(Posted Mon. Mar 10th, 2014)
The National Corn Growers Association released a revised version of its “Know Before Your Grow” website this week to offer growers updated information to help inform planting decisions in light of the release of new seed varieties currently unapproved in some export markets. The information provided allows growers to make informed decisions on potential marketing restrictions well before harvest.
“In a globalized agricultural economy, it is important that farmers understand the delicate balance that must be struck in trying to ensure access to the technologies necessary to combat production challenges while also ensuring export markets remain open to U.S. corn,” said NCGA Trade Policy and Biotechnology Action Team Chair Jim Zimmerman. “In the case of China, the balance can prove challenging given that country’s asynchronous approval system for biotech traits, and its current trend toward falling behind even the normal asynchronous approval timelines. While we must make robust efforts to maintain market access, be it through controlled limited release of new products or even delayed release, farmers should remain aware of the importance of these products to their operations as they face difficulties caused by biological stressors. Both biotechnology and export markets play a key role in maintaining profitability and making decisions based on solid information will be key moving forward.”
NCGA stands solidly true to its policy in maintaining all new events must have approval in the United States and Japan prior to release. Additionally, the trait provider must be actively pursuing approval in all other markets for U.S. corn.
Over the winter months, the NCGA Trade Policy and Biotechnology Action Team and the Corn Board worked tirelessly to examine all aspects and implications of the possible introduction of biotech traits not approved in China or the EU to the U.S. corn market. In doing so, TPBAT and the Corn Board sought to find a balance between the importance of timely availability of needed technology to farmers and the importance of maintaining export markets.
In the 2012/2013 marketing year, exports to China represented 0.8 percent of the total U.S. corn supply.
In examining the specific case of Agrisure Duracade, the team looked at the importance of products to combat intense rootworm pressure seen in some areas. While the need to maintain export markets remains of great importance to NCGA, it also saw the potential difficulty farmers would face if a regulatory system that is not functioning overseas could bar farmers’ access to necessary technologies indefinitely. In light of these circumstances, NCGA asked that Syngenta develop a controlled limited release of the trait that would keep corn grown using Agrisure Duracade seed out of export channels in a closely monitored fashion.
NCGA urges members to examine the traits approved in export markets prior to planting. With current gaps in trait approvals abroad, farmers should make well-informed planting decisions to avoid potentially difficult situations should elevators again decide not to accept corn with these traits at harvest.
As specific issues have arisen from the release of Agrisure Duracade, which currently is not approved in China or the European Union, NCGA reminds growers that corn used in ethanol production also often enters export streams as distillers dried grains. DDGS are a valuable feed ingredient gaining popularity in China and other export markets. While planting decisions involve a multitude of factors, it is import to factor in potential issues which could be faced marketing grain unapproved for markets supplied through elevators with which one does business.
Growers should read their grower agreements before planting and communicate with their grain buyers. This is why NCGA works with technology providers to publicize regular updates on the approval status of these events. Regardless of export status, there is an ample market for U.S. biotech corn.
To find out more, visit Know Before You Grow by clicking here.
To listen to an interview with Zimmerman on the subject, click here.