All ears: Ohio farmer heads up National Corn Growers Association

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john linder stands in corn field
John Linder, of Ohio, is the new president of the National Corn Growers Association. (submitted photo)

John Linder is going to do whatever it takes to get the corn industry back on its feet.

“There will be no stone left unturned in our efforts to create opportunities for our industry to recover and grow beyond the current situation,” he said, during a virtual press conference Oct. 1.

Linder, of Edison, Ohio, began his role as president of the National Corn Growers Association Oct. 1, the beginning of the new fiscal year.

He’s a fifth generation farmer living in Morrow County, Ohio, raising corn, soybeans, soft red winter wheat and soybean seeds on about 3,000 acres with his wife, Cheryl, and brother, Mike.

Recovery plan

Linder said they’re working on a recovery plan that will set the stage for longer term solutions.

The association began working with global marketing research firm Aimpoint Research to explore domestic and international opportunities for growth in September. The resulting recovery plan is set to be released in December.

The longer term solutions will look like trying to increase sales of higher ethanol blends and expanding market access for U.S. corn in places like southeast Asia.

The ethanol industry in particular has been hurting of late, with fewer people commuting for work and traveling for vacations over the summer.

A recent study conducted by economists from the University of Florida and Arizona State University found ethanol producers will experience about an $8 billion loss this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on world fuel markets.

Linder said they’re working diligently to expand exports of ethanol as well. The U.S. exported an estimated 1.5 billion gallons of ethanol in 2019, according to the Renewable Fuels Association. That’s about 10% of what’s produced in the nation. Ohio ranks sixth nationally in ethanol production.

“Exports are what the ethanol industry needs,” Linder said.

According to data from the USDA, in 2019 about 35% of corn was used for animal feed, 26% for fuel ethanol and 11% for exports.

Engagement

On top of the big picture issues, Linder said he wants to make sure the corn board is accessible to its members.

“I want folks to feel like we’re approachable,” he said. “We want to hear what’s going on.”

That’s one of the things he’s looking forward to most about being in this position — representing his industry and advocating on their behalf. While the virtual meetings are nice, he’s looking forward to being face-to-face with people again.

Linder is a past chair of the Ohio Corn Marketing Program Board of Directors and past member of the AgCredit Coop Board. Within the National Corn Growers Association, he previously chaired the Trade Policy and Biotechnology Action Team. He also represented the group at the National Coalition for Food and Agriculture Research and the National Corn-to-Ethanol Research Center.

In addition to farming with his wife and brother, his two children are also involved in the family business. Linder said he’s looking forward to seeing his two grandchildren get into farming as well.

“My mother is 93 and still living on the farm,” he said. “She still gets on the zero turn lawn mower to mow her yard and gets in the car and goes to the grocery store. I hope I’m at least half that good when I’m 93, if I make it that far.”

(Reporter Rachel Wagoner can be contacted at 800-837-3419 or rachel@farmanddairy.com.)

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Rachel is a reporter with Farm and Dairy and a graduate of Clarion University of Pennsylvania. She married a fourth-generation beef and sheep farmer and settled down in her hometown in Beaver County. Before coming to Farm and Dairy, she worked at several daily and weekly newspapers throughout Western Pennsylvania covering everything from education and community news to police and courts.

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