FARMERS ARE FEEDING A HUNGRY WORLD BY DOING MORE WITH LESS

Farmers have to be part agronimist, conservationist, meterologist, economist …

and all optimist!

Find out more about Illinois farmer’s best management practices at www.ilcorn.org.

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HIGH FIVE FOR FARMERS!

This video won second place in the Alpharma Student Video Contest! Tori Frobish is a University of Illinois student from the Champaign-Urbana area.

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KEEP AMERICA MOVING

Now that you’ve celebrated Merry Christmas and are happily staying warm until Happy New Year, I invite you to join us for VIDEO WEEK!

Yes, this week, Corn Corps will celebrate the holiday by bringing you interesting, informative, and intriguing videos from YouTube that address agriculture.

Today, we share an oldie but a goodie to keep this, our top priority, in the forefront of your minds. Improvements in our river transportation system are imparative if Illinois farmers are to compete in a global marketplace.

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GO TELL IT ON THE MOUTAIN: AMERICA NEEDS …
BETWEEN LOCK AND DAM 22 & 23
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ALL WE WANT FOR CHRISTMAS: MARKET ACCESS FOR ETHANOL

Dear Santa,

Over the past year Illinois farmers feel that they have been very well behaved. We have worked diligently to once again feed the world while making several changes to help our environment, protect the safety of our consumers, and produce high quality products. In fact, America’s corn farmers have cut soil erosion forty-four percent by using innovative conservation tillage methods! As far as yields are concerned, nationwide there has been a twenty percent increase since the year 2000. We hope that you will please take our Christmas list into consideration and do whatever you can to help us make the best better in the agricultural industry. Have a Merry Christmas!

Yours Truly,

Illinois Corn

1. Free trade agreements with Korea, Colombia, and Panama.
2. Corn based ethanol to be allowed to qualify as an advanced biofuel.
3. Upgraded locks and dams.
4. Trust in the American farmer.
5. Market access for ethanol.

On our original Christmas list, we were asking for an extension of the Volumetric Ethanol Excise Tax Credit (VEETC). In an odd twist, Obama dressed up like Santa Claus and already dropped that extension off (one year at 45 cents) so we revised the list. Now, we’d like to take the next year and prepare for the elimination of the tax credit by asking for ethanol market access.

Fancy words for a Christmas list, right? By market access we mean that we want our consumers to find ethanol everywhere and use ethanol everywhere, which is going to require some major coordination on behalf of the industry, Congress, the EPA, manufacturers, and marketers. This is definitely a gift that only Santa could give.

We want more flex fuel vehicles so that consumers have the choice to use ethanol in their cars. We want the US Environmental Protection Agency to use science and not perception when they approve higher blends. We’d love more blender pumps which would allow consumers to select the blend of ethanol that worked best for their car’s performance and their pocketbooks. And overall, we want our country to decide that home grown fuel is what is best for Americans.

Ethanol pumps up rural economies. It prevents dollars from flowing off seas. It makes us energy independent. Ethanol decreases harmful emissions and keeps the air cleaner. It wouldn’t harm a soul if it were spilled in the ocean. It costs less for consumers. And yet, we (Congress, consumers, media) continually decide that ethanol isn’t the right choice for us.

What ethanol needs is a chance to compete. Market access gives us that chance by letting consumers choose their best fuel option. It’s really just that simple.

Kelsey Vance
Illinois State University Student

ALL WE WANT FOR CHRISTMAS: CONSUMER TRUST IN THE AMERICAN FARMER

Dear Santa,

Over the past year Illinois farmers feel that they have been very well behaved. We have worked diligently to once again feed the world while making several changes to help our environment, protect the safety of our consumers, and produce high quality products. In fact, America’s corn farmers have cut soil erosion forty-four percent by using innovative conservation tillage methods! As far as yields are concerned, nationwide there has been a twenty percent increase since the year 2000. We hope that you will please take our Christmas list into consideration and do whatever you can to help us make the best better in the agricultural industry. Have a Merry Christmas!

Yours Truly,

Illinois Corn

1. Free trade agreements with Korea, Colombia, and Panama.
2. Corn based ethanol to be allowed to qualify as an advanced biofuel.
3. Upgraded locks and dams.
4. Consumer trust in the American farmer.

The family farmers Illinois Corn represents are misunderstood.

Ninety-eight percent of farmers are family farmers and two percent are corporate farmers. However, the general public would tell you the opposite. Over the past two decades, corn farmers have cut soil erosion by forty-four percent using innovative conservation methods. American consumers will tell you we are destroying the land. Americans spend approximately ten percent of their annual income on food while other countries spend up to seventy percent of their annual income. Yet, the general public is encouraging new laws and regulations that will run our American farmers out of business forcing us to import food.

While I hate to bore you with facts, they have the capacity to change the entire outlook of our industry. The only problem is that the facts are not reaching our consumers.

Everyday United States farmers fight the battle to protect their image in the public eye. Due to groups and organizations such as PeTA, the Humane Society of the US, the Grocery Manufacturers Association, and even the Environmental Protection Agency, our battle is getting harder every day. While these groups are attempting to dismantle our industry, farmers are quietly continuing to feed the world, which, if you know any farmers, is our way.

Growing up in the grass roots of production agriculture, I have strong feelings on this issue. Over the past year through my internship with Illinois Corn my eyes have truly been opened. As a Tazewell County farmer’s daughter, former 4-H queen, and an Illinois State Ag Major, I was not aware of the depth of the criticism the agriculture industry was receiving every minute of every day … and I’m taking offense.

My dad does not work an eight to five job. During harvest and planting seasons my mom, sister, and I make meals for the farm hands, help move guys from field to field, run for parts when we have unexpected breakdowns, and are prepared to jump into any piece of machinery at a moment’s notice. Throughout the summer, my dad spends sleepless nights running irrigation systems that allow us to grow crops in fields that we would otherwise not be able to utilize. Every farm family in the United States could tell the same story; we work hard because we love what we do. In fact, feeding the world comes naturally to us and we take a great deal of pride in the family farms our ancestors developed decades ago.

More and more farmers are beginning to understand that quietly feeding the world isn’t going to fix this issue and they are learning to utilize social media to talk about the truth on their farm. For others, though they are independent people that enjoy quiet and solitude, they are inviting school groups for farm tours to prove they are transparent. This is the hard part – how do we convince people who love peace and quiet, who are independent business owners, and who just want to be proud of their family farm legacy to work together with consumers, listen, and take harsh criticisms without being defensive?

Santa, we need your help. Farmers will have to go against years of tradition and become better communicators who are transparent about their businesses. Consumers will have to understand more about farm life and who farmers really are.

What a daunting task.

Kelsey Vance
Illinois State University Student

ALL WE WANT FOR CHRISTMAS: NEW LOCKS AND DAMS

Dear Santa,

Over the past year Illinois farmers feel that they have been very well behaved. We have worked diligently to once again feed the world while making several changes to help our environment, protect the safety of our consumers, and produce high quality products. In fact, America’s corn farmers have cut soil erosion forty-four percent by using innovative conservation tillage methods! As far as yields are concerned, nationwide there has been a twenty percent increase since the year 2000. We hope that you will please take our Christmas list into consideration and do whatever you can to help us make the best better in the agricultural industry. Have a Merry Christmas!

Yours Truly,

Illinois Corn

 

  1. Free trade agreements with Korea, Colombia, and Panama.
  2. Corn based ethanol to be allowed to qualify as an advanced biofuel
  3. Upgraded locks and dams.

Due to Illinois’ geographical location, upgrading locks and dams is vital to our economy. The Mississippi and Illinois Rivers allow Illinois corn farmers to transport their grains all over the world. By utilizing the locks and dams system we are protecting the environment, being energy efficient, preventing congestion on our roadways, providing American jobs, and staying competitive in the world trade market.

Many industries (Illinois Corn is one!) that realize how vital lock and dam upgrades really are have come together in order to help the progress of the upgrades. In fact, the users of the river system have even agreed to increase the fuel tax in order to assist in the funding of the project. Farmers need efficient means to get their product to market so desperately that even with the additional costs, they are money ahead! 

And when record federal deficits are the headline in every paper, farmers and barge companies realize what they have to do to get this done.  There are very few groups that are currently willing to fund part of their own project.

There are only a few things that I can add that you probably haven’t already read in the fourteen year time span that Illinois corn has worked for upgraded locks and dams on the Mississippi and Illinois.  And actually, maybe you already knew some of these things too.

  • One barge has the same capacity of seventy semi trucks and sixteen railcars.
  • A barge can travel five hundred and seventy six miles on one gallon of fuel.
  • The present locks and dams were built in the 1930s and 1940s when the paddleboats that Mark Twain writes of traveled the Mississippi. 
  • Panama is nearing completion of their canal expansion, allowing even larger vessels through to the US.  We don’t have the infrastructure to accommodate those larger vessels or their cargo.
  • The Pacific Northwest transportation system is at capacity.  If we plan to increase exports, we will have to utilize the Mississippi River system.

Kelsey Vance
Illinois State University student

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MR. PRESIDENT, WHERE ARE THE LOCKS AND DAMS?
FRIDAY FARM PHOTO

ALL WE WANT FOR CHRISTMAS: CORN BASED ETHANOL AS AN ADVANCED BIOFUEL

Dear Santa,

Over the past year Illinois farmers feel that they have been very well behaved. We have worked diligently to once again feed the world while making several changes to help our environment, protect the safety of our consumers, and produce high quality products. In fact, America’s corn farmers have cut soil erosion forty-four percent by using innovative conservation tillage methods! As far as yields are concerned, nationwide there has been a twenty percent increase since the year 2000. We hope that you will please take our Christmas list into consideration and do whatever you can to help us make the best better in the agricultural industry. Have a Merry Christmas!
Yours Truly,
Illinois Corn

  1. Free trade agreements with Korea, Colombia, and Panama.
  2. Corn based ethanol to be allowed to qualify as an advanced biofuel.

letter to santa, vintage santa
As we all witnessed the oil spills in the Gulf this year I think our eyes were opened as to how important it is to find a fuel alternative to petroleum. Ethanol is the answer. The use of ethanol would be better for our environment, reduce our dependence on foreign countries, and support our American farmers.

At this point in time the ethanol industry is currently hitting a “blend wall”. Basically we are running out of gasoline to blend our ethanol into. In fact, we are presently exporting a fair share of the ethanol our United States farmers are producing. It is an absolute shame that we are unable to use a larger portion of our own product and not have to rely on foreign countries for our oil.

Here’s where it gets complicated, so bear with me.

According to the law passed in 2007, corn based ethanol (referred to as a biorenewable fuel in the law) was limited to only fifteen billion gallons by 2015.  Due to the determination of the American farmer, we are already close to this goal in 2010.  But the law states that the rest of the biofuels we use in America must be “advanced biofuels.”  Advanced biofuels are biofuels that have a 50% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions compared to gasoline.  Most believed that the advanced biofuels they described would be cellulosic ethanol from switchgrass and other crops, but this industry is not anywhere near this mark due to high costs and lack of development.

Corn based ethanol has hit the mark.  Depending on how you measure greenhouse gas emissions (which is another problem – there is little sound science in this area, but that’s another discussion) corn-based ethanol is 50% better than gasoline, but is expressly denied from the “advanced biofuel” category in the law.

So that’s what Illinois corn farmers want for Christmas this year … a legislative change that allows corn-based ethanol to compete for the “advanced biofuel” slot.  We aren’t asking that any of the requirements be reduced, just that we be allowed to compete.  This is an important distinction.

It is a shame that the U.S. would legislate corn based ethanol out of our own marketplace when it helps the environment, national defense, and it’s even cheaper than gasoline.  What a great Christmas gift!

Kelsey Vance
Illinois State University student

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ALL WE WANT FOR CHRISTMAS: FREE TRADE AGREEMENTS

Dear Santa,

Over the past year Illinois farmers feel that they have been very well behaved. We have worked diligently to once again feed the world while making several changes to help our environment, protect the safety of our consumers, and produce high quality products. In fact, America’s corn farmers have cut soil erosion forty-four percent by using innovative conservation tillage methods! As far as yields are concerned, nationwide there has been a twenty percent increase since the year 2000. We hope that you will please take our Christmas list into consideration and do whatever you can to help us make the best better in the agricultural industry. Have a Merry Christmas!

Yours Truly,

Illinois Corn

  1. Free trade agreements with Korea, Colombia, and Panama

The state of Illinois is currently working extremely hard to pass free trade agreements with Korea, Colombia, and Panama. Given Illinois’ unique position on the Mississippi River, we would reap endless benefits including job opportunities, increased agriculture exports, a boost to the economy and stronger relationships with foreign countries. The passage of any of these agreements would be extremely advantageous, not only to the Illinois agricultural industry, but to the United States economy as a whole. 

Korea is currently one of the United States’ larger corn markets and a strong prospective candidate for corn co-products such as distiller’s dried grains. In 2009, the country of Korea imported over five million tons of corn from the United States. In 2008, Korea imported 184,065 tons of distiller’s dried grains. While this number may not seem very big, it is very likely that Korea will increase their imported distiller’s dried grains in the future. President Obama recognized the importance of this market and has traveled to Korea and negotiated a free trade agreement with them, which now waits in Congress for ratification.  Beef and automobiles still pose some problems. 

For many years Colombia has been a strong corn export market for the United States. However, over the past couple of years we have started losing Colombia exports to our toughest competitors, Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and most of the Mercosur countries. This is due to the Andean-Mercusor Trade Agreement. During the 2008-2009 year the United States exported approximately 48 million bushels of corn down from the 114 million bushels that were exported throughout the 2007-2008 year. Experts are predicting the 2009-2010 year will not be any better. The Colombia Free Trade Agreement would grant the United States Colombia’s need for 2.1 million metric tons of corn, which potential for an additional 133.8 million bushels over time. Increasing the amount of corn exported from the United States will strongly impact the Illinois economy.

The United States has already lost several trade opportunities with Panama due to delayed actions among the United States government. The market is declining significantly through imports of $463 million in 2009 to $383 million in 2010. Currently, the United States is exporting corn, soybean meal, wheat, rice, and horticultural products to Panama while importing high quality beef, frozen turkeys, sorghum, soybeans, soybean meal, crude soybean and corn oil, almost all fruit products, wheat, peanuts, whey, cotton, distilled spirits, and many other processed products. It is predicted that if the free trade agreement is passed the United States to Panama exports could increase $165 million per year until full implementation. In the pork industry specifically, it is estimated that hog prices would raise twenty cents. It is vital in today’s recovering economy that the United States Congress passes the Free Trade Agreement with Panama before it is too late.

United States farmers are extremely reliable and hardworking people. They spend their lives providing for families similar to their own all over the world. In order to allow them to continue what they do best we must allow the passage of the Korea, Panama, and Colombia free trade agreements.

Kelsey Vance
Illinois State University Student

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CELEBRATE MAPLE SYRUP DAY!

 

funks grove, maple sirup

Its maple syrup day and we’ve got some of the best maple sirup just a few miles south of the Illinois Corn office in Central Illinois.  Visit the Funks Grove Pure Maple Sirup website to read all about their rich history and even richer sirup!

For some fun ideas on how to celebrate Maple Syrup Day, click here!

ILLINOIS EPA PREPARES TO REGULATE PESTICIDE APPLICATIONS

In January 2009, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati, OH ruled that National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits under the Clean Water Act are required for any pesticide applications that reach waters of the U.S. This was a game changing decision, as the ruling was written so broadly that growers now have no assurance that they are exempt from this requirement.

You and I are more vulnerable to citizen lawsuits on the Clean Water Act than ever before.

In the past, the EPA had decided that pesticides were adequately regulated under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) and did not subject farmers to Clean Water Act requirements. That is no longer the case.

The new permitting program is scheduled to take effect in April, 2011 which is sneaking up on us. Legislation introduced in the House and Senate this past year would have overturned the 6th Circuit decision and clarified that permits are not necessarily with pesticide applicators are following the FIFRA label. As we begin a new session of Congress, we’ll have to start over on this type of legislation and try, try again.

But while we wait on that …the Illinois EPA moves forward preparing their rules for the new NPDES permits. And they don’t look pretty. In fact, Illinois Corn’s initial assessment (and that of other commodity and farm organizations within the state) is that the state of Illinois is taking the new ruling much further than they need to.

Whether this is due to oversight or intention remains to be seen. What I can assure you is that Illinois Corn and NCGA continue to watch over this matter, making sure that realistic guidelines for the application of crop protection products are considered.

Stay tuned.

Rodney M. Weinzierl
ICGA/ICMB Executive Director