The fundamentals of any good business model look for ways to increase demand for your product. In Iowa, there is no greater force driving demand for corn than the Iowa Corn Promotion Board (ICPB). ICPB represents thousands of Iowa farmers to create an economic climate in which the Iowa corn industry will be successful through market development, research for new uses and educating the public about corn in all forms.
“We work to defend our current markets, while simultaneously looking for new market opportunities,” stated Iowa Corn Promotion Board President Duane Aistrope, a farmer from Randolph. “Half of the Iowa Corn Promotion Board budget goes to building export markets, livestock production and offering consumers higher blends of ethanol at the gas pump. These demand building efforts remain key to stopping the red ink and bringing vitality back to Iowa’s rural economy.”
To see how markets work, and to talk face-to-face with customers around the world, Iowa farmers from ICPB, along with U.S. Grains Council (UCGC) and the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF), have boots on the ground in major export markets. Checkoff funds are matched by government funds, like the USDA’s Market Access Program and Foreign Market Development, to support international market development programs for both USGC and USMEF.
Iowa Corn board and committee members participate in several USGC trade missions throughout the year, traveling to thriving corn markets around the world. People want to do business with individuals and organizations they know, and trust and these missions do just that helping build relationships with international buyers. These trade missions focus on topics from crop progress and DDGS, to red meat exports. ICPB farmer-leaders also host trade teams who visit Iowa to learn more about corn and meat produced here.
USGC builds the relationships to increase our exports of corn, ethanol and dried distillers grains (DDGS) with foreign trading partners. This includes everything from putting foreign buyers in touch with U.S. sellers to educate regulators about how to use ethanol fuels in their countries. For example, global markets are responding to the Council’s efforts to expand U.S. ethanol use worldwide by demonstrating it to be a reliable and affordable source of octane. U.S. ethanol exports set a record in 2016/2017 at 1.37 billion gallons (488 million bushels in corn equivalent) a 34 percent increase year-over-year, exported to 76 countries. Brazil was the year’s top buyer, setting a new export record with 499 million gallons (178 million bushels in corn equivalent) in purchases. They have also worked with livestock farmers in foreign countries to show them the benefits of feeding DDGS to livestock.
“If we want to continue to enhance profitability for farmers, we must continue to work with organizations like the U.S. Grains Council to create new demand for corn through value-added products like ethanol,” explained Aistrope. “Building demand for ethanol creates additional markets both domestically and internationally for our corn crop.”
Domestically, ICPB’s ethanol efforts target consumers, gas retailers, and corn farmers to share the benefits of higher blends of ethanol. Introducing higher ethanol blends, such as E15 and E85, requires customer education to build demand for American-made ethanol. ICPB supports retailer grand openings to educate consumers and drive traffic to new retail locations and has for the last seven years supported the Retailer Outreach Program which has resulted in many new retail locations offering E15 to E85. The program makes fuel station owners aware of state and federal grant programs and encourages retailers to provide higher ethanol blends by presenting the benefits of offering customers more fuel choices and the impact to their bottom line.
ICPB, alongside other corn states, ethanol producers, engine manufacturers and fuel experts, participate in the Ag Auto Ethanol Work Group to design future engine technology that will meet increasingly stringent CAFE standards and result in a more efficient internal combustion engine.
In 2018, ICPB will be expanding its Clean Air Choice™ campaign with the American Lung Association to help drivers understand the correlation between ethanol and lung health. This will include a driver’s education initiative, which will include providing an educational video and information on using higher blends of ethanol to high schoolers and it will include advertorials in major Iowa daily newspapers.
Your Checkoff at Work
ICPB not only works for corn producers, it works to improve the agriculture industry as a whole. Even though you may not always see promotion activities in your district, know your checkoff dollars are hard at work. We are investing checkoff dollars from a local to a state, national and international level to create profitability for Iowa’s corn farmers. Know that these efforts flow back to benefit you and other farmers in your district. For more information about the Iowa Corn Promotion Board, its programs or the farmer-leaders who serve on its board, go to www.iowacorn.org.
The Iowa Corn Promotion Board (ICPB), works to develop and defend markets, fund research, and provide education about corn and corn products to create opportunities for long-term Iowa corn grower profitability. For more information, visit iowacorn.org.