The 20th annual Commodity Classic is underway in Phoenix and several Minnesota Corn Growers Association grower-leaders are in attendance. Here is a quick summary of some of the corn-centric news to come out of Classic so far:
- Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that USDA will provide a one-time extension to farmers for the new safety-net programs (known as ARC and PLC) established in the 2014 farm bill. The final day to update yield history or reallocate base acres has been extended from Feb. 27 to March 31. The final day for farmers to choose ARC or PLC coverage remains March 31. Click here for more details on the extension.
- Corn farmers are asking congress to not turn its back on ethanol and other renewable fuels. On Thursday, Sens. Pat Toomey (R-PA) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) introduced a bill to eliminate corn ethanol blending requirements. “The Renewable Fuel Standard is working. We are growing renewable, clean energy right here in America,” said Keith Alverson, a National Corn Growers Association board member from South Dakota in response to the bill. “Corn ethanol is better for the environment and has historically lowered the cost of filling our tanks by nearly a dollar. With a second consecutive record crop, there is more than enough corn to meet all demands for food, fuel, feed, and fiber. Corn farmers have more than met our commitment on the RFS. There are many good reasons to continue this policy, and we look forward to working with Congress to support it.”
- Removing trade barriers and expanding markets for U.S. corn is another hot topic at Commodity Classic. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack called for renewed engagement in trade policy by U.S. farmers and completion of agreements currently in negotiations, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership. U.S. Grains Council President and CEO Tom Sleight weighed in on Secretary Vilsack’s remarks: “Free trade measures are in effect with 14 of our top 30 U.S. corn customers from the last marketing year. We have also established favorable trade agreements with top importing countries of U.S. sorghum and barley. We are confident that the next generation of trade agreements will have even more dramatic impact as the global economy becomes more integrated and more countries realize the potential for vigorous trade to improve their economies, levels of food security and qualities of life.”
- Organizations across the agriculture spectrum are standing up to support the 2014 farm bill at Commodity Classic. Here is a joint statement released by the National Corn Growers Association, American Soybean Association, National Association of Wheat Growers and National Sorghum Producers:
“On behalf of our farmer members, we are united in our support for the comprehensive farm bill passed by Congress just over one year ago. We are keenly aware of the cuts just made to mandatory spending across many titles and strongly oppose any changes or cuts to farm bill programs, many of which are just now being implemented.
Commodity Classic attendees are anxious about the 32 percent drop in farm income projected for this year, compared to 2014. On a wide range of issues, from the farm safety net to the Renewable Fuel Standard to biotech approvals, certainty is what America’s farmers need most from their elected officials at this time, and we worked hard to improve farm programs in the 2014 farm bill to reduce the burden on taxpayers while ensuring farmers get support when they need it the most.
Our family farmers work hard each season to provide a safe and abundant supply of food, feed, fuel and fiber for the world. The best way for Congress to support our work is to not stand in the way of a law that works and has great promise for rural America.”