Last week, USDA banned the use of high fructose corn sweeteners in the nation's school lunch program. The Iowa Corn Growers Association says that decision is wrong for several reasons and ICGA is working with USDA to try to get it reversed.
The USDA recently modified commodity specifications for canned fruits and vegetables used in the school lunch program, prohibiting High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) from being used as a sweetener but without reducing overall sugars in children's food. Under the new guidelines, only non corn-based sugar sweeteners will be allowed. The guidelines do not require an overall reduction in the amount of sugar in canned fruits and vegetables, but instead put a preference on the type of sweetener used.
Corn growers say that one sugar shouldn't be singled out over others
USDA has acknowledged there is no nutritional difference between corn sweetener and sucrose, says Craig Floss, chief executive officer of ICGA. He points out that the changes to these commodity specifications were done within USDA, and did not undergo a public rulemaking or comment process.
"Corn Growers have been working with USDA officials to try to get USDA to reverse this decision," says Floss. "Corn growers do not encourage more sugar in children's diets, and an overall reduction would not be objected to. However, when one sugar is singled out, such as HFCS is in this case, while all other sugars may remain in use, this policy will not improve children's nutrition."
Corn Growers encourage action on "pesticides & Clean Water Act bill"
There were several other corn-related issues that made it into the news last week that corn growers should know about, such as the situation with "pesticide application rules and the Clean Water Act."
The Iowa corn growers association is asking members to contact their congressmen and women to ask them to take action against a bill in Congress that has to do with pesticide application rules and the federal Clean Water Act.
This all started when action was taken by the Sixth Court of Appeals in 2009 to require pesticide users to apply for a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit under the Clean Water Act. Many groups believe this overextends the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) regulation ability.
These permits are set to take effect October 31, 2011. In the spring of 2011, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill, HR 872, which would not require an NPDES permit when applying pesticides according to the EPA-approved label. The bill now awaits action by the U.S. Senate, but some senators remain undecided on how they will vote.
The National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) advocates grassroots member participation to communicate the importance of passing HR 872; NCGA began this effort last week by making automated phone calls to association members in many states. "We realize automated phone calls may not be a preferred method of contact, but the auto calls resulted in 10,000 farmer contacts, and 5,000 farmers who patched through to their Senate office," says Mindy Larsen Poldberg, director of government relations for ICGA. " We appreciate your understanding while trying to get important messages to you."
Senate passage of the bill will help avoid unnecessary regulation of farm chemicals, as farmers already follow strict guidelines for pesticide application according to labeling laws. To contact Iowa Senator Tom Harkin in support of the bill, call 202-224-3254 or send a message.
Continuing Resolution approved by House & Senate avoids shutdown
The U.S. Senate passed a continuing resolution Monday, September 26, to fund the government and avoid a shutdown until November 18. The funding measure was also passed by the U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday, September 29. The resolution includes $2.5 billion for FEMA disaster relief funding. The measure now awaits approval by President Obama.
APH Yield Option available for 2012 crop year, details being finalized
A new crop insurance model, created by the Illinois Corn Marketing Board and co-funded by Iowa Corn Promotion Board, has been approved by USDA for the 2012 crop year. The USDA's Federal Crop Insurance Corporation Board has endorsed the Trend-Adjusted Actual Production History (APH) Yield Option for corn and soybeans. This plan will allow farmers with qualifying APH databases to have their APH yield adjusted based on their county's historical yield trend.The APH yield is a closer reflection of farmers' potential yield, and crop insurance coverage guarantees would be more precise. The USDA's Risk Management Agency (RMA) is in the process of finalizing program details, which will be released on its website this fall. For more information, see the USDA program announcement.