Lend me your ears

About 50 farmers meet near Humboldt to talk about the status of the corn industry and the impact of COVID-19.

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August 12, 2020 - 10:03 AM

Kansas Corn CEO Greg Krissek discusses the importance of international trade and new markets. Photo by Trevor Hoag

Monday night, around 50 farmers from the region met at the farm of Shawn and Kylee Geffert north of Humboldt to get a readout on the current status of the corn industry. 

Speakers from Kansas Corn told the farmers the industry is being hit by the current COVID-19 pandemic and how it affects world markets.

Speaker Chad Epler lamented that “corn has been on life support all summer.”

He said this meant farmers were mostly pinning their hopes on soybeans, but was concerned that this “isn’t such a good idea.”

Josh Roe shares opportunities with corn farmers regarding ethanol.Photo by Trevor Hoag / Iola Register

Speaker Josh Roe highlighted the opportunities in ethanol, noting how one-third of corn in Kansas now goes to make fuel.

Roe pointed out the environmental benefits of ethanol, and said he now views gas stations as just as important as cattle operations when it comes to sustaining the corn industry.

Erin Rios spoke on initiatives in K-12 education that Kansas Corn had been working on, and explained how those initiatives had been altered by online learning and COVID-19.

“Teachers are excited about teaching agriculture,” she said, “but they don’t have the funds or the resources to do it.”

Hence Rios and others at Kansas Corn have put together a book for students and teachers to learn about corn and corn-centered agriculture.

Leon and Mary Weber of Weber Seed Service hand out hats and goodie bags prior to the “corn chat” event.Photo by Trevor Hoag / Iola Register

Kansas Corn comprises two distinct but interlocking organizations: the Kansas Corn Growers Association and the Kansas Corn Commission.

The Growers Association focuses on policy and regulatory efforts, and furthers the cause of corn on the legislative level.

The Corn Commission and its vision are supported through the allocation of one cent per bushel derived from corn sales across the state, and devotes itself to market development, education, promotion and research.

Both wings of Kansas Corn have grown substantially as the corn industry has grown over the past 15 years.

KYLEE Geffert was excited to serve as host for the event along with her husband Shawn, and said she’s on tap to speak at an upcoming corn event in Nebraska.

Kylee Geffert welcomes participants to the “corn chat” event at her farm. Photo by Trevor Hoag / Iola Register
Photo by Trevor Hoag / Iola Register
4 photos

“It’s a good organization that’s trying to educate people,” she said, “to connect the bridge between the farmer and consumer.”

Geffert elaborated that she thought such education was important, since according to her, there is a lot of misinformation floating around about corn, for example, regarding the safety of GMOs and gluten.

She also said she was interested in getting other farmers involved in the organization, and noted the issue of how to fill a barn with other farmer-stakeholders was “the million-dollar question.”

KANSAS Corn CEO Greg Krissek said the organization and its events center on asking “What’s most important to [the attendees] as farmers?”

The “goal’s to hear what’s on their minds,” he said, and through local events, to make contact with “folks who might not be able to travel as far.”

Krissek also discussed the importance of asking farmers about how they’ve been affected by COVID-19, and to help them envision what corn markets will look like in the future.

Kansas Corn is focused on providing “up-to-date info,” Krissek added, and “the association is also about policy at the state and federal levels.”

He said Kansas Corn “believes in corn in all forms,” whether it’s corn-fed beef, fuel, beer, hand sanitizer or whatever.

“If farmers want to talk about corn, we can be their resource,” he said.

All told, “if farmers come and work together, we’ll have a lot better livelihood than if we all work alone.”

For more information, go to kscorn.com or call 785-410-5009.

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