Saturday, January 20, 2007

Farmers resist change to corn check-off

By FRANK PHILLIPS
frankphi@hotmail.com
There are 400 bills before the Indiana House of Representatives. The last day to file a new bill was Tuesday, Rep. Vern Tincher said at the Clay County Farm Bureau Crackerbarrel meeting at the Cory Firehouse Saturday morning. About half of those bills were filed on the last day.
One idea that farmers who were present at the meeting don't want to see enacted is the idea of mandatory corn check-off on the value of a corn crop.
As farmer Steve Bussing explained it to the legislators, a proposal favored by Indiana Farm Bureau (not necessarily Clay County Farm Bureau) would lower his profits by $5,000 per year on his corn crop.
At $4 per bushel corn prices, the difference between 1/-cent per bushel check-off and a check-off based on 1/2 cent per bushel would take $1 million out of Clay County and cost farmers in the state $16 million per year. That amount could be reduced if the price of corn goes down, Bussing said.
David Schopmeyer, who is employed at the Statehouse, said the bill to watch is HB 1121.
The money generated by the check-off is used to investigate and promote ethanol, which is 85 percent corn alcohol and 15 percent gasoline.
There are two ethanol plants operating in the state and 21 plants are eventually planned, Rep. Vern Tincher (D-Riley) said.
Tincher, Rep. Clyde Kersey (D-Terre Haute) and Sen. Richard Bray (R-Martinsville) voted against a corn check-off bill last year and planned to vote against a bill to expand the check-off if it comes to them this year.
However, Rep. Amos Thomas (R-Brazil) said he would listen to what all the constitutents in his district says.
Putnam County Farm Bureau was for the corn value check-off, he said. He had not yet talked to people in the Parke County Farm Bureau.
"I am listening to what everyone says," Thomas said. "My mind is open."