Corn Commentary

Fund Established for Kansas Corn Exec Jere White

A farmer, friend and colleague of the agriculture industry is in critical condition at a Springfield, Missouri hospital and a fund has now been set up to help his family with related expenses.

Kansas Corn and Sorghum Growers executive director Jere White was involved in a motorcycle accident on September 28 in northwest Arkansas. Jere is an avid motorcyclist and is pictured here at the 2011 Sturgis Motorcycle Rally with his son Robert, who is Director of Market Development for the Renewable Fuels Association.

Jere was wearing a helmet in the crash but still suffered a head injury and his family has been with him constantly in Springfield since the accident. They have set up a Facebook page for Jere where updates can be found and get well wishes and comments of encouragement can be posted. The link is http://www.facebook.com/GetWellJere.

Jere’s colleagues with the Kansas grains groups are helping out with expenses for the family by setting up a fund for donations.

Donations to the fund can be sent to:
Jere White Fund
c/o Bank of Greeley
PO Box 80
Greeley, KS 66033

Cards for Jere and his family will be collected at the association office and may be mailed to:
Jere White
KCGA/KGSPA
PO Box 446
Garnett, KS 66032

Jere is a wonderful, witty and fun-loving person who is a joy to know. We are all praying for his complete recovery and the strength of his family for support.

Illinois Family Farmers and Kenny Wallace

Last weekend was an Illinois Family Farmer weekend at the Chicagoland speedway for the NASCAR races.

Family Farmers car driver Kenny Wallace stopped by to visit with corn growers attending Saturday’s Dollar General 300 Nationwide Series race, including Illinois Corn Marketing Board chairman Kent Kleinschmidt and his wife Sara. “He’s a real friendly guy and easy to get along with,” Kent said.

This is the second year that Illinois corn has sponsored Kenny’s #99 car in the NASCAR series which Kent says has worked very well for them. “It’s a different type of promotion than corn farmers usually do,” he said. “When NASCAR went to E15 fuel, that was ahead of when the general public could buy it so we thought that was a good tie in.”

Listen to an interview with Kent here: Interview with Kent Kleinschmidt

Getting involved with NASCAR ended up getting the corn growers a great spokesman for both ethanol and agriculture in Kenny Wallace who really loves working with family farmers and getting to meet them at the races. “They’re excited to see what this is all about,” Kenny said. “They’re awesome.”

The Illinois corn growers were at the last Chicagoland NASCAR race in July and Kenny was excited to see some new farmer faces there this time. “I reminded the farmers to be proud,” he said. “Just remember that it’s your fuel out there that I’m burning.”

Listen to an interview with Kenny here: Interview with Kenny Wallace

Watch Kenny talking to Illinois Family Farmers here:

2012 NASCAR Dollar General 300 Race Photos

Hot, Dry and Hungry?

With so many questions surrounding how the drought might affect food prices, CommonGround Nebraska volunteer Diane Becker took to the airwaves at Husker Harvest Days to help consumers understand how food pricing works.

Citing information available at www.usda.gov, she noted that only 14 cents of every dollar spent on groceries actually goes to pay for the commodities that these foods include. Basically, even if the prices on corn and soybeans double, the increase on stores shelves only goes up by pennies.

Offering more insight on food and her unique perspective as a farmer and a mother, Becker talks to the concerns all moms share about how to feed their families a healthy, nutritious diet without breaking the bank.

Catch the clip and see how CommonGround volunteers across the country are stepping up to help start a conversation between the moms who buy food and those who grow it.

Consumers Have a Right to Know

In the California GMO Labeling debate, it seems everyone involved can agree upon one basic premise – consumers have a right to know. The debate occurs around exactly what that right entails.

Arguing to redefine terms such as “natural”, even to the exclusion of foods such as olive oil, proponents of the bill seem to believe consumers have a right to know exactly what their agenda-driven groups says that they do.

On the other hand, farmers believe that consumers have a right to know too. In a recent blog post, farmer Mike Haley carefully explained a side of the story that labeling loonies would prefer to push to the backburner.  Walking readers through the specific actions that this law would require of him, Haley shows the hidden costs of supporting the propositions hidden agenda.

Take a minute to see the true costs of this measure.  If it passes, everyone will pay.

Consumers have a right to know what they eat. They also have a right to know the consequences of their vote.

Olympic Gold Medalist Promotes Corn

While the Summer Olympics were going on in London, a gold medalist from the Winter Olympics was talking corn in Omaha at the American Coalition for Ethanol conference, thanks to the Nebraska Corn Board.

Curt Tomasevicz, a member of the 2010 U.S. Olympic 4-man bobsled team, grew up in a small Nebraska farming community and now helps promote corn in the Cornhusker State. “That agricultural-based community got me to the Olympics,” Curt said of his hometown of Shelby, Nebraska, which boasts a population of 690. “I learned those lessons from those corn farmers that work hard every day, knowing that there’s good days and bad days, good years and bad years.”

Listen to Curt’s remarks at ACE here: Curt Tomasevicz at ACE

In an interview with Curt, he told me why he is a spokesperson for the Nebraska Corn Board. “To have that kind of support coming from a farm-based community, the logical thing for me to do is try to give something back to them,” he said. “Farmers are not competing for gold medals but at the same time they’re working hard to produce something, like corn. They work just as hard, if not harder, than Olympians.” Curt does personal appearances for the Nebraska Corn Board around the state at agricultural and civic events, as well as schools.

Listen to my interview with Curt here: Curt Tomasevicz interview

Kim Clark, director of biofuels development for the Nebraska Corn Board, was also at the ACE conference and she not only introduced Curt at the luncheon where he spoke, but she also gave an update on what they are doing to help get more blender pumps out in the state. “The corn board feels blender pumps are really important, especially for the state of Nebraska, since we are the number two producer of ethanol,” she said, noting that they set aside $750,000 this year to help promote installation of pumps. There are nearly 20 in the state now and about 30 new pumps are expected to be installed within the next year.

One of their challenges is getting into the larger cities of Nebraska, like Omaha, where there are currently no blender pumps available. “With the new grant program of $40,000 per location, that has gotten a lot more retailers interested,” she said.

Listen to my interview with Kim here: NE Corn Board's Kim Clark

E15 is On Sale in Kansas

Consumers now have another choice at the fuel pump, at least in Lawrence, Kansas.

The Zarco 66 “Oasis” station in Lawrence began offering 15% ethanol blended fuel, E15, in a blender pump last week for two cents a gallon less than E10.

Scott Zaremba, owner of Zarco 66 stations, is pleased to be the first to offer consumers real choice at the pump in the form of E15 ethanol fuel. “We just whole-heartedly believe that alternatives are what we need to be moving toward to lessen our dependence on foreign oil and also being able to have cleaner burning product,” said Zaremba.

Zaremba, the incoming President of the Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association of Kansas, is offering the E15 as one of the choices at the station’s blender pump, which was one of the first installed in the state in 2008 and he also plans to offer E15 at a second Zarco 66 in Ottawa. Zarco overcame the hurdles required to offer the fuel with the help of the Kansas Corn Commission, East Kansas Agri-Energy, and the Renewable Fuels Association.

Listen to interview with Zaremba here: Zarco CEO Scott Zaremba

MO Corn Growers Honored for Flood Documentary

The video tale of the flooding destruction of Missouri farm land has been recognized as an award winner in two categories.

The 33rd Annual Telly Awards named the Missouri Corn Merchandising Council (MCMC) and Missouri Corn Growers Association (MCGA) documentary as a Bronze winner in both the online video-documentary and online video-social responsibility categories for the short documentary, “Underwater and Overlooked: Crisis on the Missouri River”, a 15-minute film detailing the personal losses caused by the 2011 Missouri River flood.

“This honor for Missouri Corn is a fitting tribute to those growers who stepped in front of the camera to share their story,” says Missouri Corn Director of Communications Becky Frankenbach. “It’s heartbreaking that nearly a year later many farmers are still struggling to repair the damage left behind. Our work to ensure flood control is a top priority for Missouri River management is far from finished.”

Founded in 1979, the Telly Awards honor outstanding commercials, video and film productions, and web commercials, videos and films. Winners represent the best work of respected advertising agencies, production companies, television stations, cable operators and corporate video departments in the world. This year, nearly 11,000 entries were received from all 50 states and numerous countries.

If you haven’t seen it yet – watch it here.

Congratulations to the MO Corn team for the honors!

Join the Friendly Farm Faces on Capitol Hill This Summer

Have you ever heard about the Corn Farmers Coalition and wondered who actually sees this stuff?

Sure, the ads catch attention from a mile away.  Sure, the beaming family farmers, on their real farms, convey powerful, impactful messages about today’s farm.  Sure, these ads appear to be something that would draw any normal reader into a short ag literacy lesson. But, where do people actually come into contact with them?

As always, the innovative minds behind the campaign have found new, thoughtfully selected venues that reach those outside of rural America want to find their information- where they already are.

This week, the campaign launched its fourth year with fresh faces and facts both in traditional venues, such as the DC Metro, and in other places that pack a punch, like the online version of the Washington Post.  The award-winning informational series has, yet again, even more finely honed its choice of channel to include the online news sites that, according to the papers themselves, have greatly impacted how Americans consume news content.

Like the stories covered by journalists, the Corn Farmers Coalition paints a clear picture of farming, an industry with which 98.5 percent of the population has little or no contact.  Like the feature stories, it provides answers to the questions most prevalent in readers’ minds.  Like the hard-hitting exposes, it shows the truth, unbiased and in all of its glory.

Take a moment to check out what legislators, regulators, their aides and many other inquisitive inhabitants of our nation’s capital will be checking out themselves this summer.  Then, join the featured families taking the voice of the corn industry to Washington with a letter on why real farmers, just like the ones in these ads, need a real farm bill in real time by clicking here.

This Earth Day, Bang a Bongo for Ag

This Earth Day, a lot of people will gather in parks and at events across the country to both celebrate our amazing planet and look for ways to protect it.

In St. Louis, just a few miles down the main east-west corridor from the National Corn Growers Association’s headquarters, concerned citizens and eco-enthusiasts alike will converge upon Forest Park, weather permitting, in droves to discuss a wide array of enviro-issues. In previous years, conversations tended to hold up food-related movements, such as those toward organics or locavore lifestyles, as models of how the eco-conscious should live.

This year, instead of dismissing these celebrations as agenda-driven vehicles for anti-ag activities, farmers and those who support them need to join the conversation. Attending events, participating in open forums and telling the story of modern American farming, growers can bring an informed, balanced voice in support of their industry to the conversation.

In many ways, be it through the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance or CommonGround, farmers have already learned about the importance of telling their story. Many have even practiced doing so. Earth Day marks a distinct opportunity to take a moment out of the field and actively cultivate public understanding and dialogue.

A new website featuring award-winning videos produced by the South Dakota Corn Growers Association and Utilization Council, www.trueenvironmentalists.com, reveals why farmers should value Earth Day in striking clarity. Using the example of their home state, the videos focus on how taking care of the land, air and water while increasing productivity provides hope. Hope that farmers will be able to help sustain a rapidly growing, hungry world. Watching the population counter tick up rapidly, thinking about the need to produce more food in the next 40 years than was produced in the last 10,000 years combined, it becomes obvious that we need to share the message of hope.

Take the time to share the incredible hope that farmers have for our growing world. Activists who would falsely accuse farmers of destroying the earth while promoting practices that would starve a constantly increasing segment of the population have already spun their yarn standing under the Earth Day banner for years. Let’s take part in a day that celebrates the earth, air and soil central to the very core of every farmer.

E15 Almost Street Legal

After more than a year of waiting since EPA approved its use for 2001 and newer vehicles, 15% ethanol blended motor fuel (E15) could be hitting the streets by this summer.

RFA retailer handbookLast week, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved the Misfueling Mitigation Plan (MMP) developed by the Renewable Fuels Association, which RFA president and CEO Bob Dinneen means the regulatory process is now essentially complete.

“The job now is largely the industry’s to make E15 a commercial reality and we are working hard to make sure that happens,” said Dinneen, and once the marketers receive their approvals, many consumers will be seeing a new, money-saving alternative at the pump. “Given the concern today of skyrocketing gasoline prices, with ethanol being $1 cheaper than gasoline today, any gasoline marketer wanting to utilize E15 is going to be able to offer that product less expensively than E10 or any other fuel that’s available.

Vice President of Technical Services Kristy Moore says RFA spent months developing the MMP. “The plan includes not only requirements for the label and appropriate use, it also includes tools and resources to insure that proper wording appears on shipping and product transfer documents and the development of a fuel survey,” she said.

To get clear information out to retailers, RFA also developed an E15 Retailer Handbook to explain the technical details of offering E15 to consumers. Director of Market Development Robert White says they are already taking the handbook to the streets. “As of today, we will have the new E15 retailer handbook in the hands of more than 13,000 retailers,” White said on Monday.

He added that they are advancing the commercialization of E15 through the BYO Ethanol campaign, a joint venture between the National Corn Growers Association, state corn grower groups, the American Coalition for Ethanol, and RFA.

Listen to or download an audio report about the latest developments toward E15 commercialization here: Ethanol Report on E15 Plan



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