NEWS STORIES

CONSERVATION

It’s National Pollinator Week; Take a Bee to Lunch

(Posted Mon. Jun 18th, 2018)

Keywords: conservation

  No seriously, if you care about pollinators like honey bees and Monarch Butterflies a great way to help them prosper, and help our food production system in the process, is to plant things they like to eat or use for habitat. As owners and managers of large amounts of land, farmers are stepping up to do their part.   More than a decade ago the U.S. Senate’s unanimous approval and designation of a week in June as “National Pollinator Week” marked a necessary step toward addressing the urgent issue of declining pollinator populations. Pollinator Week has now grown into an international celebration of the valuable ecosystem services provided by bees, birds, butterflies, bats and beetles.   Today kicks off the official 2018 Pollinator week which has been designated as June 18-24, and farmers interests in helping pollinators continue to grow. It’s estimated that pollinators provide us with one out of every three bites of food. They also sustain our ecosystems and produce our...

NPR Showcases the Benefits of the Burgeoning Soil Health Movement

(Posted Mon. Apr 23rd, 2018)

Keywords: Conservation

Don’t think dirt is beautiful? You don’t know Deb Gangwish. She has a thing for soil and openly espoused her infatuation recently in an interview on National Public Radio (NPR). And Del Ficke, another Nebraska farmer, understands her crush completely.   Gangwish, who serves on the National Corn Growers Association Freedom to Operate Action Team, is part of a growing legion of farmers at the forefront of a swelling soil health movement. And this movement is turning the historic soil management “evolution” into more of a “revolution” because of the momentum and accelerated change.   “For years, talk of "healthy soil" was mostly limited to organic farmers and others on the fringes of mainstream American agriculture. No more. Articles about soil health fill major farm publications. It's the subject of several recent books. Big food companies are on board, and some of them are discussing a new eco-label for food, alongside "organic" and "fair trade," that would reward farmers for...

NCGA Encourages Participation in Updated Pollinator Initiative

(Posted Tue. Mar 13th, 2018)

Keywords: Conservation

Corn farmers and Midwest landowners who want to help honey bees and Monarch butterflies have a unique opportunity to do this in a strategic fashion through The Bee & Butterfly Habitat Fund’s SEED A LEGACY Pollinator Habitat Program, which is being supported by the National Corn Growers Association.   The updated program, expanded in 2018 to include 11 states, seeks partnerships between landowners and beekeepers to provide cost-effective, high-quality pollinator habitat to ensure honey bee and Monarch butterfly populations thrive.   Applications for each state are being accepted online at BeeAndButterflyFund.org/habitat-programs through March 31, 2018 for spring planting. A second application period will open later in 2018 for projects to be planted in the fall.   Native pollinators, honey bees and Monarch butterflies have experienced population declines over the last two decades. The Habitat Fund offers a way for farmers to incorporate the latest innovation and technology...

Soil Health Partnership Builds One of Largest U.S. Databases of Soil Health Sample Info from Working Farms

(Posted Mon. Mar 12th, 2018)

Keywords: Conservation Sustainability

The seeds of good data have been planted—and the Soil Health Partnership is eager to harvest early results.   The organization’s team is currently preparing for another round of robust soil sampling, a critical part of identifying, testing and measuring farm management practices that improve sustainability through soil health. An initiative of the National Corn Growers Association, the program’s goal is to quantify the benefits of these practices–like growing cover crops in the off-season and reducing tillage—from an economic standpoint, showing farmers how healthy soil benefits their bottom line.   “We have spent the first few years carefully constructing the infrastructure within our program to make sure that we have scientifically credible data,” said Nick Goeser, NCGA Vice President of Production and Sustainability. “We are now beginning to make early sense of the scope and scale of the dataset collected over last 3 and a half years – and we are eagerly anticipating the...

Kansas Farm Family Showcases New Sustainability Ethic on the Farm

(Posted Thu. Mar 1st, 2018)

Keywords: conservation sustainability

A Kansas farm family’s soil-friendly, progressive farming practices and contributions to sustainable crop production earned them national notoriety as they were presented with the National Corn Growers Association’s 2018 Good Steward Recognition. Randy and Nicole Small of Neodesha, Kansas received the Good Steward designation at the Commodity Classic convention and trade show in Anaheim, CA. The program and recognition funding is provided by the Howard G. Buffett Foundation as part of their Harvesting the Potential campaign to raise awareness among U.S. farmers of the importance of conservation agriculture. “NCGA is known for taking the lead on many issues in the policy arena that effect our members, but we also work constantly to promote positive change and improvements in how we farm,” said Kevin Skunes, NCGA president from Arthur, North Dakota. “The Small family has a long history of enhancing the farm's soil and natural resources spanning several generations. They provide a...

(Posted Thu. Feb 22nd, 2018)

Keywords: sustainability conservation

As interest grows in soil health and its potential to optimize farming, the Soil Health Partnership has developed a new tool to immerse the inquisitive. Partnering with StoryUP, the nonprofit ag group has produced a “virtual reality” video that will allow viewers to visit a farm enrolled in SHP and experience a Virtual Field Day.   "One of our most powerful assets is our enrolled farmers sharing their stories and knowledge with others," said NCGA Vice President of Production and Sustainability, Nick Goeser. "This video format allows viewers to transport themselves to a farm and learn from the farmer as if they are standing right there with him at a field day. We are all about innovation, and that spirit extends to our communications program."   Virtual reality is 360-degree, 3D video or computer-generated environments viewed with special goggles where the user can see in all directions.   After giving some attendees of the Soil Health Summit a preview in January, the SHP...

(Posted Thu. Jan 25th, 2018)

Keywords: Conservation

Family farmers face daily challenges from low prices to battling insect and weed pests but today they are digging deeper to find a new resiliency in their management tactics as they face weather extremes.  Heavier rainfall, more total rain, changing growing seasons, warmer night-time temperatures, shifting frost dates, and higher total CO2 levels frame the climate puzzle.   The National Corn Growers Association’s Climate Task Force is working to better understand these developments and conducted its third meeting this week in Chicago. However, the meetings follow months of study and engagement to have a clearer picture of emerging agronomic challenges.   “Attaining profitability and sustainability in tandem are key goals for corn farmers. Changes in climate patterns have short- and long-term implications for farmers who provide feed, food and fuel for the world,” said Keith Alverson, chairman of the Climate Task Force. “This producer-led, multi-disciplinary team is charged with...

(Posted Tue. Jan 23rd, 2018)

Keywords: Conservation Sustainability

Innovators. Educators. Communicators. Those are just some of the words used to describe the four recipients of the newly inaugurated “Seeds of Change Awards” at the 2018 Soil Health Partnership Summit, Jan. 18-19 in Chicago. These awards were developed to highlight those members of the Soil Health Partnership who go above and beyond to advocate for the partnership and for soil health throughout the year.     “The Soil Health Partnership could not exist without the willingness and enthusiasm of our partners—especially the farmers and agronomists on the front lines of our research,” said Nick Goeser, director of the Soil Health Partnership. “These four individuals exemplify the very best of our dedicated partners, and we look forward to honoring others as the research continues and our partnership expands.”   The four award recipients are:   Super Spout: Andrew Reuschel, Golden, Illinois. Andrew is a first-year member of the partnership who is passionate about soil health,...

Missouri Farms Join Soil Health Partnership, Embracing Next Frontier in Agriculture

(Posted Wed. Sep 6th, 2017)

Keywords: Conservation

Six Missouri farms have joined the Soil Health Partnership, a move that could hasten the adoption of agricultural practices linked to optimizing crop production and sustainability alike in the Show-Me State.    Often called the next frontier in agriculture, research shows the benefits of nurturing soil health include improved crop yield, enhanced water quality, increased drought resilience, better flood resistance, and decreased greenhouse gas emissions. Key practices to improve soil health include reduced tillage, the use of cover crops in winter, and advanced nutrient management.   “The missing link has been data that show these practices can provide a significant economic benefit on real, working farms, in addition to positive environmental outcomes, “said Darrick Steen, director of environmental programs for the Missouri Corn Merchandising Council and Missouri Soybean Merchandising Council. Both organizations support the program and helped bring it to the state. “The SHP is...

(Posted Fri. Aug 11th, 2017)

Keywords: Conservation

What will improve soil health to make farmland more productive, efficient and sustainable for the next generation, and how does it impact the business side? Get the scoop from area farmers and other experts at a field day across Illinois throughout August, including:   Aug. 15: Oglesby, Ill. John Hochstatter Cover Crop Meeting Aug. 16: Monticello, Ill. Lieb Farms Soil Health Meeting Aug. 22: Decatur, Ill. Dave and Chase Brown Soil Health Meeting Aug. 23: Newark, Ill. Brad Scalf Soil Health Meeting Sept. 5: Rutland, Ill. Kirk Kimble Water Quality Site Field Day Sept. 8: Vermillion County, Ill. Tom Kentner Soil Health Field Day   The Soil Health Partnership, partnering with other organizations, will host the events alongside local farmers.  The meetings will include in-depth discussions on soil health and cover crops. The field day events include topics like:   Advice on cover crop management for beginning and advanced users Local farmers discussing soil health...

(Posted Wed. Aug 9th, 2017)

Keywords: Conservation

The Soil Health Partnership has endorsed a set of 19 soil health measurements, encouraging the agriculture industry to quickly adopt them. Once widely adopted, the indicators are expected to help farming become more sustainable and precise in areas such as nutrient management.   Research shows that the benefits of improving soil health include: Improved crop yield, enhanced water quality, increased drought resilience and flood resistance, and decreased greenhouse gas emissions.   After three years of collaboration with scientific and agricultural partners, the Soil Health Institute announced its endorsement of the “Tier 1” national soil health measurements earlier this week. Examples of the specific Tier 1 measures include organic carbon, pH, and available water holding capacity. A complete list of all 19 endorsed soil health measurements is available at the Institute’s website.   “We recognize the vigorous scientific collaboration that went into the development of this list...

(Posted Tue. Jun 27th, 2017)

Keywords: Conservation

When it comes to caring for farmland and adopting the next generation of farming practices, there cannot be enough sharing. That’s the philosophy of the Soil Health Partnership, hosting its fourth year of field days this summer and fall within its network of more than 100 farms.   At the field days, Midwestern farmers can learn how changing nutrient management and tillage strategies, along with cover crop adoption, can make farmland more productive, efficient and sustainable.   Some events are open for registration in Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and Nebraska. The organization plans about 70 field days throughout the summer and fall, with more events yet to be scheduled in those states, plus additional events in Missouri, Minnesota and Wisconsin.   “Whether you are brand new to the topics covered during a field walk, field day or round table discussion, or you are a seasoned soil health veteran, you can learn valuable information that will help your business,” said Nick...

(Posted Thu. Jun 22nd, 2017)

Keywords: Conservation

Eight years ago, the U.S. Senate approved designating a week each June as Pollinator Week. June 19-25, is the official week in 2017. In the wake of that decision, many positive steps have been taken to help pollinators from Monarch butterflies to honey bees, and the National Corn Growers Association is proud to be part of these efforts.   Corn does not require pollination by honey bees, but NCGA recognizes the integral role they play in a productive agriculture system. Some of your favorite foods such as berries, apples, oranges and almonds, depend on pollinators. That’s why NCGA works collaboratively with the Honey Bee Health Coalition seeking a menu of solutions to the challenges bees face.   Honey bees and pollinators work throughout the year to support the food and products we count on every day. Pollinator Week is an opportunity to highlight everything honey bees make possible — including billions of dollars in North American agriculture. Coalition members are doing their...

(Posted Tue. Jun 20th, 2017)

Keywords: conservation water quality

Wetlands are among the most productive ecosystems in the world, comparable to rainforest and coral reefs. Now, modern agriculture is trying to capture some of nature’s wetland magic as a means to manage nutrients on the farm.   State and national corn organizations’ staff that work on water quality issues recently toured the Franklin Research & Demonstration Farm near Lexington, Illinois, to learn more about how research into “constructed wetlands” might provide another serious tool to help farmers manage nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorous.   The tour provided an educational opportunity for staff of the National Corn Growers Association and state corn staff representing Illinois, Colorado, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska and Ohio who met in Bloomington, Illinois, to discuss initiatives to promote voluntary nutrient-management programs.   A constructed wetland is a man-made wetland that acts as a treatment system that uses natural...

(Posted Thu. Jun 15th, 2017)

Keywords: Conservation

Farmers’ continuous commitment to adopting more sustainable agricultural practices is reaping significant benefits such as healthier soil and cleaner water. But, despite these successes, there is more work ahead to juggle the science and economic factors that must be blended and balanced as the speed of change increases.   Finding the best path and striking that balance is the central theme of a water quality and ag nutrient meeting being held in Bloomington, Illinois this week. The meeting brings together National Corn Growers Association staff and state corn staff representing Illinois, Colorado, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska and Ohio.   The nuts and bolts portion of the meeting covered topics such as: assessing current water quality initiatives; costs and benefits of current practices; educating key thought leaders and the public; and farm bill proposals.   One reoccurring theme was finding ways to keep farmers focused and motivated to...

(Posted Thu. May 18th, 2017)

Keywords: Conservation

Agricultural and conservation leaders are amplifying the drum beat on the importance of soil health in 21st Century land management. The National Corn Growers Association showed its support for this effort today, participating in the Soil Health Institute’s unveiling of its new Soil Health Action Plan in Washington, D.C.   Speakers at the event said soil health must emerge as the cornerstone of land use management decisions, in part due to increased extreme weather events, the growing population, and the decrease in arable farmland.   Keith Alverson, a sixth-generation farmer near Chester, South Dakota, who serves as a member of the Corn Board of the National Corn Growers Association served on the panel at the event. He noted he participated because of his personal commitment to healthy soil and to reflect NCGA’s commitment to soil health via its support of the Soil Health Partnership.   Healthy soil prevents erosion, is more resilient to flooding and drought, and more...

(Posted Wed. Mar 22nd, 2017)

Keywords: Conservation

World Water Day is March 22, a good time to recognize the strides farmers are making to adopt practices that enhance water quality for everyone.   I’m a sixth-generation family farmer. My wife, Sara, and I grow corn, soybeans, alfalfa and run a 140-head cow/calf operation. We grow corn almost exclusively using no-till methods, and hope to someday pass the farm on to our four young sons. We also began seeding a variety of cover crops on some of our acres several years ago. They prevent soil erosion, take up leftover nitrogen and phosphorus in the field, and provide additional forage for my livestock.   Our farm is one of about 25 in Iowa enrolled in the Soil Health Partnership, an ambitious long-term, data-driven initiative of the National Corn Growers Association. This unique research effort hopes to show U.S. farmers how sustainability through soil health can also lead to increased profitability. Conservation practices can improve soil health, sequester or reduce greenhouse...

NCGA Spotlights Sustainability of U.S. Ag during International Climate Change Talks

(Posted Thu. Dec 3rd, 2015)

Keywords: Conservation

A delegation representing America’s corn farmers brought their perspective to meetings held in conjunction with the COP21 United Nations climate talks in Paris this week. Through presentations and panel discussions, the National Corn Growers Association shared U.S. corn farmers’ perspectives on a wide array of sustainability and environmental issues.   The event, hosted by Field to Market, Business for Social Responsibility and Pepsico, brought together notable dignitaries, including French Foreign Minister and COP21 President Laurent Fabius and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, included discussions on the value of public-private partnerships, reducing greenhouse gas emissions while increasing productivity and collaboration to achieve large scale change.   The international event brought corn farmers interests to the climate change talks on many levels. NCGA is a founding member of meeting organizer, Field to Market, which was represented by CEO Rod Snyder. NCGA...

(Posted Wed. Dec 2nd, 2015)

Keywords: Conservation

The Soil Health Partnership helps lead a soil health symposium this week, providing researchers, farmers and conservation professionals a forum to discuss successful innovations in agricultural sustainability. Hosted by the Soil and Water Conservation Society, the “Nutrient Management and Edge of Field Monitoring Conference” is underway Dec. 1 through 3 in Memphis, Tenn.   Speaking at the conference, agronomist and soil scientist Nick Goeser, SHP director, emphasized the importance of helping farmers adopt more precise nutrient management through standardized on-farm nitrogen trials.   “Farmers need to know and understand what they can do to improve nutrient use efficiency in their systems and the associated costs to change,” Goeser said. “We want them to consider on-farm testing of fertilizer rate, timing, source and location to make sure nutrients end up in the crop rather than the water supply.”   Goeser also emphasized that University and industry plot scale research has...

(Posted Tue. Dec 1st, 2015)

Keywords: Conservation

The Soil Health Partnership is commemorating World Soil Day by encouraging farmers to consider new ways to make their land healthier. World Soil Day, Dec. 5, celebrates the importance of soil as one of our most crucial natural resources.   “Soil health is critical to the future sustainability of our agricultural industry,” said Nick Goeser, SHP director. “We want to acknowledge this worldwide day by encouraging farmers at a local level to consider what steps they can take right now to improve their land. Small steps can go a long way toward big change.”   The Soil Health Partnership, an initiative of the National Corn Growers Association, has a list of 10 things you can do to improve your soil health:   Learn more about soil health and practical options to improve it in your area– like tillage, cover crops and efficient nutrient management. Get your soil tested annually and watch for trends. Check with your agronomist and soil testing laboratories for recommendations. Try...

(Posted Thu. Nov 19th, 2015)

Keywords: Conservation

The National Corn Growers Association and the Water Environment Research Foundation announced the completion of the Agricultural Best Management Practices Database today at the American Water Resources Association’s Annual Conference on Water Resources.   Along with other project sponsors, such as the United Soybean Board, this database was developed to create a centralized repository of agricultural best management practice performance studies related to water quality in agricultural areas.   “The goal of the database is to provide farmers, agricultural advisors, planners, and consultants with information that enables them to implement cost-effective water quality improvement solutions,” said NCGA Production and Stewardship Action Team Chair Brent Hostetler. “Currently, many conservation practices and pollutant reduction measures are being voluntarily adopted. However, until now, the effectiveness of various practices has been uncertain due to the limited availability of...

(Posted Tue. Nov 17th, 2015)

Keywords: Conservation

Steve Berger, a farmer from southeast Iowa, showed dramatic “before and after” pictures to a group of scientists to demonstrate how he keeps his farm’s soil in good shape.   “This soil has been to the gym, if you will,” he said, speaking at a special symposium this week as part of the Synergy in Science ASA, CSSA, SSSA International Annual Meeting in Minneapolis. “I’ve adopted practices on my farm that I believe will build healthy soil and protect water while maximizing my yields.”   A combination of no-till and growing cover crops like rye in winter has made his corn and soybean farm more resilient to weather extremes, such as drought and heavy rain.   The “Public Private Partnerships to Improve Soil Health and Agronomic Resiliency” symposium this week provided a forum to discuss how private agricultural companies, researchers and nonprofit organizations can work together to change the culture of farming to both adapt to weather extremes and become more...

(Posted Mon. Oct 26th, 2015)

Keywords: Conservation

Tim Smith remembers driving a Model G two-cylinder tractor to plow his family’s farm in North Central Iowa. Today, still farming that same land, he is a leader in adopting advanced agricultural practices to improve soil health. Doing so protects the water that ends up in the Gulf of Mexico.   In recognition of his commitment to adopting new practices and teaching others, Smith received the White House Champions of Change award today in Washington. The Soil Health Partnership and Iowa Soybean Association nominated Smith, who also is a member of the National Corn Growers Association and, in 2014, was NCGA’s inaugural Good Steward Recognition recipient.   “American agriculture is more advanced and efficient than ever, but making deeper changes in the business of farming will enable us do even better for long-term sustainability,” Smith said. “Losing precious soil is not sustainable. Farmers are becoming more aware of this and the impact it has.”   Smith farms near Eagle Grove,...

(Posted Fri. Oct 9th, 2015)

Keywords: Production Conservation

Today the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit stayed the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule nationwide, pending further review by the court.   Chip Bowling, president of the National Corn Growers Association and a farmer from Newburg, Maryland, issued the following statement:   “Today’s decision is great news for America’s farmers and ranchers. WOTUS was supposed to make things clearer for farmers about their responsibilities under the Clean Water Act. This rule is anything but clear. We are confident that the courts will eventually strike down EPA’s WOTUS rule altogether. The Army Corps of Engineers has already said the rule is not based on science or law and is unlikely to withstand a legal challenge.   “But court battles take months, if not years – and come at a considerable cost. There has to be a better way for us to work together on a rule that is successful and lawful. That’s why we are asking the Senate to step up...

(Posted Thu. Sep 17th, 2015)

Keywords: Conservation Sustainability

If engagement in field days this summer is any measure, farmer interest in protecting the well-being of their land through the use of cover crops and other practices is strong and growing.   The Soil Health Partnership wrapped up its summer field days promoting cropping systems that improve soil health. More than 20 events took place in Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Ohio and Nebraska. Farmers, conservation leaders, equipment companies and others demonstrated to attendees how changing conservation practices, such as adding cover crops, conservation tillage and improving nutrient use efficiency, can create lasting environmental benefits while potentially increasing farm productivity and income.   A field day in Lake Wilson, Minn., one of four events scheduled this week, had 55 participants. Nick Goeser, director of the Soil Health Partnership, says average participation in the events has at least doubled from what the organization saw last year.   “Grower engagement at...

(Posted Tue. Sep 8th, 2015)

Keywords: Conservation Production

The U.S. District Court for the District of North Dakota ruled last Friday that the preliminary injunction against the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to postpone implementation of the “Waters of the U.S.” rule applies only in the 13 states involved in this specific court case. Those states are Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Idaho, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming.    Chip Bowling, president of the National Corn Growers Association and a farmer from Newburg, Md., issued the following statement:   “We are disappointed with the North Dakota court decision. WOTUS is a national rule with national ramifications, and the injunction should be applied nationwide. In the initial ruling, the judge stated the rule was likely to cause ‘irreparable harm.’ We believe this would be true in all 50 states, not just the 13 states that filed this request.   “Regardless of whether the injunction...

(Posted Fri. Aug 28th, 2015)

Keywords: Production Conservation

Yesterday afternoon, the U.S. District Court for the District of North Dakota issued a preliminary injunction against the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, postponing implementation of the “Waters of the U.S.” (WOTUS) rule.   Chip Bowling, president of the National Corn Growers Association and a farmer from Newburg, Maryland, issued the following statement:   “We support the judge’s decision in North Dakota, which should give the courts and the public more time to figure out how to proceed with WOTUS. The Army Corps of Engineers has stated this rule is not based on science or law and is unlikely to withstand a legal challenge. When even the federal agencies responsible for this rule can’t agree on its constitutionality, it’s time for EPA to withdraw the rule and start this process over.   “It is EPA’s view that this injunction only applies to the 13 states that filed the request. We believe EPA is incorrect. It certainly wouldn’t be the...

(Posted Tue. May 26th, 2015)

Keywords: Farm Policy Conservation

The National Corn Growers Association reminds farmers to make sure they have a Highly Erodible Land Conservation and Wetland Conservation Certification form (AD-1026) on file with their local USDA service center by June 1, in order to be eligible for farm bill programs including crop insurance premium support.   USDA notes that most farmers already have an AD-1026 form on file. That’s because it’s required for participation in USDA programs such as marketing assistance loans, farm storage facility loans, and disaster assistance. Under the 2014 farm bill, the form is now required for farmers to receive support on their crop insurance premiums. Also new this year, everyone deemed having a “farming interest,” such as spouses, minor children, owners or other producers on the farm, must have an AD-1026 form on file.   Additionally, farmers who plan to conduct activities that may affect their highly erodible land conservation or wetlands conservation compliance, such as removing...

(Posted Mon. Apr 13th, 2015)

Keywords: Conservation

Last week, the National Corn Growers Association represented corn farmers’ interests during the Keystone Monarch Collaborative meeting held in ­­­­­­­­­­­­ St. Paul, Minn.  This meeting brought together farm organizations, farmers, government agencies, monarch researchers, companies in the agricultural supply chain and conservation organizations to discuss the need for more collaboration and public private partnership on monarch recovery and conservation efforts.   During the meeting, participants shared information about existing efforts underway, including research and monitoring. After identifying areas for immediate engagement for those already taking active measures, the group explored the usefulness of a more comprehensive planning process.   “NCGA came to the table for these discussions to learn about the type of conservation efforts recommended for farmers to improve the health of monarch populations,” said NCGA Director of Public Policy Ethan Mathews. “While our...

(Posted Mon. Nov 24th, 2014)

Keywords: Conservation

Four months into the creation of a presidential task force on pollinator health, the National Corn Growers Association has established itself as a leading voice for farmers in the discussion over how to ensure a healthy and robust population of honeybees and other pollinators.   Last week, Don Glenn, chairman of NCGA’s Production and Stewardship Action Team, spoke at the Pollinator Health Task Force’s public listening session outside Washington, DC.   “Although corn does not rely on bees or other pollinators, we recognize their importance to agriculture,” said Glenn. “It’s important for us to be at the table, as a voice for farmers, and engaging in a productive conservation about how to solve this challenge.”   The listening session was the latest in a series of activities from the task force, which was created by a presidential initiative in June and is jointly run by the USDA and EPA. Glenn said NCGA is eager to partner with Task Force members on grower education efforts...

(Posted Fri. Nov 7th, 2014)

Keywords: Conservation Production

The National Corn Growers Association urges all farmers to contact EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy advocating for a revision of the proposed Waters of the U.S. rulemaking by the deadline of Friday, November 14.   As proposed, this rule would significantly expand the jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act and would only further muddy the waters for farmers seeking clarity as to what is and what is not subject to federal regulation. NCGA has many serious concerns regarding the impact the proposed rule could have on U.S. farmers.  NCGA's concerns fall into four main areas:    Farmers will face tremendous uncertainty because of the way the rule defines what is a tributary and what is an adjacent water subject to the Clean Water Act.  The proposed rule represents a significant expansion of federal Clean Water Act jurisdiction relative to anything that has ever been covered in a previous rulemaking and contradicts two U.S. Supreme Court decisions. The vast numbers of ditches that...

(Posted Thu. Nov 6th, 2014)

Keywords: Conservation Sustainability

The Soil Health Partnership holds its first Nebraska field day on Wednesday, November 12.  Corn farmer Greg Whitmore will host area growers, soil health experts and neighbors at the Central Valley Ag in Shelby, Nebraska.   The morning agenda includes an update of Nebraska Corn Growers Association research and programs pertaining to soil health. Participants will also hear from Dr. Nicholas Goeser, NCGA manager for Soil Health and Sustainability, on productivity, profitability and environmental outcomes related to soil health on your farm. Quentin Cooksley of Hagie Manufacturing Company will present on seeding technologies for cover crops, followed by Mike Zwingmen, Central Valley Ag’s Lead Analyst of Agronomy Research, speaking on their programming and research efforts in soil health.   The event runs from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. CT, regardless of weather conditions. Registration will occur on-site beginning at 8:30 a.m., and a continental breakfast and buffet lunch will be served to...

(Posted Wed. Sep 24th, 2014)

Keywords: Sustainability Conservation

National Corn Growers Association Corn Board member Paul Taylor, a farmer from Esmond, Ill., participated in the inaugural meeting of the Global Alliance for Climate-Smart Agriculture. The meeting brought together partners of the alliance to discuss the organization of the alliance in its inception year and a program of work.   The meeting followed the official launch of the alliance on Tuesday at the United Nations Secretary General’s Climate Summit.   “With increasing public focus turning to the climate, farmers must take a seat at the table to ensure our interests and concerns on this topic are accurately represented,” said Taylor. “American corn farmers have a dynamic story of constant improvement to share. We have a long history of finding innovative ways to meet ever-evolving challenges and activities such as this help us engage in a productive dialogue about this issue.”   As currently established, Global Alliance for CSA members recognize the urgent need to act at...

Decatur Gets Grounded on Soil Health

(Posted Thu. Sep 18th, 2014)

Keywords: Conservation

This week, corn farmers David, Joe and Chase Brown hosted area growers, soil health experts and neighbors on their farm near Decatur, Illinois for a Soil Health Partnership field day. The day’s agenda kicked off with the Brown family describing how they started using cover crops during the drought in 2012 to feed livestock. Now, they are committed to seeing what else cover crops can deliver in terms of keeping the soil healthy and making more accurate maps to show exact soil types in their fields.   “The Soil Health Partnership is focusing its field day efforts in Illinois, Indiana and Iowa this year because of established programs using cover crops as a soil health best practice,” said Nick Goeser, NCGA’s manager of soil health and sustainability. “However, the program is looking to get more farmers involved because we want to know how soils are impacted at the local level across a wide geographic area.”   Caroline Wade, nutrient watershed , manager for Illinois Corn Growers...

(Posted Tue. Sep 16th, 2014)

Keywords: Conservation

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced yesterday that the National Corn Growers Association was among the recipients of the Conservation Innovation Grants. The National Corn Growers Association CIG award will be utilized to support the Soil Health Partnership.  The Soil Health Partnership represents a cooperative effort among several organizations working together with farmers to demonstrate and communicate the benefits of soil health to agricultural production.    “The Soil Health Partnership is identifying, testing and measuring management practices that improve soil health and benefit farmers’ operations,” said NCGA President Martin Barbre. “NCGA believes projects that share information from farmers to farmers provide platforms that create greater understanding and facilitate broader implement agricultural best practices. This grant will allow the Soil Health Partnership to reach more growers in a shorter period of time than we could do otherwise.”   NCGA will receive...

(Posted Fri. Sep 12th, 2014)

Keywords: Conservation

Soil Health Partnership field days resume their schedule of presentations and demonstrations on Tuesday, Sept. 16. Corn farmers David, Joe and Chase Brown will host area growers, soil health experts and neighbors on their farm near Decatur, Illinois.   The day’s agenda topics will include the benefits of soil health and advanced nutrient management, cover crop integration in corn systems, and new equipment for seeding cover crops. The event runs from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. CDT, regardless of weather conditions.   Registration will occur on-site and a continental breakfast and buffet lunch will be served to participants. The field day location is at 3965 Strawn Rd., on the northwest side of Decatur, Illinois.     Additional field days continue to be added to the schedule. For the most current listing of Soil Health Partnership field days and locations, visit soilhealthpartnership.org or email soilhealth@ncga.com.   The mission of the Soil Health Partnership is to catalyze enhanced...

(Posted Mon. Sep 8th, 2014)

Keywords: Conservation

Soil Health Partnership field days begin their schedule of presentations and demonstrations on Wednesday, Sept. 10 in Iowa. Bruce Kent will host area farmers, soil health experts and neighbors on his farm near Lu Verne, Iowa.   The day’s agenda topics will include the benefits of soil health and advanced nutrient management, cover crop integration in corn systems, and new equipment for seeding cover crops. The event runs from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. CDT regardless of weather conditions. Registration will occur on site and a continental breakfast and buffet lunch will be served to participants. The field day location is on the Kent Farm at 1506 190th Ave., north of Lu Verne and southeast of Algona, Iowa.   The next field day events will take place in Forrest and Decatur, Illinois Sept. 15 and 16. Additional field days continue to be added to the schedule. For the most current listing of Soil Health Partnership field days and locations, visit soilhealthpartnership.org or e-mail...

(Posted Thu. Aug 14th, 2014)

Keywords: Conservation

Tomorrow is the deadline for the National Corn Growers Association’s Good Steward Recognition nominations. State affiliates are urged to submit qualified growers dedicated to production standards that deliver high sustainable yields with extraordinary conservation and environmental benefits.     NCGA will again recognize and present a $10,000 cash award to an individual corn grower who demonstrates the economic and conservation value of soil management at our awards banquet during Commodity Classic, February 27, 2015, in Phoenix, Arizona. Selection of the Good Steward Recognition will be made by experts in the field of agricultural conservation, environment and sustainability.   Click here for the nomination form, and to review recognition qualifications and submission directions. Entries are due 5 p.m. CDT Friday, Aug. 15.

(Posted Tue. Oct 30th, 2012)

Keywords: Conservation

Oct. 30: Last week, members of the Field to Market sustainability effort met in St. Louis to welcome new comers, hear program updates and discuss their 2013 annual work plan. High on the list of farmer priorities was the ability to participate among a diverse group of stakeholders in a consensus-driven approach to making decisions regarding agricultural sustainability.  “We know as farmers that we’re continually improving our efficiencies, fertilizer use and things along that line,” said Keith Alverson, NCGA Corn Board member. “However, we always have a concern that some things that are being asked of us aren’t real feasible. Field to Market allows NCGA and other commodity groups the opportunity to come together with Walmart, Coca Cola, General Mills and other large consumer-facing companies to discuss what can and can’t be done.”   “Where they need to go next is finding a way to make it easier for a farmer to participate, and communicate the value of participation from a...

(Posted Thu. Oct 25th, 2012)

Keywords: Conservation

Oct. 25:  The Conservation Technology Information Center is celebrating its 30th anniversary today in St. Louis, as it continues its mission to champion, promote and provide information on technologies and sustainable agricultural systems. The National Corn Growers Association will be on-hand to join the celebration.  “For three decades, the Conservation Technology Information Center has provided comprehensive data, research and materials related to achieving better soil, cleaner water and a brighter future for U.S. agriculture,” said NCGA CEO Rick Tolman. “We’re proud to have been part of the CTIC since the beginning.”  Before the term “sustainability” took hold in today’s environmental vernacular, continuous improvements in productivity, environmental quality, and human well-being were well underway in agricultural communities. In 1982, a group of agribusiness, governmental agency and association partners founded the Conservation Tillage Information Center as a special project...

(Posted Tue. Oct 16th, 2012)

Keywords: Conservation Production

Oct. 16: The U.S Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service launched an initiative highlighting the benefits of improving and maintaining healthy soil last week. The “Unlock the Secrets in the Soil” looks at successes and identifies lessons learned in communities already examining how soil health can benefit their operations. This information will be shared with farmers in other areas which might also benefit from implementing similar practices.  “Managing soil health provides both economic and ecological benefits,” said Brent Hostetler NCGA Production and Stewardship Action Team member. “Precious little rain made its way across central Ohio this past growing season. However, good soil management practices helped the fields retain additional moisture and minimize crop damage from the drought.”  The program focuses primarily on the importance of and ways to increase organic matter in soil. Maximizing soil health involves four basic principles; keeping the...

(Posted Fri. Oct 5th, 2012)

Keywords: Conservation

Oct. 5: The U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania heard oral arguments Thursday in the case of American Farm Bureau v. EPA.  The case challenges the Environmental Protection Agency's Total Maximum Daily Load for nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment in the Chesapeake Bay. The National Corn Growers Association joined the suit last year with the American Farm Bureau Federation and other agricultural organizations.  “This lawsuit is extremely important to America’s farmers because the outcome could affect EPA’s future handling of water quality regulations throughout the country,” NCGA First Vice President Martin Barbre said.  “As farmers, we are stewards of the land who are committed to preserving water quality.  However, we expect that EPA’s regulations should be reasonable and follow the guidelines established by Congress.”    Throughout the day, three main arguments were outlined by the farm groups’ attorneys.  First, the Chesapeake Bay TMDL goes beyond the...

(Posted Mon. Jun 18th, 2012)

Keywords: Conservation

June 18: During an Environmental Protection Agency Scientific Advisory Panel hearing on atrazine, the National Corn Growers Association, along with state corn association representatives from Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri and Nebraska, urged the use of sound science and real-world evidence in its decision making. This was the final in a series of SAP hearings on this issue over the past three years.  “It is important that sound science and real world evidence serve as the basis for regulating atrazine and addressing any potential issues, rather than a scientifically unsound and unsupported proposed Aquatic Plant Level of Concern that is inconsistent with biological reality and any observed real world impacts,” NCGA Director of Public Policy Rod Snyder said during his testimony.  Snyder also asked the agency to stand by previous determinations, including more than 6,000 studies and nine reviews, that atrazine is safe to use.  He also cautioned against using studies that do not have...

(Posted Fri. Feb 24th, 2012)

Keywords: Conservation

Feb. 24:  Ken McCauley remembers getting Maryland’s Jamie Jamison to tackle the sustainability issue during McCauley’s term as NCGA president: “I remember him telling me, ‘this is not fun.’ At that time, people just didn’t want to talk about the issue.”  Times have changed, and sustainability has become an important issue for the National Corn Growers Association, and with good reason, according to Don Glenn, the Alabama grower who serves as vice chair of the Production and Stewardship Action Team.  “So much of what is being brought forward from outside agriculture is practice-based,” says Glenn. “If you do A, B, C, and D, you’ll be labeled ‘sustainable.’  “We think yield and production need to be factored in. If you don’t produce enough to feed the world, it’s not sustainable. And you have to be financially sustainable. If the farmer can’t afford to feed and educate his children, it’s not sustainable.”  McCauley offers another argument for NCGA’s deeper involvement in...

(Posted Thu. Jan 26th, 2012)

Keywords: Conservation Production

Jan. 26: The National Corn Growers Association’s Production and Stewardship Action Team traveled to Fresno, Calif., this week to tackle issues related to sustainability, water quality and other conservation and environmental concerns.  At the meeting, Gary Edwards and Ken McCauley, who serve as NCGA organizational appointees on two sustainability initiatives, spoke to growers about sustainability efforts in the agricultural industry.  McCauley, an NCGA past president who farms in eastern Kansas, discussed the importance of corn farmers playing an active role in the development of farm management systems that will help producers to achieve verifiable sustainability outcomes that satisfy performance expectations of manufacturing supply chains and still maintain farm productivity.  Such is the mission of the National Institute of Sustainable Agriculture, McCauley noted, which expects to implement model systems developed through producer leadership and participation in...

(Posted Tue. Dec 27th, 2011)

Keywords: Conservation

Dec. 27: The National Corn Growers Association is currently involved in two major pieces of environmental litigation that will likely be decided in federal court in 2012. This could have major implications for future environmental regulations.  Earlier this year, NCGA joined with the American Farm Bureau Federation and other agricultural organizations to challenge the Environmental Protection Agency’s Total Maximum Daily Load for nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment in the Chesapeake Bay. The farm groups stated the Chesapeake Bay TMDL goes beyond the scope of Clean Water Act authority, that the science used by the Agency is flawed and that the regulatory process lacked transparency. The case has been filed in a federal court in Pennsylvania.  The outcome of this lawsuit could establish significant precedent for future water quality regulations throughout the country. Many corn growers are concerned that the Chesapeake Bay TMDL could be used as a blueprint for addressing nitrogen,...

(Posted Wed. Nov 16th, 2011)

Keywords: Conservation

Nov. 16: Last week, representatives of the National Corn Growers Association attended a National Initiative for Sustainable Agriculture (NISA) workshop in Chicago to discuss the future of the project with representatives from dozens of other agricultural organizations, food companies, retailers and conservation groups. During the two-day meeting, participants reviewed existing sustainability initiatives and gathered perspectives from various sectors about the need for a national umbrella organization that brings farmer voices to the sustainability movement.  “NISA aims to develop a roadmap of farm management systems that will help farmers achieve verifiable sustainability outcomes, improve the environmental services and productivity of their farms, help their rural communities thrive and satisfy performance expectations of the value chain,” said NCGA Past President Ken McCauley, who attended the meeting. “With efforts focused at the farm level, this grower-driven effort will...

(Posted Tue. Nov 15th, 2011)

Keywords: Biotechnology Conservation Trade

Nov. 15: Last week, the National Corn Growers Association met with Dr. Saturnina Halos, a senior agriculture science consultant at the Philippines Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Agricultural Research, to discuss biotechnology usage in the United States. NCGA staff emphasized the practices in place to ensure safe and responsible use of these improved varieties, also providing information on structured refuge, new refuge-in-a-bag options and farmer attitudes toward compliance.  Marketing staff began the meeting by providing an overview of the organization, its mission and activities to aide Halos in understanding the specific role NCGA plays in the greater U.S. industry and why it does so.  Halos expressed particular interest in NCGA’s involvement with technology providers to ensure the availability of traits and in efforts to ensure farmers use these products responsibly. Expressing concern over farmer attitudes in the Philippines, she sought advice on conveying the...

(Posted Thu. Nov 3rd, 2011)

Keywords: Conservation Farm Policy

Nov. 3: Today, the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Conservation, Energy and Forestry held a hearing on the EPA’s Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) for the Chesapeake Bay watershed. TMDLs are a common pollution control mechanism established by the Clean Water Act. The TMDL for the Chesapeake Bay watershed sets a firm limit on the amount of nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment that can be discharged in six states and the District of Colombia. Today’s hearing focused on state Watershed Implementation Plans (WIPs) and their impacts on rural communities.  EPA Region 3 Administrator Shawn Garvin testified on behalf of the Agency, and he was asked tough questions about the validity of the Chesapeake Bay computer model, which forms the basis for the TMDL. Members of the Subcommittee expressed concerns that EPA’s flawed model does not take into account many of the voluntary best management practices that are currently undertaken by farmers in the watershed. In addition, Congressman Bob...

(Posted Wed. Nov 2nd, 2011)

Keywords: Conservation

Nov. 2: The National Corn Growers Association welcomed a high-level delegation from Argentina exploring how new technology improves yields and conserves resources when used in conjunction with other agronomic practices.  Designed to foster a farmer-to-farmer conversation across the Americas, delegates expressed particular interest in how U.S. growers have improved their sustainability.  “Fostering interaction between corn farmers across the hemisphere benefits both parties,” said NCGA CEO Rick Tolman. “Working together, we can both improve the sustainability of farming as a whole while also better helping potential export markets realize the importance of biotechnology.”  During their visit, Tolman, along with Marketing Department staff, led off by explaining the association’s mission, organizational structure, the key issues with which it deals and some of the major activities currently underway. Representatives from NCGA’s Production and Utilization Department then took the...

(Posted Tue. Oct 25th, 2011)

Keywords: Biotechnology Conservation Trade

Oct. 25: Last week, staff from the National Corn Growers Association took to the fields of South Dakota taping video footage to be used in updates of the group’s online Insect Resistance Module . This footage, which features NCGA Trade Policy and Biotechnology Action Team Chair Chad Blindauer of Mitchell, S.D., will be used along with interviews taped late this summer to create a module that helps to explain insect resistance management in an accessible manner and features actual explanations from real farmers about the practices implemented on their farms.  “The IRM calculator and module have been a great help to growers and, through the improvements underway, NCGA hopes to make them an even more effective tool,” said Blindauer. “Insect resistance management is incredibly important as it allows traits to function at the best level possible until improved varieties are made available. We hope that, by explaining this in a manner that is both clearly applicable and accessible, we...

(Posted Thu. Jul 28th, 2011)

Keywords: Conservation Farm Policy

July 28: During testimony before an Environmental Protection Agency Scientific Advisory Panel evaluating the effects of atrazine on human health, NCGA Director of Public Policy Sarah Gallo explained the importance of the product to combat weeds effectively and affordably. She also discussed how farmers have been safely applying atrazine for more than a half century.  Click here for her testimony.  “The United States is the world’s largest producer and exporter of corn and one of the key inputs that makes this possible is atrazine,” Gallo said during her testimony. “Atrazine is applied on well over half of all corn acres in this country and, according to the EPA, saves corn farmers as much as $28 an acre in reduced herbicide costs and increased yields.”  Gallo said atrazine safety has been verified by more than 6,000 studies and nine reviews by the EPA. She also pointed to a study released in May that concluded there is no association between atrazine worker exposure and any...

(Posted Wed. Jul 27th, 2011)

Keywords: Conservation Ethanol

July 27:  A study published in the July 2011 Biomass and Bioenergy Journal on indirect land use change (ILUC) due to biofuels production indicates that the real impact of U.S. biofuels production on ILUC domestically and internationally is negligible or nonexistent.  The study, “Indirect land use change for biofuels: Testing predictions and improving analytical methodologies” was coauthored by Drs. Seungdo Kim and Bruce E. Dale of Michigan State University. Click here for the article abstract.  “This is the first evidence-based evaluation of ILUC utilizing actual historic data, employing a “bottom-up”, data-driven, statistical approach based on individual world regions’ land use patterns and commodity grain imports,” said Dr. Roger Conway, senior partner at Rosslyn Advisors LLC and former director of the United States Department of Agriculture's Office of Energy Policy and New Uses.  Very few previous studies have attempted to find empirical evidence for or against indirect...

(Posted Wed. Jul 27th, 2011)

Keywords: Conservation

July 27: Last week, staff for the National Corn Growers Association participated in an aerial crop tour of the Corn Belt taken by Water Street Solutions. Covering eight states over the course of two days the group surveyed growing conditions across the Midwest to gather data and develop an assessment of the current condition of the U.S. corn crop. This is the second of three aerial surveys the company will take this growing season.  “As we covered such a wide swath of land and accumulated an abundance of data in such a short time, I chose to focus on three indicators: stand consistency; nitrogen or other abiotic stresses; and overall crop maturity in forming my assessment,” NCGA Vice President of Production and Utilization Paul Bertels said. “All in all, I think the most recent USDA forecast of an average yield of 158 bushels per acre is still achievable, and it is possible that a slightly higher average could be reached. However, the weather over the next four weeks will play a...

(Posted Tue. Jul 26th, 2011)

Keywords: Conservation Farm Policy

July 26: In comments submitted to the Environmental Protection Agency today on the draft guidance that identifies which waters are protected under the Clean Water Act, the National Corn Growers Association outlined concerns including the new proposal could expand EPA’s authority over isolated waters such as ditches and farm ponds.  Click here for the letter.  The draft guidance, which was announced in April, was developed to clarify the scope of protections under the law following two Supreme Court decisions over the past decade. While the guidance maintains existing exemptions for normal farming and ranching activities, NCGA remains concerned that the new proposal could expand EPA’s authority over isolated waters which would require growers to obtain additional permits. For example, the proposal could significantly expand the scale of the pending NPDES permit program for pesticide applications. In addition, NCGA believes states should have the authority to regulate certain...