Through out my education I have had many experiences that have taught me more than just basic video techniques and tricks. My time as the video intern with the Illinois Corn Marketing Board has shown me what hard work and love farmers and their families put into the farms they manage. Though I come from a largely agricultural community I never had the experience of growing up on a farm like many of my classmates. This internship not only gave me my first experience riding in a combine but also interacting with a group of individuals who are truly dedicated to their work.

I was very impressed by how important farmers considered protecting the earth to be. Every farmer that I met or interviewed had a number of techniques they used in order to conserve the ground they worked and produce the best quality crops for the public. They considered themselves “Stewards of the Soil” which I consider to be a testament to the devotion they have to be to do the work they do. Many of the farmers I met understands that the food they grow is the same food they give to their families. It is very important to them that they produce high quality crops for everyone. It was also interesting to see the changes and advancements that are still happening in the field. I always thought that a practice that has been around as long as agriculture has would be limited in how much growth can really be made. All of the farms I visited were family owned and run. It is inspiring to me to see real people working the land that in some cases has been in the same family for generations.

For the agriculture community, this year was especially difficult due to the drought early this summer. Even with set backs that were out of their control and extremely damaging financially … even though the odds were not in their favor, everyone I met was still outwardly positive about the future and talking about next year rather than dwelling on what was happening then.

In my interviews one of the questions I always asked was “why do you farm?” Each person answered that they farm because they love it and couldn’t imagine doing anything else. It was explained to me that due to the amount of work and tireless hours put in to running an efficient farm it would be nearly impossible to do if you didn’t love doing it. Farming was never something I thought much about in the past but after this experience I have a new appreciation for the people who make it their life’s work to provide for more than just their own family.

Ashley BartholomewAshley Bartholomew
Illinois State University



See Ashley’s work by clicking here, here or here!


I have been trained as an agriculture education teacher, though I don’t spend my days in a classroom.  Still, bringing up the next generation of agriculture professionals is a task that remains near and dear to my heart.

When I get the opportunity to talk to junior high or high school students, I still highlight the potential of agriculture.

  • Agriculture is the top employer in many states, including Illinois where it provides more than 700,000 jobs.
  • Illinois did almost six billion dollars of export business related to agriculture.  Frankly, people are always going to need to eat and that economic driver isn’t going away.
  • When you’re in agriculture, you’re either creating wealth or supporting those that create wealth.  Think about it … in what other industry do you start with something as small as a seed, something nature provided, and literally create wealth?  Agriculture truly is the industry from which all others spring.

And here’s the really cool thing: it’s an industry that has a job for everyone, regardless of your interest.  There are over 300 careers in the industry and I’m guessing more are created yearly as our technology advanced.  Yes, if you have any skills at all, you can most likely use them in agriculture.

Are you an artist?  Consider graphic arts, website design, or marketing.  Every day, I work with an excellent artist that designs our advertisements and communications to membership.  I also work with other talented artists creating infographics that support our industry and logos that bring us into the current century.

Are you a mathematician?  Every farm, every farm association, every farm business needs accountants.  And many of those hire statisticians as well to analyze important data.

Do you excel in the sciences?  Agriculture has opportunities in genetics, biochemistry, veterinary sciences, and a myriad of others.  In fact, agriculture IS science, so your opportunities here are endless.

Do you enjoy writing?  Photography?  You might be a fit for agriculture communications.  The need for excellent communicators in the ag industry is growing as farmers seek to reach out and reconnect with non-farmers for the first time in decades.

Are you a people person?  Enjoy talking and visiting?  You might be a great fit for sales.  Agriculture has seed salesmen, equipment salesmen, fertilizer salesmen, and many others.  And I can tell you first hand that farmers are a great group to chat with!

Ag has opportunities in engineering, law, technical writing, laboring, health, education, biology … the possibilities really are endless.

If you are a student looking for a place to fit, consider agriculture.  You just might have more in common with the people that grow your food than you think.

Lindsay MitchellLindsay Mitchell
ICGA/ICMB Marketing Director


Christmas is two weeks away… have you got a gift for the farmer in your life yet?  If you’re anything like me, my dad is the hardest person on my list.  A new tie?  The two he has are still in perfect condition.  Cologne?  The fresh scent of manure is completely free!  A new wrench set?  He’s already bought it for himself.  What to get for the man who has everything and asks for very little?  I’ve got a great idea for this year…. An ICGA membership!

I’m not sure why I didn’t think of this sooner.  An ICGA membership is the perfect gift.  Why?  It is one of the best investments a farmer can make for their farming operation.  Corn Grower member dollars are very important in making ICGA successful because they support legislative activities.  These funds are used for lobbying and political activity at the state and national levels.  Without membership dollars, IL Corn producers have no voice at the government level (by law, checkoff dollars cannot be used for legislative activities).

Not only do membership dollars lobby for corn farmers, they also go towards defending markets for corn.  I’m sure you’ve heard that mainstream media and foodies have falsely labeled HFCS as less healthy than other sugars.  ICGA is here to set the record straight!

You can sign up your loved one for a 1-year, 3-year or lifetime membership.  Visit our website for more information.  It will be the best stocking stuffer they get!

Becky Finfrock
Communications Assistant

It’s a Tough Job, But Someone’s Got to Do It

Growing up on a livestock farm, you learn about the “circle of life” at a young age. Most, if not all, farm kids will get attached to a particular animal at one point or another, and ask questions about why the animal has to be sent to market. There are various explanations that a parent can give at this point, but the bottom line is that it is part of your job as a farmer.

IMG_1758I was thinking about this as I talked to my dad recently about what to do with one of the cows in our beef cattle herd. I have had her since I was 7; so that would make her 15 years old now. Needless to say, I am attached to this one. She has been one of our best cows, she was my first bucket calf, my first show calf, the cow that started our herd of 50 head today… and now she is getting old and her health is less than perfect. So, my dad is giving his 22-year-old daughter the same-old speech about the “circle of life” and making a good business decision as a livestock farmer.

Now, having grown up on a farm and experienced this before, I know how this is going to have to go at some point. (Really, I am lucky to still have her around after 15 years!) But what I think a lot of people need to know about farmers is that this is not always an easy decision to make, and it isn’t a part of our jobs that we would generally describe as “enjoyable.” I have had individuals with no farm experience ask me about this part of being a livestock farmer, and the best way I know to answer them is to be honest: It isn’t our favorite part of the job, but we know going into it that sending animals to harvest is part of the deal.

Numerous surveys show (and any farmer can probably tell you) that farmers are at the top of the list of people who are happy with their job. Farming is a great profession and one that I am proud to be a part of, even though it isn’t always easy. It can be tough work, but it has a lot of great rewards that make it all worth it at the end of the day!

Rosie PhotoRosalie Sanderson
Membership Administrative Assistant


Are you interested in purchasing E15 for your vehicle?  You might be if you could get it cheaper than the E10 gasoline available at most Illinois pumps.  Here’s what we’re doing to get E15 in the marketplace in Illinois …

Illinois Corn Growers Association has been working hard for the last two years to pass the Consumer Fuel Choice for Illinois Act which would transfer the state sales tax incentive from E10 to E15.

(E10 = 10 percent ethanol to 90 percent gasoline, E15 = 15 percent ethanol to 85 percent gasoline)

Currently, the market for E10 in Illinois is saturated.  The current incentive for E10 has been successful, but is no longer viable to increase ethanol demand in our state.  The new E15 fuel incentive will encourage petroleum marketers to begin carrying and selling the fuel.  With the incentive, E15 should be cheaper than E10 at the pump.

Our proposed legislation will transfer the current E10 incentive of 20 percent sales tax savings for a new E15 incentive at 10 percent sales tax savings.  ICGA estimates that Illinois will increase revenue by over $100 million per year by transferring and lowering the incentive, while still accomplishing growth in the Illinois ethanol industry and stimulating our rural economies.

We propose that some of this savings will be used to fund blender pump installation, new technologies for the ethanol industry, and corn-based ethanol research at our universities.

This legislation may be considered by the General Assembly in January.

The Consumer Fuel Choice for Illinois Act is critical to Illinois corn farmers and the growth of the ethanol industry.  Please consider speaking in support of this legislation with your local elected officials.

E15 is approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for cars 2001 and newer.  Extensive testing by the U.S. Department of Energy showed that the higher blend of ethanol does not cause damage to engines in these newer vehicles. 

Loos_DaveDave Loos
ICGA/ICMB Ethanol Guru


For many, the drought of 2012 is already a distant memory.  If you don’t make a living trying to grow crops or in an industry that pulls water from diminishing rivers and lakes, you probably haven’t given it a second thought.  But low water resulting from our historic drought IS a cause of concern.

Right now, on the Mississippi River, barge traffic is being heavily affected by low water.  In fact, the water levels on the Mississippi near Thebes and Grand Ridge are so low that hazardous rock formations jutting up from the river bed eliminate the necessary water depth for commerce to continue.

river fact sheetThe rock formations are part of the problem, but so is the capture of water upstream on the Missouri River.  It is in the annual plan to hold water back at this time of year allowing for cities and industries upstream to have the water necessary to operate, but without water releases, the Mississippi River commerce will end.  We don’t have the truck and rail capacity necessary to offset what we stand to lose with a Mississippi River closure.

This is a complicated problem.  Illinois Corn along with other ag industry groups, barge companies, and others have asked for immediate water releases and removal of the rock formations.  If we can’t act quickly enough on these requests, commerce on the Mississippi River WILL stop and the citizens of Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri and others will be affected.

Download and print this fact sheet for a quick update on the issue and continue to watch for updates as they become available!

Jim Tarmann, Illinois Corn membershipJim Tarmann
ICGA/ICMB Field Services Director


The last two weeks have been busy for the Illinois Corn Growers Association and the Illinois Corn Marketing Board.

(As a refresher, the Illinois Corn Growers Association is a membership organization where farmers pay dues to have us represent them on legislative issues in Springfield, IL and Washington, DC.  The Illinois Corn Marketing Board manages farmer check off funds which is essentially money that each farmer pays to pool their money and have a corn “public relations” division to promote and educate about their product.)

Here are some notable “Did You Know’s” about the past two weeks that might surprise you!

Lindsay MitchellLindsay Mitchell
ICGA/ICMB Marketing Director