Ep. 11 - Applying a Military Strategic Mindset to Corn Demand, with Col. Mark Purdy

September 30, 2020

Ep. 11 - Applying a Military Strategic Mindset to Corn Demand, with Col. Mark Purdy

Sep 30, 2020

NCGA’s efforts to spur corn demand have made great strides toward big-picture, far-horizon initiatives that will grow corn consumption in the future. But with the extra hit to corn demand posed by the pandemic, farmers could use a little extra help this harvest season.

 

And so the NCGA is partnering with Aimpoint Research, a strategic consulting firm that specializes in applying a military mindset to solving business problems. In this episode, Jon discusses the issues with Aimpoint Senior Vice President Mark Purdy, a former Army Colonel who graduated from West Point Academy. He served as Director of War Games at the U.S. Army War College, and his experience ranges from leading combat units to managing multi-billion dollar security assistance portfolios. He traces his roots back to a family farm in Ohio where he grew up raising sheep, corn soybeans and hay.

 

They’re also joined by Jim Bauman, NCGA’s Vice President of Market Development.

 

 

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Transcript

Mark Purdy:

A lot of us in the military, we grew up and whether you are an intelligence officer or someone that was on the other end of it and actually executing the operations, the intelligence was the most important part to actually hitting the target, doing the thing that you set out to do. So we have this intelligence-based strategic planning process that we use.

 

Dusty Weis:

Hello and welcome to Wherever Jon May Roam, the National Corn Growers Association Podcast. This is where leaders, growers, and stakeholders in the corn industry can turn for big picture conversations about the state of the industry and its future. I'm Dusty Weis, and I'll be introducing your host, association CEO Jon Doggett. You can join Jon every month as he travels the country on a mission to advocate for America's corn farmers. From the fields of the corn belt to the DC beltway, we'll make sure that the growers who feed America have a say in the issues that are important to them with key leaders who are shaping the future of agriculture.

 

Dusty Weis:

In this episode, what can corn growers learn from the former director of wargames at the US Army War College? Jon explores a new strategic partnership between the NCGA and Aimpoint Research to apply military tactical strategies to the problem of generating new corn demand. If you haven't yet, make sure you're subscribed to this podcast in your favorite app, that way you can take us with you on your truck, your tractor, or on your next trip, and never miss an update from Jon. Also, make sure to follow the NCGA on twitter @nationalcorn, and sign up for the National Corn Growers Association newsletter at ncga.com.

 

Dusty Weis:

And with that, it's time to once again, introduce Jon, Jon Doggett, the CEO of the National Corn Growers Association. Jon, this has been a frustrating decade for America's corn farmers, and the problem is as old as economics itself. Even before COVID started, a growing supply and slower demand were giving farmers the fits, but now in the pandemic, well, it's really just put the skids to our people.

 

Jon Doggett:

Dusty, the blessing for corn farmers is the same thing as their curse. They're really, really good at doing what they do. And they raise a lot of corn, but when they do that over and over and over again, it means we've got a great big pile of corn and we have to do something about that demand. And one of the main things that we've done ever since NCGA came around is that we've worked on corn demand. And a lot of what we've done has helped, but in this year of 2020 things are really, they're extraordinary. This corn demand issue is just not the kind of problem that solves itself. When we talk to growers, they say, "Hey, it's like we're under siege." So we've been thinking maybe we need to stop approaching this as just a business problem. Maybe we need to take a more strategic, almost military mindset to this.

 

Dusty Weis:

And that, Jon, is where our first guest comes in. Mark Purdy is the senior vice-president at Aimpoint Research, a strategic consulting firm that specializes in applying a military tactical mindset to business problems. Like most of the senior leadership at Aimpoint, Mark is former US Military. He's a former Army Colonel who graduated from West Point Academy. He served as Director of Wargames at the US Army War College, and his experience ranges from leading combat units to managing multi-billion dollar security assistance portfolios. He traces his roots back to a family farm in Ohio, where he grew up raising sheep, corn, soybeans, and hay. So Colonel Purdy, thanks for joining us on the NCGA podcast.

 

Mark Purdy:

Well, good morning, Dusty, and great to be here with you.

 

Dusty Weis:

Colonel Purdy, I dabble in hunting and shooting sports a little bit myself. And so the first thing that struck me is the name of your firm, Aimpoint. I'm just going out on a limb here, but I'm assuming that that is a reference to the point of aim concept in shooting. Can you tell me a little bit about how that notion plays a role in Aimpoint's philosophy of strategic problem-solving?

 

Mark Purdy:

Sure. And I think you're in the right area when you're thinking about point of aim there. A lot of us in the military, we grew up and whether you are an intelligence officer or someone that that was on the other end of it and actually executing the operations, the intelligence was the most important part to actually hitting the target, doing the thing that you set out to do. So that's how we arrived at Aimpoint for our name.

 

Dusty Weis:

And then of course, it's going to take a broad understanding of the corn industry and the broader market forces to begin this strategic process. Thankfully, there is no shortage of that kind of expertise at the NCGA. And that's why we're also joined today by Jim Bauman, NCGA's Vice President of Market Development.

 

Jim Bauman:

Thanks, Dustin. We're really eager to get this process underway, talking about the problems on an industry-wide scale here. So we really want to make sure we're getting input from across the industry.

 

Dusty Weis:

So gentlemen, step one in this process is assessing the current situation and how we got here. Jon, we're six years into a tough farm economy. How did we end up with such a perfect storm of bad market conditions?

 

Jon Doggett:

Well, Dusty, we've seen some serious situations in the ethanol market. We've seen these small refinery exemptions that have hit us pretty hard. And really, we've seen the renewable fuel standard not live up to its full expectation. We could have had billions of additional gallons of ethanol going into the motor fuel supply in this country, but we've had a lot of opposition to that.

 

Jon Doggett:

When we look at our livestock partners, and that's our biggest market, that's been pretty flat. Hog farmers, folks in the business shape, poultry, you name it, everybody's kind of flat right now. And that hasn't been helpful either. And then lastly, I think in recent years, we've had some significantly low prices in the oil sector, and that has probably put a real damper on the ability for us to go ahead and make bio-plastics out of corn-based ethanol, which is a really exciting thing but hasn't quite happened when oil prices are this low.

 

Dusty Weis:

And of course, Jon, this is the time of year when farmers are starting to, or getting ready to, bring their crop in. It's just about harvest time. So as you're a farmer in the heartland, looking out across those rolling fields of golden corn, how does your mindset change this time of year, given everything that's going on in the markets?

 

Jon Doggett:

Well, we've seen an uptick in prices in the last few weeks, but nonetheless, we're harvesting a huge, huge crop. We won't know obviously how big it is until probably December, January, but it's going to be a significant crop. It is going to increase our carry over. And so we're going to be in a situation where we have a lot of corn, and corn farmers are in their combine or running the grain cart, and they're seeing all that corn. And they're wondering is that price they're going to get for that corn, is it going to be led by a two or led by a three? And certainly, if it's led by a two, as it is in a lot of parts of the country right now, that's going to really have serious implications for a lot of folks.

 

Dusty Weis:

I would imagine a lot of folks climbing into their combines right now just want a little bit of reassurance that someone's got a plan going forward. So Jim, what are some of the ways that NCGA is working on the demand side of this?

 

Jim Bauman:

Yeah, Dusty. I mean, historically, obviously, ethanol has been a huge area that we focus on for corn demand, whether that's domestic consumption or even international exports of ethanol. Also working on the trade front for whole kernel corn exports. And then last but not least, and definitely a very large customer for corn, is just animal ag, animal feed. How do we work with our partners to grow demand for their products? And that's really some of the exciting things have come out of this work with Aimpoint is, how do you partner with these downstream organizations to develop a plan that's optimized to ultimately lead to grinding more corn in the short term and longterm for farmers?

 

Dusty Weis:

Now, Mark, you've been confronted with some interesting strategic problems before. How does this one stack up as compared to some of your previous projects?

 

Mark Purdy:

Yeah, Dusty. See, this one definitely ranks up there. So I think I can go ahead and prioritize this one towards that upper level here. So just to give you a little bit of context into my response there, I worked on a strategic problem that was really about the trade flows elicit and the good trade from our southern borders. One, it was bringing all the team players together, not only from the US side, which was probably 20 different organizations who had definitely solved the problem on their own with at least in their mind and were very passionate about what they do and how they bring that to bear. But then also the players on the other side of the house, international players, as well as international organizations, governmental, non-governmental, that was a significant challenge.

 

Mark Purdy:

Even during that process, you found out the southern approaches to the United States in the origins could actually be through Canada. So then it's about that greater context. So bring that over, and I would compare this one to that kind of ranked up there with the top strategic challenge that I had coming into some of the things that I've done that at Aimpoint here, that I would say this one ranks right up there because it is a very complex, complex versus complicated. So two plus two doesn't always equal four in some of these relationships and solution sets. So it ranks up there, but I will tell you, it's exciting when you bring a team together, just in that formal one that I referenced. The energy and excitement and the points of connection to tackle a problem like this, that is very difficult in complex, but again exciting, especially since we're working ultimately for our corn growers, who I think rank right up there as far as one of the most respected groups in our nation, as it applies to our national fabric, as well as national security.

 

Dusty Weis:

So as we start the process of assessing the current situation, it really helps to just sort of frame the problem up and take a look at it from a macro level. So Jon, can you paint a picture for us? What sort of shape was the industry in before the pandemic?

 

Jon Doggett:

Before the pandemic, we were suffering through a number of years of record-high production. And as I've said, again, some of our demands have been fairly flat and so of them have actually gone down. You throw in some trade uncertainty, before the pandemic, there was a lot of concern out there. And after 2019, and the trade disruptions, and the weather, and everything else that was going on, we were all so excited about turning that calendar and getting rid of 2019 and getting into that new year 2020, and then March came.

 

Dusty Weis:

Before the pandemic, this could have been a, a pretty decent year for growers. And so it makes it all the more frustrating to see the way that COVID-19 has changed the landscape. But Jim, what did the pandemic do to us?

 

Jim Bauman:

It really just accelerated some of the trends that Jon was just talking about. And particularly when you look at fuel demand, fuel consumption, obviously with the stay at home orders that went into place during COVID, that had a very dramatic impact on consumption. In fact, at the peak, in the March and April timeframe, we were seeing up to 50% of the ethanol industry offline. It doesn't take very many days, very many weeks of that type of level of production impact to start to quickly roll over to corn grind. And we've definitely felt that. Thankfully, as we've come out of those stay at home shelter in place orders, we have seen fill demand recover, but the most recent government data indicates we're looking at about a 12% to 15% decline versus last year in ethanol consumption. And that translates to real bushels, real impact on the farm for our growers.

 

Dusty Weis:

Mark, when you hear numbers like that, what's your initial assessment of this situation? When the corn growers brought this problem to you and you started hearing statistics like that thrown around, what are your thoughts as a strategic planner?

 

Mark Purdy:

Well, when you think about a 10 to 15% drop compared to previous consumption and compare that with our increased outputs, it's really higher than that. And while if you look at a chart in a boardroom, 10% to 15% while significant, when you equate that to hundreds of millions of bushels of corn, that's huge. And we've got to come up with a solution at least to push that somewhere else and to build those markets, whether it's domestic or international.

 

Dusty Weis:

And so I think that's really what was at the heart of the decision by the NCGA Corn Board to take action and commission this demand recovery plan. But Jon, from your perspective as CEO of the National Corn Growers Association, what's your role in tackling these problems?

 

Jon Doggett:

Well, Jim and I had an opportunity to meet Mark and the rest of the Aimpoint team about a year ago at another wargame. And we came away very, very impressed. And after a number of discussions late Spring, the staff took a proposal to the board and said, "Let's find a way to bring our customers together and talk about increasing demand, something that we always do, but let's be focused on, what can our customers tell us about what they need to have happened to use more corn? And let's frame it in a fairly short window, two, three, maybe four years at the outside."

 

Jon Doggett:

We always have, and we always will work on long-term solutions to corn demand. But right now we're in a situation that is pretty dire and we need to have some action pretty quick. And we need to save a generation of new young farmers who may not come back to the farm because things are so tough. And so what we want to do is find a way to increase demand over the next two, three, four years, so that we have a future that we can look at. And some of those longer-term things that we're working on can come to fruition for a much larger group of growers.

 

Dusty Weis:

And Jon, as I understand it, this is a pretty unprecedented step for NCGA here. How is this different from other planning initiatives in the past?

 

Jon Doggett:

I think two things. One is that we're talking to our customers. They are very much an integral part of this process. That's number one. And number two is just the timeframe. Let's make it short. Can we find someplace that we can increase demand by 25 million bushels in the next eight, nine months? No, it's not a lot of corn, but it's better than not having that 25 million bushels of extra demand. So we're looking at hitting some singles rather than hitting home runs. We are not going to hit a home run and all of a sudden come up with a way to increase corn demand by billions of bushels over the next several years.

 

Jon Doggett:

I think we need to be realistic and acknowledge that, but also let's say aim for a solution or a series of solutions here that increases demand in a diversified way. And for many, many years, the corn industry was entirely dependent on the health of the livestock industry. Then we built the ethanol industry and now we're very much dependent on the ethanol industry. So we want to see a way or several ways or a number of ways to go ahead and diversify that corn usage and move on.

 

Dusty Weis:

So Mark, how does NCGA's recovery plan then fit into the Aimpoint process? Where are you at in that process and what are the steps going forward here?

 

Mark Purdy:

Yeah, that's a good question because back to why the name Aimpoint, and it's about hitting the target, but more importantly, it's about the intelligence that you need to actually do that. So we have this intelligence-based strategic planning process that we use. We're in step two of the process right now, but first is collecting the intelligence and assembling that together in a holistic approach. And now, we're into developing those solution sets that go into that as part of this planning process and understanding that. And so the intelligence, we collected a lot of intelligence, had a lot of conversations again with those customers that use our corn and assembled that together in a holistic approach.

 

Mark Purdy:

Not only looking comprehensively nationally but really taking a look across the globe and understanding these dynamics because some of our biggest competitors are also some of our biggest customers. And understanding what that looks like now, what it looks like in two years and three years, what it looks like in different dynamics of administrations and other things and how those play into it. So it fits into our process very well. Again, the intelligence being the foundation to we're doing, and then from that intelligence, developing solution sets.

 

Dusty Weis:

So what are some of the insights then that you've gathered and that first step of the intelligence-gathering process? Have there been any a-ha moments already or anything that really surprised you?

 

Mark Purdy:

Yes, but only a-ha insomuch, it's kind of the basic things there, that current relationships. Maybe there are certain markets out there that some of the participants in this process are very excited about that we need to bring to the forefront and see what we can leverage, whether that's some of our partners in East Asia, as well as just to the south of us in South America and in Mexico and what some of those near term opportunities are that maybe don't make the headlines in a lot of these conversations, but I think it's the a-ha in the simple. And then there were some unity across these conversations well that I think was encouraging to where the group could take on a unified approach to some of these initiatives.

 

Dusty Weis:

And as this intelligence has come in, how has it changed your assessment of the situation?

 

Mark Purdy:

I would say, I don't know if it changed significantly. I know we knew going in that there would be these points of connections that maybe we didn't know about. Again, there's some short term opportunities here. I would say that what we've gained more clarity in our hypothesis, our assumptions going in, that there's probably some efforts in this one year, two-year term to start and realize some demand in the three years. So we've gained a little more clarity in that and really started to understand what may be some of these current opportunities are right now in this growing season, as well as next year, and then start to build out and see how long that they last and how do we have something ready to go in place of that? So if, for instance, as Jim pointed out, the ethanol demand continues to trend down, or we only recover a portion of what it's down this year, what can we fill in the void with?

 

Dusty Weis:

Jim, from your perspective, are you approaching this with the idea that "This is as bad as it's going to get," or when you're doing a planning process like this, do you have to keep in the back of your mind this notion that, "Oh, there could be bigger problems still to come."

 

Jim Bauman:

I think you're absolutely right. There's always that option that next year could be worse. We always look at it being optimistic. I think that's part of farming, is that you always have that medium to long term look that it's always going to be better, it's always going to be optimistic moving down the road, but the strength of a strategic plan is that you build it in so that it's able to handle those contingencies, handle those surprises that pop up. So if we have a strong plan in place that's built around where we're at today and what we think we're going to be for the next five years, we'll be able to address those unexpected potholes, dips, challenges that do pop up.

 

Jim Bauman:

And to kind of jump back to one of the points Mark was making as well, is that we oftentimes as NCGA work directly with our downstream partners. That isn't new, it's really the benefit that's come out of this is we're talking to all of them, more of a holistic approach at the same time, versus maybe some one-off conversations that we've had either with pork or beef or in ethanol individually. Very rarely in the past have we been able to bring all these stakeholders together at the same time and have a broad holistic discussion about what's impacting agriculture and how do we do the right thing to move everybody forward? And I think that's probably been the exciting takeaway from me for this process so far.

 

Dusty Weis:

Jon, what about you? As you've set out down this road, you framed this up as is trying to be about base hits there. When Mark talks about new emerging opportunities in east Asia or South America, are those the sorts of base hits that you had in mind and how do you as an association go about pursuing those?

 

Jon Doggett:

Well, absolutely. Those are precisely the kinds of things that we have in mind, is how many more markets are out there, and how do we access them? And so this process is to do two things. One is to identify those opportunities, and two, start a plan that will implement the things that we need to do in order to bring those base hits home.

 

Dusty Weis:

So Mark, then you've kind of charted out for us the steps that we've already taken. What are the next steps in this process and how do you go about teeing up the NCGA and its partners for success with solutions?

 

Mark Purdy:

So once we come out of this second phase, which is developing the solutions, we go into a phase called wargaming. So wargaming, it's this, once we have what we think is a solution, we develop an event, a process where we develop the strongest competitors we can to any of those and try to break those solution sets. So that there's really very little if anything, unexpected that comes at us with respect to the solution set and that we can make them even better. So step three would be to conduct this wargame. And again, this is a comprehensive event that's competitive, and it's real-time to test these solution sets within the various scenarios that we've laid out over the next one to three years. Then the fourth part is really to be able to take this plan, refine it, but communicate it.

 

Mark Purdy:

And one of the things that we've emphasized to the committee is this isn't going to be esoteric. This is kind of what we talked about, what we think is going to be, and read it and be happy. It's really no kidding communicating by segments of what we estimate can be delivered in time to, again, like Jon said, really articulate the base hits and what our goals are and to set them out there. So four phases. We're right in the middle of phase two, looking forward to that wargame in St. Louis in November, and really to refine and communicate to our great growers and partners out there what the way ahead looks like over the next one, two, three years.

 

Dusty Weis:

Yeah. I'd love it if you could actually take us a little bit further inside that wargame process. You were Director of Wargames for the Army College. I would imagine that this is a little bit more intense than just setting out the risk board and everybody's sitting around enjoying a fun little game here. What's that process like?

 

Mark Purdy:

Yeah. Sometimes, so when you actually get into the game, and I'm sure Jon can attest to in his experience, it gets competitive. There are disagreements. I play a role that I don't actually envy in most people as the game master. So I make decisions and calls. We factor in probability matrices to where arguments are made. So argument in the good form, the classic form of argument-based strategic wargames, to where a group will present their actions and then each of those other groups will either make an argument for or against based on the alliances that were made in the planning session. And then it's adjudicated out there. So even some of the best-laid plans may meet some difficulty if they don't have the right dice roll according to the probability matrix.

 

Dusty Weis:

Mark, I've just got to say, I have an old buddy of mine who's an officer in the Marines and he does some pretty heavy wargaming too. And we were talking the other week catching up and he says to me, "Nobody invites me over for board game night anymore. Nobody invites me over for Access and Allies or Diplomacy. They say I'm too intense." Do you encounter the same problem? You get invited over for board game night?

 

Mark Purdy:

Well, now that you've mentioned it, that's kind of dropped off.

 

Dusty Weis:

Yeah, well, that's unfortunate. But I'd say it's their loss. So, Mark, it sounds like there's a lot you can learn from running a complex tactical simulation like this. And Jon, after your proposed solutions are pressure tested in this process, what are you hoping that the NCGA and its members can take away from that?

 

Jon Doggett:

Well, I think Mark really laid it out well, as far as what is the product going to look like? It's going to be taking identifiable segments of our demand structure and how do we improve that over the short term? That's really, really important. The other important component to this, I think, is just providing some hope out there. So many of our growers are going to have a big crop and they're not going to sell it for much money. They got to go in and talk to their banker. And does that kid in college want to come back to the farm or does that kid in college say, "You know what, mom and dad? Really would like to come and visit more often, but I'm going to take a job doing something else."

 

Jon Doggett:

And so we need to have some hope out there in the countryside. And this is not going to be the whole part of that, but we think it's an important part of it. We know that folks are paying membership dollars, they're paying checkoff dollars, investing in their organization, investing in their industry, and they want to see something that their industry has turned around and done for them. And part of that is just giving them some things to look at, to point at, and mostly to have some hope.

 

Dusty Weis:

Obviously, we're only two steps into a four-step process here and there's a lot of strategic thought yet to go into this. But I'd love to hear from each one of you what you think might be some of the no brainers that we'll see in the final plan.

 

Jon Doggett:

I think one of the things that we're going to see, and this is just my speculation, but I really do think that a lot of this is going to point towards trade and the importance of not only exporting number two, yellow corn, but to increase our exports of meat, dairy, poultry, ethanol, EDGs, you name it. We have so many added-value products that are made from corn. And I think that that probably will be what we're going to see. And it will be interesting to see how that is broken down into something that we can put our arms around it and start working with. Right.

 

Dusty Weis:

Jim Bauman, Vice President at the NCGA. What about you? What's a no brainer you'd think we'll see in the final plan?

 

Jim Bauman:

Piggybacking off of Jon's response around trade, I think it's also important to point out is, how do we optimize what we're already doing domestically? Working to grow into an E15 blend market for ethanol, working to continue to push protein consumption domestically with consumers in the US. It's how do we work with our downstream partners and better optimize those downstream efforts to really continue to protect our base? And we have a very sizable built out base of domestic demand here. How do we make sure that we hang on to that, we don't erode that, but then look to grow that abroad to trade? I think that's an important piece to push home because it's not just about trade, it's about growing on all fronts.

 

Dusty Weis:

And Mark Purdy, Vice President at Aimpoint Research. Anything that you think that we're certain to see in the final product?

 

Mark Purdy:

So I get to go third. So I definitely echo echo trade and those types of things that Jon pointed out and Jim expanded on. But I would say kind of these no-brainer approaches would be the unity of effort that we'll need to apply that I think is going to pay dividends with respect to, again, any of our animal protein consumers there, as well as ethanol and others in this process, to understand, "Hey, a unity of effort when we're kind of unified on this, in turn, will increase some of the corn grind that's consumed there." So I think as far as no-brainers and the unity of effort of mission between the groups coming out of this is going to pay off.

 

Dusty Weis:

Jim, this is the time of year when growers spend a lot of time in the cab of a combine out in the fields. And of course, they've got more of a stake in this than anybody. But being out in the field, that gives them a lot of time to think and mull over these kinds of problems. So how is the NCGA working to incorporate input from its members into this process and these solutions?

 

Jim Bauman:

Yeah, it's a multi-facet front. It's gathering feedback directly from state checkoff associations, state policy associations, working with those staffs at that level, working with our board members, our grower leaders at the national level. And more importantly, we also set up an option for grassroots on the farm membership to submit ideas as well. This really kicked off back when COVID first really came on the scene, but we still have an email address set up for that. And those that are listening today, if they have ideas that they think should be part of a solution set, we'll definitely want to make sure we're leaving no stone unturned. That email address would be coronavirusinput@ncga.com. Once again, that's coronavirusinput@ncga.com. We can use that to roll up some feedback from listeners of the podcast today.

 

Dusty Weis:

So Jon, as we work through this process and we'll eventually have a set of recommendations, what are some of these longer-term initiatives that you're really hoping to set the table for? Your cleanup hitters, so to speak?

 

Jon Doggett:

Sure. And a lot of these are things that we've worked on a long time. Recently, we saw the introduction in the House of Representatives of a low carbon octane standard, something that we've worked on for several years, glad to see this finally being introduced, hope to get a companion bill in the Senate. It is something that addresses the need for more octane in our nation's fuel supply as car companies move towards higher and higher compression engines. So that is something we see as being very important in helping the auto industry have some alternatives besides just electric cars. So that's an important part, and as Jim said, other key pieces around the ethanol space.

 

Jon Doggett:

And one of the things that the pandemic has done, and we don't know how much and to what extent, but we've seen the economies around the globe take a horrible hit. And a lot of our corn increase in demand has come from emerging middle class in China, in India, Southeast Asia, other parts of the world, Africa. And as those nations in those societies get a little bit more wealthy, they want to put a little more protein in their diet. And we'll have to see what the pandemic has done to those economies and how much it has slowed the emerging middle class across the globe. That is going to be something that's going to be important. We're going to be following that, and as the world economy turns around, we need to be there at the right spot to help capture some of that new wealth.

 

Dusty Weis:

It really just drives home for me how interconnected all of these factors really are and how complex a scenario Mark has to present and account for and control throughout this entire strategic process, but also throughout the wargaming itself. It certainly feels like there's a lot of headway already been made here today. Just sussing out these issues, but there's a long road ahead, still a lot of work to do. And so we will look forward to learning more as this process continues. So Mark Purdy from Aimpoint Research, and Jim Bauman from the NCGA, thanks for joining us on this edition of the podcast. And Jon Doggett, CEO of the National Corn Growers Association, your final thoughts?

 

Jon Doggett:

Well, thanks, Dusty. And certainly thanks to Jim and Mark for being on the podcast. We are really excited about our partnership with Aimpoint. This is one of those things that Jim and I got excited when we met those folks last year, came back and we started in on a long list of people that Mark and his colleagues needed to meet. And as our grower started beating the folks at Aimpoint, they came away and over and over again, our growers said "I feel a lot more confident. There's somebody really that knows their game and knows their business. These are the folks that maybe can help us get to the place that we need to be." So I have a lot of optimism about this process and where we're going to go. It's exciting.

 

Jon Doggett:

And I think that's what we need to do is impart to folks, let's be excited about this. We find lots of reasons to be pessimistic, to not see the positives, but this is one that I think we could be optimistic about, be excited about. It should be. This is your organization. If you're a corn grower member, or if you pay a checkoff and we're doing everything we can to address the very serious situation that's going on out in the countryside. So on that note, thanks to the guests. Thanks to Dusty. My name is Jon Doggett. I'm the CEO of the National Corn Growers Association. You've been listening to Wherever Jon May Roam Podcast from the National Corn Growers Association.

 

Dusty Weis:

That is going to wrap up this edition of Wherever Jon May Roam, the National Corn Growers Association Podcast. New episodes arrive monthly, so make sure you subscribe on your favorite app and join us again soon. Visit ncga.com to learn more or sign up for the association's email newsletter. Wherever Jon May Roam is brought to you by the National Corn Growers Association and produced by Podcamp Media, branded podcast production for businesses, podcampmedia.com. For the National Corn Growers Association, thanks for listening. I'm Dusty Weis.