The National Corn Growers Association began its new fiscal year Oct. 1 with a record membership of 35,046 growers from 47 states and two foreign countries.

The new membership record is a 6 percent increase over the same time last year and reflects a growing interest in the programs and services offered.

“This is terrific news for our organization,” said NCGA President Bob Dickey. “We are grateful to our staff, our grower-leaders and our recruiters, who have done an excellent job in promoting the benefits of NCGA membership to colleagues, while demonstrating the leadership our national and state associations provide in agriculture.”

Dickey said efforts on the part of NCGA and its allied state organizations have led to three significant legislative victories in the last year — an energy bill with enhanced renewable fuels standard, waterway development legislation that includes authorization for modernization of locks and a farm bill that includes an important revenue-based safety net for which state and NCGA corn leaders led the charge.

According to Tim Dolan, chairman of NCGA’s Growers Services Action Team, the higher membership also is a sign of the significant interest in growing corn and maintaining tools and services that defend and promote the industry.

“Corn growers face a lot of challenges and it’s important for us to recognize their needs and work to meet them,” Dolan said. “We have a good selection of programs for growers, and we have an all-star cast of recruiters out there striving to get more growers involved in their industry.”

The National Corn Yield Contest, for example, helps farmers compete against each other in a friendly manner on a national stage and show that corn yield is on the increase to help meet all needs. This year, the corn yield contest has received a record number of entrants at more than 6,700, significantly over last year’s record 4,932 and double that in 2006.

The membership recruiter program, sponsored by Syngenta Agrisure, provides incentives for recruiters who meet certain targets. These recruiters invite their fellow farmers to join by participating in call-a-thons or hosting special events. The state-level grower associations develop membership plans and utilize NCGA membership program incentives for recruitment and retention efforts.