Creating a Lifelong Career of AgVocacy with Kenny Bounds, DE Deputy Secretary of Agriculture

LISTEN TO Kenny'S EPISODE HERE OR FIND US ON YOUR FAVORITE PODCAST LISTENING APP!

 

 

 

Show Notes

farm credit agvocates podcast interviews Kenny Bounds DE Deputy Secretary of AgricultureOn this episode of the Farm Credit AgVocates Podcast, we interview Kenny Bounds, Delaware Deputy Secretary of Agriculture and Farm Credit retiree. Kenny tell us how his lifelong career of advocating for agriculture started and has evolved through many different positions all centered around supporting our local farmers.

In this episode prepare to be inspired by Kenny's passion for supporting local rural communities, learn about organizations to get involved with, and determine whether or not you'd like to have breakfast with Mr. Bounds during his lightning round. 

Links:

Delaware Department of Agriculture

Maryland Department of Agriculture

Farm Service Agency – Maryland

Delmarva Poultry Industry

Farm Credit Foundation for Agricultural Advancement

LEAD Maryland Foundation

LEAD Delaware

Pennsylvania Rule Program

Nuffield Farming Scholarships

USDA

Department of Health

CDC

HSA

APHIS

Transcript

Kurt Fuchs:

Welcome to the Farm Credit advocates podcast, I'm your host Kurt Fuchs, Senior Vice President of Government Affairs for MidAtlantic Farm Credit. You may recognize my voice by such familiar programs as episode two of the AgVocates podcast, where I had the pleasure of chatting a little bit about my role here at MidAtlantic with your regular host Jenny Kreisher. I enjoyed the experience so much that after months of begging and pleading, signing waivers, and a little bit of bribery, I've been given the microphone and the awesome opportunity to interview a mentor of mine, Farm Credit retiree, and current Delaware Deputy Secretary of Agriculture, Kenny Bounds.  Kenny has served farmers and advocated for agriculture in the region, his entire career. First, throughout his nearly four decades with MidAtlantic Farm Credit, and now in his current role with the Delaware Department of Agriculture. He has been a consistent voice in support of the regions poultry industry, instrumental in developing multiple Ag leadership development programs and helped innumerable farms and agro businesses achieve success through his efforts at Farm Credit. Although I've had the distinct pleasure of knowing Kenny for nearly 20 years now, I learned something new every single time we chat. So I'm particularly excited about the conversation ahead and being able to share it with our audience. Kenny, thanks for taking the time from what I know is an extremely busy schedule to visit with us this afternoon. It's good to have you on the program

Kenny Bounds:

Kurt, it’s great to be here. I always look forward to my time with my Farm Credit friends and I certainly valued my time with Farm Credit and, and still consider them a major partner in the success of agriculture in the region.

Kurt Fuchs:

Well, Kenny, one of the things that as I was preparing for this interview is I was trying to remember the first time we met and stop me if I'm remembering this incorrectly, but I believe it was probably 2002. I was interning with the State Executive Director of Farm Service Agency, with Steve Conley in Maryland and you, and he were meeting up for a lunch. Does that sound right?

Kenny Bounds:

That does sound right. Kurt, that goes back a long way. And I spent a lot of water over the dam since then, and we certainly have done many things together and with other partners like Steve and the Maryland Department of Ag, Delaware Department of Ag to work on agriculture issues. But yeah, I have that same memory.

Kurt Fuchs:

Its’s hard to believe that was almost 20 years ago. Now it's a pretty wild. Kenny, can you tell us a little bit about how you got started in a career in agriculture?

Did you come from a farm family or pursue a production ag degree in school? Or how did that come about?

Kenny Bounds:

I didn't come from a farm family. Although my father grew up on a farm, but there were a seven siblings and no one continued on with that small farm operation. But I did work for many different farmer in the area near Hurlock, Maryland, where I grew up. My first jobs that I remember, and I was really young with this. I back in the days when you had to hoe weeds and I remember being out pulling weeds and hoeing weeds, picking tomatoes and cucumbers. As I got a little bit older, I went on to work for a grain and hay farmer, driving, combined driving trucks, and then worked for a hog farmer who also had grain. I spent one summer working at a pickle plant and Hurlock. And then, probably toward the end of my college career when I was still doing summer jobs, I worked for the State of Maryland at a migrant seasonal farm worker advocacy program, sort of liaison between the farmer and crews looking for work. So I had a lot of agriculture experience going into college then ended up as an agronomy soils major at the University of Maryland College Park.

Kurt Fuchs:

What steered you towards Farm Credit?

Did you start right out of school with Farm Credit or how did you begin your, your time there?

Kenny Bounds:

Well Kurt,  I've got to be honest as I was approaching graduation, my wife was a year younger than me and she was still in college and I wanted to go back to grad school with soil chemistry. My department chair, Dr. Jim Miller, who I will always remember and admire fondly for steering me to Farm Credit, sent me over to Baltimore, Maryland, where at the time one of the regional banks was there and he said, you need to go see those Farm Credit folks. And I thought, I am not a finance guy, but I'm going to follow Dr. Miller's advice, he's never steered me wrong. And every time I saw Dr. Miller, the rest of his life, when we saw one another, I would thank him for sending me to Farm Credit. It was a great fit for me. He read me like a book and I never did end up back in school for post-graduate work toward a soils degree.  I did get to use my soil experience multiple times in my career, just not into fashion that I envisioned at the time. As you mentioned earlier, I spent almost four decades at Farm Credit and loved almost every day there. So it ended up being a pretty phenomenal career for me from, from a personal standpoint, I couldn't have asked for a better place to be.

Kurt Fuchs:

My comparatively short stint here at Farm Credit. I would agree wholeheartedly with those sentiments. Although I am disappointed that I can't refer to you as Dr. Kenny Bounds, I’m glad that you've been able to serve Ag in a different way.

Kenny Bounds:

Still call me Doctor Kurt, that’s fine.

Kurt Fuchs:

Okay. Very well Doctor. So you mentioned your long tenure there at Farm Credit. I know you didn't spend all those years in one position.

Can you tell us a little bit about the variety of positions you held throughout your time there and maybe walk us through that journey?

Kenny Bounds:

Sure, back in those days, the district banks that were sort of the regulatory banks overseeing the local offices, had a trainee program where they would bring college graduates in and put them in this what they call it, field representative position, and then send them out into field to different associations, to gain experience in the role as a loan office. And then went into association had a job opening, they would send that trainee there to apply for the role and see if it was a fit for the loan office and for the association. My first assignment was really in Denton, Maryland, where I ended up spending a lot of time later. And I was there for about six months as the first trainee and right out of college. And, you know, I had had some econ classes of course, but not Ag finance that was not my strength at the time.

So the major thing I did at that time was moved the buckets around to catch water coming in from the roof. We were putting in an addition on in the office. So I think you know I was well-qualified for doing that at the time. But I went on to Georgetown, Delaware was my first assignment where I was hired as a loan officer. I had great mentors there and those folks are friends to this day and they really helped me learn that job. I spent about six years there in the Georgetown office. The one thing that really impacted my career and to this day, I spend a lot of time working on chicken issues. So the poultry industry is a huge part of the Delaware economy, and the Delmarva economy. And poultry certainly seems to be something that I'll be working on almost every day. But when I started at the Georgetown office, I really didn't know much about chicken, other than my mother made really great fried chicken that I loved. And other than that, I had mentors in some of the poultry companies that really helped me learn this industry and learn it well. I just fell in love with the job and working with the local farmers and people would come in and they wanted to figure out how to get started in farming. And the poultry industry was great way to enable them to do that.  I learned how to get young farmers started in business as an early thing that really kept me interested in the job and one reason why I stayed so long at Farm Credit.

I transferred over to the Salisbury Maryland office as a Branch Manager and then back to the Denton office, as a Branch Manager, where I really spent most of my career there in Denton. While, I was in Denton as the Branch Manager, of we had a lot of lending going on, a lot of grain, a lot of growth in the chicken industry, vegetables, but also we experienced the Farm Crisis of the middle 1980s. And it impacted the entire country. We had had several years of drought, very low commodity prices. And I learned what it was really like to sit down at the kitchen table and spend whatever time it took to help farm families figure out how to weather a storm.

People forget that we had prime rate at around 20% at the time. So any losses you took were magnified by that interest. It took a lot of cooperation between the farm families and the loan officers to figure out a way out of that mess. So while I was that the Denton office and had that experience of the farm crisis and helping people get through that, I was asked to serve on the Delmarva Poultry Industry, Board of Directors, and eventually moved into the role of President of DPI. And that was a perfect fit for the mission of Farm Credit, standing up for our members in time of need. So I was able to come in, get on the Board of Directors at DPI, the trade association for the chicken industry here on Delmarva, and really helped represent growers and companies and allied businesses like Farm Credit and others.

And it was during that time, Kurt that I did an interview with 60 minutes with Mike Wallace on a piece entitled, “Big Chicken.”  And that sort of gave my career a boost, needless to say for the advocacy side and the government affairs side of the world. It was a situation where I could step in there and do the interview as President of DPI. And of course, really what 60 minutes would like to have had, would have been Jim Perdue or Don Tyson or somebody on TV. But I told those guys, Hey, I'll do this interview only my mother will be upset if I mess it up. You know, I don't have a fake label to at risk here. So I did the interview. Just about the same time we were facing some water quality issues in Maryland which remained a challenge in the Chesapeake Bay. But the thing that was different at the beginning of this, Maryland had a governor wasn't particularly friendly to agriculture and really liked to blame agriculture for everything. And my science background, I knew that some of those accusations he was making were just plain false. So I started showing up to give testimony at different Maryland General Assembly committee hearings, and participated in a lot of the negotiations with Ag commodity groups and environmental groups, and eventually expanded my scope of interest to show up and support really anything related to agriculture, not just chicken. So what happened with that was I was successful in doing that and Farm Credit recognized the value of me being there for our customers, and they created a Government Affairs role. And I've got to say, it’s probably a good time to say, I think working for a co-op like Farm Credit is, and a company that's owned and controlled by its borrowers or members, it's very different. It's not just a profit driven motive that you have, you're there to advocate and stand up for your customers because they are your bosses. They are the owners. And, it really is a great thing. So I moved into this government affairs role, which by the way, you have succeeded me in that role quite nicely.

Kurt Fuchs:

Well, I appreciate you blazing the way,

Kenny Bounds:

But it’s funny to think about now. I hung on to my loan customers, as long as I could, even though I really wasn't supposed to be doing loans anymore. I think it took them almost 10 years to get the last loans away from me. I just love that piece of it so much that I was trying to do both, you know it was great. And the Farm Credit board eventually asked me to expand my scope into Virginia West, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and a little bit in DC. So I did that, and then I was probably in that role around 15 years, I guess. And then at the end of my career, when I was looking ahead to retirement in the not too distant future, I wanted to get back a little closer to the lending side with farmers again before I retired. So I took a Regional Manager Job that was in charge of lending on Delmarva, and that was the last formal position I had at Farm Credit. I stayed in that position until I retired.

Kurt Fuchs:

Well, Kenny, I don't know how you managed to do it, but you just condensed over a 30, some odd years of advocacy and working on behalf of your customers into a couple of minutes. So that's quite impressive. And you've mentioned a couple of things that that peaked my interest when folks my age and certainly younger, when you talk about a prime rate at 20%, I mean, I don't think many millennials can even fathom that. Just given where interest rates have been in recent years, just fascinating. And then you mentioned the farm crisis of the eighties, the interview with Mike Wallace and then nutrient management issues in Maryland.

Would it be fair to kind of consider some of those things like a catalysts for your path?

You were clearly on a trajectory of focusing on your customers and advocating on behalf of Ag, but it seems like those things sort of put up a magnifying glass on the need for that type of role being institutionalized at Farm Credit.

Kenny Bounds:

That's right. Kurt and farm families are just hardworking, noble, gracious people. It’s probably a little different now, but at that time, they weren't as used to having to maybe advocate for themselves or pay attention to some of the risks that might come from overregulation and that sort of thing. So Farm Credit saw the risk and chose to let me spend some time trying to address some of those things. And still to this day, as you are quite aware, being in that role, you're there to advocate and tell agriculture story, not make excuses for agriculture because farmers never want that. They always feel like they're going to step up to the plate when they're asked to do so. You give them the right opportunity, the right science to do it right. If they think they're being treated fairly, we're going to step up and do what's necessary.

But oftentimes, you know, they’re busy in the field, in a poultry house, in the dairy, in the hog barn, whatever it might be doing their daily chores. And they're not watching the general assemblies or Congress or other things quite like others of us that are agribusiness professionals might have the time to do so. I think seeing those families come through those challenges of the farm crisis of high interest rates.  Kurt, it took years for some people to work through the debt that accumulated in the farm crisis. And it's a very special thing to see somebody come through that. And then when you saw them come under attack, again, particularly with things that really weren't supported scientifically than absolutely, it was a catalyst to step up and say, “Hey, wait a minute, I'm throwing a red flag here.” This isn't right. You guys need to understand them. Let me tell you agriculture story. Let's talk about some solutions that will work both environmentally and economically for farmers. As the then governor of said, Tom Carper in a meeting with environmental groups and Ag groups where he was pondering in Delaware, what to do with nutrient issues and looking how Maryland had chosen to do what they did. I'll never forget it. I was sitting right beside him. And on the other side was the EPA Region Three Administrator, Tom Carper said to the group, we are not going to make a choice between the environment and a viable agriculture. We are shutting this door and we are working hard until we come up with a solution where we can have both of those things. And I got to tell you, that's the attitude to this day that we keep at the department in our nutrient management program and in all of our programs. We really look for win-win situations where we don't have to make a choice, where there is a loser. People are smart, we can figure it out. Farmers are great people that want to do the right thing. They just need somebody there in the middle to help connect those two things, sometimes.

Kurt Fuchs

I would say that that's a legacy that you brought to Farm Credit that I know in my everyday activities on behalf of the Farm Credit that I still adhere to, because I think it's important that stakeholders from both sides of the issue, understand that a successful profitable agricultural economy in this region is not mutually exclusive from a healthy, thriving environment. You know, both of those can occur at the exact same time and there's a way to do it. And it starts with being able to come together at the table and, work through the issues, just like you said.

Kenny Bounds:

I agree Kurt, it's really satisfying when you can sit down with people and it starts with building trust. You've got to be able to trust the people that you're sitting down with. And sometimes that takes a little while. If it's somebody who's got a differing opinion from yourself and when they don't, learn to be good listeners and also good speakers and strong advocates when a strong voices needed. So it's having the judgment to figure out when to use that strong voice and when the listen.  It gets tricky sometimes.

Kurt Fuchs:

Very good point.

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Kurt Fuchs:

One of your passions, as you previously mentioned, is helping the young farmers get started and helping provide them the tools to be successful. I know one of the ways throughout your career that you've been instrumental in that regard, is heavy involvement with Ag leadership development programs. And I know when you were a sitting president of the LEAD Maryland Foundation, I had the opportunity to go through the program. I'm a Class Four grad, and I know you were heavily involved in the class to the point where we were able to make you an honorary graduate of Class Four, which I’m still tickled about.  

Kenny Bounds:

Me too Kurt.  I hold that as quite an honor to be an honorary member of Class Four. And as you remember, we traveled to China together for an international study tour and all the classes of LEAD Maryland and Delaware and Pennsylvania Rule Program and it’s so great because all the people are great. But you know, don't tell anybody, but class four is still special to me.

Kurt Fuchs:

Your secret's safe with me and all of our listeners to the podcast.

You mentioned that you’re still involved with Pennsylvania's Ag Leadership Development program. You're a co-founder and continue to co-direct the LEAD Delaware program.

In your opinion, why are they so critical to advocacy efforts and to making sure that Ag has a voice years to come?

Kenny Bounds:

That's a really good question. And the obvious thing is to say that we're teaching those up and coming leaders the skills and giving them the confidence and the practice to do a media interview, to do testimony at a public hearing, things like that. Those are the outward things that you see. A couple of things that perhaps people don't think about when they get in the program, they really learn a lot about themselves and what style of leader they are and then how they can interact with others to get their message across. There's no one leadership style or personality style, that this personality type you are a leader and this personality type, you are not a leader. Everybody can be a leader. They just need to find that inner leadership in themselves and learn what their style is and learn how to use that for advocacy.

And then the other thing is building a network relationships really matter. And these state leadership programs and sometimes county leadership programs, but state leadership programs, you have a lot of interaction between the States. And of course we've done that purposefully so that when we have a MidAtlantic type of issue, then farmers in the region might know one another and know who to reach out to. And then across the country, as you know, there are several times when those groups can come together, particularly in Washington DC and meet one another. So all of a sudden your network includes local farmers that you know, your friends and neighbors, other farmers in the state, other farmers around the country, and then with Nuffield Farming Scholarships coming into the United States it now extends internationally. So you can very quickly find someone to help you understand an issue or advocate for an issue, or come up with fresh ideas, literally around the world. So it’s a wonderful thing. I would encourage any up and coming farmer, farm leader to participate in these leadership programs. It's the opportunity of a lifetime.

Kurt Fuchs:

I couldn't agree more, Kenny. I think you hit the nail on the head too, when you talk about the importance of the network and building through these programs. I know for me, when I went through Maryland's program, it put my career path on a whole different trajectory. And to this day, I recognize the importance that the program played both in my professional development, but just as important as you say, my personal development. And so I continued to be active in Maryland and our neighboring states Ag Leadership programs too. So I completely agree. And without sounding like a broken record, that's probably another legacy of, your time at Farm Credit and institutionalizing that as a major focus for our efforts.

Kenny Bounds:

Well, and kudos to Farm Credit to allow that Kurt. They know very well and we just had this conversation within the last couple of days about financial support for our leadership programs and, Farm Credit stepped up for each of our programs when there was a need when those programs were young and fledgling, and just getting off the ground, Farm Credit was there to support those programs and also give of your time and energy. I know how much time you spend with those leadership programs and it's a lot. And it's a good thing though. I really feel like the agriculture community gets a good return for the investment made both by the participants when they enter as fellows, and also the agribusinesses that support the leadership programs. It scares me to think where we might be if we didn't have farmer advocates there to tell our story and now more than ever, I think it's just really important farming, being a very small percentage of the overall population. We've got a great story to tell, but we need those people trained and willing to step up and tell that story

Kurt Fuchs:

Well said, we've got to build that bench and keep those new, so to speak, recruits coming through the pipeline.

Kenny Bounds:

It's a vicious rumor, Kurt, that some of us are getting a little bit long in the tooth and might be adding a few years on. So I think you're exactly right. We need to pass that Baton on to this next generation.

Kurt Fuchs:

And you certainly, you certainly couldn't have been speaking about yourself by any means. Kenny. You retired from Farm Credit in 2015, again, close to four decades of service to Farm Credit in various roles, but you didn't kick back and relax for very long before jumping right back into the fray.

What drags you off the hiking trails and back into the working world?

Kenny Bounds:

Well, Kurt jokingly, I tell people that I was kidnapped by the Secretary and by the Governor in Delaware and put back to work and that my wife might have had a hand in getting me out of the house. But, honestly, I wasn't looking to go back to work, but the opportunity came when Secretary Scuse, who was just coming off his eight years at USDA in Washington and spent his last almost year as Acting US Deputy Secretary of Agriculture. He was coming back into Delaware as the Secretary for his second stint. He was secretary prior to going to Washington DC. And just the opportunity when asked by the governor to join that team, to represent farmers again, and to be able to interact with the Secretary and learn from him and his experience in Washington. It was really something I couldn't resist Kurt. It just hit me right in my wheelhouse and it's really been good. It's been almost four years now.

And on a daily basis, I get to work on agriculture issues and you don't know what they're going to be when you walk into the office in the morning, but you can, well believe you've got a good team behind you at our Departments of Ag in our States. You can find an answer for constituents when they need it or help advocate for agriculture in a way that maybe surprised me a little bit. I don't know why I say that, but because I certainly worked with all the State Departments of Agriculture and they were always advocates, but I always thought, there's this regulatory piece that our Departments of Ag and after all, they are a regulator in the end. But really, my experience was an ah-ha moment for me working there is it's educate, educate, and educate. And then in the end, if there are no other options, so there are times when you might have to regulate, but that's the last tool in the toolbox. And that's really refreshing to see that up close and personal really understand. I had that feeling, but, but now I know for sure that our folks, that our State departments of Ag and the national organizations that represent Ag, they're really looking out for agriculture and they have farmers' best interests at heart.

Kurt Fuchs:

You know, that's an interesting observation because if anyone can provide the perspective of both interacting from the outside and interacting from the inside, with our Departments of agriculture, it's you. And so to provide that perspective is pretty darn interesting. I know we're pretty lucky here in the MidAtlantic region that by and large, the relationships that the Ag communities have with their departments of agriculture is strong. And as you say is at times as much an advocacy effort as it is a regulatory effort. So it's interesting to hear that, that perspective.

So you mentioned every day can be different, presented different challenges. And one of the challenges that we faced here in 2020 unfortunately, has been the COVID-19 pandemic, unfortunately.

So how has that impacted your role and your duties at the Department of Agriculture, any silver linings or positive takeaways per agriculture, as a result of, of navigating through, through COVID?

I know it's tough to put up a silver lining on something as terrible and as damaging as COVID-19, but I think sometimes it's the Farm Credit way to try to look at something from a positive angle.

Kenny Bounds:

Thankfully now having the perspective of what over six months, seven months of experience of coming through COVID, there are definitely some silver linings. We had our challenges.  I was just talking to somebody the other day about the fact that it seems like a lifetime ago that we were first coming into COVID and our poultry plants here on Delmarva, particularly were experiencing higher than normal absenteeism and having trouble getting birds processed and supply consumers with their expected walk to the meat case and have every single cut of every kind of meat that you want. For the first time that I can remember, we didn't have that. And there were some challenges, not necessarily in the supply side, although when there were worker shortages in the plants, we had some supply issues, but just around logistics, transportation, perhaps a company was used to dealing with restaurants and schools or commercial type of customers. And they're selling chicken in a case of four, 10 pound bags or whatever it be, and that doesn't fit on the grocery store shelf very well. So that became a real challenge in the plants. And it's actually one of the things that I consider a silver lining. This summer, the Secretary’s Award for Agriculture was awarded to one of our partners in the state agency; it's the Department of Health. This is another really great thing, the government really can function when it needs to. The Department of Health really work closely with the poultry companies and the poultry companies really wanted to do the right thing to protect their workers and keep consumers in supply with good food. And with that partnership with the Department of Ag, Department of Health, Labor, even federal partners coming in CDC, OSHA, APHIS, I mean, all kinds of partners.

Everybody had the same goal in mind, and it didn't take too long, if you think about it, even though we were all sort of frightened there for a little bit, it didn't take us too long to get that supply chain restored into grocery stores. So to me, I think in spite of that little bit of a hiccup, and it was maybe a good tabletop exercise. We can all learn from, hopefully the last, but it really is a success story. In the end, when you think about it and, and there were others, it was, it was more than just poultry. You know, farmer's markets at the beginning of this, we've got some wonderful farmer's markets, and I'm not talking about the individual farmer having a market on their farm property, but the community farmer's markets where a lot of vendors come together to sell their products, those things have been so successful and they're so wonderful.

They've become a social gathering place for folks. So they go out there for the experience of being there, as well as buying all the nice products. But early on that presented a problem for social distancing and all of those things that we were worried about. So we had to keep our markets closed for a while, until we could get a best practices standard in place of how many people can we let in the market and how can we protect the food and how can we distance the clerks from the customers and different things like that. We had to close farm and equipment operations. And of course that also was painful to a lot of people, farmers that wanted to buy equipment at an auction, couldn’t get access to it. Auctioneers were losing business, but you know, those are widely attended. And initially until we figured out how to do that right, we had to close those. Guest workers coming into the state of Delaware to harvest vegetables were a challenge. Many of them were coming out of Florida, right when Florida was having a big uptake in cases. And we had to make sure that we had workers coming in that were checked for COVID when they arrived and also have provisioned for a way to isolate them, if they did become sick and no infect all of their other workers.

So we certainly had our challenges and I guess, laughingly now, because we're doing this on a zoom platform this interview for the readers, our listeners to know how we're doing this. But we've all learned how to communicate via zoom and WebEx and Skype and every other thing. So we've become quite proficient at having meetings remote and virtually.  So I'm not sure if that's a silver lining or a curse.  I’m not sure which of those, but I learned how to do that.

Kurt Fuchs:

Early on it was a blessing. And now when you look at your calendar some days there's three zooms in one day, and you are hearkening back to the days when you can get away from your desk and go to an in-person meeting and shoot the breeze in the hallway and get the real work of the meeting done

Kenny Bounds:

Know if I, I don't know if I will ever complain about having to go to a meeting again, if it's a face-to-face meeting.

Kurt Fuchs:

I agree you bring up excellent points about COVID. And I think the takeaway there is so many moving parts, so many things that were firsts, right? So many things that people had never experienced before, or if they had, they'd been blips on the radar screen. And I think it's a testament to how quickly agriculture responded pivoted, however you want to term it, but the fact that they did so quickly is incredible. And I think when we hear criticisms of responses to COVID and this wasn't done quick enough, or Monday morning quarterbacking on different things, I think it's good to stand back and think about how challenging it was, and yet people really stepped up. And in particular, the ag community stepped up to make sure yes, the meat department didn't look like it did prior to COVID. There were a couple of weeks where, like you say, the cuts that you were used to seeing, and then some weren't there, but maybe there was a new cut that traditionally had gone to a restaurant that was now available because that's what was going through the processing facility.

So a lot of different aspects to it. And I try to be pretty cautious about being critical of the responses to, to this pandemic. And I mean, I think the scholastics and academics are going to have decades worth of materials to study and, and write books about and everything else. And it's interesting times we live in that's for sure.

Kenny Bounds:

Well and I hope Kurt in the end, there will be a better appreciation for our food supply and better knowledge of how food reaches our table and understanding that it doesn't just happen. There's a lot of science, there's a lot of hard work. There's a lot of planning and transportation and infrastructure to give us really the most abundant, affordable, healthy food supply in the world. And we enjoy and as you well know, we are roughly 10 cents on a dollar, roughly out of our budget for our food in this country, it's extraordinary. And that enables us to really have a standard of living and enjoy other things so that we don't have to take all of our dollars and spend on food. But it presents a challenge too. So I think many people in the agriculture industry have been great at telling agriculture story for years now, but I think this single act of COVID appearing, I'm hopeful that it will cause everybody to take pause and say, okay, let me understand this system a little better or how this food chain works. And how does suit leave a farm and arrive at the grocery store? You know, what are the risks to me as a consumer? And then when I walked back in again and I see the meat case fall, and I know for myself, I watched the meat case and, and all of our fresh veggies and everything else like a hawk now.  I'm looking for what cuts are there. And I just marvel that we've been able to recover like we have and restore that supply. And I look at the price. The prices right at this minute in the meat case; meat is very affordable again in this country. So I hope consumers will learn a new appreciation for that in the end.

Kurt Fuchs:

Well I'm going to switch things up a little bit on you here Kenny. I've got one more new segment that you'll be my Guinea pig on before we get to our closing question. This is our lighting round. So I'll give you five pairs of related items and you have to pick your preference between the pair.

Are you ready, Dr. Bounds?

Kenny Bounds:

Well, Kurt, first I wonder what the prize is. There must be a significant award for winning this this lightning round.

Kurt Fuchs:

You hit the nail on the head, Kenny. Winners of the lightening round win a chance at being invited on the podcast again.

Kenny Bounds:

Well, that's a wonderful opportunity. That’s fair enough.

Kurt Fuchs:

Okay, so scrapple or bacon?

Kenny Bounds:

Scrapple

Kurt Fuchs:

Royal farms or Wawa?

Kenny Bounds:

Royal Farms

Kurt Fuchs:

Louis L’Amour or Charles Dickens?

Kenny Bounds:

L’Amour

Kurt Fuchs:

Chicken and waffles, or chicken and dumplings?

Kenny Bounds:

Kurt, chicken and waffles can’t even be on the same sheet of music as chicken and dumplings.

What are you thinking? I am going for the dumplings.

Kurt Fuchs:

That’s a smart choice.

Now your final question, possibly the most important IPA or stout?

Kenny Bounds:

Oh boy, there is a lot of IPA drinkers out there, and I love them too, but I'm a stout guy. I got to go with that style.

Kurt Fuchs:

Well, congratulations, Kenny, you got three out of five.

When I first asked to do a guest host, I said, I got to have some kind of special segment, so I appreciate you indulging me there, Kenny.

Kenny Bounds:

Well, you know me well with the questions you asked Kurt.

Kurt Fuchs:

They were well curated. Okay. So we've got the lightheartedness out of the way. And we'll finish up with a serious question. The reason why we're on the podcast and our sign-off question.  

Kenny is what do you advocate for in agriculture?

Kenny Bounds:

Oh, well, Kurt that's an interesting way to ask that question, indeed, because there are so many specific things that you advocate for and, and opportunities you  try to push forward and challenges that you see and maybe things you even fight that you think are harmful. But overall, I guess if you wrap that all up into a general answer, it's just the opportunity for our farm families to be able to continue to provide us with that safe and abundant food supply that we talked about, in a way that's fair and equitable for them. For government to regulate only when necessary and to promote agriculture as a great way of life, a great business. And, by the way, a very central thing to us in this country to enjoy the food supply we have. So I think I think that probably answers that for me. I probably something else I'm forgetting there. But really, just to give our farm families the opportunity to do the right things and to feed us all with a great abundant food supply.

Kurt Fuchs:

Well said, Kenny well said. And if you, if you wake up in the middle of the night, pondering that question further we can always to-be-continued at the next time we have you on the podcast.

Kenny Bounds:

That's fair enough, Kurt.

Kurt Fuchs:

Well, Kenny, I can't tell you how much I appreciate your time this afternoon. I can't tell you much I appreciate the insight and sharing your advocacy efforts and journey with us. Thank you for your long career and support to Ag and the region and hope to have you on again sometime in the near future. I hope even more that we can get together in person sometime soon and in a safe way and enjoy some value added agricultural beverages in support of the industry and look forward to catching up with you again soon.

Kenny Bounds:

Thanks Kurt, I really enjoyed it. It was great talking to you.

Kurt Fuchs:

Thanks Kenny.

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