The Aflatoxin Mitigation Center of Excellence (AMCOE), of which Texas Corn Producers Board (TCPB) is a founding supporter, welcomes new partnerships, national attention and support from Congress in 2023.
In 2010, the farmer-led research initiative began after farmers were tired of experiencing heavy discounts for quality loss from aflatoxin. TCPB directors knew more research needed to be done on amelioration, best-management practices, biological controls, breeding, testing and transgenic traits. They were not alone.
“Growers across the southern U.S. were making it all the way to harvest just to find out their crop was worth significantly less than they originally thought. After a long growing season, aflatoxin can deliver quite the gut punch,” Charles Ring, AMCOE committee chairman and TCPB research committee chairman, said.
TCPB joined forces with corn organizations from Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi and North Carolina to ultimately fund over $4.2 million in research for aflatoxin. By 2016, the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) joined the team by taking on the administrative responsibilities of AMCOE such as coordinating requests for proposals, funding agreements, and progress reports.
After a decade of significant investment and progress in AMCOE, Texas Corn Producers Association (TCPA) led an effort to enhance the impact of AMCOE.
In 2022, discussions kicked off with NCGA and Texas A&M University (TAMU) to seek a new partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agriculture Research Services (ARS). These discussions resulted in an agreement putting farmers at the table directing funding and priorities for a large swatch of the aflatoxin research conducted today.
Congress was quick to see the need for more research on this issue.
Warmer growing seasons in the Midwest have expanded the reach of aflatoxin. A 2016 study from Michigan State University and Iowa State University estimated the potential economic impact caused by aflatoxin could range from $52.1 million to $1.68 billion in annual losses to the U.S. corn industry.
In conjunction with research already conducted through ARS, Congress appropriated $1 million for projects to be funded by AMCOE under the supervision and support of corn farmers.
“As Congress looks to tighten the budget, being able to show farmers have invested their own dollars in this research for over a decade is important,” David Gibson, TCPB executive director and TCPA executive vice president, said. “The progress on research, investment of private grower dollars, and need to prevent future market impacts show Congress this is a worthy investment.”
TCPA is thankful to Chairwoman Kay Granger, Rep. John Carter, Rep. Michael Cloud, Rep. Henry Cuellar, Rep. Jake Ellzey, Senator John Cornyn and their offices for their support of farmers and AMCOE.