Corn Commentary

Corn Growers at Farm Progress Show

Mark Dehner, Marketing Manager Refined and Renewable Fuels for Bob Dickey, First Vice President of the National Corn Growers AssociationCorn growers by the car and truck load are attending the Farm Progress Show in Boone, IA. Helping me do some work here is Laura McNamara, a freelance farm media specialist. She got to sit down with an NCGA leader this morning.

There’s a lot the National Corn Growers Association is looking forward to in the next few months. I caught up with Bob Dickey, First Vice President of the association, at the 2008 Farm Progress Show in Boone, IA today. He says corn growers are counting on good weather, a good harvest and a good relationship with the new Secretary of Agriculture who’ll be named after this year’s Presidential election. In the meantime, Bob says representatives from the 33,000 member organization are on site here at the Farm Progress Show to get out their grassroots message:

“Our mission is to create and increase opportunities for corn growers,” Bob said.

A lot of those opportunities have come from ethanol in recent years. Bob says ethanol technology is continually progressing. Cellulosic technology is proving to be the newest frontier in the industry and Bob says, the National Corn Growers Association is behind cellulosic development 100 percent.

“We get behind the cellulosic industry because that will help enhance the overall industry,” Bob said. “And so we’re very supportive of what’s going on in the cellulosic side of the ethanol industry, whether it be switchgrass, sweet sorghum, alfalfa, wood chips, corn stalks, corn cobs, whatever. We’re excited.”

I interviewed Bob about what he feels are the important issues for corn growers. You can listen to my interview with Bob here:

Minnesota Corn Growers Host Ethanol Challenge

The 4th annual Governor’s Ethanol Challenge, sponsored by the Minnesota Corn Growers Association is being held this week.

MN Corn“The Corn Growers will be out there talking to the fans and promoting ethanol,” said Chad Willis, who farms near Willmar and serves as treasurer for the Minnesota Corn Research & Promotion Council. “We’ll have volunteers from local corn organizations in Kandiyohi, Pope, Chippewa, Lac Qui Parle and Yellow Medicine Counties who will come to the events to sell commemorative t-shirts. We’ll also have MCGA regional representatives and folks from the American Lung Association of Minnesota out to help talk about the economic and environmental benefits of ethanol.” The event will also feature an ethanol trivia contest with commemorative t-shirts for prizes.

The four races will draw together a score of “Midwest Modified” class drivers and vehicles running on E-98, a performance fuel with octane topping 105.

The races will be held July 8 at Viking Speedway in Alexandria; July 9 at Madison Speedway in Madison; July 10 at KRA Speedway in Willmar; and July 11 at Fiesta City Speedway, Montevideo.

Researching Food and Fuel Link

Michael WetzsteinThe Farm Foundation just concluded a conference in their series titled, “Transition To A Bio Economy.” This one was on risk, infrastructure and industry evolution and all the presentations were on biofuels. I conducted a series of interviews with the presenters which you can find with this link.

One of them has done some interesting research on the link between the volatility of ethanol production and corn prices. He is Michael Wetzstein, University of Georgia. His talk dealt with two issues. One is on price volatility and the other is on food and fuel. Michael says that gas price volatility can be avoided with fuel diversification by blending renewable fuels with fossil fuels.

Another part of his research is on food and fuel and to answer the question of “Is there a direct link between the volatility of ethanol production and the volatility of corn prices. His research has found that there is a link but not a persistent or long lasting one. In fact, in the long run he says there is no direct link.

The bottom line he says is that we just need to produce more food. After talking to Iowa corn growers last weekend, I can say that American farmers are certainly doing their best.

You can listen to my interview with Michael here:

Proud of What They Do

E Man and Corn Guy at Iowa IndySunday was “Proud to be a Midwestern Corn Grower Day” during the telecast of the Iowa Corn Indy 250. The only thing that would have made the day better would have been the Team Ethanol car in the winner’s circle. But Ryan Hunter Reay certainly gave it a good go.

Just about every other commercial during the race broadcast was one from the corn growers and they were excellent spots. I also loved the opening “start your corn ethanol-fueled engines” heralded by Iowa Corn Promotion Board chairman Julius Schaaf.

The spot below is my personal favorite from the race, featuring corn growers proclaiming they are proud to be America’s feed, food and fuel providers. GO Corn!!!

Check out all the photos from the race and pre-race activities here:
Iowa Corn Indy 250 Photo Album

For audio and video interviews and overall coverage of the Iowa Corn Indy 250 - check out this link to Domestic Fuel.

Iowa Corn Welcomes Helio

Celebrity dancing racer Helio Castroneves and former NASCAR champion Rusty Wallace visited with Iowa corn growers and members of the media on Wednesday to promote the Iowa Corn Indy 250 on June 22 at the Iowa Speedway in Newton.

There was no dancing, but Helio did sing the praises of ethanol. “It’s great,” he says. “The IndyCar Series is the one that started 100 percent on ethanol and other series are following as well. I’m very proud to be part of this organization. And ethanol is the main sponsor, we’re here because it’s where they produce ethanol.”

Helio is a two-time Indy 500 winner, but he gained new celebrity as the current “Dancing with the Stars” champion, and he hopes that will also gain new fans for the IndyCar Series from the 22 million people who tuned in to that show. “The funny thing is now, before doing the show I was a driver that can dance, and now I am a dancer that can drive,” he joked.

Besides being former NASCAR champion, Wallace is also an ABC/ESPN commentator, and designer of Iowa Speedway. This will be the second year for the ethanol-fueled race at the new speedway. The premier Iowa Corn Indy 250 last year was the second-most watched IndyCar Series race after the Indianapolis 500. This is also the second year that the IndyCar Series will run on 100 percent fuel grade ethanol.

NCGA President Shares Commodity Classic Stage

NCGA President Ron Litterer got to share the stage with his counterparts in soybeans and wheat at the Commodity Classic in Nashville. They’re pictured as follows: John Hoffman, American Soybean Association, Ron Litterer, NCGA and John Thaemert, National Association of Wheat Growers.

The three took part in an annual discussion led by this year’s moderator John Phipps, U.S. Farm Report.

John starts out wondering how in the world these three guys got so lucky as to be President this year when we’ve got such fantastic market prices. It’s a lively discussion which I hope you’ll enjoy.

Listen to the 3 Presidents here:

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