By Matt Reese
Ethanol, trade and farm sustainability are three key topics for the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) getting plenty of attention at the virtual 2021 Commodity Classic.
John Linder from Morrow County spelled out these key messages for the nation’s corn growers as the current president of NCGA. Linder grows corn, soybeans, wheat and seed beans on his farm near Edison, Ohio, but his focus this week has been on the state of the national corn industry. Top of mind in the current political climate is a science-based look at climate change.
“With both our optimistic nature and our long history of our bipartisan advocacy we will use that to complement NCGA’s drive to capitalize on the opportunities we see within this Biden Administration. It is well known that the Biden-Harris administration has chosen to address climate change as a top priority,” Linder said during the opening General Session of Commodity Classic. “NCGA is making it a top priority to be engaged in this space by using this acknowledgement as a platform to showcase that the American farmer can lead by example with impactful, common sense climate solutions. The conversation has been difficult to have in the past.”
Looking toward the future, the conversation, and the role of agriculture in the climate debate, will likely have to evolve.
“Our father put filter strips on the drainage ditches that are 15- to 20-foot setbacks and they have been there for 50 years. It is about what we did yesterday, what we’re doing today and what we are going to do tomorrow. Corn farmers have continually pushed the boundaries of innovating by investing in practices aimed at improving productivity and at the same time conserving soil, organic matter and mitigating greenhouse gas emissions,” Linder said. “NCGA has adopted a push for market-based voluntary opportunities for farmers to provide carbon reduction benefits and an opportunity to contribute based on carbon offsets and sequestration through crop production. We also have ethanol and the low carbon, affordable octane it delivers. It remains a much-needed pathway for decarbonization of liquid fuels combating climate change and reducing harmful toxins in the air we breathe.”
Advancing opportunities for increased exports of corn and corn products is also a top priority.
“We hope that in the near term, the United States will be able to forge new trade agreements with strategic partners that offer growth opportunities for both U.S. corn and corn products into that export market,” Linder said. “Trade agreements are foundational to stability at the farm gate. A day does not go by without NCGA engaged in efforts to position corn in all forms, front and center in trade conversations. We are looking for an opportunity to re-engage in a trade agreement with southeast Asian nations as a top priority for NCGA. This region is a rapidly growing demand center for protein and renewable energy alike. We’d also like to see the U.S. government finish negotiations with the UK and to continue to deepen relationships with Kenya and other nations in sub-Saharan Africa.”
Along with exports of corn, ethanol exports are poised for significant growth potential.
“NCGA views ethanol exports as an opportunity to really move the demand needle for the industry, driving global competitiveness and capitalizing on the demand for more climate friendly energy solutions,” Linder said. “The global ethanol market has seen really substantial growth.”
With these key priorities in mind, Linder invites the nation’s farmers to join him in aggressively seeking new opportunities for corn.
“We are going to leave no stone unturned. We are looking under any stone we can find. When I think about no stone unturned, I can only turn them over one at a time,” he said. “Together we can move mountains in a hurry. That is what we need to do. This is urgent. Now is the time.”