(Posted Mon. Nov 26th, 2018)
Beginning next year, Tennessee corn growers could see over a million dollars invested annually in research, promotion and education activities designed to increase corn grind and the profitability of the state’s corn farmers. That is if they pass a one cent per bushel corn checkoff during the checkoff authorization vote on November 28-29, 2018 at farmers’ local extension office.
A checkoff program represents strength in numbers. Supported by all corn growers, a small investment in the program results in a larger pool of resources that can be used more efficiently and effectively. Those funds will be administered by a board of Tennessee corn farmers. Plus, growers who do not want to participate will be able to request a refund after the sale.
“We need to continuously make improvements in farming – from yield increases at home to the creation of more uses for our crops,” said Mike Holman, president of the Tennessee Corn Growers Association. “A state corn checkoff with a refund provision will provide help in achieving both yield increases and better demand. We cannot depend on the government to do this, we have to do it ourselves.”
If passed, Tennessee will join the other 20 top corn producing states in the nation in collecting a checkoff. The state corn checkoffs invest almost $90 million annually to improve farmer profitability. Some of those funds are spent in-state with universities and other partners, especially on vital research. State and federal ag research dollars are declining and little of the corn research being done by large seed companies is specific to Tennessee.
Checkoff funds can also be invested with national cooperator groups. With ninety-five percent of the world’s population living outside the US, direct corn exports and exports of value-added products are critical. The corn checkoff can support groups like the U.S. Grains Council, US Meat Export Federation and US Poultry and Egg Export Council, which arrange trade teams of foreign buyers to visit U.S. suppliers, work with foreign policymakers on corn and corn products issues, and work to create new and develop existing international markets.
Domestically, state checkoff investments have helped the National Corn Growers Association focus attention on new uses for corn through open competitions and direct investment in promising technologies. NCGA has also strongly supported corn’s chief markets of livestock and ethanol through working with producer groups and encouraging new demand opportunities.
Finally, consumers have never been so far removed from the farm, which is why farmers need to talk with consumers to defend their ability to make a living through production agriculture. Checkoff funded outreach and education can promote better understanding of farming practices and discourage concerns from the general public.
Farmers should vote for the Tennessee corn checkoff at their local extension office on November 28-29, 2018. All those pennies saved will lead to millions earned and invested over time to promote their profitability and way of life.