Iowa corn farmers discuss pressing farm policy with legislators. Atop of the list is trade.
Iowa Corn Growers Association (ICGA) farmer-leaders convened in Washington, D.C. last week to advocate for key agricultural issues as part of the National Corn Growers Association Corn Congress meeting. ICGA president Mark Recker says Corn Congress allows farmer-leaders an opportunity to air issues impacting their farms.
“We also meet with legislators of our state to talk to them about what’s impacting us and what we think they need to be working on. An important thing beyond this is, for the past several years, many us farmer-leaders have reached out to legislators from non-corn states, people that don’t grow corn in their state or maybe have no idea what corn does for them. We’ve been having those conversations to let them know what impact us on our farms, but also find out how we can work with them as far as getting important legislation passed.”
Farmer-leaders discussed trade in-depth, while in the capital city. First, leaders discussed the impact of tariffs. Corn growers across the nation have witnessed a considerable price drop in corn, a 15% decline since the implementation of retaliatory tariffs.
“Ag products in Iowa have been hit considerably, at a time when we need growing markets,” Recker said. “We have what looks like a good crop on it’s way this year, so there’s a lot of concern in the countryside with these tariffs and loss of markets. The long-term implication we could see once we get into fall here and guys start harvesting and have to sell more at lower prices. That’s when reality is going to hit.”
ICGA farmer-leaders then requested additional support for trade in the 2018 Farm Bill.
“We want a strong export program,” Recker said. “Many people don’t know, but there’s funding for export programs in the farm bill under the names of: Market Access Program and Foreign Market Development. This has become increasingly important over the years as we’ve become more reliant and have more customers overseas. We need to support those programs so that we can build those markets.”
Other priorities brought to legislators attention include: continued funding for crop insurance, expanded consumer access to higher blends of ethanol and reallocated gallons lost to small refinery exemptions.