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Checkoff Report - August 7, 2019

Michigan corn grower speaks at EPA hearing on RFS

YPSILANTI, Mich. — The U.S. EPA conducted a public hearing on July 31 on its proposed Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) biofuel volumes for 2020, in Ypsilanti.

The Michigan Corn Growers Assoc. (MCGA) reiterated its call on the EPA to keep the RFS whole by accounting for waived ethanol gallons. Jeff Sandborn, a farmer from Portland, former MCGA board member, and current board member of the National Corn Growers Assoc., gave testimony at the hearing.

He pressed the agency to move forward with a stronger RFS rule that supports America’s farmers, their rural communities, and consumers. What follows are excerpts from Sandborn’s testimony:

“With low commodity prices, policy uncertainty, and extreme weather that delayed or prevented planting for many farmers this year, it’s been a deeply challenging time to be a farmer. That’s why it so disappointing seeing the continued erosion of the RFS and destruction of corn demand represented in this proposal.

“Ethanol is a critical piece of the market for Michigan corn. We have five ethanol plants operating in our state. Each of these plants buys corn from Michigan farmers, employs Michigan workers, and uses Michigan contractors and vendors.

“Unfortunately, EPA has waived 2.61 billion ethanol-equivalent gallons over the past two years. There are 38 additional waivers pending, covering at least 1.8 billion additional gallons, or nearly 10 percent of the RFS. These waivers decrease demand for ethanol and corn and directly undermine the work and markets of Michigan corn farmers.

“While the 2020 proposal maintains the conventional biofuel requirement of 15 billion gallons, these volumes are meaningless if EPA continues to expand retroactive refinery waivers. Without accounting for these waivers in this proposal, there’s no guarantee that EPA will follow the law and ensure that the proposed volumes are met.

“MCGA urges EPA to account for waivers in this rule to keep the RFS whole, restore volumes improperly waived, and move forward with a stronger RFS rule that supports America’s farmers and consumers.”

Absentee voting underway for Indiana Corn board of directors

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — With busy summer fieldwork underway, corn farmers may cast absentee ballots in this year’s election for the Indiana Corn Marketing Council’s (ICMC) board of directors through August 9. Otherwise, they may vote from August 12-16 in person at Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service county offices.

All eligible Hoosier corn producers – defined as any person engaged in the business of producing and marketing corn in Indiana under the producer’s own name or the name of an entity in which the producer has ownership – may vote. The state is divided into nine districts with one director representing each and six at-large seats representing all of Indiana.

Absentee ballots can be obtained by calling the ICMC office at 317-644-2791 or visiting an extension office. Absentee ballots must be postmarked by August 9.

Five Indiana corn farmers seek reelection, all running unopposed, for the five available seats on the ICMC board. Those elected will serve three-year terms beginning Oct. 1. Directors can serve three consecutive full terms or a total of nine consecutive years.

Fritz executive director of Michigan Soybean Promotion

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FRANKENMUTH, Mich. — The farmer-leaders of the Michigan Soybean Promotion Committee (MSPC) have named a strategic and experienced new leader. Janna Fritz has accepted the position of executive director.

Fritz will lead MSPC in its efforts to ensure a healthy and robust soybean industry in Michigan through strategic direction of market development, research priorities, talent development, and elevated management of industry programs. She will also work with the Michigan Soybean Assoc. to build grower programs, membership, and legislative advocacy.

Fritz began her new responsibilities on July 15 after leaving Farm Bureau Insurance, where she had served as manager of Crop Insurance since April 2018. Her more than 15 years of leadership experience within Michigan and national agricultural industries were critical factors in MSPC’s decision.

She has a bachelor’s degree in agriculture and natural resources communications from Michigan State University, where she graduated with honors. She has also been involved with many agricultural organizations such as the U.S. Grains Council, Michigan Corn Growers Assoc., and Michigan Agri-Business Assoc.

Fritz and her husband, Joel, operate a 1,500-acre farm in Bad Axe growing soybeans, corn, wheat, and dry edible beans.

AgriSafe receives $85,000 from CHS for rural health initiatives

PEOSTA, Iowa — AgriSafe is pleased to announce it has received $85,000 in grant funding from CHS Community Giving, the direct grant-making arm of CHS, the nation's leading farmer-owned cooperative, to assist in three agricultural health and safety initiatives.

CHS Community Giving funding will support expanding mental health services, continuing education for rural nurses, and health/safety training for future agricultural producers.

Through a new initiative called Total Farmer Health, AgriSafe will take a holistic approach to training 300 rural health care professionals and 200 rural influencers to better identify mental health signs and recommend treatment. Farm Credit and CHS are the lead sponsors of the Total Farmer Health initiative.

CHS Community Giving funding also includes ongoing support of AgriSafe's Invest in Your Health program, a wellness initiative for high school and college ag students, and the AgriSafe Nurse Scholar program, an innovative distance-learning opportunity available to rural nurses throughout the nation.