Minnesota Corn advocates for top priorities in Washington

(Chief Agricultural Negotiator Greg Doud met with Minnesota Corn directors)

Minnesota Corn farmer leaders spent last week in Washington D.C. meeting with fellow directors from other state organizations and spending time on Capitol Hill meeting with members of Minnesota’s congressional delegations, agriculture committee leaders and key federal agencies to advocate for policy priorities important to all Minnesota corn famers.

While in Washington, farmer leaders participated in Corn Congress sessions with the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA). The annual event is when directors gather to debate grassroots policy resolutions that article NCGA’s federal positions on policies impacting corn farmers. This year at Corn Congress, delegates approved a “Sense of the Corn Congress,” urging President Trump to uphold his commitment to America’s farmers and to help protect the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

Minnesota Senator Tina Smith with Minnesota Corn directors

Delegates unanimously approved the statement in response to actions by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to issue waivers to oil refiners exempting them from compliance requirements of the RFS. These EPA actions have already reduced RFS requirements by 2.61 billion ethanol-equivalent gallons, with an additional 38 refinery waiver applications currently pending at EPA. You can read more about the “Sense of Corn Congress” resolution here.

Protecting the RFS and ratification of the United States Mexico Canada Trade Agreement (UMSCA) were top messages delivered by Minnesota Corn Growers Association (MCGA) leaders in meetings with members and staff of Minnesota’s ten Congressional delegation offices.

MCGA leaders spent time discussing the importance of USMCA to their operations. Over the past two years, U.S. agricultural exports have quintupled to Mexico and tripled to Canada. Mexico is the number one buyer of U.S. corn, representing 618 million bushels and Canada is the number nine buyer representing 64.2 million bushels. Additionally, Canada is the number two buyer of U.S. ethanol, which is an important value-added market for corn.

Texas Congressman and Ranking Member of the House Ag Committee Mike Conaway met with Minnesota Corn Grower leaders.

Given that ethanol is such an important market for corn, MCGA leaders also spent time discussing the Renewable Fuel Integrity Act (H.R. 3006/S.1840). The Renewable Fuel Integrity Act aims to provide much-needed transparency and oversight into the EPA process of granting oil refinery waivers. The bill would also make the process timelier to enable allocation of any waived gallons into the annual renewable volume setting process.

Protecting ethanol demand was a top topic in a meeting with Representative Collin Peterson.

H.R. 3006 has been introduced by Representatives Collin Peterson (D-MN) and Dusty Johnson (R-SD), and S. 1840 has been introduced by Senators Deb Fischer (R-NE) and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL). Several members of Minnesota’s congressional delegation are co-sponsors of the legislation.

In addition to Capitol Hill visits, MCGA leaders also met with agency leadership at the United States Department of Agriculture, including the Farm Service Agency, Risk Management Agency and the Natural Resources Conservation Service. Each meeting was an opportunity to discuss farm bill implementation and utilization of various programs that support agriculture in Minnesota.

Leaders also had the opportunity to meet with the Agriculture Advisor to EPA Administrator Wheeler and carry forward our concern about the waiver process undermining the RFS and the market for ethanol.

Finally, leaders got the opportunity to visit with the Chief Agricultural Negotiator for the U.S. Trade Representative, Ambassador Gregg Doud. The group covered several important trade topics and discussed new market opportunities for Minnesota corn and corn products.

Although July can be an uncomfortable time to be in D.C. due to high temperatures and humidity, it is a critical time for MCGA leaders to advocate on behalf of Minnesota corn farmers to work towards policy and program outcomes that benefit agriculture and Minnesota farm families.

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