Think of Colorado and you probably picture snow-capped mountains and ski bums. Think again — and think corn.

USDA ranks Colorado 14th in corn acreage (1.35 million acres) and grain harvested (150 million bushels).

And beginning Oct. 1, it will also rank as the first time a National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) president will have been named from that state. He's Tim Hume from Walsh, CO, a semiarid region in the southeastern part of the state.

As outgoing president Lee Klein puts it: “Tim's a young guy with a fine sense of humor, who thinks on his feet. He can get along with people and brings a vitality and positive attitude to the table.”

Hume farms 3,000 acres and sometimes runs stockers and feeder cattle. About 1,000 of those acres are corn (all irrigated), in addition to wheat, sunflowers and grain sorghum.

Hume, soft-spoken but directed, believes the biggest problems he'll face during his term aren't even on the radar screen, yet. That's not unlike last year and the StarLink difficulties, he points out.

Still, he's prepped to address the challenges ahead. Here's how he sizes up the big issues.

New Farm Bill

“We're calling our (NCGA) proposal the National Agriculture Security Act, and it would continue the move to a market-oriented foreign policy,” Hume says. “It does that by decoupling the LDP (loan deficiency payments) and extra PFC (production flexibility contract) payments from current production.

“Our proposal is a counter-cyclical program that will enhance the marketing loan program we've had,” Hume says. “The cornerstone of it is to have a policy that lets farmers continue planting for the market as opposed to government programs.”

Ethanol Expansion

“With the phase out of MTBE (in fuel) in about three years, we'd get an ethanol market in 2002 worth about 600-plus million gallons of ethanol. That will use up 300 million bushels of corn. We're excited about that and encourage homegrown fuel production,” Hume says.

“We're also pushing for the renewable fuels requirement and we'd like to see demand for ethanol triple over the next 10 years,” Hume says. “That would be using about 2 billion bushels of corn for 5 billion gallons of ethanol.”

Stance On Biotech

Hume says it's NCGA's policy that biotechnology providers have approval for both feed and food use in the U.S., Japan and other major export markets.

“Although Europe is a market we'd like to have, it's a market for corn that's relatively minor. We believe that Japan and Asia are markets that we can't sacrifice and we're asking biotech providers to have approval in those countries before commercial release in the United States.

“We also think we've hit the worst part of consumer acceptance in Europe and hope that this action will start to drive a realistic regulatory structure there,” Hume says.

New Uses For Corn

NCGA is always working on building demand for new uses and Hume is excited about the potential for polylactic acid. “A plant in Blair, NE, is set to use 14 million bushels of corn a year to produce plastics. The market is huge.”

And, Hume explains that a way to produce anti-freeze from corn is near the commercialization stage.

“We're always looking for ways to compete using feedstocks from oil-based products,” Hume says. “We've worked closely with the Department of Energy to develop a program whereby we'd be replacing about 10% of the petroleum-based economy with a carbohydrate-based economy by 2020. That's a great project to be part of.”