The Iowa Corn Growers Association held its annual Grassroots Summit in Altoona on Aug. 26-27, when ICGA delegates set the direction for the organization’s policies and priorities for the coming year.
During the two-day summit, 100 delegates in attendance had the opportunity to review expiring policies and debate new resolutions. This ICGA policy process includes a member survey in the spring, roundtable discussions held across the state in the summer and the Grassroots Summit in late August. Policies related to national issues can be brought forth at the Commodity Classic meetings in February with National Corn Growers Association farmer delegates.
ICGA members at the summit expressed their anger over ethanol waivers being granted to oil refiners by the Environmental Protection Agency, as the waivers are destroying demand for ethanol. ICGA members called for the Trump administration to “make it right by following the law and upholding the integrity of the Renewable Fuel Standard.”
Ethanol’s future key for corn farmers
By exempting petroleum refiners from having to blend ethanol in the gasoline they produce, EPA is destroying demand for corn. ICGA members are especially upset about the most recent batch of 31 small-refinery waivers granted by EPA in August. Those 31 exemptions let the refiners out of the RFS requirement to blend 1.4 billion gallons of ethanol and biodiesel into their fuel.
Since Trump took office in 2016, EPA has approved 85 waivers for 4.3 billion gallons of ethanol, killing demand for 1.4 billion bushels of corn used to make the renewable fuel.
In addition to federal issues such as the RFS waivers, ICGA delegates at the summit also deliberated on a number of important state issues impacting Iowa corn farmers. The following four state of Iowa policy issues are listed in alphabetical order, not by priority ranking:
Conservation and water quality. Maintain the legislative funding stream for implementing the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy.
Ethanol. Obtain funding for the renewable infrastructure cost-share program (RFIP).
Livestock. Support existing regulatory framework for the livestock industry.
Taxes. Protect critical tax credits (Section 179 and biofuels).
“The future of our organization lies in the hands of our grassroots members, and it is vital our members are engaged,” stated incoming ICGA President Jim Greif. “Throughout the year, there are many ways to get involved to develop ICGA policy. ICGA encourages all members to make their voices heard at these policy discussion events.”
Delegates weighed several key federal issues, which are listed here in alphabetical order, not by priority ranking:
Ethanol. Retain the Renewable Fuel Standard, reallocate unjustified small refinery exemptions (SRE waivers), and reduce regulatory barriers for higher blends of ethanol to reach the marketplace.
Trade. Expand new and protect existing bilateral and multilateral trade agreements. Protect and expand the Market Access Program and Foreign Market Development funding as part of the farm bill.
Transportation. Maintain and upgrade the U.S. inland waterways system.
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds spoke to ICGA members during the first day of summit. The governor said she stands strong with Iowa farmers to protect the RFS.
Iowa Corn presents annual awards
During the conclusion of the first day of the summit, ICGA presented two awards to deserving ICGA members and partners. The Friend of Iowa Corn award is given to recognize state and federal legislators, their staff and others who have helped shape and implement priorities of Iowa Corn, and those who have been champions for our issues.
This year, the Friend of Iowa Corn award was presented to Jerry Fitzgerald, who has been a part of Iowa Corn for over two decades. He is one of Iowa Corn’s contract lobbyists at the Iowa statehouse and has been instrumental in the shaping and passage of every significant piece of Iowa Corn legislation at the statehouse during his tenure.
The second award presented was the Walter Goeppinger Lifetime Achievement Award, given to an Iowa Corn member who has showcased exemplary leadership skills and service throughout his or her time with Iowa Corn.
This year, Iowa Corn honored Jack Kintzle of Toddville, for exceptional dedication and leadership to the agriculture industry. Kintzle had a seat at the table during pivotal conversations that have shaped Iowa Corn into what it is today. He is recognized for his thoughtful input, progressive thinking and diligent work ethic.
ICGA plans to grow membership
The Local Leaders Awards Breakfast kicked off the morning of Aug. 27 with an update from Larry Buss, Iowa Corn Grassroots Network and checkoff committee chair, explaining the plan to grow ICGA membership.
Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig welcomed and thanked members for participating in the policy development of their organization. Wrapping up the program, Buss handed out awards recognizing the efforts of many outstanding local corn farmer-leaders and their programming at county and district levels.
The Iowa Corn Cy-Hawk Luncheon concluded with an update from representatives from the Iowa Corn Cy-Hawk Series partnerships; University of Iowa Women’s Basketball coach, Lisa Bluder; and Iowa State University Women’s Basketball coach, Bill Fennelly.
During the final part of the summit, incoming ICGA President Jim Greif and incoming Iowa Corn Promotion Board President Roger Zylstra gave their presidential updates outlining their key goals for the upcoming year.
ICGA will release its finalized top 2020 state and federal policy priorities in December based on grassroots input provided during the summit. The complete 2019-20 policy resolution book is available upon request by emailing email@example.com or calling 515-225-9242.