NCGA's Corn Congress heads to the Hill

By Kristin Merony

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 Together we can feed the Bees

WASHINGTON, July 18, 2012 - Members attending the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) annual Corn Congress advanced on the Hill Wednesday to stand “belly to belly and face to face with members of Congress and their staff” according to NCGA Vice President of Public Policy Jon Doggett. 

Doggett briefed the Corn Congress members on Wednesday morning emphasizing that “there is no shortage of issues to work on right now.”

He said that the corn growers “do not take enough credit for all that they do,” looking back on the accomplishments of last ten years, highlighting several pieces of legislation that the grassroots efforts have contributed to and what issues they should address today.

The policy points Doggett stressed include the National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) pesticide permids, the Whitfield Bill (H.R. 4342) on how to reform and maintain the system surrounding locks and dams, grain dust regulations, biotechnology and the Trans-Pacific Partnership. 

Doggett also stressed two prominent NCGA issues: the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and the Farm Bill.

Doggett urged members to “not apologize” and to tell their personal story. “Tell your member Congressman what RFS has done for you and for your community and why it is important,” he said.

Members were asked to use some of the following talking points, including:

  • The RFS is working. It is revitalizing rural America, reducing our dependence on foreign fuel and reducing the cost of transportation fuels.
  • The market is working.
  • Ethanol production and exports are down.
  • There is currently an ethanol surplus in the U.S. There are approximately 850 million gallons of ethanol in storage.

Calling the Senate-passed Farm Bill “a reflection of NCGA policy,” Doggett said there were some areas of concern, especially regarding payment limits.

Doggett noted that the top two NCGA priorities continue to be a strong federal crop insurance program and a market-oriented revenue based risk-management program that delivers assistance only when it is needed.

Regarding the House Committee on Agriculture's bill he noted that “the payment limit issue is not nearly as severe compared to the Senate bill, but we have some problems in Title I.”

“The House of Representatives needs to act, we need to get this bill into conference,” Doggett said. “Today, you need to tell the members of Congress that we need to get a farm bill done now.”

“We cannot have an extension done in the middle of the night, behind closed doors, with a handful of people who are inside Congress,” he stressed. “We do not want that to happen, we need a transparent process.” 

Arming the NCGA members with defensive talking points, Dogett said “you will hear that there is not enough time to do a farm bill, but the House has voted 33 times to repeal Obamacare and spent 80 congressional hours debating those votes.”

Doggett told the growers to ask the hardest question, “If you had time to vote 33 times on piece of legislation that will never get acted on, why can't we have a farm bill?”


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