Corn checkoff delivers critical messages, backs important research
While the corn checkoff’s mission includes growing markets, supporting research and enhancing the value of Nebraska corn and related corn products, it also includes education. Yet education in this sense goes well beyond books and classrooms.
“When we talk about education, we’re talking about reaching those who may not understand corn farming and agriculture today. It doesn’t matter if they live down the road a few miles, in a major city or in Washington,” said Mark Jagels of Davenport, a farmer-director of the Nebraska Corn Board. “It’s important to reach out through advertising, the media and online. In fact, we can’t afford to sit on the sidelines when you look at the host of issues facing farmers today.”
In just the last year, the Nebraska Corn Board and the corn checkoff has tackled a number of issues that would have a dramatic impact on farming and corn – cap and trade, increasing the ethanol blend rate, indirect land use changes and a host of sustainability questions. Really, they are just the tip of the iceberg when looking at the big picture.
“There are individuals and organizations whose goal is to pretty much eliminate livestock and poultry production and the use of modern technology in farming,” said Tim Scheer, a farmer-director of the board from St. Paul. “We are working to counter that while promoting the positives of farming today.”
Corn truths come out
To help counter some of the negatives circulated on the internet, in some agenda-driven documentaries and in the media relating to corn, the Nebraska Corn Board last year launched its Sustaining Innovation campaign, which continues today.
This campaign lets people know that corn farmers have a commitment to doing a better job in every row, on every acre, every year. It’s a campaign that echoes messages delivered to those in Washington, D.C., as part of a national campaign the board participates in with 13 other states and the National Corn Growers Association.
“We cannot sit on the sideline and let others who know little to nothing about what we do tell us the best way to farm,” said Jon Holzfaster, a farmer-director of the Nebraska Corn Board from Paxton. “We need to reach out and communicate. We need to educate people, put a face on farming and tell everyone that what we do and how we do it has a dramatic and positive effect on everyone in the state and nation.”
Livestock and ethanol
The Nebraska Corn Board’s top priorities are the livestock and ethanol sectors – as those two sectors provide a number of synergies that benefit corn farmers and the state as a whole through economic development.
“Ethanol production adds value to corn twice. First by producing a renewable fuel and second by producing distillers grains,” said Holzfaster. “Livestock production is the next critical component, as it adds significant value to both corn and distillers grains through feed and contributes greatly to the state’s economy as a whole.”
To support the ethanol and livestock industries, the checkoff funds a significant amount of research, particularly in regards to feeding distillers grains, much of which goes to projects at the University of Nebraska. Other checkoff dollars go to cooperator organizations like the U.S. Meat Export Federation, which adds significant dollars to the value of cattle and hogs by expanding new markets around the world. Support also goes to the U.S. Grains Council, which focuses on global corn markets.
Scheer said it is clear that the checkoff has made a real difference for farmers in the state. “It doesn’t matter if it’s a feedlot in Harrisburg, or a hog operation in Plymouth, or a supermarket selling Nebraska beef in Japan, or an ethanol plant in Bridgeport or a grain elevator in Scottsbluff, the corn checkoff has supported them all,” he said.
Created in 1978
“The checkoff was created by farmers and for farmers in 1978 when the Corn Resources Act was passed by the Nebraska Legislature. That created the Nebraska Corn Board, which is made up of nine farmer-directors across the state who oversee the checkoff,” said Holzfaster. “It is important that this effort was led by Nebraska corn farmers themselves, most notably members of the Nebraska Corn Growers Association.”
The corn checkoff rate in Nebraska is one-fourth of a cent per bushel, the level it has been at since 1988, and is the lowest of other major corn growing states in the country. It is collected by first purchasers of corn – including the Panhandle Cooperative.
“Without those first purchasers like Panhandle Cooperative, the checkoff wouldn’t exist. Without the checkoff we would be challenged to organizing and fund research and other initiatives that are important to growers,” said Jagels.
Below are some of the messages the Nebraska Corn Board is sharing with consumers as part of its Sustaining Innovation campaign.
· America’s corn farmers are by far the most productive in the world, growing 20% more corn per acre than any other nation.
· Corn farmers cut erosion 44% in two decades thanks to new tillage methods.
· Family farmers grow 90% of America’s corn crop.
· American farmers grow five times more corn than they did in the 1930s—on 20% less land.
· Thanks to innovative fertilization methods, today’s American corn farmers produce 70% more corn per pound of fertilizer.
· An acre of corn removes 8 tons of greenhouse gas, more than that produced by your car.
· Energy used to grow a bushel of corn decreased 37% thanks to family farmers’ use of technology.
· 87% of America’s corn crop is grown without irrigation, relying on only rainfall to meet the crop’s needs.
Other links to check out are:
See us on
Our Blog, Nebraska Corn Kernels