In The News

Sustainability

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:Sustainability

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

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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Jul 9, 2020

Soil Health Partnership Releases Cover Crop Planting Report

Key Issues:Sustainability

The Soil Health Partnership’s Cover Crop Planting Report shows that farmers are using diverse strategies to plant cover crops and a variety of plant species to accomplish their soil health goals.   SHP is the flagship sustainability program of the National Corn Growers Association. They conducted a detailed survey on cover crops with more than 80 farmers across 11 states in the SHP network about cover crop usage on their trial sites in the fall of 2019.   “We know farmers in our network are innovators, and that there is a huge range of cover crop management practices across our network depending on the farmer’s management goals, where they are located, their soils, and cropping systems,” said Dr. Maria Bowman, Lead Scientist for the Soil Health Partnership.   Bowman says the most significant finding was that although more than half of farmers planted their cover crops between the middle of September and the beginning of November, almost...

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Jun 30, 2020

Jobman Recognized For Sustainable Farming Practices

Key Issues:Sustainability

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

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:Sustainability

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

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:Sustainability

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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:Sustainability

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 25, 2019

Soil Health Partnership Announces Several Open Positions

Key Issues:Sustainability

As the Soil Health Partnership heads into its fifth year of long-term data collection on working farms, the organization is hiring for several roles to support its expanding footprint. Open roles include Development Director, a Michigan Research Manager, Soil Health Kansas-Nebraska Field Manager, and Soil Health Minnesota Field Manager.   The Development Director plays a critical role in leading the relationships and partnership development for the SHP. The Development Director will provide internal support to the SHP Executive Director and work closely with the team of National Directors. This position will partner with the SHP National staff to build a comprehensive partnership and relationship plan to ensure long-term support of our unique on-farm science program. The position will also provide oversight of and contribution to communication efforts.   The Michigan Soil Health Research Manager will provide technical assistance and research collaboration for the Soil Health...

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Mar 19, 2019

Consider Pollinator Plantings as You Gear Up for Spring

Key Issues:Sustainability

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

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 26, 2019

The Bottom-Line Benefits of Sustainability

Key Issues:Sustainability

In today’s economic environment it’s more important than ever to focus on business survival as a key element of all the management decisions you make, and this is true of efforts to make the farm more sustainable too.   As agriculture and society become more focused on sustainability, efforts that emphasize the bottom-line benefits of moving to more sustainable practices are on the rise. And, this week, that’s the focus of a special Learning Center session at this year’s Commodity Classic sponsored by National Corn Growers Association.    So, join Shefali Mehta, executive director of soil and sustainability, NCGA; Nathan Fields, NCGA vice president of production and sustainability and Suzy Friedman, senior director of agricultural sustainability, Environmental Defense Fund on March 1 from 2:15 p.m. to 3:15 p.m. in room W208 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla.   Fields says there is an emerging pathway to cleaner water, healthier soil and a potential income...

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Feb 20, 2019

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

Key Issues:SustainabilityProduction

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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Feb 13, 2019

Soil Health Partnership Call for Proposals

Key Issues:Sustainability

The Soil Health Partnership (SHP) announced it is accepting proposals for partnerships and collaboration for 2019. SHP encourages any organization or individuals who have an interest in working together to submit ideas.   “At the SHP, we collaborate with a diverse network of partners ranging from universities to industry and government groups to non-profits,” said Dr. Shefali Mehta, executive director of the Soil Health Partnership. “These broad partnerships enable SHP to maximize the impact of our work. This year we are making this specific call for proposals to ensure that we continue to seek out diverse partners and include a fuller range of ideas.”   Applicants are required to complete the Request for Partnership form on the SHP website. The deadline for submissions is Friday, March 15, 2019.   “Whether working with soil science or agronomy experts, developing a partnership in a new state as we expand our farmer network, or fueling a graduate student’s passion for soil...

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Jan 28, 2019

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

Key Issues:EthanolSustainability

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

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 16, 2019

Second Annual Soil Health Summit Awards Honor Best in Soil Health

Key Issues:Sustainability

Five dedicated leaders in soil health received “Seeds of Change” awards at the 2019 Soil Health Partnership Summit, Jan. 15-16 in St. Louis. These awards highlight those participants in the Soil Health Partnership who go above and beyond to promote soil health throughout the year.    “The Soil Health Partnership’s strength has its roots in our committed and supportive partners—especially the farmers and agronomists who play an important role in our ability to support research-based practices,” said Dr. Shefali Mehta, executive director of the Soil Health Partnership. “These five individuals exemplify the very best of our dedicated partners, and we thank them for their great work.”   The five award recipients are:   Super Sprout: Brian Ryberg, Buffalo Lake, Minnesota. As a first-year member of the partnership, Ryberg has jumped right into active involvement with activities that included holding a field day. Ryberg values collaboration, according to SHP staff, and has worked...

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Jan 15, 2019

Look Down, You Are Standing on Our Future

Key Issues:Sustainability

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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Dec 11, 2018

NCGA Statement on WOTUS Rule

Key Issues:Sustainability

National Corn Growers Association President Lynn Chrisp made the following statement on the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) release of the new Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule. The new rule replaces the 2015 WOTUS rule that would have increased regulatory burdens and costs for farmers.   “Farmers rely on clean water and are committed to protecting our environment and the communities where we live and work. With a clear understanding of what is and is not jurisdictional under the Clean Water Act, farmers can implement stewardship practices such as grass waterways and buffer strips without the burden of bureaucratic red tape or the fear of legal action.   “NCGA looks forward to fully reviewing the new WOTUS rule to ensure that it provides clear jurisdictional boundaries to farmers, protects our nation’s water and can be implemented without confusion.”

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Dec 4, 2018

Soil Health Partnership Expands New Program to Grow Network and Data

Key Issues:Sustainability

Just in time for World Soil Day on December 5, the Soil Health Partnership announced it is expanding a pilot project to give more farmers access to the soil health network.    As the organization launches phase 2 of its pilot Associate Program, it will invite 75 farmers to enroll in 2019. This will enable more farmers to join SHP in its mission of using science and data to support farmers in adopting agricultural practices that improve the economic and environmental sustainability of the farm.    The economic component of soil health has taken on an increasing level of urgency during a difficult farm economy, said Shefali Mehta, executive director of the Soil Health Partnership.   “We’ve seen increasing demand from farmers who would like to join our network,” Mehta said. “Expanding the pilot phase of our Associate Program provides a great number of farmers with access to a scientific platform to evaluate soil health as part of a comprehensive management strategy.”   Joining...

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Nov 15, 2018

NCGA, USFRA Put Farming Sustainability in the Spotlight in Denver

Key Issues:Sustainability

The National Corn Growers Association joined other agricultural groups in telling farmers’ sustainability story during the “Cultivating Collaboration for Sustainable Food Systems” at the 2018 Sustainable Agriculture Summit in Denver this week. Lauren Biegler, a farmer from Minnesota who participates in both CommonGround and the Soil Health Partnership, represented the association during this dynamic panel, which was hosted and organized by the U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance.   USFRA believes that farmers and ranchers are the solution to enhanced sustainability practices and varying climate patterns. The panel, hosted during this value chain- inclusive event, shared the current practices farmers employ and the potential for further improvement in the future with retailers and companies focused on consumer packaged goods.   During the session, farmers representing various commodities discussed the importance of communication and collaboration in working towards a shared goal of...

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Nov 15, 2018

NCGA Names Robyn Allscheid Director of Research and Productivity

Key Issues:Sustainability

The National Corn Growers Association welcomes back Robyn Allscheid, who rejoins the organization as the director of Research and Productivity in the St. Louis, Mo. office.  Allscheid previously served at NCGA as manager of research and business development from 2008 to 2010. She will serve as staff lead for the Corn Productivity and Quality Action Team as well as leading NCGA’s research programs.   “Robyn has a deep background, both academically and professionally, that will help NCGA coordinate and develop research programs across the state and national levels,” said Vice President of Production and Sustainability Nathan Fields.  “Her proven skill and previous experience have allowed her to hit the ground running, already adding to the team in a positive, productive way that will benefit our efforts to maintain and create opportunities for U.S. corn farmers.”   Allscheid comes to NCGA from the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center where she ran the lab for the Center’s...

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Nov 14, 2018

Environmental Defense Fund, National Corn Growers Association Launch First-of-Its-Kind Partnership

Key Issues:SustainabilityFarm Policy

Powerful collaboration will scale conservation through data, policy and farmer outreach   Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) today announced a first-of-its-kind partnership between an environmental organization and commodity crop association. The partnership aims to address one of the most pressing challenges for today’s farmers, rural communities and natural resources – how to improve environmental outcomes while optimizing productivity and profitability.   “Many practices that increase soil health and water quality also boost farmers’ bottom lines,” said Suzy Friedman, senior director of agricultural sustainability at EDF. “EDF and NCGA have worked together for many years to align economic incentives and environmental outcomes. Formalizing our partnership was a natural next step to accelerate progress toward our shared goals.”   “The public expects greater stewardship and transparency from farmers, and it’s critical for the...

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Nov 8, 2018

Commodity Classic Registration Opens Wednesday, November 14 at 10:00 a.m. Central

Key Issues:Sustainability

Registration for America’s largest farmer-led, farmer-focused agricultural and educational experience officially opens at 10:00 a.m. Central on Wednesday, November 14.   The 2019 Commodity Classic will be held Thursday, Feb. 28 through Saturday, Mar. 2 in Orlando, Fla. To register, reserve hotel rooms and sign up for email updates, visit CommodityClassic.com.  Early bird discounts on registration end January 10, 2019.   Established in 1996, Commodity Classic is unlike any other agriculture event, featuring a robust schedule of educational sessions, a huge trade show featuring the latest technology, equipment and innovation, top-notch entertainment, inspiring speakers and the opportunity to network with thousands of farmers from across the nation.   “Commodity Classic is unlike any other agriculture event because every experience, every educational session, and every speaker at Commodity Classic is selected by farmers, for farmers,” said Wesley Spurlock, a Texas corn farmer...

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Aug 24, 2018

Solutions to Lake Erie’s Nutrient Issues Found in Emerging Partnerships

Key Issues:Sustainability

Water management and water quality are the key focus this week for State and National Corn Growers Association staff attending a one of a kind meeting on Put-In-Bay South Bass Island in Lake Erie.   The goal of the Summer Water Quality Meeting is to better understand how algal blooms on the lake became a national story and more importantly how agriculture and its allies are responding, said Tadd Nicholson, Executive Director of the Ohio Corn & Wheat Growers Association.   The heart of the two-day meeting was a tour of Stone Lab, Ohio State University’s research center which is supported and operated by the University in partnership with Ohio Sea Grant program and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.   The Stone Lab allows researchers to identify plankton, measure chlorophyll content and cyanobacteria toxins which can result from blooms of blue green algae. They also test for nutrients such as phosphorus and nitrogen which enter the lake from multiple sources...

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Aug 21, 2018

NCGA Joins Efforts to Block WOTUS

Key Issues:SustainabilityFarm Policy

On Monday, a broad coalition of agriculture organizations, including the National Corn Growers Association, asked a federal district court in South Carolina to stay its order striking a rule that delayed implementation of the 2015 Waters of the U.S. rule. Absent a stay, the court order puts the 2015 rule in effect in the 26 states where courts have not already stayed its implementation.   The coalition warned of the “patchwork regulatory regime” created by allowing implementation of the WOTUS rule in about half the nation.   “Enormously consequential national regula­tions like the WOTUS rule—which subject commonplace activities involved in building, farming, and pest management to a complex and burdensome federal permitting and enforcement scheme—should not apply differently depending on whether the activity happens to be located on one side of a state line or the other,” the organizations wrote in their filing with the court.

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Aug 16, 2018

Dr. Shefali Mehta Tapped as New Leader of Soil Health Partnership

Key Issues:Sustainability

Shefali Mehta had a fascination with plants from early in her childhood. From her time growing up in New England, through her education and work in agriculture in the U.S. and around the world, she followed her passion, launching a notable career as an agricultural and environmental economist.   Mehta has been tapped as the new executive director of the Soil Health Partnership, a long-term data project that measures and quantifies the impact of farm management practices known to promote healthy soils.     “Everything we have literally starts with the soil, which is intimately connected to our very survival and ability to take care of current and future generations,” Mehta said.   Soil health is taking on elevated importance in agriculture as a means to protect topsoil, helping farmers manage extreme weather, increase profitability, protect water quality and sequester carbon. Practices that improve soil health include growing cover crops, reducing tillage and taking a...

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Aug 2, 2018

Get #SoilSmart: Soil Health Partnership Launches Soil Health Awareness Campaign

Key Issues:Sustainability

Visit Brian Corkill’s Twitter page, and you’ll learn that he’s a farmer, husband, father, Illini and coach, with a passion for “Ag, technology, learning and preserving what we have for future generations.”   The 48-year-old Corkill, who owns and runs BA Farms in Galva, Illinois, is among the growing number of farmers engaging in social media to enhance farm business, learn, and connect with his industry. The Soil Health Partnership has launched a new campaign to reach more farmers like Corkill on social media and help them get “soil smart.”   “It’s pretty clear to me that social media isn’t just a fad, and if we want to help other farmers learn the value soil health can bring to their operation, we can reach them through social channels,” Corkill said.    Corkill, an enrolled farmer in the Soil Health Partnership, serves on a committee that helped shape the  new #SoilSmart campaign, which launched Aug. 1 and will run through the fall. Funded by a grant from the Walton Family...

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Jul 30, 2018

Good Steward Aug. 6, Deadline Rapidly Approaching

Key Issues:Sustainability

If you have a farmer friend, neighbor or family member who epitomizes the title “Good Steward” then please take a minute to consider nominating them for the National Corn Growers Association’s Good Steward Recognition Program before the 5 p.m. CDT, Aug. 6, 2018 deadline.   We’re looking for a farmer who always does their job with a keen eye on improving the productivity and sustainability of their farm for future generations so if you know one let’s make sure they get recognized.   This year anyone can nominate a candidate for recognition if they are a Corn Grower member. NCGA affiliate states and organizational partners may also submit the nomination(s). One recipient will be selected from a field of nominees submitted by NCGA state affiliates and other corn industry and organizational partners.     Nomination forms must be completed jointly by the nominating party and the nominee and will be processed through NCGA. Selection of the Good Steward Recognition will be made by...

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Jul 2, 2018

Recognizing Good Stewardship Matters

Key Issues:Sustainability

If you have a farmer friend, neighbor or family member who epitomizes the title “Good Steward” then please take a minute to consider nominating them for the National Corn Growers Association’s Good Steward Recognition Program. We’re looking for a farmer who always does their job with a keen eye on improving the productivity and sustainability of their farm for future generations.   Every profession has its early adopters that point the way for others, and National Corn Growers Association thinks these good stewards of the land are special people who deserve to be recognized. If you agree and know of a good candidate, nominations are due 5:00 p.m. CDT August 6, 2018.    This year any one can nominate a candidate for recognition as long as they are a Corn Grower member. NCGA affiliate states and organizational partners may also submit nomination(s). One recipient will be selected from a field of nominees submitted by NCGA state affiliates and other corn industry and...

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Jul 2, 2018

Field to Market Sustainability Efforts Continue to Grow

Key Issues:Sustainability

Representatives from farmers through the entire production chain met in Madison, Wis. last week for the bi-annual meeting of Field to Market, including representatives of the National Corn Growers Association.   Field to Market is a collaborative effort emphasizing the inclusion of diverse perspectives, a foundation of science- and outcomes-based approaches to sustainability, and a focus on commodity crops with recognition of their unique supply chains.   “We approved our 138th member company at this meeting and I think it’s indicative of the support to grow sustainability in our society,” said Keith Alverson, who serves on the board of NCGA and Field to Market.  “This represents 9% growth since last year at this time and we continue to host important discussions on supply chain sustainability from all ends of the supply chain spectrum.”   Alverson said, “NCGA has a clear role and mission of engagement at Field to Market of representing a grower voice and help inform others...

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Apr 20, 2018

Collaborative Effort on Climate Change

Key Issues:Sustainability

If the farming profession had a job description somewhere it would say good problem-solving skills and adaptable to change. New products, new technology, new policies, changing markets, changing weather and now on an even broader stage…climate change.   Nick Goeser, National Corn Growers Association’s vice president of production and sustainability, notes there is significant data indicating some key weather and climate factors have indeed changed in many corn growing states across the United States, and with the shift comes new challenges as well as real opportunities.   Identifying and assessing these challenges and opportunities and crafting appropriate next steps is the driving force behind the Climate Task Force formed by NCGA a year ago. The multidisciplinary group – made up of farmers and representatives of NGOs, input suppliers, processors, food companies, retailers, academia and state corn association staff – recently wrapped up its initial charter of developing...

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Mar 26, 2018

Soil Health Partnership Begins Search for New Director as Organization Continues to Grow

Key Issues:Sustainability

Goeser to remain engaged in new role with National Corn Growers Association   As the Soil Health Partnership heads into its fourth year of long-term data collection on working farms, some changes are afoot among the staff due to promotions, and several positions are open. An initiative of the National Corn Growers Association, the program’s goal is to quantify the benefits of soil health-promoting practices from an economic as well as environmental standpoint, showing farmers how healthy soil benefits their bottom line.   NCGA has promoted Nick Goeser, who has served as the project’s director since its launch in 2014, to the position of NCGA Vice President of Production and Sustainability.   Goeser said while the promotion offers a great new opportunity for professional impact, the decision to leave SHP was exceptionally difficult. However, in his new role at NCGA, he will serve as a member of the SHP Steering Committee and remain engaged with the Science Advisory...

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Mar 12, 2018

Soil Health Partnership Builds One of Largest U.S. Databases of Soil Health Sample Info from Working Farms

Key Issues:Sustainability

The seeds of good data have been planted—and the Soil Health Partnership is eager to harvest early results.   The organization’s team is currently preparing for another round of robust soil sampling, a critical part of identifying, testing and measuring farm management practices that improve sustainability through soil health. An initiative of the National Corn Growers Association, the program’s goal is to quantify the benefits of these practices–like growing cover crops in the off-season and reducing tillage—from an economic standpoint, showing farmers how healthy soil benefits their bottom line.   “We have spent the first few years carefully constructing the infrastructure within our program to make sure that we have scientifically credible data,” said Nick Goeser, NCGA Vice President of Production and Sustainability. “We are now beginning to make early sense of the scope and scale of the dataset collected over last 3 and a half years – and we are eagerly anticipating the...

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Mar 1, 2018

Kansas Farm Family Showcases New Sustainability Ethic on the Farm

Key Issues:Sustainability

A Kansas farm family’s soil-friendly, progressive farming practices and contributions to sustainable crop production earned them national notoriety as they were presented with the National Corn Growers Association’s 2018 Good Steward Recognition. Randy and Nicole Small of Neodesha, Kansas received the Good Steward designation at the Commodity Classic convention and trade show in Anaheim, CA. The program and recognition funding is provided by the Howard G. Buffett Foundation as part of their Harvesting the Potential campaign to raise awareness among U.S. farmers of the importance of conservation agriculture. “NCGA is known for taking the lead on many issues in the policy arena that effect our members, but we also work constantly to promote positive change and improvements in how we farm,” said Kevin Skunes, NCGA president from Arthur, North Dakota. “The Small family has a long history of enhancing the farm's soil and natural resources spanning several generations. They provide a...

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Feb 22, 2018

This Grain Bin Safety Week, Remember the Importance of Precaution

Key Issues:Sustainability

The National Corn Growers Association reminds farmers of the importance of proper grain bin safety procedures. To help review both the importance of and procedures for grain bin safety, NCGA is again offering an informative video.   To view the video, click here.   First released in 2011, the video, shot on location in several states, provides a wide range of information from prevention tips and background data on grain bin accidents.  The project also involved interviews with professionals in the fields of grain bin safety research and rescue to provide as much information to viewers as possible.

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Feb 22, 2018

New Virtual Reality Video Tells Soil Health Story from ‘Every Angle’

Key Issues:Sustainability

As interest grows in soil health and its potential to optimize farming, the Soil Health Partnership has developed a new tool to immerse the inquisitive. Partnering with StoryUP, the nonprofit ag group has produced a “virtual reality” video that will allow viewers to visit a farm enrolled in SHP and experience a Virtual Field Day.   "One of our most powerful assets is our enrolled farmers sharing their stories and knowledge with others," said NCGA Vice President of Production and Sustainability, Nick Goeser. "This video format allows viewers to transport themselves to a farm and learn from the farmer as if they are standing right there with him at a field day. We are all about innovation, and that spirit extends to our communications program."   Virtual reality is 360-degree, 3D video or computer-generated environments viewed with special goggles where the user can see in all directions.   After giving some attendees of the Soil Health Summit a preview in January, the SHP...

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