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.