ST. LOUIS -- As 2006 came to an end, National Corn Growers Association President Ken McCauley reflected on the wins and losses of the year and what he and the organization are looking forward to in 2007.

NCGA experienced many highlights in a year that showed significant progress in many of NCGA's key issues, McCauley said.

"First and foremost, NCGA is successful because of its grower members who are engaged in every step of NCGA's priority and policy development," McCauley said. "We are a grower-driven organization and that is what sets us apart. That is why we saw many significant wins for our industry this year - natural gas legislation, trade agreements and the continued growth of the renewable fuels industry."

McCauley noted corn growers partnered with a strong coalition of other groups to secure passage of legislation that will allow for domestic development of energy sources such as natural gas. NCGA and its grower members also worked to improve trade relations and gain permanent normal trade status for Vietnam, which will give producers the opportunities to be competitive in a global marketplace.

"Growers made huge steps in crop production and supplying the growing demand of our product," McCauley said. "We have seen renewed interest in the past year in investing in rural America and a renewed interest in innovative production. All of this is combining to raise the industry to a higher standard and raise the producer's profitability."

For 2007, McCauley sees things becoming even better for the agriculture. He believes agriculture is entering a new era and sees 2007 as an opportunity for corn growers to make their industry even more successful. That success is due to member involvement, he said.

"In January our states and corn grower members will gather to discuss what the priorities and policies will be for NCGA," McCauley said. "I look forward to hearing what they have to say. Key legislative issues will include transportation policy, continuing to utilize all measures available to advance renewable fuels made from corn, increasing research dollars and developing farm policy and programs that are beneficial to our members."

Another key issue for 2007 year will be to develop a new farm bill. Corn growers are currently working on a farm program proposal that will ensure a more effective safety net. And certainly one of the bigger challenges facing agriculture and corn growers' respective issues next year will be the growing budget concerns.

While corn growers understand the tight budget constraints, McCauley said they need a farm bill for the future.

"We need a farm bill that fits into the market opportunities we have today, as well as those we will have in the future," he noted. "Most importantly, producers need an effective safety net."

SOURCE: NCGA news release.