Posted By Cathryn April 20, 2012
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.
Posted By Cindy March 20, 2012
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.
Last 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
Posted By Cindy March 6, 2012
Missouri Corn Growers president Billy Thiel is a membership machine for the National Corn Growers Association.
During the NCGA Awards banquet at the 2012 Commodity Classic, Thiel became the 17th member of the Walter Goeppinger Recruiter Hall of Fame, an honor which comes with a classy new blazer.
Thiel led the way in recruiting new members for NCGA in 2011, adding 811 Missouri corn growers, and helping to push NCGA to a record membership of 37,l60. He also helped Missouri Corn get first place for both the largest number of new members and the largest percentage increase for the year. MCGA membership increased by 479 members in 2011, up nearly 29 percent from the previous year.
“I’m glad growers are realizing the value in being a member of the Missouri Corn Growers Association,” says Thiel, who farms in Malta Bend, Mo. “We’ve got a bigger voice when we stand together. And it’s helping. The more growers we have join, the more help we have moving our industry forward. All the things we do are adding up to bigger accomplishments.”
In 2011, Thiel recruited members by hosting a golf tournament, membership event and reaching out to stakeholders in the state’s six farmer-owned ethanol plants.
Billy is pictured here in the center between Mickey Peterson of Minnesota, one of the first Hall of Famers, and NCGA president Garry Niemeyer.
2012 Commodity Classic Photo Album
Posted By Cindy February 13, 2012
Membership, leadership and communications were the main focuses of the biennial Membership Symposium for the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) this past week in Kissimmee, Florida.
NCGA Director of Development Tim Brackman (right) says the meeting is a crucial part of the planning efforts for the organization. “It allows us to meet with the state staff as well as farmer leaders and recruiters who are out there in the trenches,” he said.
Brackman says NCGA membership continues to grow. “I’m pleased to report that while many of the associations out there are experiencing flat or even declining membership, our numbers continue to remain strong. In fact, this past year in August, we hit an all-time membership high of over 37,000 members,” he said.
Listen to an interview with Tim here: NCGA's Tim Brackman
The program featured a variety of topics for member services, including use of social media, something that Grower Services Action Team chairman Brandon Hunnicutt of Nebraska knows a little something about. “This is the key with the up and coming generation,” he said. “You’re going to reach out to them on Twitter, on Linkedin, on Facebook, or whatever the next one is.”
Brandon says it’s a great way to stay in touch with growers and others all over the country and he should know. You can follow Brandon, who is Chairman of the Nebraska Corn Growers Association and a fifth generation Nebraska farmer, on Twitter – @cornfedfarmer.
Listen to an interview with Brandon here: Brandon Hunnicutt interview
Posted By Cathryn January 20, 2012
The volunteer farm women involved in CommonGround state programs across the country are talking and, increasingly, the evidence shows that urban and suburban moms are joining in the conversation. With many states recently launching their programs or preparing to do so this spring, the buzz surrounding this open, honest approach to discussing food is spreading too.
Earlier this month, CommonGround Kansas launched its program with a full court press during the University of Kansas women’s basketball game at Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence.
The Lady Jayhawks may have fallen to Kansas State University’s Lady Wildcats, but the ladies of CommonGround stood tall as they explained how they grow food and the facts about modern agriculture. For a few hours on the cold January evening, volunteers shared in outstanding Kansas City barbeque and in conversations on subjects including the locavore movement, organic fruits and vegetables, sustainability and livestock production to a group of reporters, bloggers, government representatives and community influencers.
While bringing together farm women and the people who speak to urban and suburban moms on a large scale started a conversation, what truly matters is knowing that the dialogue opened that night made a difference. Judging by an article featuring volunteer LaVelle Winsor that ran in the Lawrence World Journal, the stories these women have to tell and understanding they offer about food scored with attendees.
In explaining the program’s goals and offering it as a resource, the article spread the word that there is another source of information for moms concerned about the foods they prepare for their family.
“We aren’t trying to tell anyone how to eat,” Winsor was quoted as saying in the article. “But we would like them to know what actually happens on our farm.”
Want to learn more? “Like” the CommonGround Facebook page and look to see if there are upcoming events in your area.
Posted By Cindy October 11, 2011
The Missouri Corn Merchandising Council (MCMC) is amazing fall visitors to corn mazes in the state with facts about the state’s corn industry.
Entering its second season, the Missouri Corn fall promotion builds on last year’s successful campaign in which weatherproof stop signs were featured in 25 corn mazes across the state. The 2011 maze materials continue the theme with yield signs answering some of the most common questions about field corn. Partnering mazes also received a free Many Uses of Corn poster and Corn in the Classroom education materials for visiting teachers.
“We want to help the next generation explore agriculture,” said Missouri Corn Outreach Coordinator Hilary Holeman. “The goal of Missouri Corn’s educational efforts is to help today’s children better understand the relationship between our nation’s top crop and its impact on our daily lives.”
Taking it one step further, three corn mazes were selected to participate in a pilot program featuring a series of oversized displays highlighting the top uses for Missouri corn: feed, fuel and exports. The interactive exhibits invite visitors to post pictures to the Missouri Corn Facebook page for a chance to win $50 in free fuel.
The three mazes participating in this Missouri Corn pilot program are Fischer Farms Pumpkin Patch and Corn Maze, Jefferson City; Liberty Corn Maze, Liberty; and Beggs Family Farm near Sikeston. Be aMAZEd by corn!
Posted By Cathryn September 21, 2011
Today, guest blogger Dawn Caldwell shares a post on her experience as a farmer and a CommonGround volunteer responding to questions about biotechnology and agriculture.
September 19, 2011 by Lady Of Ag
Of all the things I am; a wife, an employee, church council member, lawn mower, bill payer, grocery getter, cook, friend, aunt, daughter, granddaughter, niece, you get the idea…I feel that one of the most, if not the most important title I hold is that of Mom. Oh believe me, there are definitely days I wonder why God ever entrusted me with two spawn (as they humorously call themselves)! None-the-less, I take my opportunity to be a Mom VERY seriously (with as much humor built in as possible)! Like any mother of teenage “spawn”, I face all of the fun situations (never wanting to pay for their own gas), challenges (two broken cell phones at one time), celebrations (major part in the one-act play & great grades), and heartbreaks (oh the hard choices that have to be made…especially for teenage girls!). And like every other mom, especially moms of athletes, nutrition and food safety come to mind all the time; especially when I’m buying ANOTHER $100 in groceries for the week. Teenage spawn eat a LOT!
Big Eater (Spawn #1)
The Other Big Eater (Spawn #2) and his Dad don't like facing the camera.
Since becoming a CommonGround volunteer, one of the most common questions I get is about the safety of food derived directly or indirectly from GMO grains. After a lengthy conversation with a fellow ag enthusiast recently at Husker Nation (for all of you non-Huskers reading this, that’s the entire area surrounding and including Memorial Stadium in Lincoln where we Huskers like to gather by the droves), I decided I just need to get the info in writing and hope that many, many people read and share what I am about to divulge.
I have to admit, it has been quite some time since I was in a science class daily. So, I had to do some digging and reading to be able to verify what I thought was right and make sure that what I share isn’t just me trusting all that is out there to be used in the wide world of technology.
Let’s begin with what GMO stands for: it is not “Get More Oreo’s”, though this afternoon, I wish someone would – cookies and milk sound really good right now! GMO really stands for Genetically Modified Organism. Do not let that scare you! For perspective, the organism is only the seed, in fact, just a small part of the seed. Now, as for the genetically modified part… When a gene from one organism is purposely moved to improve or change another organism in a laboratory, the result is a genetically modified organism (GMO). It is also sometimes called “transgenic” for transfer of genes. See further explanation of this here. If you read through that article, you will find that genetic engineering is certainly not new! In fact, Bt proteins, a very common GMO in today’s farming, has been used in many organic farms for over 50 years as a microbial pest control agent. A complete article on Bt strains used in organic farming can be seen here.
After all of the reading and questioning I have done to put together this blog post, I am even more comfortable with farmers utilizing GMO technology when raising crops. GMO’s for insect resistance are typically very specific proteins that can affect only the target insect. My take on this: fewer pesticides being applied topically. I think that is a good thing! Of course there are GMO’s for a few other things such as certain herbicides (Round-Up Ready) and drought resistance. I can see wonderful opportunities coming from this technology! For those of you VERY science-minded people, check out this document.
One more thing…the folks developing the technologies and the farmers using them are people just like you, with families and friends and neighbors. We are purchasing food in the grocery store and we are drinking the water from under our fields and pastures. None of us would ever do anything to intentionally harm our food and water supply. GMO’s have been around now for more than 5 decades. We can all rest assured that the dinner we serve our families tonight, whether it is meat from animals fed GMO grains or cereals from those grains, they are as safe and nutritious as ever. And, because of modern farming and technology, there is enough for all of us to have plenty of choices of product when we do our food purchasing.
I know – I can already see the comments coming in… “But it is primarily one or two big companies putting those GMO’s out there and hauling in the mother load financially.” I can tell you – anyone in the world had the opportunity to put forth the time, effort, and risk to do the same work they have done. In any other business, the successful leaders are rewarded, as they should be in agriculture. Is it frustrating being on the purchasing side of the technology? Of course! Am I glad we have the choice to purchase or not purchase that technology? Absolutely!!! This is America, folks. We are supposed to be able to enjoy free enterprise. All of us need to continue working hard to live the life we think is best for ourselves and our families. I am not here to tell you have to purchase food grown with or without GMO technology or any other specific quality or label. I am only trying to reassure you that food in the United States is the safest in the world.
Now, go enjoy a wonderful meal with someone you love. I think we get to enjoy some left over roast beef at our house tonight – probably in the form of roast beef salad sandwiches. YUM!!!!
Posted By Cindy September 1, 2011
Corn growers in the Midwest have been putting the spotlight on ethanol during state fairs this summer.
During the Missouri State Fair, an official from USDA’s Rural Development agency paid a visit to recognize Missouri as the national leader in renewable energy. Through a partnership with the Missouri Corn Merchandising Council (MCMC), the Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives and the Missouri Department of Agriculture, Missouri fuel retailers have been approved to install 26 biofuel pumps – more than any other state in the nation.
“It’s the Show-Me State and they’re showing us alright,” USDA Rural Development Business Program Administrator Judy Canales said during a speech at the Missouri Corn booth. “It behooves Missouri because in the long run this is going to be a locally grown product that is creating and keeping jobs in rural communities. That’s why we’re so pleased to have this partnership with Missouri Corn.”
In this photo from Missouri Corn, Canales (green shirt) poses with from left to right: Missouri Corn board member Rob Korff of Norborne, Mo.; Matt Moore, Missouri USDA Rural Development business program director; Barry Hart, executive vice president of the Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives; Bradley Schad, Missouri Corn director of ethanol policy; Gary Marshall, Missouri Corn CEO; Janie Dunning, Missouri state director USDA Rural Development; Kenny McNamar, Missouri Corn Growers Association president from Gorin, Mo.; and Billy Thiel, Missouri Corn Merchandising Council chairman from Marshall, Mo.
Nebraska Corn Board along with the Nebraska Ethanol Board (NEB) are on site promoting ethanol and flex fuel vehicles.
The groups are splitting duties with NEB focusing on FFV awareness and the economic benefits ethanol provides to both local and state communities and the national economy. Next door, the Corn Board will have a blender pump on display with jars of corn representing corn production from 1930, 2011 and the future. “There are approximately 100,000 FFVs in Nebraska and nearly 90 percent of consumers don’t know they drive a flex fuel vehicle,” said Kim Clark, Ag Program Manager from the Nebraska Corn Board. “The Nebraska State Fair is a great opportunity to educate consumers from all parts of the state about flex fuel vehicles and ethanol.”
On Saturday, September 3, from 3:00 – 4:00 pm, there will be a “Do You Flex Fuel?” presentation. On hand to answer questions will be an auto mechanic, fuel retailer, ethanol expert and automobile salesperson. Finally, to showcase ethanol in action, the groups will host an ethanol blended fuel promotion beginning Saturday, September 3rd through September 5th. FFV drivers will see discounts on mid-level ethanol blends include a 20 cent discount on E20, 30 cents on E30 and 85 cents on E85. Click here for details on the FFV fuel promotions.
Posted By Chuck August 12, 2011
It’s Sturgis Motorcycle Rally time and bikers are getting a continuing education about ethanol as a fuel option. With the theme, “Ethanol, Fueled with Pride” educational materials and promotional t-shirts are being distributed during the event at the Buffalo Chip Campground which is the hub of the activities and concerts that make up the event schedule. The event is sponsored by the Renewable Fuels Association.
Providing a helping hand at the event is Jere White, Executive Director, Kansas Corn Growers Association. I sat down with him to get his thoughts on this promotion and what it means to corn growers. Jere says the audience is a little different than might have been considered in the past but when it comes to the E15 issue it was found that some of the push back came from boaters and bikers. The Sturgis event is the largest gathering of bikers in the country and he believes that after several years of promotion and education a difference is being made. Jere rode his own motorcycle to the event which he has converted to run on E85 and it is performing well. I also asked Jere to give us an update on the status of the corn crop in Kansas which, like other parts of the corn belt, has some widely different conditions at this point in the season.
Jere White Interview
You can find a lot of photos from the 2011 Sturgis Motorcycle Rally here: 2011 Sturgis Motorcycle Rally Photo Album
Posted By Cathryn June 22, 2011
This Saturday, the Iowa Speedway will host the fifth Iowa Corn Indy 250, presented by Pioneer, and ethanol supporters have a chance to show how “green” they really are. Under green lights, a green flag will drop before cheering fans clad in the same hue. Combining the excitement of racing with these clear visuals, the Iowa Corn Indy puts both the incredible fuel performance of ethanol and its ecological benefits squarely in the spotlight.
Ethanol has raced into the national racing spotlight already this year as NASCAR switched to a 15 percent ethanol blend for fuel in every car at every race in 2011. Running on pure ethanol, the Indy cars will reinforce the fuel’s ability to perform in some of the most expensive cars in the world. With true experts watching for signs of car damage like the hawks of the gear-head world, claims that ethanol damages cars seem questionable at the very best.
The “Green Out” showcases a side of ethanol not as readily apparent as the cars rip through the turns – its environmental benefits. While racing is certainly exciting, here it is also a vehicle to reach the public with information about this efficient, clean-burning fuel source.
Helping get the word out about ethanol has never been so much fun. Have some friends over on Saturday, tune into Versus and watch ethanol break away from the pack as consumers see that they can help save the environment without sacrificing performance with domestic, sustainable ethanol.
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