Corn growers and livestock producers are coming together on a variety of national, state and local issues that benefit production agriculture, the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) notes.
“There has never been a time when it is more important for all sectors of agriculture, including grain, livestock, dairy, and poultry producers, to work together,” says Bill Chase, chairman of NCGA’s Production and Stewardship Action Team.
One of the key areas of cooperation between NCGA and the livestock industry is in research and promotion of distillers dried grains (DDGS). Earlier this year NCGA, the American Feed Industry Association and other groups jointly issued a report on standardizing and improving DDGS analysis. NCGA Ethanol Committee Chairman Bruce Noel said the study also serves as a good example of the synergies that exist among the feed and corn industries.
“The corn and feed industries identified a significant problem and they came together to address the issue quickly and constructively,” he said.
Projects involving both crop and livestock producers are even more common at the state level.
In Kentucky, corn, beef, dairy, pork and poultry producers teamed up this year to host a joint breakfast for state legislators. The Kentucky Corn Growers Association is also assisting hundreds of beef producers across the state to enroll their pasture and hay acres in Kentucky’s novel soil carbon credit trading program.
Producers in Missouri joined forces to overhaul state and county health regulations. The Missouri Corn Growers Association is working with state regulators and the poultry industry to improve communications and expedite permits for new, environmentally friendly facilities. “We value our relationships and realize that by working together everyone benefits,” notes executive director Gary Marshall.
The same cooperation exists in Iowa, where corn and livestock producers are seeking increased funding for distillers grains feeding trials for pork and poultry. Many of the same groups are aligned in their efforts to support biofuel research.
Relations between corn and livestock groups benefit from their long history of cooperation. The Nebraska Corn Board has been funding livestock programs since 1979 and a number of NCB members have served on state and national livestock organizations. These working partnerships helped ease the way for joint meetings this spring between Nebraska’s corn growers and cattle producers.
According to Stan Boehr, chair of the Nebraska Corn Board’s government affairs committee, the two groups have targeted environmental and trade issues, and lobbied for more research on the production and feeding of distillers grains to livestock.
Jere White, executive director of the Kansas Corn Growers Association, agrees that close relationships benefit all of agriculture. “I do think we benefit greatly from having personal relationships with our cattle people,” he says. “We know each other on a first name basis and have for decades. They also know many of our leaders.” Kansas grain and livestock producers joined together this spring to pass a natural gas access bill that has implications for both irrigators and feedlots.
States such as North Dakota and Kentucky also benefit from long-standing partnerships between crop and livestock producers in outreach, such as “ag in the classroom” and consumer-oriented marketing programs. Commodity and farm organizations in several states have formed coalitions, such as Ag United in South Dakota, to provide legislative assistance and consulting to producers and timely, accurate information to consumers.
“Commodity organizations must continue to team up to fund research and educate consumers,” Chase says. “New varieties and genetics will bring improved yields and feed efficiencies. Agriculture will continue to provide a reliable food and fuel supply to keep the nation’s economic engine running.”