Congressional staff from across the nation visited the National Corn to Ethanol Research Center (NCERC) at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville as part of the AgMazing Congressional Tour in late August.
Sponsored by the St. Louis AgriBusiness Club, the AgMazing Congressional Tour highlighted agricultural progress and collaboration in Missouri and Illinois. The St. Louis region is vital to meeting the food, fiber and fuel needs of a growing world. The three-day tour allowed Congressional staff to learn about and see the heartland of agriculture infrastructure, innovation, and advancement.
Congressional staff from California, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Texas, Wisconsin, Illinois and Missouri toured the NCERC’s facilities and heard from industry experts. The staff worked with Congressional members such as Sen. Tammy Duckworth (IL), Sen. Deb Fischer (NE), Rep. Eric Swalwell (CA-15), Rep. Mike Bost (IL-12) and Rep. Alan Lowenthal (CA-47).
NCERC Executive Director John Caupert, Jim Bauman of the National Corn Growers Association and Paul Jeschke of the Illinois Corn Marketing Board presented to the congressional staff. Conversations focused upon corn production, ethanol production, small refinery exemptions and the importance of trade deals to agriculture.
“When talking with congressional staff members, it’s always important to tailor the conversation to their comfort level with agriculture,” Bauman said. “Knowing that not everybody is from a farming community or has a farming background, you have to start at their level to at least get them comfortable with the foundational terminology. If you can tell the story at a very simplified level for those outside of agriculture and keep their interest, then they will still be there later to get down deeper into the weeds.”
In addition to the NCERC, attendees visited the Danforth Plant Science Center, the Mel Price Lock and Dam, Bunge Terminal, Nestle Purina PetCare, Anhueser-Busch, and several farms and orchards.