FRIDAY FARM PHOTO

This is a drainage ditch in a drainage district near the Mississippi River bottoms. The operator of this excavator is assisting in the “pump dredge” process of the drainage ditch. The ditch’s role is to drain excess water from more than 15,000 acres of crop land in this particular drainage district. In the last few years due to excessive flooding, the ditch has filled with silt. In anticipation of high waters again this spring, the drainage district and farmers in the area are preparing for the advent of new flood waters.

Thanks to Joe Zumwalt for sharing this photo!

WEAR GREEN IN SUPPORT OF AG DAY

Originally posted on Dust on the Dashboard by Glenn Brunkow

It’s March and I am looking through my closet for green. No, its not what you think. I am not putting on the green for St. Patty’s Day. Rather I am putting on my green for the 2nd Annual Wear Green in Support of Ag Day. My friend Barrett Smith came up with this great idea last year. I encourage you to wear green also and here is why.

Those of us living in the United States have the incredible blessing of living in a nation with the safest, most wholesome, most abundant food supply in the world. We live in a nation with a system of farms and ranches that produce more food than we consume. We live in a nation where one farmer feeds themselves and 159 others. We truly feed the world.

The network of farmers and ranchers who produce the food and fiber we all need, do so in a manner that is both safe and sustainable. We protect the environment, the soil we live on is preserved, our air is cleaner and the water is purer than ever. This is all because we employ the most technologically advanced methods to produce the nourishment we all need while protecting the world around us.

I will wear green to honor my fellow farmers and ranchers, many whom are four and five generations on the same piece of land and most of whom are family farms and ranches. The men and women who produce your food do so out of a love of what they do. I promise you they do not farm and ranch to get rich. We chose our career paths because it is our calling.

That is why I am asking you to wear green this Wednesday. I am also asking you to pass this on to all of your friends, it would be my wish that everyone I see on Wednesday would be wearing green. After all, I am a proud producer of the food we all eat.

Glenn Brunkow
5th Generation Flint Hills Rancher

CORN CHANGES DIRECTIONS ON KEY ISSUES

Last week when Julie and Suzie were holding down the fort here in IL Corn’s home office (thanks Julie and Suzie!), the rest of us were in Tampa, Florida for the Commodity Classic.

What is the Commodity Classic you ask?  Well, it’s a joint meeting of the National Corn Growers Association, American Soybean Association, National Association of Wheat Growers, and the National Sorghum Producers.  The important part for us is, of course, the policy meeting of the National Corn Growers Association, where corn farmers from all over the country set the course of the organization for the next year.

And this year, we changed directions in a few key areas.  Significantly.

American corn farmers voted to support a transition away from the Volumetric Ethanol Excise Tax Credit that we lobbied for last year, to a variable tax credit that will help ethanol plants only when they need help.  We will pursue more market access for ethanol, which we believe will allow ethanol to simply compete in the marketplace rather than be supported by the government.

In the same vein, delegates voted to investigate a transition away from direct payments in the current (and past) Farm Bill and to pursue other safety nets that protect farmers only when circumstances are beyond their control.  Weather and markets are two good examples of circumstances that could devastate agricultural production in our country and place our food security at risk.  But by bettering risk management tools, we believe family farmers can, and will, thrive outside of historical farm program options.

Although slightly different, the third key change is also very important.  Corn farmers voted to support changes to the Conservation Reserve Program that would better allow farm ground to move in and out of production.  We place a high priority on keeping certain lands in conservation because that’s the right thing to do for agriculture, for wildlife, and for the environment.  But other lands should be allowed to flow in and out of the CRP as the market dictates and our policy changes reflect this need.

All in all, the Commodity Classic was a success.  Illinois Corn is excited at the policy changes and reinvigorated at the joint state efforts that made the changes possible.  We look forward to working on our new priorities with a new Congress that we will visit next week!

Lindsay Mitchell
ICGA/ICMB Marketing Director

WOMEN CHANGING THE FACE OF AGRICULTURE A SUCCESS

The 2nd Annual Women Changing the Face of Agriculture conference was last Friday.  Unfortunately, most of us were out of the office for the Commodity Classic (check back later this week for an update on this), but we wanted to send a big thank you to previous intern, Kelsey Vance, for standing in for us!

We know Kelsey did an amazing job talking to students about her experiences as a college student majoring in Ag at ISU as well as her time as an intern for Illinois Corn.

For more coverage on this event check out:

The Pantagraph

Rural Route Review

Becky Finfrock
ICGA/ICMBA Communications Assistant

AGRICULTURE: EQUAL OPPORTUNITY EMPLOYER

Agriculture is the numerous amount of hours spent harvesting corn in the September sunset, waking up at 5 a.m. to complete chores in the barn before getting ready for school, and bagging corn on that hot summer day. However, agriculture is not limited to these tasks. There are also agricultural careers related to agricultural communications, food scientists, crop scientists, and so on. When thinking of these jobs, what is the gender that comes to mind? Males.

I am a female studying Agricultural Communications at the University of Illinois. My courses talk about careers dealing with communications, marketing, and sales in the agriculture industry. Therefore, males are not alone in terms of agriculture. These office jobs contain many women (and men, but mostly women), who make it possible for the farmers to continue a successful season in the field. As I learn about the many career opportunities for women in agriculture, I am also reminded that because I am not the male in the family who will be taking over the family farm, I am still able to obtain a career within agriculture. However, is the office the only place for women?

The answer is no, and I was exposed to this firsthand as I was at dinner the other night with a friend of mine when the conversation struck about where our parents worked.

“What does your mom do again?” I asked Ellen.
“She’s a farmer” was her response.

I should not have been surprised as I heard these words, but somehow I was. It was a different response than I have ever heard. “She’s a farmer”….yes, you read that right. There is an ‘s’ before the ‘he’.

Although I was raised on a grain farm in Central Illinois, this was still uncommon for me to hear. Ellen’s mom, Janet Gillen, is a farmer in Western Illinois with her husband, Dick. Jan and Dick collaborated the two farms into the Reeder-Gillen Farms. Jan did not grow up in a family who relied exclusively on farming. She never had the experience of being in a combine for 12 hours a day, and Jan also never would have guessed that she would be farming in her future career.

Jan is not alone among the female population who operate a farm. Although the percentage of female-owned farms is fairly small, it is not uncommon to see a woman helping in the field during planting and harvesting. Jan is a perfect example of the impact among women in agriculture.

As Jan is in the field planting corn to help feed the world, other women are communicating the importance of her job, developing new types of seeds, and many other occupations to help Jan have a successful farming season. Every aspect of agriculture includes women. As a female in agriculture, I do not see any limitations on what job is for females and what is for males. I have realized the importance of women in agriculture, and the impact that we make among the industry.

Abigail Coers
University of Illinois

EVERYTHING YOU WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT PIGS ON NATIONAL PIG DAY

It seems that there are special days for all kinds of things to honor and celebrate. March 1st is National Pig Day. While this has not yet become a recognized Hallmark greeting card holiday, the pig is an amazing animal and does warrant celebrating. We do have a whole month reserved for celebrating pigs & pork during October Pork Month, but an extra day of attention on the pig won’t hurt.

The pig truly is an amazing animal; it’s where bacon comes from so how much more amazing can it be! There are many pork products and by-products that we use in our daily lives that come from pigs. So we wanted to share some information on pigs and how they are raised.

We need to state up front that pigs are not pets. They are raised for food and the many by-products that we get from the pig.

People that raise pigs for their job are called pork producers. Pork producers work 7 days a week, 365 days a year, on the farm providing the best care possible for their pigs.

Most pigs are raised in clean, indoor climate controlled hog barns so that we can better care for the pigs and they are healthier. Have you ever heard anyone say they sweat like a pig? That’s not true. Pigs can’t sweat – that’s why pork producers use misters in hog barns – like sprinklers in the summer – so they stay cool. In the winter, pigs are kept warm because the buildings have heaters, just like your house.

piggies, baby pigs, swine

Baby pigs are raised in special barns with their mothers, called sows. To keep the baby pigs from getting hurt or stepped on they are kept in birthing pens called farrowing stalls. When the piglets reach 10-15 pounds, they are weaned – taken off their mother’s milk and given solid food.

Pigs eat a balanced diet of corn, soybean meal, and vitamins. Pigs eat a lot.  It takes 5 billion pounds of corn and soybeans to feed all the pigs in Illinois each year. If you filled a big truck to the top, it would take 100,000 trucks to move all that grain! Put them end to end, they would stretch from Illinois all the way to Disneyworld!

Baby pigs weigh about 2 pounds when they are born. In only 6 months they grow to 270 pounds and are ready for market. The pigs are then transported to a processing plant, where they are harvested and then processed into the delicious pork that we eat such as – pork chops, bacon, ham, sausage, ribs, pork burgers, and more.

Pork is the most consumed meat in the world and American pork producers take pride in producing a food they feed their own family, as well as many families worldwide. From farm to fork, U.S. pork producers provide good food at a great value for families nationwide.

Pork is good for you and an important part of your diet. It provides your body with protein that builds muscle and helps your bodies grow. On average, the six most common cuts of pork are 16 percent leaner than 20 years ago, and saturated fat has dropped 27 percent. Including lean pork in the diet can help you lose weight while maintaining more lean tissue (including muscle).

There are also more than 500 pork by-products that come from pigs including life-saving items such as replacement heart valves, skin grafts for burn victims and insulin. Other pig by-products are used in making industrial products such as gelatin, plywood adhesive, glue, cosmetics, and plastics.

For more than 1,700 delicious pork recipes, tips on cooking pork and many other pork resources visit www.TheOtherWhiteMeat.com and for more information on the Illinois pork industry visit www.ilpork.com.

Tim Maiers, Communications
Illinois Pork Producers Association