In response to an Environmental Working Group article on our CommonGround program, NCGA Corn Board member Pam Johnson sent along this response:
As a woman who sits on the board of the National Corn Growers Association, I am offended by your blog post about our CommonGround program with the United Soybean Board. In your obvious cynicism you ignored that one of the great results of this new program will be the identification, recruitment and training of women to speak out for agriculture – and teaching them key skills that can help them become leaders in their communities and industry organizations. We recognize the need for more women leaders and are taking action and actually doing something about it.
Frankly, I have enjoyed my important role at NCGA, where I am treated with respect as an equal partner in this organization and as I work nationally and internationally on agricultural issues. In addition to my board position, I have served on the NCGA Finance Committee and chaired the Bylaws Committee and previously chaired the NCGA Research and Business Development Action Team. In my home state of Iowa, I am a director of the Iowa Corn Growers Association and former chairwoman of the Iowa Corn Promotion Board. In addition, I am president of Iowa Corn Opportunities and a member of the U.S. Grains Council Biotech A-Team.
In the end, it is naïve and simplistic to look at the number of board members who happen to be female and say women have no power. But if you are going to play with numbers like that, you may be interested to know that at NCGA, one of the three chief executive officers in our recent history was a woman. That’s 33% of our CEOs. Likewise in your focus on how organic agriculture is controlled by women, you conveniently ignored that women also helm the National Association of Wheat Growers and the Corn Refiners Association. And when it comes to our state corn associations, several are run by women – South Dakota, Michigan, Kentucky, Virginia, Maryland, South Carolina and North Carolina.
Farm women work hard alongside farm men, and we need to stop focusing so much on these divides between men and women, large and small farms, and conventional and organic agriculture. We all have more than enough challenges in what we do. The level of cynicism and disdain for the farm women of CommonGround expressed in your post does nothing to help anyone.
Pam Johnson, Floyd, Iowa