An oldie but a goodie … enjoy!

Originally posted, June 26, 2012:

We’re coming up on the Fourth of July (ack!  It’s next week!) and my thoughts have turned to all things patriotic.  My American flag is hanging on the front door, my stars are decorating the mantle, and I dug out those red, white and blue plates we bought last year to help us celebrate the season.

Between Memorial Day and the Fourth of July, I find myself talking more about what it means to love your country.  I take the time to explain to my kids what all those flags in the cemetery mean.  I help them understand the enormity of the sacrifice those men in uniform are making for them … for me.

And then, especially when my thoughts turn to the men in uniform and all they are doing for us, I think about fuel.  The wars we’re fighting over fuel.  The lives we’ve lost over fuel.  The selfishness of Americans over … fuel?

It’s silly really.  We can produce fuel here.  So someone remind me … why are we fighting wars and losing lives over fuel again?

Somewhere along the line, corn got a bad name.  Corn became another four-letter word to be feared.  And corn-based ethanol went down the tube right along with it.  Whether it’s the farmer’s fault for not talking about what they do on the farm, or the fault of the marketing department for Big Oil, or my neighbor’s fault down the street, it happened.  And we forgot all the really great stuff about corn-based ethanol.

Number one, we don’t have to fight wars and lose lives to get it.  In fact, we make it right here and instead of harming the families of our friends and neighbors, it helps them.  Ethanol plants are jobs and money and economic drivers in towns that haven’t seen economic drivers in a long time.  Ethanol has been a saving grace for rural America in a time of massive economic downturn for the rest of the country.

Number two, ethanol is better for the environment.  Modern biobased ethanol can produce up to 53 percent less greenhouse gas emissions than regular gasoline.  The Renewable Fuels Association says that using a little more ethanol in our gasoline, switching from a 10 percent blend to a 15 percent blend, would be the equivalent of removing 6.3 million vehicles from American roadways.  Seems like that would be good for America, but what do I know?

Number three, it’s here.  America is really good at growing corn and we will always be good at growing corn.  We have corn to burn and we will continue to have corn to burn.  Why would we not utilize one of our best and biggest resources?

Americans have always been ingenuitive.  We’ve always thought about our competitive advantages and used them to better our nation.  What I’m confused about is why we’ve let fear and marketing and … selfishness … determine a very big course for our nation.

We have corn.  We are really good a growing corn.  We can make fuel out of corn and eliminate wars, pollution, and poverty in rural America.  What’s the problem?

Lindsay Mitchell
ICGA/ICMB Marketing Director


Only  two percent of Americans are farmers.  Several more work with the industry while a few more simply live in rural areas.  For all those people, these dual meanings might be second nature, but for the rest of us, talking to a farmer can be really confusing!

Clear up your confusion below!

1combine) Combine

What it usually means: To unite or merge – like you would combine the flour and baking soda in a recipe

What it means on the farm: A machine which moves down the grain field removing the seeds from the stems of ripe plants of grains

elevator2) Elevator

What it usually means: A platform or compartment housed in a shaft for raising and lowering people or things to different floors or levels, i.e. “Take the elevator to the penthouse and look around.”

What it means on the farm: A building or terminal where grain is elevated and transferred to an alternate mode of transportation (e.g. truck to rail, rail to ship)

chick3) Chick

What it usually means: A young woman – sometimes called out from a construction site as an attractive lady walks by

What it means on the farm: A baby chicken

4) Head

headWhat it usually means: The upper part of the human body typically separated from the rest of the body by a neck, and containing the brain, mouth, and sense organs

What it means on the farm: The “scissors” of the combine – there is actually a “corn head” and a “bean/wheat head.”

cattle pens5) Pen

What it usually means: An instrument for writing or drawing with ink

What it means on the farm: A stall for an animal

6) podPod

What it usually means: A group of prison cells

What it means on the farm: The container for seeds on a legume plant


weeds7) Weed

What it usually means: The most commonly used slang word for marijuana

What it means on the farm: A plant that is not valued where it is growing and in competition with cultivated plants

stalk8) Stalk

What it usually means: To harass or persecute (someone) with unwanted and obsessive attention, i.e. “Quit stalking me!”

What it means on the farm: The trunk or stem of corn


corn field9) Field

What it usually means: An area of level ground, as in a park or stadium, where athletic events are held

What it means on the farm: An area of open land, especially one planted with crops or pasture, typically bounded by hedges or fences

1hybrid0) Hybrid

What it usually means: A car with a gasoline engine and an electric motor, each of which can propel it

What it means on the farm: Seed produced by cross-pollinated plants; one of the main contributors to the dramatic rise in agricultural output

sprout11) Sprout

What it usually means: A vegetable that you cook with; usually a topping on a sandwich

What it means on the farm: When a crop begins to grow; shoot forth, as a plant from a seed


maize12) Maze/maize

What it usually means: A series of paths that are designed as a puzzle through which one has to find a way.

What it means on the farm: The scientific term for corn.



ElizabethElizabeth O’Reilly
ICMB Communications Intern &
Illinois State University student


Now that we have officially entered summer and the longest day of the year is behind us, let’s take a look at three important aspects of life in Washington DC; legislation, regulation, and the politics which influence them, and how these all will impact corn farmers going forward.

For starters, the legislative calendar for the rest of this summer and the rest of this Congress appears to be quite short. While there are ongoing concerns with regards to the ability of Congress to reach a deal on several important appropriations/spending bills that would fund the government through the end of the year, it is largely expected that deals will ultimately be reached and we will avoid the fiscal impasses that we’ve seen in other recent years.

The regulatory calendar, in contrast, looks to be jam packed with activity and the expectation is that the last two years of the Obama Administration will see a level of regulatory activity unseen in many years. Most notably, the White House unveiled its first major regulatory action on greenhouse gas emissions on June 2nd, which is its first major attempt to regulate emissions from stationary sources, primarily those emanating from power plants. Coal-fired power plants look to receive the biggest burden from this proposed regulation, which, if implemented in a timely fashion, will not likely take effect until the middle of 2016, shortly before President Obama leaves office. This initial phase of regulatory activity will focus on the largest stationary emitters of carbon dioxide, but subsequent phases will address mobile sources, such as emissions from automobiles. That, however, is not expected to take effect under the Obama Administration and will be unveiled by a future White House; assuming Democrats retain the White House in 2016.

IL CORN PLUGGED INSimultaneously, agricultural, biofuel and oil and gas stakeholders are anxiously awaiting the release of a proposed rule from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which many expect will dramatically decrease the renewable volumetric obligations for renewable fuels, and specifically, for corn-based ethanol. The Illinois Corn Growers Association has been working to engage the Administration on this rule and has offered recommendations and suggestions that we feel would help everyone as this process to revise the Renewable Fuel Standard moves forward.

All of this, of course, is heavily influenced by the political undertones of an election year, a big mid-term election which could see the control of the Senate switch, the loss of a number of senior lawmakers of both parties, and a primary calendar rife with risk for legislators of both political parties. In the last two weeks, we’ve seen the House Majority Leader, Eric Cantor, defeated by a Tea-Party backed challenger, the first House Majority Leader to have ever been defeated since the creation of the position. Voters go to the polls today in Mississippi, where Senator Thad Cochran (R-MS), the Ranking Member on the Senate Agriculture Committee, is in the political battle of his life, facing off against state Sen. Chris McDaniel, also backed by the Tea Party. Recent polling has shown Cochran trailing. To say that this type of political atmosphere makes politicians of both parties incredibly nervous is an understatement.

What this means; however, is that the next several months will provide legislators an opportunity to weigh in with the Administration and its regulators on a variety of regulatory concerns. Conservative legislators in difficult primaries will likely move even farther to the right in criticizing Administration policies and vulnerable Democratic legislators may openly question or criticize proposed Administration activities which they deem unhelpful to their Congressional district or state. Given this, Illinois corn farmers should continue to be strong advocates for biofuels, inland waterways infrastructure investment and sensible regulatory frameworks as they meet with their legislators in Congress. Political support from us is also timely and appreciated by Illinois legislators, especially by those who face a difficult re-election in November. It will be an interesting summer.

David-Beaudreau_175x420David Beaudreau
DC Legislative and Regulatory Services


1. Hormones in Poultry

They do NOT exist! Farmers do not inject hormones into poultry (chicken or turkey) to increase production because it is illegal! Could you imagine a poultry farmer trying to inject each of his animals with hormones?! The farmers would be the ones that would be running around with their head cut off!

2.  4 Popular Types of Corn

Dent- This corn is used to feed for animals and is the base product in some of the foods we eat like corn flakes for example.

Sweet- This is the type people can buy and eat right off the corn cob or buy in in the grocery store.

Popcorn- Americans favorite pastime snack!

Indian- Traditionally used as decoration pieces

types of corn

3.  Corn planting, harvesting, storage

Corn is planted between April-May and then harvested between September-November, God willing. When corn is harvested it is either stored in grain bins or taken to a local grain elevator to be shipped.

planting to harvest

4.  Need a Job?

The agriculture industry is looking to attract enough workers because there is a growing demand. According to a study from USA Today it found that between the years of 2010-2015 that an estimated 54,400 jobs would be created annually for agriculture.

 5. Signs in the fields around summer

Before you take a dish to a family get together you want to make sure it’s a hit first, right? It’s the same for farmers and their fields! Some farmers like to test which type of seed from companies work best with their field they are planting in. These farmers then get a variety of all sorts of seeds and plant a few rows to determine which one yields (produces) the most. The signs are used for advertisement.

#9 Field Signs

6.  GMO’s in Corn

More babies are being brought into the world each year but how are we supposed to feed them? By allowing Genetically Modified Organisms into crops like corn is allowing farmers to produce more for a growing population. If it was not safe for consumers it would be illegal.

7.  National FFA Organization

They say kids these days are getting worse and worse, but have you ever ran across an FFA member? The National FFA Organization strives to build ones leadership skills, personal growth, and career opportunities and success through agricultural education.


8.  Antibiotics in Dairy Products

Cows get sick just like humans do. No one wants to be around someone that is sick until they are cleared and have completed the cycle of medication that the doctor has prescribed. When cows are sick and given antibiotics, they still get milked but that milk is completely destroyed.

#11 Bumblebee, a new calf at Mackinson Dairy Farm in Pontiac, IL

These are just a few fun facts about agriculture. If you have ever wanted to teach agriculture in your classroom, check out and are both great resources with topics and lessons ready for you!

Abby Jacobs
Joliet Junior College


  1. He’s not JUST a farmer. He farms in a way that leaves the soil and water on our land in better condition than he found it in. He takes great pride in his job of feeding the world; he doesn’t just work 8-5 or find the quickest way to get the job done, he does it 5
  2. He cares about teaching others what he knows. Not only has he learned how we can do better with soil and water conservation on our farm, but he is willing and eager to share that information with others.

dad 1

  1. He works long hours… but he was still present for all the important parts of his kid’s lives. Every year for my birthday, he has gotten me pink sweetheart roses. EVERY. YEAR. How sweet is that?

dad 2

  1. He takes selfies. He’s a pretty hip dude.

dad 3

  1. Do you know HOW my dad became so great? Because of this guy, my grandpa. You have never met a more fun-loving, hardworking, incredibly proud Norwegian in your life. My dad isn’t the only person lucky to have him in his life, we all are.

dad 4

I hope you all enjoyed celebrating the dads in your life yesterday, I know I did!

rsandersonRosalie Sanderson
Membership Administrative Assistant



During a recent grocery store tour, one Chicago area mom asked, “How do hormones in milk effect growing boys and girls?” The answer might surprise you!!


This blog post by Amina Bennett Nevels is another great way to learn more about milk from the mouth of your peer instead of farmers or marketing agencies. Amina writes, “If you check out the labeling on organic milk you’ll notice big bold lettering declaring the milk to be antibiotic-free and well worth the $7 a gallon you’re prepared to pay. Well here’s news for you…ALL dairy milk sold in the U.S. is antibiotic-free! When a cow is on antibiotics, it is labeled with a bright colored leg band to alert the farmer and farm-hand that the cow’s milk should be dumped until the animal is healthy and the antibiotics are no longer in the milk.”