Minnesota corn producers gave approval to a half-cent check-off increase by a slim margin during Minnesota Ag Expo earlier this month.
The Minnesota Corn Growers Association announced the results of the vote Monday with a slim margin of 12 votes approving the increase.
"It passed by 12 votes, but it did pass," said Doug Albin, Minnesota Corn Growers Association president. "The Department of Ag is handling it and I'm sure they have scrutinized that all the voters all signed affidavits that they are subject to the check-offs and sell corn to the elevators."
A news release from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture said the vote came in at 215 to 203 approving the half-cent increase.
The increase will take effect July 1, the news release said.
Albin said the results of the vote show there is support for the check-off, but it's an uneasy support.
"This tells us producers are unsure about what we do," said Albin. "They are cautious with the money. They more or less said go ahead and keep doing what you are doing, but we are hesitant about what you are doing."
The polling took place Jan. 8-9 during the Corn Growers Association conference at Ag Expo, but it was not conducted by the MCGA, said Mark Hamerlinck communications director for the MCGA.
The Minnesota Department of Agriculture conducted the vote and reviewed the results the following week, Hamerlinck said.
Kurt Markham, director of Agricultural Marketing Services for the Minnesota DOA, said the vote conformed to Minnesota state laws.
"We took all the certification and referendum slips," said Markham. "Three staff people at the Department of Ag sorted and counted all of those. Because it was close, they did a double check on the count."
The half-cent increase brings the total check-off amount to 1 cent per-bushel for producers.
"We won't really see the effects of it until 2010," said Albin. "By the time they get this instituted sometime in July, the majority of corn will have been sold already and won't be subject to the check-off (increase)."
Albin said the Minnesota Corn Research and Outreach Council will be working on improving communication with producers about how check-off dollars are spent.
"We're going to start updating our Web site to make more information available," said Albin. "We want to make it easier for producers to communicate with us and for us to communicate with producers."
The Corn Growers Association will also target its producers through media outlets.
"We're going to start doing a little more advertising in newspapers, radio spots, just to let people know we're out here," said Albin.
Albin said it's difficult to target all producers in Minnesota.
"We have a list of members, but we don't have a list of producers in the state of Minnesota," said Albin. "No one has that list. We don't know how many people raise corn."
In addition to using the funding for outreach to its members along with research, the check-off dollars will also go toward communicating with people outside of agriculture.
"We found one valuable tool in our communication network - people actually like to hear what farmers are doing," said Albin.
"In our world we look at it like we're taking care of business so people should trust me and know we're doing this," he said. "We're finding out that people don't know that."