Farmers Ben Klick, Sean Rittinger and Nate Bair planned out their next congressional meeting on their recent trip to Washington, D.C.

A return to D.C. for Corn Congress

By Matt Reese

Ohio Corn & Wheat members were glad to once again have the chance to meet with legislators in Washington, D.C. this summer and to convene for Corn Congress in person.  

“It was really nice to get back into D.C. and meet with legislators and their staff. It was almost like normal D.C. again back in 2019,” said Ben Klick, president of the Ohio Corn & Wheat Growers Association. “It was nice to meet face-to-face again and have a good conversation in person. Our legislators know and respect our issues and they want to keep farm country strong in Ohio.”

A key topic at both Corn Congress and with legislators was ongoing concern with the supply chain. 

“As farmers, we are always thinking about 3 years at one time. We have crops in the bin that we are marketing, we are trying to grow a crop and we are prepping for growing a crop the next year. We need access to the inputs so we can make sure we can get them in a timely fashion. I wish I could say things were going to be back to normal, but we are seeing these supply chain issues out into 2024 or 2025,” Klick said. “Until we can get these labor issues figured out it will just keep backlogging things and the longer it will take to get caught up. It is important from a farmer’s standpoint to be prepared for this next season.” 

Another important area of emphasis for the group was the Next Generation Fuels Act. The legislation would assist the transition of gasoline and vehicles to low-carbon, higher octane fuel to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and meet future needs of more advanced vehicles by taking advantage of the benefits of higher ethanol blends. 

The bill would require that automakers phase in higher levels of clean, low-carbon octane by model year 2031. The higher the octane, the more efficiently the engine uses energy. As a clean octane standard, the bill requires that sources of additional octane result in at least 40% fewer GHG emissions than unblended gasoline and sets new limits on toxic hydrocarbon aromatics. These requirements will reduce GHG and tailpipe emissions to build on the progress already made to lower emissions with cleaner renewable fuels. Through advanced engine design features that take advantage of this new fuel, automakers will be able to significantly improve vehicle fuel efficiency.

“The Next Generation Fuels Act was introduced last Congress and re-introduced this Congress. It lays out groundwork for auto manufacturers, retailers and consumers to be able to buy cars in the future that can run on higher blends of ethanol to keep costs down and improve air quality,” said Luke Crumley, director of public policy and nutrient management for Ohio Corn & Wheat. “Animal feed and ethanol are the markets that keep growers profitable in Ohio. We have to constantly go to bat for ethanol because it is constantly under attack.”

The ongoing comment period with regard to a proposal from the Environmental Protection Agency regarding atrazine was another important topic for Ohio Corn & Wheat members.   

“We were also there to ask our members of Congress to help where they could on protecting atrazine for growers. We need that to bring our products to market,” Crumley said. “The proposal coming out from the EPA is threatening the existence of a product that helps advance multiple federal strategic goals. This is why it is so important for growers to weigh in on this.”

With so much at stake in 2022, Crumley was excited to see corn and wheat farmers from Ohio rise to the occasion in Washington, D.C.

“Our growers really did their homework,” Crumley said. “When we go out to Washington, it is not just Corn Congress. We also have a whole day dedicated to engaging with our legislators and talking about the issues that are driving market demand for our products and that are preventing our growers from doing to best job that they can do. Our growers stepped up to the plate in a big way.”

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