November 5, 2009

What is the corn checkoff?

Over the last couple of days, several folks have asked “what is the corn checkoff?” To help answer that question, I’ve put this together as an attempt to explain. Feel free to leave a comment if you have a question or clarification.

Many corn producing states have implemented a corn checkoff program, including Nebraska. The bottom line mission of corn checkoffs is to increase the profitability of corn farmers. How? Through corn farmers investing their own money into research, market development, promotion and education for the corn industry. It’s kind of like a research and development program for the long-term benefit of corn farmers.

Nebraska’s corn checkoff was created in 1978 when Corn Resources Act was passed by the Nebraska Legislature. Importantly, the effort to start the checkoff was led by Nebraska corn farmers themselves, most notably members of the Nebraska Corn Growers Association who chose to invest in their future.

In addition to being farmer-funded, the checkoff is also overseen by farmers -- through the nine farmer-directors that make up the Nebraska Corn Board.

That means the corn checkoff was initiated by farmers, and is 100 percent funded and managed by farmers.

Like other checkoffs in Nebraska and across the country, Nebraska’s corn checkoff was created by corn farmers specifically to benefit corn farmers. Its top priorities are the livestock and ethanol sectors -- as those two sectors provide a number of synergies that benefit corn farmers and the state as a whole through economic development.

The corn checkoff rate in Nebraska is one-fourth of a cent per bushel, a level it has been at since 1988. When the checkoff began, the rate was one-tenth of a cent per bushel.

While Nebraska is the third-largest corn producing state in the country, its checkoff rate is currently the lowest in the country.

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