November 10, 2009

Testimony presented on corn checkoff

Corn farmers testified in front of the Nebraska legislature's appropriations committee yesterday to explain why they believe it is wrong to transfer money from checkoff programs into the state's general general fund.

Alan Tiemann, a farmer from Seward and chair of the Nebraska Corn Board, the farmer-run organization that oversees the corn checkoff, noted that he had "never seen anything that has galvanized our industry more than when it was proposed to transfer checkoff dollars from seven checkoff programs to the general fund."

He said the issue became very personal to all of agriculture because checkoff funds were never intended to be part of the general fund. "Farmers feel they already contribute through property, sales and income taxes," he said.

He also noted that:

These are not “passive dollars or programs”. What we do with corn checkoff dollars not only helps develop markets for corn, but they help beef, pork, poultry, ethanol, biodegradable plastics and dozens of other programs. They are not just advertising programs. They help our agriculture industry to be more successful and profitable so we can contribute to the general fund in other ways. As a farmer-operated organization we spend a great deal of personal time to insure the dollars we invest are benefiting Nebraska producers.

Giltner farmer Brandon Hunnicutt, who is president of the Nebraska Corn Growers Association, explained a bit of history of the corn checkoff.

He noted that in 1978 corn farmers from across Nebraska came together to work with the State Legislature to pass the Corn Resources Act. This Act created the corn checkoff by allowing farmers to invest in themselves with every bushel they sell.

The farmer members of the Nebraska Corn Growers Association played a key role in getting the checkoff established.

Hunnicutt said the checkoff was designed to be 100 percent self funded, so farmers would manage their investment and choose the research projects, marketing development programs and promotion efforts that made the most sense for farmers.

Along the way, these investments have paid dividends for farmers and the state as a whole.

He explained that the corn checkoff funds research that helps cattle producers take advantage of the feed products produced by ethanol plants and that it helps develop and create innovative products like renewable bioplastics that are made in Nebraska. The checkoff also helps get Nebraska pork and beef into Japan, China and the other global markets, which adds value to every animal in the state that’s raised on Nebraska corn and related feed products.

"All of this maintains and creates new markets for the corn produced by some 26,000 Nebraska farmers, all of whom contribute to the corn checkoff," Hunnicutt said.

No comments:

Post a Comment