Last week, members of the Minnesota Corn Growers Association (MCGA) Board of Directors visited members of the state’s congressional delegation in Washington, D.C., during MCGA’s annual spring fly in. There is no shortage of policy topics to discuss with federal lawmakers, but MCGA leaders focused on three key priorities: reauthorization of the farm bill, USMCA enforcement, and ethanol utilization.
MCGA grower-leaders were fortunate enough to meet with members and staff from the Minnesota Congressional delegation, Senate Agriculture Committee ranking member John Boozman (R-AR), EPA Ag Advisor Rod Snyder, and staff for the majority and minority members of the House and Senate agriculture committees.
The Farm Bill is scheduled to be reauthorized this year and sharing MCGA Farm Bill priorities was a focus for every meeting.
Grower-leaders discussed the importance of maintaining crop insurance in the Farm Bill, and ensuring crop insurance can continue to work as intended without additional means testing or conservation compliance requirements.
A safety net provided by the Farm Bill is important to ensure that U.S. farm families can compete on a global playing field distorted by high and rising foreign subsidies, tariffs, and non-tariff trade barriers, grower-leader said. Strengthening crop insurance and the farm safety net under the commodity title would help eliminate the need for costly, unbudgeted ad hoc relief.
Grower-leaders also argued that the Farm Bill should maintain highly successful, voluntary, incentives-based conservation programs. These programs help farm families create cleaner air and water, prevent soil erosion, promote soil health, enhance wildlife and wildlife habitat, protect wetlands, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Other topics grower-leaders discussed during meetings included urging Congress to clarify the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act’s preemption over state and local laws. They also urged the USDA to use a Phase I approach to deliver aid under the Emergency Relief Program going forward. The Phase I approach is straightforward and builds off crop insurance coverage, while the Phase II approach is inequitable.
Grower-leaders urged members of Congress to support efforts by the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) to ensure that Mexico’s illegal ban on U.S. corn biotech imports is rescinded. Recently, the USTR initiated a technical consultation between the U.S. and Mexico over the proposed ban, a move that brings the office one step away from filling a full dispute settlement under the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement.
Mexico is a top market for U.S. corn, and the country’s proposed ban would harm the Mexican people, especially those who struggle to feed their families. It would also harm U.S. farm families and the U.S. economy. Additionally, the ban erodes the reputation of biotech corn, which health organizations around the world, including the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the World Health Organization, confirm is safe and beneficial.
Grower-leaders urged lawmakers to support efforts to remove unnecessary barriers limiting the role of ethanol as a U.S. energy source. They noted how ethanol lowers fuel prices, reduces carbon emissions, shores up U.S. energy security, and spurs economic growth on Main Street.
One bill that would support ethanol is the Consumer and Fuel Retailer Choice Act (S. 785/H.R. 1608), which would ensure uninterrupted market access for low-cost, low-emission E15 on a nationwide basis. The bipartisan bill has support in Minnesota from Rep. Angie Craig, Rep. Michelle Fischbach, Rep. Brad Finstad, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, and Sen. Tina Smith. It also has support from the agriculture, fuel, and retail sectors, because it would be disruptive for E15 to not be available to consumers for part of the year.
During meetings, MCGA grower-leaders thanked members of Minnesota’s congressional delegation for supporting the bill. They also urged members of Congress to ask the Biden administration to take emergency action to ensure summertime E15 sales in 2023, should lawmakers not pass the bill.
Grower-leaders also voiced support for the Next Generation Fuels Act, which would establish a clean, high-octane standard for fuel and require that sources of additional octane result in at least 40% fewer greenhouse gas emissions. In Minnesota, the bill has support from Sen. Klobuchar and Reps. Craig and Finstad.
The legislation would allow automakers to significantly improve vehicle fuel efficiency through advanced engines. It would also advance higher ethanol blends that, together with new vehicles, can work together to deliver greater emission reductions, cost savings for consumers, and consumer choice.
Additionally, grower-leaders asked members of Congress to support immediate implementation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s plan to allow eight states, including Minnesota, to provide year-round E15 sales. The agency is delaying implementation of the plan until 2024, which has cast doubt on the ability of fuel stations in the eight states to offer E15 in summer 2023.
Learn more about MCGA’s advocacy efforts at mncorn.org/advocacy.
View more pictures of the visits here.