JOIN THE FAMILY FARMERS TEAM!

Did you hear?  Illinois Corn has a ticket package to the June 4 Nationwide Series race in Joliet!  Click here to find out more!  We need you to be a part of the Family Farmers High Performance Racing Team!

Kenny Wallace, currently 7th in the NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) driver rankings, will pilot the “Family Farmers” car.  The race will be aired live at 7PM on ESPN.

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.

GET TO KNOW AN IL CORN FARMER: ERIC KUNZEMAN

IL Corn wants you to know more about our farmers and we are making an effort to introduce them to you. Get to know Eric Kunzeman, the Illinois Corn Growers Association District 8 Director and enter to win an Illinois Corn prize package!

Leave a comment telling us what you think about the video or tell us what else you’d like to know about Eric! Curious about biotechnology? Want to understand more about his pig farm? Wonder how he manages a day job and a farm too? Any comment will enter you to win!

Contest ends Wednesday, May 25.

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

JOHN CHOE – CORNBELTERS PLAYER FOR A DAY TO BENEFIT HUMANE SOCIETY OF CENTRAL IL

Illinois Corn is proud of the partnership we have forged with the Normal CornBelters and the opportunity to participate in such a tremendous community outreach program!  Corn Corps is excited to welcome back Ashlynne Solvie for a few comments on the latest action at the Corn Crib, which is really heating up!

This past week at the Corn Crib marked a few firsts – first ever CornBelters exhibition games, first rain delay of the season, first appearance on a professional team by some of our players, and the first ever CornBelters Player for a Day benefitting the Humane Society of Central Illinois. From May 2nd to 10th, the CornBelters & the Humane Society of Central Illinois teamed up and opened a webpage on the HSCI website where anyone could make a bid to be the CornBelters Player for a Day. This “Player for a Day” would sign an official one-day Frontier League contract, play in the field for a minimum of 1 inning, and have a minimum of 1 at-bat. Hailing all the way from Boston, John Choe (with a silent ‘e’) made the highest bid ($5,000!) and won the bidding war! 100% of his winning bid was given directly to the Humane Society of Central Illinois to help funding to replace its aging boiler system. John’s generous donation will be instrumental in helping them reach their goal!

(Remember, the Humane Society of the US is the lobbying group that doesn’t really help animals and funds anti-agriculture policies.  Local Humane Societies are great organizations that care for pets and help them find homes.  Give local!)

Choe flew himself and his family to Normal, IL, so he could make his pro baseball debut during the May 13 CornBelters exhibition game versus the Joliet Slammers. Upon arriving to Normal, Choe signed his official contract, put on his uniform, met field manager Hal Lanier and pitching coach Brooks Carey, and took the field to start warming up with the rest of the CornBelters. Just before the third inning of the game, the umpires called a rain delay… things weren’t looking good for Choe to make his appearance in the game! However, immediately following the rain delay, Choe pinch hit to lead off the bottom of the third for the CornBelters!

At bat for the first time on professional turf (no pun intended), Choe took the first strike, but he didn’t let that speeding bullet of a first pitch slow him down! He fouled the next two pitches before hitting a fair ball hard down the first base line – the Joliet Slammers first baseman snagged Choe’s hit with a diving grab and tagged the base a few steps before Choe. But what a great at-bat! After the 1st pitch, Choe didn’t let anything get past him! Choe played right field during the next half inning and had a lot of action out there!

After the game, we had a chance to talk with Choe who said, “It was a great day! The whole experience – the guys were great, being out there, weather held for a part of the night, and I couldn’t have asked for anything more!”

Choe also commented on his at-bat: “The first pitch, well I wanted to swing at it but it was so fast that it went by before I could even start! The second was the latest I could ever be; third was fouled off, and fourth was fair, as late as it could be to stay fair. He [first baseman] made a great play & I’m still smiling!”

Choe also gave us his thoughts on his fielding in right field: “Everyone was very helpful to tell me where to play. We had a southpaw at the mound and a couple lefties in the batter box, so I had to shift over a little bit. I’m glad the ground ball I fielded didn’t get by me. And I hit the cutoff man! On 3 bounces, but hey I hit the cutoff man!”

Overall, Choe was grinning ear to ear the entire night. The whole experience was a dream come true!


Choe’s entire post-game interview!

As we look ahead to start the 2011 CornBelters regular season, we see lots of good things. The final roster will be set Wednesday (May 18) at 2pm. The coaching staff believes that all position players have the ability to bring in lots of runs this season. They are confident in our new hitting coach, Boots Day, former major leaguer, whose skills will help bring batting averages up. Last season’s starting pitchers are returning this season and we have also added the 2010 Frontier League All-Star closing pitcher, Liam Ohlmann. The complete roster can be found at normalbaseball.com.

Ashlynne Solvie 
Public/Media Relations Manager for Normal CornBelters

WAITING ON WORLD TRADE

President Obama issued a national challenge to double US exports into the global economy during his 2010 State of the Union address. On Friday, in a Presidential Proclamation, he said, “World Trade Week is a time to highlight the vital connection between the global economy and the prosperity of our own country. Our 21st-century economy requires American businesses and workers to compete in an international marketplace. To ensure our success, we must advance a robust, forward-looking trade agenda that emphasizes exports and domestic job growth.

I encourage all Americans to observe this week with events, trade shows, and educational programs that celebrate and inform Americans about the benefits of trade to our Nation and the global economy.”

Illinois corn farmers wholeheartedly agree with his comments and his vision for US exports. Given the agricultural prosperity that we enjoy in this country and knowing that Illinois exports 50 percent of its corn crop to foreign countries, we’d like to issue the President a challenge of our own.

Illinois farmers want free trade with Colombia, Panama, and South Korea.

The benefits of these agreements have already been discussed on this blog and on www.ilcorn.org before. Congress understands that free trade agreements will add money to the US GDP, offer jobs to American workers, and establish a more stable United States economy.

Illinois corn farmers wonder, why are we waiting?

Learn more about how the Panama Free Trade Agreement will affect corn farmers.    Learn more about how the Colombia Free Trade Agreement will affect corn farmers.  Learn more about how the Korea Free Trade Agreement will affect corn farmers.

Phil Thornton
ICGA/ICMB Value Enhanced Project Director