Editorials

Mar 15, 2024

As Spring Arrives, Washington Policymakers and Corn Grower Leaders Prepare for the Year Ahead

Author: Brooke S. Appleton

March is an important month in Washington. It’s the month that Cherry Blossoms bloom to the delight of city residents and tourists alike, and many outdoor activities, such as marathons, take off, shutting down city streets on the weekends.   This month is also a time when congressional and administration officials begin to unveil their plans for the year ahead. We saw the beginnings of this on March 7, when President Biden gave his State of the Union speech. The president released his proposed federal budget for FY 2025 several days later, even as Congress and the administration are at an impasse on parts of this fiscal year’s budget.   If the tone and tenor of the president’s address and the Republican response to that address are any indication of what we should expect in the year ahead, we should all fasten our seatbelts because it is going to be a bumpy ride.   The president, who has trailed in polls against his opponent, former President Donald J. Trump, gave nothing...

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Feb 14, 2024

The Game in Washington that Rivals the Super Bowl

Key Issues: Farm Bill

Author: Brooke S. Appleton

This is the best February since last February. That’s because, like this time last year, my beloved Kansas City Chiefs won the Super Bowl. Like millions of Americans, I was glued to the television during the recent game. While some members of my family love to talk and engage in Monday morning quarterbacking during football games (my Mom even paces), I tend to watch silently and intently, assessing every strategic move the Chiefs and their opponents make. Strategy is critical to winning; whether it’s football games or the work my team and I do every day on the political field that is the nation’s capital. Just as a coach looks at old plays of the opposing team, we look at all the potential plays that could be used by the various interests in Washington as we work to advance the policies that are important to corn growers.   And, boy, do we have our work cut out for us this year, as there are enough moving parts and unprecedented events to make even Andy Reid and Travis Kelce...

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Dec 12, 2023

The Ins and Outs of Washington for 2023

Author: Brooke S. Appleton

How is it possible that we’re approaching the end of 2023? The year has flown by. But a lot has happened over the year, and it’s important to take time to reflect on the changes we’ve seen in the nation’s capital city during that time. And that leads us to our annual Ins & Outs list, our fun but also serious end-of-the-year list of what is en vogue and what’s passé. With no further ado, here is the list…   INs The House of Thin Margins – As I write this column, the House has 221 Republicans and 213 Democrats. One vacancy was recently created when former Rep. George Santos (R-NY) was ousted after an ignominious and short tenure in the lower chamber. The small margins have pitted the agendas of more moderate Republicans against those of members of the conservative Freedom Caucus. The intensity of the fractured House reached a fever pitch in October when then-Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) was ousted, leading to the speakership of Rep. Mike Johnson (R-La.). (The former speaker...

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Oct 2, 2023

NCGA’s New President Talks Advocacy

Author: Brooke S. Appleton

This month, Minnesota farmer Harold Wolle assumed the role of president of the National Corn Growers Association. Harold brings years of leadership and advocacy experience to the role, having served as the president of the Minnesota Corn Growers Association and as a member of the NCGA Corn Board for the last six years. NCGA board presidents are elected by their fellow board members each year to serve a one-year term.   Because I wanted readers to know more about the person who is taking the reins as the leader of one of the nation’s major commodity organizations, I decided to dedicate this month’s column to an interview with Harold.   Questions for NCGA President Harold Wolle   Q: Tell us about your farm operation. Harold: I am from a 140-year-old family corn and soybean farm in south central Minnesota that was started by my forefathers who were German immigrants. As a fifth-generation farmer, I am pleased to say I am in the process of passing the operations of the farm to...

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Sep 15, 2023

A Bustling Washington Takes on Issues Important to Farmers as Fall Arrives and Deadlines Loom

Author: Brooke S. Appleton

Fall is quickly arriving in the nation’s capital and with it comes the sense that Congress has much to accomplish in a very short period with potential roadblocks along the way. Perhaps the most serious potential impediment is a looming government shutdown as Congress approaches the September 30 deadline to fund the federal government.   Over the last decade, we’ve gotten all too familiar with the ramifications far and wide that a government shutdown brings. Almost the entire federal government, including the legislative branch, comes to a complete stop. There will be politicians on both sides of the aisle trying to deflect blame, and there will be voters across the country trying to assign blame. In the event of a government shutdown, staff who might be deemed “essential” and able to continue to do their jobs are technically prohibited from working on any legislation unrelated to funding the government. It goes without saying that such a scenario could hamper progress on key...

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Jan 5, 2023

New Year Brings Continued Negotiations with Mexico Over Biotech Corn Imports

Key Issues: Trade

Author: Brooke S. Appleton

As we enter 2023, we are reminded that we are now one year out from the effective date of the decree banning most corn imports from the U.S. into Mexico.   The National Corn Growers Association, along with state corn partners, ended 2022 sounding the alarm about this issue and we’re seeing results, though there is still work to do. The current predicament emerged last year when President Andrés Manuel López Obrador promised to enact a decree that would ban all imports of biotech corn into Mexico, effective January 31, 2024.   Since 90% of U.S. corn is biotech corn and because Mexico is one of our top trading partners, the president’s promise threatened to upend a major economic partnership for our nation’s farmers. A study by World Perspectives showed that it also would adversely affect the Mexican economy and lead to issues of food insecurity.   NCGA and state corn partners began an aggressive campaign to bring attention to the issue. We continue to call for the U.S. Trade...

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Dec 6, 2022

A Look at the Ins & Outs of Washington in 2022

Key Issues: Farm Policy

Author: Brooke S. Appleton

It has been an incredibly busy year with many interesting twists and turns along the way. As 2022 draws to a close and the mid-term elections are all but wrapped up, we are beginning to gain clarity on what will be in and out as we enter the new year. So, with no further ado, here are my annual ins and outs as we end one year and head into another.   Ins:    The Farm Bill – The legislation, which governs many of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s programs, is up for reauthorization in 2023. My staff and I, along with our state partners, are working to educate members of Congress about the importance of the farm bill for agriculture. We are already working with our congressional allies to protect and improve programs important to corn growers. Speak up on your priorities, and stay tuned for more updates as the legislative process proceeds.   Coalitions – As discussions about the farm bill intensify, we will work with the broad political partnerships that have been built over...

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Nov 14, 2022

The 2022 Mid-Term Elections Promise More of the Same in Washington – and That’s Not All Bad

Author: Brooke S. Appleton

This year’s election results are still trickling in as of this writing, but there is one thing that is certain: while there will be some changes in Washington, for the most part, we’re going to see more of the same in the new Congress.   Republicans will most likely take control of the U.S. House of Representatives, but, like the current Democratically controlled House, it will be by slim margins. With victories in Nevada and Arizona, Democrats will continue to control the Senate. A run-off scheduled in the Georgia Senate race will determine whether the vice president’s vote will be needed to determine party control.   Everyone in Washington is still sifting through the data to determine what drove voting patterns this year. The results run counter to political wisdom and historical patterns, all of which show that the president’s party typically loses seats by large margins. This is particularly true during economic downturns and when basic staples, like groceries and gas...

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Sep 30, 2022

Time to Drain the Swamp as Elections Near? Not So Fast.

Author: Brooke S. Appleton

There is just something about Washington that comes across swampy.   During particularly brutal heatwaves, Washingtonians like to remind themselves that of course it’s hot; after all, the capital city was built on a swamp. In recent years, voters, who have grown disenchanted with Washington, have been increasingly referring to the capital as the swamp and to its political inhabitants as creatures of the swamp.   But as we look at the facts, Washington the swamp, both metaphorically and as a geographical feature, appears to exist less in reality and more as part of the popular imagination. It’s important that voters understand the circumstances as attacks on Washington can elicit the kind of cynicism that is harmful to the democratic process, as it tempts voters to vote against something they dislike rather than vote for what is in their own best interest. Don’t get me wrong. As someone who grew up on a farm in the Midwest, I understand the frustrations that can arise from...

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Sep 1, 2022

As a Long, Hot, Productive Summer Comes to an End, Corn Growers Focus on Policy Priorities this Fall and Beyond

Key Issues: Farm Policy

Author: Brooke S. Appleton

If there is anything unforgettable about Washington, it’s that the nation’s capital gets hot and humid during the summer months. Perhaps that’s why historically activity in the city has come to a screeching halt in August as members of Congress head home to meet with constituents.   Yet, this summer leaders in Washington continued to crank out results, some of which will impact corn growers. My team and I hope to build on some of this activity as we move into fall and the next Congress.   The summer was bookended by the president’s decision in April to direct the Environmental Protection Agency to use its authority to allow for continued, year-round market access for higher blends of ethanol and with the enactment in August of the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022.   While the president’s decision on ethanol enjoyed bipartisan praise, passage of his signature piece of legislation was completed along party lines.   While we always like to see Congress act in a bipartisan...

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