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Friday, September 9, 2016

Budget Likely to Overshadow Ag Issues as Congress Returns

(Casey Wooten, Bloomberg BNA) The House is expected to be back on the road again in October for general election campaigns.

Rural Economy
Indeed, there have been steep drops in the prices of some farm commodities over the past few years, and that has had an impact on the rural economy.

Zack Clark, government relations representative at the National Farmers Union, said lawmakers know it.

Still, there's little that Congress can do legislatively in the short period it has left, but Clark says groups like his will continue to push lawmakers to provide more assistance to farmers over the next few months and into the upcoming lame-duck session at the end of the year.

Funding, TPP
Congress must pass a bill to fund the government by the end of September.

Many agriculture industry groups said that though it isn't likely Congress would take up the broad Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal in September, the groups would continue to push for a vote in the lame duck.

"For those members of Congress that are concerned about agriculture, the single thing that they can do to help agriculture is to take up the Trans-Pacific Partnership," Jon Doggett, executive vice president of the National Corn Growers Association, said.


READ FULL ARTICLE HERE.

Ohio County Youth Ag Days Celebrates 20 years

  

The Ohio County Cooperative Extension Service hosted their annual youth ag days this Wednesday and Thursday at Luttrell Farms. This year was a little more special than others, because this was the 20th year of the Youth Ag Days. 

This year, there was approximately 300 fourth grade students that participated from six different schools. The students attended 12 different sessions with demonstrations including topics of corn, GPS, Soil Erosion, Soybeans, Electrical Safety, Bees, etc. 

To celebrate 20 years of the youth ag days, on the first break of the day, the Luttrell family was presented with a plaque for there time and dedication to the program and the students were served cupcakes, which were a crowd favorite. 

"This week went extremely well. It was a hot one, but a good one," said Darren Luttrell, owner of Luttrell farms and host of Ohio County Youth Ag Days. "This year, we experienced our first group of second generation kids. We had teachers who had attended the ad day as a fourth graders, and are now bringing their students."

Luttrell said over 20 years, we have wondered if you are making an impact. He said he and his wife got confirmation after reading a young lady's Facebook post last night saying she attended the Ohio County Youth Ag Day when she was in the fourth grade, became an FFA member in high school and volunteered at the program and is now in college studying agriculture. "It has been worth it," said Luttrell. 

Friday, September 2, 2016

Class 4 Announced: December 2016 - March 2018

CORE stands for Crop Observation and Research Education.  The CORE Farmer Program began in January 2010.  Since it was incepted, more than 60 young farmers have completed the program.  New classes are enrolled every three years.  Classes are comprised of 7 learning sessions, lasting 3 days each. Most seminars will be held in winter months, when on-farm activities are slowed. 

A selection committee appointed from the KyCorn Growers leadership chooses the participants of each class. Class 4 members:

Andy Alford, Alford Farms, Warren County

Alana Baker, River Bend Farms, Trigg County

Megan Bell, Bell Farms, Graves County

Lucas Bollinger, Bollinger Family Farms, Christian County

Daniel Carpenter, UK Extension, Larue County

Brad Hines, Hines Farms, Larue County

Justin Jeffries, Worth and Dee Ellis Farms, Shelby County

Willis Jepson, Jepson Family Farm Partnership, Simpson County

Mindy Jones, Hopson Farms, Henderson County

Bryan Kuegel, Flat Lick Farms, Daviess County

William Pearson, Pearson Farms, Logan County

Quint Pottinger, Affinity Farms, Nelson County

Robert Rouse, Sanger Farms, Fulton County

Eric Schwenke, Schwenke Bros. Farms, Boone County

Spencer Sims, Sims Family Farms, Anderson County

Zach Sheldon, Horn Farms, Daviess County

Chad Lee Named Director of UK Grains Center of Excellence




Chad Lee, UK grain crops extension specialist was named director of the UK Grains Center of Excellence. He began his new role on August 1. 

"We are thrilled to have such a familiar face to grain producers across the state serving as director of this turnkey project for Kentucky grain research," said Laura Knoth. "KyCorn is looking forward to the development of the center and the opportunities it will bring for Kentucky grain farmers."

The center's faculty and staff will be primarily located at UK's Research and Education Center in Princeton, and will focus their studies on water quality and sustainable methods for intensive agriculture production of grains. As director, Lee will coordinate the center's research and outreach efforts as well as develop and expand partnerships.

"The biggest enjoyment I get from my job is when a farmer tells me that I've helped him improve his or her operation," Lee said. "The center is just one more way we can continue to serve Kentucky grains and forages producers."

Lee has been a member of UK's faculty since 2002, where he has conducted a variety of applied research and outreach programs for grain growers. He has also served on a number of agriculture boards.

Friday, August 26, 2016

USDA to Measure Small Grain Production

(NASS) LOUISVILLE, Ky. - During the first two weeks of September, growers of small grains around the country will receive survey forms from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Agricultural Statistics Service. The agency is taking a comprehensive look into the 2016 production and supply of small grains, which includes winter wheat for Kentucky.

"We will contact 1,271 producers in Kentucky to accurately measure 2016 acreage, yield and production for wheat," said David Knopf, director of the NASS Eastern Mountain Regional Office in Kentucky. "The data collected from this survey will also help set acreage and production estimates at the county level."

County-level estimates are used by other USDA agencies to set standards for insurance and risk protection programs many farmers rely on to protect their operations.

"Farm Service Agency (FSA) relies on the county-level estimates for Agricultural Risk Coverage (ARC), Price Loss Coverage (PLC), County Loan Rates, and its disaster program calculations," Knopf said. "The Risk Management Agency (RMA) uses the data for administering the Area Risk Protection Insurance Plan, establishment of transitional yields, and determining when to make crop loss insurance payments. When drought and flooding impact crop production, or even in a year with good yields, these data are crucial to the agriculture industry."

NASS will contact Kentucky survey participants to gather information on their 2016 production and the quantities of winter wheat stored on-farm. As an alternative to mailing the survey back and to help save both time and money, growers will have the option to respond to the survey securely online. Farmers who have not responded by Aug. 30, may receive a phone call from a NASS representative who will help them fill out the survey form.

NASS safeguards the privacy of all respondents and publishes only aggregate data, ensuring that no individual operation or producer can be identified.

Survey results will be published in several reports, including the annual Small Grains Summary and the quarterly Grain Stocks report, both to be released Sept. 30. These and all NASS reports are available online atwww.nass.usda.gov. For more information, call the NASS Kentucky Field Office at 1-800-928-5277

2016 Kentucky State Fair Coming to an End

The 2016 Kentucky State Fair will come to an end this Sunday, August 28. Last week, we told you a few places you would be able to find KyCorn at State Fair this year. Let's take look at how the rest of the fair went. 

Those who stopped by the Teach Ky Ag booth in South Wing B had the opportunity to place a magnetic cut out of their county on the wall map of Kentucky and learn what their county contributes to Kentucky Agriculture. After the puzzle is complete, it reveals color-coordinated regions.

Also at this booth, you can complete an information scavenger hunt to learn different agriculture facts. All answers to the scavenger hunt can be found on the wall under the different categorized boards such as: Corn, Wheat, Soybean, Goat/Sheep, Poultry, Beef, Horse. 

Also, taking place this week was the 53rd Annual Farm Bureau Ham Breakfast. The event began in 1964, auctioning off the Grand Champion Ham to the highest bidder and giving the money to the Charity of their choice. This year the winning bidder was Central Bank coming in at $600,000. The proceeds from the winning bid will be donated to several charities and organizations including University of Kentucky Athletics, Gatton College of Business and Economics at the University of Kentucky, University of Kentucky Hospital, God's Pantry Food Bank, Sunrise Children's Services, and Kentucky Community and Technical College.

Before the auction started, while guests were finishing up their breakfast, guests were addressed by Governor Matt Bevin, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senator Rand Paul, Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles, and Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer.  

KyCorn once again sponsored the Sale of Champions, which allows exhibitors to sell their champion livestock to hometown and national supporters. You can see the 2016 Sale of Champions results here

If you are going to be at the State Fair this weekend, don't forget to stop by and see us at one of the various locations!

Friday, August 19, 2016

Calling all Photographers: Share Your Best Corn Pictures With NCGA

The National Corn Growers Association invites photographers of all skill levels to help tell the story of farming field corn in America through the third annual Fields-of-Corn Photo Contest. Through this contest, NCGA captures high-resolution photos of corn growth from seed to harvest and the families that grow it. Even those who have already submitted can enter additional photos as participants will be able to submit multiple entries until November 30, 2016.
 
Please make sure to submit the highest resolution version of each entry possible. The best submissions are featured in NCGA's major publications such as the Annual Report.

Entries will also be considered for prizes with cash awards for the top three entries in five categories including: Farm Family Lifestyle, Farming Challenges, Growing Field Corn, Scenery/Landscape and the Soil Health Partnership's new Conservation category. Additional first, second and third prizes will be awarded for the entries with the most "likes."
 
For more information on prizes and on these categories, click here.
 
It is important to note that the Fields-of-Corn Photo Contest is specifically geared toward photos of field corn and not sweet corn. 
 
While entries will only be accepted until November 30, 2016, entries may accumulate "likes" until December 31, 2016. Winners will be announced in January of 2017.
 
Register, upload your best farm photos and come back often to submit new entries. The first step is to click here.

2016 Wheat Yield Contest Winners Announced

Congratulations to the 2016 winners of UK Kentucky Wheat Production Contest. The top wheat yield in Kentucky, 123.01 bushels per acre, was achieved by Kyle Bugg in Graves County. The top no-till yield was 115.94 bushels per acre submitted by Fresh Start Farms, of Larue County.

State and Area winners will be recognized at the Kentucky Commodity Conference on January 19, 2017 in Bowling Green, Kentucky. View full report here

Come See KyCorn at State Fair!

It's that time of year again! The 2016 Kentucky State Fair began Thursday and is underway. When attending the state fair over the next week, there are many places you can visit KyCorn. 

KyCorn will be sponsoring the Sale of Champions, which allows exhibitors to sell their champion livestock to hometown and national supporters. The Sale of Champions encourages youth to be competitive with their livestock, as well as leads to improved genetics and more valuable animals in Kentucky. 

KyCorn will also have a presence in the Kentucky Department of Agriculture booth in the West Hall. We will have a hot rod 1965 Cobra that runs on E85 available for viewing. We encourage all attending to stop by and learn about ethanol.

KyCorn sponsors the Mobile Science Unit in addition to KY Ag & Environment in the Classroom. The Mobile Science Units are trailers with 10 interactive workstations for a classroom of students to conduct activities and investigations related to agriculture and the environment. You can tour a mobile science center in South Wing B. 


KyCorn will also have materials located at the Ky Ag and Environment in the Classroom display, KDA's grain inspection and Dairy booths. Don't forget to stop by The Great American Cookout Tent next to Broadbent Arena where KyCorn is partnered with Gallrein Farms to offer roasted sweet corn. 

"KyCorn is excited to be involved in so many areas of the State Fair this year," said Laura Knoth, KyCorn Executive Director. "The State Fair is a great time to educate the public and promote corn and all corn products."

Friday, August 12, 2016

Angling for Ethanol

(Brian Sowers- Outdoors Unlimited Magazine) On the Crappie Masters All American Tournament Trail, there's one thing every top angler has in common, and it sure isn't bait. It's fuel. In fact, 100 percent of our fishing champions use the same blend of 10 percent ethanol (E10) that powers nearly every car in the U.S. These competitors are tough. They take pride in having the best equipment possible. And not a single one has ever reported anything but satisfaction with ethanol-blended gasoline.

So lawmakers can be forgiven for their surprise when the oil industry claims that renewable fuels are a threat to small engines and boaters. The truth is that ethanol blends are ideal for watercraft, and companies like Kawasaki, Mercury Marine, OMC, Pleasurecraft, Tigershark, Tracker, Honda, and Yamaha all approve the use of E10 in their machines.

Record Crop, Record Ethanol Production Underscore Importance of Getting RFS Back on Track

(RFA) - America's farmers are poised to harvest a record corn crop this fall and achieve the highest yield per acre in U.S. history, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimates released today. Meanwhile, the U.S. ethanol industry is on pace to produce a record amount of clean-burning renewable fuel, according to Department of Energy (DOE) projections released Tuesday. The Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) said the government reports highlight the importance of getting the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) back on its statutory track in 2017.

As harvest ramps up in fields across the country, corn demand from the ethanol sector is ramping up as well. DOE projects 2016 ethanol production will average 980,000 barrels per day - or 15.1 billion gallons. The agency also is projecting record ethanol consumption of 14.3 billion gallons. 

 

Friday, August 5, 2016

COMMENTS NEEDED: EPA Disregards Science in Atrazine Report:

You can contact the EPA to voice concerns at www.FightEPA.com.

EPA released its draft ecological risk assessment for atrazine in June 2016. All pesticides sold or distributed in the U.S. must be registered by EPA and re-registered every 15 years. Ecological risk assessments are one step of that registration process. 

In the report, EPA recommends an aquatic life level of concern (LOC) be set at 3.4 parts per billion (ppb) on a 60-day average. EPA's current LOC for atrazine is 10 ppb; however, scientific evidence points to a safe aquatic life LOC at 25 ppb or greater. In drafting this assessment, EPA discounted several high-quality studies showing atrazine to be safe, relying instead on studies its own Science Advisory Panel deemed "flawed" in 2012. 

EPA is accepting public comments on the ecological assessment through October 4.

"I cannot stress enough how important it is for farmers to submit comments on this issue," said Laura Knoth, KyCorn Executive Director. "Atrazine is one of the safest and most effective crop management tools farmers have and is in almost 100 products at varying levels. It's also one of the most studied pesticides in on the market and more than 50 years' worth of data show it is safe."

Local Corn Grower Sees Market Stability Through NASS Surveys


(Lisa Ferguson- NASS) The U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) released its findings June 30, from the June Agricultural Survey conducted in late May and early June. The survey queried nearly 2,600 farms across Kentucky to determine crop acreage for 2016.

Kentucky farmers planted an estimated 1.5 million acres of corn, up 100,000 acres from 2015. The U.S. corn planted for all purposes in 2016 was estimated at 94.1 million acres, up seven percent from last year. This represents the third highest planted acreage in the United States since 1944.

One of those 2,600 farms surveyed earlier this year in Kentucky was Michael Buckman's farm in Marion County. Buckman, 39, of Calvary, Kentucky, is a lifelong, many-generation corn and soybean farmer in central Kentucky. He bought his farm from his parents in 2011, and has been running it ever since with his wife, Megan.

"I've always been a farmer," Buckman said. "I've either worked for dad or run the farm my entire life. We can trace our family farming back to the Civil War right here in Calvary."

Despite the rainy start to planting and some early hotter-than-usual temperatures, Buckman expects a 1:1 plant to harvest ratio this year, which falls in line with his farm's historical averages. He always harvests all his acres, even in a drought year like 2012, because his insurance policy requires that he harvest even zero-yield acres. He'd much rather get paid for his crop contracts than insurance payouts, but realizes weather is one of the unknowns in farming.

Weather isn't the only uncertainty facing farmers, a fact Buckman knows well from serving as the treasurer for the Kentucky Corn Growers Association, on several district boards through the county extension office, and being involved in the Marion County Farm Bureau and the Kentucky Soybean Association. 

"Market instability is one of the biggest issues facing corn growers," Buckman said. "We just want a stable market to know what to (generally) expect each year. A young farmer can't get started, because he can't go out and secure funding with a market that so radically changes every year. That's where the growers associations really work to offset the market instability and make sure the export market and trade programs are available."

Buckman sees the importance of NASS survey data assessing yields and values in adding stability to a farmer's life and answers all those that come across his desk, sometimes answering over the phone instead of filling out the paper survey.

Click here to learn more about NASS surveys and corresponding data in Kentucky. To sign up to be counted in the Census and other surveys, visit Ag Counts

Friday, July 29, 2016

Ethanol Research Presented at NACAT Conference

Last week more than 200 automotive technicians and educators met in Pasadena, TX for the 43rd annual North American Council of Automotive Teachers (NACAT) conference. NACAT is an international conference that provides educational and professional development opportunities for automotive educators from the U.S. and Canada. Attendees came for four days full of training and networking opportunities.  For the second year, Owensboro Community and Technical College (OCTC) partnered with Corn Grower Associations from Kentucky, Illinois and Missouri on behalf of the American Ethanol brand to attend NACAT and present ethanol educational resources.
 
"This is one of the few conferences an educator can learn from not only their presenters, vendors and corporate trainers, but can also learn from peers and colleagues that are in similar classroom situations," said Mike Rodgers, Interim VP of Academic Affairs and Director of Advancement, OCTC. "NACAT provides such an array of educational topics, it makes the quality of the conference like no other."

OCTC instructors Fred Wright and Lewis Nall presented results found from an engine testing project that was commissioned by KyCorn and MoCorn.  In the investigation, flex fuel lawnmower engines manufactured by KOHLER engines were tested with various ethanol blends to document wear, durability.  In short, higher ethanol blends burned cleaner and led to less wear and tear; oil test results also indicated less were and tear at higher ethanol concentrations.  Detailed findings were distributed during the classes taught at NACAT. You can see that here
 
"The project we presented was a yearlong project. Every part of the presentation was built by students, including stands and wiring," said Fred. "We had a lot of positive feedback from instructors who thanked us for researching and presenting this type of information. If you get one teacher on board, you have 500 followers."

"It was extremely well received. After the first class, we noticed instructors came back for the second," said Lewis. "There is a lot of skepticism and we can prove that it's not true; not just with words, we can show them. During the trade show, our booth was busy the entire time. It shows there's a need for this kind of information to be disseminated."  If you are interested in the findings of this project, the principle investigators can be reached at lewis.nall@kctcs.edu and frederick.wright@kctcs.edu.  

UK Field Day Spotlights Techniques and Research Findings

    
Yesterday hundreds of farmers, researchers and agribusinessman met in Princeton at The UK Research and Education Center for the annual UK Corn, Soybean and Tobacco Field Day. Attendees heard from different researchers about their past findings and what they are currently working on. 

"This year was tremendously successful in terms of additional research. We have a lot of new faculty who have started research on site," said Colette Laurent, University of Kentucky, Grain Crop Coordinator. "We enjoy the field day as an opportunity to showcase the new and continuing research. With the weather offering a bit of a challenge, we went to plan B and moved the event indoors allowing all attendees to hear the presentations as one group."

KyCorn was a sponsor of the event, as well as the research that generated much of the information presented. 

Louisville Host to U.S. Grains Council Annual Meeting


Louisville was host to the U.S. Grains Council's (USGC) 56th Annual Board of Delegates meeting this week, with members in attendance focused on emerging opportunities for the grain industry and the need to spread the positive message of ag trade.

USGC, export arm of the grain industry, works in more than 50 countries and the European Union to develop export markets for corn and other feed grains as well as co-products like DDGS and ethanol. It's members include farm organizations like Kentucky Corn as well as agribusinesses, and it receives grant funding from market development programs in the 2014 Farm Bill. 
 
Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles kicked off the sessions by offering a special welcome at the general session, spotlighting the importance of agricultural trade to the local industry and encouraging those in attendance to advocate for trade and agriculture.
 
The rest of the week offered a full agenda with a look at the global economy and current trade environment, the return on investment of USGC programs, the Tanzania Food for Progress Program, ethanol programs globally and future feed grain demand that the Council is working to tap.
 
Another highlight of the week was the presentation offered by Leanne Ragland, LaRue county farmer and Commonground volunteer. Leanne spoke to a group of delegate spouses about how her organization uses farm women to share accurate information about the agriculture industry with other farmers and consumers.

During the meetings, USGC's membership also elected new board members and officers and adopted its fiscal year 2017 budget. 

"We were excited for the opportunity to be in Kentucky for this meeting and truly appreciate the hospitality Kentucky Corn has shown us from start to finish in the planning process," said Chip Councell, a Maryland farmer who became USGC chairman at the Louisville meeting.

"The Council's work totally depends on the engagement of our members to help us set direction and carry out our programs globally. We definitely saw and felt Kentucky's support this week." 
  
For more information about USGC, visit www.grains.org.

Friday, July 22, 2016

KyCorn Attends Annual Summer Corn Congress

KyCorn Corn delegation with Senator Rand Paul's Staffers
KyCorn leaders meeting with Chip Bowling, NCGA President 



















National Corn Growers Annual Summer Corn Congress session was held this week in Washington DC. Representing KyCorn as delegates were Richard Strode, KyCorn President, and Mark Roberts, KyCorn Vice President. Delegates elected five new NCGA Corn Board members and discussed policies such as trade, ethanol and atrazine.

While in D.C., KyCorn also made hill visits. "It is extremely important for corn farmers from around the country to come together to discuss issues impacting their industry and work together to find solutions and ways to improve," said Laura Knoth, KyCorn Executive Director. "It is equally important for our farmer leaders to make personal visits to capitol hill to share policy positions and discuss issues that affect the agriculture industry."

KyCorn Represented on NCGA Action Teams

    
This week KyCorn traveled to Washington D.C. for a week full meetings and networking opportunities. Starting off the week were farmer-led action teams and committees having in-depth conversations in areas of public policy, ethanol, biotechnology, government regulation, trade and grower services. 

Representing KyCorn this week on NCGA action teams were Quint and Leah Pottinger. Quint serves on the Research and Business Development Action Team and Leah serves on the Grower Services Action Team . 
 
"The Grower Services Action Team meeting was very productive and I am so excited about some of the things NCGA is working on to further our cause and increase our outreach," said Leah. "NCGA surveyed a group of members on what their first, second and third topics of interest are and they produced some interesting results. Some of the topics most interesting to members were Ethanol, Production and Stewardship Practices."

Action team and committee meetings concluded Tuesday afternoon. Click here for information on the action teams and committees.

Monday, July 18, 2016

High Priority GMO Labeling Bill Now Goes for President's Signature

Last Thursday, the House passed the Roberts-Stabenow agreement on GMO labeling with a vote of 306-117.  You can view the roll call here.  Now, KyCorn urges President Obama to quickly sign this bill into law. Once signed, the legislation will stop implementation of the Vermont mandatory GMO labeling law, and prevent other states from passing similar bills. The bill passed last week ensures that mandatory, on-pack labels do not place an unwarranted stigma on safe, proven technology.
 
Thank you to Senator McConnell and Congressmen Barr, Guthrie, Rogers and Whitfield, for helping advance this landmark legislation.  For more information on the need for a federal labeling standard, visit the Coalition for Safe Affordable Food, at www.CFSAF.org

KyCorn Board of Directors Discusses Important Initiatives



   
This week KyCorn held their board meeting in Louisville, KY. The meeting began Wednesday with a meeting of the KyCorn Promotion Council and Executive Committee and concluded Thursday with a joint meeting of the board members and promotion council. 
 
The board received updates and proposals from a variety of external organizations including NCGA, U.S. Grains Council, U.S. Meat Export Federation and USA Poultry and Egg Export Council about their on-going projects, new projects and involvement opportunities for KyCorn. The board also heard from their longtime partner of biofuels efforts Thorntons about their current business plan for blender pumps in the Chicago area, and their plans for advancing a variety of mid-level and high-level ethanol blends in KY. 
 
Program, communications and legislative updates were also presented. The board authorized the fourth class of the CORE Farmer Program, an agronomy based leadership program, and approved new water quality communications plans that will take place this year. 

Wednesday night, Senator Paul Hornback, Senate Ag Committee Chairman and a farmer from Shelbyville, joined KyCorn board members.  Senator Hornback was awarded a plaque in appreciation of his service and dedication to Kentucky agriculture by one of his constituents, Philip McCoun, Chairman of the KY Corn Promotion Council.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Secretary of the KY Energy and Environment Cabinet Takes Grain Tour

Secretary Snavely climbs under Philip McCoun's planter to understand the precision of how crops are planted. 
Photos courtesy of Kentucky Soybean board. 
Secretary Snarly and his wife Shari climbing off a sprayer on Philip McCoun's Farm.
Photos courtesy of Kentucky Soybean board. 
   
This week, the KY Corn Growers Association and the Kentucky Soybean Board hosted Secretary Charles Snavely, Secretary of the KY Energy and Environment Cabinet, and his wife Shari Snavely on a Grain Tour. 
 
Secretary Snavely is a graduate of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University with a B.S. in Mining Engineering and recently completed the Executive MBA Program through a joint program of the University of Kentucky and the University of Louisville.  Secretary Snavely was appointed by Gov. Matt Bevin as Secretary of the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet in December 2015.
 
The tour began Wednesday, July 6, and concluded Thursday, July 7, and had a total of five stops. The first stop took place at Philip McCoun's Farm, KyCorn Promotion Council Chairman, in Shelbyville. Secretary Snavely had the opportunity to tour Philip's grain and livestock operation and was able to get an up-close look at a planter.
 
Right away Secretary Snavely and his wife, Shari, were fascinated with the dedication and commitment farmers have to their land and lifestyle. "The depth of knowledge and passion Kentucky's farmers have is obvious.  Kentucky could, and should, be a national model for taking care of the environment," said Shari Snavely.
 
Up next on the tour was Ryan and Misty Biven's Fresh Start Farms in Hodgenville.  Ryan serves as the Secretary/Treasurer of the Kentucky Soybean Board. A group of corn and soybean farm leaders joined the Secretary at Biven's farm to discuss environmental and energy issues.  Before dinner, Secretary got to climb aboard one of Ryan's tractors and see first-hand the technology in today's farm equipment.

"I am pleased to see Kentucky as a leader in agriculture water quality, and am continuously amazed by the technology that goes into farming," said Secretary Snavely. 
 
The following morning, the group traveled to Maceo  for a tour of Gavilon Grain and continued the day with a tour of Joseph Sisk's farm, KyCorn board member, in Hopkinsville.
 
Sisk discussed what they are currently doing on his farm in terms of irrigation and variable rate technology. He also handed out print outs of the measurement tools they are using that showed the level of detail available for making wise resource decisions.
 
"The technology we are using helps us manage our water and energy resource," said Sisk. "The scientific measurement of irrigation is going to become more important in agriculture. We are always striving to be as efficient as possible with our resources, and it is important to let the public know that."
 
The tour ended with a stop at Commonwealth Agri- Energy for a conversation with Mick Henderson, plant managerand Wayne Hunt, owner of H& R Agri-power and a CAE board member, about ethanol production and different products made at the plant. Secretary Snavely and his wife were able to see ethanol and the other products including corn oil and animal feed. 

Joseph Sisk explained that having Hopkinsville Elevator and the ethanol plant as well as Siemer Milling and the canola crushing plant close together was a real benefit to local farmers and the community. "Is it very important to me that the four things I raise on my farm are vertically integrated within an hour of my house. That's huge," said Sisk.
 
"I am really proud that the Secretary of the KY Energy and Environment Cabinet would be willing to come out and see what Agriculture is about and see how he plays such a vital role in policies that effect farmers," said Philip. "It is important that we keep a good working relationship with him and his cabinet."

Friday, July 1, 2016

Submit Your Comments Today!

It is important that you file comments on the EPA's proposal for 2017 RFS volumes. EPA has proposed to lower the 2017 RFS requirement for conventional renewable fuels (like corn ethanol) to 14.8 billion gallons from the level of 15 billion gallons established by Congress in the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act. Please follow the simple steps in the  attached document to file your comment with EPA before July 11.

Also, the EPA published a draft Ecological Risk Assessment for atrazine, an herbicide used for weed control in growing corn and other crops. If it stands, EPA's recommendation would effectively ban the use of atrazine in most farming areas in the U.S. Visit www.ncga.com/atz to submit your comments to the EPA. The deadline to submit comments is October 4. For more information on atrazine, visit agsense.org

Friday, June 24, 2016

Happy Pollinator Week!

Happy Pollinator Week! KyCorn and the National Corn Growers Association partner with nearly 40 organizations in forming  the Honey Bee Health Coalition to achieve a healthy population of honey bees and other pollinators.
 
Even though Corn does not require pollination by honey bees, we recognizes the integral role they play in a productive agriculture system. 

There are a handful of issues that can cause problems for bees.  Severe weather, pests and disease, lack of forage and nutrition, lack of genetic diversity and incidental pesticide exposure may all be causing problems.
 
Neonicotinoid seed treatments are actually a good way to limit incidental pesticide exposure because of how and when they are used. For instance, farmers are switching to a pinpoint treatment of insecticide on seed at planting time, rather than a broad spectrum treatment later in the growing season when bees are more active.
 
We urge farmers to be proactive by being more aware of bees and getting to know local beekeepers. Click here to learn about the Grower's and Beekeeper's roles.

Urging Quick Passage of Roberts-Stabenow Agreement on GMO Labeling

KyCorn thanks Senate Agriculture Chairman Pat Roberts and ranking Democrat Debbie Stabenow of Michigan for their work to put forth the agreement announced that will address the growing threat of a patchwork of state labeling laws. We strongly urge the Senate and House to both act as swiftly as possible to pass this important legislation.
 
"America's farmers rely on GMOs to protect their crops from insects, weeds and drought. The agreement that, through consistent leadership Chairman Roberts and Stabenow put forth, is a win for consumers, farmers and manufacturers," said Laura Knoth, KyCorn Executive Director. "They have set an example for colleagues in both chambers, who should both take up this issue immediately."
Vermont's mandatory law requiring on-package labels of foods containing ingredients that have been genetically modified takes effect in July, and unless Congress acts now, families, farmers and food companies will face chaos in the market and higher costs. Multiple studies have shown that the associated costs with Vermont's GMO-labeling law and a subsequent patchwork of state laws will cost American families hundreds of dollars more in groceries each year - with low-income Americans being hit the hardest.
 
The Roberts-Stabenow agreement brings continuity to the marketplace, ensuring that consumers have the access to product information they deserve without stigmatizing this safe, proven technology valued by American farmers.
 
For more information on the need for a federal labeling standard, visit the Coalition for Safe Affordable Food, at www.CFSAF.org

Friday, June 17, 2016

ACTION ALERT: Submit Your Comment to EPA Today

The EPA is accepting written comments on its proposal for 2017 RFS volumes. EPA has proposed to lower the 2017 RFS requirement for conventional renewable fuels (like corn ethanol) to 14.8 billion gallons from the level of 15 billion gallons established by Congress in the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act. EPA is justifying this approach by again suggesting that the marketplace lacks the ability to consume 15 billion gallons due to impediments such as the so-called "blend wall." KyCorn is again asking for your help in commenting to the EPA and encouraging them to put the RFS back on track. Please follow the simple steps in the attached document to file your comment with EPA before July 11. Thanks for your support!

ACTION ALERT: Contact EPA on Atrazine

The Kentucky Corn Growers Association urges  farmers to submit comments to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, following publication of the Agency's draft Ecological Risk Assessment for atrazine, an herbicide used for weed control in growing corn and other crops. If it stands, EPA's recommendation would effectively ban the use of atrazine in most farming areas in the U.S.
 
"Atrazine is a safe and effect crop management tool. If EPA succeeds in taking away this option, it will be sending farming practices back decades - and hurt the environment in the process," said Maryland farmer Chip Bowling, President of NCGA. "As a farmer and a conservationist, I can't let this go unanswered. That's why I'm urging farmers to contact the EPA and make their voices heard."

"There are two important things to remember about this attack on atrazine by EPA. First, if bad science is allowed to impact one of the most studied products on the market (50 years of safe use) then all products are in jeopardy and second, atrazine is in almost 100 products at varying levels which means so-called alternatives may also be impacted.  This is a game changing proposal and comments are crucial," said Laura Knoth, KyCorn Executive Director.
 
Atrazine is widely used crop management tool proven to combat the spread of resistant weeds, while also reducing soil erosion and improving wildlife habitats. When farmers have access to atrazine, they do not have to do as much tilling, or turning up of the soil - a practice that erodes soil and leads to water and nutrient loss. Studies suggest farming without atrazine could cost corn farmers up to $59 per acre. Look here for a list of products containing Atrazine. 

As part of the assessment, EPA recommends reducing the aquatic life level of concern (LOC) from 10 parts per billion (ppb) on a 60-day average, to 3.4 ppb. Scientific evidence points to a safe aquatic life LOC at 25 ppb or greater.
 
Visit www.ncga.com/atz to submit your comments to the EPA. The deadline to submit comments is August 5. For more information on atrazine, visit agsense.org

Ford's "Fuel of the Future" Still Powering America Forward

(RFA) This month marks the 120th anniversary of an automotive milestone: Henry Ford's test drive of his first vehicle, the Quadricycle. The 20-mile-an-hour Quadricycle, which was literally built using two sets of bicycle wheels, would launch the career of an industrial pioneer and push the world into a new era for transportation. The 32-year-old engineer had single-handedly revolutionized the "horseless carriage" with his experiment that ran on an unenviably-small three gallons of ... ethanol. Ford was a staunch supporter of using fuel ethanol, which he called the "fuel of the future," in part because of its effect on engine performance. From the Model T to the Mustang, the performance of these machines' engines came down to the quality of fuel - or more specifically, octane.

Today, ethanol is the cleanest and cheapest source of octane on the planet. The benefits of ethanol have long been apparent to gasoline blenders and it's not hard to see why. To describe ethanol as the most multifaceted fuel source in America may seem like embellishment in a 2016 world where sensationalism has become the norm, but for a fuel that dates back to Ford's days, the liquid that chemists better describe as EtOH truly is amazing when you examine its versatility.

The ethanol industry has grown from a niche sector of the fuel market to become a ubiquitous component of the motor fuel market available at nearly every gas station in the country. With an octane rating of 113, ethanol provides more knock resistance per dollar than any other additive. Ethanol's benefits aren't just being felt here in the United States; international markets are also starting to recognize ethanol's ability to upgrade gasoline octane ratings, which in Europe, for example, are much higher due to their more stringent fuel economy standards. Ethanol increases octane in a much cleaner way than more harmful petroleum-derived octane such as toluene and benzene. Moreover, ethanol reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 34 percent compared to gasoline, and as a renewable source, ethanol is in the best position to meet the needs of high-octane engines without harming the environment.

If the founder of one of Detroit's Big Three can build his empire upon the earliest of early flex-fuel vehicles running on ethanol, it might be worth taking a second look at what we put in our own tank.

Friday, June 10, 2016

KyCorn Testifies at EPA Hearing

KyCorn joined farmers and biofuel advocates from across the country Thursday, June 9, at a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) field hearing on proposed 2017 renewable fuel volumes under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). All in attendance urged the EPA to follow the law and make more ethanol available to consumers in next year's fuel supply.

Testifying on behalf of KyCorn was Megan Bell, board member and farmer from Mayfield, KY. Megan tells the EPA the negative impact their proposal will have on the environment as well as her family. 

"Your current decision will negatively impact our environmental and economic future and will negatively affect the future of my children. I don't have a hidden agenda, I have four children. I owe it to them to take a stand and ask that you reverse your decision and maintain obligations as Congress intended," said Megan. 

"Raising RVOs back to statutory levels will preserve, what I consider to be one of the most impactful environmental policies in our history, and enhance an industry that literally cleans the air bushel by bushel and gallon by gallon." 

Chip Bowling, a farmer from Newburg, Maryland, and president of the National Corn Growers Association, highlighted the investment in fuel infrastructure over the past year in partnership with USDA's Biofuels Infrastructure Partnership.
 
"NCGA and our state corn associations helped match [USDA] funds, making an overall investment totaling more than $200 million. These are real dollars going toward real investments to help provide consumers a more affordable and cleaner fuel option at the pump," said Bowling.
 
"The EPA and this Administration made a pledge to the American people to become energy independent by developing American-based energy sources such as corn ethanol. Farmers responded by growing enough corn for all of our needs. Businesses responded by investing in production infrastructure across rural America. As a result of these government promises and private efforts, the U.S. is able to sustain a prosperous renewable fuels industry. Now it's up to EPA to deliver on its promises."
  
Also testifying at the hearing were Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts, Missouri Director of Agriculture Richard Fordyce, Crappie Masters TV co-host Brian Sowers, former Iowa State Rep. Annette Sweeney, and farmer-leaders from a dozen state corn grower associations. All told, more than 100 people testified in support of raising the volume of ethanol and other renewable fuels.
 
Supporters are urged to submit comments to the EPA at ncga.com/rfs. The deadline is July 11.

June 5 Planting Progress


Trade School Highlights Impact of Trade Policy to Agriculture

More than 50 farmers, ranchers and representatives of state agriculture associations were in Washington this week to broaden their knowledge about trade issues and drum up support for the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Capitol Hill as part of the National Corn Growers Association Trade School. Representing KyCorn was Executive Director, Laura Knoth. 

"It is vital that we take time to study trade, the U.S. economy as well as current and potential demand," said Knoth. "Our competitors have negotiated regional and bilateral agreements that is a disadvantage to Americans in the global market. The Trans-Pacific Partnership will allow us to protect and expand our market share."  

During the two days, trade school attendees learned from public and private sector experts about the importance of trade to the agriculture sector; the role of the World Trade Organization; global population and dietary trends and their implications for agriculture; the growing ethanol export market; and the current state of play for TPP and other international trade agreements.

With trade issues in the forefront right now, farmers were able to leave the week with knowledge and resources to be trade advocates in D.C. and in their own communities. Following trade school, many farmers and ranchers visited their congressional offices, urging Congress to take up TPP and pass the agreement this year.

Friday, June 3, 2016

And Finally We Have Some Good News...

The U.S. Supreme Court issued a landmark ruling regarding the ability to file legal challenges to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Clean Water Act jurisdictional determinations. 

In an 8-0 ruling, the Court unanimously agreed that jurisdictional determinations are, in fact, final agency action and determinations have direct legal consequences, therefore the determinations may be challenged in a court of law.  

Previously the EPA and the Army Corps had maintained that determinations did not represent "final agency action" and should not be subject to legal challenges.  The ruling is a win for private property rights, agriculture and benefits the legal fight over the Agencies' Waters of the U.S. rule.

Action Alert: EPA Ecological Risk Assessment on Atrazine

Today the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its ecological risk assessment on the pesticide atrazine. The assessment is over 1,110 pages in length and presents the ecological risks posed by the use of the herbicide atrazine.  
 
The assessment documents are live on EPA's website however, it has not yet been published in the Federal Register.  Publication is expected to take place early next week and will begin the 60 day comment period on the report. 

Today's document appears to be identical to the report that was "unintentionally" released on EPA's website last month. The EPA has ignored it's own Scientific Advisory Panels and used data that is clearly false. 

It will require a tremendous response from the agricultural community to keep atrazine on the market with effective use rates on the label. 

"Atrazine is a safe and effective crop management tool for farmers," said Laura Knoth, KyCorn Executive Director. "We urge everyone involved and affected by this review to voice your opinion. Send comments to the EPA during the comment period about the effect the loss of atrazine as an economical and effective  weed control product has on you and the agricultural community."

 See the links below for more information: