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Driving demand for Iowa corn

Twelve farmers strive to create opportunities for Iowa corn growers, and help keep them stay above the “red line” during tough economic times.

The Iowa Corn Promotion Board (ICPB) works to enhance opportunities for Iowa corn growers through market development, research and education. Duane Aistrope, Iowa Corn Promotion Board president, says the 12 member board aims to keep farmers profitable.

“The whole goal behind the Iowa Corn Promotion Board is to keep corn farmers profitable in this state, and promote our product. All farmers want to make money, and that’s what we’re charged to do with our Checkoff money – to find new ways to market their products,” Aistrope said.

The Iowa Corn Promotion Board dedicates fifty-percent of its budget to market development. ICPB develops and defends markets by working closely with two national organizations: the United States Grains Council (USGC) and U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF).

USGC creates opportunities for corn and dried distillers grains (DDGs). Aistrope says this partnership helps Iowa corn growers get their “foot in the door” in “GMO-free” markets.

“A lot of our GMOs are not approved in other countries. There’s no GMO issue with using DDGs for livestock feed because there’s no traceability of a GMO after it’s gone through the cooking process of becoming a DDG. That’s a way we get our foot in the door in a lot of countries. We then enhance our relationship with these countries by talking to and educating them on GMOs and the regulatory process, so in the future, we might be able to get some corn in those countries whether its for livestock or human consumption,” Aistrope said.

USMEF increases the value of U.S. beef products by enhancing demand in export markets. Aistrope says Iowa corn helps fuel the red meat sector, providing growers another market for their product.

“Livestock is probably our number one user of corn in Iowa,” Aistrope said. “Red meat markets are a great way to feed other nations that are hungry. We turn around (and) help them with the development of programs, introducing them to red meat. The protein diet is increasing around the world, and what better way to do it than with red meat?”

A small percent of Checkoff funds go toward research. However, Aistrope tells me great advances are being made with minimal funding.

“We’re trying to establish a bioplastic. We started this about three years ago. What it is is taking cornstarch and turning it into plastics. Right now, most all our plastics are derived from the oil industry. If it pans out like we’re hoping, it could come close to being the next ethanol for the corn market, for plastics,” Aistrope said.

To learn more about the Iowa Corn Promotion Board, visit www.iowacorn.org.

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