NCGA CEO Says Climate Policy Needs to be a Guidepost Rather Than Hitching Post

During a week where corn, soybean, sorghum and wheat farmers typically gather for Commodity Classic, the event is going virtual this year. While the in-person piece of Commodity may be missed, groups like the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) say it won’t stop members from creating legislative priorities for the year. And under a new administration, the pinnacle piece of discussions this year will be centered around climate.  

“The biggest opportunity we have for corn growers right now is to get a seat at the table and to talk about what we can do on climate change,” says Jon Doggett, CEO of NCGA. “That is going to be the discussion once we get beyond the COVID relief package and once we get into the stimulus package, which may come after that.”

Doggett says climate initiatives will be the leading conversations in Washington D.C. not just this year, but years to come.

“We're going to be at the table, active participants to make sure that whatever deal is reached is good for the American corn farmer,” says Doggett.

The Challenge of Climate Conversations

While he thinks climate conversations could create the biggest opportunity for corn farmers, he also sees it as a challenge.

“The biggest challenge is getting to the table, and making sure that we have policy that is a guidepost rather than hitching post,” adds Doggett.

As corn farmers from across the country spend time crafting legislative priorities during Commodity Classic delegate sessions this week, there’s a lot of work to do to make sure farmers are at the forefront of climate conversations.

“It's going to be a very dynamic situation,” Doggett says. “It will be not unlike the energy bills in the first part of this century when we start talking about a renewable fuel standard, back in 1999, 2000 and 2001 when we moved away from the oxygen standard. That was a huge thing. And then all of a sudden, we turned around we got the RFS which has taken the plywood off of the storefronts and a lot of small communities and across the country. So, I think this is going to be very similar.”

Defining the Carbon Credit System

Doggett says this time, the emphasis will be different, and there’s already a product to sell and the corn industry has something to offer. And as the chase to capture carbon continues, farmers are eager to see if it’s a reliable revenue stream.

“The market is going to have to decide, but we don't know what the market is right now. There's going to be a lot of changes in whatever market exists right now,” says Doggett. “What’s important is the definition. There are a lot of definitions, but our biggest concern is making sure that the grower that does the right thing and sequesters that carbon - does all these things, is the one that gets the benefit from that.”

“Certainly, there's a lot of players and negotiators in buying these credits out there, but they're buying them for a reason,” says Doggett. “So, we want to make sure that the marketplace is fair to farmers.”


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