North Dakota corn groups find funding solution

A change in state law will allow the North Dakota Corn Utilization Council to provide grants to the North Dakota Corn Growers Association.

William Wagner of the North Dakota Corn Utilization Council and Andrew Mauch, president of the North Dakota Corn Growers Association, chat at the Northern Corn and Soy Expo in Fargo, North Dakota, on Feb. 14, 2023.
Jeff Beach / Agweek

BISMARCK, N.D. — After weeks of negotiations, two North Dakota corn groups have reached an agreement on how to share the wealth and work together.

A bill in the North Dakota Legislature will allow the North Dakota Corn Utilization Council, which collects the checkoff dollars from corn sold, with the ability to provide grant funding to other corn groups, such as the North Dakota Corn Growers Association.

“It's a good thing to move forward with and ultimately everybody is happy with the agreement and that was what we wanted all along,” said Andrew Mauch, president of the corn growers and a farmer near Milnor, North Dakota.

Tysen Rosenau, president of the council, said discussions have centered on a $1.5 million grant from the council to the growers association. About half of that money will be for the North Dakota Corn Growers Association dues to the National Corn Growers Association.

“We handle the research and the promotion and market development. They work with us on handling the policy stuff on their side,” said Rosenau, who farms near Carrington. “We can accomplish more working together versus arguing.”


State law establishes the council as collecting the checkoff fees — one-quarter of 1% of the value per bushel of corn sold in the state. But state law dictates that corn checkoff funds can’t be used for lobbying. State rules had previously kept the council from distributing money through grants, but an amendment to House Bill 1153 approved by the North Dakota Senate Agriculture and Veterans Affairs Committee changes that.

According the corn council's annual report , the council had $4.8 million in revenue in 2022. In the previous four years the total had ranged from about $3 million to $3.6 million. Checkoff dollars fluctuate with the price of corn and amount of corn sold.

Yellow corn flows out of a white truck bottom.
North Dakota's corn checkoff fluctuates with the price of corn and amount sold each year.
Ann Bailey / Agweek

The growers association makes policy, such as the federal farm bill that is currently under negotiations, and regulatory issues some of its top priorities and gets money from member dues, fundraisers and donations from agribusinesses.

Instead of making requests for specific spending items, the grant will provide more flexibility while still adhering to state rules.

“There's still deliverables to make sure we're spending the money that we do get in the right way and not doing anything foolish or anything,” Mauch said.

The bill as originally drafted would have divided checkoff money 50-50 between the two groups. The corn council said that would have meant cutbacks in its budget for research and promotion.

The amended bill still requires final legislative approval. It would take effect Aug. 1 unless an emergency provision is approved.

The groups share office space in Fargo and have a history of working together, even sharing an executive director.


In 2015, a shared executive director who said he was fired raised issues with the way the two boards operated. The state auditor’s office also flagged some of their practices.

The groups created some separation, but Mauch said it had gone too far. While corn growers did not seek the bill with the even split of checkoff money, Mauch and others from the group did testify in favor of the bill while negotiating an alternative solution.

Reach Agweek reporter Jeff Beach at or call 701-451-5651.
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