As our nation celebrates National Ag Week, let’s recognize the roots of “The Corn State” we call home. Iowa’s world-class corn production system didn’t occur overnight. It happened because of our rich natural resource base and several determined corn farmer-visionaries who put Iowa on the map. Iowa’s corn industry got a huge boost in 1967 when Walter Goeppinger of Boone had a vision of creating a state farmer-driven group and founded the Iowa Corn Growers Association (ICGA) after starting the National Corn Growers Association ten years earlier. This year marks the 50th Anniversary of ICGA which serves as the collective voice for our Iowa corn farmer-members, lobbying on ag issues at the state and federal level.
One early and major accomplishment of the association was the creation of Iowa's corn checkoff program. In 1971, the ICGA began efforts in the Iowa Legislature to pass a corn checkoff authority bill. In 1977, six years after the initial bill was introduced, the corn referendum received a majority of votes and was passed into law. Iowa’s corn checkoff was the first in the nation and the model for the more than 20 other similar state checkoff programs which followed.
The passage of the Iowa corn checkoff bill resulted in the creation of two organizations with two very different areas of focus. While the ICGA works towards pro-corn policy, the Iowa Corn Promotion Board (ICPB) invests in research for new uses of corn, educating consumers and developing new markets for corn in all forms. The partnership that exists between the Iowa Corn Growers Association and the Iowa Corn Promotion Board allows our state’s farmers to continue to feed and fuel the world.
“Iowa corn farmers have benefited tremendously from having two extremely effective farmer-driven organizations – the Iowa Corn Growers Association and the Iowa Corn Promotion Board, working with the joint mission of creating opportunities for long-term Iowa corn grower profitability,” said Iowa Corn CEO Craig Floss. “While having two separate boards, finances and two distinct functions, the two organizations have worked synergistically in successfully building the reputation of our state and the corn industry.”
In partnership, ICGA and ICPB work on the challenges and opportunities for the corn industry such as market access and exports of corn and corn products, ethanol infrastructure, conservation and support for a responsible livestock industry. For example:
Ethanol - ICPB continues to invest in programs and activities to further expand ethanol demand while ICGA lobbies for state and federal funding in increasing higher blend infrastructure cost-share programs and market access.
Exports –ICPB along with the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) and the U.S. Grains Council (USGC) have boots on the ground developing and expanding markets for corn in all forms. ICGA works to maintain and expand international trade agreements which provide U.S. farmers greater market access as well as protecting the funding of USDA market development programs.
Livestock - ICGA works closely with livestock organizations to ensure that a regulatory environment exists that allows for expansion of the livestock industry and supports the Coalition to Support Iowa’s Farmers which helps farmers implement on-farm best-management practices. While ICPB collaborates with the Iowa Economic Development Authority and state pork, beef, dairy and poultry organizations on specific programs to grow the livestock industry in our state and well as export to the rest of the world.
“Our two organizations have not and couldn’t possibly drive Iowa’s corn industry on their own,” explained Floss. “We have had the privilege of partnering with some of the nation’s top organizations and agribusiness companies to achieve our objectives. Cooperation and collaboration have long been the keystones of our success and is why Iowa’s corn farmers will continue to thrive.”
To learn more about Iowa Corn’s history, to learn more go to www.iowacorn.org.