EP. 14 - New Year, New Challenges: What's On Tap for 2021, with NCGA President John Linder

January 5, 2021

EP. 14 - New Year, New Challenges: What's On Tap for 2021, with NCGA President John Linder

Jan 5, 2021

After a 2020 calendar year in which it seems like we were always asking, "What next?", we take a look at what the future holds for America's corn industry with the President of the NCGA, John Linder, in the latest episode of Wherever Jon May Roam.

 

Linder is a fifth-generation farmer from the little town of Edison, Ohio. Prior to his elevation to the role of President, John served as the Corn Board liaison to the Market Access Action Team, on the Resolutions Committee and chaired the Finance and Engaging Members Committees. He also represented NCGA at the National Coalition for Food and Agriculture Research and the National Corn-to-Ethanol Research Center.

 

Together with association CEO Jon Doggett, they'll discuss new demand generation opportunities, why it's important to get new growers involved with the NCGA, and what Commodity Classic is going to look like in a pandemic year.

 

 

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John Linder:

This is where we're heading this year with the board is to look at, okay, if we get demand back, is it sustainable? What's missing? Who's not at the table? Because that's how we bring market value to our growers.

 

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, after a year in which it seems like we were always asking, "What next?" we take a look ahead to 2021 and answer some of those questions about what's next for America's corn industry. From new demand generation to opportunities to get involved with advancing the industry to what Commodity Classic is going to look like in a pandemic year, we'll take a look at the future with NCGA's president, Ohio corn farmer, John Linder. 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 in 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, the old saying goes that hindsight is 2020, and so appropriately enough, 2020 is the year that gave us a whole lot of hindsight. Certainly nothing changes overnight as we turn the page on the calendar from 2020 to 2021. But this does raise a great opportunity to have a forward-looking conversation with NCGA’s President, John Linder.

 

Jon Doggett:

That's right, Dusty. And certainly he's well-known in the world of agriculture, particularly in the world of corn, but I'm going to introduce him anyway. John Linder is a fifth generation farmer from the little town of Edison, Ohio, which is just a ways away from Columbus, Ohio. Prior to serving as our president, John served as the corn board liaison to the market access action team. He served on the resolutions committee and chaired the engaging members committee, and very importantly, at one point, he chaired the finance committee. He's represented NCGA at the National Coalition for Food and Ag Research and the National Corn to Ethanol Research Center. John, thanks again for all of the service that you have done for our industry, and thanks for making the commitment to serve this next year. We appreciate it, and thanks, of course, for joining us on Wherever Jon May Roam.

 

John Linder:

Well, it's good to be here, Jon. Thank you for the introduction. I'll go a little further with it. You know now I'm John Linder, the current president of the National Corn Growers Association. Yeah, a farmer from Ohio. We are about an hour north of Columbus, and it's more central to the middle of the state than actually Columbus is, so if you're ever looking at a map and throw a dart in the middle, you probably hit one of our farms. And I farm with my brother, Mike. Have since I was a kid.

 

John Linder:

I did leave the farm and take an opportunity for a little further education, and I went to a tech school to be a mechanic. So post-high school, my only training as a mechanic, so I did find that it was really a good opportunity to learn about myself and what I wanted to do, and I went off the farm and actually worked at a John Deere dealership for a while, worked on tractors and combines. And it was a good experience, and come back to the farm at the worst time ever, the 1980s. Bought a farm. About killed the whole dynamic that my dad and brother had put together. We survived together, and working together is really how things get done in agriculture. I've learned that firsthand from the school of hard knocks, in learning economics of agriculture.

 

John Linder:

The family dynamic, it was dad and mom were so integral to the farm. Our brother, Mike, got into it first. I come along in 1980. Just before I bought the farm, my wife and I got married. Cheryl, Mike, and I are now the principals in the farm. We have kids on the farm. They help out all they can. One of our daughters, Katie, works for us, and she also works off the farm as a contractor. Oldest daughter actually works for Bunge in a kind of unique situation in a farmers co-op office. And so all very close to the farm, live very central. Nobody's more than five miles from the farm, so it really works out well for us to have that additional help.

 

John Linder:

And my son-in-law, Mike, works in our other company. We do sell propane, and we just look for diversity in our operation, and we decided that propane might be a good fit, so my son-in-law, Mike, runs that operation. And Katie just married again, and her husband works at Ohio State University, and he came and helped run combine this fall, so it is a family operation, but we do have additional help on the farm.

 

John Linder:

Something else that you may not know about me, my brother Mike and I, since probably about that same time I got married, 1980, have pulled a tractor. It's been virtually the same tractor since then. It's a pro stock. It's a John Deere. It is a diesel. It has a single turbocharger limitation, and we've had a lot of fun, lot of success, some real disappointments, but after pulling for, oh gosh, now it looks like close to 40 years, right? We've had six grand national titles.

 

John Linder:

We've got three of something that many pullers strive to achieve and have yet to achieve. We've got three Bowling Green rings. They're like a Super Bowl ring. It's the largest outdoor event in the summertime. We're very fortunate to have had that opportunity, but the National Farm Machinery in Louisville is another place we've had a lot of success. And so people do recognize us as the Linder brothers. Mike does most of the driving, so a lot of folks don't even know I exist in tractor pulling, but it's been a fun hobby and a good one. My brother Mike is single, and if he didn't do that, I don't know what other hobby he would do. But grandchildren, gosh. That's more special. If you were going to know me about, for any particular reason, if you wanted to know me, I'd want you to know me about my grandchildren. That is the best thing that I've ever done, that I didn't have anything to do with.

 

Jon Doggett:

Amen to that. Amen to that brother.

 

Dusty Weis:

How many grandchildren, John?

 

John Linder:

We have two so far. I've got a 13-year-old grandson and an 11-year-old granddaughter. They're playing basketball. I have to brag. Ashton is a go-getter. She is really competitive. Kayden loves to compete, but it's more about a little bit of a social exercise for him. It's not super social, but he really likes that part of it. Ashton is really competitive. They won a game a couple of weeks ago. Gosh, more than a couple. Gosh, it's back in December, right? I'm losing track of time already. And they won. Their score was 19. I don't know what the opponents were, but she scored 17 of the 19, and several were foul shots because they recognized what they were up against.

 

Jon Doggett:

That's pretty great. And I've met your grandchildren. It's hard to believe your grandson is 13 already because gosh, when did ... We did a paddle trip on the Potomac. How many years has that been? Five years ago? Something like that.

 

John Linder:

Time flies. That was a delight and such a wonderful experience to do that with the kids. The monuments from the river are just an amazing experience.

 

Jon Doggett:

Yeah. It's always a lot of fun. John, tell us, how did you get involved with the National Corn Growers Association?

 

John Linder:

For me, it was just like probably most everybody. I got asked. I got asked if I wanted to contribute, and we always look for that next leader, and we really tried to do a good job of searching. And Anthony Bush, who's been on the national board, and he's actually the Commodity Classic chair, is the person who invited me to consider getting on the board in Ohio. And then it was Tad Nicholson that pushed me and said, "You need to think about contributing a little more." And so I said, "Well, if I'm going to do that, I'm going to take leadership." So I stepped up in the first year on the board and was fortunate enough to be selected for leadership at its best, and it's a natural thing. National Corn Growers has given me the opportunity for leadership, consider an action team, a little more work with National Corn Growers.

 

John Linder:

And that's where I landed with the trade policy biotech for two years. Great staff there and good leadership, and after two years on the team, I got to be the chair for two years, so trade kind of gets me excited. I'm glad we took that to the next level because it's really serving our growers well, the effort that we've put into that. And certainly want to thank our relationship with the U.S. Grains Council. Those folks have been a tremendous attribute and a great investment for our checkoff dollars as well as with us at National Corn.

 

John Linder:

But yes, what we do for trade at national is probably a little bit unsung because everybody thinks we're about just production and trying to figure out where we sell it domestically. But we play an international role as well. Got great relationship with whoever's in USTR regardless of the administration. They've always recognized the importance of having corn in the room, in the conversation, so it's really been a rewarding area to be focused in.

 

Jon Doggett:

John Linder, farmer from Ohio. Now you're president of the National Corn Growers Association. How did you get on the board? What happened to make you decide to do that?

 

John Linder:

For me, looking back, it almost makes my head spin a little bit because things can happen fast. If you really want to dig in and contribute, you can move along in this association rather quickly, and time does pass rather quickly. I have to tell you, when I became president on October 1st, I woke up that morning, and I swear, the earth was spinning a little faster. And my wife looked over at me, and she said, "Good morning, Mr. President." It hit home. Now you're representing 300,000 corn farmers.

 

John Linder:

How did I get to the board? What led me to the role I'm in? I mentioned that I actually was an action team chair, which is a subcommittee of the board, doing that for two years and folks appreciate what our team did, and so you do get that recognition. It's undeniable. If your team really does a remarkable job, which that team typically with trade and biotech, both issues very dear to the corn industry, you've got recognition. So I realized that if I was ever going to run for the board, you probably ought to take that springboard of recognition, so I took that leap of faith and took the application, went through the process, and was fortunately elected to the board. It was such a surprise.

 

John Linder:

You don't think you're all that, and then you find out others believe in you, so then you take those jobs seriously. For me, it's always been one job at a time. You may have several different things that you're tasked with, but you really want to do what's in front of you really well. So when I got on the board, I had those opportunities to focus on particular areas of interest and it's so rewarding. And evidently, the board felt the same way. As finance chair, they felt like there was a great appreciation for the effort that I put into it.

 

John Linder:

And I thought, there you go again. Timing may be just right because the officer rotation is a three-year commitment. It's a large commitment. And the time that it takes to be an officer, and every role that I've ever taken at NCGA, I've always given it a fair amount of time at home and let it run it up the family flagpole, make sure that everybody else is on board because who's filling the gap while I'm not home? It's my brother, my wife, my kids, my employees. So you have those conversations, and timing was right, so I asked the board if they would consider me, and they did.

 

Jon Doggett:

John, you've gone through so many chairs and so many positions at NCGA, and like you said, you woke up October 1st, and you're the president. And it's the middle of a pandemic, and there's a lot of stuff going on. So not only was the world moving faster, but you had a big, big role to play for an awful lot of people. What did you do that first week and second week and third week? How did you approach the pandemic, and how did you lead this organization through some of that?

 

John Linder:

When you take over the office and you're under a pandemic, it's a level of commitment you find yourself not wanting to turn it off, so you do have to find that space where you can recharge and refresh. But one of the spaces that I've found that had been particularly rewarding in managing issues is actually consulting with my wife, consulting with my fellow board members, talking to my brother and getting his perspective, because it may be a little more focused to the farm than I have landed because now I'm in a world that he is not. That grounding is really important, but Kevin Ross later wrote forward for us in leadership. I told Kevin, I said, you get the momentum going, and I'll do my best to keep it moving for us. Having Kevin there still is a critical role.

 

John Linder:

I make no bones about it. Chris Edgington, the vice president of the National Corn Growers, is a good friend, and so it's really rewarding to have those relationships and being able to manage things that we're looking at. The pandemic, we've had some really good successes even through the pandemic because what we do at National Corn doesn't turn on and off. It's an every day effort.

 

John Linder:

Our staff live, eat, and breathe this on our behalf. We may go back and shell corn, or we may go back and plant corn. We have really good people behind us doing this work every day for which we've given direction and guidance to how to be effective and give them our perspectives, which are difficult, like I said. It's my grounding with my brother to make sure I've not forgot the farm focus. They're grounding for what's the focus in agriculture as their board. I feel we do that really well, so there's been such a background effort of good things that keep happening. And there's a lot of good things that happen that we don't even maybe get to communicate out the small ones, but they add up to really big ones.

 

Dusty Weis:

Jon Doggett, CEO of the National Corn Growers Association, I've got to ask you, too. When you look back at the year that was in 2020, how are you going to remember it? And what do you think the lasting legacy is for America's corn industry?

 

Jon Doggett:

When I look back on 2020, it's not what I remember. It's what I'd like to forget, and that's a lot of it. What I really found to be heartening throughout the whole year, and it was a long, long year, was that staff worked really hard. Growers worked really hard. We worked well together, and we came to understand that we were going to have to do things like Zoom meetings. And at first, that was tough, and it's still not easy, but I think everybody stepped up, and we realized we had to do two things.

 

Jon Doggett:

One, we had to continue our longer term demand and organizational issues that we always have done, and then we had the shorter term. How are we going to deal with this pandemic? What do we have to do first to help our growers stay safe? We've talked a lot about mental health issues. There's a lot of stress out in farm country, so we did that. We also put together a short-term market recovery effort, and I'd like John to talk about that in a second, but I'm just struck that people have pushed on and pushed on.

 

Jon Doggett:

And that one of President Linder's favorite expressions, and it's the code by which he lives, and that is, "Leave no stone unturned." And I certainly believe that no stone, no rock, no pebble was unturned by this organization under leadership of John Linder, and it's just been great. We've had a lot of great presidents, and John's one on that list, and it's been good. But I'd like John to talk about our market recovery plan and how that unfolded and what your observations were about that. And more importantly, what do corn farmers who are listening to this podcast, what do they need to hear about that effort?

 

John Linder:

You know what? A pandemic throws you a curve ball, you've got no choice but to swing. And sometimes, you don't have quite the control on where that ball lands, but you really take a concerted effort to look out and see and get a feeling for what's going on. And so we set up a COVID task force immediately, and we brought in folks from state staff, grower leaders from the board, from the management team, and we started having discussions of what's going on around the country. And very quickly, we all realized we had some real struggles. One was the ethanol. People had to quit driving, and so we quit moving liquid fuel. We also had the issue with the livestock industry, keeping workers safe and being able to process meat protein. Right?

 

John Linder:

And so then you look at this, and you say, Okay, what can we do to make a difference?" And so we decided that there was probably a real opportunity to reach out to our value chain, those in the livestock, those in the ethanol, those that purchased corn and used corn anywhere and bring those folks in. And that's what that market recovery plan was about. We hired a consultant, Aimpoint Research, and they took us through that step-by-step to how to tie the concerns throughout our value chain, throughout our industry. We all lobbied for the farmers to be determined to be essential and didn't find supply disruptions, so planting went on barring mother nature issues, right? And the other parts of our value chain, you couldn't say the same. It was such a struggle and still is today, so that's what the market recovery plan is about. And it's going to have a long-term outcome, but we're looking for those points for which we can make little differences in each of the industries and altogether as one as well, so that we do have solid markets moving forward.

 

John Linder:

It's one thing to have demand and have it disappear, but it's another thing to put a real consideration into, and this is where I take the board. This is where we're heading this year with the board is to look at, okay, if we get demand back, is it sustainable? We need to prop our demand up and make sure what's missing? Who's not at the table? What parts are we not coupling to our demand to make sure that it is sustainable? Because that's how we bring market value to our growers. It has to be the mindset that the farmer needs sustainability. He needs to be able to face every day with some type of consistency and assurance that there is a reason he does what he does, and that value is what we're attempting to bring.

 

Jon Doggett:

John Linder, as we're getting into 2021 here, what are your organizational goals for the year? NCGA is a rather large entity. It has a fairly good size budget, 55, 60 employees. There's a lot of moving parts. What are your goals for all of that for this next year?

 

John Linder:

Taking the board to the next level is really one of my main goals. We really demand, right? You're always going to say demand regardless, but how you achieve that and how you make it sustainable. I think you've got really strong leadership on the board, and I want to capitalize on that. And so we've undergone a process for which we make sure that no one gets entrenched in a particular topic. We make sure that everybody gets out of their silo, gets out of their comfort zone, and is looking very much at a big picture. And that's one of my goals is to make sure that the board is really solid, and we'll use them to the best of our ability.

 

John Linder:

One of my goals is I will do everything in my power to help this industry recover and grow. Well, that's a little bit about refinement, and we do a lot of things really well, but if we need to take on something different, a little bit tangential, out of our market recovery plan, we need to make sure that our priorities are set right. And we reached out to our state leaders, asked them to go through the priorities and policy session to tell us what's really top of mind and how do we focus to serve those out in the countryside best in that regard.

 

John Linder:

And that's an annual process, but it's really critical this year. And the board took that to heart. They were part of that conversation and heard every word of it, so they know where to go. But the bigger conversations we're going to have in the boardroom and utilize our staff to their full potential. Always, there is more potential in every individual that we have, and we can bring with us than we ever get to realize, so how do we maximize that? How do we figure out who's not in the room, and how do we get them there? That's a really critical conversation, as well. You can't know what you don't know if you don't reach out and ask those that actually do know. So we have to have those conversations, so we can figure out, "I didn't know that." That's impactful. How do we get there?

 

Dusty Weis:

And certainly, the next John Linder might be out there somewhere, just waiting for somebody to reach out to them and invite them to the table to join in on the conversation, too. And so I think that finding ways to build on that outreach are certainly important. Jon Doggett, as we've watched over the past month here as the new presidential administration has been shaping up, certainly, that's your forte there is what's going on in Washington? What do you think about how this new administration is shaping up and what it means for agriculture?

 

Jon Doggett:

I started my career in Washington when Ronald Reagan was president, and Dusty, that was the president many, many years ago. You were probably in grade school. But it has been absolutely amazing. I have seen a number of transitions over the years. I have never seen an incoming administration be so forthcoming and reach out. We've had more contacts with the transition team from the Biden folks than I've seen from all of the rest of them put together several times. We got an outreach from the transition team and Robert Bonnie and Jonathan Coppess, and they reached out to us, and I thought, "Well, that was nice of them, that they called."

 

Jon Doggett:

And then they called again, and then they set up another call, and then they set up another call. I got a call right before Christmas one evening from Michael Regan, who Joe Biden has named to be his EPA administrator. We've never had this kind of thing before, and it's really very encouraging. The proof is going to be in the pudding, got a lot of detail, but the initial opportunities we've had to talk to these folks has been truly remarkable, and we're going to have to build on that. And it's going to take a lot of hard work on our part in order to do that.

 

Dusty Weis:

And of course the person who's going to lead the charge on that is Mr. John Linder, the new president of the Corn Growers Association. John, what are your expectations for working with the new administration and then also your expectations for the new Congress? Because it's a three branch government. Congress has a big role to play in this, too.

 

John Linder:

I think Jon Doggett said it really well. This is a critical time, but this administration is different than the past, and the past on's different than the one before that. And so we have a history of this kind of change, but we've had such a good relationship working bipartisanly at National Corn Growers. There's an opportunity here because the faces are, as Jon said, being appointed, being seated, are familiar faces. Not only do we know them, they know us.

 

John Linder:

That's such an opportunity when folks know you and know your issues a little bit, and you can just go in and refine it. I want to tell every one of them, every policy decision we're going to make at the National Corn Growers is going to be based on its ability to [inaudible 00:23:49] corn and provide for a sustainable future. That's something that's not really new. It's just a little bit refined, a little bit different. I want to have the conversation around the Future Fuels Guide, and folks who already have a little background that it's there. I've met with a few virtually and kind of surprised me how many actually knew it was out there. So as we build momentum in this Congress, the opportunity is there because they know us, and we have a good working relationship.

 

Dusty Weis:

John Doggett, this is an area where you may have been ahead of the curve in a lot of ways. From very early on in your tenure with the National Corn Growers Association, and then early on in the podcast, you've sort of been beating the drum for a little more bipartisanship, a little more cooperation. In fact, we went to Washington before the pandemic started and sat down with one Democrat and one Republican and talked about the need just for that. But voices like that have started to get a little bit louder in Washington over the past year. Do you think that the 117th Congress is the opportunity to finally start building some more bridges instead of burning them down?

 

Jon Doggett:

Absolutely, and our work with the No Labels Caucus in the House of Representatives, a group of about 50 members equally split between Republicans and Democrats, that's been great work, and it's really given us an opportunity to see folks at their best, see folks where they're trying to find solutions to the problems that face our nation. We also see a bit of that going on in the Senate, and as last year when the Senate was pulling together the stimulus package or the package to deal with COVID and everything else, we saw the emergence of probably a dozen or so senators equally split between Republicans and Democrats. You have Mark Kelly from Arizona and Susan Collins from Maine. There are some moderates in the Senate, more so than perhaps in the House. They will have an influence that far exceeds what you would think because of their numbers.

 

Jon Doggett:

I think the same will happen in the House. If we can find a place where there's a cadre of folks in the middle, trying to solve problems rather than beat up the person across the aisle, I think that's not only good for the corn industry. That's good for the United States of America. And I sense that there is a real desire on the part of some, not all, unfortunately, but some members of Congress to actually sit down and listen a little bit and shout a little bit less. And that is something we have to encourage those folks to do. And as I remind folks when they complain about what's going on in Washington, those folks that serve in the Congress were not born and raised in the District of Columbia. They were sent there by the voters of the United States of America, so not only did we send them here, we also need to hold them accountable for some things, and I think this is going to be the year, hopefully, that that will happen.

 

Jon Doggett:

Joe Biden is a centrist. He always was in the middle, the exact middle of the Democratic caucus, no matter which Congress it was for all of those years. He's brought a lot of people who'd understand government very well and who are technocrats. They're not ideologues. Take a look at Katherine Tai, who is named as the U.S. Trade Rep, a long-time Hill staffer who really understands trade. I'd think what a lot of people don't know about her is that she was the one that wrote a lot of the language and did a lot of the negotiations for the implementing language for USMCA, and had she not done it the way she did and her hard work, we might not have had USMCA pass in the House of Representatives. But that's not something a lot of people see.

 

Jon Doggett:

But if she goes over to USTR, she's going to carry a lot of that with her, carry over a lot of things about China, so I think we have some opportunities here. But again, we have to find these solutions in the middle because they don't exist on the far ends of either spectrum.

 

Jon Doggett:

John Linder, as we get into the early months of the year, we start thinking about Commodity Classic, and we're going to be thinking about and doing Commodity Classic much differently this year. What are your observations about what we're doing, what we're going to do, how it's going to work, and what folks might expect from Commodity Classic for this year?

 

John Linder:

I think they're going to demonstrate what some of my goals are for NCGA, to come out of the pandemic stronger on the other side, what the opportunities become. It seems like a hurdle to learn how to work virtually and become one and the same with Zoom is a little awkward. I've got some advantage here. The current co-chair of the Commodity Classic lives a mile and a half from me, so I can go put on a mask and have a good heart-to-heart conversation about where we're going with Commodity Classic. And we're landing very good, and I think folks ought to be excited. It's coming up really quick to be able to register, and we're going to have a little more meeting space. The learning sessions should be more robust.

 

John Linder:

One of the things we ought to be encouraged about is we might find that we're going to tap an international audience because they're having the same issues. They can't meet face-to-face and go to shows, so if we strive to be best in class, and that's what we try to do in everything we do, it should be a platform that really kind of excites outside audiences that have, to participate and show up and look out when we do have our next get-together.

 

John Linder:

It would be just wonderful to ... We're limited on where we go when we're doing it in person because of the size of the venue, has to be able to manage the crowd that we can draw. And we set a record last year. I wonder what we're going to do when we come out of this on the other side in 2022. It could be phenomenal, and you could see an international audience there. It's an opportunity. I would look at it as none other than an opportunity if I'm a grower that just wanted to attend or a corn leader that's participating in anything surrounding it. It is an opportunity. We're going to do it right.

 

Jon Doggett:

John Linder, farmer from Ohio, you have talked a lot about opportunities on this podcast, and you talk about them a lot. You want to get people out of their comfort zone. I have heard you say that many, many times. What gets you out of your comfort zone, and what compels you to try to get others out of their comfort zone?

 

John Linder:

Comfort zone's an interesting conversation, and it was a conversation with my father. I lost dad in 2005. Miss him greatly. There are just so many jobs that he wanted to do all the way to the end, and he did them so well. We really were very fortunate, but early on, out of school, I had an idea we could do something different. And I said to my dad, I said, "Well, why don't we try this?" Well, this is the heat of the battle. He just wanted to get out. He said, "Go do what I said and get going." It was pretty emphatic.

 

John Linder:

Guess what happened a year later? Idea was what we were doing. And he had an opportunity to think about it, reflect, and I got by and just by dropping it, I really, really like when I throw an idea out there and it gains traction and gains refinement from others and they actually own it and I don't even have to do it. It's a subliminal way to delegate, and the board realizes I like to delegate. I don't have to do it all. I just make sure that we're focused and going in the right direction.

 

Jon Doggett:

John Linder, as we kind of wind down here, I'm going to ask you a question that I always hate getting from somebody in the media because this is recorded. It's going to be around for forever, so we'll be able to come back to this over and over again. So give us your predictions for 2021.

 

John Linder:

If I had a crystal ball, I know. Everything seems to be more successful in hindsight, but we lay a really good foundation to move forward and have success. And I think that with our market recovery plan, with all our efforts, our action teams are just phenomenal. I think it's an under-sung hero, the folks that come in and work so closely with us. I'd loved the opportunity to handpick teams to work for the board, and they're going to give us the information for which we need to know in order to move programs forward. One of my goals is for every one of our programs to be evaluated on its ability to grind corn and provide for a sustainable future. That comes through our grower leaders. That comes from our states. That comes from our action teams. The depth of what they're doing right now, preparing for action team meetings in January, is just phenomenal, and the outcomes that are coming out of that, it's just going to be so great.

 

John Linder:

We're going to have some really deep conversations to figure out, like I said, what's missing, who needs to be in the room, who needs to be at the table to be able to be successful for what our teams are challenging us to do. The great story for me for the future of corn growers is the people that are really working hard. What we really need to complement that is for everybody to go to NCGA.com and click on there to become either a member of the association or at least get the information flowing into the inbox so when we ge a call to action, so we can reach out to members of Congress to make a difference for you, we can take you with us. That's going to be so exciting, if you would do that. I can turn one stone over at a time, but together, we can move mountains if we just keep rolling stones over together. And move mountains of corn. That's our goal.

 

Dusty Weis:

You know, Jon Doggett, turnabout is only fair play. What are your predictions for the 2021 year ahead?

 

Jon Doggett:

I think John answered it well, and I will answer it in part this way, and that is, what will happen this year will depend on what we do. And we cannot stand back and be observers of 2021. We need to step up and fulfill our own predictions of what can happen for this year. And the more people we bring to the table, the more ideas we'll have, the more perspectives we'll have, and when we get that, then we can move forward. And as long as we are united as an organization, as an industry, we are going to move those mountains of corn that John talks about.,And we are going to continue to turn over those stones and make sure they're not unturned, and this could be a great year.

 

Jon Doggett:

I remember last year, though, I was glad to say goodbye to 2019. I really am glad to say goodbye to 2020 because we have a lot of work to do, and I'm looking forward to getting it done with great leaders that we have in this organization. With that, John Linder, president of the National Corn Growers Association, thanks so much for joining us on the NCGA podcast. I'm Jon Doggett, CEO of the National Corn Growers Association. Thanks for listening, and tune in next month for another episode of Wherever Jon May Roam, the NCGA podcast.

 

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 in 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, with editing by Larry Kilgore III for the National Corn Growers Association. Thanks for listening. I'm Dusty Weis.

 

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