Reynolds, Ag Sec Perdue host ag roundtable at Landus Cooperative

Area farmers participate in discussion on trade, RFS and more

Farmer-members of Landus Cooperative on Thursday posed questions to USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue in a roundtable hosted by Governor Kim Reynolds held at the cooperative’s Ames headquarters.

Perdue was joined by Reynolds as well as Lieutenant Governor Adam Gregg; Iowa Secretary of Agriculture and Land Stewardship Mike Naig; and Deputy Secretary of Agriculture and Land Stewardship Julie Kenney.

Taking questions from the press after the roundtable are (from left) Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig, Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, Gov Kim Reynolds and Lt Gov Adam Gregg.

John Scott, Odebolt-area farmer and president of the Landus Cooperative board of directors, kicked off the 90-minute visit and was joined by fellow farmer-members including: Jordan Carstens of Bagley and Jay Drees of Templeton, Landus Cooperative board of directors; Rick Brand of Somers, Land O’ Lakes board of directors; April Hemmes of Hampton United Soybean Association; Delbert Christensen of Audubon, United Soybean Association and REG board of directors; Michael Fritch of Mitchellville, Iowa Corn Promotion Board; and Katie Holtz of Templeton, director of sales and marketing for PigEasy.

Industry partners on the panel were Gary Lynch of Lynch Livestock, Nick Bowdish of Elite Octane, and Paul Nees of Renewable Energy Group (REG).

Leopoldo Orozco, the cooperative’s Mexico-based Dairy Nutrition Plus® product line international sales manager also participated

A common theme was a sense of urgency in the ag industry to complete a trade deal with China and create clarity around the newly announced U.S.-Mexico agreement.

“Landus Cooperative ships a 110-car train of grain to Mexico about every six days,” said Brett Bell, COO of Landus Cooperative in response to a comment by Orozco on the need for agriculture to have a “do no harm” agreement to replace NAFTA. “In the last year we have shipped almost 23 million bushels of corn direct to Mexico. Having access to that market is key to our Iowa producers.”

Landus Cooperative’s grain sales account for 11 percent of Iowa’s corn exports and 16 percent of Iowa’s soybean exports. Its members are the only agri-business to have access to all seven Iowa railroads.

Pork producer Holtz share her concern about news of the African swine flu growing in Asia and its potential impact on the U.S. pork industry. Nees, Christensen, and Bowdish stressed the importance of the growth of Renewable Fuels Standard and ending waivers for oil refiners as ways to increase demand for Iowa corn and soybeans.

Of the soybeans purchased from farmers by Landus Cooperative, 35-50 percent are processed into a value-added soybean meal (SoyPlus®) and nearly 100 percent of the oil expelled in that process is manufactured into biodiesel by REG.

The group also shared concerns about creating on-farm profitability which will attract young people back to their family farms and into the ag industry as well as the importance of maintaining and improving roads, dams, and ports to maintain a competitive advantage over other countries in a global marketplace.

Following the event, which was attended by local and national media, Landus Cooperative CEO Milan Kucerak shared his appreciation for the farmers on the panel. “Our business is owned by our farmer-members. They are real people impacted by policy and trade issues. We thank Governor Reynolds and Secretary Perdue for their continued vigilance in moving our industry forward.”

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