The Commissioner of the Frontier League, Independent Professional Baseball, is Bill Lee. Here’s Bill making some opening remarks prior to the first home game of the Normal CornBelters in the Corn Crib. I spoke to him about this new franchise and what he thinks about the support of Illinois Corn Growers.

Bill says it’s a wonderful thing because it’s a “field of dreams.” He hopes the CornBelters are very successful. You can listen to my interview with Jim here (mp3).

I thought I’d also include a new video about the opening home game in the Corn Crib that was produced by the Illinois Corn Growers summer interns. I think they did a great job. How about you?

Normal CornBelters Corn Crib Opener Photo Album

Posted by Chuck Zimmerman


We at Illinois Corn love the Midwestern Gold blog. We love it so much we feel like honoring them by ripping off their Friday Farm Photo idea! After all, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, right?

This photo comes from Shawneetown farmer Jeff Scates. He finished up replanting corn about a week ago, but this picture is from the first field that was planted back on April 2.
So much for the saying “knee high by the 4th of July!”

Becky Finfrock
ICGA/ICMB Communications Assistant


The Illinois Corn Marketing Board is part of the Corn Farmers Coalition along with several other state corn grower groups and the National Corn Growers Association. Earlier this week, they launched a new phase of their educational campaign that started last year, whose goal is to let policy makers – and those who influence them from think tanks to environmental groups in Washington, DC – know that corn farmers really are environmental stewards, conscious about food safety, and enjoying every minute of life on the farm with their family at their side.

We covered the launch on our website if you’d like to read more.

The thing is the Environmental Working Group is calling our campaign “Greenwashing,” meaning that we’re trying to paint our industry as an environmentally friendly industry even though it’s not. Well, call me old fashioned, but when someone I love is attacked, it ruffles my feathers a bit and this blatant disregard for facts about corn farmers just doesn’t sit well with me.

The FACT is farmers are green.

CFC ads report data like “Thanks to new, innovative fertilization methods, today’s American corn farmers are producing 70% more corn per pound of fertilizer.” That data comes straight from the USDA and that data reflects an industry that is conscious of what they are using and placing on the land in their care. Show me another industry that is so environmentally conscious or has such a great story to tell.

The FACT is farmers are operating family (not corporate) farms.

I’ll speak from experience here; I know a lot of farmers. Every single one of them is just a regular, down home guy – the sort that would wave at a stranger from the cab of their pick-up truck, the sort that would stop and help you if you had car trouble, the sort that jumps from the tractor to the shower and speeds into town to watch their son’s t-ball game or their daughter’s dance recital.

EWG says that “There are thousands of large, plantation-scale corn factories dotting the American landscape, family-owned or not. And family ownership does not necessarily equal small. Agricultural supply giant Cargill is family-owned. So are the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Minnesota Twins.”

To compare the family farm I grew up on to the Minnesota Twins is the most absurd thing I’ve ever heard. My dad farms a lot of acres – some his own, some his brother’s, and some his neighbor’s that retired from farming. To the local farmer’s market consumer, I know he looks like a plantation owner. But he’s the one driving the tractor. He’s the one stressing over marketing decisions. He’s the one dealing with environmental regulations that EPA bureaucrats decide are relevant. He’s the one trying to make his small business work with only the help of a wife at home to support him and his dad at the end of the row to bring him a drink. I doubt Cargill and the Minnesota Twins are operated in the same manner.

And he’s not unique.

The FACT is farmers are using less land, not more.

EWG says that “According to a National Wildlife Federation report this year, the corn ethanol gold rush has been responsible for plowing up thousands of acres of pristine wildlife habitat (and prime carbon sequestration vegetation) and converting it to corn production.”

Well, I suppose that depends on who you feel is the authority.

Our federal government (the USDA), who runs the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) indicated that from 1982 to 2007, cropland acreage declined from about 420 million acres to 357 million acres. CRP, or acres returned their natural state, reflects more than half of that diverted acreage.

There are multiple other facts that EWG has gotten wrong, but you can read those for yourself.

At the end of the day, I’d say the only “greenwashing” we’re trying to accomplish is to make every other industry in the country green with envy at the wholesome, slow-paced, family environment in which we get to work and the fabulous story we have to tell about corn farmers that are conscious stewards of the land.

Eat your heart out, EWG.

Lindsay Mitchell
ICGA/ICMB Marketing Manager


corn cribIt’s definitely a field of dreams, but instead of building a ball field in a corn field, Illinois corn farmers are growing corn in a ball field.

As part of the landscaping at the new home for the Normal CornBelters, the Corn Crib has small plots of corn planted under the scoreboard. “We wanted to show as much as we could actually what corn is,” said Illinois Corn Growers Field Services Director Jim Tarmann. “So, we’ve got six different mini-plots of field corn that are already coming up and we planted that ourselves.” Local FFA chapters are growing specialty corn, including popcorn and sweet corn, that will be worked into the as-yet-unfinished landscape in and around the ball park. Pioneer and Syngenta are also part of that project as co-sponsors of the new team and stadium.

corn cribJim says the Illinois beef and pork producers and Prairie Farms are sponsors as well. “We’re all very excited about this new venue to talk about modern production agriculture,” he said during an interview with Cindy Zimmerman, AgWired, in the Illinois Corn Growers office the morning following the game.

Nearly 6,000 fans attended the opening home game Tuesday night against the Windy City Thunderbolts, and even though the Cornbelters lost the game 3-2, it was an exciting game in the end and everyone had a great time. Listen to the interview with Jim here (mp3).
Take a look at our updated photos from game night: Normal CornBelters Corn Crib Opener Photo Album
Chuck Zimmerman


Interviewing Jim RappThrowing out one of the opening pitches for the Normal CornBelters baseball home game at the Corn Crib was Jim Rapp, Illinois Corn Marketing Board Chairman. He had a big wind up before throwing a pitch that was so fast it didn’t even register on the meter. Wait, we didn’t have a speed gun out there. Anyway he did a great job.

Chuck Zimmerman, AgWired, talked to Jim about the ICMB support for this stadium and team. Jim thinks it’s great and says he wishes he had a chance to do some practice pitches before getting on the mound in front of the crowd.

You can see a lot of photos from the opener in the AgWired photo album: Normal CornBelters Corn Crib Opener Photo Album

You can listen to Chuck’s interview with Jim here (mp3).


Though nothing like the rain that just wouldn’t quit coming last spring, a series of showers and thunderstorms has slowed up the planting progress in the past month. Luckily, most Illinois corn farmers were able to get their corn in the ground early and have minimal acres of soybeans left to plant.

Here’s a field update from former ICGA President Rob Elliott from Cameron, IL:
May 27 – Finally back in the field after an extended rain delay since May 5th. Had a couple small pop up showers the last few days but missed the more significant rain that some received. The warmer temperatures have helped dry the ground out, but some are planting around some pretty big wet spots that still remain. Many in southeast Iowa and west central Illinois have had 12 -15 inches of rain in the last month.

The last of the corn should be pretty well in and the remaining beans will go in fairly quickly. There will be corn knee high by the 4th of June and some just coming up. We need some warm weather and sunshine to perk things up including a lot of “soggy attitudes.”

And another update from ICGA Vice President Jim Reed from Monticello, IL:

May 30 – Fields have finally dried out enough to finish spraying corn. Some corn is knee high. I hope to replant beans in ponds next week.

Had some marble size hail damage over 300 acres last Monday night that resulted in 2-3% cut offs in corn and major leaf damage.

Still other ICGA leaders like Steve Ruh of Sugar Grove, IL are asking for rain!
May 28 – I will be putting the finishing touches on bean planting as well as side-dressing and cutting hay this weekend. Corn looks great! First crop hay has good feed value and yielded very well.
Will be looking for a rain around 2pm Memorial Day, is that too much to ask?
I don’t know about Steve, but we received that 2 pm rain here at the Illinois Corn home office so here’s hoping he received a bit too.
Are you a farmer or a farm enthusiast? How is your planting season going or what do you see happening around you? Let us know in the comments where you’re from and how the corn looks in your area. Feel free to upload planting photos to our Facebook page as well!