North Dakota corn groups trying to reach a compromise on checkoff spending
The North Dakota Corn Utilization Council and the North Dakota Corn Growers Association are related organizations that serve farmers in different ways.
FARGO, N.D. — Two North Dakota corn groups are trying to iron out the details of how to share the wealth that comes from the corn checkoff fund.
Under state law, the North Dakota Corn Utilization Council gets the money from fees collected when a farmer sells his corn. A related group, the North Dakota Corn Growers Association , can ask the corn council to cover some of its expenses.
In the past, state audits have dinged the corn council for some of its accounting practices related to the corn growers, and the council has addressed those issues. But now the corn growers feel there is too much separation.
“We feel like we went a little too far. There was not much communication back and forth, like we wanted,” said Andrew Mauch, president of the North Dakota Corn Growers Association.
The groups have been working on a plan that would give the growers a little more flexibility while adhering to the rules about how those checkoff funds can be spent.
Those rules include no spending on lobbying, one of the ways the corn growers represent their members. The corn council’s focus is on research, promotion and education.
“We each have our own lanes … but at the end of the day we have a common goal and that’s to better the situation for North Dakota corn producers,” said Tysen Rosenau, chairman of the corn council’s board of directors.
Leaders from the two groups were meeting during the Northern Corn and Soy Expo in Fargo. The corn growers were going to bring a formal proposal on a change to the corn council. The council set a meeting for Thursday, Feb. 16, to consider the changes.
There is some urgency for the two groups to hammer out an agreement. A bill pending in the North Dakota House of Representatives could alter the corn checkoff funding dramatically, giving 50% of the checkoff to the corn growers group. If the groups were to reach a compromise before a key deadline Friday, that legislation could be tossed aside.
Rosenau said that if the funding change were to be enacted, the corn council would have to cut funding for research at North Dakota State University and the University of North Dakota.