Referendum to Raise Iowa Corn Checkoff Announced

Corn farmers will vote July 8 whether to raise checkoff by a quarter of a percent per bushel.

Iowa Agriculture Secretary Bill Northey and the Iowa Corn Promotion Board on May 28 announced plans to conduct a referendum on July 8 to increase the state's corn checkoff by ¼ cent per bushel.

Any Iowa farmer who raised and marketed at least 250 bushels of corn during the 2006-07 marketing year is eligible to vote at any county Extension office in the crop reporting district where they live. Polls will be open from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on July 8.

Growers who wish to vote by absentee ballot may do so by contacting the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship. Growers can call 515-281-5321, e-mail [email protected] or visit the Henry A. Wallace Building, 502 E 9th St., Des Moines, IA 50319 to solicit an Absentee Ballot Request Form.

Current rate is one-half cent per bushel

The form must be signed and returned to the Iowa Department of Ag and Land Stewardship. The farmer will then be mailed an absentee ballot. Absentee ballot request forms must be postmarked by June 26, 2008 and absentee ballots must be postmarked by July 8, 2008.

The current corn checkoff, last increased in 1995, is one-half cent per bushel marketed. For an average Iowa yield of 170 bushels per acre, it translates to a checkoff contribution of 85 cents per acre of corn. The checkoff is collected on corn that enters commercial channels but is not collected on grain used on-farm. Farmers are able to request a refund of their checkoff contribution if they so desire, and that provision won't be affected by the vote.

The Iowa Corn Checkoff was established by a farmer referendum in 1977. The ICPB, made up of farmers elected by their peers, invests checkoff dollars for research, education, promotion and market development. For more information on how checkoff dollars are used contact ICPB at 515-225-9242 or find out more online at www.IowaCorn.org.

According to Chapter 185C of the Iowa Code, the Iowa Department of Ag and Land Stewardship is responsible for holding corn checkoff referendum voting. All costs incurred by the department will be reimbursed by the ICPB.

Why increase the checkoff rate?

Julius Schaaf, a farmer from Randolph in the southwest corner of Iowa is chairman of the ICPB. He says one of the key reasons the board wants to increase the checkoff is to raise more money to defend markets for corn. Ethanol is being erroneously and unfairly criticized by a number of groups—from grocery manufacturers to the media to the petroleum industry—who blame ethanol for increasing food prices.

"Corn growers need to defend the ethanol market," says Schaaf. "The skyrocketing cost of oil has much more to do with rising food costs than the price of corn does. And ethanol is actually helping keep the price of gasoline from even being higher than it is today. We need to get the truth out to consumers. This food vs. fuel controversy is a very important issue."

Pam Johnson, who farms with her family in northeast Iowa, says the corn checkoff is helpful to Iowa. "For 30 years the corn checkoff dollars have been working to create opportunity and a solid future for farmers who grow corn in Iowa. By funding various programs, the checkoff helps increase the demand, use and value of corn. As a farmer and director of the Iowa Corn Board I've seen first-hand what corn growers can do when we pool our resources from the checkoff to invest in market development, research and education."

She adds, "As corn growers we have the ability to produce more bushels per acre every year. The checkoff works hard to make sure the demand continues to increase, too."

TAGS: USDA
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