WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S. — National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) officers and senior staff recently gathered with representatives of 12 leading agribusinesses for the biannual NCGA Agri-Industry Council meeting to discuss vital issues facing agriculture, share information on their companies and sectors, hear from recognized speakers and learn from NCGA about its current initiatives.

The Agri-Industry Council was established in 2007 to facilitate dialogue between agribusinesses and NCGA to collectively address issues of mutual concern.

“From improved seeds to modern machinery, U.S. agri-business works hard to improve farming,” said NCGA President Bart Schott. “These meetings bring key leaders from across the industry together so that we move forward with a better understanding of the big picture and can coordinate to build a brighter future.”

Over the course of the meeting, attendees heard from government relations professionals and NCGA’s Washington staff on the current legislative environment and how it will impact farmers. NCGA officers, staff and consultants provided updates on the organization’s involvement in the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance and the crop outlook.

Featured speakers from outside of the agricultural community provided input and insight into some of the issues facing farmers today. Michael Specter, a New Yorker staff writer covering science, technology and public health issues, spoke on the counter-productive undertones prevalent in society that promote a view of food based upon hearsay and vague promises rather than scientific thought. Specter noted that this emotion-based approach drives consumers toward organic foods and other “natural” cures promoted with promises that are not substantiated by rational, impartial scientific thought.

James McWilliams also brought a fresh perspective to the group. A professor of history at Texas State University and contributor to Slate.com, McWilliams frequently writes on food trends, such as the locavore movement. In his comments, he took a positive outlook on production agriculture and highlighted how misconceptions often negatively impact the industry.

This meeting spotlighted processing, with presentations from representatives of ADM and Cargill. Additionally, NCGA Chairman Darrin Ihnen helped facilitate a discussion of key issues among participants. The meeting concluded with elections to the 2011-2012 AIC Executive Committee.

On Oct. 1, Bill Even, Pioneer Hi-Bred, will begin service as the AIC Industry co-chair and current NCGA President Bart Schott will become the AIC Grower co-chair. Dr. Martha Schlicher, Monsanto, will take over Even’s current position of AIC Industry Representative at that time with current NCGA First Vice-President Garry Niemeyer replacing Schott as AIC grower representative. Elections to fill the State Corn Representative position will be held during the State and National Executives Meeting this October.