Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Get Engaged, Get Involved, Get Going This New Year

If you’ve found yourself already becoming a little lax on your New Year’s resolutions, Iowa Corn has just the solution. As a grassroots organization, we realize it’s our farmer members who are the true backbone of Iowa Corn. With that in mind, we hope in 2015 you will make a resolution to become a more-engaged Iowa Corn member, and here are a few ideas to get you started…

Research & Market Development
Our mission at Iowa Corn is creating opportunities for long-term corn grower profitability, which means we are committed to ensuring there are strong markets for your crop. Here are some ways you can be part of that initiative:
  • Learn more about the research efforts on new ways to use corn
  • Attend an ethanol pump promotion event in your area
  • Help promote home-grown fuels during the Iowa Corn 300 on July 18th
  • Take part in a trade mission to promote corn within international markets

Communications & Public Relations
The Iowa Corn team is dedicated to ensuring our farmers are heard and respected in the court of public opinion. Here are some ways you can help with that mission:

Government Relations
Each year ICGA members develop and vote on policy statements that ultimately guide our government relations efforts at the state and federal level. Here are some ways you can make your voice heard:

Membership & Leadership
Iowa Corn is a state organization, but we are only as strong as our farmer members and local leaders. Here are some ways you can get involved:
  • If you’re not already an ICGA member, sign up and learn about our membership benefits
  • Get involved in your county corn growers and/or district committee
  • Serve on one of our many issue committees
  • Apply for the next Iowa Corn Leadership and Development (I-LEAD) class
  • Encourage your friends and neighbors to get involved, because agriculture is stronger in numbers

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Secretary Northey to hold Public Meetings in Buena Vista, Calhoun, and Sac Counties

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey announced he will be visiting the three Northwest Iowa counties subject of a potential lawsuit by Des Moines Water Works on Tuesday, Jan. 20 and Wednesday, Jan. 21.  During the visits Northey will visit with community leaders and highlight the significant investment made by farmers in these counties to protect water quality.

“Iowa farmers have invested millions of dollars of their own money to help improve water quality.  We need to build on this momentum and work together.  Sensationalized rhetoric and threats of litigation are not the answer to help us achieve our joint goals of improved water quality in Iowa,” Northey said.

Details of Northey’s visits include:

Tues., Jan. 20, 2015 - Calhoun County
Where: Calhoun County Expo Building, 400 High St., Rockwell City
Time: 2:00 p.m.

Tues., Jan. 20, 2015 - Sac County
Where: Sac County Conservation Center, 2970 280th St., Sac City
Time: 4:00 p.m.

Wed., Jan. 21, 2015 - Buena Vista County
Where: King’s Pointe Resort, 1520 East Lakeshore Dr., Storm Lake
Time: 8:00 a.m.

Northey, a corn and soybean farmer from Spirit Lake, is serving his third term as Secretary of Agriculture. His priorities as Secretary of Agriculture are promoting the use of science and new technologies to better care for our air, soil and water, and reaching out to tell the story of Iowa agriculture.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Women Lead the Way in Ag Today

Some might say it’s all about the horsepower, but today, it’s the power of people that  really propels modern agriculture. While farming has historically been viewed as a male-dominated field, the fact is more women are playing a key role in agriculture across the USA today. According to the most recent USDA Agricultural Census, in 2012, approximately 969,672 females in the United States, are running more than 288,264 farms across the country, accounting for about $12.9 billion in agricultural product sales.

Recognizing the continued value that women contribute to the industry, a local group of young professionals fostered that growth of passionate women in agriculture as the Young Professionals in Agriculture (YPIA) hosted USDA Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden this past Tuesday. During her visit to Iowa, Deputy Secretary Harden spoke about the challenges she faced as a Georgia farmer’s daughter helping to shape farm policy on Capitol Hill at a time when there were very few females in her industry. She also shared advice on how to become a better leader for the next generation of agriculturalists, especially for the young women that look up to those professionals in the group.

Iowa Corn supports the Young Professionals in Agriculture (YPIA) organization, and a number of our own team members proudly took part in the event. For more information about YPIA, visit http://youngprofessionalsinag.org/

(Pictured left to right) Iowa Corn staff members Amanda DeJong, Brooke Kerns, Deputy Secretary Harden, Iowa Corn staffer Elizabeth Burns-Thompson, and Pam Johnson, at-large director of the Iowa Corn Promotion Board.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Finding Your Way Through Farm Bill Programs

Photo Credit: USDA

With the mid-term elections behind us it’s time to start thinking ahead to the next election. No, I don’t mean Presidential candidates; I’m talking farm program elections. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has begun rolling out new crop programs from the 2014 Farm Bill, and farmers, as well as land owners, will have some critical decisions to make over the next couple months. Below is a basic timeline that has been released by the Farm Service Agency (FSA):

July/August 2014
Record Review
Sept. 29, 2014 thru Feb. 27, 2015
Base Acre Reallocation and Yield Updates
Nov. 17, 2014 thru Mar. 31, 2015
Program Election
Mid Apr. 2015 thru Summer 2015
Program Enrollment
October 2015
Payments Issued

Now, if you’re unsure whether to update or reallocation, or if all the new acronyms (ARC-CO, ARC-IC, PLC, SCO) make your head spin, you’re in luck. Iowa Corn has put together a website full of resources and tools specifically tailored to help producers navigate through all of these decisions. To access that information, check out our “Farm Bill Resources” webpage.

Looking for even more information? We’ve got you covered there too. Iowa State University Extension has partnered with USDA, Iowa Corn, and Farm Credit Services of America to provide free informational meetings across the state. These meetings will include a discussion of new risk coverage programs, and demonstrations of new tools to aid producers when choosing which program is best for their farm. Check out the ISU Extension webpage to find the informational meeting(s) in your county.

Can’t make it to your local Farm Bill informational meeting? Don’t worry; there are plenty of educational resources that you can access from the comfort of your own home. ISU Extension has put together some great YouTube videos that explain the basic framework of these new programs and what to consider when making farm program decisions for your operation. Additionally, the University of Illinois held webinars every Friday throughout the month of October providing information about these programs. These free hour-long webinar videos are available online for producers to view at their convenience.

Still have unanswered questions? Reach out to your local Farm Service Agency (FSA) Office, or contact a member of your Iowa Corn Government Relations team. Happy Electing!

My name is Elizabeth Burns-Thompson, Government Relations Manager here at Iowa Corn, and the author of this post. I was born and raised on a diversified family farm in eastern Iowa, where my parents still farm today. My passion for agriculture led me to Iowa State University, where I earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Agricultural Business and International Agriculture. I also hold a Juris Doctorate degree from Drake Law School, specializing in agricultural law and policy. While Iowa has always been home to me, one of my favorite past-times is traveling, and over the years I have had the privilege of observing agricultural production in variety of countries around the world.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Iowa grower finishes first in Syngenta Drive to Thrive Contest

Syngenta announced that Jim Cuddeback, a corn and soybean grower from Washington, Iowa, is the grand prizewinner of its Drive to Thrive contest. This competition challenged growers and other agricultural industry professionals across America to describe what makes their farms or agribusinesses thrive.

In Cuddeback’s winning essay, he named his family, which includes his wife of 44 years, two sons and five grandchildren, as the driving force behind his farm’s success. His genuine passion for agriculture is another motivator for him. “I entered the Drive to Thrive contest because I enjoy educating people about the role agriculture plays in our economy and the role farmers play in preserving our land and heritage,” he says. “It is a privilege to be honored with this award.”

Photo Courtesy IDALS
Members of Jim Cuddeback's family were present to accept the Iowa Farm Environmental Leader Award in August at the Iowa State Fair. Cuddeback was recognized for his exemplary commitment to healthy soils and improved water quality.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Are Farmers Rich?

Not surprisingly, it’s one of our highest ranking search terms.  Apparently, tons of people want to know if farmers are rich.

And I think the answer is, no.  They are rich in all the things that matter, but are pretty middle class.  They just deal with a lot of money coming in AND a lot of money going out.  And all that money coming in looks like a lot if you don’t know the whole story.

So here it is … the whole story.  I hope you take the time to read through what sounds confusing and get to the summary at the bottom because it’s worth it!  Promise.


In order to grow a crop, farmers must buy things like seeds, equipment, chemicals and fertilizer (surely one of you has a bag of Miracle Gro around for the garden, right?).  And there are also the costs that you don’t really think of like land, and maybe someone to help you get the crops planted or harvested in the span of a few weeks.

N-Urea fertilizer According to the University of Illinois, those costs – input costs – average to about $600 per acre for corn in Illinois.  And, I should clarify: the $600 includes equipment, labor, seeds, fertilizer, and chemicals.  No land.  And land is expensive.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Crop sensors improve nitrogen application

COLUMBIA, Mo. – Sensor-guided nitrogen application can save corn producers money and increase yields, says Peter Scharf, University of Missouri Extension soil scientist.

Scharf showed how crop sensors diagnose variable nitrogen needs at a recent farmer technology field day at MU’s Bradford Research Center. In the last decade, on-farm demonstrations have been carried out in more than 100 cornfields and a dozen cotton fields in Missouri.

Nitrogen needs can vary widely from place to place within a field, Scharf said. In multiple field-scale studies, Scharf found that applying nitrogen at the same rate to an entire field often means that more than half the field will receive either far too much or far too little nitrogen.

Photo Courtesy Linda Geist
Crop sensors on tractors can detect varying nitrogen needs within fields to increase yields and reduce costs.
Tractor-drawn light sensors can measure nitrogen levels in plants by detecting the amount of pulsed light that bounces back from plant canopies. A computer in the tractor cab uses the sensor data to automatically adjust fertilizer rates.