major boon for this crucial sector.   So in this episode, we're going to talk with a few ethanol experts to get their perspectives on how that market has developed, where it's at today, and where they’re hoping it will go in the future.   Joining us are agricultural economist Scott Irwin from the University of Illinois; Julie Busse, a member of the National Corn Growers Association ethanol team; and Bradley Schad, the CEO of the Missouri Corn Merchandising Council and Missouri Corn Growers Association.   They’ll provide some important context about ethanol’s history as a fuel, and also tell...

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Dec 1, 2023

Drought & River Transport Impact on Corn Competitiveness

Key Issues: TradeTransportation and Infrastructure

Author: Krista Swanson

For the second year in a row, drought conditions are impacting transportation on the Mississippi River at the peak shipment point of the year. Shallower river levels mean barge weight restrictions, slower barge traffic, and higher costs to ship commodities on the river. Ultimately, this translates to a relatively lower price at the farmgate and higher cost for the world buyer.   Drought Slows Grain Barge Traffic in 2022 and 2023 The Mississippi River is an important channel for commodity transportation. The USDA reports the final mode of transport was barge for 13% of U.S. grains in 2020, and 46% of exported U.S. grains[i]. There are normally two peaks in grain barge movements, one in late summer leading up to the end of the marketing year for corn and soybeans, and the other emerging in the fall harvest season and into the post-harvest months.   The impact of low water levels on grain barge movements was notable in 2023, marking the second consecutive year of drought...

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May 22, 2023

EP. 43 - The First Step is Giving a Darn: Mental Health on the Farm, with Jeff Ditzenberger and Dr. Josie Rudolphi

Author: Dusty Weis

In honor of Mental Health Month, we talk with a former grower who uses his past struggles with suicide to help others today.   The suicide rate among farmers is three and a half times higher than the general population. It’s a shocking statistic.   We’re losing good people, but we don’t have to.   From weather to markets, to prices, to the issues that come with a family business, farmers face a number of stressors that are unique to their occupation. And in rural America, suicide rates increased 46% from 2000-2020, compared to 27.3% in metro areas, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.   So one of the National Corn Growers Association action teams is working with partners across the industry to spread the message that saying something could mean everything. In this episode, two of those partners share their stories and their expertise.   Jeff Ditzenberger is a former grower from southern Wisconsin who uses his past struggles with suicide to help...

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Mar 28, 2023

EP. 42 - Bank Failures and the Rural Economy, with NCGA Lead Economist Krista Swanson

Author: Dusty Weis

Instability at some high-profile financial institutions is on growers' minds. Should we be worried?   The Silicon Valley Bank collapse, and the sudden perception that there’s instability in the banking system, has a lot of us thinking back to 2008 and the financial crisis that spurred the Great Recession.   And, whether it’s the war in Ukraine, lingering supply-side issues from COVID-19, or high-interest rates, we are all feeling the effects of the world economy a little more acutely this year.   So are we staring down another financial crisis, or just feeling a little economic speed bump?   For some perspectives on those questions, and what it means for corn growers, we’re joined in this episode by Krista Swanson, the National Corn Growers Association’s lead economist.   She provides some much-needed context, and an informed take on what the farm economy might have in store for us over the next few years.     Direct Share Link: 

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For media inquiries contact Bryan Goodman, goodman@ncga.com