After a Tennessee legislature-backed referendum was held in 2018 allowing the state’s corn farmers to vote on the creation of a checkoff program, the Tennessee Corn Promotion Board (TCPB) began collecting the 1 cent per-bushel assessment in March of this year.
The funds will be used by the Tennessee Corn Promotion Council (TCPC) to develop agricultural research, education activities, and other related projects to improve the demand for Tennessee corn, while simultaneously working to improve the profitability and sustainability of Tennessee corn farming operations. “The referendum passed by a 64 percent margin,” says Carol Reed, executive director, TCPC. “This is a farmer-funded and farmer-driven, state-wide organization in our state. We receive no federal funding.”
Although Reed maintains an office at the West Tennessee Ag Research Center in Jackson, Tenn., she is rarely there. “I am grateful that we have an active and engaged board of directors,” says Reed. “We plan to delay research project funding and additional staffing decisions until we have a sense of the level of checkoff funds we can anticipate. Until then, I plan to be the only staff person.”
According to USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, Tennessee ranks 17th in the nation for corn acreage. Tennessee farmers harvested roughly 740,000 acres of corn in 2018. “From that acreage a little less than 116 million bushels were produced,” says Reed.
The TCPC is developing a survey that will be sent to all Tennessee corn farmers asking for their input on potential research and education programs. The survey should be distributed around the middle of November. Respondents will have an opportunity to provide their input electronically or by mail.