By Brooke S. Appleton
I have spent close to 20 years living and working in our nation’s Capital, and I have never seen the number of unprecedented events here that we’ve seen over the last year.
From the war in Ukraine to the Roe v. Wade leak to inflation, leaders in this city are moving from one unprecedented event to another, and other important issues are being drowned out as a result.
Luckily, NCGA has still been able to secure important wins for farmers, though we face many challenges ahead. Indeed, thanks to the hard work of farmer leaders, we have seen the following results in recent months:
- Extension of Access to Higher Ethanol Blends. The president’s recent announcement that his administration is allowing for the continuation of consumer access to higher blends of ethanol through the coming summer months was a major victory for consumers and corn growers alike. Having the president, who has the weight of the world on his shoulders, take time to visit an Iowa ethanol plant and highlight the many economic and environmental benefits ethanol offers speaks to what can be accomplished with a unified message.
- Expansion of High-Speed Internet Access. Funding is being released to lower the cost of high-speed internet throughout the country, including in rural communities. This is a product of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, passed late last year. The development is a crucial win in helping farmers become even more competitive in a digitally connected marketplace. It’s also an example of the type of work that can be accomplished when both parties work together.
- Updates to Locks and Dams. Thanks to funding provided for in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, the Army Corps of Engineers has begun to implement plans to update the locks and dams along the Upper Mississippi River System. This is important to farmers because the system transports 60% of American corn and soybean exports to the market. Yet, much of the infrastructure that makes this possible hasn’t been updated since the 1930s. Farmers who are used to the financial burdens associated with delays along the system, will soon see barges moving more quickly and efficiently thanks to these updates.
While we have a lot to be appreciative of, our path forward is formidable. A host of hot-button issues means Congress will continue to engage in a game of whack-a-mole.
Even in this chaotic environment, we are moving forward with our legislative priorities. For example, we are working to garner more support for the Next Generation Fuels Act, which recognizes and takes advantage of the high-octane, low-carbon, lower-cost benefits of ethanol to begin to transition the United States to a higher-octane fuel supply. We are also focused on what can be done to lower farmer input costs and working hard to preserve the usage of important crop protection tools while gearing up for reauthorization of the next farm bill.
You are an important part of this effort. Members of Congress listen to their constituents, so when you send a letter or call your member, it helps us advance our policy priorities. So, we will continue turning to you and your fellow growers as we work on these key issues.
If you aren’t already, please sign-up for the National Corn Growers Association advocacy alerts. You can sign up here or by texting GROW to 50457. We will send you alerts that will provide you with an opportunity to connect with your members of Congress on key priorities.
The road ahead isn’t going to be an easy one. We are competing for the attention of our national leaders, who are dealing with a world of problems. But we know from recent accomplishments that when we work together, we can make meaningful accomplishments.
Let’s keep going!
Appleton is vice president of public policy at the National Corn Growers Association.