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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:



Tell the EPA that the RFS Works Today

With the opening of the public comment period regarding the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's proposal to cut corn ethanol in the Renewable Fuel Standard by nearly 200 million gallons, KyCorn Growers Association urges farmers and their family and friends to email their opposition to this proposal as soon as possible, before the July 11 deadline.
Click here for details on the proposal and a link to send a quick email. Various draft comments are available to enable both farmers and their non-farmer friends to easily send personalized notes to the EPA.
In addition to the RVO written comment period, EPA is holding a hearing to hear from interested parties on the proposal. The hearing will take place in Kansas City, Missouri on June 9.
NCGA and its state affiliates encourage farmers and friends to plan on testifying at the hearing. The association would like a strong corn grower contingent in attendance at the hearing to demonstrate to EPA how its proposals hurt rural America and corn farmers.  This is an excellent opportunity to make the case face-to-face with the actual decision makers.

Megan Bell, KyCorn board member and farmer, is scheduled to testify at the hearing on June 9. "This is a very busy time for farmers with planting in full force. We have four young boys, so it is especially hard for me to leave unexpectedly, but this issue is critical and I want to show the EPA just how important we think it is," said Megan. "Farmers need to have a voice, even during the busy times. I encourage everyone to send letters and emails. Let them know the impact this decision will have on your family and farm."