December is a time for celebration and reflection. 2018 has been a monumental year for South Dakota Corn. We’ve made an impact on ag policy, helped pave the way for future agriculture industry leaders and continued growing South Dakota’s corn industry.
Although 2018 brought market uncertainty and battles with Mother Nature, the year seems to be wrapping up on a high note. South Dakota Corn recognizes that we have much to celebrate from 2018. Let’s review some of the wins the industry has enjoyed during the past 12 months.
It all starts with a great crop. South Dakota corn farmers averaged an unprecedented 166 bushels per acre record, a total of 822 million bushels, making it the second largest corn crop ever produced. Corn exports also exceeded 2.4 billion bushels, larger than our historic 2 billion bushel average.
Leading Ag Policy on a National Level
It was a roller coaster of a year on the policy level, but we are setting up to end with some major wins.
A Farm Bill is very near to completion as of this writing. In the new Farm Bill the South Dakota Corn Growers have pushed to make sure these big rocks were included:
- Crop Insurance subsidies will be retained with no changes
- Harvest price option is protected
- Farmers will be allowed to sign up and change from Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) to Price Loss Coverage (PLC) every year
- Increase in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) by 3 million acres
- A soil health and income protection program was created for the Prairie Pothole Region, which includes most of eastern South Dakota
The new United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) will update the nearly 25-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with major changes in the form of new labor and environmental standards, intellectual property protections and digital trade provisions. Most importantly, the USMCA allows exports of corn, ethanol and dried distillers grains (DDGs) to flow freely into our two closest neighbors.
Here at home, one of the biggest events of 2018 was a tractor rally held in June in Sioux Falls to mark the South Dakota visit of EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. Hundreds of people turned out to support South Dakota corn farmers and E15. That effort, which included a full-page ad in the Argus Leader, social media campaign and ads on key agriculture industry websites, resulted in national media attention. The campaign got Pruitt’s attention. A few weeks later, Pruitt resigned. In October, President Trump directed the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to begin rule making that allows for year-round use of gasoline with E15.
Keeping South Dakota Corn Local
On a state level, South Dakota Corn teamed up with Raven Industries and led the charge to obtain funding and support for the Raven Precision Agriculture Center on the South Dakota State University (SDSU) campus. South Dakota Corn helped secure $22 million from the South Dakota State Legislature to make this project a reality.
Another great success for the year is how South Dakota Corn has grown its relationships with South Dakota conservation groups. It’s exciting to be working with other organizations that are passionate about advancing agriculture in our state.
In addition, South Dakota Corn has supported the new Ringneck Energy ethanol plant in Onida. With the capacity to use 28 million bushels of corn and produce 80 million gallons of ethanol, this plant will put South Dakota corn to work—right here in our backyard.
South Dakota Corn has also advocated for livestock development across the state, encouraging farmers to be leaders in their communities and embrace all livestock projects.
Educating South Dakota corn farmers about using agricultural practices that improve soil health and water quality has also been a key focus area for 2018. Farmers are stepping up to solve those issues and holding themselves and their fellow farmers accountable.
Providing Value to Our Members
Last but certainly not least, South Dakota Corn has launched a new way to communicate with our farmers. This year we kicked off our new blog and moved our Emerge magazine from a quarterly print publication to a monthly digital format. By emailing more frequently, we’re providing more timely and relevant information to our members. As a grassroots organization, we want to be more engaging and bring positive messaging about the agriculture industry to consumers. Our social media and advertising efforts have been wildly successful in accomplishing that goal. By providing more frequent communications, we’ve succeeded in keeping South Dakota Corn members apprised of what’s happening in the association and on a local, state and national level that impacts their bottom line.
Thanks to you, South Dakota Corn continues to be a strong voice for farmers in Pierre and Washington, D.C. We’re proud to represent you. Wishing you and your family a very Happy Holidays.