DECATUR, Ill. — Working with U.S. legislators is important for members of the National Corn Growers Association.
“We’re really pleased to have the Next Generation Fuels Act reintroduced by Rep. Cheri Bustos,” said John Linder, president of the NCGA.
“I spent some time with here in July at our Corn Congress and I announced I’m giving her my president’s award from NCGA for her contributions to the farmers of this nation,” said Linder, who farms near Edison, Ohio. “I’m going to deliver that to her in person in her office in D.C.”
Linder also recently attended a Biofuels Caucus.
“Rodney Davis led a great discussion on biofuels and I answered a few questions,” he said of the representative for Illinois’ 13th congressional district. “It was really rewarding to see the desire of several members of Congress to make a difference in the biofuels area for corn farmers and all of agriculture.”
The NCGA president spent some time visiting many exhibits at the Farm Progress Show in Decatur.
“We talked about common issues like labor and supply,” he said. “And we talked about the vision of where agriculture is going to be and how we can work collaboratively to represent all of agriculture.”
Linder, who farms with his wife, Cheryl, and brother, Mike, grows corn, soybeans, soft red winter wheat and seed beans.
“I think we’ve got a heck of a corn crop growing in Ohio,” he reported. “Beans are going to be variable, but it seems like the beans could take advantage of some rain to expand the bushels.”
The NCGA president has seen a lot of changes in the agricultural industry during his career.
“I’ve been planting corn for 42 years and I started with an eight-row planter and an open station tractor,” he said. “This spring in the planter, I had two iPads and I conducted our May board meeting on a Zoom call.”
Since exports are important for U.S. farmers, Linder said, it is rewarding to see NCGA raise trade to a higher priority.
“We’re very engaged with the Katherine Tai, the U.S. trade representative,” he said. “We’re always talking about crop protection products we have in this country becoming nontariff trade issues to try to find a level playing field.”
China is an important market for corn exports, as well as Southeast Asia.
“That’s a huge market opportunity with the developing appetite for meat protein and the demand for corn as a feed source for that protein,” Linder said. “We look forward to developing those markets with the U.S. trade representative and the U.S. Grains Council.”
The NCGA has released a Sustainability Report that is available at www.ncga.com/sustainability which evaluates the years from 1980 to 2015.
“We found a great story about farmers who were not incentivized other than their passion to preserve their natural resources of land and water,” Linder said.
“During that period we used 41% less land to grow a bushel of corn, 41% less energy, we reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 31% and we reduced soil runoff 58%, as well as we became 46% more efficient in our water use,” he said.
The NCGA has set goals for farmers to achieve by 2030.
“We are predicting we can reduce land use by 12% and be 15% more efficient in our use of water,” Linder said. “We also want to reduce soil erosion, increase energy use efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions each by 13%.”
Since there will be regional differences to meet these goals, the NCGA is looking for the state corn grower groups to assist with the effort.
“A blanket approach is not the best,” Linder said.
“We’re going to be working closely with universities to provide knowledge and data will be key to delivering values for adoption,” he said. “Also our partners in the industry will help to achieve these goals with new technologies and innovation.”
“We appreciate the relationship we have with the Illinois and Indiana corn growers,” he said. “The checkoff contributions are immeasurable to the value we can help return to them at the farm gate through that investment.”