Iowa's corn checkoff was established under a state law passed at the end of 1976, and in 1977 Iowa corn growers approved a checkoff rate of one-tenth of a cent per bushel. Since then, Iowa growers have voted four times by referendum to increase the corn checkoff rate. Most recently, the rate was overwhelming supported by 73% and currently stands at 1 cent for each bushel of corn sold into commercial channels and is refundable.
The dollars collected are managed in Iowa under the direction of the Iowa Corn Promotion Board (ICPB), a board of Iowa growers elected by their peers, but the program is governed by Iowa statute.
Once established, the checkoff began work within months to increase corn use. One of the ICPB's first goals was to increase the use of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), then a new product. The checkoff worked extensively with bottlers and soft drink companies and educated consumers and food professionals. In 1984, Coca-Cola and Pepsi-Cola approved using HFCS instead of sugar in colas.
Another high-profile accomplishment of the ICPB has been building acceptance of ethanol. The ICPB's ethanol efforts have targeted consumers, gas retailers, and corn growers. Over the years, the ICPB has printed fact sheets, purchased radio commercials, sponsored a toll-free ethanol hotline, and hosted pump promotion to demonstrate ethanol's advantages and uses. 2007-2009, the ICPB has sponsored the Iowa Corn Indy 250 to showcase the power and performance of 100% fuel grade ethanol to an international audience. Recently, the ICPB has been working to educate consumers on the corn grower's ability to produce corn used for both food and fuel.
Current checkoff programs in the areas of market development, education, and research include meeting with foreign buyers to encourage purchases of Iowa corn, finding new and innovative uses of corn, and educating Iowa's consumers about the importance of the corn to the economy and their everyday lives. In 2008, the ICPB published 5 patents on products made from corn including suncreens and platicizers. This research just begins to open the door to the many uses for Iowa's corn crop and the ability of a unified effort to support our industry.