Corn and soybean growers who attend Commodity Classic Feb. 24-26 in Austin, Texas, will be among the first farmers in the nation to hear a personal address from new U.S. Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns. Commodity Classic is the combined convention and trade show of the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) and the American Soybean Association (ASA).

Johanns, who has been an outspoken advocate of ethanol and other issues important to corn and soybean growers, will deliver the keynote address during the Commodity Classic general session, Feb. 25.

NCGA President Leon Corzine said speaking at the general session offers Johanns an excellent opportunity to connect with thousands of the growers he’ll represent as the nation’s top agriculture official.

“We’re thrilled and honored to have Secretary Johanns joining us for this year’s event,” Corzine said. “He’s been a longtime ally of agriculture and our growers are excited about the opportunity to meet him and hear what he has to say. The theme of our general session is ‘Growing America’s Future’ and Johanns’ outlook on U.S. agriculture for the next four years will certainly tie in nicely with the rest of the program.”

ASA President Neal Bredehoeft said, “We are pleased that we will be able to welcome Secretary Johanns to the 2005 Commodity Classic. He has a strong record on trade promotion and has been a tireless proponent of biofuels in Nebraska. We look forward to working with Secretary Johanns on important soybean issues like biodiesel, trade and soybean rust.”

Born in Osage, Iowa, and raised on a dairy farm, Johanns has a lifetime of experience in agriculture. As governor of Nebraska, he advocated statewide economic development by supporting construction of ethanol production plants in rural areas and recruiting job creation and investment in urban and rural areas.

Also as governor, Johanns led trade missions to Asia, Australia and South America. He is past chair of the Governors’ Ethanol Coalition and the Midwest Governors’ Conference. He co-chaired the Governors' Public Power Alliance and the Governors’ Biotech Partnership, and was vice-chair of the Western Governors’ Association. Johanns also chaired the National Governors Association Committee on Economic Development and Commerce.

In addition to an exciting general session, Commodity Classic offers cutting-edge learning centers, demonstrations of the latest technology and an award-winning trade show featuring more than 700 booths.

For more information on Commodity Classic, log on to www.commodityclassic.com, or call 1-636-928-3700.