Plain and simple, you can accomplish more by working together. Leon Corzine follows that strategy with his son Craig and wife Susie on his corn, soybean and beef operation at Assumption, IL. He'll use the same approach as the new president of the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA).
Corzine is focused on forming partnerships with others so NCGA members get maximum value for their membership and checkoff dollars. He cites a June trip to Europe and Russia with the U.S. Grains Council and USDA to address customer concerns as an example of ways groups can play well off each other's strengths.
“We need to think about creating links with other organizations and partnering with groups that we usually wouldn't think of,” says Corzine. For example, he recently worked with the carpenter's union to lobby for lock-and-dam improvements.
“The union recognizes the construction jobs the upgrades will create. And we know that the infrastructure enables us to stay competitive in the world market,” he says.
Topping Corzine's agenda this year is the ethanol issue. He wants to see the energy bill passed and says he'll be the third NCGA president to place it at the top of his priority list.
“We've done a good job of developing ethanol markets. We've (NCGA with its member states) also helped farmers invest in ethanol plants,” he says. “Now I want farmers to be able to bring that profit back to their own farm.”
Corzine, a former chairman of NCGA's biotech working group, is also a champion of educational efforts on biotechnology.
“We think it's important that our city cousins understand what we're doing in the biotech area,” Corzine says. “I like to tell people that in the U.S. we produce the safest, most nutritious, most economical food supply the world has ever seen and that we're continually working to improve that.”
While 20% of U.S. corn markets are overseas, 80% of them are here at home. Two of corn's biggest customers are the ethanol and livestock industries. There's a synergy between ethanol and making sure its co-products, like dry distillers' grains (DDG), meet customers' needs, Corzine says.
“DDGs are a valuable feed ingredient to our livestock customers. So, we've worked with the livestock industry to make sure they can use it in their rations,” he says. “We're also assisting in research to show that DDGs can be fed not only to beef and dairy animals, but also to pork and poultry.”
While Corzine is all for partnerships, he believes that farmers need to speak for themselves.
“We work closely with other industries, but nobody represents farmers like farmers,” says Corzine. “It's a huge responsibility for me to represent our grassroots members, be it in Washington, D.C., or around the world. I'm looking forward to it.”
Son Craig is the sixth generation to farm and Corzine can hardly wait for the day when his granddaughter Erica's generation takes over and makes it seven.
“I'm a believer in leaving the farm better than I found it,” he says. “We have to improve things both environmentally and to make it a viable business. We work hard toward this goal as an organization and personally on our farm.”