March 14, 2013

An Interns experience at Commodity Classic 2013

My experience at the illustrious 2013 Commodity Classic will be one that I will never forget and hopefully can experience again. It didn't necessarily start off real great, having to be at the airport at 4 am is not really my idea of a good time but you know what they say.. no pain no gain! Ohh and did I mention that I that I tried to carry a box cutter through airport security? Yeah it was an accident but still not my best move. But when I finally got to Florida it was definitely worth it, 75 degrees and sunny! Everything there was so green compared to dry, brown Nebraska.

My first meeting I attended was on Wednesday afternoon, the Nebraska Corn Growers Association and the Nebraska Corn Board members met to have their state caucus to discuss the policies that they would be introducing during Corn Congress. Now, did I understand everything they were talking about, absolutely not, but it still was cool to sit and try to understand what their role would be in Corn Congress. That night we helped with and attended the Corn PAC (political action team). That was pretty amazing to see over 400+ people there to support NCGA’s political campaign. Turns out that night they made $135,000 on selling 80 items, not bad!

Hotel that we stayed at and where Commodity Classic
was held, definitely fancy! 
Thursday morning was one of the mornings I was looking forward to, Corn Congress. Although Thursday’s session wasn't quite what I expected, a lot of discussions which I didn't understand but non-the-less great to witness. Thursday afternoon I visited the trade show, spent a good 2.5+ hours down there just walking around looking at stuff, collecting free giveaways, and people watching. The trade show was probably one the most impressive one I've ever been too, I’m sure I would be even more impressed if I would've known what half of stuff there even did!

Friday morning I attended one of my favorite sessions, the general morning session. That morning we heard from each of the presidents of the four national commodity organizations, we also heard from Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack (he was speaking on the Friday that the sequester was going into effect) even though he was not in a very cheery mood. Lastly we heard from a man named Chad Hymas who talked about a farmer’s real crop being his family, that family should be the thing that every farmer should be worried about growing. The rest of that afternoon I spent going to a few different learning center sessions. These are hour-long session that have a few different speakers but will discuss one main topic, anything from farm communication to the new technologies available for your crop. Later that night was the NCGA awards banquet where they announced the winners of the corn yield contests. It was amazing to hear a lot of these contestants getting 350+ bu/acre yields, I have faith that our commercial producers will be closing in on this number in the foreseeable future.
There were even alligators INSIDE the hotel,
that's wild!
The last thing worth mentioning is the last session of Corn Congress on Saturday. This session was definitely interesting. In this session they finished up with their amendments to their policy book and gave updates from each committee. It really is amazing to see how much NCGA is getting accomplished with the resources they have and with the help they receive from each state’s board.

I’m going share with you a few of my closing thoughts on the whole trip.

1. I visited with Pam Johnson, president of the NCGA board, one night to ask her about her password and what it meant. She told me that style and grace was her password. That if a woman wants to be successful in this industry, or any, that this is something important for gaining respect and breaking the glass ceiling for women. I thought Pam was such a sweetheart but then hearing her talk at the general session I realized they took her seriously. She knew what she was talking about and was more than willing to stand up for the industry. She was inspiring to say the least.

2. A common theme from numerous speakers throughout the event is that we need to increase our grassroots efforts. That we need people to be making calls into their Senators to get a Farm Bill worked on and to get this sequester fixed.

3. I got to spend a lot of time getting to know our board members, Nebraska Corn Growers board members, and both staffs and was amazed at the passion that was shown for the future of not only the corn industry, but Agriculture in general. They are doing their best to ensure that our future generations of producers have a chance to be successful and do what they love. So as a future producer, hopefully, I just wanted to say thank you too both boards and staff for all the work that they have done and are doing. I enjoyed getting to know you all a little better, hopefully you’re not too sick of the intern!

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