March 9, 2011

Policy, education main topics at Commodity Classic

Jon Holzfaster
The Nebraska Corn Board and Nebraska Corn Growers Association sent board and staff representatives to Florida last week for the annual Commodity Classic - a national meeting place and trade show for the corn, sorghum, soybean and wheat industries.

Commodity Classic features a trade show, valuable educational sessions, technology demonstrations, association banquets, entertainment events and important networking opportunities.

CommonGround - Dawn Caldwell Dawn Caldwell, one of Nebraska's volunteer spokeswomen for CommonGround, was a speaker at one of the educational sessions and spoke on the secrets of effiective agricultural communications. CommonGround is a program, launched by the National Corn Growers Association and United Soybean Board to increase consumer awareness of food and farm issues. Dawn, and the other two Nebraska volunteer spokeswomen, launched the program in Nebraska, February 26, at the Northern Lights HyVee in Lincoln.

State staff meetings during the Commodity Classic also allowed for the corn state staff and NCGA staff members to gather and discuss important programs such as CommonGround, NASCAR, and Corn Farmers Coalition.

Mark Jagels, USMEFMark Jagels, Nebraska Corn board director and executive committee member of the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) was a speaker at a luncheon hosted by USMEF. He spoke on the added value of grain-fed livestock in export markets and the potential for expanded exports in the future.

Below is an update from NCGA about the Corn Congress session in which 125 delegates representing 25 states spent hours discussing and voting on a large list of forward-thinking initiatives that reflect NCGA's commitment to creating and expanding opportunity for its members.

From ethanol to farm bill to genetic research, NCGA grower leaders last week updated the organization's policy book on a number of hot-button issues of interest to corn growers and their farm colleagues nationwide.

"We had an excellent slate of policy recommendations for the delegates to consider, and we are proud of the way they came together and agreed on the direction we will take in the months ahead," said NCGA First Vice President Garry Niemeyer, an Illinois grower who chaired the policy discussion. "We are moving into a critical time in Washington, with ethanol tax policy under debate, the 2012 farm bill looming, and an expanding regulatory burden being placed on our farmers."

Among the additions to the policy book were statements that the ethanol blenders tax credit should be transitioned to a market-based safety net for the ethanol industry and that NCGA should investigate transitioning direct payments into programs that allow producers the ability to manage risk while assuring food security

Delegates also defined what a "safety net" means - a combination of risk management tools available to producers that have the ability to protect against revenue losses due to circumstances beyond their control

At Corn Congress, it was recognized that NCGA was one of the leaders in securing the funds to map the corn genome and that research needs to continue. Delegates called on NCGA to develop an aggressive strategic plan for public research in functional genomics and translational genetics of corn and focus policy and research dollars to that end

Also, delegates called on the NCGA to make every effort to secure FDA acceptance and approval of the Corn Sugar petition and should oppose HFCS-free campaigns by food and beverage companies. NCGA has already submitted comments to the FDA, accessible here, supporting the Corn Refiners Association initiative.

To see photos from Commodity Classic, check out our online photo album. You can also check out the twitter talk through #Classic11.

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