NORMAL, Ill. — With the unresolved new farm bill, trade issues, pressure against the Renewable Fuel Standard and the farm economy, corn grower representatives are resolute in making their voices heard on Capitol Hill.
Lynn Chrisp, National Corn Growers Association president, who operates his family’s Centennial Farm in south-central Nebraska near Hastings, delivered a message of hope at the Illinois Corn Growers Association’s annual meeting Nov. 20.
“There’s so much more work to be done on our list of priorities, and as you think about that work I encourage you to think about the political landscape that we face in the New Year. We have a divided government, and while we still have a lot of our friends in Washington there will be some new faces,” Chrisp said.
“The elections produced more than 80 new members of Congress and as the NCGA does, we will be diligently working both sides of the aisle to accomplish our goals on trade, ethanol, farm policy and the rest of our priorities.
“So, the relevance of what we offer corn farmers — a voice in Washington — has never been greater. We have dug in, hunkered down, and tightened our belts. I’ll just say this directly, the farm economy really stinks. Yet here we are standing tall, looking ahead to the future, setting the policies that we need to grow the demand of corn.
“The resiliency of the American farmer is an amazing thing. There’s never been a better time to serve as leader of the NCGA than now. I’m honored to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with each of you to ensure that your members who are looking to us for solutions to the problems I just mentioned have every opportunity to be successful in farming. I look forward to a productive and healthy 2019 for all of us.”
In an interview with AgriNews following the meeting, Chrisp said progress is being made on the new farm bill “but we’re still waiting on that official announcement.
“From what we hear is that there is a concerted effort in order to get it done during this lame-duck session because if that doesn’t happen with the results of the election and the House turning over there will be new chairs and new folks coming in with new responsibilities. If we start over it has the opportunity to take a lot of time and look significantly different than what is being brought to the table as of right now.”
With another big corn crop harvested, the focus continues to be on increasing domestic and global markets.
“We are just wrapping up a very successful harvest on the corn production side which is good on one hand and rewarding for our producers. For the most part we’ve seen excellent yields across the country. There are pockets where people experienced severe drought and those folks have a whole different experience but there is plenty of corn in the countryside that is weighing on the market right now,” he said.
“Our members tell us over and over and over again that we need to be working on the projects that are going to increase demand for this growing crop. If the weather cooperates the productivity capability of our corn growers across the country is just phenomenal. Yields continue to go up every year.”
Ethanol is also an important piece of the corn demand side and Chrisp said efforts to find and develop export markets by the U.S. Grains Council, of which NCGA is a member of, are necessary in order to move surpluses into other parts of the world that needs the product.
“The few opportunities that I’ve had to travel abroad I am just shocked that more countries are not taking after the U.S. example of higher ethanol contents in their fuels in order to provide clear air because the air quality in major metropolitan areas around the world is just pathetic. But they have their own political issues and petroleum interests around the world are significant,” he said.