Josh Roe

Corn Congress Attendees Meet with Trump Administration, EPA Director, USDA Officials and Members of Congress

NCGA’s Corn Congress was two successful days of Action Team meetings and seeing our own Dennis McNinch get elected to the NCGA Board, along with hill visits that were accompanied by Kansas Corn Delegates, staff and Collegiate Academy members. Specifically, the Kansas delegation had 34 individual meetings with members of Congress from across the nation. CEO, Greg Krissek participated in a small group meeting on atrazine with Administrator Wheeler and our delegates attended a briefing in the White House complex.  This all happened in the span of less than 72 hours, so to call this a relaxing visit  to DC would be far from the truth!

During this trip we had six individual meetings with congressional staff from “non-corn states” specifically; California, Massachusetts, Washington, New York and Florida. All but one of these members were Democrats. Therefore, my group discussed the importance of the United States-Mexico- Canada Agreement (USMCA) and what it means to the agriculture industry. Most are wanting to vote yes, but seem to be looking for any reason to make a change to feel that the Democrats “won” something. Any American should be able to feel good about USMCA as it will have a positive outcome for agriculture and other industries.   In my opinion, they know this is a good deal, but simple politics are standing in the way. We will continue our push as needed to help remove political barriers. The one member who was not in support was Congressman Hastings, from Florida. His district is made up of a large amount of specialty crops producers, who are concerned about the flood of cheap produce into Florida from Mexico. USMCA does not make his perceived problems worse than NAFTA, but it would take a large feat to get him to vote yes. The California delegation I met with that had citrus growers was not concerned on the trade side but was more concerned on environmental provisions.

On the topic of ethanol, for most of these non-corn visits we stick to the high-level talking points; ethanol is a cleaner burning fuel and a cheaper fuel option for their constituencies. I never waste an opportunity to talk to a California representative about how several Kansas ethanol plants ship nearly 100 percent of their ethanol to California. I enjoy telling my personal story; when I was growing up, we raised corn on our farm and simply fed it to our own livestock. Today, my family grows twice as much corn on that same amount of land using less inputs, we sell the corn to an ethanol plant in the area, that turns each bushel into 2.8 gallons of ethanol and then we feed the co-product to the livestock. Now, I’ve heard many different interpretations of the word ‘sustainable’ but to me, that is SUSTAINABLE!