CANNED PUMPKINS: FROM FARM TO STORE SHELVES

The Today Show recently featured a story on how Libby’s Pumpkin products are produced, starting with the farm. This in-depth leaves no step of the process to the imagination as you the journey from the farm to store shelves. This transparency is something we welcome in the agriculture industry and hope that through this video, consumers will have a better understanding of how food gets to their tables.

FARMERS FIGHTING HUNGER

Farmers work diligently every day to feed the ever-growing population. Think about what was on your dinner plate last night. In a world without farmers, that plate would be empty. Society would have to return to the days of hunting and gathering. There is no way we could support the current population in this way.

It’s not enough for farmers to produce the food that sustains life as we know it. They wanted to do more to help fight hunger. Farmers across the country donate to local food banks as individuals and as businesses. Farmers work land that has been passed down for generations. No industry results in deep community ties in the way that farming does. Simply put, farmers care.

Agriculture organizations do their best to encourage this behavior and aid in the cause. Illinois Corn Marketing Board regularly donates to the “Pork Power” program that is run by the Illinois Pork Producers. Donations can be made in the form of the cash value of an animal sold at market or in the form of an animal to the program. The pork is then shared with local food banks to provide a source of healthy protein. Since the program began in 2008, 565,000 pounds of pork have been donated to hungry mouths across the state of Illinois. That totals up to more than 2.3 million servings of pork.

Illinois farmers didn’t stop with just donating pork to the needy, many farmers also donate other foods such as sweet corn to local food banks. Think about a warm summer day, sitting out of the back porch with your family eating sweetcorn along with your dinner. With Sweet Corn for Charity, hungry Illinois residents are now able to share that experience. More than 60 thousand pounds of sweet corn was donated to food banks both locally and into inner-city areas across the state of Illinois.

via FarmWeekNow.com

Instances such as those listed above are far from rarities. Nationally, farmers can be seen donating their fresh produce to local food banks. Access to fresh produce is incredibly challenging for many people both in and out of cities. The generosity of those who are privileged enough to have easy access to fresh produce encourage healthy habits and expand the opportunities for the less fortunate.

Consider how you can join the cause to feed America. Planting a small garden could provide your family with fresh produce over the course of the summer. When the warm summer weather produces a bountiful harvest of produce, you can donate to your own favorite charity. Just like the American farmer, you too can feed the world one hungry mouth at a time.

Shelby Carlson
University of Illinois

YOUNG PERSON IN AG: ELIZABETH MILLER

Elizabeth can always be seen with a smile on her face and an encouraging word for anyone she crosses paths with. She is a go-getter who is always working on something for an organization, school, or her upcoming wedding in May. Being a woman in the agriculture industry has given her motivation to do whatever she sets her mind on. Which makes her a great Young Person in Ag.

  1. What college do you attend and what is your major?

I will be graduating in May from Western Illinois University with a major in Agriculture Business with a minor in Agriculture Communication.

  1. What is your involvement at school?

I am currently the President of the Sigma Alpha sorority where I have been involved with them since my freshman year, as well as seen and helped it grow from 15 girls to right around 60 girls. I also am one of the student recruiters on the Agvocare Team for the college of agriculture where I get to go to high schools and different college fairs and show potential students what it’s like to come to WIU. I have done a little bit of everything and have been involved in just about everything within the ag division in some way.

  1. Ag background?

I did not grow up on a farm. My family owns land that we cash rented out so I wasn’t really around a lot of farming. However, both of my parents and many of my family members work in the agriculture industry. My dad is an agronomist and my mom works for a company that handles accounting for different peanut companies.

  1. Dream job?

I would say that I am soon starting my dream job. After graduating I will be hired on with ADM as a grain merchandiser. I hope that will give me my start to getting to what I eventually want to do is be somewhat of a mentor for young people in agriculture. Maybe something like an intern coordinator or helping new hires into a company. I also really enjoy college relations so maybe going to colleges and telling students about opportunities and careers for a company.

  1. Mentors?

My mentors throughout high school were my two agriculture teachers and FFA advisors, Mr. Hoffman and Mrs. Rost. They pushed me to step out of my comfort zone and try new things like public speaking. The person I really look up to now here at Western would have to be Jana Knupp. She is one of the instructors here but she also works on marketing and communications for the college of agriculture and is involved with so many clubs all while being a mom of three boys. She is truly someone I look up to for so much.

  1. High school experience/involvement in ag?

Many if not all the experiences I had in high school were stepping stones that helped me choose Western, choose agriculture, and choose just about everything I have been involved in. I was the Section 17 FFA President my senior of high school and that helped me grow and engage with so many opportunities and people.

  1. Some internship highlights?

The past two years I have worked for ADM at two different processing plants. One was in Quincy, Illinois and the other one was in Lincoln, Nebraska at a corn processing plant. There I got to work with producers, accountants, grain merchandisers. I really saw what all went into grain farming.

  1. In the terms of age of Agriculture, we are very young people, but do you remember anything that really changed agriculture in any way

Agriculture has changed in the aspect of women in agriculture. I remember when I was little and my dad saying that if I wanted to be a part of agriculture that I would have a struggle to do so. Looking at just grain elevators, since that is sort of what I am getting into, there are still a select number of woman in that field. During my internship in Lincoln, Nebraska there was a woman manager there and she was awesome and knew just as much as the guys.

  1. How do you see the woman/ agriculture industry changing in the next 5-10 years?

Women are going to become even more involved than they already are. The older men who have been in this industry for a long time, and maybe not understands us being there, are going to become more accepting of women working alongside them. As far as the agriculture industry, we are such a cyclical industry. We may have good years and bad years. This means that we will have to take matters into our own hands. If that means that when we are having a not so good year we are still paying farmers a fair price for grain, while still making money. Technology will play a huge part of this as well.

  1. Do you have any advice for younger people in agriculture/FFA or thinking about agriculture as a career?

Being involved in leadership. Being involved in a club or organization or whatever it may be is one thing, but being involved and active with the leadership is even better. You get to see the ups and downs of whatever you’re involved in and it will make you grow as a person and leader.

Lacie Butler
Lake Land College

#TBT: FIVE WAYS HAVING LIVESTOCK BRIGHTENS A BAD DAY

[Originally published: November 3, 2014]

Some days when you wake up in the morning and go out to do the chores you never fully know what you are going to find… and if it’s too quiet you start to get suspicious. Raising livestock always keeps you on your toes, but in the end, the animals are always a bright spot on even the worst day.

1. Farmers and Livestock have a mutual love for each other

Hog farmerMany farmers are close to each animal they raise. Every animal is cared for to the farmer’s best ability, and with care there is love. Whenever I have to hop over the fence to get a trough for the hogs, I never get out without getting a rub on my legs from each hog, and then I normally end up scratching their backs and watch them do a little dance because they like it.

2girl hugging cow. A Built-in Friend on the Farm

Whether you own a dog, horse, duck, cat, or cow you can always count on having a friend on the farm. If you’re lucky you’ll have a friend from each animal on the farm! My brother has 3 calves and whenever he goes out to feed them he will get in the pen and play tag with them for a little bit, and they will all run around in the pen together and get a good laugh out of it (as well as a little winded).

3. They Come Running to Greet You – or just to Eat

cows eating at feederWhen you notice the hay bale getting low for the cows out in the pasture every farmer knows to hop on the tractor and get another one for them before they finish it or else they will be chasing cows all over the county! When my dad and I take a bale out to the cows, and they hear the tractor coming up the hill you see all of the cows migrate over to the feeder and start calling for the little calves to come over because supper is ready. The cows appreciate all the time and work my family did to get them these hay bales so that they are well fed.

4. Always a Life Lesson

litter of pigs with momSometimes when you’re out on the farm taking attendance of your livestock you notice that one may not be present, and if so, a search party (the whole family) gets called to help find the missing animal. This normally happens on my farm when a cow or sow is about ready to have a baby(s). If dad counts someone missing, everyone is sent to the pasture to find the animal, and if you’re the lucky one you will get the sweet reward of finding a the new life of a baby calf or a litter of baby pigs curled up next to their mama; healthy and happy as they could be and it can turn any day into great day.

5. Livestock are loyal to their farmers

farmer and dogOne thing you must know about livestock is that they are loyal. Back at home, we have four dogs and each one shows their loyalty in different ways. When I am home, my dog is always by my side. He always helps me with the chores and goes out with me in the pasture to walk the fence and check the animals.

Raising livestock isn’t easy, but the pros outweigh the cons. Every day farmers care for their livestock in the best way possible, and in return, each day is a little bit brighter having shared it with the animals.

ellen childressEllen Childress
Illinois State University student