CAN’T WAIT FOR THE ILLINOIS STATE FAIR!

Welcome to Photo Week on Corn Corps! To celebrate National Photography Month, we’re bringing you one photo every day this week that celebrates Illinois agriculture, corn production, and farm family life!

The Illinois commodity groups (Illinois Corn, Illinois Soybean Association, Illinois Beef Association, Illinois Pork Producers Association and others) worked together on a new exhibit at the Illinois State Fair last year that provides children a rural life educational experience!  Here, two boys learn how to plant a seed.

Illinois Corn is excited to update the exhibit and provide another farm experience this summer!

SOIL CONSERVATION IS A PRIORITY

Welcome to Photo Week on Corn Corps! To celebrate National Photography Month, we’re bringing you one photo every day this week that celebrates Illinois agriculture, corn production, and farm family life!

Illinois corn farmers are very concerned with soil and water conservation.  This photo demonstrates a fairly new soil conservation practice called strip tilling.  After a corn crop has been harvested in the fall, the stalks, leaves and corn cobs are left on the soil.  In the spring, the farmer “clears a path” between last year’s rows of corn and plants a new row of corn.  He is essentially tilling only a strip in the soil and then planting his new crop exactly in that strip.

Leaving the remains of last year’s harvest keeps water from washing away the fertile top soil that makes Illinois one of the largest corn producers in the world.

WELCOME ARON CARLSON!

Welcome to Photo Week on Corn Corps! To celebrate National Photography Month, we’re bringing you one photo every day this week that celebrates Illinois agriculture, corn production, and farm family life!

Welcome to our newest Illinois Corn Growers Association District II Director, Aron Carlson!  Aron and his five year old daughter enjoy working on the farm, raising corn and soybeans in Northern Illinois.  When Aron isn’t farming, he enjoys golfing and he looks forward to learning more about farm policy during his tenure on the ICGA Board of Directors!

Get to know more about Illinois farmers, their families, and their crops by checking out the Illinois Farm Families website!

EMERGING CORN

Welcome to Photo Week on Corn Corps! To celebrate National Photography Month, we’re bringing you one photo every day this week that celebrates Illinois agriculture, corn production, and farm family life!

Although we started the 2011 planting season a little slower than average, small shoots like this can now be seen all over central Illinois. In fact, this week’s planting progress report, published by the USDA, indicates that corn planting is 79 percent completed nationwide with 45 percent of corn already emerged.

ILLINOIS CORN FARMERS WANT TO BE UNDERSTOOD

Welcome to Photo Week on Corn Corps! To celebrate National Photography Month, we’re bringing you one photo every day this week that celebrates Illinois agriculture, corn production, and farm family life! We will still have our Friday Farm Photo so if you have a great picture you’d like to see there, send it to ilcorn@ilcorn.org.

In recent years, Illinois corn farmers have told us that public education and communications back to non-farm consumers is a priority. Illinois corn farmers want to be understood; they want non-farmers to know that they are hard-working, family men and women that grow food with pride. Illinois Corn’s venture into the world of NASCAR is doing just that, talking about ethanol and the farmers that are fueling the ethanol industry on a national stage.

Here, Scott Stirling represents Illinois Corn Marketing Board at the debut of the American Ethanol promotion at Daytona.

ADDRESSING THE ISSUE HEAD ON

A coalition of environmental groups has sued the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago.  Essentially, they contend that the sewer system needs upgrading to prevent further water quality issues, as Chicago is the single largest contributor of phosphorus to the hypoxia zone in the Gulf of Mexico.

You can read more about that story here.

Municipalities are the largest source of phosphorus run off/contamination in Illinois’ river system, but agriculture has to own the abundance of Nitrogen also making its way to the Gulf.  Phosphorus and nitrogen are both problems contributing to the hypoxia zone and agriculture is ready to educate our farmers and address the situation head on.

Keep It for the Crop 2025 (KIC 2025) is a new effort that is going to do just that.  But first, keep reading for a basic science lesson and a little background on the issue.

Illinois is a state once covered in prairie grasses that left behind a rich, black soil.  Corn is also a prairie grass; the fact that the crop is historically suited for Illinois soils is the reason corn is so successfully grown in our state.  As the organic matter in our rich soils mineralizes, nitrogen is released.  This is the same nitrogen that the lush prairie grasses needed – and the same nitrogen that corn needs to grow so abundantly.

High levels of nitrogen in Illinois soils is a historical fact.  Our soil make up contains higher levels of nitrogen that others.  The problem has come as farmers tiled or drained their fields over time, allowing for that nitrogen to make a quick trip into the streams and river system that was never present before.

The other problem is that farmers must apply additional nitrogen to grow the best crops that will feed the most people.  Luckily, we’ve gotten better at this science as Global Positions System (GPS) has allowed us to apply nitrogen only in the exact spot that we will come back and plant the corn seeds.  Our nitrogen application rate per bushel of corn has dropped 30 percent since 1980 and Illinois farmers are making fabulous progress.But there is still progress to be made.

The KIC 2025 (link) is agriculture’s effort to keep driving farmers to use best management practices.  Through farmer education, research to tell us what practices work best to manage nitrogen loss, and continued technology, corn farmers are going to continue making incredible strides to address nitrogen runoff while growing record crops.

Rodney M Weinzierl
ICGA/ICMB Exec Director

AMERICAN ETHANOL AND NASCAR INTRODUCE E15 TO THE PUBLIC

NASCAR and American Ethanol are natural partners: NASCAR is a great American sport founded on the sands of Daytona Beach more than 60 years ago, and American Ethanol is produced on family owned farms across our country’s heartland. It’s truly a winning combination.

American Ethanol is the name given to a coalition of groups, lead by Growth Energy and supported by the National Corn Growers Association and many of its member states including the Illinois Corn Marketing Board.  The partnership between American Ethanol gives corn farmers the opportunity to showcase their product to a national audience and it was one that they simply couldn’t overlook.

  • By using American Ethanol, NASCAR will demonstrate ethanol’s superior performance not only to the NASCAR audience, but to the broader public as well. 
  • A 15% blend of ethanol uses 50% more homegrown fuel than the current E10 standard blend in the U.S. NASCAR is leading by example by utilizing Sunoco Green E15 race fuel, showing that American ethanol-blended fuel works.
  • NASCAR is going green. And ethanol is the only commercially viable alternative to gasoline. We are honored to partner with NASCAR to show Americans that ethanol is clean, green and homegrown.
  • For the first time ever, starting in 2011 in Daytona, the NASCAR Green Flag will be branded with American Ethanol, representing the continued efforts of NASCAR and its commitment to environmental responsibility.
  • Also premiering in 2011, every lap of every NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, NASCAR Nationwide Series and NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race will be fueled by Sunoco Green E15 -– a fuel that includes 15% renewable American Ethanol, which is produced from corn grown and harvested on family farms across our country.
  • NASCAR fans will see the same great racing they have come to expect, but powered with a new, greener fuel.

What’s interesting and even more powerful is that while American Ethanol and NASCAR talk about E15 on a national stage, Illinois Corn continues to support the movement here at home with a partnership with Kenny Wallace and an opportunity for you to become part of the Family Farmers High Performance Team on June 4. 

The two programs are separate, but integrated.  One is introducing ethanol as a green, clean, homegrown fuel to audiences in the south and on the coasts that Midwestern farmers struggled to reach, while the other teaches about the family farmers behind that ethanol.

Watch and learn more!

NORMAL CORNBELTERS LOOK FORWARD TO SECOND SEASON

The Normal CornBelters are now 2-1 in exhibition play following their win over the Joliet Slammers yesterday.  After a fourth exhibition game tonight, the Normal CornBelters celebrate their home opener on May 27.

Become a fan of the Normal CornBelters on Facebook to learn more about their players and their season!

CONSUMER CHOICE MEETS MEATLESS MONDAYS

Consumer choice is important, just look (really look) at all the choices your local supermarket has to offer. From organic to conventional, fat to low-fat and non-fat, whole milk to 2 percent and 1 percent and skim… the list goes on and on. Agriculturalists value our ability to meet your needs and we value your ability to make the choice that is right for you. As long as that choice is a knowledgeable choice.

Being a knowledgeable consumer is tough. With all those choices it becomes all the more difficult to make the best choice for you and your family and depending on how many people you talk to, with however many different opinions, it becomes even harder.

That is why it is important to talk to the right people who have the right knowledge to make you more knowledgeable. Makes sense, right? So that’s what I did.

I talked to people who have chosen not to eat meat on Mondays because they feel there are environmental and health benefits to limiting one’s consumption of meat. I talked to a dietitian about the importance of beef in the diet and I spoke with a beef producer-because producers do know their product.

What I learned about Meatless Mondays:

  1. Supporters say reduced meat consumption leads to reduced carbon footprints, reduced climate change and improved health.
  2. United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that the meat industry is responsible for almost one-fifth of man-made greenhouse gases.
  3. Proponents of the campaign state the health benefits include: increased lifespan, improved diet, obesity avoidance and reduced risk of heart disease and cancer.
  4.  “I would like to encourage everyone to learn about the food that they eat,” Meatless Monday proponent Melissa Dion said. “Ignorance is not always bliss.” Dion said she saw lots of improvements in her health and lifestyle since beginning this eating lifestyle in 2008. “I feel really great and I have more energy.”

What I learned from a dietitian:

  1. “I think food fads, generally, are untested in terms of their long-term effects,” said Dietitian and Professor of Food Science M. Susan Brewer.
  2. Heart disease and cholesterol are dietary issues. Brewer said it’s not just meat, it’s all that fat and the French fries that create these problems.
  3. Animal products provide the only source of B12, Brewer said. While vegetables contain iron, especially dark leafy vegetables, it is not the most absorbable form and plant materials bind up the iron making it unavailable compared to iron from meat, Brewer said.
  4. Anemia, iron deficiency, is primarily a problem facing teenage girls and young women in their reproductive years. Brewer said is hard to get enough iron on a regular basis without removing meat from the diet once a week.
  5. Vegetables do not provide complete protein that supports growth and reproduction with the right amino acids in the right proportions, Brewer said. “That isn’t to say you can’t put them together from this category of vegetables and that category of vegetables and come up with a complete protein, with a complete amino acid profile,” Brewer said. “You can do that. But you do have to know what you are doing.”
  6. According to the American Dietetic Association, the correct portion is the size of a deck of playing cards. Portion size, choosing leaner cuts of meat and leaner preparation methods of meat and are important considerations in lieu of removing meat from the diet, Brewer said.

What I learned from a beef producer:

  1. Beef has 29 lean cuts. Trevor Toland, president of the Illinois Beef Association and producer of 41 years said you don’t have to consume large amounts of fat to enjoy beef.
  2. A 154-calorie, three-ounce serving of lean beef has 51 percent of the recommended daily value of protein, 38 percent of zinc, 37 percent of vitamin B12, 26 percent of selenium, and 14 percent of iron, Toland said. There is a lot of value in a simple three-ounce serving of lean beef, he said. 
  3. To equal the amount of zinc in a three-ounce serving of steak, a person would have to eat 13 three-ounce servings of salmon, Toland said. Likewise, one would have to eat seven skinless chicken breasts to equal the amount of B12.
  4. Practices like Meatless Mondays cost the family “considerably more” than a three-ounce serving of beef with nutritious side dishes, Toland said.
  5. “I just want people to know that cattleman really care about this country and the food we provide,” Toland said. “We want to protect our land because that is what makes it possible for us to make a living and market a safe, wholesome, nutritious product that we are really proud of.”

So there you have it, three perspectives on one important dietary issue. If these answers raised more questions the best part is that you can keep asking those questions and gaining more knowledge. If you feel like an informed consumer you can stop by your supermarket and pick up a few steaks for the grill tonight—or not, the choice is completely, 100 percent yours. And that is the beauty of consumer choice, at the end of the day you decide what is best for you.

Claire Benjamin
University of Illinois student &
author of the Rural Route Review

FARMING IS IN HIS BLOOD

Bill Christ farms in Metamora, IL.  He lives on the farm his wife’s family settled in the 1800’s and raises cattle, corn, and grapes on the farm his family settled when they arrived in IL.  This is his grandparent’s house and where he still chooses to spend many of his weekends.

Bill showed us around his farm yesterday and I was literally moved to tears at the history, the stories, and the legacy he lives out with his wife and two children.

Learn more about Bill in the coming weeks right here on Corn Corps …