Wisconsin Corn Growers AssociationW1360 HWY 106, Palmyra, WI 53156<\br> Phone: (414)-495-2232 Fax: (414)-495-3178
Dear Corn Growers:
The harvest of 1998 is history. Hopefully it was a safe and bountiful harvest for you.
I hope that all of you are looking forward with the same anticipation to the Spring of 1999 as I am. As we do, we should spend a little time and reflect on all the changes and the technology available to us for the new year. Our "tool box" has gotten larger, with such advances as new hybrids, new herbicides, new markets, high oil corn, BTs, Roundup Ready, GPS with yield data, grid samples and LDPs. In addition, we can only wonder what new things 1999 will bring, probably something that was only a dream a short time ago.
One of the "old tools" that we have to complement the newest advances are the Wisconsin and National Corn Growers Associations. Formed as a group of growers, the National Corn Growers Association is 42 years old and the Wisconsin Corn Growers Association is 25 years old. For all of that time, they have served as impartial sources of information to growers, a good way to compare all the new tools that are constantly becoming available. Technical staff are available to offer a forum to contrast and compare competing and confusing claims. Large amounts of unbiased yield information and information on growing practices are gathered and shared publicly each year with the most respected yield contest in the country. County, regional, state and national meetings offer a chance to interact with other growers, to checkout sometimes confusing new technology and to share experiences and concerns with other growers.
Please join with me and 32,000 other corn growers from 35 states as we strive to represent corn growers. By working together, we can get you the best information available, so that we can make the best use of the new tools presented to us.
Cal Dalton, President
Wisconsin Corn Growers Association
Corn Growers and others have spent lots of time and money promoting ethanol. But does it work?
A new study by the American Lung Association of Metropolitan Chicago reveals how well it works. More than 95% of the reformulated gasoline sold in Chicago contains ethanol, and it is at the top of the list in helping to clean Chicagos air, which has 60% less smog forming volatile organic compounds (VOC) since 1970 (see table).
Tons of volatile organic compounds (VOC) removed per day between 1990 and July 1998 in Chicago.
|Limiting Emissions from Painting, Coating and Printing Processes|
|Improved Compliance with Air Pollution Permits|
|Pump Handle Vapor Recovery at Gas Stations|
|Vehicle Emissions Testing|
Source: U.S. Federal Register, July 14, 1997, "Approval and Promulgation of State Implementation Plan: Illinois," and Illinois EPA.
"Reformulated gas is estimated to have reduced Volatile Organic Compound emissions from gasoline powered cars, trucks and lawn and garden equipment by nearly 20 percent in 1995, resulting in over 112 tons per day of VOC reductions, " the report states.
Total VOC emissions in metropolitan Chicago dropped from approximately 1136 tons per day in late 1994 to 1024 tons per day in early 1995, nearly a 10 percent reduction over the span of just a few months time. RFGs 112 tons per day reduction represents approximately 27 percent of the total VOC emissions reductions in the Chicago region between 1990 and 1996 (415 tons per day).
"Ethanol is proving to be a highly efficient means of addressing air quality problems," said Illinois Corn Growers Association Presient Greg Guenther. "As an Illinois citizen its nice to get this good news for the environment. As a corn grower I am excited to see this positive review of a product which uses 270 million bushels of corn in this state alone."
FQPA And the FARM
The FOOD QUALITY PROTECTION ACT (FQPA) mandates the Federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to test all pesticides and evaluate their potential risk. EPA has decided to use a new concept called the "risk cup". Think of any cup, and how you can fill it partially or fill it to overflowing, and you will grasp the idea of the risk cup, whereby EPA intends to add all the risks from a family of pesticides together, and to see if they jointly make the risk cup for that particular group of pesticides overflow. Included in the group of exposures that are added for each family of pesticides is not only the amount that could come from food, but also from household and yard use, from drinking water and public spaces, like parks and rights-of-way.
The first group of pesticides to be studied are the organo-phosphates and carbamates, including most of the insecticides used on corn. It looks likely that there will be some cutbacks mandated, and even some products lost entirely. The specialty crops that are only grown on a few acres compared to the major crops of corn, soybeans and wheat, seem most likely to lose the use of some products. The irony is that often the specialty crops have no alternative products available because so few products are worth the cost of registration for small acreage crops. But corn and soybean farmers need to be aware that some products might be banned for use on corn and soybeans also.
Wisconsin Corn Growers Association and the National Corn Growers Association are working to make sure that decisions are made on sound science such as actual use data. For information contact the National Corn Growers Association or the Wisconsin Corn Growers Association.
ETHANOL PLANT IN WISCONSIN?
The newest corn ethanol plant in the Midwest is just across the state line in Lena, Illinois. This is a 30 million gallon plant which will process about 11 million bushels of corn into ethanol annually. The plant began construction in October 1998 and will be in production in 18 months. Lena, IL is a small town just a few miles south of Monroe, WI and it is expected that Wisconsin corn will flow to the plant. Stockholders are to provide the corn as part of their agreement. Many stockholders and 2 Board members are from Wisconsin.
Why was the plant built there? First, a small co-op near Lena spearheaded the effort at least partly because it wanted to build a feed mill next to the plant to use the ethanol by-products. It took several years of concerted effort by the small co-op to bring all the parts together and make the plant a reality. It was a truly great effort by the small co-op to spearhead the building of a relatively large ethanol plant. The feed mill owned separately by the local co-op is also under construction. Secondly, and more importantly, there were significantly more incentives offered by Illinois than Wisconsin. Some of the incentives were from the State of Illinois and some were from private industry, such as the supplier of natural gas to the plant. The plant ended up with a farmer board of directors in charge, but has several equity partners.
Wisconsin needs processing plants. A recent survey showed that about 61% of all Wisconsin corn leaves the state, most by truck. Why not process it in Wisconsin? The federal ethanol incentives are in place until 2007 and there is now a state budget surplus that could help fund incentives for a processing plant. Perhaps now is the time to get serious about locating an ethanol plant in Wisconsin.
The National Science Foundation recently announced that they were awarding a total of $85 million over 5 years, with $38 million directly to corn research and $14 million which will indirectly benefit corn genome research. The National Corn Growers Association has lobbied for years to get this included in the budget, but now that it is a reality, what does it mean for corn growers? The answer is that mapping the chromosomes of the corn plant is basic to other research, that you have to know where the genes are on the chromosome to be able to effectively bioengineer the plants of the future. It will make it easier for the next steps beyond Roundup Ready and BT. One of the first grants was to a group that included University of Wisconsin researchers, so some of the research will be conducted close to home.
NEW NCGA ORGANIZATION
The National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) has reorganized to better meet the needs of the grower members. NCGA used to have 60 member Board of Directors that met 4 to 5 times per year and the National Corn Development Foundation which handled the money from state corn checkoffs and funneled it to various national projects would meet at the same time with its 30 member Board. In order to streamline operations and save money on meetings, the new Corn Board (which replaced both of the former Boards of Directors) meets only twice per year. In between there are Corn Action Team meetings, which are committees of corn growers organized to work on a specific problem. Wisconsin Corn Growers President Cal Dalton is on the Grower Services Action Team. This committee works on the services provided to members. Keith Ripp, who is immediate past President of the Wisconsin Corn Growers serves on the Production and Stewardship Action Team, which works on environmental and other production issues. The other two Action Teams currently existing are the Customer and Business Development Team that tries to maintain old markets for corn and to develop new markets, and the Public Policy Team, that works at creating and influencing government policy. There are no Wisconsin growers on either of these two teams. If you would like to be on one of the Action Teams or otherwise involved in Wisconsin or NCGA activities, contact the Wisconsin Corn Growers, W1360 HWY 106, Palmyra, WI 53156, Phone: (414)495-2232.