The new president of the National Corn Growers Association calls grinding more corn the top priority for corn growers in 2021. John Linder, an Ohio farmer who took the role as president of NCGA this month, says his focus is on market recovery from the chaos of the coronavirus pandemic through NCGA’s Market Recovery Plan.
“We’re engaged with most of our folks in the value chain for corn, and they’ve willingly come along. And, we’ve looked at where the market is today and where the bright spots are, and who’s recovering quickly, and going to find those places where we can assert energy behind and try to enhance the curve of which we come out from under this. So, that Market Recovery Plan is really something we needed yesterday. To that end I have set a personal goal of doing everything in my power to help our industry recover and grow. And in that process, we’re going to leave no stone unturned.”
Linder says one opportunity of finding ways to improve demand and increase corn grind is through the Next Generation Fuels Act introduced by Illinois Democrat Rep. Cheri Bustos, along with smaller steps along the way.
“Supporting higher blends of ethanol into the liquid fuel market will grind more corn. But we also know the recovery comes when we engage on trade by working to expand access for U.S. corn in places like Southeast Asia and other growth markets for us. And we need to strengthen our competitiveness in that arena by leveraging our sustainability of U.S. corn to build preference for a product. That will actually gain us more access to compliment the trade deals as we get them. Improving our infrastructure is yet another base hit toward the goal of our market recovery.”
With so much bad news receiving attention in 2020, Linder says there are many bright spots, including work by NCGA to find new uses for corn.
“You know, ethanol was a home run, right? So where do we find those other base hits to complement that to get our score up in the market? So, if you look at our strategic plan, demand is a big, big component of that and that is as one of the ways, again, we’ll manage the chaos of COVID-19. But we have a program at NCGA called Consider Corn Challenge. And if we had the last nine winners reach full commercialization with their products and had those products available in marketplace, additional corn demand will be approximately 2.9 billion bushels.”
Leading and organizing through a pandemic while trying to improve corn demand brings unique challenges. Linder says, however, those challenges provide new opportunities.
“It is a little different for me than it’s been for past presidents, and obviously no one signed up for the restrictions for which COVID has placed on anyone personally nor on the industries. If everything is done by virtual media, we have great opportunity to be in more places. It begins with a little bit of an educational process on what we need to know, where we need to bring it. But as we roll our Market Recovery Plan objectives, we’ll have more people to help us implement this in the type outreach where we can be many more places digitally than we ever could be by traveling. So, my idea is just to bring everybody together and work as hard as we can and put our shoulders into it.”
Linder adds it will take an industry-wide approach.
“To the theme of leaving no stone unturned, I can only turn one stone over at a time to look for demand. But if we engage our membership and as many corn farmers to get active and come along with me, we’ll be able to move mountains of corn. And so, together will get this done.”