Director of Market Development & Public Policy at Colorado Corn
Kim Reddin has 15 years of trade association leadership experience, especially in areas of public policy, marketing and communications. She is a 2020 Emerging Leader in Food & Ag Award recipient. Recently, Kim took the time to update us on her current work and what is on the horizon for Colorado Corn.
Emerging Leaders in Food & Ag (EL):Tell us a little bit about yourself and the role you’re in right now.
Kim Reddin (KR):I started with Colorado Corn’s administrative committee in February of 2018. My role initially was in communications, but it’s morphed into being this market development and public policy role that I’m in now. The administrative committee is actually paid for by Corn Checkoff dollars from corn producers around the state. Those dollars are invested into research and market development projects to expand uses of corn and expand corn grains. One of the projects that I worked on most recently is really tailored towards animal protein, talking about the benefits of animal protein in our diet as well as some of the great things being done for sustainability which is critical for the cattle and sheep and other livestock that are on our ranges. Another big area of development for corn growers is ethanol. It is a clean burning fuel that we add to our gas tank at 10% right now, and it helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions and some of the ugly pollutants that are in our air. With the engines that we run in our cars today, we could easily take a much higher blend up to 25 or 30%. And if we were doing that, we would even have cleaner air with the current vehicles that we’re running now. We’ve started a focused project to expand usage down in Colorado Springs, where we have seen a lift in the sales of E15. It’s been good to see consumers grab onto that and put E15 in their gas tank.
(EL): Tell us a little bit more about what you’ve been up to the last six to 12 months and how, if at all, 2020 and all the craziness that came with it has influenced the work you’re doing.
(KR): Last year we started to delve into a project with Texas that would help the producers in the state of Colorado, and really across the country, manage their risk better on the farm. We hope that parts of that project may get implemented this year while other parts of that project, we are hoping, will be implemented into the 2023 Farm Bill. That’s been really interesting, especially in light of the drought that we saw in Colorado, and some of the other challenges that our farmers faced in COVID. Our growers board and our administrative committee put together a task force that met frequently to address challenges and how we, as an association, could help. Given the shutdown and the nature of agriculture, stuff on the farm doesn’t stop just because the rest the world stopped. That was something that was challenging for us, because we did not stay in our offices but we’ve all learned new technology; we’ve all learned how to how to adapt.
(EL): What lessons are you taking out of 2020, or out of the last six months, that you’re bringing with you into 2021 right now?
(KR): I read an article in December from a public relations colleague who says that we have learned to be really AGILE. I love that word. I think it heightened my awareness that agility can be an advantage to either thinking about things in a different way or approaching challenges, or just everyday things, from a different viewpoint and being willing to adjust the way you look at it, or the way you approach a task or a problem. That would be the biggest one for me.
(EL): You talked about some of the projects you’re working on, are those going to be the basis of your 2021? Are there other things you’re working on?
(KR): At this point in time, those those three projects areas really do frame up what I’m working on for growers in the state of Colorado. They’re all longer term projects. That’s kind of an advantage because we really get to build a good platform for those programs, and then continue to build on top of that, to see results, and really be able to make a longer term, more impactful change or awareness to the issues. We’ve got some really great folks in place that are helping us along the way. Our project down in Colorado Springs is a partnership with the Nebraska and Kansas Corn Boards. We have the ongoing work with Texas Corn on our policy projects. And then there are the animal protein, livestock, dairy, and poultry folks in the state that we will be leaning into for our animal protein project in the next six to 12 months, too. So a lot of collaboration going on, which is always good.
(EL): It’s really nice to hear that – it’s always nice to have partners. And sometimes it’s hard to have partners. But that’s great that you’re finding great partners for all of these projects. One of the things we talked about at our event in August was the need for collaboration across different entities whether it’s states or associations or different players along the supply chain.
Our last question is, what gives you hope for the work you’re doing in the next year, or alternatively, what is your greatest hope for the next year?
(KR): My greatest hope for the next year is that we find ways that we can certainly be safe and healthy, but return to a more normal presence with each other. I like the fact that we’ve been able to collaborate over the phone and over zoom calls. I would like to think that that is not a new normal for us. It’s certainly proved to all of us that we can do it but I think there’s so much value in being in everyone’s presence when you’re working on projects, or having meetings, and I truly miss the in person actions that happened. I went to a couple of newer to me, group events, and they did a fantastic job. It was great interaction for what it was. But it’s the between meeting interaction with people and those moments over a cup of coffee, or the by chance meeting with someone in the hallway or in the elevator or whatever, that I personally missed tremendously last year. Those are not things that we can ever replace in virtual reality. So that is my biggest hope for 2021 is that we resume some of those collaborative efforts in person where we can really build energy and consensus from one another.
(EL): I can 100% appreciate and agree with you on that. I think. I think we just all serve a huge pat on the back for making the most of this and finding ways to collaborate in this virtual world. There’s just so much energy when we get to collaborate in person. So I will hope for that as well and I’m sure many of our readers will too!