When the National Corn Growers Association entered a new fiscal year Saturday, North Dakota farmer Kevin Skunes assumed the role of first vice president. Off the Cob spoke with the new officer to explore the challenges he sees as most important to corn farmers in the next year and discuss his thoughts on leadership.
To listen to the full interview, click here.
Skunes gave an overview of his priorities this year, which are demand, demand and the ability to meet demand.
“The first demand that I referenced is the Renewable Fuel Standard,” he explained. “This program, which the United States has in place, facilitates the mixing of ethanol into the fuel supply. We know that ethanol is a high priority for NCGA, because it generates demand for corn. I don’t want to make it too simple, but it is very important that we have this. The RFS puts forth a mandate that we have 15 billion gallons of corn in the fuel supply. The EPA has set the Renewable Volume Obligation below that for this year. We believe that EPA should follow the statute.
“The second demand that I believe is important is the Trans Pacific Partnership. This trade deal is very good for American agriculture. This trade deal will go through even without the United States. If it is not approved, it will put American farmers at a disadvantage in many markets due to the tariffs which will be imposed upon the goods that they need to export.
“The third point that I mentioned is the ability to meet demand. The EPA is considering actions that would take away some of the tools in the farmers’ toolbox. One of the most important is atrazine. Farmers have used this proven chemical for many years to control weeds. More than 7,000 studies have proven atrazine is safe, but the EPA is not looking at this issue in terms of sound science.
“Farmers need atrazine not only because it is effective but also because it is cost effective. We have found that it would cost the average farmer about $59 per acre if they were to lose the ability to use atrazine due to increased input cost and yield loss. Atrazine even helps fight weed resistance.
“The comment period on atrazine ends tomorrow. I recommend that all farmers and those who rely upon agriculture comment to the EPA. Tell them that farmers need atrazine.”
To submit comments on this important issue, click here.
CommonGround is a group of farmers connecting with consumers through conversations about science and research and personal stories about food and misinformation surrounding farming. Supported by the NCGA and state corn organizations.
The Soil Health Partnership (SHP) is a farmer-led initiative that fosters transformation in agriculture through improved soil health. Administered by NCGA the partnership has more than 220 working farms enrolled in 16 states. SHP’s mission is to utilize science and data to partner with farmers who are adopting conservation agricultural practices that improve the economic and environmental sustainability of the farm.
The Corn Utilization and Technology Conference (CUTC) is a biennial event happening this June. Learn more.