Iowa Governor Terry Branstad will be attending with several Iowa livestock producers, farmers and renewable fuels leaders. Branstad fears the EPA proposal could lead to another farm crisis. “I was governor during the farm crisis of the ‘80s when land values dropped 63 percent,” he said during a conference call on Wednesday. “I know what can happen when you have an agriculture depression, and we don’t want to go back and revisit that.” Comments on RFS Proposal Negative Impacts
National Turkey Federation president Joel Brandenberger will testify in favor of reducing biofuels requirements under the RFS citing “the forced diversion of corn to ethanol that reduced the available share of the feed supply for poultry and livestock from 55 percent to just less than 41 percent of the corn supply, causing market volatility and higher feed prices.” The turkey producers and the National Chicken Council will continue to work toward legislation in Congress to reform or repeal the RFS.
The hearing is scheduled to begin at 9:00 am Eastern time and “end when all parties present who wish to speak have had the opportunity to do so.” Domestic Fuel/AgWired reporter John Davis will be there to provide coverage here.
An alliance of organizations supporting biotech crops has named a leader to help “spearhead collaborative efforts to improve the environment for technology innovation and the market for U.S. crops produced through modern biotechnology.”
Dr. Michael J. Phillips has been selected as the first secretariat for the U.S. Biotech Crops Alliance (USBCA), which was established by several organizations under a memorandum of understanding signed in 2012. The USBCA has been developing and working to “implement consensus positions on key policy issues designed to improve the introduction, stewardship, domestic and international regulatory policy, and distribution in U.S. and export markets of commodities and processed products containing or derived from modern biotechnology.”
In his capacity as secretariat, Phillips will be the focal point of the group’s efforts to further advance the reach, work and wide range of activities being pursued under the expanding broad-based national initiative that currently consists of 11 influential national organizations representing U.S. biotechnology providers; seed, grain and oilseed producers; grain handlers, feed manufacturers, grain processors and millers; exporters; and other end-users. The secretariat also will serve a key role in helping develop and implement consensus positions on specific policy issues.
Phillips is president of MJ Phillips and Associates LLC, an agricultural consulting firm that specializes in agricultural biotechnology issues, and prior to that was vice president for science and regulatory policy for food and agriculture at the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO).
Pam had a seat at the global roundtable in 2010 and she was pleased to reconnect with some of her fellow alumni during the symposium. “There were 20 of us from all over the world,” she said. “We’re all still working and engaged in agriculture in some way to be a leader and to explain why it is biotechnology is so important as a tool for food security.”
Pam was also very pleased with the focus on agricultural biotechnology at World Food Prize this year with the winners all being scientists who have pioneered its development. “Biotechnology is size neutral, it’s good for everyone,” she said, adding that World Food Prize is a great place “for the personal stories and the truth to get out.” Interview with NCGA Chair Pam Johnson
Iowa farmer Pam Johnson, who spoke alongside international notables including former United Kingdom Prime Minister Tony Blair, President of World Bank Jim Kim, U.S. Special Envoy for Climate Change Todd Stern and many others, brought the story of American corn farmers to the panel. In her remarks, she stressed the scientific and technological advances agriculture uses to increasing demands and an ever-changing environment.
“Modern agriculture isn’t the problem; it’s the solution,” Johnson explained. “We are producing more grain on limited arable acres.”
“Perhaps more than any other sector of the economy, farmers are dependent upon the weather and must find ways to adapt to changes to remain productive,” Johnson said. “The good news is that technology advancements in agriculture are helping farmers become more resilient in the face of volatile weather while also significantly decreasing greenhouse gas emissions.”
In its fifth year, Climate Week NYC provides a global summit for government, business and thought leaders to drive innovation, build coalitions and deliver practical solutions.
Communications directors of three major grain grower organizations in the United States were among those attending the IFAJ 2013 Congress in Argentina this week. It was the first time for Mindy Williamson with the Iowa Corn Promotion Board, Marri Carrow with U.S. Grains Council, and National Corn Growers Association Communications Director Ken Colombini to attend the international meeting of agricultural journalists.
On Thursday, following the conclusion of the IFAJ meeting, Mindy says the three of them had some Maizall meetings of their own set up in Argentina. “We actually have some meetings at the U.S. embassy,” she said. “We’re meeting with Argentina and Brazil.”Interview with Mindy Williamson, Iowa Corn
The National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) president Pam Johnson of Iowa and First Vice President Martin Barbre in his home state of Illinois were visiting with farmers and the media at the Farm Progress Show this week.
The farm bill is still a big concern for the corn growers and Pam says they are “not waiting very patiently anymore” for Congress to get the job done. They are strongly encouraging all members to contact their representatives during this August recess and urge them to make some real progress during the few days they are in session during September.
When it comes to membership, NCGA is now over 40,000 strong, which is a lot of voices that can make a big difference. “Our association has shown membership growth every year for the past 15 years,” Martin said. “Makes us feel like we’re really doing our job, really promoting the policy that the members create and making it happen.”
Pam and Martin also talk about the Renewable Fuel Standard, trade, WRDA and biotechnology in the interview and press conference below.
An organization uniting corn growers of North and South America has elected officers and unveiled a new website.
The International Maize Alliance (MAIZALL) was formed in May between the corn industries of the United States, Brazil and Argentina with the goal of addressing key issues concerning food security, biotechnology, stewardship, trade and producer image. MAIZALL is composed of MAIZAR, representing Argentina producers and the maize supply chain; ABRAMILHO (Brazilian Association of Corn Producers); the National Corn Growers Association, and the U.S. Grains Council.
Newly elected officers of MAIZALL are Julius Schaaf (United States), President; Sérgio Luis Bortolozzo (Brazil), 1st Vice President; Alberto Morelli (Argentina), 2nd Vice President. The MAIZALL board of directors is composed of three directors each from Argentina, Brazil, and the United States.
MAIZALL also announced its public website at www.maizall.org. The website will provide background information on MAIZALL, including the memorandum of understanding between the organizations; its Board of Directors and the major objectives.
This inaugural event was held at one of the world’s most iconic dirt tracks, Eldora Speedway in Ohio. The race, which was the first NASCAR-sanctioned national event held on a dirt track since 1970, brought American Ethanol to the forefront as Dillon finished in front in the No. 39 American Ethanol Chevrolet truck.
“There was a lot of excitement in the NASCAR community about this historic race,” said National Corn Growers Association NASCAR Committee Chair Jon Holzfaster. “Dillon’s win elevated the coverage of American Ethanol and provided an unprecedented opportunity to highlight how ethanol fuels champions on the track while providing consumers real savings at the pump.”
Dillon detailed his journey from Chicago to Ohio, and the role ethanol played, in a blog, providing a look at how flex fuel vehicles, E85 and E15 can help consumers save money as gas prices rise faster than the summer temperatures.
Dillon will race next in the NASCAR Nationwide Series™ race to be held in Indiana this Saturday followed by an appearance in the Sprint Cup Series™ race on Sunday. American Ethanol will be on site promoting the benefits of the biofuel all weekend. American Ethanol is a joint effort between NCGA, Growth Energy and other partners to promote the benefits of ethanol and E15.
The National Corn Growers Association is very supportive of the work of the Conservation Technology Information Council. That certainly makes sense as corn farmers have a strong desire to better manage their land in a sustainable way.
During the 2013 Conservation in Action Tour, Dan Cole, corn grower (left in photo) and member of the NCGA Production & Stewardship Action Team (PSAT), was on hand along with other growers to see the projects being worked on in the Indian Creek Watershed. NCGA sponsored the first tour stop at the Bachtold Farm which focused on soil health.
DuPont and the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) announced a new program to develop corn farmers for agricultural leadership opportunities. With more focus on food than ever, the NCGA DuPont New Leader Program will help to empower growers to share their story of their farms and the benefits of a robust agriculture system with key audiences, including consumers, media and decision-makers.
The NCGA DuPont New Leader Program will bring farmers from each affiliated state to two sessions to develop and hone their communications and leadership skills. The first session will be held in November at the DuPont Pioneer facilities in Johnston, Iowa. The second session will take place in Washington in July 2014. In between the two sessions, those farm couples involved will be encouraged to be actively participating and honing their skills in state and national programs.
Applications for the inaugural class will be available later this summer.
“We’re getting very close to deadlines again, so there’s 21 days left to act” before the current bill expires, said National Corn Growers Association president Pam Johnson of Iowa. “We want to know when the conferees will be named and what are the next steps to get this over the finish line.” The farm-only farm bill passed by the House last week was sent to the Senate yesterday.
In addition to farm policy, the corn growers will be talking today with members of Congress about the Renewable Fuel Standard, the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) and the role of biotech crops in trade talks with the European Union.
This morning, Pam presented Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack with NCGA’s annual President’s Award, which is given during the Corn Congress to a leader who has worked to advance issues important to corn growers and agriculture. “It was an easy choice for me to give the Secretary the award this year,” she said, noting that he has been a “tireless voice” to remind the 99% of the population who are not farmers of the importance of agriculture. “Secondly, he’s called those of us who do farm to step up to the plate and tell our story.”
Also this morning, NCGA delegates elected five farmers to serve on the organization’s Corn Board. Taking office on Oct. 1, the start of NCGA’s 2014 fiscal year, are new board members Kevin Ross of Iowa and Paul Taylor of Illinios. Current board members Rob Elliott of Illinois, Jon Holzfaster of Nebraska and Wesley Spurlock of Texas were re-elected. Chip Bowling from Maryland was ratified as first vice president starting on the same date.
However, during the debates, several legislators noted that the point of the farm bill is to feed Americans and this bill in fact does not achieve this goal. “What we have here is not a farm bill,” said Rep. David Scott, (D-GA). “You tell me how in the world we can have a farm bill and separate food and nutrition out from it. The American people don’t get that. When you think of farms and you think of agriculture, you mean to tell me it ain’t about food?”
Bob Stallman, the president of the American Farm Bureau Federation reacted with the statement that the organization looks forward to moving ahead with fundamental farm policy legislation. “While we don’t yet know what the next steps will be, we will be working with both sides of the aisle and both chambers of Congress to ensure passage of a new five-year farm bill.”
Stallman added, “While we were hopeful the farm bill would not be split, nor permanent law repealed, we will now focus our efforts on working with lawmakers to deliver a farm bill to the president’s desk for his signature by September.”
Chairman Collin Peterson (D-MN) stood in opposition to the bill – one that he began debates on in 2010. He noted that one reason was the move to split the nutrition and food stamps program from the bill. “It jeopardizes changes of the bill ever becoming law, and I think repealing permanent law all but ensures we’ll never write a farm bill again in this House.”
Collin is not alone in his opposition and pointed out that last week, 532 diverse organizations came out in opposition to the split. Continue reading →
“Agricultural producers succeed when industry and government work side-by-side,” NCGA President Pam Johnson said during her testimony. “It is critical that U.S. negotiators have an appreciation for how increasing exports translates into benefits for family farmers. The U.S. economy will not benefit from agriculture issues being placed on a ‘to do’ list. Now is the perfect time to eliminate long standing barriers to agricultural exports and promote policies that bring economic opportunity back to rural America.”
Johnson stressed the importance of dealing with trade barriers to genetically modified crops. “For NCGA members, the biggest challenge is the approval of corn and corn products that are derived through biotechnology,” she said. “Unjustified regulations are costing family farmers millions in lost sales to the EU and could result in even great losses of U.S. exports if they are adopted by other countries.”
The main point Johnson said the corn growers want to get across to USTR in these trade negotiations is – “nothing is agreed to until everything is agreed to.”
The main lecturer, Dr. Stephen Long, Professor of Plant Biology and Crop Sciences at the University of Illinois, said the demand for major crops is expected to rise 50 percent by 2030. He also emphasized that the use of commodities for energy as well as food and feed comes at a time when increases in yield are stagnating. However, he pointed out that new biotechnological approaches are providing opportunities to overcome these limitations, but that societal and policy acceptance of these opportunities is likely the greatest barrier.
“The continued use of biotechnology in agriculture is a key component to food security,” Johnson said. “However, we need to greatly improve the public’s acceptance of biotechnology. Agriculture needs to lead the conversation on this important topic and provide education on the advancements of the industry. Consumers should be able to make decisions based on science and facts, not fearmongering.”
The Charles Valentine Riley Memorial Lecture at AAAS is in honor of Professor Riley’s legacy as a “whole picture” person with a vision for enhancing agriculture through scientific knowledge. The AAAS Riley Lecture addresses timely topics such as the role food, agriculture and natural resources play in providing a secure food supply and a sustainable economy.
To help corn farmers understand water issues and ways to enhance water quality on their farms, the National Corn Growers Association has added a video and an interactive educational module to its online learning tools concerning water quality management.
The video, titled “Driving Change,” showcases NCGA members describing the practices they are implementing to enhance water quality on their farms and in their area. The 30-minute NCGA Water Issues Learning Module was developed to help farmers better understand water quality issues and best practices.
Both tools reveal the major benefits in using best management practices, and stress the importance of becoming knowledgeable about issues related to water quality and use at local, state and regional levels. They also help farmers learn regulatory requirements and understand key elements of the Clean Water Act.
The defeat of a five year farm bill in the House of Representatives was unexpected and disappointing to agricultural organizations looking forward to getting some certainty for the future after last year’s drawn out battle that ultimately ended in a one year extension of the 2008 bill.
“The American Farm Bureau Federation is highly disappointed the House did not complete work on the 2013 farm bill,” said American Farm Bureau Federation president Bob Stallman in a statement. “It was a balanced bill that would have provided much needed risk management tools and a viable economic safety net for America’s farmers and ranchers.”
National Corn Growers Association President Pam Johnson said they are not just highly but “extremely” disappointed to see the House fail to pass the bill. “Up to the last minute our organization has actively and consistently called for passage of the legislation,” she said. “We will be engaged in all efforts needed to secure passage in the House and bring the bill to Conference.”
National Farmers Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson issued a statement saying they are “deeply” disappointed, adding that “With today’s failure to pass a farm bill, the House has let down rural America.”
American Soybean Association President Danny Murphy voiced not only extreme disappointment but frustration as well. “Today’s failure leaves the entire food and agriculture sector in the lurch. Once again, the nation’s soybean farmers and the 23 million Americans whose jobs depend on agriculture are left holding the bag.”
Even the cattlemen are disappointed. “This failure by the House places cattlemen and women behind the curve on having agriculture policy which not only provides certainty for producers nationwide, but also incorporates priorities important to the cattle industry,” says National Cattlemen’s Beef Association president Scott George. “This was not a perfect bill for any industry, but in the end cattlemen and women made sacrifices in order to support this bill. We expected members of the House to do the same.”
As to what happens now, no one really knows, but there are several options. The House could go back to committee and try again, which Rep. Frank Lucas is likely not excited about. They could go to conference with the Senate and try to negotiate with nothing as happened when the House failed to pass a transportation bill last year. Otherwise, they have to approve yet another extension unless they want to revert back to so-called “permanent” 1949 farm law. We’ve never done that, but that threat is always there.
“I am honored that my colleagues on the board have placed their trust in my ability and dedication to moving our association’s mission forward and creating greater opportunities for corn growers across the country,” said Bowling. “At the same time, I realize that farmers face many challenges right now as threats to the Renewable Fuel Standard abound and we continue operating without a new, five-year farm bill. I look forward to working with our grower leadership over the coming years to find innovative, impactful ways to deal with the situations at hand and those which will certainly arise in the future.”
A farmer for more than three decades, Bowling is a third-generation farmer who operates a 1,400-acre grain farm growing corn, soybean, wheat, barley and grain sorghum only an hour’s drive outside of Washington, D.C.
A graduate of NCGA’s first Advanced Leadership Academy class, Bowling currently serves as board liaison to the Ethanol Committee and represents NCGA on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Farm, Ranch and Rural Communities Committee. He has also served on NCGA’s CornPAC Committee and Mycotoxin Task Force.
On Oct. 1, Johnson, of Iowa, becomes chairwoman and the current first vice president, Martin Barbre of Illinois, becomes NCGA president. In October 2014, Barbre becomes chairman and Bowling becomes president.
“America’s farmers greatly appreciate the leadership and bipartisan efforts by the Senate to complete their work on the farm bill,” said National Corn Growers Association President Pam Johnson. “We also recognize the efforts put forth to address regional concerns to ensure all areas of the country are adequately represented in the final language.”
“We appreciate the Senate’s decision to protect and strengthen the federal crop insurance program and not reduce its funding, as well as the approval of a commodity program that provides farmers varied safety net options,” said American Farm Bureau Federation president Bob Stallman. “This approach to farm policy will encourage farmers to follow market signals rather than basing planting decisions on anticipation of government farm benefits. Most importantly, the program will be viable because the Senate stood firm on a budget savings level of $24 billion.”
National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) President Scott George of Wyoming says while there is not a livestock title, the bill incorporates priorities important to the cattle industry such as conservation and research. “We are also pleased that disaster assistance programs are included in this legislation which is a positive step toward providing a strong safety net for our producers,” said George.
Suffice it to say everybody is pretty happy about it, except maybe Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS) who was one of the 27 who voted against the bill. The full House is expected to take up its version of a farm bill next week.
For the fifth year in a row, policymakers in our nation’s capital are learning about the U.S. family farmers who produce corn, our nation’s top crop, as part of the Corn Farmers Coalition program. Once again, the program, which is sponsored by the National Corn Growers Association and its state affiliates, showcases how innovative and high-tech corn farmers have become by introducing a foundation of facts about farmers and farming.
“This has always been a crucial time of year in Washington to make sure our lawmakers and those who influence them remember the importance of corn farming to our nation and our economy,” said Pam Johnson, NCGA president and a corn grower in Iowa. “Our state corn checkoff programs have seen the importance of this program each year for educating a very important audience about this essential crop and its high value.”
The Corn Farmers Coalition program launched June 1 with a major advertising presence in Washington that puts prominent facts about family farmers in front of thousands on Capitol Hill, starting with “station domination” at Union Station through the month of June. The large-format ads will travel to the Capitol South Metro station for July. In addition, online advertising will appear in publications such as Politico, Washington Post, the New York Times, Roll Call, National Journal, and Congressional Quarterly.