In The News

Sustainability

Aug 10, 2022

Shared Core Values through the Lens of Sustainability

Key Issues: Sustainability

Author: Stacey Stiens

Last week, members of National Corn Grower Association’s (NCGA) Corn Sustainability Advisory Group (CSAG) came together in Philadelphia. NCGA formed the CSAG in 2019 to proactively drive U.S. corn’s sustainability story and to build consumer trust and to grow competitive market demand. Eighteen months after its formation, in June 2021, members of the group—largely corn farmers from across the U.S.— launched the U.S. Corn Sustainability Goals and the first U.S. Corn Sustainability Report. CSAG members were involved at every step of the process and made all decisions, including setting U.S. corn’s 2030 environmental sustainability goals.   Since the launch of the report and goals, the advisory group has grown and now includes grower representatives from NCGA’s Ethanol, Market Development, Member & Consumer Engagement, Sustainable Ag Research and Stewardship Action Teams; 2 state staff and the 5 national staff leads for each of the four Action Teams; plus, an ex-officio member from...

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Jun 28, 2022

June Plenary Introduces New Leadership and Strategic Vision

Key Issues: SustainabilityResearch

Author: Stacey Stiens

Last week, Field to Market (FTM) held its June Plenary and General Assembly meeting in Raleigh, North Carolina. In addition to being the first in-person plenary held since June 2019, this was the first meeting led by Field to Market’s new president, Scott Herndon, who was appointed in January of this year.    The meeting kicked off with thought-provoking considerations surrounding expanding and exploring research areas. That theme continued throughout the course of the meeting as members discussed possible R & D opportunities to better understand the roles supply chain actors play in supporting the adoption and retention of practices that support sustainable outcomes from U.S. commodity crop production used for our food, feed, fiber and fuel.    Wednesday afternoon’s agenda included a panel presentation focused on the GHG Protocol Land Sector and Removals Guidance draft that will be released in late July.  The guidance will explain how companies should account for emissions and...

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May 31, 2022

Learning Lessons from Chesapeake Bay’s TMDL Implementation

Key Issues: Sustainability

Author: Stacey Stiens

The Water Quality Working Group (WQWG)—comprised of state and national staff—assembled two weeks ago in Grasonville, Maryland, for the spring session of their biannual meetings. On Wednesday morning, the group discussed the Waters of the United States (WOTUS), NRCS Conservation Effects Assessment Project (CEAP) and the work of the Agriculture Nutrient Policy Coalition (ANPC). The afternoon included a visit to Corteva Agriscience’s Chesapeake Farms, where the group toured the grounds and learned about the conservation practices being utilized in the Chesapeake Bay. Attendees also gained insight from a Maryland grower on the area’s required nutrient management planning.   Thursday’s agenda focused on state updates regarding regional policy and programs and included a discussion of the broader implications of the Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for the Chesapeake Bay.  Panelists from the Maryland Department of Agriculture, the

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May 3, 2022

BeSure! with Stewardship BMPs

Key Issues: SustainabilityPollinators

Author: Stacey Stiens

#Plant22 is underway and the BeSure! initiative is back with its fourth annual national campaign to promote best management practices (BMPs) when applying neonicotinoid insecticides. Ag stakeholders appreciate how neonicotinoid seed treatments and other products increase yields and boost revenues, but they are also committed to protecting bees and other wildlife. This spring, growers and applicators can follow a few simple guidelines to BeSure! they’re using pesticides safely.   For Growers:   Follow directions on the label for appropriate storage, use and disposal practices. When planting treated seed, use advanced seed flow lubricants that minimize dust. Additionally, when planting treated seed, eliminate flowering plants and weeds in the field prior to planting. For foliar applications, ensure that sprays are directed away from any flowering plants, follow established buffer zones and calibrate equipment to minimize spray drift. Before making an application, be aware of...

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Apr 22, 2022

Delivering on Our #CornCommitment this Earth Day

Key Issues: SustainabilityPollinators

Author: Stacey Stiens

Leaving the world in better shape than we found it . . . this is a tenet of policy written and upheld by our U.S. corn farmers. So, this Earth Day, let’s each make a commitment to amplify our impact on this front.  Let’s take time to share our conservation efforts!  Let’s illuminate how little changes can make BIG differences! Let’s inspire others to begin writing their own sustainability stories!  Here are some quick and impactful ideas to get started:   Review best management practices for your crop protection tools—like neonics—with Growing Matter’s BeSure! initiative. Consider planting a pollinator habitat!  Check out The Bee & Butterfly Habitat Fund’s Seed A Legacy program. Fill your tank with clean-burning ethanol blends.  Visit Gas Buddy to find the nearest station carrying E15 and E85. Maximize nutrient applications with the 4Rs (right source, right rate, right time and right place). 4 Nutrient Stewardship will get you pointed in the “right” direction! To learn...

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Apr 14, 2022

The Success in Stewardship Network – Honoring 2022’s Recipients at #Classic22

Key Issues: Sustainability

Author: Stacey Stiens

A segment of the panel will be featured on the U.S. Farm Report on Saturday, April 16 at 9 a.m. CT.   The Success in Stewardship Network (SISN), an initiative of NCGA and the Environmental Defense Fund, breaks down the notion that only elite groups can improve environmental results. Conservation practices that protect the land and water are not only accessible, profitable, scalable—they are commonplace on farms across America. Recipients of 2022’s SISN recognition, the Iowa Seed Corn Cover Crop Initiative and INField Advantage, were honored at a panel presentation that was hosted by U.S. Farm Report’s Tyne Morgan.    The event, which was held in National Corn Growers Association’s “Born for the Field” booth, focused on the U.S. Corn Sustainability 2030 Goals and how growers are taking the lead in writing and sharing their personal sustainability stories. The panel kicked off with NCGA Board Member and Field to Market Chair Brandon Hunnicutt drawing the important connections...

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Apr 11, 2022

Sustainability Series Geared to Help Corn in “Getting to Goal”

Key Issues: Sustainability

Author: Stacey Stiens

In support of the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) mission to create and increase opportunities for corn growers and the vision to sustainably feed and fuel a growing world, NCGA leaders established five U.S. Corn Sustainability Goals for 2030.  While the goals are achievable, it will take a unified and concerted effort to support farmers in moving the conservation needle.   The “Getting to Goal” sustainability webinar series for state and national staff is designed to offer relevant resources and create relationship-building opportunities in order to support on-the-ground efforts for continuous environmental improvements. The series kicked off with two sessions in the fall of 2021 and has reemerged this spring:   “The Economics of Sustainability” – October 26, 2021 Dr. Michelle Perez of American Farmland Trust shared summaries of nine soil health economics case studies (conducted through an NRCS CIG) and highlighted the downloadable Retrospective Soil Health Economic...

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Mar 18, 2022

National Butterfly Day + First Day of Spring = Practically Perfect Pollinator Planning

Key Issues: SustainabilityPollinators

Author: Stacey Stiens

Let’s talk environmental equations!  March 14th’s National Butterfly Day plus March 20th’s first day of Spring . . . equals the perfect calendar calculation for planning a new pollinator habitat!   Pollinator health is one of the leading sustainability issues in twenty-first-century agriculture. As public interest in pollinator health continues to increase, stakeholders in this discussion – our members and producers nationwide – have a critical role to play for implementation. Therefore, NCGA has partnered with Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever – the nation’s leading charities for upland wildlife habitat conservation – to provide our members with direct complimentary conservation planning services for pollinator habitat outcomes in Iowa, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio.   In addition, NCGA proudly supports pollinator health awareness through initiatives like the Bee and Butterfly Habitat Fund, the Honeybee Health Coalition and Farmers for Monarchs. These programs offer online...

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Jan 20, 2022

NCGA Director Appointed to America’s Watershed Initiative Board Leadership

Key Issues: Sustainability

Author: Stacey Stiens

The America’s Watershed Initiative (AWI), recently named their 2022 Board of Directors Executive Team. Rachel Orf, National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) Director of Stewardship & Sustainability, was elected as Secretary.   “It is an honor to serve on the board and be a part of an organization that works across so many sectors and states,” said Orf. “The health of the Mississippi River Watershed is critical to ensuring the river remains productive and healthy for future generations.”   Other AWI board members are: Chair Larry Weber, University of Iowa Vice Chair Rainy Inman Shorey, Caterpillar Inc.  Vice Chair Kirsten Wallace, Upper Mississippi River Basin Association Treasurer Michael Reuter, The Nature Conservancy   The announcement of the board stated, “America’s Watershed Initiative is made up of public, private and nonprofit leaders working together voluntarily to improve the health of the Mississippi River Watershed by informing, advocating and leveraging...

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Dec 10, 2021

New Report Details Work of Farmers in Addressing Water Quality Along Mississippi River Basin

Key Issues: Sustainability

Author: Bryan Goodman

A report released this week by the Agricultural Nutrient Policy Council details the work of farmers to improve water quality issues along the Mississippi River Basin. The National Corn Growers Association, a member of ANPC, has played an active role in these efforts.    “This report demonstrates the unique approaches ag groups and farmers are employing to protect water quality,” said Iowa farmer and NCGA President Chris Edgington. “Corn growers are committed to being good environmental stewards as we feed and power America.” ANPC was initiated in 2010 to help state and local agricultural trade associations and companies work with farmers to improve water quality issues along the Mississippi River Basin. This latest report stems from interviews with state agricultural trade associations and highlights the work of farmers in 16 states.    The report will be presented at the Mississippi River/Gulf of Mexico Hypoxia Task Force on Virtual Meeting on Dec. 14. “We encourage our...

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Nov 9, 2021

Allen-Tully Appointed to USDA’s NAREEE Advisory Board

Key Issues: Sustainability

Author: Stacey Stiens

On October 28, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced the appointment of 14 members to the National Agricultural Research, Extension, Education, and Economics (NAREEE) Advisory Board. Eight members are new appointments, and six members are reappointments.   Of those new appointments, one was Dr. Dana Allen-Tully.  She serves as Minnesota Corn Grower Association treasurer and NCGA Sustainable Ag Research Action Team (SARAT) vice chair.  Additionally, Dr. Allen-Tully serves as the Dairy and Nutrition manager for the Gar-Lin Dairy Farm. Her studies included animal science with a Ph.D. in ruminant nutrition.    “SARAT has had the privilege of Dana’s leadership and knowledge.  Her voice will continue to play an instrumental role in elevating corn grower voices, and her appointment to the NAREEE Advisory Board is well-deserved,” said NCGA Research and Productivity Director Robyn Allscheid.  “NCGA is a grassroots organization, and Dana’s new role will continue to help...

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Oct 21, 2021

National Corn Growers Association forges new partnership with Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever

Key Issues: SustainabilityPollinators

Author: Stacey Stiens

The National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) is proud to announce their partnership—funded by NCGA’s Production Technology Access Action Team (PTAAT)—with Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever. This new collaboration will focus on increasing pollinator and wildlife habitat in corn-producing states. Initially, the partnership will focus on corn producers in Iowa, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio, with room for expansion down the road.   “Pollinator health is a leading sustainability issue in 21st-century agriculture,” said Ohio grower and PTAAT Vice Chair Patty Mann. “As public interest in pollinator health continues to increase, stakeholders in this discussion – our members and producers nationwide – have a critical role to play for implementation. By partnering with Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever, NCGA can assist growers with profitability and sustainability measures on their farms for win-win scenarios.”   Pollinators are essential to the health of upland bird habitat and...

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Sep 30, 2021

Corn Continues to be Proactive in the Efforts for Water Quality

Key Issues: Sustainability

Author: Stacey Stiens

The Water Quality Working Group (WQWG)—comprised of state and national staff—assembled last week in Janesville, Wisconsin, for the fall session of their biannual meetings.  On Wednesday morning, the group discussed credit trading markets, Waters of the United States (WOTUS), wheat’s consideration as a cover crop, the Hypoxia Task Force, and nitrate/groundwater rules.  The afternoon included a visit to Roger Rebout & Son’s Farm, where the group heard more about the work being done by Discovery Farms, Wisconsin Farmers on the Rock local watershed group and Illinois Corn’s Rock River program.  Attendees also viewed one of the runoff monitoring stations located on the Rebout operation.    Thursday’s agenda focused on state updates regarding ecosystem markets, regional policy and programs, as well as included discussion of Farm Bill conservation policy and the Precision Agriculture Loan Program Act of 2021.    “Farmers understand what needs to be done and have been responding to...

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Sep 29, 2021

USDA Announces New Climate Project

Key Issues: SustainabilityFarm Policy

Author: Bryan Goodman

The Secretary of Agriculture announced today that the administration will launch a new initiative to help farmers address climate change.   In a speech at Colorado State University, Secretary Tom Vilsack said USDA is investing in a series of pilot projects, as part of the “Climate Smart Partnership Initiative,” which will provide incentives to implement climate smart conservation practices on working lands and to quantify and monitor the carbon and greenhouse gas benefits associated with those practices.   USDA will receive stakeholder input over the next 30 days to determine how the partnerships will be structured and will then initiate a series of partnerships over the next six months.   “Today’s announcement underscores the fact that farmers are part of the climate solution,” said NCGA President John Linder. “We look forward to working closely with USDA in the coming weeks to provide input from corn growers.”   Vilsack also announced $3 billion in additional funds and...

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Aug 18, 2021

NCGA Staff and Growers Share Corns Sustainability Story at Cattlemen’s Convention

Key Issues: SustainabilityAnimal Agriculture

Author: Julie Busse

The National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) participated in the recent National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) 2021 Cattlemen’s Convention and NCBA Trade Show, engaging with leaders of the organization to share corn's sustainability story. NCGA President John Linder and NCGA CEO Jon Doggett were invited to present during NCBA’s executive committee meeting to share NCGA’s recently unveiled sustainability goals and report.   Members of the Market Development Action Team (MDAT) had additional meetings throughout the convention with NCBA and Cattlemen Beef Board (CBB) leadership.   “It is very important to engage with our animal ag partners, especially cattle producers as beef cattle are one of our largest customers,” said Bob Hemesath, Iowa farmer and MDAT Chair. “It was great to share our work and talk about opportunities to partner together in the future. We have built a great relationship with NCBA, and I look forward to continuing to collaborate with cattle...

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Aug 4, 2021

Open Comment Period on Corn’s Continuous Commitment Ends August 8

Key Issues: Sustainability

Author: Stacey Stiens

On June 8 of this year, The National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) released its U.S. Corn Sustainability Goals and the first U.S. Corn Sustainability Report. The release of both the report and the sustainability goals is the culmination of an 18-month, farmer-led process; the report documents a long history of continuous improvement by U.S. corn farmers and the goals set targets for further progress over the next decade.   Looking back over more than the last decade, corn farmers across the country have adopted practices to defend against soil erosion, improve water quality and water use, and manage resources and nutrients through continuous improvements found in modern farming.  From 1980 – 2015:    More corn is being produced on less land. The amount of land required to produce a bushel of corn decreased by 41%.  Per bushel, energy use decreased by 41%, and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions decreased by 31%.  Through the adoption of practices that reduce soil erosion,...

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Jun 23, 2021

Field to Market Recognizes Deb Gangwish in 2021 Farmer Spotlight

Key Issues: Sustainability

Author: Stacey Stiens

The National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) is proud to announce that Nebraska farmer Deb Gangwish has been recognized as one of Field to Market’s 2021 Farmer Spotlight Honorees! Through  the U.S. Corn Sustainability Goals and the first U.S. Corn Sustainability Report, NCGA works to support farmers like Deb to improve environmental outcomes and advance sustainable solutions across the value chain. Field to Market recognized Deb Gangwish on June 23 during its annual Plenary and General Assembly Meeting, recognizing her outstanding leadership in implementing innovative approaches to water conservation and soil health on her farm.   “Our farm was started in 1994, and we began with no-till practices and cover crops.  And as we’ve progressed and grown, our sustainability practices have grown along with the farm,” notes Deb.  “Sustainability is the very heart and soul of everything we do.”   NCGA is dedicated to engaging with farmers to advance continuous improvements in sustainable...

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Jun 9, 2021

EP.21-Leading the Field in Sustainability, with Nebraska Corn Grower Brandon Hunnicutt

Key Issues: Sustainability

Author: Dusty Weis

NCGA charts a course on the future of U.S. corn sustainability for continued improvement, increased marketability and a better future.   In today’s world, farmers face growing consumer expectations, a need for economic resilience and the very real pressures of global climate change.   And they’re meeting these challenges head-on with science-driven practices that prove that sustainability is more than a buzzword in the agriculture industry.   In this episode, Nebraska farmer and NCGA board member Brandon Hunnicutt outlines NCGA’s new sustainability goals, and the benefits he’s seen from thinking about the sustainability of his own operation. He shares his personal insights about smart farming advances, cover crop use, advanced irrigation management and other techniques that make his farm more sustainable, and how he’s saved money and improved yields as a result.   Plus, Jon offers up the view from Washington, and why it’s important for growers to be perceived as part of the...

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Jun 8, 2021

NCGA Releases U.S. Corn Sustainability Goals and Report

Key Issues: Sustainability

Author: Stacey Stiens

Today, the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) solidified U.S. corn farmers’ commitment to environmental, economic and social sustainability with the release of U.S. Corn Sustainability Goals and the first U.S. Corn Sustainability Report. The report documents a long history of continuous improvement by U.S. corn farmers and the goals set targets for further progress over the next decade.    “Corn farmers have demonstrated their commitment to sustainability for decades through their adoption of practices to defend against soil erosion, improve water quality and water use, and management of resources through modern farming advancements,” says John Linder, a farmer from Edison, Ohio, and NCGA President. “NCGA is celebrating this commitment and sharing our story through our Sustainability Report. By setting future goals, we’re both demonstrating our dedication to continued improvement and setting targets to measure this progress.”    Farmer-leaders of NCGA are setting five...

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May 24, 2021

State and National Collaboration Strengthens the Efforts for Water Quality, Soil Health and Sustainability

Key Issues: Sustainability

Author: Stacey Stiens

Last week, the Water Quality Working Group—comprised of state and national corn staff—convened virtually for their bi-annual meeting.   During round table discussions, participants shared policies and regulations affecting their state, as well as local programs impacting agriculture, conservation, nutrients, and water quality.  The group also received updates on issues surrounding constructed wetlands, online watershed analysis, cover crop and prevented planting legislation, the future of Navigable Waters Protection Rule, and the new administration’s infrastructure and climate package.   “We have a dynamic and proactive group,” said NCGA Director of Stewardship and Sustainability Rachel Orf.  “Every member is committed to sharing their knowledge and resources so we can stay apprised of water quality and sustainability issues that directly impact our corn growers.”   This meeting of the Water Quality Working Group brought together state corn staff representing Colorado,...

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Apr 22, 2021

NCGA Supports Reintroduction of Senate Climate Policy Legislation

Key Issues: SustainabilityFarm Policy

Author: Julie Busse

The National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) applauds the bipartisan reintroduction of the Growing Climate Solutions Act, sponsored by Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.). The bill passed out of the Senate Ag Committee this morning. The bipartisan legislation addresses the potential for agriculture to serve as a critical climate solution by making it easier for producers to participate in climate-smart practices, navigate carbon markets and earn extra income through carbon sequestration.   “NCGA thanks the Senators for their leadership and recognition of agriculture’s role as a solution to solving climate change,” said NCGA President John Linder. “Corn farmers continue to be leaders in this space and are always adopting practices that improve the quality of the soil, water, and air around our farms. We look forward to working together on this legislation and others that support voluntary, market and incentive-based...

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Apr 22, 2021

BeSure! This Growing Season

Key Issues: SustainabilityPollinators

Author: Stacey Stiens

Spring has sprung and the growing season is upon us! This Earth Day, the National Corn Growers Association is celebrating the third annual national campaign to promote pollinator health best management practices through BeSure!.   “Making sure farmers have access to the best and most up-to-date information is why NCGA has been a part of the BeSure! campaign from the beginning,” said NCGA Director of Biotechnology and Crop Inputs Nicole Hasheider. “With planting season underway across the country, it’s a great time for farmers to again consider how they can help protect important pollinators around their fields.”   The benefits of neonicotinoid seed treatments in protecting corn seeds from early-season pests are well documented. But farmers and applicators can protect both their crop and pollinators and other wildlife by following a few simple guidelines.    For Growers: Follow directions on the label for appropriate storage, use and disposal practices. When planting...

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Apr 15, 2021

New SHP Business Case Showcases the Impact of Cover Crops on Erosion Control

Key Issues: Sustainability

Author: Amanda Sollman

In a new business case from Soil Health Partnership, Missouri farmers Tim and Trent Gottman share how building soil health through reduced tillage and cover crops has been critical to reducing erosion on their Missouri farm. By keeping the soil in place, they hold onto valuable nutrients and help protect nearby waterways.   It was in the mid-2000s when Tim says he first started noticing a significant change in weather patterns. Rainfall events seemed more frequent and more extreme in the spring, pushing planting dates back later and later. Over years of watching his soils wash away, he and his brother Trent worked toward strategically approaching erosion control in a way that was financially feasible for their farm.   “I don’t want to be the guy that stands in the shop every time we get a big rain and go, ‘Well…’ and just shrug my shoulders,” Tim said. “It seemed to me we needed to start adopting practices where, when that happens, you haven’t lost all your fertility, you...

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Mar 30, 2021

The Future of Sustainability: Nourish the Future Participant Receives Grant in New Jersey

Key Issues: SustainabilityResearch

Author: Cathryn Wojcicki

Sustainable Jersey for Schools recently announced the 34 New Jersey public schools and districts selected to receive Sustainable Jersey grants funded by the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA). Fourteen $10,000 grants and twenty $2,000 grants were distributed to support various projects, including outdoor classrooms, aquaponics food production, water bottle refilling stations, anti-bias training, school wellness programs, waste reduction, student green team capacity building and more. Christine Girtain, a teacher at Toms River High School South and Nourish the Future participant, received one of the $10,000 grants.   "The National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) is proud to partner with teachers like Christine Girtain through our Nourish the Future program,” said Director of Research and Productivity at NCGA, Robyn Allscheid. “We know that her enthusiasm and passion for research and teaching will help inspire other teachers to think about how they can incorporate real plant...

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Mar 29, 2021

Farmers Share Sustainability Story with Food Industry Leaders

Key Issues: SustainabilityConsumer Engagement

Author: Cathryn Wojcicki

More than 200 high-level innovators in the food and beverage industry explored the challenges and successes they face as they continually strive to become even more sustainable during The Future of Food USA through a panel featuring CommonGround volunteer Kellie Blair, who farms in Iowa, and National Corn Growers Association Corn Board Member Brandon Hunnicutt, who also serves as Chairman of Field to Market in addition to farming in Nebraska. The session, Farmer Perspectives: The Key Sustainability Challenges and Successes from the Ground, shared the farmers’ personal experiences adopting sustainability practices and sparked discussions on how business can support farmers to reach shared goals together.   “We focused on the farmer perspective during our discussion of sustainability on our farms, how business can help, and what successes we have seen.  On our own farm, and the farms of the other panelists, it seems we have some of the same challenges: weather, labor, defining...

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Mar 24, 2021

Next Gen Fertilizer Challenge Recipients Identified for Phase Two Trials

Key Issues: SustainabilityProduction

Author: Julie Busse

The Fertilizer Institute (TFI), along with the International Fertilizer Development Center (IFDC), The Nature Conservancy, and the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA), announced the organizations and products selected for Phase two trials in the Next Gen Fertilizer Challenges. Collectively, the challenges aim to accelerate the development of innovative fertilizer product technologies and to increase the use of existing enhanced efficiency fertilizers (EEFS) that maintain or increase crop yields and reduce environmental impacts to air, land, and water. The organizations partnered with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) on the challenges.   “For generations, we’ve seen how innovation has shaped modern U.S. agriculture into the most successful and efficient production system in the world,” said Corey Rosenbusch, TFI president and CEO. “This public-private partnership represents the next generation of fertilizer technologies...

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Mar 23, 2021

New Report Details Connection Between Conservation Practices and Farm Profitability

Key Issues: Sustainability

Author: Stacie McCracken

Conservation’s Impact on the Farm Bottom Line is a new report from Soil Health Partnership (SHP) that details the financial impact of conservation tillage and cover crop usage among Midwest corn and soybean growers.   This project, done in collaboration with Environmental Defense Fund and the accounting firm K•Coe Isom, aimed to: Compare crop budgets for fields using conventional vs. conservation practices Identify benefits, opportunities and limiting factors associated with common conservation approaches, and Help farmers and their business partners better understand the financial dynamics of conservation practice adoption   Based on an analysis of farm operations, management practices and financial records, the project team identified three key takeaways:   Conservation tillage reduces operating costs, resulting in higher net returns per acre among study participants. Cover crops can be part of a profitable farming system, especially as experience with the practice...

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Feb 22, 2021

NCGA Joins Food and Agriculture Climate Alliance

Key Issues: Sustainability

Author: Liz Friedlander

The Food and Agriculture Climate Alliance (FACA) today announced expanded membership, including the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA). NCGA’s membership in FACA is part of the organization’s commitment to sustainability and support for market-based, voluntary opportunities for farmers to advance environmental goals.   FACA consists of organizations representing farmers, ranchers, forest owners, agribusinesses, manufacturers, the food and innovation sector, state governments, sportsmen and environmental advocates. These groups have broken through historical barriers to develop and promote shared climate policy priorities across the entire agriculture, food and forestry value chains.   FACA was formed in February 2020 by American Farm Bureau Federation (co-chair), Environmental Defense Fund (co-chair), FMI – The Food Industry Association, National Alliance of Forest Owners, National Association of State Departments of Agriculture, National Council of Farmer Cooperatives...

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Feb 19, 2021

Opinion: Cracking the accounting jigsaw of on-farm conservation to grow the profitability of healthy soils

Key Issues: Sustainability

Author: AgriPulse

This opinion piece originally ran in AgriPulse   While American farmers are trying to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic and tough economic conditions, they are also being asked to improve soil health and water quality.   Policy and business leaders across the country are setting ambitious targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and other environmental impacts from food production. But farmers can’t be expected to adopt practices like conservation tillage, cover crops and efficient nutrient management without these practices paying off on their balance sheets.   Fortunately, there is growing evidence from farmers who have been able to make sustainable improvements while maintaining or even improving their profitability. Still, agricultural soils are complex, and different conservation practices have different costs, benefits and timelines to return on investment, especially when compared across crop types and geographies.   Simply put, a cover crop that worked for a farmer...

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Feb 2, 2021

Study Shows Precision Agriculture Improves Environmental Stewardship While Increasing Yields

Key Issues: Sustainability

Author: Julie Busse

Association of Equipment Manufacturers Releases “Environmental Benefits of Precision Agriculture” Study and Encourages Adoption of New Technologies   The Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM), in partnership with the American Soybean Association, CropLife America, and National Corn Growers Association, released a study quantifying how widely available precision agriculture technology improves environmental stewardship while providing economic return for farmers.   Precision agriculture leverages technologies to enhance sustainability through more efficient use of critical inputs, such as land, water, fuel, fertilizer, and pesticides. Farmers who use precision agriculture equipment use less to grow more.   The study highlights how policies and technological advancements can help farmers increase these outcomes.   “We are living in a new age of agriculture, and today’s precision technology on equipment can have an enormous positive impact on farmers and the...

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Jan 19, 2021

Data Integration and Management a Big Focus for NCGA in 2021

Key Issues: Sustainability

Author: Mark Lambert

Agriculture has become an expert at collecting data but continues to fall short of the economic and environmental promise the information bonanza represents. The Sustainability Ag Research Action Team (SARAT) of the National Corn Growers Association has made integrating and managing the wealth of information coming from the farm a priority for 2021.   “Farmers have a ton of data on everything from fertilizer performance to machinery efficiency, but it remains difficult to link it all together in a way that makes sense,” said Randy DeSutter, SARAT chairman. “If farmers can integrate it all together on their own farm, so it aids decision-making, then the potential can be realized to become more efficient and more profitable.”   DeSutter is confident information management will only become more powerful in managing machinery, hybrid selection, input timing and overall farm management. However, integrating data from outside the farm is also critical such as in the research...

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Jan 12, 2021

Relationships with New EPA Leaders a 2021 Goal

Key Issues: Sustainability

Author: Mark Lambert

According to Illinois farmer Kate Danner, developing strong relationships with the new leadership at the Environmental Protection Agency will be an important goal for the Production Technology Access Action Team (PTAAT) of the National Corn Growers Association in 2021.   Danner, 2021 chairperson of PTAAT, says, “modern farming is a complicated, sophisticated and constantly changing profession. So, we will take a proactive approach to work on farmers' behalf, defending technology tools but also promoting steps that can be taken to improve the public dialogue.”   Making sure farmers have access to crop protection products that have proven to be safe and effective is critical to economic viability. In many cases, these products allow growers to use farm management practices that are better for the environment. Danner says PTAAT can play a key role in developing strong relationships with EPA and making sure farmers' voices get heard.   “A lot of the work we do revolves around...

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Jan 7, 2021

NCGA to Rollout Several Major Sustainability Initiatives in 2021

Key Issues: Sustainability

Author: Mark Lambert

Showcasing farmers growing commitment to sustainability will be a major goal for the National Corn Growers Association in 2021. Several major initiatives by NCGA, as well as collaborative efforts with partners, will bear fruit in the new year.   “NCGA made a pioneering leap into the sustainability arena with the launch of the Soil Health Partnership. Since then, we have not let up. We have been working to take the next big steps showcasing our dedication to continuous improvement,” said Andy Jobman, Chair of NCGA’s Stewardship Action Team STAT. “Last year’s release of our U.S. Corn Commitment Statement opened the door for a very active 2021, starting with our upcoming Corn Sustainability Report and Environmental Sustainability Goals.”   The report will quantify accomplishments to date on the environment and climate change and chart a course that will create a more environmentally and economically sustainable world for future generations.   NCGA is working with the University...

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Dec 2, 2020

The Success in Stewardship Network Recognizes Good Farming

Key Issues: Sustainability

Author: Mark Lambert

The National Corn Growers Association wanted to make sure the new decade started with a bright spotlight shining on the sustainability renaissance underway in the U.S., and the launch of the Success in Stewardship Network did that in a big way.   NCGA and the Environmental Defense Fund formalized their relationship with a memorandum of understanding in 2020 on joint sustainability goals and have beat the drum loudly all year to recognize and accelerate the use of agricultural conservation practices on U.S. corn farms.   Farmers frequently bemoan the lack of public understanding regarding the positive change that has already occurred, and the accelerating move to sustainability still underway. The Network celebrates and connects the farmers and their programs that are already driving change with proven conservation practices and encourage the trend to continuous improvement.   The Success in Stewardship Network uses public recognition to foster and strengthen the ongoing...

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Nov 13, 2020

NCGA Sustainability Efforts Have a Clear Focus Gaining Momentum

Key Issues: Sustainability

Author: Mark Lambert

Over the last four years, the National Corn Growers Association has homed in on sustainability initiatives completing a full assessment of its checkoff-funded organizational efforts and initiatives, NCGA CEO Jon Doggett told attendees of Field to Market’s Fall Plenary & General Assembly Meeting in his Keynote Address.   The productive effort looked at what is happening on the ground at the state and national level, and what our customers along the value chain were doing on sustainability. The investigation asked what goals the industry is setting, what was driving those decisions and delved into corn growers evolving role in meeting these goals.   “For decades, corn farmers have been making advancements in how they grow their crops, but they never referred to it as sustainability. To them, it was just the right thing to do, so they were good stewards of their land,” Doggett said. “But now we are bringing our customers together to evaluate and explore the options and...

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Oct 9, 2020

Sustainability Research to Drive Corn Demand and Collaboration Continues with Industry Partners

Key Issues: SustainabilityAnimal Agriculture

Author: Julie Busse

Sustainability and profitability go hand-in-hand and that’s been the focus of a partnership between the National Pork Board (NPB), United Soybean Board (USB) and National Corn Growers Association (NCGA).  Two years ago, the three organizations signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on a sustainability research platform that will benefit all three organizations and their producers.   Since the MOU was signed, the groups have been collaborating on sustainability goals and initiatives, as well as a feed sustainability blueprint project. This project intends to encourage on-farm and facility outcome-based goals that contribute to watershed and sustainability goals. The objective is to establish practices, definitions, and standards on how to measure and track the sustainability of feed ingredients, primarily soybean meal and corn, with a focus on water quality, water quantity, climate resilience and wildlife habitat.   “America’s pig farmers are committed to producing pork and...

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Sep 1, 2020

Post-Harvest is a Great Time to Establish Pollinator Habitat

Key Issues: SustainabilityPollinators

Author: Mark Lambert

Fall is the best time to establish a pollinator habitat for a couple of key reasons, according to Peter Berthelsen, with the Bee and Butterfly Habitat Fund (BBHF), which is supported by NCGA. So, if you are considering helping honeybees, monarchs and other pollinator species, your time is coming soon.     The first step in the enrollment process is to complete the Seed A Legacy program application form. Make sure to read and consider the complete Program Guidelines here. You can apply online or contact us at info@beeandbutterflyfund.org to request an application.   Dormant seedings when the soil temperature goes below 50 degrees work extremely well, he notes, because fall timing can offer a post-harvest planting window for farmers before things freeze. And it sure works a whole lot better than trying to carve out time during busy spring planting.   Many wildflower seeds also have a hard dormancy (a hard exterior). Freezing and thawing during the winter months crack the seed,...

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Aug 26, 2020

NCGA to Support EPA and USDA on Future Fertilizer Strategies

Key Issues: Sustainability

Author: Mark Lambert

Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced the Next Gen Fertilizer Challenges, a joint EPA-USDA partnership and competition to advance agricultural sustainability in the United States. The competition includes two challenges that seek proposals for new and existing fertilizer technologies to maintain or improve crop yields while reducing the impacts of fertilizers on the environment.   Along with EPA and USDA, the competition is coordinated with the National Corn Growers Association, The Fertilizer Institute, the International Fertilizer Development Center, and The Nature Conservancy.   “This is a great opportunity to partner with USDA and EPA in developing new technologies that will help farmers advance their sustainability efforts,” said Kevin Ross, NCGA president. “Corn farmers are committed to sustainability and have made major improvements in recent years related to fertilizer use and nutrient management,...

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Aug 3, 2020

America’s Watershed Initiative Appoints New Executive Director

Key Issues: Sustainability

Kim Lutz has been named as the new Executive Director for the America's Watershed Initiative. AWI is a collaboration among hundreds of business, government, academic, and civic organizations, including the National Corn Growers Association, with a mission of finding solutions to the challenges facing the Mississippi River and its tributaries.   AWI serves as a voice for the entire Mississippi River Watershed, working to chart an action plan for the watershed that secures the long-term health of our nation, its communities, economies and natural systems. The NCGA Director of Stewardship and Sustainability, Rachel Orf, serves on the AWI board.   NCGA supports AWI efforts because the infrastructure of the Mississippi River Watershed continues to face significant challenges at the same time its national and local importance continues to grow. The fourth-largest watershed in the world, the Mississippi River Watershed traverses 31 U.S. states and two Canadian provinces, comprising...

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Jul 28, 2020

Pollinator Protection Efforts Continue to Expand

Key Issues: SustainabilityPollinators

Author: Mark Lambert

Throughout the growing season, farmers utilize stewardship practices for proper pesticide use while protecting crops from insect pests and also protecting pollinators. NCGA supports the BeSure! campaign as one way to support farmers, protect bees and other wildlife. Some of the other groups we work with include:   Honey Bee Health Coalition Farmers for Monarchs EDF Monarch Butterfly Habitat Exchange Bee and Butterfly Habitat Fund You can find a wealth of information on protecting pollinators in NCGA’s publication Best Management Practices for Pollinator Protection in Field Corn at https://cdn.ncga.com/file/133/HBHC_Corn_030119.pdf.   Keystone Monarch Collaborative also offers an excellent resource called the Insect Pollinators and Pesticide Product Stewardship guide.   Knowing and following label instructions is a key step to protect all pollinators. Farmers and applicators know that reading and following labels are the first and most important consideration when...

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Jul 14, 2020

NCGA Mid-Year Report Offers Look at Efforts to Help Corn Farmers Meet the Challenges of 2020

Key Issues: EthanolSustainabilityTradeAnimal AgricultureBiotechnologyConsumer EngagementHigh-Octane Low-CarbonNew UsesProduction

Author: Mark Lambert

Despite marketing and economic challenges and a pandemic, farmer leaders of National Corn Growers Association continue to advocate and work to improve the lot of the nation’s family corn farmers. Some of the steps being taken are covered in a new  2020 mid-year report  released online today.   “2020 began with reason for optimism in our industry. The signing of the USMCA trade deal, emerging corn purchases by China, a successful challenge to EPA granting RFS waivers and approval of year-round sales of E-15 had us all looking toward an economic rebound. Then the Coronavirus pandemic stunned the world,” said Kevin Ross, NCGA president. Through it all, corn farmers continue to go to work.  They answer the bell, responding by putting us on track to produce an abundant crop once again.”   You can view the report here.    

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Jun 30, 2020

Jobman Recognized For Sustainable Farming Practices

Key Issues: Sustainability

Author: Mark Lambert

National Corn Growers Association is proud to announce Nebraska farmer Andy Jobman has been recognized as one of Field to Market’s 2020 Farmer Spotlight Honorees! Jobman is Vice Chairman of NCGA’s Stewardship Action Team and Vice President of the Nebraska Corn Growers Association.   Through Soil Health Partnership and Field to Market, NCGA works to support farmers, such as Andy, to improve environmental outcomes and advance sustainable solutions across the value chain. Field to Market recognized Jobman on June 24 during its annual Plenary and General Assembly Meeting, recognizing his outstanding leadership in implementing innovative approaches to environmental stewardship on his farm.   “I want someone to look back and say that’s how we want to model our future farming practices,” says 5th generation farmer, Jobman.   NCGA is dedicated to engaging with farmers to advance continuous improvements in sustainable outcomes across the food and agriculture value chain....

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Jun 24, 2020

Senate Ag Committee Reviews Growing Climate Solutions Act

Key Issues: Sustainability

Author: Liz Friedlander

The U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry today held a hearing to review the Growing Climate Solutions Act of 2020 (S. 3894). The bipartisan legislation addresses the potential for agriculture to serve as a critical climate solution by making it easier for producers to participate in climate-smart practices, navigate carbon markets and earn extra income through carbon sequestration. NCGA has endorsed the bill.   The committee heard from witnesses representing varied agriculture industries, including Brent Bible, a corn and soybean farmer and Soil Health Partnership (SHP) participant from Lafayette, Ind.   “Agriculture has a tremendous opportunity to lead by example with impactful, common-sense climate solutions. Farmers are vital partners in stabilizing the climate and increasing resilience to climate impacts we can’t avoid,” Bible told the Committee.   The Growing Climate Solutions Act will:   Create an Online “One Stop Shop” for Producers and...

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Jun 23, 2020

Pollinator Week is a Good Time to Review Best Management Practices

Key Issues: SustainabilityPollinators

Author: Mark Lambert

National Pollinator Week is June 22-28, 2020, so it is an excellent time to think about the best management practices you have in place to protect critical pollinators like honeybees and Monarch butterflies. It all starts with awareness.   Experts say talking to neighbors, applicators and nearby beekeepers goes a long way toward protecting pollinators from unintended pesticide exposure. To make sure you have the bases covered on the latest best management practices, be sure to check out this publication funded by your state checkoff investment.   Pollinator Week, approved by the U.S. Senate 13 years ago, is designated as a time to not only celebrate pollinators (such as bees, birds, butterflies, bats and beetles) but also a time to address what can be done to protect pollinators and their habitats.   Your Corn Grower organization engages in pollinator education all year round. It works cooperatively with The Honey Bee Health Coalition, Farmers for Monarchs, and the

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Jun 4, 2020

Senate Legislation Promotes Agriculture in Climate Policy

Key Issues: Sustainability

Author: Liz Friedlander

The National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) today endorsed the Growing Climate Solutions Act, legislation introduced by U.S. Senators Mike Braun, R-Ind., Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., Lindsay Graham, R-S.C., and Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I.   The bipartisan legislation addresses the potential for agriculture to serve as a critical climate solution by making it easier for producers to participate in climate-smart practices, navigate carbon markets and earn extra income through carbon sequestration.   “Corn farmers have been leaders in adopting farming practices to improve the quality of soil, water, and the air around our farms and are pleased to endorse the Growing Climate Solutions Act. This bipartisan effort recognizes agriculture’s role in mitigating the impact of climate change and promotes voluntary, agriculture-friendly ideas into the climate discussion. NCGA thanks the Senators for their leadership and looks forward to working together to implement a policy that benefits both...

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May 27, 2020

Second Annual BeSure Campaign Aims to Help Bees

Key Issues: SustainabilityPollinators

Author: Mark Lambert

The second annual “BeSure!” campaign supported by National Corn Growers Association is underway and runs through July.  The effort focuses on helping pollinators by promoting best management practices and habitat creation all year long.   BeSure centers on promoting proper use of neonicotinoid products to protect honeybees and other pollinators critical to the food supply and ecosystem. This year, the campaign is seeking to reach not only growers and applicators, but also golf course, turf, and ornamental landscape managers.   In its first year, BeSure! focused its messaging on major crops in the Midwest that utilize neonicotinoid-treated seed, such as corn and soybeans. This year, the campaign is expanding to include neonicotinoid foliar sprays, soil drenches, and granule uses on fruits, nuts, vegetables, turf, trees, and ornamental plants that bees visit.   (It’s also extending outreach to include the citrus industry in California and Florida where neonicotinoids have been...

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May 22, 2020

New Faces, New Experiences, SHP Welcomes New Intern

Key Issues: Sustainability

Author: Mark Lambert

This summer, the Soil Health Partnership welcomes Krystin Oborny to the staff as an intern. Throughout the summer, Krystin will be assisting with various SHP projects as well as interfacing with National Corn Growers Association staff and farmers on a variety of programs.   Krystin will be a senior this fall at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln where she is studying Agriculture Education with a minor in Agricultural Economics. Next spring, Krystin will be a student teaching in Humphrey, Nebraska to pursue her end goal of becoming an FFA advisor. Originally from Garland, Nebraska, she grew up raising registered Black Angus cattle, corn, and soybeans.   Over the course of her internship, Krystin will be working on a variety of projects, including helping out in the Nebraska, Kansas and South Dakota territories alongside Keith Byerly, Field Manager for Kansas and Nebraska. Additionally, she will be connecting with other National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) teams to learn...

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May 13, 2020

Farmers' Passion for Stewardship Remains Strong in Uncertain Times

Key Issues: Sustainability

"The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.” Albert Einstein   Nebraska farmer Brandon Hunnicutt is a lifelong learner who has a curious bent, especially when it comes to pursuing sustainable farming practices. He agrees with Albert Einstein that an inquiring mind can drive positive change, but he has no desire to end up like the infamous cat of curiosity fame.   “Our farm tries to stay up on the cutting edge of technology. But we do it after a lot of investigation and talking with others and then doing an evaluation on our farm on a smaller scale,” said Hunnicutt, a fifth-generation farmer, who currently farms with his dad (Daryl) and his brother (Zach). This evolutionary approach has led to incorporating many of the latest technologies while integrating conservation tillage practices and cover crops, on a nearly 100 percent irrigated farm.   Moving to water sensors is a great example of how technology can address both...

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May 6, 2020

PepsiCo Partnership with Farmers Cutting Greenhouse Gas

Key Issues: Sustainability

Author: Mark Lambert

In a big win for clean air, corn farmers in Illinois and PepsiCo have documented the ability to cut CO2 emissions, a major greenhouse gas contributor, through the adoption of cover crops and other sustainable farming practices. The partnership with PepsiCo and other large corporations across their supply chain is achieving large reductions in carbon emissions.    In the first two years of the corn checkoff-funded project, participating farmers have reduced CO2 emissions by 8,155 metric tons, equivalent to taking 1,762 cars off the road. In Illinois, Precision Conservation Management (PCM), Illinois Corn Grower Association’s premier conservation program, is working with PepsiCo to drive change at the farm level and achieve these substantial emissions reductions.   “PepsiCo is a leading example of how consumer packaged goods companies can partner with farmers to work towards their sustainability goals.  PepsiCo understands that investing in farmers and helping farmers understand...

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Apr 29, 2020

Use Crop Protection Products Safely and Responsibly

Key Issues: Sustainability

Author: Mark Lambert

Deciding how to manage weeds, insects, and diseases that routinely attack crops and landscapes is just one of many decisions farmers and applicators must make each season. When choosing crop protection tools, both effectiveness and potential impact on the environment must be considered.   Protecting bees and other wildlife is a major part of good stewardship practices and why the National Corn Growers Association supports the efforts of Growing Matters and the BeSure Campaign.   Neonicotinoids are important because they are a key part of the integrated pest-management systems used by many farmers. Neonics are selective, effective, and safe for the environment when used correctly and according to label instruction. They also help increase yields and are good for the economy and allows farmers to meet society's needs for corn without farming additional acres.   As you head to the field in the days ahead, please read the label to minimize potential exposure of neonics to bees...

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Apr 23, 2020

Calculated, Data-Driven, Measured and Profitable Success Key to Growing Stewardship

Key Issues: Sustainability

Author: Mark Lambert

It may sound like heresy, but getting the highest yields possible on your farm may not be the most direct path to a profitable farm. In fact, a heavily data-driven program called Precision Conservation Management (PCM) indicates to truly utilize the economic benefit of conservation practices, you must suspend the belief that higher corn yields equal increased profitability.   According to Travis Deppe, director of Precision Conservation Management for the Illinois Corn Growers Association, “the quest for higher yields has been baked into farmers’ psyche for generations. PCM challenges participants to consider that obtaining high yields, and the higher input costs that goal often requires, may not be the best economic or conservation model for many farms.”   Ben Wurmnest, who farms near Sibley, Ill. has spent the last five years active in PCM. He and his brother, Josh, have taken a stewardship journey that tests this theory and utilizes information from a formal cost-benefit...

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Apr 22, 2020

Minnesota Farmers Successfully Merge Pursuit for Efficiency and Stewardship

Key Issues: Sustainability

Author: Mark Lambert

Matt Alford and Sam Peterson’s Minnesota farms maybe 100 miles apart, but when it comes to conservation and stewardship, they might as well live next door. Both share a common mind regarding their desire to explore and embrace new ideas, improve their farm's environmental footprint and business profile, and network with other farmers.   The conservation-minded Alford, aptly from Blue Earth, Minn., says in his search to make the farm more sustainable, he has learned, “it’s not just doing the right thing but doing the right thing in an optimal way.  You have to do your homework, pay attention to the details and make a commitment.”   However, sometimes finding the right path and balancing goals like cleaner water, healthier soil and business profitability can involve significant risk. In a low margin enterprise like farming, risk can be a deal-breaker and stifle innovation. Both men found a way around this conundrum by matching up their desire to focus on stewardship with a...

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Apr 3, 2020

Cover Crop Survey Seeks Farmer Insights

Key Issues: SustainabilityProduction

Author: Mark Lambert

An online survey at https://bit.ly/CCSurvey2020 is gathering perspective on cover crops from farmers and crop advisors nationwide. This is the sixth cover crop survey by USDA's SARE (Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education) program, the Conservation Technology Information Center (CTIC) and the American Seed Trade Association (ASTA).   The questionnaire takes 10 to 15 minutes to complete. Participants who complete the survey can enter a drawing for Visa gift cards worth $100 and $200.   SARE, CTIC and ASTA say they are seeking insights not just from long-time cover crop users, but also from farmers with little or no experience with cover crops.   In past years, the SARE/CTIC/ASTA Cover Crop Survey has been used by conservation district and agency personnel, farm suppliers, researchers and policymakers to guide resources into research, communications and policy around cover crops, says Mike Smith, project director for CTIC. The report has even been cited in Congressional...

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Mar 31, 2020

Sustainability Focus Continues to Grow at NCGA

Key Issues: Sustainability

Author: Mark Lambert

A new Corn Sustainability Advisory Group (CSAG) met recently to discuss how NCGA can focus on corn sustainability and advise the NCGA board on how to proactively tell corn’s positive story of change and constant improvement.   The group made up of farmer representation of NCGA’s Ethanol, Market Development, Sustainable Ag Research and Stewardship Action Teams, NCGA staff, and state corn staff – will also work toward building consumer trust and growing competitive market demand by offering a broad view of NCGA’s current initiatives as well as establishing goals for the future.   “We have a lot going on organizationally that links directly or indirectly to sustainability. CSAG will work to help to identify areas for strengthening, integration and expansion,” said Rachel Orf, NCGA director of Sustainability. “We will also step up our engagement with corn sector partners and value chain members to identify mutual goals, opportunities for collaboration and bring more cohesion to our...

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Mar 12, 2020

Soil Health Network Broadens Reach with Podcast

Key Issues: Sustainability

Author: Mark Lambert

The Soil Health Partnership will launch a new podcast called “The People of Soil Health” on April 7, 2020. The Podcast will provide a direct connection into the network of soil health professionals who are focused on the on-farm economic and environmental benefits of soil health.   SHP Senior Director John Mesko will serve as the host and will interview the best in the agricultural and environmental industries to discuss soil health practices and management systems, issues facing farmers, and insights from soil data sets.    During the first episode Mesko will be visiting with SHP Lead Scientist Dr. Maria Bowman to review SHP’s first business case about an Indiana farmer and the economic benefits of his wheat cover crop management practices. As the science of soil health continues to evolve, Maria has become a recognized leader in collecting and analyzing on-farm data to help farmers improve their decision making.   “At our core, SHP believes in the power of partnerships. The...

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Feb 27, 2020

New Stewardship Network Celebrates Growing Momentum on Conservation in Agriculture

Key Issues: Sustainability

Initiative from National Corn Growers Association and Environmental Defense Fund will help farmers collaborate to remain productive and profitable   The National Corn Growers Association and Environmental Defense Fund today launched the Success in Stewardship Network at Commodity Classic to celebrate and accelerate the use of agricultural conservation practices on U.S. corn farms.   The network will showcase success stories from the many farmers and state-level programs putting stewardship into practice, with the goal of building an ever-growing network of corn farmers who are also conservation leaders. Today, NCGA and EDF recognized the Minnesota Corn Innovation Grant Program and the Illinois Corn Precision Conservation Management Program for their farmer-supported efforts to deliver clean water, healthy soils and farm profitability.   “The Success in Stewardship Network will break down the notion that conservation is only for an elite group of farmers,” said Callie...

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Feb 26, 2020

Ep. 3: Climate-Proofing Agriculture and Adding Value to the Industry, with EDF

Key Issues: Sustainability

Author: Dusty Weis

Listen to Wherever Jon May Roam on iTunes, GooglePlay, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.   Farmers are the original environmentalists. For generations, they’ve tended the land, kept track of its health and put their hearts, backs and livelihoods into keeping it productive.   But in an era of climate change and extreme weather events, it’s going to take new allies and new tactics to help farmers in that mission, and the National Corn Growers Association has found an important partner in an unexpected place.   In this episode, NCGA CEO Jon Doggett and Environmental Defense Fund Senior VP of Ecosystems David Festa discuss the common ground they’ve discovered in helping growers weather storms, grow their profits and reduce their impact on the environment. They’re joined as well by NCGA VP of Production and Sustainability Nathan Fields.   Learn more about EDF’s conservation efforts to bolster farm finances.      Direct share TRANSCRIPT   David Festa: I've never...

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Feb 20, 2020

Farmers Join Forces for Sustainability and Responsible Climate Policy

Key Issues: SustainabilityFarm Policy

Author: Mark Lambert

This week, NCGA joined 21 farm groups to publicly launch Farmers for a Sustainable Future (FSF). The coalition’s mission is to share U.S. agriculture’s commitment to sustainability and the tremendous strides that have already been made to reduce agriculture’s environmental footprint. FSF will serve as a resource for lawmakers as they consider climate-related policies, providing its guiding principles as a foundation to further advance adoption of conservation programs. FSF’s principles call for policies that support science-based research, voluntary incentive-based conservation programs and investment in infrastructure   Corn farmers have long been leaders in working to improve the quality of soil, water, and air around our farms through NCGA programs, including the Soil Health Partnership (SHP).   More about the coalition, guiding principles and sustainability achievements can be found at sustainablefarming.us.   Also this week, USDA Secretary Perdue announced a new USDA...

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Feb 13, 2020

NOVEL APPROACH REWARDS FARMERS FOR ADOPTING EARTH-FRIENDLY PRACTICES

Key Issues: Sustainability

Author: Mark Lambert

This week supporters of the Ecosystem Services Market Consortium (ESMC) are meeting to discuss progress and review pilot programs geared toward expanding stewardship on the nation’s farms.   Driving the novel approach of ESMC is the notion that rewarding farmers is the best way to generate environmental assets that improve soil health on farmer’s land, according to Rachel Orf, NCGA’s Stewardship and Sustainability Director.   Participants heard about pilot project opportunities for 2020 surfaced by four working groups made up of volunteer ESMC member representatives and science advisers. The selected projects will drive ESMC’s efforts to launch a fully functioning national scale ecosystem services market conceived and designed for the agriculture sector by 2022.   “The ESMC will enable farmers and ranchers to voluntarily adjust crop and livestock production systems in ways that increase soil carbon sequestration and retention, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve water...

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Feb 12, 2020

Now Is A Great Time to Consider Pollinator Habitat

Key Issues: SustainabilityPollinators

Author: Mark Lambert

A growing partnership between the National Corn Growers Association and the Bee and Butterfly Habitat Fund (BBHF) supports creating new habitat for pollinators and you can help by considering adding habitat on your farm. The good news is the technical assistance and seed mix is free.   NCGA, with the assistance of state corn checkoff dollars, is working to raise the profile of the BBHF’s efforts and the free resources they make available to make farms more sustainable.   “If farmers have a resource concern, they have an area that is underperforming, it’s a great place to consider putting in some habitat, some additional vegetative cover, for water quality issues or erosion,” said Peter Berthelsen, Partnership Director at BBHF. “These areas present opportunities where pollinator habitat can work with a producer to address their resource concerns, and that’s a great fit for how we want to work with agriculture.”   Brandon Hunnicutt, an NCGA board member who works with the...

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Feb 5, 2020

Soil Health Partnership Expands Capabilities with New Staff

Key Issues: Sustainability

The Soil Health Partnership (SHP) is pleased to introduce Dr. Carrie Roever as the new Data Manager.   Dr. Roever’s primary responsibility will be to assist in organizing and finding efficiencies in the SHP data. “I enjoy assembling the puzzle that is involved with figuring out data and looking for efficiencies. I’m eager to dig into SHP’s data and make sense of how it all fits together,” she commented.   SHP, a program of the National Corn Growers Association, promotes the adoption of soil health practices for economic and environmental benefits. SHP collects on-farm data that enable farmers to understand the long-term changes in soil health in order to make management decisions based on regional data sets.   Dr. Roever completed her bachelor’s degree at Indiana State University, her master's degree at the University of Alberta and her doctorate at the University of Pretoria. Her degrees are in wildlife biology, looking at habitat selection.   After her doctorate, Dr....

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Feb 4, 2020

NCGA’s Annual Report Reflects On Significant Wins Amidst Challenging Times

Key Issues: EthanolSustainabilityTradeAnimal AgricultureBiotechnologyConsumer EngagementFarm PolicyNew UsesProductionResearch

Author: Mark Lambert

The National Corn Growers Association’s Ann ual Report for the 2019 fiscal year is now available online.  The report highlights memorable events and victories accomplished in a year characterized by weather and policy challenges.   “NCGA was in some pretty amazing positions in 2019. From sharing the stage with President Trump to having a beer with the Coors family after the Super Bowl attack on corn sweetener,” said 2019 NCGA First Vice President Kevin Ross from Iowa. “We are constantly prepared to engage, and we are looking for new allies and new conversations to represent corn growers better.”    Through unruly weather, flooding, sluggish markets and trade disruptions, NCGA members kept moving forward together to reach long-term, strategic goals to improve prices and the overall future of the industry. As the year ended NCGA’s grassroots efforts resulted in several major trade victories, a strong support system through the farm bill, and more opportunity for E15 and other...

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Dec 9, 2019

Winter is a Great Time to Plan Monarch Habitats

Key Issues: Sustainability

Author: Beth Musgrove

Continuing to expand pollinator habitat was a central issue at the recent annual meeting of the Monarch Collaborative attended by Nicole Hasheider, NCGA Biotechnology and Crop Inputs Director.   NCGA has been an active member in the collaborative for several years, which brings together a variety of national organizations representing farmers, ranchers and landowners, businesses working along the agricultural supply chain, researchers, academic institutions, federal and state entities and conservation organizations.   U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is scheduled to release its decision on whether or not to list the monarch as an endangered species by the end of next year so increasing habitat is more important than ever.   Monarch butterflies face a wide array of challenges including a loss of habitat and lack of access to milkweed and nectar resources. Monarchs also face threats from weather and...

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Nov 22, 2019

Growing Trust A Key Development Driving Sustainability Efforts

Key Issues: Sustainability

Author: Cathryn Wojcicki

The word “sustainability” may be a bit over-used in agriculture, but it is way more than a buzz word as evidenced by the 2019 Sustainable Ag Summit held in Indianapolis this week. More than 650 people converged on the event hosted by Field to Market, Pork Checkoff, U.S. Poultry & Egg Association, U.S. Roundtable for Sustainable Beef, Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy and the Stewardship Index for Specialty Crops and attended by representatives of National Corn Growers Association and the Soil Health Partnership.   “We had a lot of technical discussions with groups ranging from farmers, suppliers, processors, manufacturers, retailers, academics, conservation groups and public sector representatives. But to me a big take-away was the growing comfort level between these diverse participants,” said NCGA Stewardship and Sustainability Director Rachel Orf. “We’re trying to establish agriculture as a driver of large-scale, sustainable solutions that will meet consumer’s needs, but we...

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Oct 23, 2019

NCGA Joins America’s Conservation Ag Movement

Key Issues: Sustainability

Author: Beth Musgrove

Driving sustainable farming practices is a priority of NCGA. That’s why it joined the America’s Conservation Ag Movement, a unique partnership between Farm Journal’s Trust in Food Initiative and leading agribusinesses, food companies and non-profit organizations. A national education and engagement program, it’s designed to more rapidly scale the adoption, documentation and beneficial outcomes of conservation agriculture. It will build upon the work of NCGA, USDA, land grants and others that have worked to improve the ecological impact of agriculture.

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Sep 16, 2019

Farmers Must Play Key Role in Effort to Reduce Greenhouse Gases

Key Issues: SustainabilityProduction

Author: Mary Quigley

Efforts throughout society, and virtually every industry, to cut greenhouse gases are underway and agriculture is no exception. There is also a growing awareness throughout the supply chain that any successful initiative will start with farmers.   “There is no silver bullet for addressing GHGs and climate change outcomes, but we are working in the right direction,” said NCGA’s Stewardship and Sustainability Director Rachel Orf. “Throughout the Ag supply chain, from conservation groups to the largest retailers, there is solid agreement that this effort needs to be driven by science. And if it doesn’t work for farmer’s it doesn’t work at all.”   Orf attended a meeting hosted by Field to Market last week in Washington, D.C. with the objective of better understanding climate change risk facing the ag value chain, including retailers, conservation groups, farmers, agribusiness. The Field to Market effort, which is focused on cross-sector dialogues, began last fall with the goal of...

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Aug 27, 2019

Teeter Joins SHP as Minnesota Field Manager

Key Issues: Sustainability

Author: Mary Quigley

Anna Teeter is SHP’s newest team member, joining as a Field Manager covering Minnesota. Anna most recently received her master’s degree at the University of Wisconsin-Madison from the Department of Soil Science. Her thesis evaluated preserving nitrogen from fall-applied dairy manure using nitrapyrin, a nitrification inhibitor, in combination with spring wheat as a fall cover crop.    “Anna is a great addition to the SHP Field Manager team. Her extensive experience working with diverse farming operations will bring a great perspective to Minnesota farmers,” commented SHP Field Team Director, Jack Cornell. Anna received her undergraduate degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison double majoring in Agronomy and Life Science Communication. Throughout her undergrad, Anna worked with the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Forage Extension Specialist and gained experience working with a diverse group of farming operations. Additionally, Anna served as a Crop Scout at Tilth...

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Aug 22, 2019

Conservation Action Tour Showcases Advances in Sustainability

Key Issues: Sustainability

Author: Mary Quigley

NCGA Stewardship and Sustainability Director Rachel Orf is in central Iowa this week attending the 2019 Conservation Technology Information Center Conservation in Action Tour. Attendees are examining a wide range of edge-of-field systems, in-field solutions, and management practices on the farm and at those being adopted by retailers.   “The theme of the 12th annual Conservation in Action Tour, Conservation at The Leading Edge, is reflected in how farmers hosting tour stops are literally at the leading edge of conservation practices,” Orf said. “Healthy soil and clean water are incredibly valuable assets for farmers living - and making a living - from the land as well as society at large.”   Yesterday the group got to see a bioreactor in the process of being constructed. In agricultural applications, bioreactors are vessels/trenches filled with woodchips that literally contain water briefly allowing bacteria to filter and clean the water from the farm field. They are...

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Aug 1, 2019

Soil Health Partnership Celebrates 5 Years of Growth and Collaboration

Key Issues: Sustainability

Author: Mary Quigley

The Soil Health Partnership (SHP) has been fostering transformation in agriculture through improved soil health since 2014. This year, SHP celebrates its fifth anniversary and the foundational collaborations that developed the program.   SHP was founded by a diverse group of organizations with a shared vision of developing a farmer-led research network to measure the impacts of implementing soil health practices on working farms. The Nature Conservancy (TNC), Bayer, the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), alongside the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA), came together to see this vision through. This program was based upon work supported by the National Resources Conservation Service, U.S Department of Agriculture.   “We are proud of the collaboration led to SHP’s establishment. That collaboration has continued to grow and evolve with many partners, bringing dynamic perspectives to the table. We would not be where we are today without our founding partners sharing the...

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Jul 30, 2019

Senate Staffers Hear About the Intersection of Soil Health and Climate Change

Key Issues: SustainabilityFarm Policy

Author: Mary Quigley

    A standing-room-only crowd attended a briefing: “An Overview of Climate Smart Agriculture and Forestry” in Washington, D.C. today to hear experts like Executive Director of the Soil Health Partnership Dr. Shefali Mehta, highlight the agricultural practices farmers are adopting that can help mitigate climate change.   The briefing was hosted by the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry and targeted a diverse group of staffers interested in learning more about how farming practices are helping make farmers more resilient in the face of a changing climate.   “Practices such as reducing or eliminating tillage and growing cover crops can improve soil health, and they also hold the potential to increase carbon sequestration and storage and to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions associated with agricultural production,” Mehta said. “In addition to their role in climate change mitigation, these practices can make agricultural land—and farm operations—more...

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Jul 26, 2019

Annual Monarch Blitz Kicks Off July 27

Key Issues: Sustainability

Author: Mary Quigley

Tomorrow marks the beginning of the 3rd Annual International Monarch Monitoring Blitz in Canada, Mexico and the United States. The event from July 27 to August 4, 2019, invites people across North America to go out to gardens, parks and green areas and monitor milkweed plants for monarch eggs, caterpillars, chrysalises and butterflies.   The information will help researchers identify priority areas for monarch conservation. It also provides a great way to build overall awareness of the importance of the Monarch butterfly to our ecosystem and biological diversity.   NCGA supports Monarch conservation initiatives because of their contribution to productive agriculture. An increase in milkweed and nectar plants appropriately placed in rural areas can benefit Monarchs without inhibiting production, and farmers are in a great position to establish Monarch habitat.   You can learn a lot more from NCGA’s new publication called Best Management Practice for Pollinator Protection in...

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Jul 19, 2019

SHP Soil Sessions: Crop Update and Scouting Tips

Key Issues: Sustainability

Author: Mary Quigley

You still have time to sign up for a unique webinar to get a U.S. crop update and learn crop scouting techniques and strategies. The Soil Health Partnership sponsored event will be held July 30, 2019 at 11 a.m. EST / 10 a.m. CST.   During the session discussion will revolve around:   How to scout fields with cover crops during planting What to expect with a late harvest? Drone scouting techniques and strategies   If you are unable to join live, please still register. A recording of the webinar will be shared with all registrants so you can listen any time. You can register here.

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Jul 12, 2019

Cover Crop Benefits Clearer in Drought and Wet Years

Key Issues: SustainabilityProduction

Author: Mary Quigley

Joe Breker needs his own tee shirt that reads “No Tillage, More Plants” or “Cover Crops Are Good Risk Management.” The North Dakota farmer thinks the tandem of no-till farming and the use of cover crops are key to making farmers more resilient in good times and bad, deluge or drought.   That’s because National Corn Growers Association’s 2017 Good Steward Recognition Recipient has spent four decades working to make his farm more sustainable and he has seen the conservation and business benefits of protecting and enriching the soil with cover crops, especially when mother nature provides too little or too much rain.   “If you already have established cover crops in a wet spring as we’ve had, it protects the soil from erosion and in some cases can get you in the field faster. That’s important when getting planting done is a challenge,” Breker said. “Sure, some fields are just too wet but cover crops generally improve your chances for success in most years.”   And Breker is not...

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Jun 26, 2019

Sustainability: Making Dollars and Sense in Agricultural Sustainability Programs

Key Issues: Sustainability

Author: Mary Quigley

Consumer interest in where and how their food is produced is on the rise, and many leading brands and retail companies have responded by setting ambitious sustainable sourcing commitments. However, plenty of challenges remain to make sure all participants, from farmer to retailer, share in the value from the evolving marketplace.   Better understanding this conundrum and finding solutions and incentives throughout the value chain is a key topic of discussion at the Field to Market Meeting in Oakbrook, Ill. this week. NCGA staff, including Rachel Orf, Director of Stewardship and Sustainability, are in attendance seeking opportunities to partner with other organizations and companies on projects.   Orf says many farmers are making substantive changes in their farming operations with sustainability goals in mind. But, for the progress to continue, there must be clear incentives to enhance farmers’ livelihoods such as protecting and maintaining farm productivity and better prices...

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Jun 25, 2019

SHP Testifies in Support of Investment and Collaboration in Soil Health Practices

Key Issues: Sustainability

Author: Mary Quigley

The Soil Health Partnership (SHP) Executive Director, Dr. Shefali Mehta testified today at a House Agriculture, Subcommittee on Conservation and Forestry hearing in support of investment in soil health practices.   The SHP, a program of the National Corn Growers Association, is a farmer-led effort that has built a network of over 220 farmers in 15 states and over 100 partner organizations at the federal, state and county levels over the past five years.    “Our partner farmers work with us over five years to measure the impacts of the practice change. We measure basic soil macro- and micronutrients every year on the field, as well as soil health indicators every other year. Through this process, we are creating an in-depth data set from which to support farmers’ decisions and to understand the long-term changes in soil health over time. We look for impacts on yield, input use, and the farmer’s profitability,” explained Dr. Mehta.   “The farmers we work with are exceptional...

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Jun 19, 2019

Virtual Reality Immerses Viewers in Monarch Butterflies’ 3000-Mile Migration

Key Issues: Sustainability

Author: Mary Quigley

The Monarch Effect, an interactive, virtual reality experience, will debut today during National Pollinator Week in Washington, DC. Created by Environmental Defense Fund and the National Corn Growers Association, The Monarch Effect immerses viewers in monarch butterflies’ incredible 3,000-mile migration through North America. The journey begins in the oyamel fir forests of central Mexico, where tens of millions of monarchs spend the winter. Viewers then join consecutive generations of monarchs as they fly north into the American heartland looking for the milkweed and wildflower habitat they need to survive.   “Being surrounded by millions of monarchs during our shoot in Mexico was one of the most surreal and magical moments of my life,” said Eric Holst, associate vice president for working lands at EDF. “This technology transports people there, letting them feel that same sense of awe.”   Monarch populations have plummeted 90% over the past two decades due to habitat loss,...

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Jun 19, 2019

Mesko joins SHP as Development Director

Key Issues: Sustainability

Author: Mary Quigley

The Soil Health Partnership is pleased to announce that John Mesko has joined as the Development Director, bringing vision and a breadth of experience to the SHP team.   Mesko grew up on a diversified crop and livestock farm in Minnesota, gaining a passion for farming and tremendous respect for farmers.  After graduating from Purdue University with a bachelor's degree in agronomy and a master’s degree in agricultural economics, Mesko’s diverse career in agriculture has centered around helping farmers become more financially and environmentally sustainable.    He served as a sales agronomist and technical information manager for Mycogen Seeds. As a County Extension Director for Purdue University, his work centered on farm management and developing new markets for farmers. In addition to raising and selling grass-fed beef and lamb for a dozen years, John has led two sustainability-minded nonprofits: The Sustainable Farming Association and the Midwest Organic and Sustainable...

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Jun 19, 2019

Byerly Joins SHP as Kansas & Nebraska Field Manager

Key Issues: Sustainability

Author: Mary Quigley

Keith Byerly has joined the Soil Health Partnership as the Kansas and Nebraska Field Manager. Byerly brings a broad set of experiences and expertise to this role.     “I am really impressed with Byerly’s experience of communicating his agronomic knowledge to the growers in his region across various platforms,” said SHP Field Team Director, Jack Cornell. “SHP is dedicated to continually helping farmers make more informed decisions to become more productive in their operations, and Byerly is going to help us provide Kansas and Nebraska farmers with local support.”   Byerly graduated with a degree in agronomy from the University of Nebraska Lincoln in 2001 and has been a Certified Crop Advisor since 2002. Byerly spent the last eighteen years working for a cooperative that served multiple states out of Nebraska. For fifteen years, he has been a precision ag manager focusing on data services, prescriptions and hardware.  Raised on the edge of the Nebraska Sandhills, Byerly holds a...

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Jun 17, 2019

Pollinator Week Is A Great Time To Think Small

Key Issues: Sustainability

Author: Mary Quigley

So many big things on a farm: buildings, equipment, fields, and even the scale of business decisions. So, sometimes it can be easy to forget the small things like honey bees, Monarch butterflies and other pollinators that play a critical role in the health of the environment and high yields on many crops.   “That’s why we have a National Pollinator Week – Junes 17-23, 2019 - which launches today. Pollinators are an indispensable natural resource in agriculture and healthy ecosystems,” said Roger Zylstra, a Lynnville, Iowa farmer who heads the National Corn Growers Association’s Stewardship Action Team. “There is a growing awareness amongst farmers that they are on the front line in playing a critical role for their survival and NCGA is trying to help.”   NCGA is working cooperatively with numerous groups like The Honey Bee Health Coalition, Farmers for Monarchs, and the Environmental Defense Fund to expand pollinator awareness through education and providing tools to assist in...

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Jun 7, 2019

Ag Innovation and Sustainability on Display at DC Area Farm

Key Issues: Sustainability

Author: Cathryn Wojcicki

Key staff from multiple government agencies are getting a crash course in the latest farming techniques and agricultural technology from industry experts at the Modern Ag Sustainability Field Day Demo Day outside of Washington, D.C. today.   The Office of Pesticide Programs, Environmental Protection Agency, Natural Resources Conservation Service, USDA Pest Policy Management and Foreign Ag Service are all represented at the event on the family farm of Chip Bowling in Newburg, Maryland.   Bowling, a former NCGA president and current chairman of the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance, hosted the event along with NCGA, Agricultural Equipment Manufacturers, American Soybean Association, American Seed Trade Association, National Agricultural Aviation Association and the Fertilizer Institute.   The day featured in-field demonstrations of modern conservation tillage, precision planting, spraying and harvesting equipment. The group also saw drones and the latest in seed and fertilizer...

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Jun 5, 2019

U.S. Farmers Should Take a Bow on World Environment Day

Key Issues: Sustainability

Author: Mary Quigley

Today is World Environment Day and for U.S. farmers that makes it a great time to celebrate their success in modernizing agriculture and make it more environmentally sustainable. Improved soil management like no till and use of cover crops, precision farming tactics that better utilize nutrients and pesticides, and reducing trips across fields reduces fuel use and air pollution.   This list could go on, but suffice it to say, caring for the planet is vital to our survival. As caretakers of massive tracts of land farmers play a key role in improving our environment and they take this responsibility seriously.   From the Soil Health Partnership, which is building new soil for future generations; to the Take Action initiative that is constantly educating farmers on the latest and best ways to use crop products like herbicides and pesticides; to our efforts to save honey bees and Monarch butterflies, NCGA is working hard to keep farming profitable and assure environmental...

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May 22, 2019

Efforts to Help Struggling Honey Bee Population Gaining Momentum

Key Issues: Sustainability

Author: Cathryn Wojcicki

Corn is wind pollinated and does not benefit from insect pollination so why the heck do corn farmers care about bees?   Well, few farmers grow only one crop and bees play a critical role in 80 percent of flowering crops. Even bigger picture, bees are a critical part of thriving ecosystems, including those found across the Corn Belt.   That’s why more and more farmers are keeping pollinators in mind as they manage their fields each year and make longer term plans for their operation, according to Nicole Hasheider, NCGA’s director of biotechnology and crop inputs. NCGA is doing its part to help by partnering with the Honey Bee Health Coalition and through the introduction of a new resource on pollinator protection.   Bees can cover up to 3,200 acres as they travel looking for nectar and pollen, which means the odds are high they are eventually going to end up hanging out in a cornfield. Corn pollen, while of low nutritional value to honey bees, can still be an important component...

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Apr 3, 2019

Exploring the Role of Corn Sustainability in the Beef Supply Chain

Key Issues: SustainabilityAnimal Agriculture

Author: Mark Lambert

The National Corn Growers Association participated in the U.S. Roundtable for Sustainable Beef’s Feed Transparency Summit at McDonalds Headquarters in Chicago last week. Representatives from the major grain aggregators, feed yards, packers, brands and retailers, as well as non-governmental organizations (NGOs) were also present.   “Continuing to be a part of these conversations is extremely important, as corn and DDGs are a primary component of rations fed to beef cattle,” said NCGA First Vice President and Iowa farmer Kevin Ross. “The meeting was the first step towards exploring opportunities to pilot a collaborative project between the grain and beef value chains to improve transparency. Consumers are asking more and more questions about where their food comes from. The summit brought together stakeholders from across the beef supply chain to discuss that.”   Each group in attendance had the opportunity to expand upon the challenges and opportunities within their industry and...

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Apr 2, 2019

NCGA Releases Pollinator Protection Guide

Key Issues: Sustainability

Author: Mark Lambert

The National Corn Growers Association – in partnership with the Honey Bee Health Coalition – is releasing new best management practices (BMPs) to protect bees and other pollinators in and around corn fields.   At roughly 92 million acres, field corn covers more land than any other row crop in the country, and in the Midwest Corn Belt, corn often makes up to 40 percent of the landscape or more. The BMPs presented in the NCGA’s new guide identify potential effects of agricultural practices on bees at each stage of production and recommend ways to mitigate those impacts.   The digital publication showcases specific strategies such as reducing dust and drift while planting a pesticide-treated seed.   “While corn does not rely on honey bees for pollination like some crops, bees depend on neighboring plants for forage,” said Nathan Fields, NCGA vice president of production and sustainability. “As good stewards of the land, corn growers can follow these BMPs to help protect honey...

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Mar 28, 2019

Good Weed! Bad Weed!

Key Issues: Sustainability

Author: Mark Lambert

If you’re a city dweller, you probably don’t think much about weeds except for the occasionally dandelion in your front yard. Gardeners often have a mixed opinion on weeds depending on the specific kind, and if you are a professional farmer, you likely see nothing redeeming about weeds.   While lambsquarter gives some farmers nightmares, others cultivate it in their gardens because they say it’s delicious.  As with most things time softens or even change opinions. Given that it is National Weed Appreciation Day, it seems a good time to explore the emerging school of thought that not all weeds are created equal. So, is it a good weed or a bad weed?   Some folks prefer to wax poetic and argue a weed is simply a plant growing out of place. Well, that’s largely hokum. They got their original classification as weeds because they have no redeeming value as far as food, nutrition or medicine are concerned. But there is a growing appreciation for the ecological contributions being...

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Mar 19, 2019

Consider Pollinator Plantings as You Gear Up for Spring

Key Issues: Sustainability

Author: Mark Lambert

If you are a Monarch butterfly supporter buckle up because here’s some good news. The yearly count of the Eastern Monarch butterfly population that overwinters in Mexico was released recently, showing an increase of 144 percent over last year’s count.   After years of struggles with a host of challenges from bad weather to loss of habitat, the large butterfly count - the highest count since 2006 comes as welcome news. But not too fast, because Western Monarchs continue to struggle due to drought, wildfires, pesticides and loss of habitat.   Landowners and farmers are uniquely situated to support the Monarch and are already making a difference. Habitat plantings can fit into many niches on the agricultural landscape, including conservation lands, grazing lands, rights-of-way, field margins, field borders, pivot corners, conservation lands, ditches, buffers and other low-productive lands. Milkweed and other nectar-producing flowers planted in these areas yield multiple on-farm...

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Mar 6, 2019

Minnesota Farm Family Represents Generations of Stewardship

Key Issues: Sustainability

Author: Cathryn Wojcicki

A Minnesota farm family’s four generation conservation initiative garnered national attention at the Commodity Classic in Orlando, Fla. The National Corn Growers Association’s presented Rick Schlichting’s - Schlichting Farms of Rice, Minn. with its 2019 Good Steward Recognition.   “NCGA defines sustainability as the pursuit of constant improvement and the Schlichting family personifies this description,” said Lynn Chrisp, NCGA president of Hastings, Neb. “Their progressive farming practices and contributions to healthier soils, cleaner water and sustainable crop production are nothing short of extraordinary.”   The program and recognition funding are provided by the NCGA’s Stewardship Action Team to raise awareness among U.S. farmers of the importance of conservation agriculture.   The Schlichtings farm 6,600 acres of cropland, and the operation reflects their commitment to the concept of regenerative agriculture. They employ cover corps, crop rotation, extreme nutrient...

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Feb 20, 2019

Planting is Coming and So Are the Pests. Are You Ready?

Key Issues: SustainabilityProduction

Author: Cathryn Wojcicki

If you haven’t looked into the innovative and proactive Take Action initiative of late, it might be a great time to give the widely expanded program supported by National Corn Growers Association and a host of partners a closer look.   The great news is the educational campaign is evolving and growing at a fast pace and now provides information on dealing with herbicide-resistant weeds, and fungicide and insect resistance.   Finding a clearer path to a more sustainable and profitable way to farm is made much easier thanks to Take Action. The mission here is to choose the best available tools and technology for the environment, your balance sheet and all with an eye on preserving access to these important tools. Informed management is just smart farming.   Take Action on Weeds, which the National Corn Growers Association promotes as a resource of farmers combating herbicide resistance issues, was developed by the United Soybean Board. Based on that success new technical...

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Jan 28, 2019

RFA & NCGA Co-Title Sponsorship of 2019 Crappie Masters Tournament Trail Begins This Week

Key Issues: EthanolSustainability

Author: Julie Busse

The 2019 season of the Crappie Masters Tournament Trail begins later this week, with the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) and the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) signed on as co-title sponsors for the third consecutive year. The first of 16 tournaments begins Friday, Feb. 1 in Deland, Fla., between Daytona and Orlando, at St. Johns River.   “Crappie Masters is pleased to again have the Renewable Fuels Association as a 2019 co-title sponsor of the Crappie Masters All American Tournament Trail,” said Crappie Masters President Mike Vallentine. “We have done significant education outreach to the boating community on the benefits of 10 percent ethanol blends (E10), and have helped push back on misinformation on higher blends like E15. Every Crappie Masters tournament winning team for the past four years has safely used E10 fuel with no reported engine issues. We plan to continue to help dispel the myths propagated by ethanol’s opponents, and support homegrown,...

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Jan 17, 2019

Weak Farm Economy Not Hampering Drive to Healthier Soils

Key Issues: Sustainability

Author: Mary Quigley

This week’s Soil Health Summit 2019 with Soil Health Partnership was the largest ever—360 registered attendees made their way to St. Louis to learn and network. A diverse group including farmers, corporations, educators and environmental groups spent two days talking about soil health. The summit provided many takeaway messages and insights of interest. Here are just a few:   Enthusiasm for learning new sustainability practices and adopting new farm management tools to protect and improve soil is not being slowed by a prolonged downturn in the farm economy. Many farmers, landlords, and others are investing in the long game to assure more sustainable and profitable agriculture.   SHP outreach is building a diverse coalition of partners from farms all the way to consumers. The program and the network being created is growing rapidly.   The common interest of proving the latest farming techniques, building healthier soils, cleaner water while maintaining farmer...

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Jan 15, 2019

Look Down, You Are Standing on Our Future

Key Issues: Sustainability

Author: Mary Quigley

How do we feed a growing population and meet additional, related demand from other sectors for crops (like corn) while also addressing farmers and consumers desire for continuous improvement, healthier soils and cleaner water? Enter the Soil Health Partnership.   Today and tomorrow, SHP is hosting a meeting with national significance called the Soil Health Summit 2019 in St. Louis, Mo.  SHP Executive Director Shefali Mehta says the diverse partnership is “a gathering of unlikely partners” that includes farmers, agronomists, environmental groups, and partners from throughout the value chain from the farm all the way to finished consumer products.   Mehta, notes a key thing that sets SHP apart is supporters moved beyond “just talking” quickly, and the “unlikely partners” rallied around their shared desire to help farmers improve soil health while maintaining and improving profitability. The result is a boots-on-the-ground effort that is turning farmers fields into a research...

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