Last week when Julie and Suzie were holding down the fort here in IL Corn’s home office (thanks Julie and Suzie!), the rest of us were in Tampa, Florida for the Commodity Classic.
What is the Commodity Classic you ask? Well, it’s a joint meeting of the National Corn Growers Association, American Soybean Association, National Association of Wheat Growers, and the National Sorghum Producers. The important part for us is, of course, the policy meeting of the National Corn Growers Association, where corn farmers from all over the country set the course of the organization for the next year.
And this year, we changed directions in a few key areas. Significantly.
American corn farmers voted to support a transition away from the Volumetric Ethanol Excise Tax Credit that we lobbied for last year, to a variable tax credit that will help ethanol plants only when they need help. We will pursue more market access for ethanol, which we believe will allow ethanol to simply compete in the marketplace rather than be supported by the government.
In the same vein, delegates voted to investigate a transition away from direct payments in the current (and past) Farm Bill and to pursue other safety nets that protect farmers only when circumstances are beyond their control. Weather and markets are two good examples of circumstances that could devastate agricultural production in our country and place our food security at risk. But by bettering risk management tools, we believe family farmers can, and will, thrive outside of historical farm program options.
Although slightly different, the third key change is also very important. Corn farmers voted to support changes to the Conservation Reserve Program that would better allow farm ground to move in and out of production. We place a high priority on keeping certain lands in conservation because that’s the right thing to do for agriculture, for wildlife and for the environment. But other lands should be allowed to flow in and out of the CRP as the market dictates and our policy changes reflect this need.
All in all, the Commodity Classic was a success. Illinois Corn is excited at the policy changes and reinvigorated at the joint state efforts that made the changes possible. We look forward to working on our new priorities with a new Congress that we will visit next week!