EP.21-Leading the Field in Sustainability, with Nebraska Corn Grower Brandon Hunnicutt

June 9, 2021

EP.21-Leading the Field in Sustainability, with Nebraska Corn Grower Brandon Hunnicutt

Jun 9, 2021

Key Issues:Sustainability

NCGA charts a course on the future of U.S. corn sustainability for continued improvement, increased marketability and a better future.

 

In today’s world, farmers face growing consumer expectations, a need for economic resilience and the very real pressures of global climate change.

 

And they’re meeting these challenges head-on with science-driven practices that prove that sustainability is more than a buzzword in the agriculture industry.

 

In this episode, Nebraska farmer and NCGA board member Brandon Hunnicutt outlines NCGA’s new sustainability goals, and the benefits he’s seen from thinking about the sustainability of his own operation. He shares his personal insights about smart farming advances, cover crop use, advanced irrigation management and other techniques that make his farm more sustainable, and how he’s saved money and improved yields as a result.

 

Plus, Jon offers up the view from Washington, and why it’s important for growers to be perceived as part of the solution in the ongoing discussion over sustainability.

 

To learn more about NCGA’s 2030 sustainability goals, and to offer your feedback, visit ncga.com/sustainability.

 

 

Direct Share

 

Transcript

Brandon Hunnicutt:

When we start talking sustainability, it's a long-term resiliency. It's making sure that as we look at adding cover crops, are we able to reduce our herbicide usage? Are we able to reduce our nitrogen usage? Which we have been able to do, and so we're able to save money, we're able to change up our practices. And ultimately, that gives us more dollars to work within the long term.

 

Dusty Weis:

Hello, and welcome to Wherever Jon May Roam, The National Crow 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. From the fields of the corn belt to the DC beltway, we're making 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 today's world, farmers face growing consumer expectations, a need for economic resilience, and the very real pressures of global climate change. And they're meeting these challenges head-on with science-driven practices that prove that sustainability is more than a buzzword in the agriculture industry. In this episode, Nebraska farmer and NCGA board member, Brandon Hunnicutt outlines NCGA's new sustainability goals and the benefits that he's seen from putting some of these practices to work in his own operation.

 

Dusty Weis:

But if you haven't yet, make sure that you're subscribed to this podcast in your favorite app. Also make sure that you follow the NCGA on Twitter @nationalcorn, and sign up for The National Crow Growers Association newsletter at ncga.com. And with that, it's time to once again introduce Jon. Jon Doggett, the CEO of The National Crow Growers Association. And Jon, agriculture has always been really cool to me because of the way that it ties together the macro and the micro; what happens in one farm field has an impact in the world outside that field and vice versa. As we continue to build on the science of agriculture, we're really able to do some incredible things that change the whole world.

 

Jon Doggett:

Certainly. It is amazing to me the embrace that farmers have had towards sustainability in the last number of years. I've heard it in Washington for 30 plus years, but I'm hearing a lot of growers talk about sustainability, and they're proud of their sustainable record that they have in producing food and fiber for a world that needs it. So it's not a buzzword anymore, it's part of our everyday life. It's being able to document and prove that farmers are constantly improving things on their farms. And the efficiencies and how they handle things, it's much different. And our vice-president, Chris Edgington often says, "If you haven't been on a corn farm in five years, you haven't been on a corn farm." I think that's important for us to remember because this is an industry that is constantly improving.

 

Jon Doggett:

So one of the things that we wanted to do is, just recently we released our first sustainability report and 2030 sustainability goals. And so today we're going to discuss why we decided to adopt those goals, how we went about setting them, and then most importantly, what's next for corn's sustainability story. So today we're joined by Brandon Hunnicutt. He is a farmer from Giltner, Nebraska, and he is on the NCGA board of directors. Brandon's also the chair of the Field to Market Organization. He's the first farmer to ever hold that position. And he and that organization have done great work in documenting the sustainability improvements of corn and other crops over time. So we're going to talk more about that in a little while. But a really good place to start this conversation is to introduce Brandon Hunnicutt.

 

Jon Doggett:

Brandon, thank you so much for being on the podcast. We very much appreciate you being with us.

 

Brandon Hunnicutt:

Thank you very much. It's great to be here. Great honor. And enjoying the conversation.

 

Jon Doggett:

So Brandon, tell us about your farm and where is it in Nebraska, what do you raise and how long has your family been on that farm?

 

Brandon Hunnicutt:

So as was mentioned earlier, I'm from Giltner Nebraska. It's about an hour west of Lincoln, just sort of in the south central part of the state and farm here with my brother and my father. And we raise corn, soybeans, popcorn, we dabble in some seed corn. We also have a little bit in organic production. Everything's completely irrigated, it's 2,400 acres. And between my brother and I, we have 11 kids. So I guess we technically count our kids as head...

 

Dusty Weis:

You're not short on farm hands is what I'm hearing.

 

Brandon Hunnicutt:

No, the running joke was we're going to get into organic production because of all our kids. And lo and behold, we did. So that's a little bit about our operation and we're always trying different, innovative things, whether it's from a technology standpoint, the next wave of biologicals, or grain robots, or whatever might be coming down the line.

 

Jon Doggett:

So Brandon, it's such an integral part of the way the world does business today around that sustainability platform and space. Our customers are constantly saying, "Hey, this is important to us." So that's an expectation we have, making sustainability a priority. Talk about where you come to this discussion and this issue, from the perspective of a farmer in south central, Nebraska.

 

Brandon Hunnicutt:

The sustainability conversation, you think back a number of years, and we weren't really talking about it in the terms of sustainability. It was just, What can we do different on the farm? What is it that is going to make a difference farming wise? And I got thinking about from all the way to the concept of GMO crops. And we don't think about that from a sustainability aspect, but that was really the groundwork that was laid for most farmers, I think, is that, How can we become more sustainable in our own operations by reducing inputs, whatever those inputs are? Then came along the wave of auto-steer technology. And we were able to do more aggressive type of practices. It's, Well, we're going to strip-till, we're going to do this. And it all just kind of started to fit together on the farm.

 

Brandon Hunnicutt:

And then on our own farm, we started looking at it from an irrigation standpoint. We're fully irrigated, we pump out the Ogallala Aquifer. We also know that's not an infinite resource. We need to be able to protect it for the term, not just for ourselves, but for the future generations. And so we started working on different technologies that we could use on the farm that we could say, Okay, how much water does the crop actually need? I know I've got all the charts. I did crop consulting. I know what it says, the crop should be using for water, but does that match up to what the sensors say? So we reduced our footprint on water by just adding some sensors to the field.

 

Brandon Hunnicutt:

And so as we looked at this from a sustainability standpoint, they just sort of stacked one on top of another. And then we got to being able to introduce cover crops, and different pathways, and being able to measure that from a data standpoint of, Well we have all this technology, let's see what we can do. And so sometimes we think about it in the here and now, but it's been a 20 year process to get to this point for a lot of farmers. And it's exciting to see.

 

Dusty Weis:

What's really interesting about that to me, Brandon, is when you start talking sustainability in the business of agriculture, I know from my experience, a lot of the time, what you hear from the growers is, "Well, it's such an investment of time and of money and of learning upfront." And your experience, it sounds like, is not all about making that investment all at once, but just sort of spreading it out over time and getting a little bit deeper and a little bit deeper into that barrel of new practices.

 

Brandon Hunnicutt:

That's a great point. That is the way we've approached it over time is, How can we implement different practices to make it more worthwhile? And sometimes some of the pieces of equipment are pretty expensive. And does that fit in the operation or is there something else we can do? And then how do we overlay that with other operations? Maybe it makes sense to put everything to cover crops, but if you don't have the data to back it up, it maybe makes no sense to do everything. You start in bits and pieces. And no matter what the sustainability practice is, it goes back to research in general, is that most farmers have a little piece of ground they can try sustainability practices on and not worry about affecting the overall bottom line of the farm. They're not going to go broke doing it. And so you start out little and you expand to big.

 

Dusty Weis:

Jon, is you had mentioned, this has really become an expectation among corn's key customers here. So from the macro perspective, why is it important to make sustainability a priority, to the point where you guys at the NCGA included this in your market recovery plan?

 

Jon Doggett:

Well when we had that market recovery plan, we brought in a representative group of our customers and over and over again, not to anyone's surprise, they talked about sustainability and we talked about sustainability and what we've done and we're going to do with this report. And a lot of other activities is we're going to start melding together the sustainability on the farm, the sustainability of our customers, whether it be in the livestock industry, or the ethanol industry, how do we pull all of this together? So that, that ultimate product that the customer puts in their tank or on their table is something that can legitimately, factually be labeled as being sustainably produced. And we need to be able to have that label to tell consumers, Hey, what went into this product that you're going to put into that grocery cart was something that was grown with a great deal of pride by family farmers across the country who were continuing to do the right thing.

 

Jon Doggett:

One of the conversations and I've heard it over and over again is, well, we can't let somebody else define what's sustainable for agriculture. We don't want Walmart or Costco or someone else defining what sustainability is. I want Brandon Hunnicutt to be defining what's sustainable on his farm. I want other growers to define what sustainable on their farms. And we need to have... Be able to trace back and say these folks are doing the right thing. So it's important because if we don't do it, if we're not proactive in pushing our great story forward, someone else is going to tell our story. And they probably won't tell it accurately, factually, and they may not have our best interest at heart when they tell that story. So it's really important for us to tell our story and the great thing about the corn industry is we have a great story to tell.

 

Dusty Weis:

Brandon, a little more about your personal story, then on your farm in Nebraska. You touched on a little bit the environmental benefits of the sustainability practices that you've implemented there. And certainly there's a story to be told around that, but I want to hear a little more too, about how these practices have made your operation more economically resilient.

 

Brandon Hunnicutt:

Yeah. I think one of the key aspects as we're looking at this from an economic resiliency standpoint, is that it's not a quick fix. I'll go back to my GMO example for a second. Guys could easily figure out that if I spend X amount on this seed, I can reduce my cost of whatever the input is, whether a pesticide, whether a herbicide, you can reduce that down. But when we started talking sustainability, it's a long-term resiliency. It's making sure that as we've looked at adding cover crops, is it, are we able to reduce our herbicide usage? Are we able to reduce our nitrogen usage, which we have been able to do in certain aspects? And then also as we're trying to maintain soil structure and soil integrity, and you throw out a cover crop in there and all of a sudden the soil is holding better together and our water infiltration is better.

 

Brandon Hunnicutt:

And so we go back to the irrigation standpoint, is that we've been put on about two to three inches four up to five inches, a year of water. And we compare that to go back to 2012. We only put 10 inches of water on I think, and that was a dry year. And if you compare that to 1988, we probably would've put 30 plus inches on. And a lot of that just came down to these practices we were doing. And so we were able to save money. We're able to change up our practices of how we're doing things. And ultimately that gives us more dollars to work with in the long-term.

 

Jon Doggett:

So, Brandon, can you tell us again, that those figures from the nineties to today, how much water you're putting on your cornfield? Can you give us that number again?

 

Brandon Hunnicutt:

When we're looking at water usage, I'll start out this way from the sustainability standpoint is as we've irrigated crops in Nebraska, we went from... we talk about using gravity irrigation, so big pipes that put out in precise amounts of water, and you put a lot of water on. So in 1988, a dry year we'd have been putting on upwards of 30 inches just based on what we were doing for our practices. We'll move quickly to 2002 when it was another dry year. And we were still putting on probably more water than we needed to. We started instituting sensor technology, and by 2012, which was extremely dry, just for comparison sake, our dry land pivot corners were yielding zero to five bushels, an acre, but our irrigated corn was still making 220 to 240, and we were only put on 12 inches of water. Fast forward to the last few years where it's been a little wetter and 2019, I think we were in two pivots, maybe for half a circle. And all that was based off of being able to use the technology that's out there and available to help us monitor that, and that's part of the sustainability concept.

 

Jon Doggett:

This is the reason we have this podcast. This is the reason we do a lot of these things is to talk about how agriculture exists today. Not about what existed 20, 30, 40 years ago. And I've spent most of my adult life advocating for agriculture. And I always find that when I get most frustrated is when I'm trying to explain that the agriculture people believe is in existence today, hasn't been in existence for decades. And so I think that the story that you tell is such a good one, it just points out again and again and again, what the good things are that you do, Brandon, you also raise popcorn. So unlike your other corn, that's directly consumed by customers. What kind of sustainability requirements are you getting from the people that buy your popcorn?

 

Brandon Hunnicutt:

Popcorn is an interesting one because as you mentioned, it is consumer facing, it is the one that does not have GMOs in it. It's this whole different concept. Everybody enjoys it, whether you're at a football game, or a movie, or just hanging out with family around board games. And I think we're starting to see a little bit more of a... Really the look at the sustainability practices. And I'll bring up the example of earlier this year, I was on Amazon looking up for some reason, I looked up preferred popcorn, which is who we grow for. And I realized they had an environmental label on there, which seemed a little bit surprising, but that was because of their packaging purposes. And there's some movement being made within that to put a sustainable type label on there.

 

Brandon Hunnicutt:

I think we're just really at the beginning of stages of popcorn of people looking at it. And it's going to be the most obvious one as far as a direct to consumer within the corn industry, outside of the sweet corns of the world. That really, I think people are going to start looking at because they, they know exactly what they're doing and when they're popping it in, they know exactly what they're eating and they're going to want to make sure that it's grown in a way that fits their lifestyles and their key desires.

 

Jon Doggett:

I have a five-year-old and a seven year old granddaughter and they both love popcorn and they eat a lot of it. And I can tell you for sure that their mother makes sure that that is good stuff for them to be eating. And I tell them, yes, it probably came from Brandon Hunnicutts farm.

 

Brandon Hunnicutt:

And that's one of the interesting things of just what people look at and how much they want to make sure that that product is healthy and safe, and they can feel comfortable eating it. In reality, it is a comfort food. So if you're eating a comfortable comfort food, you're a happier individual.

 

Jon Doggett:

So let's transition to the activities that our organization has been engaged in. We've been talking about sustainability for quite some time, but we began a more formal process. In 2019, we established a Corn Sustainability Advisory Group. The goal was to drive our sustainability story, and chart the best way forward for our organization. So the group approved a corn sustainability commitment statement, released about a year ago. Then approved the development of a sustainability report and future sustainability goals. And what I really want to emphasize is that this was put together by farmers. This wasn't a staff-driven thing. This was a farmer-led effort. And while staff played a key role and we brought in outside experts to help define those goals, but really at every step of the process, corn farmers were involved in – made all of the important decisions. And that's what I think is really cool about what we've done, is that we've brought very progressive farmer voices to this discussion and it's been great. And so it culminated with the NCGA Corn Board approving earlier this year, the sustainability goals to reach by 2030. And so, Brandon, you want to talk about what those goals are and how you believe that they came together and why it was important for us to do this.

 

Brandon Hunnicutt:

So, I think it's important to think about from NCGA that by 2030 we do have these five sustainability goals and they relate to different areas. The first one being land juice, second one soil erosion, third one irrigation water use efficiency. Fourth is greenhouse gas emissions. And the fifth one is energy use. We were looking at the goal for each of these metrics and they was chosen for several reasons. And it just touch on those, is that I think all those are important, because no matter what area of the United States, you're in no matter where you're growing corn, one of those, if not multiples of those really affect you, and they affect farmers in different ways. And sometimes we get that lost in the conversation that, yeah, what doesn't work in Nebraska, but does it work in Ohio, that's fine. It's about reaching the goals that we've set out for as NCGA. And it's very important to, as an industry, that we reach these going back to the point that, if we don't set these goals and we don't reach these goals, somebody else is going to set them for us. And we know how much heartache and how much that can cause within the corn industry.

 

Jon Doggett:

So Brandon Hunnicutt, NCGA board member and farmer from south-central Nebraska. You've been very involved in the field to market organization for quite some time. They've generated a lot of data for the last 10 years, even for the last 40. So field to market brought together stakeholders who represent multiple steps in the value chain. And not only does field to market provide us with a great history of measurement, but those measurements are also recognized by the other people in the room. Why is that important to have that group assembled that way, and have that kind of discussion?

 

Brandon Hunnicutt:

Having a group assembled that can talk things out, that can really work on the same end goal, when we're talking sustainability is very important. It allows us to work through those issues that none of the groups might realize if they're just talking amongst themselves. It's the farmers have their ideas, brands and retailers have theirs, civil society has theirs, but when we get together, we can start to map the path forward on what we think agriculture needs to be, what we think these metrics are and how is it that we can come to that point that everybody ultimately wins. And ultimately our goal is to really work on working on a cleaner planet. I mean, that's what we all desire. It doesn't matter if I'm a corn farmer in Nebraska. I want that ground that I'm farming now to be in better shape for my kid then it was when it was first broken out 100 years ago, that's what the goal is. Field to market is they've become that leading platform that people look to, to say okay, what are these metrics? What are we looking at? How can we work together? And how can we bring the key stakeholders together? And it's not a policy institution it's, for lack of a better term, at times it's almost a think tank, but with solid metrics behind it. To show the data and to make sure that we're moving the right way forward.

 

Dusty Weis:

And I understand that the data that field to market collects and measures actually help play a role in setting the five sustainability goals that NCGA hopes to reach by 2030.

 

Brandon Hunnicutt:

Yeah that is correct what they call the field print calculator. You know, it's the way for farmers to enter data and we're getting more outside data collection centers, being able to tap into that and feed the data into it. So it should become easier and easier for farmers just put in, see what their sustainability scores are, see what changes they might need to make. And we all know we have changes we can always make. It doesn't matter if you're farming or if you're eating, there's something you can always change. And so NCGA was more than happy to tap into that because even as the chair, I still think it's the leading organization, as far as data metrics for sustainability is concerned.

 

Jon Doggett:

Brandon I have attended some of the field to market meetings, and it's been a while, but I have been struck in the times that I've gone, generally somebody who's in the consumer-facing part of the industry, they seem surprised when you give them some of the data, you give them some of the metrics, you give them some of the story, they seem to be surprised. What has surprised you as a farmer that you've heard in those rooms that came from the downstream folks.

 

Brandon Hunnicutt:

One of the challenges or the things that surprises me is sometimes just the lack of knowledge of what goes on, and that doesn't downplay what they're doing. It just means that, there is this disconnect from what goes on out in the farm to where our product ends up. And if we can find a way to get more people out on the farm, show Hey, this is what we're doing now, that becomes a key player in this. And so that's always the sticking point is just maybe even what can, and can't be done. We're having some discussions, some thoughts I've been thinking about is that there's a lot of ideas out there that, okay, we can do X, Y, and Z, but it's well, are farmers going to be involved with that? Can we actually do that in production agriculture?

 

Dusty Weis:

So Jon, as the CEO of The National Crow Growers Association, as you look at the five sustainability goals targeted for 2030, what are your impressions of those? Obviously when you're setting goals, you want to set something that's not impossible to reach. It's a challenge, but it's not easy or a slam dunk either. So how did you go about determining where to set those goals?

 

Jon Doggett:

Well again, those goals were set by farmers and they looked at their operations and what are the five key areas that they can affect the sustainability of the crops that they're growing? So that's really important. What I see, the product of this report is one that can be used in a lot of different ways. We are going to our customers and they in turn can go to their customers and say, here's the sustainability report from The National Crow Growers Association, the organization that represents the 300,000 people who raise corn every year in this country. That's a big, big tool and something that's really important in what we are hearing over and over again from those customers. And I was on a call with them earlier this week, they were just delighted that we've gone through this effort. And they said, this is something that's important, really, really important to us.

 

Jon Doggett:

We're also going to be using that in Washington, DC. We're going to be having a discussion in Washington about climate change. And if you have the metrics and you have the data and you have the commitment from people on the ground, at the fork of the crick that they're doing the right thing, and here's how they're doing it. That's a pretty powerful story to tell because we're not just telling the story of everybody who raises corn in this country, but we're talking about the Brandon Hunnicutts, we're talking about the Jon Lenders. We're talking about the Dennis McNninchs. Those personal stories are replicated in that report over and over again. And that is the power of the grassroots organization that engages its membership to drive innovation and to drive commitment to the future. And that's why this is so important. It's a pretty cool deal.

 

Brandon Hunnicutt:

A couple of things we need to keep in mind that, our goals are based on resource efficiencies, not overall resource usage. We continue to become more efficient at producing corn. And we always talk about doing more with less. And we have begun to see that long-term, is that we're utilizing less, let's just say nitrogen, less nitrogen per pound of bushel of corn produced. That becomes a big deal. And as we work with seed companies and we work with other providers and we can figure out how to drive that number down, even farther and increase yield, it becomes a huge play within the sustainability world. Not just for the sustainable practices, but also to the farmer's bottom line and being able to comfort level of, if I put that nitrogen out there, I know it's going to be available when the plant needs it.

 

Brandon Hunnicutt:

We also focus on long-term gains and avoid singling out progress made or lost during any one year. And I think that's important because there's, you look over the last handful of years in by handful. I mean, from 2012, compared to 2019, compared to 2020, there are challenges out there on a given basis and depending on your location, it doesn't matter if you're one year in your South Dakota and they're drowning in water. And the next year, North Dakota they're planting and dry dirt. That's just the nature of farming. And it's important to realize that and that as we're trying to move things forward to that one year, it doesn't completely change all of that. That comes back to some years are better than others, even when it comes to yield. We can really have a great looking year going into yield, and then all of a sudden the weather changes and without understanding what goes on, on corn pollination, when the humidity's the wrong number at the wrong time of the day. And next thing you know, you don't have corn that's pollinated, everything else is perfect, and you have one year that goes down. Well, that becomes a big issue, but here we try to make sure we don't focus on those.

 

Dusty Weis:

So what comes next then? This process has been underway for a while NCGA is putting out the report. But if I'm a corn grower listening right now, I might be sitting here thinking this all sounds great, but you haven't told me yet how I'm going to reach these goals, or if I'm going to be expected to change my production practices. Jon, first of all, it's important to point out that this is a set of goals. It's not a mandate, but what comes next?

 

Jon Doggett:

Certainly, these are aspirational goals. We're not imposing these goals on anyone. But what we are saying is, is that the grower input said these are aspirational goals that we believe can be met with concerted effort over time, by the year 2030. So I think that the corn grower that has not been involved in this process can take a look at this process and realize very quickly, Hey, this has been put together by people like me. This is not something that came out of a land grant university. This is not something that came out of a think tank. This is not something that came out of the environmental community. This is not something that's been mandated by USDA. This is a program written by, and for people who produce corn in this country. But always, we need to remember that most producers already are implementing sustainable practices. And really you couldn't be in the business if you weren't doing some sustainable practices because otherwise you wouldn't be in business.

 

Jon Doggett:

So that's one of the key elements that's been highlighted in our sustainability report. It's showcasing all of the great efforts that are underway. And as Brandon said, there are things that work in south-central Nebraska that don't work in northern Ohio, or in South Dakota, or in Maryland. So there are so many great things that are going on out there. They're individual stories that when you aggregate all of them, this is just a pretty powerful statement to be made by an industry that I think a lot of people think is still dwelling in the past. It's not, this is the future. Oftentimes when I talk to audiences, I pick up my cell phone saying, what is your cell phone look like 25 years ago? Oh, you mean you had a flip phone. If you were in rural Montana, you probably couldn't get a signal. Why do we assume that cell phone technology has moved at a faster pace than agronomic technology? And I think that's a really important thing to talk about.

 

Brandon Hunnicutt:

We talk about farmers being concerned about changing practices in the future. That we're doing that farmers already evaluate on a yearly basis, what practices are working, what practices maybe aren't working. What they need to change for those practices, whether it comes from environmental reasons, whether it comes from, you have landlords that have certain requirements in place, or you're just really trying to figure out, okay, what can I do to change things on the farm? Because maybe I have a specific market and they're wanting their product, quote unquote, sustainably sourced. And so you really look at those things on a day-to-day basis and year-to-year basis. And I think setting a goal is puts a stake in the ground for where we want to go and allows us to measure that progress. And I think that's always good because we do it with yield.

 

Brandon Hunnicutt:

Every year we measure everything based off of yield, let's do the same thing with sustainability. Let's do that same concept and say, okay, what is my change year over year on sustainability? Is that measure soil carbon. Does that measure water usage? What is that? But let's set those same goals and let's do that the same way we do with yield. It's really an exciting time to be a farmer. There's so much technology. There's so much changing on a year-to-year and day-to-day basis. And you just see what's coming down the line from a full-on sustainability point, whether it's robotics, whether it's drones, whether it's biological, seed technology, there's all these things out there that all go right back to sustainability. The more we can produce with less, whatever that less is, less time, less effort, less fertilizer, less water.

 

Brandon Hunnicutt:

Those are all important factors within sustainability. And it's always fun because there's so much potential right now in AG and people are paying attention to it. And especially when it comes to climate change. And you realize that we are now the group that can lead this discussion. We are the group. What we've always been concerned about is somebody coming at us with a climate change claim and trying to change our industry. And we can be the leaders in it. And we have to be the leaders in it. We have to take these things seriously, and we have to look at them from the standpoint of we are corn farmers. We do things very, very well. We also know we can do things a whole lot better, and we will make sure that whether it's the ethanol that goes into our vehicles, whether it's the food that goes to the livestock, whether it's corn chips. We are going to be the leaders in making sure those sustainability goals are met. And that's a very important concept that I hope we all grasp onto. And we realize that we've lived for this moment. As a farmer I've lived for that moment where somebody says, oh, you guys are the front line. And this is the frontline of climate change. And we are it.

 

Jon Doggett:

I think that's so well said. And I started working on climate change when I worked for the American Farm Bureau back in the mid 90s, it just seemed anytime that this subject came up, it was those farmers are doing bad things and we continued to have to defend ourselves. And now the discussion is completely different. And the discussion that is coming from the administration, the discussion that is coming from the environmental community is, yeah, you guys are the solutions. We've got a whole lot of details to work out, but they're looking at us as being problem solvers rather than problem creators. And that is just, I think one of the reasons that we all in this industry ought to be really, really proud of the work that has been done on the farm, individual farmers and the work that has been done by this organization by farmers to get us in this point. That when we are going to have a huge discussion in this country about climate change, that people are looking at us as the guys in the white hats.

 

Jon Doggett:

I like wearing a white hat. So Dusty we're at the end of another podcast. And this one is kind of cool because I'm going to encourage everyone to visit the NCGA website. That's ncga.com and you can learn more about our sustainability goals and the report. And we're doing something interesting here. We're holding an open comment period on our goals and our report right now. We want to hear from the folks that are listening to this podcast. Go to ncga.com and give us your comments on these goals. I think this is really cool that we are proud of what we've done, and we're willing to listen to input from folks that want to provide us constructive input. I think that's pretty cool deal.

 

Dusty Weis:

I'm actually filling up my comment card right now Jon, and it's all about the podcast. But we will make sure to put a link to that forum where people can provide their feedback in the episode description. So click down into the episode description and give us your feedback on the sustainability report, please.

 

Jon Doggett:

Well, Brandon Hunnicutt, a farmer from south-central Nebraska. Thank you so much for being part of this podcast. Thank you so much for your leadership in our organization and your leadership in Field to Market. You've been very active in a whole wide swath of things going on in agriculture, and it's been great to get to know you, and it's been great to have you on this podcast. So my name's Jon Doggett, I'm the CEO of The National Crow Growers Association. You're listening to Wherever Jon May Roam a podcast from NCGA. Thank you for listening.

 

Dusty Weis:

That is going to wrap up this edition of Wherever Jon May Roam, The National Crow Growers Association podcast. New episodes arrived monthly. So make sure to 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 Crow Growers Association with editing by Larry Kilgore the third. And produced by PodCamp Media branded podcast production for businesses, podcampmedia.com. For The National Crow Growers Association. Thanks for listening, I'm Dusty Weis.

 

.