Iowa corn checkoff increase could help midlevel ethanol efforts

By Kris Bevill | May 31, 2012

Iowa corn growers will decide July 10 whether the state corn checkoff should be increased by 0.25 cents per bushel to the maximum allowable checkoff rate of 1 cent per bushel. Checkoff funds are collected on corn that enters commercial channels but not on grain used on-farm, according to the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship. The Iowa Corn Promotion Board uses funds collected through the checkoff to promote education, research and market development activities related to corn, including ethanol.

Iowa’s corn checkoff program has been in place in 1977. The current corn checkoff rate of 0.75 cents per bushel has been in place since 2008. Kevin Rempp, vice-chair of the ICPB, said the rate increase is necessary because current budget constraints do not allow the board to fund many of the programs seen as vital to the state’s corn producers. “There are a lot of good programs out there that we haven’t been able to fund,” he said. Marketplace education related to the use of higher ethanol blends is one target area that the ICPB would like to focus more attention on in the near future and Rempp said that some of the revenue generated through a checkoff increase would be devoted to that effort.

If the checkoff increase is approved, Rempp estimates the total amount of funds generated annually through the program would be approximately $3 million. He noted that other states, including Minnesota, Michigan and Missouri, already collect 1 cent per bushel for their corn checkoff programs. On a per acre basis, Iowa soybean growers currently pay twice the amount of the proposed 1 cent per bushel  corn checkoff fee, he said.