Association representatives share policy outlook at Kansas Commodity Classic

Representatives from a variety of commodity groups were on hand for the recent Kansas Commodity Classic in Salina, Kansas, to offer views on the implications for multiple markets including grains for human and livestock sectors.

Dalton Henry, vice president of policy with U.S. Wheat Associates, Craig Meeker, chairman of the National Sorghum Producers, Scott Gerlt, chief economist with the American Soybean Association, Nicole Hasheider, director of crop inputs and investor relations with the National Corn Growers Association, and Cary Sifferath, vice president of U.S. Grains Council, shared their perspectives during the final session of the day.


Henry works as part of a 75-member team across the globe, showcasing the value of U.S. wheat and providing technical assistance to overseas customers to provide higher returns to U.S. growers. One area he’s focused on right now is the change in supplies in Russia and the influence the war in Ukraine has on it.

“As domestic wheat prices here in the U.S. go up, it asks for overseas customers to pay more and that puts us in a tough situation,” Henry said.

That pushes other major competitors to produce cheaper, lower quality wheat than what U.S. farmers do. Black Sea suppliers and Russia are the No. 1 exporter in the world.

Henry, as part of the trade policy segment at USW, works to ensure that international trade regulations on things like weed seeds and pesticide residues don’t impede farmers ability to use products that are important to growers.


Meeker is a sixth-generation farmer from Sumner County, Kansas, and as the chairman of the NSP he spends time showcasing sorghum and what American farmers are doing. He recently spent time in Washington, D.C., on behalf of sorghum growers.

Meeker said it’s important for all groups to be on the same page and have a united front, and while in the capitol, the groups had a good discussion about that.

Both Henry and Meeker mentioned USAID, and Meeker said it’s important American grain is being given to those countries who need to be fed.

Meeker said having an outlet for our commodities is an incredibly important thing. As for the farm bill policy, going forward he hopes there’s a robust safety net that helps make sure farmers can be profitable or that there’s “a ton of ad hoc disaster assistance.”

He also wants to dive deeper in how the farm bill affects rural main street.

“I almost look at it as a rural main street bill not the farm bill,” he said. “If it wasn’t for my local community bank, I wouldn’t be here. The (19)80s were pretty tough in my house.”


ASA is the policy and advocacy side of the soybean group, and represents 500,000 soybean farmers in Washington DC on a number of topics. Gerlt said his focus is on biofuels and the renewable fuel standard policies.

“Renewable diesel has been great for soybeans,” he said. “There’s a lot of demand for this newer biofuel. It is distinct for biodiesel. It is different.”

There’s about 2.5 billion gallons of biodiesel capacity in the U.S., and a recent announcement called for 7 billion gallons of renewable diesel capacity improvements over the next few years.

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That’s a good story to tell. Since last fall there’s been billions of gallons of growth, but the additional gallons that are being pushed for have to come from somewhere, and there needs to be additional plants in order to handle the added gallons. The Environmental Protection Agency is working against the growth with their renewable volume obligations proposal, though, he said.

“This really puts a pause on a lot of things,” Gerlt said. “Should you really be continuing to build if you don’t have to at this point. And so we have the potential here for EPA to really kill the growth.”

EPA looked at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s 10-year baseline, guessing why the USDA projected certain levels for new soybean oil supplies and then decided where to set the growth levels.

“USDA, under the rules they operate by, has to assume no change in policy, which means no growth and those RVOs,” he said. “We’re working very hard to make that very apparent what has happened. It whether it’s a mistake, just simply an oversight or not. Again, we just want to make that very public.”

The final rule on this will be out in mid-June, and Gerlt hopes it gets changed by then. When it comes to the farm bill, he hopes there will be crop insurance protection, as well as more funding for soybeans.

There needs to be a higher reference price he said, in the worst years, it’s a struggle for that to happen.

“We need to fix that,” he said. “And we also want a voluntary base acre update. There’s about a 35 million acres discrepancy between base acres planted acres for soybeans in this country.”

However, even if there was a fix, and the voluntary base acres didn’t update, there would be a lot of unprotected soybean acres under the title one of the farm bill.

“We definitely have our work cut out for us,” he said. “You know, there’s lots of issues that we’re talking about today going on in the soy world, but I think those are two of the ones we’re going to be very focused on a couple months.”


Hasheider’s job focuses mainly on the input side of things, but as part of NCGA, she works to share the groups mission which is to create more opportunities for corn growers.

She touched on three issues facing corn growers currently. The first on is biotech. At the time of the meeting Mexico was threatening to ban U.S. corn because its GMO.

“That’s obviously a problem because 95-ish% of foreign brought to us is biotechnology corn, and we certainly don’t agree with this,” she said.

One of the other things she’s concerned about is the potential loss of an export market, but also, looking longer term, the potential loss of that technology.

“Mexico has also rejected the applications for 14 biotech products that companies here would like to commercialize,” she said. “That’s corn, soybeans, canola, cotton, etc. And so if companies are trying to bring new technology to the market, but are not getting approvals in some of our major export markets, that is clearly a problem.”

Her final point was on the crop protection space.

“It’s probably no secret to all of you that this continues to be a challenge,” she said. “I think it’s going to continue to be a challenge.”

Endangered species are going to be an issue when it comes to pesticides moving forward, and Hasheider had hoped for better news on that.

“We are here to be your voice when it comes to working on regulatory issues like those with pesticides,” she said. “We will continue pushing on that and trying to find a path forward so that you still have access to those products in ways that are workable for your farm.”

U.S. Grains Council

USGC works on market development for corn, sorghum, barley and various other co-products—the biggest two are fuel ethanol exports and distillery grains. Their Washington, D.C., office and nine other international offices support a number of employees across the globe. They also operate programs in 51 countries around the world.

Sifferath said foreign market development funding comes from the farm bill. These two programs run under the USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service—the Market Access Program or MAP and the Foreign Market Development Program.

“Why do we need these programs to continue to be funded through the through the farm bill?” he said. “We need those allocations to be increased for us, for the agricultural commodity groups, and then the new foreign market development.”

There are a couple of bills out there to actually double the funding for NAP and FMD, but Sifferath isn’t sold on whether or not that will happen.

As for the GMO ban on U.S. corn in Mexico, Sifferath said Mexico is our largest foreign market.

“We’re not trying to take away the consumers ability to make a choice in Mexico, they still have the ability to do that,” he said. “This is actually bad. So that’s taking away the consumer side of a choice.”

It has been brought up in the ban that yellow corn for feed might be allowed and white corn for food use wouldn’t be allowed to be GMO. If Mexico sets this kind of precedent, Sifferath said he’d have four to six countries calling wanting the same kinds of regulations in their countries. The division won’t work.

When asked if the ban was to be put in place, Sifferath said Mexico grows about 24 billion tons of corn. They grow a lot of white corn that goes into a number of food applications, but they do import some additional amounts from the U.S., depending on the crop type.

“The tortilla is the mainstay of the Mexican diet. When does tortilla prices have any kind of restriction of movement of white corn into that?” he said. “What if it’s an all-out ban on the feed industry? Will they deal with that?”

The concern is not only producing products for Mexico themselves, but a fair amount of Mexican agriculture-type products being exported and deriving hard currency for the country.

Kylene Scott can be reached at 620-227-1804 or [email protected].