(Posted Tue. Dec 15th, 2015)
This December, the National Corn Growers Association’s Trade Policy and Biotechnology Action Team met in St. Louis to review the organization’s policy in their area of expertise, discuss progress on several ongoing programs and hear from industry representatives about upcoming challenges and opportunities.
Looking at a variety of issues, including how to best support agricultural exports, stress the importance of respecting refuge requirements and facilitate successful communication across the value-chain on their issues, the team will use their in-depth knowledge of the subject matter to develop the nuanced, strategic suggestions needed to help the Corn Board guide NCGA policy effectively.
“It can begin to feel like farmer leaders spend a large amount of time participating in meetings for a variety of agricultural groups during the winter months,” said Team Chair John Linder, a farmer from Ohio. “Yet, as I have become increasingly involved, I have come to deeply appreciate the breadth and scope of the myriad issues facing farmers today. By developing teams with specialization in major areas of opportunity and taking the time to analyze the issues in a critical, thorough manner, we are able to most effectively provide input on how, in our area, the Corn Board can shape NCGA policy and, subsequently, maximize the effectiveness of farmer-funded market development and production activities.”
The meeting, held in conjunction with meetings for the other five action teams and committees, allowed the growers to dig into the specific policies listed in the portion of the strategic plan corresponding with their team’s focus area. Carefully debating the implications of any proposed changes, team members worked diligently to carefully craft a precise, well-constructed document for presentation to the Corn Board and, eventually, Corn Congress.
“Through these discussions, we develop a solid appreciation for the importance of the exact connotation of each word used, and of those not used, in our strategic plan,” said Linder. “Examining the future of the industry, the scope of NCGA’s role in it and the potential pitfalls of seemingly benign statements leads us to policy recommendations that play a vital role in determining how the organization will proceed on our behalf.”
The team also delved into a variety of areas certain to impact the future of corn farming through presentations from and discussions with leadership from agri-industry. Through these discussions, the farmers gained up-to-the-minute information that they will scrutinize and, as events unfold, incorporate into future recommendations.
In addition to Linder, team members include Vice Chair Don Duvall of Illinois, Corn Board Liaison Kevin Ross of Iowa, Mike Beard of Indiana, Chris Edgington of Iowa, Janna Fritz of Michigan, Robert Hemesath of Iowa, Wayne Humphreys of Iowa, Jon Miller of Ohio, Jim Raben of Illinois, Jay Reiners of Nebraska, Chad Wetzel of Texas, Tim Wiersma of Minnesota and Patrick Pfingsten of the Indiana Corn Growers Association. NCGA staff in attendance included Director of Biotechnology and Crop Inputs Nathan Fields, Director of Public Policy Zach Kinne and Administrative Assistant Maggie Fogerty.