(Posted Mon. Dec 29th, 2014)

When members of the National Corn Growers Association’s Grower Services Action Team met in St. Louis recently, they focused on the three traditional key areas of focus for the team, three areas where a lot of progress has been seen over the past year: membership, leadership and communications. Going into 2015, the team also sees great potential in these areas.


“Looking at the role our grower members have played in shaping the national dialogue on agriculture, the importance of building and engaging our base cannot be understated,” said Tom Haag, a Minnesota corn grower who serves as the team’s chairman. “We’ve seen a lot of success with our programs in the past, and this next year will offer many opportunities to expand our work.”


In the area of membership, Haag noted that NCGA reached a milestone in 2014, reaching a membership of more than 42,000 as growers saw the importance of NCGA’s work on the new farm bill and in building and defending markets for corn, such as ethanol. The success of a full stable of member benefits and programs like the National Corn Yield Contest have had an impact as well, he said.


In terms of leadership, 2014 saw the first class of the NCGA DuPont New Leaders Program, designed as a gateway to leadership for young farmers, and an opportunity for farming couples to take part in a leadership program together. The second class begins in January with 39 participants from 17 states. At the same time, the Leadership at its Best and Advanced Leadership programs, cosponsored by Syngenta, continue to build informed and involved leaders.


Finally, Haag noted NCGA’s success with communications programs continues to grow, especially with its involvement in the Corn Farmers Coalition, which seeks to educate Washington insiders about corn and corn farming; CommonGround, a joint program with the United Soybean Board to develop farm women as spokespersons with their urban and suburban peers; the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance, a much broader movement to build consumer confidence in today’s agriculture; and American Ethanol, an ethanol industry effort to promote ethanol, especially the E15 blend, through a NASCAR sponsorship.


In addition to Haag, grower members of the Grower Services Action Team are Vice Chairwoman Patty Mann, Corn Board Liaison Kevin Skunes, Debbie Borg, Jayne Dalton, Les Imboden, Larry Mason, Mike Moreland, Ted Mottaz, Gerald Mulder, Danny Nerud and Roger Zysltra. Katie Glick, with Indiana Corn, represents state affiliates and NCGA Director of Development Joe Hodes is the staff lead for the team.