Although 2011 is shaping up to be a banner year for North Carolina farmers, it could be a very difficult year politically. With budget cuts planned for the 2012 farm bill, this year could be a pivotal one for agriculture.

Based on the need to stick together and speak with a unified voice to state and federal politicians, Darren Armstrong, a North Carolina farmer and president of the state’s Corn Growers Association, is urging farmers to vote for a statewide referendum to continue a check-off program.

Feb. 22 is the date when corn growers will vote on continuation of the self assessment program for six years. The Board of Directors of the Corn Growers Association is asking that farmers assess themselves at a rate of three-fourths cent per bushel on all corn marketed in North Carolina.

The campaign to continue an assessment was announced on Jan. 13, by Armstrong at the Joint Commodities Conference of Corn, Cotton, Soybeans and Small Grain Producers in New Bern.

Armstrong urges growers to continue the assessment program which is administered by the Corn Growers Association of North Carolina.

“As farmers we must stay united and work together to survive in the farming industry,” Armstrong says.

The North Carolina Corn Growers Association is involved in the following areas: International and domestic marketing; research and education; grants to cooperative Extension offices and legislation that will be helpful to corn growers and other farmers.

A 24-member Board of Directors, covering all the producing areas of North Carolina, governs the organization’s activities. This Board also gives support to issues of a local nature they believe will benefit farmers.

Growers may vote at local cooperative Extension offices from 8:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. All farmers currently engaged in the production of corn, including tenants, sharecroppers, or other persons sharing in the production of income of corn are eligible to vote.

A two-thirds favorable vote is required to carry the referendum as authorized by Article 50, Chapter 106 of the General Statutes of North Carolina. If approved the assessment shall be collected by the first handler or purchaser of the commodity from the producer, and remitted to the North Carolina Department of Agriculture, which remits the proceeds to the Association.