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Corn groups pass resolutions on animal agriculture at Commodity Classic

Nebraska

Nebraska corn producers were well represented at the recent Commodity Classic, where the annual Corn Congress is held.

The Corn Congress allows grassroots initiatives to be presented and voted on by delegates from all corn producing states. It helps set the direction for the National Corn Growers Association for the next year.

Nebraska corn growers, who were represented by members of the Nebraska Corn Board and Nebraska Corn Growers Association, presented two resolutions at Corn Congress that dealt directly with livestock and poultry production.

"By presenting resolutions in support of issues important to livestock and poultry producers, we can help the corn industry focus on them and bring change on a national level," said Jon Holzfaster, chairman of the Nebraska Corn Board and a corn grower from Paxton.

A resolution on trade policy supported the opening of international beef markets utilizing bone-in beef product from cattle less than 30 months of age as part of a stair-step effort to eventual full OIE approval. "Most beef exports are already from cattle within this age restriction, and although we want to see full OIE approval for all U.S. beef, starting at this point makes sense," said Brandon Hunnicutt, president of the Nebraska Corn Growers Association and a corn grower from Giltner.

"Exports add more than $100 in value to each head of cattle, and the more markets we can open by making this change, the better," Hunnicutt said.

Michael Kelsey, executive vice president of Nebraska Cattlemen, said if policy were changed to the 30-month rule for bone-in beef, it would cover 95-97 percent of the product that would be exported anyway. "In the process, it would create a standard rule across all markets, including Japan, which is one of the most important markets for U.S. beef and currently only accepts beef from cattle 20 months and younger," he said.

The second resolution dealt with quality assurance programs that livestock and poultry producers have developed and participate in, such as the Pork Quality Assurance and Beef Quality Assurance programs.

This resolution recognized and supported animal agriculture for developing these programs, which help build consumer confidence. It also emphasized that animal well-being guidelines should be based on sound data, expert analysis and economic feasibility. Finally, the resolution encourages all corn grower organizations to work with their livestock organizations to develop animal welfare coalitions.

"Quality assurance programs are a great way to help let consumers know that their milk, meat and eggs come from farms that use good animal husbandry practices," Holzfaster said. "Such practices are the first step in producing products that are safe and wholesome."

Holzfaster said the Nebraska Corn Board and Nebraska Corn Growers Association work closely with the state's livestock industries, and approached them on these resolutions before submitting them to Corn Congress. "We are glad these resolutions were discussed and adopted at Corn Congress, and look forward to working with corn growers across the country to make them happen," he said.

Similar resolutions in support of animal agriculture were presented by the Nebraska Soybean Association at the American Soybean Association's policy meeting that was also held at Commodity Classic.

"Livestock producers are important customers, and it is essential that soybean growers across the country understand some of the issues livestock producers are facing and what we can do as an association to help," said Debbie Borg, president of the Nebraska Soybean Association and a soybean grower from Allen. "It is important for us to work with all of agriculture to educate consumers about modern animal agriculture, and how science-based quality assurance and animal husbandry programs help produce high-quality, safe, affordable and nutritious products."

The Nebraska Corn Board is a self-help program, funded and managed by Nebraska corn farmers. Producers invest in the program at a rate of 1/4 of a cent per bushel of corn sold. Nebraska corn checkoff funds are invested in programs of market development, research and education.



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