NCGA’s New President Talks Advocacy

NCGA’s New President Talks Advocacy

By Brooke S. Appleton

This month, Minnesota farmer Harold Wolle assumed the role of president of the National Corn Growers Association. Harold brings years of leadership and advocacy experience to the role, having served as the president of the Minnesota Corn Growers Association and as a member of the NCGA Corn Board for the last six years. NCGA board presidents are elected by their fellow board members each year to serve a one-year term.

Because I wanted readers to know more about the person who is taking the reins as the leader of one of the nation’s major commodity organizations, I decided to dedicate this month’s column to an interview with Harold. 

Questions for NCGA President Harold Wolle 

Q: Tell us about your farm operation. 

Harold: I am from a 140-year-old family corn and soybean farm in south central Minnesota that was started by my forefathers who were German immigrants. As a fifth-generation farmer, I am pleased to say I am in the process of passing the operations of the farm to my son, Matthew. 

Q: What originally brought you into corn advocacy, and what made you decide to become so involved in NCGA? 

Harold: A friend of mine who served on the state board of directors at Minnesota Corn Growers Association asked me to run for a position on that board. I was elected, served and worked my way up to the leadership, becoming president of the board. That position gave me a sense of what can be accomplished through advocacy, and it made me want to get more involved at the national level. It was that love for advocacy that I developed on the state level that led me to NCGA. The rest, as they say, is history. 

Q: What are some of your immediate priorities as president? 

Harold: The farm bill is the top priority. We are particularly focused on crop insurance and the safety net programs in the farm bill. These programs provide vital assistance to farmers during bad times, like when crops are damaged from adverse weather conditions or when farmers experience revenue losses.

NCGA staff and state corn grower leaders have been working diligently to communicate the importance of these programs as well as priorities with trade promotion and conservation. NCGA recently developed a video series featuring corn growers across the country talking about our collective farm bill priorities. Over the last few weeks, members of Congress and staff on Capitol Hill have been targeted with these videos, as we work to share this message and meet our target audience where they are.

NCGA leaders have testified during House and Senate Agriculture Committee hearings, engaged in various listening sessions across the country, activated our grassroots network and sent nearly 8,000 

messages to Capitol Hill on corn grower priorities. These are but a few of the many advocacy efforts we’ve engaged in over the last year related to the farm bill. We are well-positioned, and we will continue to engage at the highest levels and promote the priorities of America’s corn growers until a new farm bill is signed into law. 

NCGA continues to be focused on increasing the demand for corn. We need our ethanol and livestock industries to be healthy and effective. We are focused on getting additional co-sponsors for the Next Generation Fuels Act in the House and Senate. This legislation would provide a pathway for increased demand while lowering greenhouse gas emissions. We are also focused on making inroads into the aviation sector, as the private sector continues to explore sustainable aviation fuel. 

Q: What do you make of the current political landscape in Washington, D.C.? 

Harold: It’s a polarized environment, and polarization makes moving legislation difficult, but we are committed to working with our champions on both sides of the aisles in Congress to achieve our policy objectives. NCGA has done a fantastic job over the years of playing the long game and cultivating relationships with key policymakers. As a result, we’re able to secure wins for corn growers. 

Q: As the new president of a major commodity group, can you tell us why grower grassroots advocacy is so important? 

Harold: Grassroots advocacy moves the needle on policy issues. We are a membership organization that has 40,000 dues-paying corn grower members and represents some 300,000 growers who contribute through corn checkoff programs in their states. When our members write or connect with their policymakers, it makes a difference. That’s why we need all our growers to be involved in our advocacy efforts. You can follow our advocacy efforts and act by texting “COB” to 52886. 

Appleton is vice president of public policy at the National Corn Growers Association. 

Related Articles

Ears in Washington
Reflecting on Forward Farm Bill Movement
June 6, 2024
Reflecting on Forward Farm Bill Movement

In June 2024's Ears in Washington Brooke Appleton discusses the forward movement on the Farm Bill.

BlogsEars in Washington
Corn Growers Focus on Opening Markets, Enforcing Trade Agreements
May 1, 2024
Corn Growers Focus on Opening Markets, Enforcing Trade Agreements

In May 2024's Ears in Washington, Brooke Appleton discusses the NCGA's focus on opening markets and enforcing trade agreements.