Posts Tagged ‘indirect land use’

D.C. Discussions Advance Corn Issues

March 10, 2010

I recently joined several Ohio Corn Growers Association (OCGA) board members on a trip to Washington, D.C. The goal was to engage legislators in discussions about issues central to Ohio’s 20,000-plus corn farmers in our nation’s capital.

During our visit, we met with all 20 members of the Ohio delegation (18 representatives and two senators) including special events with Rep. Marcy Kaptur and Sen. Sherrod Brown. We also met with administrators of organizations such as the EPA, USDA and Risk Management Agency.

Driving home the fact that agriculture is Ohio’s No.1 industry, it was important for me to reiterate that voters in rural and urban districts alike are directly affected by its continued growth and success.

On behalf of OCGA and Ohio agriculture at large, we participated in constructive discourse about three integral issues:

  • Extension of the Volumetric Ethanol Excise Tax Credit (VEETC) – This blender’s tax credit provides $.45 for each gallon of ethanol blended with gasoline and expires at the end of this year. The credit provides thousands of jobs, fuels economies and helps the U.S. to meet its mandated biofuels-production standard. The elimination of this credit will result in a 38-percent jobs and production loss. VEETC brings dollars back to the U.S. Treasury in the billions, eliminates more than $22 billion in oil imports and has led to a reduction of farm payments of more than $10 billion. Despite the success of the ethanol industry, some members of the Ohio delegation want its advancement to end – even delegates from areas where corn represents the largest economic portion of their district.
  • Indirect Land Use – Corn is unfairly blamed for the destruction of rainforests in countries such as Brazil for the production of corn ethanol. Our own research and travels to Brazil brazenly dispute these facts. Corn farmers are utilizing technology and innovation to grow more corn using fewer acres. The public needs to be educated about these truths to bolster the reputation of our farmers.
  • Expanding International Markets – OCGA supports a one-way trade expansion to provide food to Cuba. This in no way reflects a support of the Cuban government. Instead, it provides significant economic opportunities for our nation by easing simple restrictions on food, medical supplies and travel to allow for easier exports.

OCGA will continue to advocate its stance regarding these issues, and we will also continue to be a resource for legislative issues concerning agriculture. Ohio policymakers must support the interests of the industry that is the foundation of the state.

In the coming weeks, OCGA will be kicking off a grassroots-activism plan that will encourage consumers to get involved in the legislative process. We cannot let D.C. policymakers take farmers for granted.

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Greetings from COP 15

December 12, 2009

For those of you wondering what COP 15 stands for, it is simply the United Nations designation for Conference of the People … the meeting in Copenhagen happens to be the 15th Conference of the People for the U.N.

Our day at COP 15 focused on Indirect Land Use Change and deforestation in the Amazon: Two topics that on the surface do not seem to be connected to Ohio corn farmers, but over the last couple of years, much of the blame has been placed on the backs of corn farmers in the U.S. Blame that has not been based on facts, but instead has been based on fear.

John Cain Carter of Allianca de Terra, a Mato Grosso, Brazil land alliance, has been front and center on the debate of Amazon deforestation and the principle reasons why it is happening. Mr. Carter, a former U.S. Army Ranger, is not shy about dispelling myths of corn and corn ethanol’s role in deforestation.

His simple and direct answer is “the notion that the U.S. corn farmer is playing a role in the deforestation of the Amazon is asinine. No one in Brazil makes decisions based on how much ethanol is produced from corn in the U.S.”

Mr. Carter goes on to explain it is simply a case of economics: The land is more valuable economically than the trees and much of the damage is created by illegal land grabbers. The Allianca de Terra is focused on changing that dynamic by participating in offset programs to increase the economic value of keeping the Amazon forest vibrant.

He makes a good case that U.S. agriculture should participate in this discussion. OCGA will continue to work with Mr. Carter and discover ways to further our partnership.

Today is Ag Day for COP 15. OCGA Board Member Fred Yoder and I will be participating in this event featuring breakout sessions on Biochar, Solutions to deforestation and managing soils and verification systems for GHG mitigation. USDA Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack will be the featured speaker at noon. I’ll post a more detailed report tomorrow as Ohio agriculture steps up to the stage with world leaders in discussing what the future holds.

Dwayne

Greetings from Copenhagen

December 7, 2009

Welcome to the Ohio Corn Blog.

As executive director of the Ohio Corn Growers Association (OCGA), I am thrilled to offer you this regular blog to offer our insight into some of the most pressing issues facing today’s corn farmer and modern agriculture. OCGA is active in several issues regarding the environment, energy and the economy, so this provides a great arena for discussion and information sharing.

Starting Thursday, I’ll be blogging from the Copenhagen Climate Conference. I am honored to represent the American corn industry at the international Copenhagen Climate Conference. Along with OCGA board member Fred Yoder, we are part of a six-person delegation from the National Corn Growers Association who have been given a seat at the table on how discussions about environmental issues impact the agriculture community in the U.S. and abroad, including the Waxman-Markey energy, climate and cap-and-trade bill and many other issues that will have long term implications for corn farmers. Today’s corn farmer invests a lot of time and resources into environmentally responsible farming technology and techniques, so we’re glad we have the opportunity to participate along with other U.S. agriculture interests from the dairy industry and the American Farm Bureau Federation in these far-reaching discussions that will impact farmers in Ohio.

With upcoming posts to this blog, I am happy to give you a summary about the developments that occur each day we’re at the conference. This blog will offer you an insider’s look at these high-level discussions, as well as some other observations from the conference.

I hope my posts inspire dialogue among everyone who takes an interest in energy, the environment and agriculture.

Talk to you soon.

Dwayne Siekman
Executive Director
Ohio Corn Growers Association