Alabama Soybean & Corn Association

As a farmer, you work from dawn to dusk. You plan.  You  budget. You worry. You sweat. You hope. You pray. And yet, one stroke of a pen in Washington, DC can do as much to make or break your profitability as the thousands of hours you devote to your crop each season.

If you believe...


the future of the soybean and corn industry is critically important to the success of US farmers...


Congress has a lot to say about whether or not you make money...


grain farmers need to have strong representation on Capitol Hill...

News from NCGA

Cover Crop Survey Seeks Farmer Insights (Fri, 03 Apr 2020)
An online survey at https://bit.ly/CCSurvey2020 is gathering perspective on cover crops from farmers and crop advisors nationwide. This is the sixth cover crop survey by USDA's SARE (Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education) program, the Conservation Technology Information Center (CTIC) and the American Seed Trade Association (ASTA). The questionnaire takes 10 to 15 minutes to complete. Participants who complete the survey can enter a drawing for Visa gift cards worth $100 and $200. SARE, CTIC and ASTA say they are seeking insights not just from long-time cover crop users, but also from farmers with little or no experience with cover crops. In past years, the SARE/CTIC/ASTA Cover Crop Survey has been used by conservation district and agency personnel, farm suppliers, researchers and policymakers to guide resources into research, communications and policy around cover crops, says Mike Smith, project director for CTIC. The report has even been cited in Congressional testimony. Please fill out the survey at https://bit.ly/CCSurvey2020 before April 12. Previous years' Cover Crop Survey reports are available online at https://www.ctic.org/data/Cover_Crops_Research_and_Demonstration_Cover_Crop_Survey.

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Ep. 5 - Breaking Our Political Addictions, with U.S. Reps. Abigail Spanberger and Dusty Johnson (Thu, 02 Apr 2020)
Creating a place to have a conversation instead of yelling at each other is one reason why NCGA CEO Jon Doggett started this podcast. And in this episode, he takes that philosophy to one of the most contentious places in America—Capitol Hill in Washington D.C. From the Congressional office of Virginia Rep. Abigail Spanberger, Jon interviews the Democratic Congresswoman and her Republican colleague, South Dakota Rep. Dusty Johnson, about what it takes to bridge the partisan divide in Washington. As members of the bipartisan “Problem Solvers Caucus,” Spanberger and Johnson discuss their efforts to pass the USMCA trade agreement and find common ground on other topics that are important, not just to farmers, but to Americans nationwide. They’re also joined by NCGA Vice President of Public Policy Brooke Appleton. Direct Share Transcript Jon Doggett: We wanted to create an opportunity to talk to one another instead of yelling at one another. So we're going to talk to two members of Congress who are actively working to put their political differences aside and move our country forward. Rep. Dusty Johnson: These are complicated issues and so to talk about them honestly requires a certain amount of nuance. Rep. Abigail Spanberger: Because in politics, lobbying insults and bumper sticker sort of tirades at people across the aisle is problematic. 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. Dusty Weis: From the fields of 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. In fact, this episode was recorded on Capitol Hill in Washington with two freshman congressional leaders, Democrat Abigail Spanberger from Virginia and Republican Dusty Johnson from South Dakota. Dusty Weis: If you haven't yet, make sure that you're subscribed to this podcast and your favorite podcast app. That way you can take us with you in your truck, your combine, or on your next business trip and never miss an update from Jon. Also, make sure you follow the NCGA on Twitter @NationalCorn and sign up for the National Corn Growers Association newsletter in your email 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, I'm going to read you back a quote. In episode one of this podcast, you told us that too many people say they're going to go to DC and fight, and you said, and here's the quote, "That's not the way life works. Compromise is not a dirty word because it's the way that things get done." So here we are today in our nation's capital and we're joined by two lawmakers from opposite sides of the political aisle who aren't afraid to have a conversation and stake out a little bit of common ground. Jon Doggett: That's right, Dusty. A city on a hill comes from the Sermon on the Mount that Jesus gave to his disciples, but Ronald Reagan made it famous in describing America as a beacon of hope. That has changed a bit over the last few decades. So many people, myself included, still believe that America is a city on a hill. Yet according to a lot of research that has been done, public trust in government has steadily declined over the last several decades. It reached a high before the Vietnam war of maybe 77%, who believed that the government was doing a good job. And that's pretty much in the tank right now. Jon Doggett: So the political polarization plays a role in that and we wanted to create an opportunity to talk to one another instead of yelling at one another. So we're going to talk to two members of Congress today who are actively working to put their political differences aside and move our country forward. Joining us today are Representative Abigail Spanberger from Virginia and Dusty Johnson from South Dakota. Representative Spanberger, would you want to introduce yourself? Rep. Abigail Spanberger: Yes. So I'm Abigail Spanberger. I represent Virginia's seventh congressional district. So that's 10 counties in Central Virginia, seven predominantly rural counties, three more suburban counties, and we wrap around the city of Richmond. Jon Doggett: Representative Johnson, welcome to you too. Tell us a little bit about yourself. Rep. Dusty Johnson: Yeah. So I am the lone representative from the state of South Dakota. There's just one of me for the whole state, the Eastern half of our state. Lots of row crops, lots of corn bean mix. I'm a husband to a lovely wife. We've got three kids and we live in Mitchell, home to the world's only corn palace. Jon Doggett: Everyone should go to Mitchell to see the corn palace. Rep. Dusty Johnson: Yeah. Jon Doggett: All right. Representative Spanberger, you have a very interesting background. Tell us about that. And tell us about how does that help you in this job that you have right now? Rep. Abigail Spanberger: So before I came to Congress, I was a CIA case officer. So I worked undercover for the entirety of my time with the agency and I was working to recruit foreign nationals to provide information to the US government, information that would drive national security-related decisions and foreign policy decisions. So I lived overseas, I worked predominantly counter-terrorism, nuclear proliferation cases, and dabbled in a variety of other things as we typically did. Rep. Abigail Spanberger: I think what that has done for my perspective is everything I ever did as a CIA case officer was focused on ensuring that other people had all the information that they needed to make really consequential decisions. So I am a seeker of information in all things that I do, and I carry that with me here as a legislator in terms of asking questions about the sort of legislation that we're working on, and what's our priority, And what's our common priority, and how can we get there. It has informed my entire perspective of how I approach my work here in Capitol Hill. Jon Doggett: Okay. You've not been involved in politics until the last election. Rep. Abigail Spanberger: That's right. Jon Doggett: So how do you – Rep. Dusty Johnson: Lucky you, right? Jon Doggett: How do you describe the state of affairs as you've found them here on Capitol Hill? Rep. Abigail Spanberger: So that's a complicated question because some days it's maddening and some days it is full of hope and it is as contradictory and is complicated and as simple as that. Some days it feels like we will continue to just banging our heads up against the wall and some days it feels like we're going to make progress. Rep. Abigail Spanberger: But frankly, I think there's a balance in there somewhere. In the house representatives, we've actually made really good progress on a variety of different fronts. We've passed more than 275 bipartisan bills, sent them over to the Senate. But I think because of the larger tenor of politics and not the work that we're doing day in and day out, be it in our districts or on Capitol Hill, because of the overall tenor of politics, some of that gets obscured and I think it becomes harder for people to see that. Rep. Dusty Johnson: I want to double down on what Abigail said because I think she's described it pretty well and, yes, you're right. Public reaction to opinion of Congress is really low. A part of that is because we keep talking about our Congress is broken and it doesn't work like it should, but honestly, this place is way better at getting singles and doubles than I expected. I mean, to Abigail's point, every week there are bills that pass out of the house with a couple hundred Democrat and a couple hundred Republican votes. Many of them go to the Senate and they pass under unanimous consent. Rep. Dusty Johnson: Now, those don't grab the headlines because we're all so focused on the cable news tenor. If you really read the journal of proceedings of the United States House, you would come away with a sense that this place does get a lot done, admittedly not triples and home runs, but if you watch Fox and MSNBC, you think the whole place is on fire nonstop. Rep. Abigail Spanberger: Actually, I passed a bill yesterday. We had passed it in the house whenever the Senate made some adjustments so it came back over here. And so now it's going to the White House for the president's signature. It's related to 5G technology. It's protecting American consumers and American companies and frankly our national security. There's been some write-ups about it, but that's not going to get covered on the nightly news necessarily. But when we're looking at the longterm national security priorities of this country, when we're talking about personal privacy for American consumers, it's a really consequential bill if I do say so myself. And this guy voted for it. Rep. Dusty Johnson: Yeah. Well, why wouldn't I? It's consequential to American national security. Jon Doggett: All right. I'm going to ask Brooke, Brooke, you've been a lobbyist for a long time. You've worked up here on Capitol Hill. From your perspective, and when you talk to our farmer members, does what you're hearing match up with what you just heard? Brooke Appleton: Well, I think it's unique in agriculture actually. I feel that we have to work across the aisle with both parties and we want to. I believe that the agriculture committee is kind of one of the last places where we see really good bipartisan effort because it does seem to be a bit of a more regional difference that we have in agriculture rather than partisan differences. So in agriculture, I feel like it is a little bit different but it does, as Representative Johnson said, what's going on, bigger picture and in the media it definitely weighs on our farmers. Brooke Appleton: We have a group in this week of probably close to 80 or 90. They've been on the Hill, they've been at different meetings across town. And some encouraging, some not, but I think it's always good when they can come to town and see it for themselves. And they usually walk away feeling better about what's happening here and feel better about the work that they're doing back home. Rep. Dusty Johnson: I mean, let's remember 18 months ago we passed a farm bill with more votes in the Senate and more votes in the house than it has ever received before. So yeah, you're right. Particularly in ag, there's a lot more bipartisan activity than people realize. Rep. Abigail Spanberger: And we saw it with USMCA, we saw it with the Farm Workers Modernization Act that passed the house. I mean, we see it in all of the priorities that are really the things we're hearing about from our agricultural focused constituents. Jon Doggett: Sure. And unfortunately, the passage of USMCA seems to be, for a lot of folks, that's the only thing you folks have done, but obviously you've done quite a bit more than that, but it's harder to reach folks with that. So in both of your districts, you have two very different districts. You have, Congresswoman, have a very purple district, I would say. Rep. Abigail Spanberger: Some would call it red. Jon Doggett: Some would call it red. If you want to talk about red though, I think that Congressman Johnson probably has your beat on that color spectrum. But both of you have folks that are way over in the left, way over in the right. How do you find the place in the middle that you can connect with voters to talk about what it is that's really important? Rep. Dusty Johnson: I mean, I know a lot of my colleagues, they're trying to find that message to hit the sweet spot. You're talking about how do you connect with the voters? I mean, I don't know. My oath of office is to the constitution and to this country and I want to believe maybe naively so that good policy makes good politics. Of course, I try to be a good politician. I'm accessible. I go out, I talk to people, I answer their questions, but I really try not to tell people just what they want to hear. And maybe some people walk away from those conversations feeling frustrated but listen, I got faith in South Dakota voters. I think more often than not, whether they're Democrat or Republican or something else, they appreciate the fact that I will at times tell them things that they don't necessarily want to hear because I'm trying to be authentic. Rep. Abigail Spanberger: Well, I agree with Dusty completely. I think sometimes we hear this question asked like how do you connect with voters who are different than you are? Well, in every one's life they connect with people who are different. In politics, it's the only place where we act so astounded. Anybody who works in any workforce in any place works with people who are different, either different family backgrounds, different politics, different priorities. How did I used to talk with my work colleagues who cared a whole heck of a lot more about whatever sports teams than I did? I asked questions and I was engaged and interested with family members and friends who have different political ideologies. Rep. Abigail Spanberger: You ask questions, you engage. It's the same thing with constituents. And so what for me is important is letting people know where I'm coming from, particularly when we disagree, but then also asking the questions to understand where they're coming from because frankly, where I fall on a particular issue might be informed by my experiences, but certainly understanding why they might disagree with me allows me to then explain to them where I'm coming from, perhaps more effectively. And maybe there is a middle ground where they say, "Okay. Well, maybe I do agree with her." Rep. Abigail Spanberger: Or it helps question whether or not the policy that I think is right is in fact as good as it could be. And are there ways informed by people who disagree with me that I could, in fact, pursue something better? Or am I just not explaining something as well? Because if good-policy is good policy, is it on me that I haven't explained why it matters to this person who on the outside of it thinks they disagree with me. Rep. Dusty Johnson: I think that is exactly right. And part of the problem is that these are complicated issues. And so to talk about them honestly requires a certain amount of nuance. And that is a lot of, particularly partisan voters are more interested in speaking in bumper sticker slogans, right? That's what we hear. Those are easy to explain in a tribal environment. It's easy to get people behind that slogan. And both Abigail and I have a tendency to speak in more nuance that may occasionally get us in trouble. Maybe people get bored after the first 20 seconds, but that's how we're supposed to govern. That's how we're supposed to be human beings making decisions. A little bit of data, a little bit of nuance. Jon Doggett: So if you could change one thing in how you interact with constituents, voters, what would you really like to see that would change with your interaction that you think would both help your constituents understand better what you're doing and to give you a better idea of where they're coming from. Rep. Abigail Spanberger: If I could clone myself, that would be helpful. I say that because we have town halls out across our district, but Dusty and I represent hundreds of thousands of people. And so when you can get in a room with 50 to a hundred people in, people can stand up at a microphone and ask questions and the rest of the audience gets to hear you answer that question and maybe go back and forth a little bit. That's really helpful towards, one, addressing whatever that person's question is, but also establishing a standard for how we, and I'll speak for you, as representatives engage with the people that we represent. Rep. Abigail Spanberger: Frankly, in some of my town halls when they have been a little bit contentious and constituents are sort of arguing with each other, some who may agree with me or some who disagree with me or when people have gotten feisty with me and others try to defend or jump in, for me to be able to say, "No, I want to hear this person's point of view." I think that is helpful to the larger community conversation. And so I made the joke about cloning myself because frankly, we're here on Capitol Hill, we're back in our districts working and we're running around all the time. And it would be lovely if we could have the ability to just meet more of our constituents over and over and over because it's the part of the job that is the most enjoyable. It's the most informative and it drives everything that we do when we come back to Capitol Hill. Rep. Dusty Johnson: Yeah. I wish there were more objective sources of news that consumers sought out. And it's not like it was ever perfect, but I do think in the golden days of the American newspaper, although certainly every newspaper had some sort of in-house bias and every reporter had some sort of in-house bias. I think their objectivity and professionalism were so highly regarded, people honestly tried to correct for their biases. And that's all you can ask for. I think in the modern marketplace, consumers are less and less often choosing those types of outlets. Rep. Dusty Johnson: And so we spend an incredible amount of time combating misinformation. "Oh, you served one year in congress and you get your salary for your lifetime." Well, no, that's not true. The Congress and I are on the same retirement plan as the janitor at the national parks. It's the federal employee retirement system. All you guys get free healthcare. No, we don't. I pay $1,600 a month for a health care product that I'm required to purchase on the Washington DC Obamacare exchange. I'm not complaining. I'm just saying it's different than free healthcare forever. Rep. Dusty Johnson: So what would I want to do to help the interaction between citizens and their government? Man, it would be great if we could start with a better baseline, a better foundation of knowledge. And I'm not blaming the citizens. It's harder for them to find places to get that information. Rep. Abigail Spanberger: I think the ones to blame, I think most frequently are our colleagues. Because in politics, lobbying insults and bumper sticker sort of tirades at people across the aisle is problematic. I've called some people on the carpet, I guess I could say in meetings where we've been talking in really great terms and I said, "What we're saying in this room is great except check your fundraising email when you're out railing on the socialists this and this, these, that, and all the labels. I'm a Democrat, you're labeling me as that and that's not me. Rep. Dusty Johnson: How we campaign does impact how we govern. You don't get to be Jekyll and Hyde and be viewed as an honest and truthful narrator of facts. Rep. Abigail Spanberger: Yeah. Jon Doggett: Right. And you hit on something about fundraising stuff that goes back home. A lot of time, I go through some of those and boy, they lambast lobbyists. But then how many calls have you had from members of Congress in the last couple of weeks asking for donations. And I always wondered, "Can we go to your campaign material and see do you really insult lobbyist that you turn around and ask for money?" Brooke Appleton: Yeah, I think a lot of times we travel a lot around the world to visit our various corn states and do different meetings. I get asked a lot, you're in a cab or in an Uber, "What do you do for a living?" And I like to say that I advocate for farmers because the word lobbyists definitely has a negative connotation in a lot of places. I actually remember when I was in college, one of my last classes that I had... I went to school in Columbia, Missouri, which is only about 30 minutes from the capital of Missouri of Jefferson City, and we had a group of lobbyists come up and give us a talk about what they do. Brooke Appleton: And I was like, "Oh, that's really interesting. That sounds like something that I would be interested in as someone who was interested in politics, but then they talked a lot about the negativity that comes along with that." And we definitely feel it out here every single day. So we try to spin the message a little bit. We're advocating for farmers. How can anyone be upset about that? Rep. Dusty Johnson: Are you saying, Brooke you went to Mizzou? Brooke Appleton: I did. Rep. Dusty Johnson: Oh, that's gross. Brooke Appleton: Yeah, I know. I saw your bio, congressman. Rep. Dusty Johnson: Yes, I'm a Jayhawk. Brooke Appleton: We can talk about that later, but as long as you don't start wearing around a Jayhawk pin or anything, we'll be fine. Dusty Weis: I think as we've proved here already in just the last 15 minutes, dialogue is a healthy thing. It's important to have a free-flowing dialogue between people with different political stripes and being able to respectfully stake out common ground and agree upon what the facts are. As Representative Johnson mentioned, that's important too. It's a prerequisite for a healthy Republic. So what are some ways that you're now working together as first-term congresspeople to restore civility in a place that can sometimes appear pretty uncivil? Rep. Dusty Johnson: Well, both the Congresswoman and I belong to the Problem Solvers Caucus, which is a group of 50 people who some of them are quite conservative, some of them are quite liberal, some of them are centrists, but everybody understands that you don't get to run any organization, whether it's a church or a nonprofit or a business or a government and get a whole loaf every day. Rep. Dusty Johnson: I've been married 20 years. I certainly understand the concept of partnering together for everybody to get a half a little for more. I think the Problem Solvers Caucus just starts with the idea that we can be decent human beings, we can have our own, we can be proud Republicans and proud Democrats while still understanding that you need to find common ground to govern. It is a fantastic hour of every week. We have breakfast one day a week, and it's fabulous. And it is not a social society. We get real things done. Rep. Dusty Johnson: And I know I've already talked too long in this answer, but I do want to say there've been times where people like Congresswoman Spanberger have showed tremendous courage, real profiles, and courage because they've made decisions that haven't always been pleasing to the leadership on one side or the other, but they knew it was for the right of the country. That's what that group tries to reward. Dusty Weis: Representative Spanberger, how did the Problem Solvers Caucus come into existence and what are some of the founding tenants upon which you guys all had to agree to join? Rep. Abigail Spanberger: So it's been around for a number of years and I found out about it when I was campaigning for Congress. I met Josh Gottheimer, who's a member from New Jersey and he's co-chair, Democratic co-chair. And I learned about this organization, Democrats, and Republicans, they get together, they talk about things and they work on legislation together. Rep. Abigail Spanberger: Now, frankly, it should just be called Congress, but as long as it's a subset, that's the subset I wanted to be in. And so I partially campaigned on this notion of I'm a Democrat. I advocate for a variety of policies that are really important to a lot of people who identify as Democrats. But I think that you make good policies by understanding why others may disagree with you. I think you make good policy by trying to bring more people to the table. I think you make good policy by thinking through what are the agreements and objections. Rep. Abigail Spanberger: Part of that is forming a relationship of trust. One of the great things about our group, we talk about policy, but also we eat breakfast together, we spend time talking, we create relationships. And so when you hear someone sort of railing against your legislation, you can go back to them later and say, "Why do you hate my legislation so much? Come on, explain this to me." Rep. Dusty Johnson: Help me understand. Rep. Abigail Spanberger: And you have that friendly relationship where you know it's about the policy. It's not just about their next election or something more cynical. And to join, you have to join it a Republican and a Democrat joined together. And so it's two by two, Noah's Ark and I think we're adding two more members we just talked about in the meeting. So it's great and I really, really truly enjoy it because it's a great place to go. I'm working on something who wants to work on it with me. Rep. Abigail Spanberger: I've introduced a bill related to firefighters disability with Congressman Bacon. We talked about it, I told him about this bill and he was super excited. It's focused on military firefighters. He himself is a veteran of the Air Force and it is the best hour of my week. Rep. Dusty Johnson: Well, and real things have gotten done. I mean the 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund was high centered. It got moved forward because the problem-solvers pushed it. Frankly, problem solvers group, particularly the Democrats were instrumental in making sure that the USMCA was continuing to make progress. We talked about that. The $5.4 billion for humanitarian aid to the border, that would not have gotten done in a timely fashion had it not been for the Problem Solvers Caucus. Rep. Dusty Johnson: We've got a bipartisan group of us right now that are talking in detailed and specific and operational ways with a pretty large group from the Senate on how do we end this brinkmanship of these government shutdowns. Abigail and I are the only freshman class in history to be sworn in during a government shutdown. It's not the right way to run a railroad. I'll tell you that. Dusty Weis: And Jon, I think it's important to note too, it was one of the things that Representative Johnson mentioned, but the USMCA was a major accomplishment that the Problem Solvers Caucus played a real role in getting across the finish line. Can you tell us a little bit from your perspective at the NCGA, how important it was for you to have a group like that to work with as you advocated for the USMCA on behalf of farmers? Jon Doggett: Sure and I'm going to let Brooke pick it up in a minute, but obviously it was a huge, huge piece of legislation for us. Mexico is our number one customer for corn. We had to have this thing pass and there was a time there. We were pretty nervous about it, but I think that a lot of good lobbyists came up here a lot, but more importantly a lot of folks back home and I know Brooke you worked hard to get some of our growers to call or a lot of our growers to call and write and bugged folks up here. Brooke Appleton: Yeah, absolutely. That is the beauty of the National Corn Growers Association is that we are very much a grassroots-led organization and we worked really closely with a number of members on both sides of the aisle, including the Problem Solvers Caucus to get that piece of legislation done. As Jon mentioned, Mexico is our number one corn market and Canada is number two for ethanol exports for the United States. So it was a huge win for us and provided certainty in the market moving forward, and we're looking forward to working on more trade agreements in a bipartisan fashion in the coming months and years. Jon Doggett: So you have 50 members of the Problem Solvers Caucus. What do some of the members who are not members of that caucus say to you about the caucus? Rep. Abigail Spanberger: Well, it ebbs and flows. Dusty made reference to the fact that we were an instrumental group in getting the 9/11 victims compensation fund re-instated but the way that we were instrumental in doing that is in advance of this Congress, problem solvers were the ones who were there before us actually lobbied very hard to put in place what's called, the 290 rule. And so that is if a bill has more than 290 co-sponsors, which is a lot of co-sponsors and requires a lot of work, that that bill can get priority to get to the floor. Rep. Abigail Spanberger: So what it means is every member of Congress knows that he or she, if they hustle, can get a bill to the floor. And there is no more this concern that if leadership doesn't like you or they don't like your bill, they can stop it. And so now that a number of members of Congress have used and have started, or at least we hope in that 290 rule, I think they have been really positively inclined towards the problem solvers. When we have pushed on things that maybe they haven't been aligned with, they're maybe less happy with us. Rep. Abigail Spanberger: And I think that we did add a lot to the USMCA conversation. I was part of a small group. There were three Democrats and three Republicans that went to the White House to meet with Pence. And to talk about in the very final stages. This was the week before we ended up getting the implementing documents, just to confirm our continued commitment to passing USMCA. I think that being able to sit around the table and have people say, "Why are your colleagues against it? What are some of the hesitations?" Rep. Abigail Spanberger: I think because the hesitation was on my side of the aisle for some members. I think we were able to provide a pretty strong understanding that it is complicated for some people and they do want to make sure that we feel really strongly comfortable with labor provisions and environmental protections. And I think through some of those conversations across the board at all levels, we did see significant progress. We ended up voting on a bill that some members who have never voted on trade agreements came to the table and said, "I've never voted for a trade agreement before, but I'm going to do it this time because this is a good one." I hope that we provided some of the baseline of understanding of what were the hesitations that later actually got addressed pretty significantly. Jon Doggett: So you're describing the amazing concept that if people have conversations with one another that actually can make some progress. Rep. Abigail Spanberger: That's correct. Rep. Dusty Johnson: And again, we've talked a little bit about this, but I mean it is worth really bringing to the four big things still do get done in DC. Not as timely as we want them to. But listen, in the two months before Congresswoman Spanberger and I got here, they passed the Farm Bill, which we talked about. They passed the VA Mission Act, which was a groundbreaking way, a new way to deploy care for veterans, sweeping opioids legislation, and the First Step Act, which was modestly massive, criminal justice reform. That's a pretty good November, right? Rep. Dusty Johnson: And so part of what we need to do is make sure we've got a group of us who are willing to move when these windows open. They don't open very often and they don't open for very long. But when they open, you've got to be willing to take advantage and do something good for the American people. Jon Doggett: So Brooke, last summer, we had a couple of hundred farmers in town and we had a panel. Congressman Johnson was on that panel. Was it a hit? Brooke Appleton: It was a huge hit. Just having our membership see two members from opposite parties coming together talking about common ground and also talking about the work that they're doing and the Problem Solvers Caucus, I still hear from members today, farmers and staff from our various state associations tell us about how much they enjoyed that and how it was great for them to hear. It also was a good timing on our end because after that discussion all of our members went up to the Hill so I think they felt very refreshed to know there are a lot of members up here working together in a bipartisan fashion. Brooke Appleton: It's also something we try to promote from the National Corn Growers Association. Our involvement with the Problem Solvers Caucus and the no labels group to talk more about with our membership. And every time we give them information, they always ask for more. So I think more organizations like ours can get involved. I think that we can hopefully help grow the number. Dusty Weis: Representative Spanberger, you had alluded to the fact that there are groups working to promote bipartisanship outside of the Problem Solvers Caucus as well. What are some other ways in DC that the work is getting done right now? Rep. Abigail Spanberger: Well, I think it all starts with conversation and I'll tell a little story about how it's sometimes just takes individual initiative. My scheduler a while back came to me and said, "So I got a phone call from Representative Johnson and I said yes. And he wants to know what kind of coffee you like." I said okay. She said, "Well, so I..." She was flummoxed by this because you had actually made the call yourself, right? Rep. Dusty Johnson: Yeah. I think that's what probably flummoxed her. Rep. Abigail Spanberger: The short version of the story is Dusty spent time calling around to offices, finding about preferred types of coffee and then showing up for meetings with other new members delivering coffee and spending 15 to 20 minutes. And this is one of the first times that I actually met him. So I give him such a compliment for that because it's initiative and it also was the talk of the office for a while that he's doing my coffee runs. But I think we happen to both be members of problem solvers, but it doesn't take one dedicated organization to try and make that same kind of movement. Rep. Abigail Spanberger: And frankly, even within our parties, within Congress, across regional divides or generational divides or length of time in Congress divides or backgrounds of experience, someone who's been in a state legislature has a very different experience from someone who came from the private sector, from someone who came from public service. And I think that the more we welcome those kind of personal moments of learning from each other, the better we will all be able to serve in this larger institution. Rep. Dusty Johnson: Well, and progress does come from conversation, just like you said. From those conversations, the one thing I wanted to take away was what are the hangups with the USMCA language as it exists now? And so after sitting down with members who I knew wanted to get to yes. Listen, some people just want it to die and it's harder to talk to those folks. But I sat down because I wanted to keep USMCA moving along, found out from members over coffee, what did they need to get addressed? Then I could go back to our leadership and just say, "Hey, rather than just run these people down on Twitter, if we can scooch a little bit, this is how we can actually get it done." You don't get as many headlines having a private coffee as you do going on cable news, but you make a lot more progress that way. Jon Doggett: So scooch, don't yell. Rep. Dusty Johnson: Yeah. Right. Brooke Appleton: It sounds like a bumper sticker. Jon Doggett: There's your bumper sticker. So I do want to say that when folks listen to this podcast, they're going to assume that the two of you are actors, and this really did not occur here on Capitol Hill. But I can't thank you enough for really bringing this refreshing viewpoint out to a lot of folks who really, really want to hear it. And I can't tell you... You know this, but I have to say it. People are so hungry and so anxious to hear that you folks can get along and get something done that even though you'd disagree, you can still work on behalf of our great country. So just thank you from the bottom of my heart for doing that because that's what we want to do is have these conversations where people can understand that it isn't just what they heard on MSNBC or Fox News. Rep. Dusty Johnson: Well, and just to clear up the record, I mean, it may be true that if they're listening to the audio, they would think we're actors. If they're watching any of the video, they're going to know that I'm not an actor. Jon Doggett: Okay. Rep. Abigail Spanberger: Dusty is too funny. But I think just commenting on what you just said about people listening, I think that people across this country have the ability and the right and maybe even the responsibility to demand more from the people who represent them at any level. And some people like the fighting and the us-versus-them, but many people don't. And if you don't, if you want to be in the camp of, "Well, I disagree with that person, but I appreciate that they took the time to explain," or anywhere along the spectrum where conversations happen civilly and in a way that is meant to be informative and respectful, the voters have the ability to say to us, "We want something different and stop just legislating with bumper stickers." Rep. Abigail Spanberger: Stop blaming the other people. Stop saying Washington's broken. If it's so broken, why do you want to be there? And if it's so broken, why aren't you saying it's broken, but I'm fixing it. And that for me, I think is... It's one of the reasons why I ran because I viewed it as something that needs a bit of... It's a fixer-upper. But now that I'm here, it's an incredible legislative body and the foundation is good and it is on us to continue to always remodel as times change and as new people come in and to remain committed to what should be our driving mission and focus, which is serving the people that we represent and the country as a larger whole. Rep. Dusty Johnson: And the bottom line is this really matters. This is not a reality TV show. I mean, there are millions of extremists in the world who want to hurt our country. We'll do a better job keeping ourselves safe, working as a team. Something like the coronavirus is a real threat. We will better address that threat if we're working as a team. The squabbling doesn't actually improve anybody's life. Jon Doggett: As any aspect of our lives. So we're about to run out of time and thank you so much, both of you for being here. Brooke, thank you. This is just again, remarkable and something that we're looking forward to pushing in both of your districts. So folks hear that, "Hey, there's some folks in Washington that actually kind of seemed to get it." So again, thank you so very, very much. Rep. Dusty Johnson: Thank you. Rep. Abigail Spanberger: Thank you. Jon Doggett: I'm Jon Doggett, the CEO of the National Corn Growers Association, and I'll talk to you again next month on 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 newsletter in your email. Wherever Jon May Roam is brought to you by the National Corn Growers Association and produced by Podcamp Media, a branded podcast production for businesses podcampmedia.com or the National Corn Growers Association. Thanks for listening. I'm Dusty Weiss.

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