With the October 1 dawn of fiscal year 2012, the National Corn Growers Association’s Corn Board welcomed four new members, Keith Alverson, Chip Bowling, Bob Bowman and Lynn Chrisp, as well as Martin Barbre who was reelected for another term. The Off the Cob podcast series caught up with each of these members as they prepared for their terms to discuss what they see on the horizon for corn growers in 2012, their priorities as Corn Board members and their views on leadership. Today, the series airs the first set of these interviews which includes discussions with Keith Alverson, Martin Barbre and Chip Bowling.
First, Off the Cob spoke with Keith Alverson, a farmer from Chester, S.D. Together with his wife, Kari, his parents and his aunt and uncle, he operates a sixth-generation grain farm growing 2,600 acres of corn and soybeans. In addition to his role on the Corn Board proper, Alverson will also serve on NCGA’s Finance Committee and as the organization’s liaison to the 25 x 25 Dialogue this year.
Speaking of what he sees for the upcoming year, Alverson explains that, while he understands the challenges, his overall outlook is positive as he feels that from this adversity farmers will be able to create new, real opportunities.
“I see a lot of potential for corn in 2012,” said Alverson. “We definitely have our challenges, but we also have good profits for growers. We have an opportunity to be creative in how we tweak the systems affecting us, whether it be the new farm bill, ethanol policy or biotechnology-related issues that will be coming up as well.”
On a more personal note, Alverson spoke about how he looks forward to growing through this new level of service.
“As a new member, I am excited about transitioning onto the board and getting to know some of the other members,” he said. “I am also looking forward to learning more about a broader range of issues. While I focused on ethanol as I worked on that committee for the past few years, I do have a broader range of interest in corn-related issues and will enjoy taking a more in-depth look at them.”
To hear the full interview with Alverson, click here.
Next, Off the Cob spoke with returning Corn Board member Martin Barbre, a farmer from Carmi, Ill. and NCGA member for more than two decades. Together with his son and son-in-law, Barbre is a partner in Chestin Farms which grows corn, soybeans, wheat, tobacco and alfalfa and maintains a cow-and-calf herd. In addition to his role as a board member, Barbre serves as Chair of NCGA’s NASCAR Advisory Committee and as a Co-Chair of the 2012 Commodity Classic Committee.
A seasoned board member already, Barbre starts the term aware of the issues and challenges currently facing corn farmers.
“Obviously, our biggest issue in 2012 will be the farm bill, but we will also have to place a high priority on how we move the ethanol industry forward,” said Barbre.
Incorporating this into his overall view of the board, Barbre focuses on cooperation as a way to maximize the effectiveness of policy efforts.
“Our goal as a board is to bring all facets of the corn industry together in order to develop solid policy,” he said. “We then can provide our growers and DC staff with this to take to Washington and develop a strong farm policy and farm bill that will protect growers and act as a safety net when they do need help.”
To hear the full interview with Barbre, click here.
Finally, Off the Cob spoke with Chip Bowling. A third-generation farmer from Newburg, Md., he operates a 1,400-acre grain farm growing corn, wheat, barley and grain sorghum only an hour’s drive from Washington, DC. In 2012, Bowling also serves on NCGA’s Association Relations Committee and as the Corn Board liaison to the Public Policy Action Team, on which he formerly served.
Looking onto the horizon, Bowling notes that many of the challenges next year will be of a recurrent nature.
“The new farm bill presents a large problem to tackle in 2012 as the government cannot spend as it did in previous years,” said Bowling. “Yet, we have a need to keep ag programs alive and well despite this obstacle. Ethanol will also continue to be a prominent issue as we again fight the food versus fuel debate. It is just an ongoing battle to extend the market for corn.”
Like Alverson, Bowling also notes that, due to the intrinsic nature of farmers, what may first appear to be a challenge can be turned into an opportunity through hard work, creativity and optimism.
“The opportunities come from our challenges,” he said. “We have an opportunity to help craft a farm bill program that better represents the needs of corn growers. On the ethanol front, we have an opportunity to promote a home-grown fuel produced by farmers throughout the nation. What better opportunity can you have than to promote what you do as a business and an organization?”
To hear the full interview with Bowling, click here.