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Corn+Soybean Digest

NCGA President Relies On Family

Like most commodity organization leaders, Roger Pine knows that his presidency will require as much commitment from his family as from himself.

"It's only through them that I have the opportunity to serve as president of the National Corn Growers Association," says Pine.

Pine, who became NCGA president Oct. 1, is the patriarch of a strong farming family. Pine Family Farms, Lawrence, KS, is operated by Pine; his wife, Sue; their son, Brian; and their daughter, Shawn.

Brian and Shawn became part owners of the 4,100-acre corn, soybean and turf grass operation earlier this year. But both heeded their father's advice and worked off the farm before returning to the family business.

Pine is concerned about maintaining strong family relations. The entire family, including Brian and Shawn's spouses, regularly attend counseling sessions.

"We want to make this a positive experience for all of us," says Pine.

With his family members guiding the farm business in his absence, he knows that he can spend as much time as is necessary on NCGA matters.

"It would have been very difficult for me to do this and maintain our farm operation without a strong commitment on their part," he says.

And what does Pine hope to accomplish as NCGA president?

No. 1 is to help corn farmers get through the current farm crisis.

"That is a key concern of our members, and justifiably so," he states.

Pine hopes NCGA efforts in Washington will expand export opportunities. One thing needed, he says, is fast-track negotiating authority. Fast-track authority, which has been granted to every president since Gerald Ford, gives the administration the flexibility it needs to avoid being shut out of important export markets.

"Fast-track authority is vital," says Pine. "The World Trade Organization negotiations are in 1999, and it's important that we have a place at that table. And without this authority, it's hard to do that.

"It's also important that we do what we can to help our trading partners in Asia. And that means full funding of the International Monetary Fund."

Reducing or eliminating trade barriers is vital, too, says Pine.

"Sanctions on other countries have taken away many markets for agricultural products, and they seldom accomplish the reason for the sanctions in the first place."

He also emphasizes the need for a stronger agricultural risk management program to compensate for the disappearing safety nets offered by the old government farm program. Included would be better crop insurance packages that really work for farmers to help out in times of disaster and/or depressed crop prices.

Many commodity organization leaders remind that such actions were promised under Freedom to Farm legislation but haven't been delivered yet.

"Something needs to be done to strengthen or bolster the current risk management package," Pine states. "That would help farmers plant next year's crops and reassure the banker that there is something behind it."

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