This December, the National Corn Growers Association’s Trade Policy and Biotechnology Action Team met in St. Louis to review the organization’s policy in their area of expertise, discuss progress on several ongoing programs and hear from industry representatives about upcoming challenges and opportunities. Looking at a variety of issues, including how to best support agricultural exports, stress the importance of respecting refuge requirements and facilitate successful communication across the value-chain on their issues, the team will use their in-depth knowledge of the subject matter to develop the nuanced, strategic suggestions needed to help the Corn Board guide NCGA policy effectively.
“During the winter months, it can begin to feel like farmer leaders spend a large amount of time participating in meetings for a variety of agricultural groups,” said Team Chair John Linder, a farmer from Ohio. “As my involvement has increased, I have come to even-more fully appreciate the breadth and scope of the myriad issues facing farmers today. By developing teams with specialization in major areas of opportunity and taking the time to analyze the issues in a critical, thorough manner, we are able to most effectively provide input on how, in our area, the Corn Board can shape NCGA policy and, subsequently, maximize the effectiveness of farmer-funded market development and production activities.”
The meeting, held in conjunction with meetings for the other five action teams and committees, allowed the growers to dig into the specific policies listed in the portion of the strategic plan corresponding with their team’s focus area. Carefully debating the implications of any proposed changes, team members worked diligently to carefully craft a precise, well-constructed document for presentation to the Corn Board and, eventually, Corn Congress.
“Through these discussions, we develop a solid appreciation for the importance of the exact connotation of each word used, and of those not used, in our strategic plan,” said Linder. “But these discussions generate greater thought and analysis than a simple wordsmithing exercise. Examining the future of the industry, the scope of NCGA’s role in it and the potential pitfalls of seemingly benign statements leads us to policy recommendations that play a vital role in determining how the organization will proceed on our behalf.”
The team also delved more deeply into a variety of areas certain to impact the future of corn farming through presentations from and discussions with leadership from agri-industry. Through these discussions, the farmers gained up-to-the-minute information that they will scrutinize and, as events unfold, incorporate into future recommendations.
In addition to Linder, team members include Vice Chair Don Duvall of Illinois, Corn Board Liaison Jim Zimmerman of Wisconsin, Mike Beard of Indiana, Chris Edgington of Iowa, Robert Gordon of Texas, Mark Gross of South Dakota, Robert Hemesath of Iowa, Brandon Hunnicutt of Nebraska, Jon Miller of Ohio, Scott Miller of Michigan, Dwight Mork of Minnesota, Jim Raben of Illinois, Jay Reiners of Nebraska, and Rosalind Leeck of the Indiana Corn Growers Association. NCGA staff in attendance included Director of Biotechnology and Economic Analysis Nathan Fields, Director of Public Policy Zach Kinne, Communications Manager Cathryn Wojcicki and Administrative Assistant Maggie Fogerty.