Minnesota Corn Growers Association supports U.S. sugar policy

A sugar beet field in Minnesota.

A sugar beet field in Minnesota.

A recent story in the Star Tribune covered what it called a “declaration of war” by corn syrup makers on sugar refiners and U.S. sugar policy.

The Corn Refiners Association (CRA) is based in Washington D.C. and represents companies that manufacture products like corn sweeteners. The CRA would like to see U.S. sugar policy weakened.

Since the story was published, we’ve received inquiries at the Minnesota Corn Growers Association (MCGA) about our position on U.S. sugar policy. MCGA supports the maintenance of current U.S. sugar policy. That position is clearly stated on page 4 of our 2015 resolutions handbook, which summarizes MCGA positions on a wide range of issues.

Minnesota’s corn farmers fully support our state’s sugar beet growers. All of agriculture is damaged when in-fighting occurs between agriculture organizations.

Here’s to good weather the rest of the summer, stronger markets and a bountiful harvest this fall — both in our state’s corn fields and sugar beet fields.

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Pollinator plot installed at Minnesota Corn Growers Association office

The shovels and rakes were out Wednesday morning at the Minnesota Corn Growers Association (MCGA) office in Shakopee as staff began installing a new pollinator plot on the east side of the building.

A total of 10 pollinator-friendly wildflowers and prairie grass mixes were planted, including butterfly milkweed, solidago goldenrod and smooth blue aster. Blueberries will be added in the near future.

MCGA will be handing out pollinator-friendly wildflower seed mixes at Farmfest on Aug. 4-6 in Redwood Falls. Pollinator-friendly plants and other information about pollinators will also be on display inside MCGA’s tent.

For now, here are some pictures from Wednesday’s planting:

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Solidago goldenrod grow 2-6 inches tall are great for pollinators likes bees and butterflies.

Research Director Paul Meints is coordinating the pollinator plot project. Here's Paul spreading grass seed in the center of the plot.

Research Director Paul Meints is coordinating MCGA’s pollinator plot project. Here’s Paul spreading seed for prairie grasses in the center of the plot.

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Native wildflowers line the edges of the plant. Prairie grasses will grow in the center. MCGA will have pollinator-friendly plants on display at Farmfest in August. After Farmfest, they will be added to the plot.

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That’s MCGA Senior Communications Director Mark Hamerlinck looking up for a photo. MCGA Executive Director Adam Birr just kept right on digging.

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Who says PhDs are afraid to get their hands dirty? Here’s Dr. Birr and Dr. Meints hard at work.

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Free racing! Ethanol-themed “Tasseldega Nights” returns to Deer Creek Speedway on July 11

Will we see you at Deer Creek Speedway on July 11 for a night of free racing at MCGA's "Tasseldega Nights?"

Will we see you at Deer Creek Speedway on July 11 for a night of free racing at MCGA’s “Tasseldega Nights?”

Minnesota’s corn farmers are bringing their ethanol-fueled free racing promotion back to Deer Creek Speedway this summer. On July 11, fans receive free admission to Deer Creek Speedway as part of “Tasseldega Nights,” presented by the Minnesota Corn Growers Association (MCGA).

Grandstands open at 2 p.m. for free kids activities, live music and other attractions. Racing starts at 6 p.m. Deer Creek Speedway is located about 15 minutes south of Rochester on Highway 63.

Be sure to “like” Minnesota Corn on Facebook to learn details on how you can win a “Tasseldega Nights” VIP suite package for you and your friends courtesy of MCGA.

In addition to some of the best auto racing in the Midwest, fans at the track will have an opportunity to learn more about clean, renewable and homegrown ethanol from Minnesota corn farmers. If you’re looking for more fun in addition to racing, MCGA has lined up the following “Tasseldega Nights” activities:

  • Racecar simulator. You’ll feel like you’re behind the wheel of an actual ethanol-powered stock car when you climb into this racing simulator.
  • The Biofuels Mobile Education Center. Get an up-close look at the positive impact of ethanol and Minnesota-made biofuels by stepping inside this 45-foot long interactive trailer.
  • Sit in a real race car. Jonathan Olmscheid races at tracks throughout Minnesota using ethanol to power his car. Jonathan will have his ethanol racer out so kids can sit behind the wheel and take pictures.
  • Win discounted fuel. The American Lung Association of Minnesota’s Clean Air Choice team will be on hand, talking with fans about the clean-air benefits of ethanol and giving away discount coupons to fill up with ethanol-blended fuels at local service stations.
  • Supermileage vehicles. These funky little go-kart type vehicles run on E85 and are designed to travel long distances on a single gallon of fuel. Local high schools will be showing off their E85 Supermileage cars during the races.
  • Other corn-themed giveaways. MCGA will be handing out beads, launching free T-shirts into the crowd, giving away American Ethanol flags and can koozies and talking with people about clean, renewable and homegrown ethanol.
  • Ted Tassel. MCGA’s life-sized and energetic mascot, Ted Tassel, will be roaming the grounds in search of high-fives and selfies.
  • Ethanol Cup. Qualifying for the “Ethanol Cup” – a special $5,000 points fund that culminates in the “Dash for the Ethanol Cup” from Aug. 8-29 will conclude at “Tasseldega Nights.” All drivers running on E15 – a blend of 15 percent ethanol and 85 percent regular unleaded – or higher qualify to compete in the “Ethanol Cup.”

If you’re planning on attending “Tasseldega Nights” on July 11, the only thing you have to do is show up to the track, come inside, and have a good time. There is no need to sign up or get any sort of pass before the event.

For more information on “Tasseldega Nights” and Deer Creek Speedway, visit www.deercreekspeedway.com. For more information on MCGA, go to www.mncorn.org.

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Ethanol Update: All RFS, all the time

That's Clarks Grove corn farmer Jerry Demmer on the far left testifying at Thursday's EPA public hearing on the RFS.

That’s Clarks Grove corn farmer Jerry Demmer on the far left testifying at Thursday’s EPA public hearing on the RFS.

This week’s Ethanol Update is all about the efforts of the Minnesota Corn Growers Association (MCGA), National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) and many, many more organizations and individuals to tell the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to not mess with the RFS (Renewable Fuel Standard).

That’s a whole lot of acronyms. Before we confuse you further, let’s get straight to the update:

Demmer testifies
Jerry Demmer, a corn farmer in Clarks Grove, Minn., testified Thursday at an EPA public hearing on the RFS in Kansas City, Kan. More details on Demmer’s efforts to stand up and speak out for ethanol are here.

NCGA stands up and speaks out
NCGA President Chip Bowling, a family farmer in Maryland, also testified at the EPA hearing. Here is an excerpt from his testimony:

We simply cannot afford – and will not tolerate – efforts to cut the demand for corn, and that’s exactly what your proposal will do. We cannot let this stand. We’ve done our part, and our allies in the ethanol industry have done their part. It’s time the EPA sided with those of us supporting a domestic, renewable fuel that’s better for the environment. It’s what your mission seeks to do.

Bowling’s full testimony can be read here.

You can speak out, too
You didn’t have to be in Kansas City to stand up for homegrown ethanol and the RFS. MCGA and NCGA have several ways you can make comments online, or print your own letter for easy mailing to EPA before the July 27 deadline for public comments.

When EPA tried a similar RFS reduction over a year ago, over 7,000 Minnesota corn farmers and biofuels supporters submitted letters telling EPA “Don’t mess with the RFS.” How many can we get this time around?

MCGA on the radio
MCGA President Bruce Peterson, along with Jerry Demmer, talked about the RFS and the hearing in Kansas City on this week’s MCGA Radio. Listen below:

Rally for Rural America
NCGA coordinated a “Rally for Rural America” in Kansas City that took place in conjunction with the EPA hearing. Here are some photos from the rally:

NCGA President Chip Bowling speaking at the Rally for Rural America.

NCGA President Chip Bowling speaking at the Rally for Rural America.

The stands were packed at the Rally for Rural America.

The stands were packed at the Rally for Rural America.

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon told the crowd at the Rally for Rural America that the government needs to hold up its end of the bargain on the RFS.

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon told the crowd at the Rally for Rural America that the government needs to hold up its end of the bargain on the RFS.

Tweets of the day
Finally, there were a lot of good tweets during the Rally for Rural America and the RFS public hearing. Here are a few examples:

 

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4-Hers solve ag problems, develop leadership skills in Science of Agriculture Challenge

Kayla Kutzke, Ryan Peterson and Daniel Williamson are from Meeker County and won the 4-H Science of Agriculture Challenge. They are pictured with Dorothy Freeman, an associated Dean and state 4-H Director at the U of M and Bev Durgan, right, U of M Extension Dean.

Kayla Kutzke, Ryan Peterson and Daniel Williamson are from Meeker County and won the 4-H Science of Agriculture Challenge. They are pictured with Dorothy Freeman, an associated Dean and state 4-H Director at the U of M and Bev Durgan, right, U of M Extension Dean.

How can cattle farmers reduce hay loss from ring feeders? What can be done about bees overwintering in Minnesota? What’s the next step in using insects as human food? What are the benefits of biofuels?

These were a few of the questions addressed by 12 youth teams who participated in the 2015 4-H Science of Agriculture Challenge, held June 17-19 at the University of Minnesota.The challenge was an opportunity for youth teams to find solutions to real agriculture challenges in their communities.

The Minnesota Corn Growers Association (MCGA) supported the first-annual challenge. MCGA Executive Director Adam Birr and Communications Director Mark Hamerlinck were judges and public relations manager Adam Czech participated in an ag career fair on the challenge’s final day.

The winning team came from Meeker County and worked on a project that cut the amount of hay lost when cattle use ring feeders in half. The team of Kayla Kutze, Ryan Peterson and Daniel Williamson (coached by Christa Williamson) redesigned a ring feeder to create “V” openings that restrict the head movement of feeding animals.

You can read more about their project here.

Not only was the challenge an opportunity for 4-Hers to address real-world ag problems, it was another tool to develop the next generation of leaders in agriculture.

“That’s a big reason why MCGA supported the Science of Agriculture Challenge,” Birr said. “It’s developing critical and scientific thinking skills, while also mixing in a valuable leadership component.”

Be sure to check out the Science of Agriculture website for more details. We’ve also posted several videos below from Minnesota 4-H that highlight a few of the projects.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Minnesota corn farmer stands up for ethanol at national RFS hearing

Jerry Demmer farms in Clarks Grove and is heading to Kansas City, Kan., for a public hearing on the RFS.

Jerry Demmer farms in Clarks Grove and is heading to Kansas City, Kan., for a public hearing on the RFS.

Jerry Demmer never misses an opportunity to stand up and speak out for clean, renewable and homegrown ethanol, even if he has to travel over 350 miles to do so.

Demmer, a corn farmer in Clarks Grove, is heading to Kansas City, Kan., on Thursday to represent Minnesota corn farmers at an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) public hearing on the agency’s proposal to slash the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and cut the amount of ethanol blended in our fuel supply below what Congress originally intended.

The RFS is legislation passed in 2005 and amended in 2007 that sets targets for the amount of biofuels like ethanol to be blended in America’s fuel supply. Currently, all regular unleaded gasoline sold in the United States contains 10 percent ethanol.

“The RFS is working for all Americans. Cutting it is a significant step backward for our energy policy,” Demmer said. “Consumers want cleaner-burning and homegrown choices at the pump. They also want more energy security and lower fuel prices. The RFS and ethanol provide that.”

 

EPA proposed a similar RFS cut over a year ago and Americans spoke out against it. Here in Minnesota, the Minnesota Corn Growers Association (MCGA) coordinated a campaign that sent 7,000 “Don’t mess with the RFS” letters to EPA.

MCGA is once again leading an effort in Minnesota to stand up for homegrown biofuels and protect the RFS. If you’d like to make your voice heard and and tell EPA to preserve the RFS, go to www.mncorn.org for details on how to submit comments online, or print and sign a letter template.

“If you care about clean air, choices at the pump and energy security, now is the time to speak out,” Demmer said. “I’m proud of the role Minnesota corn farmers have played in helping our state become a pioneer in using homegrown biofuels. It’s up to us to let EPA know that they’re making a mistake in rolling back the RFS.”

For more details on Thursday’s public hearing and the “Rally for Rural America,” click here.

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Farmers: You’re invited to attend MCGA’s “What you Need to Know” district meetings

MNcorn_PMS124FINALAre you a farmer with questions about changes to Minnesota’s buffer laws? Do you want to know more about telling the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to not mess with the RFS (Renewable Fuel Standard) and homegrown ethanol?

Would you like insight into conservation programs from local experts? How about an update on ag-related items from the recently completed Minnesota legislative session?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you’ll want to attend one of six “What you Need to Know” district meetings hosted by the Minnesota Corn Growers Association (MCGA) in July.

Each meeting is free to attend for all farmers and refreshments will be served. In addition to MCGA staff, farmers will hear from local Soil and Water Conservation District personnel and other ag professionals for the latest updates on buffers, the RFS, conservation tools and other important ag-related legislative items.

Dates and times for each meeting are as follows:

July 8
Red Lake Falls
Red Lake Falls City Hall
108 2nd St. Southwest, Red Lake Falls, MN
3-4 p.m.

July 9
Fergus Falls
AmericInn Lodge & Suites
526 Western Ave. North, Fergus Falls, MN
9-10 a.m.

July 9
Sauk Centre
ElmerZ Restaurant & Event Center
1225 Timberlane Dr., Sauk Centre, MN
3-4 p.m.

July 22
Fairmont
Knights of Columbus
920 East 10th St., Fairmont, MN
10-11 a.m.

July 22
Redwood Falls
Redwood Falls Conference Center
901 Cook St., Redwood Falls, MN
3-4 p.m.

July 23
Austin
Holiday Inn Conference Center
1701 4th St. Northwest, Austin, MN
10-11 a.m.

If you have any questions about the meetings, please call the MCGA office at (952) 233-0333.

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Minnesota Corn Growers Association Sponsors Academy for Sciences & Agriculture High School

AFSA_High_School_logoThe Minnesota Corn Growers Association (MCGA) is the newest sponsor of the Academy for Sciences & Agriculture (AFSA) High School.  MCGA is funding two college scholarships for students who will graduate from AFSA High School in spring 2016.

“Minnesota’s corn farmers are proud to play a role in giving two AFSA High School students the opportunity to attend college,” said Bruce Peterson, a farmer in Northfield and president of MCGA. “These scholarships are another way that MCGA works to develop the next generation of leaders and innovators in agriculture.”

Located in Vadnais Heights, Minn., a community in greater Minneapolis/St. Paul, AFSA High School is a public charter school that first opened its doors in 2001. Since then, AFSA High School has experienced exponential growth in students attending the school, expanded to also include the middle grades and has achieved educational excellence. AFSA High School is the only public charter school of its kind in the state of Minnesota where students from grades 5 – 12 learn about the many science and agriculture careers available to them.

“We are very pleased to have MCGA join with our other sponsors to provide funding for AFSA High School,” says Becky Meyer, executive director and principal, AFSA High School.  “The two MCGA-funded scholarships will help graduating seniors at our school attend college and pursue a career in agriculture and the agricultural sciences.” 

ABOUT ACADEMY FOR SCIENCES & AGRICULTURE HIGH SCHOOL

AFSA High School’s mission is to engage learners in academically rigorous, student-centered learning experiences and leadership opportunities within a science and agricultural context.  Students come to AFSA High School from 27 different school districts in the Twin Cities Metro area.

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Minnesota Corn Growers to EPA: Don’t mess with the RFS

Make your voice heard before the July 27 deadline.

Make your voice heard before the July 27 deadline.

The Minnesota Corn Growers Association (MCGA) is urging corn farmers, anyone who drives a car, anyone who wants to breathe cleaner air, renewable energy supporters and others to speak out against a proposal by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to slash the amount of homegrown ethanol blended in our fuel supply.

If EPA gets its way, ethanol blending targets set by Congress in the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) will be reduced by nearly 9 billion gallons over the next two years. If implemented, the proposal would increase air pollution, raise gas prices and give oil companies an even tighter stranglehold on our fuel tanks.

“EPA tried a similar proposal a little over a year ago, but fortunately Americans came out in full force against it,” said Bruce Peterson, a family farmer in Northfield and president of MCGA. “EPA is back with another flawed proposal, and it’s up to us to once again make our voices heard and tell EPA to not mess with the RFS.”

Bruce Peterson

MCGA President Bruce Peterson farms in Northfield.

Peterson urged everyone who would like to make their voices heard and tell EPA that the RFS is working for all Americans to visit www.ncga.com/rfs before the July 27 deadline for public comments. MCGA has also provided several different comment letter templates at www.mncorn.org, which can be signed and mailed to MCGA at 738 1st Ave. East, Shakopee, MN, 55379.

MCGA will then forward the letters on to EPA. Letters must be received by the MCGA office no later than July 22.

“EPA needs to hear from those who will suffer if the RFS targets are lowered,” Peterson said. “If you fuel a vehicle with gasoline, this proposal affects you.”

Jerry Demmer, a corn farmer from Alden, Minn., will also be speaking out against EPA’s proposal and in favor of more fuel choice at the pump at a national RFS public hearing in Kansas City, Kan., on June 25.

Facts about ethanol and the RFS

The Renewable Fuel Standard has played a key role in reducing America’s dependence on foreign oil. The amount of ethanol produced last year kept the U.S. from having to import about 512 million barrels of crude oil, or slightly more than the amount of oil imported annually from Saudi Arabia. (Source: Energy Information Administration data)

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, ethanol reduces greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles by 34 percent compared to regular gasoline.

There are 21 ethanol plants in Minnesota capable of producing 1.1 billion gallons annually. Those plants support nearly 13,000 jobs and generate an estimated $5 billion in total economic output, mostly in rural communities (Source: Minnesota Department of Agriculture)

A 2010 study from Iowa State University and the University of Wisconsin found that U.S. ethanol production lowered gas prices by 89 cents per gallon than they other would have been.

Subsidies from American taxpayer to big oil companies around the world are also increasing. A World Energy Outlook fact sheet estimates that public subsidies for fossil fuel production could reach $660 billion by 2020. In contrast, there are no direct public subsidies for American corn ethanol production.

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Farmfest nitrate screening helps farmers address water quality

Farmfest Nitrate Screening

Tim Raddatz from the Minnesota Agricultural Water Resource Center (MAWRC) testing water for nitrates at last year’s Farmfest. Free nitrate screening through MAWRC will be back at this year’s Farmfest.

Bring your water samples from wells, ditches, streams or tile outlets to Farmfest for free nitrate screening, courtesy of the Minnesota Agricultural Water Resources Center (MAWRC).

The screening is completely confidential and takes about 20 minutes. You can drop off your sample at the MAWRC location inside of the AURI tent, check out Farmfest, then pick up your results anytime.

“There’s a lot of attention being paid to nitrates in groundwater and surface waters,” said Warren Formo, MAWRC executive director. “We want to make it easy for farmers to get a better idea about water conditions on their own farms.”

Collecting a sample for testing is simple:

  • To take a sample of well water, run your cold tap for 5-10 minutes and collect about 1 cup of water in a clean plastic or glass container. Freeze your sample and bring it in cool to the MAWRC booth. Samples taken and brought to Farmfest the same day do not need to be frozen, just kept cool. One sample per well is sufficient for screening.
  • To take a ditch, stream or tile sample, collect 1 cup of water in a clean plastic or glass container and follow the same process used for well water.
  • If you would like to see how nitrate levels change throughout the growing season, take a sample now, and then every couple of weeks until Farmfest. Freeze all samples immediately and bring all samples to cool in the MAWRC booth. Be sure to label each sample clearly so you know when it was taken and where it was taken from.

“This is another tool available to farmers as they continue to make water quality improvements,” Formo said. “It’s quick, it’s easy and it’s practical.”

Farmfest is Aug. 4-6 at Gilfillan Estate near Redwood Falls.

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