Schwenke, KyCorn President
After several years of great corn prices
and some of the most profitable times in our careers,
the other shoe is falling. Farmers are taking a look at
what they have in store for prices over the next few
years. If you are anything like me, you are getting a
little apprehensive about your tightening crop budget
and balance sheet.
It’s going to take a sharp pencil to survive the next
few years, but it will also take prices bouncing back
sooner rather than later. A primary function of KY Corn
Growers is to encourage those prices to bounce back.
From a variety of fronts, we have programs to keep our
corn customers loyal to us and in healthy businesses.
The US Grains Council (USGC) is the export arm of the
corn industry. At this particular time of low US corn
prices, USGC is vital because of the fantastic
opportunities at its hands to foster new customer
relationships. KyCorn has personnel strategically placed
throughout those efforts.
Philip McCoun from Shelby County, the chairman of our KY
Corn Promotion Council, also chairs USGC’s Advisory Team
on the Middle East and Africa. Also, Henry Sanger from
Fulton County, a retired KyCorn board member, sits on
the Biotechnology Advisory Team.
International buying relationships depend more on
personal relationships than many people might think. The
impact of face-to-face meetings with prospects and
customers can’t be overstated.
So, last year, we welcomed several trade missions to
Kentucky from across the globe. In the spring, White
corn buyers from Mexico paid us a visit to become
familiar with our farmers; trusting relationships were
formed and transactions soon developed. We understand
that sometimes it is about personal handshakes. We hope
to see these business relationships last a long time;
we’ll be working to ensure it.
In the summer, several owners of milling companies, both
dry and wet mills, from Malaysia, Indonesia and the
Philippines came here to see our technology in an effort
to enhance their corn utilization. An Export Exchange
Team from Turkey also visited with our leaders in the
fall to understand how our inland waterways
transportation system provides our pricing competitive
I am a cattleman as well as a corn farmer. And, I’m
proud that livestock, by far, is the primary consumer of
Kentucky corn. About 70 million bushels of the Kentucky
corn crop feed animals each year. In my view, one of the
best ways we can enhance that trend is to enhance those
industries, both at home and abroad.
At home, we partner with our livestock commodity
organizations to advocate in state and federal
governments; we want lawmakers and regulators to be fair
to their industries whether it be transportation laws or
water regulations. We know that these efforts keep their
profit barriers low. That keeps their businesses, our
For helping the livestock profitability effort abroad,
KyCorn actively, and financially, participates with
export organizations for livestock products. Similar to
USGC, the US Meat Export Federation and the USA Poultry
and Egg Export Council are the beef, pork, poultry and
egg industries’ export agents.
Corn checkoff dollars help to fund their export efforts
each year. And we regularly attend their meetings, to
understand what makes their businesses work, and
identify opportunities to work together.
As the Kentucky bourbon industry flourishes, we stay in
constant communication with distilleries to make sure
they understand the benefits of getting their
ingredients from the most local source possible.
Our goal is for all Kentucky bourbon to be made from all
Kentucky corn. We understand that it isn’t that simple,
but we feel that it should be. We are confident that we
are making some headway in proving Kentucky corn
farmers’ commitment to supply them a complete,
convenient source of high-quality grain.
All of these efforts are in the name of corn farmers
because we know our markets are a roller coaster, right
now we are gripping tightly to that safety bar, but
hopefully soon we’ll be back holding our arms in the