You may have heard of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources campaign “Target Hunger Now!” to help feed hungry families in Illinois.  They have worked with sportsmen and meat processors to provide donated venison with much success.   And now commercial fishermen and processors can be added to the list. 

In March of 2011, the Illinois Department of Public Health approved Asian carp harvested from the Mississippi and lower Illinois Rivers for human consumption.  Like most fish, Asian carp is rich in protein and protein is the single most expensive food source to provide to the less fortunate.  Because it is so expensive, it also means that protein is the food source most lacking in diets of those who are most in need.  With “Target Hunger Now!” as much as 40,000 pounds of fish can be processed daily, combine that with the donated venison in the Illinois food bank system and it equates to approximately 3.3 million protein-rich meals available free to those who are facing hunger in our communities. 

This not only helps families in need, but also helps another problem.  Asian carp have been spreading across Illinois rivers and streams, killing off native species.  If you remember, keeping the fish out of the Great Lakes was a subject of much debate last summer.  In fact, the O’Brien Lock and Chicago Lock were closed for a period of time to keep the fish out, which also meant additional time and money to get needed products to the Chicagoland area.  By adding Asian carp to the “Target Hunger Now!” campaign, officials hope to create demand so that commercial fishing will reduce the carp’s numbers.   

The state plans to promote Asian carp as a tasty food later this month with a cooking demonstration in Chicago.  But if you can’t attend, there are many tasty recipes available for Asian carp and venison here.      

Becky Finfrock
ICGA/ICMB Communications Assistant


On Tuesdays in September, IL Corn Intern Jenna Richardson will be providing us a feature called “Tools of the Trade.”  The weekly post will give our readers an up close look at some of the little known tools that make agriculture possible, with some interesting photography to boot! 

For those of you that might not live in a rural area, a grain bin is a big silver cylindrical structure that farmers use to store their grain as they harvest it from the field. What you also might not know, and what farmers themselves sometimes forget, is that a bin full of grain is a VERY dangerous co-worker.

After stuffing well over 1,000 envelopes this summer with a DVD & letter to grain elevators & fire departments about grain bin safety (sponsored by the Illinois Corn Marketing Board) I decided maybe I should watch the DVD myself to see what it was all about. The semester before I had taken an Ag Safety class and my teacher had taught us the importance of grain bin safety and how dangerous it can be, but I still didn’t know exactly ‘how dangerous’ it was. After watching a short movie and getting goose bumps I realized that this big grain bin is a big issue.

In my hometown several fire departments were recipients of a RES-Q-Tube. The RES-Q-Tube splits up into four pieces allowing the firemen to carry them up the side and into the grain bin. Once inside the grain bin, pieces of the RES-Q-Tube are placed around the victim and put down into the grain. Once the coffer dam surrounds the victim, a vacuum system removes the grain from around the victim. The victim can then be hoisted out of the grain.

According to STRA, a 165-pound person engulfed in grain to their waist has 325 pounds of downward pressure on their body. That same person engulfed up to their head has 800 pounds of downward pressure. This kind of pressure makes it impossible for anyone to hoist a person out of the grain with out the use of the RES-Q-Tube.

Illinois Corn Marketing Board InternJenna Richardson
Southern IL University student
IL Corn Intern


Are you a Kenny Wallace fan?  If you’re a member of the Illinois Corn Growers Association you can score a ticket to this weekend’s Chicagoland Speedway Saturday race, a meal, a t-shirt, and an appearance by Kenny Wallace for only $40!  Click here for more details!

CONCORD, N.C. – Kenny Wallace earned his first top-five and his best finish of the season in Friday night’s Virginia 529 College Savings 250 at Richmond International Raceway. A three-time NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) winner at the famed Virginia short-track, Wallace and RAB Racing with Brack Maggard expected no less than a top-five finishing position after contending with the leaders and Sprint Cup Series regulars for the majority of the 250-lap event.

Sporting the Federated Auto Parts paint scheme for the fifth time this season, Wallace and the RAB Racing team proved they had the speed to contend for a win posting the third fastest practice speed. This momentum carried over into qualifying and the team earned a solid fifth place starting position. By Lap 10, Wallace was running faster laps than the leader and by Lap 40 he was turning the fastest laps in the field. Radio communication between the team confirmed how well the car was handling and how motivated Wallace was.

Though the No. 09 Federated Auto Parts Toyota Camry got caught behind a slow car after a pit stop on Lap 70 and emerged in eighth, it didn’t take Wallace long to power the car back through the field and to a fifth place finishing position.

Because Wallace was one of the top four highest-finishing Nationwide Series drivers, he qualified for the Dash 4 Cash at Charlotte Motor Speedway. If he is the highest finisher amongst the four eligible drivers in the Dollar General 300 Miles of Courage, he will be awarded a $100,000 bonus! This will only add to the excitement of the weekend as Wallace will be piloting the fan-sponsored No. 09 Toyota Camry.

NASCAR’s Nationwide Series heads north this weekend to the Windy City for the Dollar General 300 at Chicagoland Speedway. Live coverage begins Saturday, September 17th at 3:30PM ET on ESPN2 and 3:00PM ET on MRN. 

Can’t get enough…

Follow Kenny on Twitter:

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Become a fan of RAB Racing with Brack Maggard on Facebook:


Tomorrow is Farmer Consumer Awareness Day in Washington State, but it sounded like something fun to celebrate here in IL too!  Take a moment to click over to and visit our latest “Spotlight on Farmers” section where we have compiled all the videos we have completed to date profiling Illinois corn farmers.  You won’t be sorry.


The month of September is considered to be “Successful Schools” Month.  Many people speak on the American education system as being elementary, middle, or high school students. The question that comes to my mind however is, “What about a successful college student?”

The agricultural industry wants a wide variety of students not only from agricultural backgrounds, but also from those who have never even stepped foot on farm land. This broad variety of future industry leaders helps with communication to the urban community. Often, individuals who do not have an agricultural background do not think they have the knowledge or the right to take on a career within the agricultural industry.

I personally feel that agriculture should be common knowledge. Society has been placed so far away from the farm that the basic information about how food is produced has all but been lost. People say that knowing where food comes from is important, but none of these people seem to put forth the effort to investigate the truth behind the food industry and American agriculture. There is still a romanticized view of the farm by those within the urban community.  The college years are considered to be the most important time in a student’s life for finding their interests. Incorporating an introductory or exploratory agriculture class into the general education of college students can help them understand the truth about agriculture and maybe even broaden their horizons for future career choices.

I am an agriculture student and see these endless possibilities. I often feel that my connection to agriculture gives me an advantage over other future industry leaders because I am in the field that fuels all other fields.

 Nowadays, food, fuel, and fiber industries are the only thriving businesses. Students have been entering the career world with their degree in hand with, what seems to be, no place to go.  To be a successful student and future industry leader, colleges and universities should require agricultural industry classes for all students. There is an evident lack of understanding about being an agriculturalist.

Universities already require a core of general education classes to create the “well-rounded student.” Why not introduce everyone to the industry and to all of the paths that it has to offer everyone? Agriculture holds strong as the most needed industry in the world, yet people are not grasping the endless possibilities that it has to offer. Successful college students need to be well rounded to enter their career field. Why should society expect well rounded when many of those future lawyers and doctors do not understand where any of their most essential daily needs come from?

Illinois State University agriculture studentKara Watson
Illinois State University student


All of you are here to learn more about agriculture.

You may be a farmer and want to know more about what Illinois Corn is doing or how you can better help yourself.  You may be a city dweller and want to learn more about life on the farm or actually meet and learn about Illinois corn farmers.  You might be a student doing a school project or looking for an internship.

And we’re here to help all of you with all of those needs.

I’ve compiled a list of new resources that I think you should check out.  Take an hour out of your work day, or maybe a few minutes this weekend, to look at the following and subscribe so that you continually get these updates.

A Mile in Her Shoes – This is a new FACEBOOK community that seeks to connect urban and rural moms.  According to the info section, this FACEBOOK community wants to give urban and rural moms a look at whether or not the grass really is greener on the other side!  I’m excited about this page.  What we really need is urban and rural families talking to each other and promoting mutual appreciation and understanding and I hope this page accomplishes it.

Farm Progress Show – Illinois Corn was an exhibitor at Farm Progress Show 2011 in Decatur, IL and we presented a TON of good information.  Most of it is downloadable on this section of our site and I’d encourage you to check it out.  You never know when some data on corn production might be just what you need to defend yourself in the coffee shop.

Teachers Grow the Future – Teachers can find a community for support, brainstorming, and good old-fashioned fun on the FACEBOOK page.  I have high hopes for this one.  Although aimed at a general teaching audience, it is administered by an individual who loves agriculture, so I hope to see good way to incorporate ag into classrooms everywhere.

Fuel for Thought – A brand new blog that has some fun ideas about renewable energy, agriculture, and current events.

Remember, for FACEBOOK pages, you can “like” them to continue receiving their posts and for blogs you can “subscribe” or “follow” to continue reading.  Be sure to do both for the resources listed above!

Lindsay Mitchell
ICGA/ICMB Marketing Director


On Tuesdays in September, IL Corn Intern Jenna Richardson will be providing us a feature called “Tools of the Trade.”  The weekly post will give our readers an up close look at some of the little known tools that make agriculture possible, with some interesting photography to boot! 

ball hitch, farming, tools, photography

“Keep backing up. A little more to the left (THE LEFT). Now straight back!” If you’ve ever helped hitch up a truck and trailer you’ve probably heard those lines a time or two.

Whether you’re hitching up a horse trailer, a lawn mower trailer, or a trailer to a semi, a ball hitch is very important. It may seem like a very minor tool that is used in agriculture but it actually has one of the largest impacts on me and you. How you might ask?

How do the farmers get their crops hauled out of the field? How do they get their crops to the grain elevator? How do the crops get distributed back to the consumer? The ball hitch is such a big asset to everyone whether you realize it or not.

ball hitch, equipment, agriculture

It’s hard to realize that something so small and that weighs only a few pounds can haul such a big load and impact everyone. The next time you see this small tool I hope that you think about how it is affecting your life.

Illinois Corn Marketing Board InternJenna Richardson
Southern IL University student
IL Corn Intern


While September is often associated with the end of the summer, back-to-school shopping, and football, it’s also National Chicken Month in the U.S. That’s right; for more than 20 years, thanks to the National Chicken Council, there really has been a full month devoted to one of the most versatile and affordable sources of protein!

While the chicken industry may make an extra effort to reach you with chicken coupons and new recipes this month, my organization – the USA Poultry & Egg Export Council (USAPEEC) – promotes U.S. chicken 24 hours a day, seven days a week in more than 70 countries through in-store promotions, technical seminars with chefs, trade shows, and many other activities. In other words, between my office just outside Atlanta and our 13 international offices, we never sleep when it comes to exporting more corn through poultry and eggs.

Poultry exports are just another way of adding value to the corn crop in Illinois. In fact, not only does livestock remain the largest user of corn, but the poultry and egg industry is one of the top users, utilizing about 1.8 billion bushels of corn annually. Last year, U.S. poultry and egg exports accounted for 142 million soybean and 290 million corn bushel-equivalents. That’s a lot of corn feeding our chickens!

Thanks to the long and productive partnership that USAPEEC has enjoyed with Illinois corn growers through the Illinois Corn Marketing Board (ICMB), our industry has been able to work on some of the major trade issues that keep U.S. poultry and eggs from entering certain countries. In fact, we experience market access issues in about 50 percent of the countries we work in, including the once long-time top markets of Russia and China.

For example, U.S. poultry exports to Russia once accounted for 40 percent of our industry’s total exports. But, with Russia’s domestic poultry industry growing by double digits each year, which has led to shrinking import quotas, USAPEEC realizes that Russia’s importance as an export market is waning. As a result, USAPEEC is aggressively seeking to open new markets throughout the world.

Similarly, in 2009 China initiated anti-dumping and countervailing duty cases on U.S. chicken parts, including feet and paws, which are widely consumed there. The U.S. started selling chicken feet and paws to China and Hong Kong in the 1990s, and since 1997 cumulative U.S. exports of chicken feet and paws have totaled nearly $2.77 billion.

Chicken paws and feet don’t exactly sound as appetizing as chicken wings, but they are delicacies in China. In fact, Chinese enjoy these delicacies for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack time, and even for late supper. The women even believe eating cooked chicken feet will help their skin due to the gelatinous collagen properties. Perhaps, chicken feet are truly the next anti-aging solution for American women!

For more information on how USAPEEC promotes the export of U.S. poultry and eggs, please visit:

As the famous cows from the Atlanta-based Chick-fil-A restaurants would say, “Eat More Chicken,” especially this month as we celebrate National Chicken Month.

Jennifer Geck