Iowa corn grower leaders took the issues that concern them to Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. last week. They took part in the policy discussions during the 2009 National Corn Growers Association annual Corn Congress.
"As the top corn producing state with senior legislative leaders, Iowa plays a very important part in not only state issues, but in federal policy efforts, too," says Gary Edwards, Iowa Corn Growers Association (ICGA) president and a corn grower from Anamosa in eastern Iowa. "This is an opportunity to sit down with our legislators in Washington and discuss the issues that are currently in the legislative bill process as well as issues that are arising in the countryside."
Hot topics discussed by each member of Iowa's congressional delegation included climate change legislation, cap and trade, food safety and exports. Both Sen. Tom Harkin and Sen. Chuck Grassley's staff said they would remember Iowa's agricultural community when the climate change, cap and trade, and in-direct land use legislation comes their way.
Key legislative issues, farm programs discussed
Farmers attending the meetings also discussed farm programs such as ACRE implementation with Jim Miller, USDA's Under Secretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services and staff. Carbon sequestration and climate were heavily discussed topics with the ag counselor for the Environmental Protection Administration, Larry Elworth. Officials from both of these governmental agencies (USDA and EPA) extended the invitation to keep an open dialogue with Iowa's corn grower leaders.
Edwards also cited the yearly NCGA Corn Congress as an opportunity for corn growers to meet with other state leaders on projects that cross state lines and to maintain contact with leading agribusiness representatives. "We know about growing corn in Iowa and the policies that would be best for us. By going to meet with other groups we are able to voice our concerns and positions and build strength in numbers by working with other states."
NCGA, representing 33,000 members including 6,000 Iowa growers, lobbies in Washington D.C. The Corn Congress brings together corn states to discuss policy created at the grassroots level. It also gives states the opportunity to meet with and talk to their respective state legislators and other policymakers.