Several farmer-leaders from the Minnesota Corn Growers Association (MCGA) spent the week of July 13 in Washington D.C. attending Corn Congress and meeting with key policymakers and elected officials on Capitol Hill about important agriculture issues.
In addition to meeting with nearly every member of Minnesota’s congressional and senate delegation, MCGA farmer-leaders also met with key USDA officials and Rep. Mike Conway, Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee.
“Whenever we’re in Washington, we make sure to amplify the voices of Minnesota corn farmers loud and clear,” said Northfield farmer and MCGA President Bruce Peterson. “There are a lot of issues coming at us from multiple directions. We covered as much ground as we could during each meeting to ensure that the corn-farmer point of view was heard on each issue.”
An issue near the top of every corn farmer’s list is the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) and Army Corps of Engineers’ (the Corp) proposed Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule. Under WOTUS, EPA and the Corp would have expanded authority under the federal Clean Water Act to regulate land features and waters on or near farms.
“We expressed our concerns about the proposal’s lack of clarity and the extra burden and confusion new regulations would bring to Minnesota corn farmers,” Peterson said.
EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy also addressed farmers during Corn Congress.
Also at the top of the list of concerns for the Minnesota delegation was EPA’s proposal to significantly cut the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) – legislation that sets targets for the amount of homegrown ethanol blended in our fuel supply – below what Congress originally intended.
The MCGA delegation joined several hundred farmers from throughout the country and key elected officials for a RFS rally on the Capitol Hill lawn on Wednesday.
“EPA talks about wanting to reduce carbon emissions, but the agency’s lack of support for cleaner-burning ethanol and the RFS sure doesn’t back up that talk,” Peterson said.
Farmers still have time to make their voices heard on the RFS. Go to www.mncorn.org and click on the “Don’t Mess with the RFS” tab to submit comments to EPA before the July 27 deadline.
While the MCGA delegation was in Washington, Congress passed a bill that would create a federal, uniform standard for labeling foods that contain genetically modified ingredients (GMOs).
“We support this bill because it would eliminate confusing state-by-state labels and create a simple federal label that is based on sound science and data,” Peterson said. “It’s good for farmers and good for consumers.”