(Posted Fri. Sep 28th, 2012)

Garry NiemeyerSept. 28: As the fiscal year comes to an end, the National Corn Growers Association’s Corn Board gets ready to seat new members and officers Monday.  Among the changes: NCGA President Garry Niemeyer, of Illinois, will become Corn Board chairman, passing the role of president to current First Vice President Pam Johnson, of Iowa.


The Off the Cob podcast series sat down with Niemeyer to discuss the Corn Board’s accomplishments in 2012, other highlights from his presidency, and to ask his advice for farmers considering volunteering for leadership roles. 


To listen to the full interview, please click here.


Reflecting upon his time as president of the Corn Board, Niemeyer explained that 2012 was a challenging year as NCGA simultaneously urged passage of a farm bill, faced the issues brought about by the drought and contended with a challenge to the Renewable Fuel Standard. Directly addressing each issue, he reflected on leading through circumstances which continually pushed new issues to the forefront.


“I would like to think that my largest accomplishment was to help corn farmers, as well as end users, remain calm through this unprecedented drought,” he said. “The drought changed everything that we have worked so hard to accomplish.”


The impact of the drought reached farms across the United States and, as House leadership refused to bring farm bill legislation to the floor prior to the election recess, farmers face a future uncertain of the tools available to manage risk and conserve natural resources.


 “The farm bill is of such great importance to farmers because it gives them the certainty they need to make financial decisions for 2013 and for the next five years,” Niemeyer explained. “NCGA pushed for passage of a farm bill prior to the September 30 deadline, but we could not convince House leadership to pass this important legislation before the election. Despite this, I am proud that we came together with more than 80 different commodity groups for a rally to push for a farm bill. These groups had many different ideas about the policies which they would have liked to see included in such legislation, but we were unified in our desire for a farm bill now.”


He went on to explain that the Renewable Fuel Standard, which faced challenges in 2012, also plays a key role in maintaining a profitable future for corn farmers. Yet, the drought opened the door for potential demand destruction in the crucial ethanol market.


“We support the RFS, and we feel that the waiver process is a part of the RFS,” he said. “We do feel it is premature for a waiver as we still do not have a complete picture of what this year’s crop will be. Personally, I know that we have the technology to produce a 15 billion bushel corn crop, but we have been held back for the past three years because of weather issues.”


Going on to note other highlights, including communications efforts like the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance, American Ethanol’s work with NASCAR, the Corn Farmers Coalition campaign and the CommonGround movement, he cited many instances in which NCGA worked in a steadfast, dedicated fashion toward long-term goals.


Finally, Niemeyer expressed some thoughts on leadership, including a remark which he offers for anyone considering volunteering for such a position.


“This is something that I tell up and coming leaders that they must always remember. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem and smarter than you think,” he offered. “Leadership takes courage and confidence. What is most important is that you stand up and speak your mind fearlessly.”