(Posted Fri. Feb 17th, 2017)
The National Corn Growers Association’s Stewardship Action Team renewed its commitment to clean water at its recent meeting while both reviewing the success of current programming and expanding efforts to promote voluntary nutrient management.
“At the heart of NCGA’s latest initiative is a program to work with state corn grower groups to develop formal nutrient management programs that fit the needs and goals of each state,” said Stewardship Action Team Chairman Brent Hostetler. “Many states have proactive work underway to assess progress to date and expand and broaden these initiatives. NCGA is providing professional consulting resources to assist.”
Hostetler noted NCGA is currently working with five states on developing and formalizing nutrient management efforts and the plan is to grow to ten states in 2017 starting with a needs assessment to direct budget and resources.
“Most of the farmers I know have spent a lifetime trying to do a better job of managing and protecting the soil and water resources on their farms,” Hostetler said. “But like everything else in farming, practices are changing quickly and for the better. We’re also doing a much better job of engaging with government, municipalities, environmental groups and other industries so we can address water quality in a more comprehensive way.”
Discussions also took place regarding the writing of the 2018 farm bill. Team members discussed components of the current farm bill, which should be retained, and the need to simplify and streamline the legislation to make it easier for farmers to participate in various programs.
The Stewardship Action Team also received an update from the Soil Health Partnership, an initiative that is supported by NCGA. SHP identifies, tests and measures management practices to improve soil health, benefit farmers’ operations and protect water quality.
SHP Director Nick Goeser reported continued growth in farms participating in the program. The SHP is completing its third year with more than 65 partner farms across nine Midwestern states and plans to expand to at least 100 in 2017.
The Action Team also discussed the status of the Good Steward Recognition Program which is entering its fourth year. The effort seeks to expand awareness of best practices in sustainable corn production. This year’s winner will be recognized at the Commodity Classic in San Antonio, Texas.