Expanding foreign markets and uses of Iowa’s corn crop, which improves Iowa’s economy, will be the result of legislation adopted by the Iowa House this week, if it becomes law.

Under House File 2427, Iowa’s corn checkoff could increase over time, to a maximum of 3¢ per bushel after September 1, 2019.  The checkoff would only increase if corn growers vote for an increase through a referendum.  The checkoff is currently capped at 1¢ per bushel.

The moneys collected are managed under the direction of the Iowa Corn Promotion Board, a board of Iowa farmers elected by their peers, and Iowa law specifies how the money can be used.  According to the Board, the moneys are used for meeting with foreign buyers to encourage purchase of Iowa corn, supporting existing uses of corn and finding new and innovative uses, and educating Iowa’s consumers about the importance of corn to the Iowa economy and to their everyday lives.  They are also assisting corn growers in implementing the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy to improve our water quality.

Iowa’s corn checkoff was established under a state law passed in 1976, and in 1977 Iowa corn growers approved, by referendum, a checkoff rate of 1/10th of a cent per bushel.  This was the first corn checkoff in the nation established through a grower referendum.  Since then, Iowa corn growers have voted four times by referendum to increase the corn checkoff rate.  Today, the checkoff is at the cap, collecting 1¢ for each bushel of corn sold.

Iowa’s corn checkoff is fully refundable to the corn grower.  Any corn grower can request a form at any licensed grain dealer (such as a grain elevator or ethanol plant).  The farmer has 60 days from the date of sale to submit the refund request.  The Iowa Corn Promotion Board has 30 business days to remit the refund to the farmer.

House File 2427 also establishes a nine-member Iowa Corn Checkoff Task Force to study the development and implementation of a system that allows eligible producers to cast mail ballots during a special referendum and to increase awareness with corn growers on getting a refund.  A report must be submitted to the Iowa Secretary of Agriculture by September 1, 2014.