Op-Ed: No Stone Left Unturned

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author.

By John Linder - President, National Corn Growers Association

No Stone Left Unturned

The Shawshank Redemption is a movie you’ll find near the top of most, “best movies lists.” It’s definitely on mine. Perhaps because it was filmed about 30 minutes down the road from me at the Ohio State Reformatory in Mansfield, but also because it is filled with many memorable lines.

I was driving near Mansfield the other day, thinking about the work that lies ahead for those of us who farm for a living, and one line from the film came to me.

“Red, hope is a good thing. Maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.” It came near the end, when Red Redding (Morgan Freeman) read a letter Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins) had left for him. Simple words of wisdom from one friend to another. As I begin both harvest and my term as president of the National Corn Growers Association, those words really resonate with me right now.

Outside of our industry, few can fathom the weight corn farmers willingly carry on our backs to provide for our families and contribute to the broader U.S. economy, hoping to one day pass our operations along to the next generation. That’s a heavy burden in the best of years. In a year like 2020, it can feel downright backbreaking.

The Shawshank message is about hope, one powerful force for good that I’ve certainly leaned on throughout my life.

I believe in hope. But as good as hope may be, without hard work, it’s just a dream. So, in my new role at NCGA, here’s what we’re working on to bring stability to the chaos that 2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic created in corn country.

In the short-term, we’re building a market recovery plan. As part of that, we’re working hand in hand with representatives of our value chain to provide stability today and set the table for some of the longer-term opportunities that will set us up for success well into the future. 

NCGA President John Linder on AgriTalk:

Increasing sales of higher ethanol blends is at the top of that long-term list. The Next Generation Fuels Act, introduced by Representative Cheri Bustos, D-Ill., last month would do just that.

Because 95 percent of our customers live outside of the United States, we’re looking to expand market access for U.S. corn in places like Southeast Asia and other growth markets.

And once we gain that access, we’ll look to our success in places like Mexico and Japan to compete and build preference for U.S. corn. Leveraging the sustainability of U.S. corn is one way to do that. Improving our infrastructure system is another.

This is what the road to recovery and growth looks like for the corn industry now. And in this journey, there will be no stone left unturned in our search for solutions to help get us there.

That’s my pledge to the American corn farmer this harvest season.

John Linder, Ohio Corn Farmer

NCGA President