When Allen Johnson, the chief U.S. negotiator for agricultural trade, visited northern Iowa last week, Judy Bodholdt of Newell was one of the Iowa Corn Growers Association leaders who welcomed him during on-farm visits.
Bodholdt, who raises corn and beans with her husband in Buena Vista County, called it an exceptional opportunity. "We had a chance to talk about trade issues that can really make or break export markets for our grain. It was a good down-to-earth discussion where I could bring up issues that matter to local corn farmers."
Johnson urged growers to keep on top of trade issues. He said more free-trade agreements are needed with individual countries, and that the United States must stand up for its ideals of fair trade, lower tariffs, and equal opportunities, then demand that trading partners stick to agreements.
He noted that as countries raise their standards of living, there will be more demand for Iowa's corn, soybeans, meat, and processed ag products. Bodholdt said Johnson also encouraged growers to begin thinking about the future of the farm program and how it fits in with the need to export farm products and get good prices for farmers.
"It helps a lot that Ambassador Johnson grew up on an Iowa farm, but I think we were still able to arm him with useful information during our visit. Our top officials can do a better job looking out for our interests when we do a good job of keeping them informed. I think the ambassador appreciated our comments about what it takes to survive in farming today," Bodholdt said.
She emphasized that growers must continue providing positive profit-oriented ideas to government leaders and noted that ICGA's key role in bringing out grassroots opinions to the attention of U.S. government leaders like Ambassador Johnson.
The ICGA is a membership organization lobbying on agricultural issues on behalf of its 6,300 members. Its mission is to create greater opportunities for Iowa corn growers.