In many ways, farmers are traditionalists.  Most of the old tried and true values and systems seem to work best on the farm, with a hint of modern and technology thrown in.  This week on Corn Corps, we will use famous quotes spouting historical wisdom from even more famous Americans as a platform to tell you more about Illinois corn farmers and agriculture.

Theodore Roosevelt once said, “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” While this statement is rather vague and could be applied in many different ways, I believe this statement best applies to farmers and agricultural practices. Some farmers have had their share of difficult harvests – where a drought or too much rain has ruined their crops. Other farmers think of themselves as the “lucky” ones with that perfect plot of land that has a good yielding crop every year. Regardless, farmers do the best that they can, with what they have, no matter where they are.

Farmers actively help others with their many available resources. We all know that agriculture is important for many reasons, but farmers realize that what they do has the potential to help those who need it. One example of this is the City Produce Project. Along with Syngenta, Monsanto and the Illinois Corn Marketing Board, dozens of farmers worked together and grew sweet corn on their farms that was eventually donated to underprivileged families around Illinois.

farm, corn, pick up truck, food pantry
Farmers hand-picked a field of sweet corn to take to the local food bank this summer. Here, the bed of a pick-up truck is filled to nearly overflowing!

The City Produce Project worked to address the growing concerns associated with poor eating habits, food insecurity, obesity and diabetes by providing locally grown, fresh farm produce to those in low income communities. The farmers who participated in the project used their sweet corn to support local food pantries, soup kitchens and other programs that donate food to those in need. In its first year, the program generated 75,000 pounds of produce to inner city programs. The recipients of this food also enrolled in nutrition education programs to learn how to effectively use the fresh produce in their diets.

The Illinois Pork Producers also did their part to give back to those in need. The Pork Producers partnered with the Illinois Corn Marketing Board and the Illinois Soybean Association to donate to Illinois families who need it through the Pork Power Program. This program used the donation of hogs to be donated to local food pantries. The Pork Power Program also accepted cash donations, which were used for the purchase of pork. The program was highly successful and donated nearly 500,000 meals to families in Illinois.

While these programs are just two of the many food fundraising initiatives happening around the nation and the state, all have one goal of providing food to those who need it. They also work to raise awareness and provide learning opportunities to families.

There are many ways to donate to programs like this, but farmers use what resources they already have, to successfully help those around them. Farmers and those in the agricultural industry realize that they have the ability to provide food for families who need it most by simply using what they already have within Illinois. You don’t have to be a farmer to be involved in a program like this. Anyone can use the resources available to them to help others. Just simply remember to do the best that you can, with what you have, where you are.

Nichole Wright
ISU Student


Never let it be said that farmers aren’t generous.

Carol Bolander’s story received national news attention last week and you can see more about it below.  But when people are down and out, farmers are the first to rise to the occasion and show up in droves to help.  Sort of brings a tear to your eye, doesn’t it?

And more recently, actually just yesterday, the Illinois Corn Marketing Board, Illinois Soybean Association, and Illinois Pork Producers Association (more or less a community of Illinois’s farmers) donated their 1 millionth serving of pork to the Midwest Food Bank here in Bloomington, IL. You can read more about that here.

Thing is, farms have changed.  They will continue to change.  Farming is a business that must compete with changing economies, global markets, and new technologies.  But farmers haven’t changed.

Farmers still invest in their communities.  They help each other out.  They send more of their sons to war to defend our country than their urban cousins.  They pull together to face challenges and serve their neighbors whatever the need.

Farmers are a constant in a world full of change.  And that’s one reason why I love them.

Becky Finfrock
ICGA/ICMB Communications Assistant