WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S. — From ethanol to farm bill to genetic research, National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) grower leaders last week updated the organization’s policy book on a number of hot-button issues of interest to corn growers and their farm colleagues nationwide. On March 3 and 6, 125 delegates representing 25 states spent hours discussing and voting on a large list of forward-thinking initiatives that reflect NCGA’s commitment to creating and expanding opportunity for its members.

“We had an excellent slate of policy recommendations for the delegates to consider, and we are proud of the way they came together and agreed on the direction we will take in the months ahead,” said NCGA First Vice-President Garry Niemeyer, an Illinois grower who chaired the policy discussion. “We are moving into a critical time in Washington, with ethanol tax policy under debate, the 2012 farm bill looming, and an expanding regulatory burden being placed on our farmers.”

Among the additions to the policy book were statements that the ethanol blenders tax credit should be transitioned to a market-based safety net for the ethanol industry and that NCGA should investigate transitioning direct payments into programs that allow producers the ability to manage risk while assuring food security.

Delegates also defined what a “safety net” means — a combination of risk management tools available to producers that have the ability to protect against revenue losses due to circumstances beyond their control.

At Corn Congress, it was recognized that NCGA was one of the leaders in securing the funds to map the corn genome and that research needs to continue. Delegates called on NCGA to develop an aggressive strategic plan for public research in functional genomics and translational genetics of corn and focus policy and research dollars to that end.

Also, delegates called on the NCGA to make every effort to secure Food and Drug Administration (FDA) acceptance and approval of the corn sugar petition and should oppose HFCS-free campaigns by food and beverage companies.