On Oct.1, the National Corn Growers Association entered a new fiscal year and, subsequently, seated the 2012 Corn Board with Garry Niemeyer of Auburn, Ill., assuming the presidency.
Off the Cob spoke with the new president to explore his views on what lies ahead for corn farmers in 2012, the challenges he expects the board to face, and some of the programs he is excited to see coming to fruition.
Beginning by thanking former and current board officers for their service, Niemeyer noted that 2012 is likely to be a tumultuous year as the government drafts a new farm bill in a climate that values economic austerity.
“I expect to see a turbulent year this next year as our government makes spending cuts and budgetary decisions,” he said.
“A long-term, comprehensive solution that reduces federal deficits must be found to help ensure our nation’s fiscal integrity and economic strength. With that said, we have a strong organization, and we will be prepared to meet the challenge.”
On a brighter note, he went on to remind farmers that new biotech events scheduled for release this year will once again fortify their ability to cope with environmental stressors and produce an abundant crop.
Culture of abundance
“With the advancements and innovation of biotechnology, we have moved from a culture of scarcity to one of abundance,” said Niemeyer. “This year alone, we will produce the third largest crop in U.S. history even with possibly the most widespread adverse weather in memory.
“If we would have still been planting 1980 seed varieties, I can’t imagine what kind of terrible yield results we would be seeing. We have several new events coming on-line soon, including drought resistance and nitrogen reducing hybrids. This is how we continue to grow our markets and to keep up with increasing demand.”
Niemeyer stressed that his highest priority in 2012 will be the drafting of a farm bill that continues to protect growers from loss due to adverse weather, crop disease and volatile markets.
“The foundation of the farm bill’s safety net is an effective and affordable crop insurance program,” he said.
“However, crop insurance in its current format leaves gaps in farmers’ risk management plans. Therefore, we will be working with members of both the House and Senate to develop a more complimentary revenue-based program to fill those gaps.”
Noting that the Aggregate Risk and Revenue Management program developed by Senators Brown, Thune, Durbin and Lugar offers a streamlined, simplified option while also improving its overall responsiveness, he went on to explain that he will also place a high priority on passage of the pending trade agreements with Panama, Colombia and Korea.
Finally, Niemeyer commended efforts to improve consumer knowledge on important subjects including ethanol and food production, including the NASCAR partnership and the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance.
To listen to the full interview, please click here.