Mr. P. K. Basu, the Secretary of the Department of Agriculture for the Government of India, visited the Jeff Jarboe farm yesterday along with three other high-level officials from the Government of India.

farm visit, indian officials, india, corn, farmer, tractor, wagon, grainThe Secretary and his colleagues were in search of a “typical” farming operation and were hoping to interact with local producers in the Paxton, Illinois area.

The Indian delegation was interested in understanding the role of new production technologies and seed technologies, as well as how the grain is stored after it is harvested. They were also very interested in learning more about the marketing techniques that producers use to market their crop throughout the year and the grain elevator’s role in the marketing of the grain.

The Secretary and his colleagues were shown tillage equipment, corn and soybean planters, tractors, and a combine.

Like most trade teams they found the combine of most interest and were given the opportunity to observe harvest, as well as how the grain is transported out of the field and to the bin for storage.

Most producers that I have met don’t think they do anything special in their daily lives. However, this delegation felt they observed something very special.

In addition, there was also another group from the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry. This group also desires a better understanding of agriculture and how to help develop linkages with the private sector.

This was a historical visit by many in the group as many have never been on a farm in the United States.

This particular visit is not unlike the other approximately 20 international visits per year that IL Corn hosts, visits with, or connects to local suppliers. IL Corn has a vested interest in improving market opportunities for IL corn farmers and visits from other countries like Mr. P. K. Basu and his colleagues are just one important way that we add value to your voice.

Phil Thornton
ICGA/ICMB Value Enhanced Project Director


Photography is a big part of my life…I don’t know everything but I know some of the key points that I feel are necessary in taking a good photograph.  And for Photographer Appreciation Month, I’d love to share a few pointers that can make you a better photographer.   Check back every Tuesday this month to learn something new!

First, I’d like to share a composition rule of thumb: the Rule of Thirds. I first learned about this rule when I was a beginner in 4-H.

NOTE: Some rules are meant to be broken and if you don’t follow the Rule of Thirds it doesn’t mean you’re going to produce a bad image!

The easiest way to look at the Rule of Thirds is to break down an image into thirds, vertically and horizontally so that you have 9 parts to your picture.

Next, when you look through your camera, mentally your picture into the Rule of Thirds. Position the main focus of your image to one of these four points where the lines intersect.

Basically what this rule is trying to get across is that you don’t want a ‘bull’s eye’ photograph where your subject is dead center in the middle of the frame. If you place your points of interest on the intersections or along the lines, your picture will become more balanced. I’ve been told that when a person is viewing an image their eye is automatically drawn to one of the four points rather than the center of the image.

In this photo, my subject is along one of the “thirds” lines while the apples are along another.  I’m hitting three out of four of those intersecting points making this a more visually appealing photo than if my subject were dead center!

Like I said earlier, this rule can be broken and may lead to some nice shots but it definitely is something to incorporate into your photography.

Sometimes I completely forget about the rule of thirds. If you do forget and end up with a “bull’s eye” image don’t hesitate to do little editing. With all of the editing software that is available you can always crop your picture to make it follow this rule.

CHALLENGE FOR THE WEEK: Take a photo using the Rule of Thirds and take the same photo with your subject dead center.  Which one do you prefer?

Illinois Corn Marketing Board InternJenna Richardson
Southern Illinois University student


 We’re reminded of it every day when we tune into NPR on the way to work or turn on any media station at night. This omnipresent “elephant in the room” isn’t good for business, and it certainly isn’t good for morale. Michigan and Illinois alone have 11.2% and 9.2% unemployment, respectively.

How can we fix it? How can you and I make a difference?

The truth is, I don’t think we’ve ever really lost sight of how to apply our vast knowledge as a nation. As our economy shifts to a more global one, other countries advance and become more competitive. They see our industrialized success as an example and push us harder than ever before to keep our competitive edge.

Living in Michigan near auto industry capital, I see cars on a frequent basis proudly displaying bumper stickers that say “Out of a Job Yet? Stop Buying American.”

Whether meant to warn as a result of their current situation or not, these drivers offer a somber reminder and a reality. It really does matter, on a macro and micro economic scale, what products we buy and where they come from. This trend to buy American products continues to garner greater attention in mainstream society, but I feel we only pay attention to the origin of particular household products, such as t-shirts or new wrenches.

 So, let’s go back to the beginning. How do we fix our unemployment? I think the answer is twofold.

 First, as a society, I think we need to commit to not accepting skyrocketing unemployment. Just last week the USDA and the Obama Administration announced that they will be creating jobs now in rural America through various programs in 41 states.

Second, we need to continue take a serious look at where our products, especially fuel, come from. Ask yourself: Where were they made? What communities do they impact? Does the revenue from my purchase stay within my economy, or state, helping my neighbors, families and friends?  We don’t always have the ability to buy American-made products anymore, but we absolutely do have that option with fuel.

To celebrate Alternative Fuels Day today, I encourage you to look at the pump when you fill up to see how much biofuel is in your gasoline. That percentage, small or large, is the direct result of hard work from families throughout the Midwest.

A lot of people—politicians, business and industry leaders alike—think they know who or what to blame for the downslide or stagnation in our current economy. Whatever the cause, the solutions are clear.

We need to focus on viable, effective solutions to putting our ingenuity back to work through American made, American bought—biofuels.

Lauren Knapp
University of Michigan
Author of Fuel for Thought