NORMAL, Ill. — Public outreach, infrastructure improvements, and increasing exports and ethanol demand remain high on the list of Illinois Corn Marketing Board’s priorities entering the New Year.
“Exports is always a big issue that the Corn Marketing Board is trying to emphasize, and that’s both in corn and corn products, whether that’s on the hoof with meat or certainly ethanol is an export that we’ve been quite successful in and I think that may be a bright spot. The tariffs have made that issue a little cloudier,” said Don Duvall of Carmi, Illinois, a fourth-generation family farmer and ICMB chairman.
On the domestic demand front, corn growers and the ethanol industry are awaiting further movement regarding the approval of E15 for use year-round nationwide.
President Trump announced plans Oct. 9 to lift year-round restrictions on E15 sales and directed the Environmental Protection Agency to initiate the rulemaking process.
Currently, retailers throughout most of the country are prohibited from offering E15 between June and September based on concerns it contributes to smog.
Duvall said any movement toward E15 approval is yet to be determined.
“I guess I wouldn’t hazard to guess from a political standpoint as to what I think but I am optimistic that the current administration seems to have a focus that wants to increase the higher blends,” Duvall said.
“And certainly the offer to allow selling E15 the entire year would be helpful and the administration has proposed that, and that’s awaiting congressional approval as well. It’s a step in the right direction. Every little bit will help.”
The ICMB arm of the Prairie State’s corn growers continues to emphasize the need for improving the transportation infrastructure, particularly the antiquated locks and dams.
Waterways infrastructure gives Illinois farmers and other industries in the state a competitive advantage over other states in transportation of grain and other agricultural products. However, in the last 50 years, these locks and dams have become dilapidated and outdated. The crumbling lock and dam system costs Illinois corn farmers every day in lost efficiency getting their product to global marketplaces.
“The locks and dams have been a huge emphasis that the marketing board has been focusing on, is still very much an issue and always will be an issue until that’s resolved,” he said.
The ICMB continues its outreach programs to help make consumers aware of how Illinois corn is grown in safe and sustainable way.
Duvall said a new initiative is underway to educate the public on homegrown Illinois fuel.
“It draws attention to the fact that some of that corn out there can go to a cleaner, more efficient, cheaper renewable form of fuel,” he said.
“There will be both an online presentation as well as some shorter television spots probably in some areas.”
Duvall is in his seventh year of service on the ICMB board, representing Clay, Edwards, Jefferson, Lawrence, Marion, Richland, Wabash, Wayne and White counties.
He primarily grows corn and soybeans and occasionally soft red winter wheat on his White County farm.
“The weather has been a challenge for pretty well the whole state but our area was fortunate. We had better than average crops and I would say average to better than average fall weather getting them out. We certainly have empathy for the rest of the state that still have crops out and trying to mud them out because that’s not fun,” Duvall said.