If the farming profession had a job description somewhere it would say good problem-solving skills and adaptable to change. New products, new technology, new policies, changing markets, changing weather and now on an even broader stage…climate change.
Nick Goeser, National Corn Growers Association’s vice president of production and sustainability, notes there is significant data indicating some key weather and climate factors have indeed changed in many corn growing states across the United States, and with the shift comes new challenges as well as real opportunities.
Identifying and assessing these challenges and opportunities and crafting appropriate next steps is the driving force behind the Climate Task Force formed by NCGA a year ago. The multidisciplinary group – made up of farmers and representatives of NGOs, input suppliers, processors, food companies, retailers, academia and state corn association staff – recently wrapped up its initial charter of developing recommendations for the NCGA Board.
“The group put in long hours evaluating and exploring the options and opportunities to address our changing global climate in a manner that adds value for corn producers, optimizes productivity and improves environmental sustainability,” Goeser said. “We came away with innovative recommendations to adapt to changes we haven’t seen before.”
Ultimately, it’s about optimal yields, environmental enhancement and economic resilience, Goeser notes, because wetter than normal springs affect the ability to apply fertilizer and plant the crop during an ideal window. Also, increases in nighttime temperatures can be disruptive of key plant development stages like pollination.
“The multidisciplinary team looked beyond pure agronomic challenges and also discussed possible policy and economic changes related to climate and greenhouse gas reductions,” Goeser said. “NCGA is always looking to identify and expand educational tools and opportunities for our grower members, and access to carbon markets to improve environmental, economic and social outcomes presents this kind of opportunity.”
The NCGA board will review the recommendations coming from the Task Force in June and two key messages will be presented:
- There is significant opportunity for more formal and consistent communications and engagement with allied industry partners, food companies, retailers, university scientists, environmental interests and economists.
- There is strong interest in continued collaboration on climate change related to additional research, communications and supply chain engagement to support informed decision making.
NCGA is taking a series of actions to do our part to help contain the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) and the economic fallout it is creating for corn farmers and our customers. Short term, this means instituting policies to protect the health and safety of our stakeholders and the broader communities we serve. Long term, we’re focused on creating solutions to help corn farmers and our customers recover from the financial impacts of this crisis.
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.