Maize Matters : Declining Farm Economy, GROWing Political Impact

Apr 08, 2024  |  ICGA

The IL Corn Growers Association (ICGA) is growing its political footprint in Washington, D.C. amidst concerns for the future of the farm economy. 


In early March, ICGA called on Congress to protect family farms and spoke with the offices of all 17 Illinois representatives and both senators. Farmer leaders met with nearly 60 non-governmental offices including automakers, conservation groups, airlines and petroleum associations. 


“In our Capitol meetings, our farmers explained the impact a declining farm economy would have on trade, ethanol demand, infrastructure and rural communities,” ICGA President and Victoria farmer Dave Rylander said. “The message resonated with downstate and urban elected officials, and we confirmed support for many of our key issues.”


The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Economic Research Service forecasts farm net income in 2024 at $116.1 billion, a 37% drop from $185.5 in 2022. Agricultural economists at the University of Illinois forecast a loss of $135,000-$160,000 on every 1,000 acres of corn produced in Illinois in 2024. 


With these points driving the conversation and a need for legislative action, ICGA reiterated the importance of sound farm policy. Corn farmers discussed urgency for the Next Generation Fuels Act and the passage of a permanent farm bill. Growers also voiced the negative impact the Environmental Protection Agency’s Multipollutant Emissions rule will have on corn demand.  


In addition to ICGA leadership, five members joined the organization through the Grassroots Orientation to Washington, D.C. or G.R.O.W. program. Participants included Karlie Elliott Bowman of Onedia, Leanne Casner of Rosamond, Clint Gorden from Macon, Lance Muirheid of Oakley, and Bryan Van Bogaert of Elburn. GROW participants shared personal farm experiences with lawmakers and played an active role in the organization.


“Participating in ICGA’s GROW program was truly impactful,” Bowman said. “The board and staff’s dedication to advocating for policies that directly benefit Illinois corn growers and their families is evident. Their insights, gathered from the fields of Illinois, were expertly communicated to NGOs, governmental agencies, and Capitol Hill, and will make a real difference for farmers across our state.”


ICGA also heard from former Congresswoman Cheri Bustos, as well as former Senate Ag Committee staff director Joe Shultz on their predictions on the passage of a 2024 Farm Bill. 


Conversations about these priority topics will fuel ICGA in the months to come as farmer leaders seek to create a future for Illinois farmers in which they can operate freely, responsibly, and successfully.