5 THINGS ABOUT THIS PHOTO: WHAT IT MEANS TO DRIVE A FLEX FUEL VEHICLE

We’ve got some great photos in the IL Corn library – photos that speak volumes about what we do and who we are as an organization as well as who the farmers are that we serve! This week, we’ll feature a few of those photos as well as share the lessons you can glean from them!

What it means to drive a Flex Fuel vehicle

IMG_00561.This is a photo of a Ford F-150 Flex Fuel truck that one of our board members currently drive. Flex Fuel means the vehicle can run on an array of combinations of gasoline and ethanol. The blends you will most likely see at your local fuel station range from E10 to E85. This acronym indicates the percentage of ethanol blended with the gasoline, 10% to 85%.

2.What is ethanol? Ethanol is an alcohol made from renewable resources such as corn and other cereal grains, food and other beverage wastes and forestry by-products. The corn-based substance is added to gasoline to reduce oil imports, reduce emissions, increase performance and reduce overall costs of transportation fuels.

3.Illinois Corn supports higher blends of ethanol in our gasoline because the higher blends create a higher demand of corn ethanol. Ethanol is made in the USA. Because ethanol is homegrown, every time you purchase it, you are buying local and supporting our farmers right here in Illinois.

4.One bushel of corn produces 2.8 gallons of ethanol in addition to several valuable food and feed co-products. Using only the starch from the corn kernel, the production process results in vitamins, protein, corn oil fiber and other by-products that can be used for food, feed and industrial use.

5.Ethanol is also cleaner burning and environmentally friendly. It reduces pollution risks for the environment and since ethanol has cleaner emissions, there are less greenhouse gases in the atmosphere that are responsible for climate change.

5 THINGS ABOUT THIS PHOTO: CONG QUIGLEY ON THE FARM!

We’ve got some great photos in the IL Corn library – photos that speak volumes about what we do and who we are as an organization as well as who the farmers are that we serve! This week, we’ll feature a few of those photos as well as share the lessons you can glean from them!

Congressman Quigley on the Farm

quigley on farm1.  In this photo, Congressman Mike Quigley (IL-5) visited the farm to learn more about the primary industry in Illinois.  Congressman Quigley does this very cool “Undercover Congressman” program where he visits Illinoisans and tries to learn more about even the most menial jobs in our state.  I think it shows a real desire to learn – and we couldn’t have been happier to let him farm for a day

2. Connecting Illinois farmers, IL Corn staff, and elected officials is one very important job that IL Corn performs for its members.  As voters, every single American would do well to make at least one connection a year with the people that represent them!  That priority gets lost in the busyness of all of our days – so one job of our association is to help our members connect with elected officials and help elected officials understand as much about farming as possible.

3. The Congressman is standing in front of the machine that harvests corn – called a combine.  A combine is a VERY expensive piece of equipment (just under $500,000!) that a farmer simply can’t do without!  Learn more about combines here.

4. Congressman Quigley was likely shocked to learn about the very technical nature of a modern combine.  Combines monitor yield per acre, utilize GPS to minimize fuel usage and maximize efficiency, and employ a ton of other modern conveniences to make U.S. farming the most efficient food and fuel production industry in the world.

5. As farmer Steve Ruh was harvesting this field in October 2015, he was likely making around 200 bushels per acre.  (A bushel is about the size of a large bag of dog food and an acre is about the size of a football field.)  In October 1980, this same field would have yielded only about 100 bushels per acre.

#TBT: THE MOST WIDELY CONFUSED FACT ABOUT IL CORN …

The corn farmers I work for are not growing corn for you to eat.

There.  I said it.  One of the largest and most confusing statistics in our industry.  Your gut probably tells you that there are ethanol or farm bill analyses that are far more perplexing.  But the truth is, this one single fact throws off more non-farmers who are trying to understand agriculture and food production than any other.

sweet corn field cornIllinois is the second largest producer of corn in the U.S. – behind Iowa.  The USDA recently reported that we averaged 200 bushels of corn per acre (up from 178 bushels per acre last year) and a total of 2, 350,000 bushels of corn.

A minuscule amount of that corn is corn you will eat.

Dent cornThe corn that Illinois is so famous for is actually field corn or “dent corn,” named for the dent that forms as the corn dries down in the field.  This corn is used for the ethanol industry or to feed to livestock.  Or, as is the case primarily in Illinois, for export to other states and other countries.

The corn that most Americans have a relationship with is sweet corn, bred for a higher sugar content and a more pleasing taste.  THIS is the corn that you have in cans in your pantry or frozen in your freezer.  THIS is the corn you slather with butter in the summer time, smiling with fat drips rolling off your chin.

And yet – less than one percent of the corn grown in the U.S. is sweet corn.

Field corn is our versatile crop.  It is used in diapers, make up, and shampoo.  It is used to feed livestock and fuel cars.  It is also used in the food industry as high fructose corn syrup, in corn bread mixes, corn tortillas and corn chips.

Field corn is harvested in the fall, after the stalks die and the kernels dry down.  Field corn is a taller, darker green plant with a small tassel.  Field corn is a grain, not a vegetable.

I know, I know.

mind blown corn

 

Lindsay Mitchell 11/14Lindsay Mitchell
ICGA/ICMB Marketing Director

 

WINTER CORN CHOWDER

We are glad to be back from the holidays and look forward to what the new year brings for us.

To start us off right, here is a recipe that is a must try this season.

This recipe is for Corn Chowder, which is plentiful in the summer when fresh sweet corn is in season. But on cold nights, sometimes you just want to have a bowl of delicious hot soup, specifically corn chowder. Corn Chowder

This recipe is tailored to using frozen corn instead of fresh corn right off of the cob. Corn

The total cooking time, with preparation, is between 30 minutes and 60 minutes.  The corn chowder recipe should serve 4 to 6 people, varying with the serving bowl size you use.  If you are going shopping, here are the short-lists.

  • Ingredients
  • 5 to 6 cups of frozen, whole kernel corn
  • 3 tablespoons of unsalted butter
  • 2 teaspoons of fresh thyme
  • 1 white onion
  • Salt and pepper
  • 4 slices of bacon
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 5 cups water
  • 3/4 pound red potatoes
  • 1 cup of either half-and-half or heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon of sugar
  • freshly chopped basil

And the supplies …

  • Supplies
  • Dutch Oven
  • Wooden or silicone stirring spoon
  • 5 bowls for prepared ingredients
  • Cutting board and knives
  • Whisk

To see the full instructions, click here.

BEST POSTS OF 2015: TOP FIVE ANSWERS ON FARM SUBSIDIES

As we head into 2016, we’d like to look back at the best performing posts of 2015.  All week, we’ll repost the articles you liked best!  Enjoy!!

TOP FIVE ANSWERS ON FARM SUBSIDIES

Americans have questions about farm subsidies – and why shouldn’t they?  Americans deserve to understand what their taxes are paying for and why.  So here’s the top five questions we get on a semi regular basis and the best, short answers we can provide.  Do you have more questions on farm subsidies?  Ask away in the comments!

1. Why should tax payer dollars fund farmers anyway?

The government got involved in helping farmers stay afloat because they were interested in food security.  Our country needs to guarantee a safe, affordable, DOMESTIC food supply and not put ourselves in the position to have to import food because American farmers go out of business.  The food security portion of this equation is what makes government payments to farmers different than other businesses or industries that are also reliant on weather or market conditions.

Helping farmers stay in business also supports American rural economies that are built on farming and agriculture.  Without farm subsidies, rural communities would be completely desolate and Americans would be forced to urban areas to find work.  In essence, farm subsidies that keep farmers in business help many more Americans that don’t farm, but live in rural communities.

Illinois, farm, field, farmer, country, scenic

2. I don’t want to pay a farmer to not farm!  That’s not right!

There was a time in our history when farmers were paid to leave their land fallow.  The “set aside” program sought to control supply and increase commodity prices.  But we haven’t done this since the 1990s.  The “set aside” program was unauthorized in the 1996 Farm Bill.

3. I don’t really understand what farm subsidies are paying for then.

Government payments to farmers currently come in the form of subsidized crop insurance.  Because farming relies on the weather and is so unpredictable, farmers must insure their crops or face investing a ton of money to plant a crop only to have Mother Nature ruin their crop and leave them with no income for the year.  Crop insurance protects farmers when this happens.

But private insurance companies find the proposition too risky.  No private company can withstand a weather event like the 2012 drought we experienced here in IL.  So the government subsidizes crop insurance, making it available for farmers and encouraging them to protect themselves.

Farmers do pay a portion of their premium AND what amounts to an average of a 20 percent deductible in the event of a loss.

(Stay tuned for a more in-depth look at crop insurance and what it means to farmers in the near future!)

Marty Marr Family

4. Farmers are small businessmen and should compete in a fair and free market just like all other Americans, without government assistance.

Yes.  And that would be amazing.

But consider that farming is a different business model than most.  In most other small businesses, the business buys inputs at wholesale prices, builds a product or completes a service, and then determines the cost for the product or service based on the input costs.  Farmers do not have this business model.buy wholesale, pay retail

They must buy inputs at retail prices, pray for great weather, and accept whatever commodity price the market dictates for that month and year.  Yes, opportunities exist for farmers to mitigate risk, but they should not and can not be compared to all other small businesses because they do not get to dictate market prices that cover their cost of production.

Also, back to the first point, guaranteeing that we have affordable access to domestic food supply is somewhat different than guaranteeing access to barbershops or photographers.

5. Farmers made so much money last year.  I don’t understand why farm subsidies are still needed or even considered by Congress.

Yes, farmers did have a great year in 2013.  Commodity prices were high because of the low corn supply after the drought, but farmers still grew a lot of corn.  They did well and they didn’t need/use their crop insurance.

But like all American families know, you have good years and you have bad years.  Farmers are well versed at saving money back from the good years like 2013, to pay for the bad years like 2014 (and probably 2015!).  Government subsidized crop insurance is still needed because bad years always happen no matter how good the good years were.

If you’re still curious about farm income, read ARE FARMERS RICH here!

I am very excited to answer your questions about farm subsidies and crop insurance.  Please leave a comment!

Lindsay Mitchell 11/14

Lindsay Mitchell
ICGA/ICMB Marketing Manager