MANHATTAN, Kan. — At the Kansas Corn Symposium, Kansas Corn recognized Terry Vinduska of Marion and Ken McCauley of White Cloud as recipients of the 2023 Kansas Corn Impact Awards. The two Kansas corn farmers served as state and national leaders and played pivotal roles in the corn industry. McCauley is past president of the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) and Vinduska is past president of the U.S. Grains Council (USGC).
Terry Vinduska, Kansas Corn Impact Award Recipient
After a long career representing corn farmers on the Kansas Corn Commission and serving in many roles with the U.S. Grains Council, Terry Vinduska was chosen as a recipient of the Kansas Corn Impact Award. A strong proponent of trade, Terry led on the state and national levels. Vinduska is retiring from the Kansas Corn Commission, a position he held since 1994. He represented Kansas on the U.S. Grains Council and served as USGC chairman in 2011. Vinduska farms near Marion, and also operates a Pioneer Seed sales and distribution business.
Former U.S. Grains Council CEO Tom Sleight said Vinduska brought a unique perspective as USGC chairman.
“Terry was kind of a unique leader for the Grains Council in that he had the farmer perspective, the agribusiness perspective and he certainly had a broad understanding of US agriculture and international agriculture,” Sleight said. “He always had a very rock solid understanding of what US agriculture was looking for and what was needed so as a leader, he always projected that fairness, and that thoughtfulness in terms of where we needed to be going with trade.”
Iowa corn producer Julius Schaaf, who served as USGC Chair in 2014, said Vinduska played an important role in building trade opportunities for American farmers.
“Terry spent many years helping the U.S. Grains Council evaluate emerging markets and opportunities.” Schaaf said. “Terry worked hard for free trade agreements and tariff reductions.”
Vinduska spoke about the Council’s mission and his own legacy.
“My legacy has never been about an accomplishment or something I did,” Vinduska said. “I hope my legacy has always been about the kind of man I am. I hope my legacy has always been about helping the next generation.”
Vinduska said his work with the U.S. Grains Council was fulfilling because those efforts improved the lives of others.
“The Grains Council’s mission of building markets and improving lives around the world became a way of life. We worked to build markets so we could all be better off. So it was a lifestyle,” Vinduska said.
While Vinduska is leaving his leadership role at Kansas Corn, he will remain involved in his work with the U.S. Grains Council.
Ken McCauley, Kansas Corn Impact Award Recipient
Ken McCauley was chosen as a recipient of the Kansas Corn Impact award after decades leadership at Kansas and National Corn Growers Associations and as an advocate for corn and agriculture on the state, national and international levels. He represented growers on the KCGA board from 2015 to 2023, and the Kansas Corn Commission from 1995 to 2021. He served as the 2006-07 NCGA president. McCauley also has been active in broadcast media and social media informing and advocating for corn farmers and agriculture.
Former NCGA CEO Rick Tolman said McCauley was a thoughtful and respected voice for corn issues.
“He was a wonderful voice for biotechnology. Ken could speak to those principles and issue about biotechnology because he used those things,” Tolman said. “He knew how it changed his farm and he could say ‘here’s what I learned, here’s what I did, here’s what I saw, here’s what I used.’”
McCauley led NCGA during the passage of the 2008 Farm Bill and the 2008 Renewable Fuel Standard, and his leadership was key, according to retired Missouri Corn Executive Director Gary Marshall.
“He knew the farm bill and what was important to him and his Kansas farmers back home,” Marshall said. “Knowing exactly what he thought ought to be in the bill and then advocating for that.”
AgriPulse Editor Sara Wyant spoke at the Corn Symposium, remembering McCauley as a strong leader and an excellent fundraiser for NCGA and also for the National Association of Farm Broadcasting’s scholarship program.
“Ken was chairman of NCGA’s CornPAC from 2009 to 2014 and under his leadership, the Corn PAC went from raising just under 84,000 in 2009, to a whopping 150,000 in 2014. That is definitely putting your money where your mouth is in terms of raising money to do good for this association and this industry,” Wyant said.
McCauley said he was proud of the growth of farmer-owned ethanol plants and the 2008 Renewable Fuel Standard.
“When you create enough demand to use up four or five billion bushels of corn for ethanol plus all the extra things that filter down through the system like DDGS. That would not have happened without farmer investment and the checkoffs pushing this,” McCauley said. “That hasn’t been said enough: the checkoffs were the big driver in ethanol growth and it wouldn’t have went to 15 billion gallons without the farmer being involved and putting their own money on the line to make that happen.”
The Kansas Corn Commission oversees the one-cent-per-bushel corn checkoff, investing in the areas of market development, education, research and promotion. The Kansas Corn Growers Association represents its members in legislative and regulatory issues and promotes corn and the farmers who grow it.
— Kansas Corn