Each summer, corn grower leaders and staff from state and national corn associations gather in Washington D.C. for a series of action team and committee meetings, visits with their respective state’s Congressional delegation and the semi-annual National Corn Growers Association’s Corn Congress.
The Nebraska Corn Board sponsored eight individuals that have been involved in the Nebraska FFA, 4-H or LEAD program to join these corn grower leaders to attend Corn Congress. This opportunity was invaluable to introduce the leadership group to policy development through the National Corn Growers Association, understand current issues (Farm Bill, immigration, RFS, etc), hear from leaders within various Federal Agencies, engage with policy leaders through Hill visits, and network with industry leaders to allow for growth in leadership development and agricultural policy knowledge.
Don Hutchens, executive director of the Nebraska Corn Board who accompanied the leadership group said it was encouraging to witness their enthusiasm and participation.
“They were not shy in asking our Nebraska delegation questions on the Farm Bill, Renewable Fuels Standard, Immigration and Trade,” said Hutchens. “They were also joined by three of the national interns sponsored by the Corn Board. The Corn Board is sponsoring internships with the D.C. office of NCGA, and the St. Louis office. Also an intern at the USGC office. They had the opportunity to hear Sec. Vilsack of USDA, briefed on trade issues by Darci Vetter the Acting Under Sec. of Farm and Foreign Ag Service (a native Nebraskan), and Jim Bair of the North American Millers Association.”
Natasha Hongsermeier, a delegate on the leadership tour described the trip as a wonderful experience. “I am truly a more knowledgeable and a more informed ag youth because of all of the experiences offer by our trip to Washington, D.C.”
Another delegate on the tour, Morgan Zumpfe, said, “This experience was awesome for me because it combined three of my favorite things: meeting new people, trying new things, and promoting agriculture. You can research the Farm Bill and polity as much as you want, but it isn’t quite real until you get to see it happen in real life.”