By Robert Thompson, NDCGA’s First President
This year marks the 35th Anniversary of the North Dakota Corn Growers Association (NDCGA). In the late 1980s, the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) was interested in establishing NDCGA for several reasons. The Canadian Countervailing Duty (CVD) on corn was destroying the Canadian corn market, the Ontario corn market was major for the Eastern corn belt, and North Dakota needed access to our Senators to promote corn policy. The NCGA headquarters are located in St. Louis; however, the NCGA Washington office oversees government affairs. NCGA has a major influence on the Farm Bill and other government related issues because of the large number of acres grown and bushels of corn produced. Corn acres in North Dakota were increasing dramatically in the 1980s which made North Dakota a viable option.
In 1987, the growers of corn in North Dakota saw the CVD affecting demand for corn and the influence NCGA had on policy; thus, corn farmers in the state showed strong interest in joining NCGA. Other issues were: extending communication with other states about expanding markets for corn in food, fuel, ethanol, and industrial uses. We realized corn was king. Dave Drennan, NCGA Field Services Director, was quoted in the Forum newspaper about looking at North Dakota as its next affiliated NCGA state. Informational meetings were held in Page and Southeast North Dakota. Several people were interested in the start-up of NDCGA including; Dave Drennan, NCGA; Kevin Pifer, North Dakota Department of Agriculture; Rudy Radke, Cass County Agent; industry personnel, seed dealers, chemical representatives, the American Coalition of Ethanol, North Dakota State University Extension, and Minnesota and South Dakota Corn Growers Associations.
The North Dakota Corn Growers Association was organized on April 13, 1987, at the Fargo Doublewood Inn. By-Laws and Articles of Incorporation were accepted. Officers elected were Robert Thompson, President and National Director; Wallie Hardie, Vice President and Alternate National Director; Henning Anderson, Secretary; and Wayne Rehovsky, Treasurer. Wallie Hardie was elected to be the NDCGA President in 1989. Thompson went on to be the NCGA Treasurer. Hardie was subsequently elected NCGA President.
January 1988 membership meetings were held in Mooreton, Oakes, Valley City, Carrington, and Grand Forks. 1989 meetings were held in Colfax, Lisbon, Oakes, Bismarck, and Page. A decision was made to publish a newsletter at the end of each year outlining NDCGA activities. On November 19, 1990, the NDCGA passed a motion to establish a check-off. The legislation for a corn check off of ¼ of one percent of the value per bushel sold passed in the spring of 1991. The legislation provided funds for feeding distillers dried grain, ethanol promotion, Canadian free trade agreement, coal desulfurization project, degradable plastics and increasing corn acres.
The production and marketing of corn was making huge changes in the late 1980s. On the production side, better hybrids, genetically modified seed, fertility, rootworm, corn borer, frost, crop insurance, water issues, drought tolerance and other factors were important to farmers. Marketing presented more decisions for the farmer with Canadian, west coast, Montana, local, and ethanol demands. It used to be enough to grow corn, but there is a need for demand with the increasing corn production.
NDCGA is instrumental in increasing corn acres in the state through promotions and educational communication. The structural organization of the NDCGA and NCGA provide the opportunity to make adjustments in the growing of corn. In the future, corn will continue to capture more acres in the state; however, North Dakota needs to increase its supply of nitrogen fertilizer and propane through processing plants in western North Dakota. Corn growers should help promote their corn and the corn industry by being members of NDCGA. It’s not enough to grow corn and hope someone will buy it.