As apple picking, harvest, and pumpkin patches give way to Christmas shopping, snow, and snowboarding I’d like to take a minute to reflect on this Fall’s fashion trends. “Why,” you ask? Because I’m ecstatic that in the past season fashion and functionality finally became friends! Take a look at these 2015 fall trends and just TRY to deny the fact that
farmers have had it goin’ on all along!


flannelsFlannel button downs were hot this season for both men and women. Slip a puffer vest over that and you have the perfect outfit to run your morning errands in… OR haul corn in! Country folks have been sporting flannel since the beginning of time. This breathable, soft fabric is the perfect blend of durable, lightweight, and warmth. It allows a guy to go from temperature-controlled combine, to field, to grain truck, to elevator office without breaking a sweat. Its vast array of colors and patterns also make this the ideal transition piece from fall to winter.


Outerwear vests are another fashionable item that we ripped right off the backs of farmers and outdoorsmen. I like them because they allow me to go from car to mall without the bulk of sleeves to carry around with me while I tote a 7 pound purse and numerous shopping bags… Humph! Imagine that! Farmer’s feel the same (almost). Plus there’s that macho aspect of withstanding the cold without an actual coat.


BootsFarmers wear boots. Cowboy boots, mud boots, work boots, steel toe boots. There are LOTS of boots. On my front porch. I think I have 6 pairs of boots myself… (mud, snow, riding, flat, heal, and a cute little pair of oxblood colored booties) and that still does not rival my farmer’s boot collection. You know that you’re an amateur in the boot dept. when your husband schools you on tight rolling your jeans.

Skinny jeanswrangler butt

Speaking of tight rolling jeans… Farmers have a version of skinny jeans of their own. They’re called Wranglers. Bear in mind not all Wranglers are skinny, and they certainly aren’t 5% spandex like women’s skinny jeans. But they have the same ability to tuck easily into boots… and desirable effect on the rear. And I am not complaining.

Thanks to these popular 2015 trends, this harvest my farmer was able to brush off bees wings, switch out boots and head out the door in a flash. And I have to say, I coordinated with him quite nicely!

A&G cropped

Deal_AshleyAshley Deal
Administrative Assistant


  1. Not all farm land is owned by farmers.

Even though the farmers are the ones working all year long on the land, the farmer is not always the owner of the land. In many cases, investors, heirs of land, and retired farmers own land and it is leased to other farmers to use in different ways.

  1. 10537792-A-farmer-with-a-calculator-on-cereal-box-Subsidies-in-agriculture-Stock-PhotoSome farmers rent land from owners.

While farming land that they own, farmers also will rent land from owners. These agreements can vary, but usually they consist of an agreed upon amount that the farmer will give the owner so that they have full rights to raise a crop on. For example, if an owner owns 80 acres of field prime for corn and soybeans, a row crop farmer will pay a set amount per acre to the owner. This varies by location, but for example we can use $300. Therefore, the farmer will pay $300 per acre of the 80 acre field, and will pay the land owner $24,000 to use the field for that year. This would just be like renting an apartment from a landlord for a set amount each month.

  1. There are different types of land agreements beyond just renting the land.

handshakeWhile some agreements are farmers just renting land from an owner, other types of agreements exist where farmers and land owners make a prearranged schedule of payments on various inputs and the splitting of the output. For example, a land owner might want to split in half the costs and income from a farm. So if seed, chemical, and machinery costs $1,000 a year per acre, the farmer will pay $500 while the owner pays $500. At the end of the year, if the income is $2,000 per acre, the farmer and owner will both receive $1,000.

  1. Owners can pick whoever they want to farm the land.

Owners can obviously choose whoever they want to farm their land. With this in mind, farmers make sure to take care of the land as best as possible. Farmers do not want to lose the bond and agreement with the land owners, so they take care of the land as best they can. This includes using current technologies to save soil and waste less water and nutrients on the fields. The better a farmer treats the land and the land owner, the better chance that they will keep the farm for years to come.

  1. Being respectful to land owners pays off in the long run.

farmerinfieldOver time, building a strong relationship with a land owner can be the best thing a farmer can do. A farmer can make sure to meet the land owner’s wants and needs at a fair price. In the long run, a farmer hopes it works out financially, creating a great business relationship that helps promote the strength of the farm. In some cases, the farmer may even be able to buy the land off of the original owner for a lower price that what would be sold to the public.

Overall, farmers and land owners can be compared to renting a house or apartment from a landlord. The stronger the relationship and the more understanding from each side helps the bond become strong and successful.

dakota cowgerDakota Cowger
Illinois State University Student


It’s no secret that myths surround the food industry, most of which circulate on the internet. As a consumer, it’s important to know the facts.

  1. Red meat is not a carcinogen. Despite the myths recently circulating on the internet, no single food has ever been linked to cancer. This includes red meat. So rest easy, and continue munching on that crunchy piece of bacon or delicious bite of Sirloin steak.
  1. Antibiotics are not in your food. Antibiotics are only used to cure or treat an animal that is sick or diseased. The antibiotic-free campaign is not only harmful but also inhumane because it denies sick and dying animals the right to medical treatment. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) strictly monitors antibiotic use in livestock and enforces strict withdrawal periods to ensure no antibiotic traces can be found in our food system.


  1. Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are not evil. GMOs are the most widely tested crop on the market, and there is no scientific evidence proving that GMOs pose any sort of health risk. And ultimately, we need GMOs.
  1. Genetically modified (GM) wheat does not exist. There are only two methods used to produce new varieties of wheat: conventional crossing and introduction of genes native to modern-day wheat. “No GM wheat is commercially grown in the United States,” confirmed by the USDA.
  1. Everyone needs to beef up. That’s right. Lean beef deserves a place on your plate and is included in the best diets, developed by nutritional experts. Consuming protein more than once a day is also encouraged and has proven beneficial to overall health.
  1. Your food wasn’t produced on a factory farm. ‘Large corporations control farms in the United States and animals are raised in crowded, inhumane conditions.’ This is a common rumor, spread much too often in the farming industry. However the truth is, 97% of farms are family-owned and operated.


  1. “No Sugar Added” and “Sugar-Free” isn’t a guarantee. These claims are often plastered on the boxes of our favorite sweets, but that doesn’t mean they are healthier. No sugar added and sugar-free products can still contain natural sugar and carbohydrate.
  1. “Free Range” isn’t the picture in your head. Most consumers picture chickens running free through the green fields of wide, open spaces. But in reality, the only requirement for a “free range” label is that the poultry “has been allowed access to the outside.” Cage-free, free-range, and organic are common buzzwords found on egg cartons utilized by the advertising industry.
  1. “Gluten-Free” is a dangerous trend. Whole grains, unlike gluten-free products, contain fiber and other nutrients that are essential to a healthy diet. Switching to a gluten-free diet can do more harm than good if you do not have celiac disease, a wheat allergy, or any other medical reason to reduce gluten intake.
  1. 10. Calories count. Many were outraged by the story of the man who lost 56 pounds on a strict McDonald’s diet for a straight six months. How could he do this when McDonald’s is supposed to be so unhealthy? Weight loss isn’t what you eat but rather how much you eat, say experts.

carli millerCarli Miller
University of Illinois


When running a simple Google search on the term, “Big Ag,” the results are downright frightening, to say the least.

Everything from news articles in the Huffington Post to angry bloggers to cleverly PhotoShopped images—like the one below—can paint a very negative picture in the eyes of the consumer.

But is “Big Ag” okay?  What’s so bad about it?  What even is “Big Ag.”

“Big Ag” is a term used by consumers to describe large-scale farming.  The image typically associated with “Big Ag” is a corporate-owned farm.  This image is what gets used to describe the majority of farms in the United States, but it simply isn’t true.  According to the USDA, ninety-seven percent of farms are family-owned operations, and

Now that we know what “Big Ag” is, we can work to define its role in our food system.  Defining the roles of “Big Ag” in the food production system is not small feat.  Whenever I’m faced with a complex issue, I like to break things down into a pros and cons list.


It’s more economical.

The biggest pro of large-scale farming is its ability to be economical.  Farming requires a large investment of passion and time, but also of money.  Equipment, land, chemical, and seed costs can run a farmer hundreds of thousands of dollars.

However, when the farmer can operate on a larger scale, those costs are minimized.  This allows the farmer to have a bigger profit, which can be invested into new technologies in agriculture on their own operation.  These new technologies increase the farmer’s ability to be efficient.  The more efficient they can be, the more money can be made.

It’s more efficient.

I mentioned already that it’s more efficient when it comes to the resource of money, but it’s especially less taxing on the environment.  As I said earlier, the new investments in technology gives the farmer an ability to produce more with less; less money, less space, and less resources.  Because of urban sprawl, farmers have less land then they’ve ever had, but they continually produce more.  In fact, this year’s harvest is another abundant year.  This ability produce more with less helps farmers give back to the earth all while feeding the world.


It’s not perceived well by the public

The biggest fact to remember—and often the hardest to accept—is that agriculture is a consumer-driven industry.

With advancements in science and technology, the Ag industry can produce all sorts of crazy things, like green ketchup, but if a consumer doesn’t like it, it won’t be produced.

As I touched on earlier, the term “Big Ag” doesn’t have a lot of positive connotations.  When it comes to farming, consumers often assume big is bad and corrupt and small is pure and good.

The truth?  It depends.

At the end of the day, the size of the farm does not determine its morality; the morality of the farmer determines that. combine image

Farmers aren’t motivated solely by a bottom line. They’re motivated by their passion for feeding their families and families across the globe, no matter the size of their operation.


Molly NovotneyMolly Novothney
Joilet Junior College


“American” defined by Webster’s Dictionary as relating to, or characteristic of the United States.

patriotism_-_rooseveltThe definition is a broad statement of what an “American” can be defined as.  People from America sometimes don’t full understand the concept of what an “American” may resemble.  I came up with a short list of what an American should focus on when they say claim to be “American”.

#1 Patriotism: Being proud of where you came from should be a #1 focus for Americans. We should be proud of where we came from and the people that live on this great land we call “Home”.

your_vote_counts#2 Freedom: Freedom is what America was founded on.  Without freedom our country would be forced to surrender the rights that we sometimes take for granted. Many countries today are not free to practice voting, religion, or speak. —-I wouldn’t be able to write this blog if those freedoms weren’t in place.
#3 Voting: Having the right to participate in an election is a key way to exercise being American. Many don’t participate in this right and are missing out. We forget that we are in charge of making America great for generations to come and this is how we can do it!


#4 Military: Americans should invest in serving others. By serving others we can join the military, celebrate military holidays, and welcome home soldiers.  Those serving are giving their lives to provide us with Freedom and we should show our gratitude for that privilege.

#5 Equality: Having equal rights is another focus for Americans. We should others the way we want to be treated. By treating others equally we can achieve this focus throughout America.

download (1)#6 Progress: As Americans, we should always strive to be progressive. Progress can be a broad term for many but as long as we are continuing to better ourselves and learn from the past ..we can progress.

And Finally….

#7 Buying:  Buying to support our American companies is a main focus that can be achieved each day.  Going to the grocery store and investing in American made products is way to buy American. The American consumer is keeping jobs in America and keeping money in American pockets by keeping it in our country.

Another example is fuel selection… 145

Buying ethanol is a simple way to be American. We drive to many places; grocery store, school, work, etc…. We have a choice to what fuel type we choose to pick.  Buying ethanol fuel is environmental friendly, less dependent on foreign oil, and keeps money in America. It’s overall a Win, Win for everybody!

If you keep these seven focuses as an American, you will have a good idea of what a true American resembles.  These simple focuses can help show your patriotism and ultimately be American Made!

THEAThea Fruhling
Illinois State University


Marketing: it is an important part of the world we live in. It is the way companies interact with consumers to promote and sell products and services.

Without marketing, we as consumers might be unaware of products and services, and producers wouldn’t have any buyers.

How things are marketed plays a large role into who buys the product or service.

For example:
Regular Leggings versus Maternity Leggings


Both leggings are black, made from the same material and look very similar. But the one on the left is aimed for a young woman who likes to dress up and look good doing it.

The photo on the right is aimed for a woman who is pregnant, wants to be practical, comfortable and look good doing it. If you are a young women looking for the perfect pair of leggings to wear out to a party this Saturday, you probably won’t go shopping in the maternity section to find them.

Same product, different audience.

The people creating these ads appeal to their targeted audience by choosing the right models, accessories, location of ads, etc.

These same people also use certain wording in their ads to appeal to certain people.

panera ad

Buzz words like, “all natural” and “antibiotic free” are very trendy right now and appeal to a lot of people. Because people want good quality products, especially when it comes to the food they eat… duh.

But this is where marketing crosses a line. It can be misleading or deceiving.

Let me explain: In this particular ad, what does “all natural” mean? What defines it as “all natural?” NOTHING. It is just words, to persuade you to pay more for this product versus the other product that doesn’t say it. But the advertising on the package makes you believe that it is a better product because it’s all natural and it must mean it is healthier for you and that must mean that the other product isn’t. Not true.

What about “antibiotic free?” Same thing. All meat must be antibiotic free, this is a law established by our government. All meat is inspected before ever making it to a restaurant or grocery store. But labeling it “antibiotic free” makes the average consumer believe that it must be superior or healthier for you than the meat without the label. Tricked you again.

Que the part where farmers and ranchers are sick of being put into the negative light by companies like Chipotle, Panera and now Subway. Many of their advertisements are misleading to consumers. Now consumers are demanding producers to change their ways because they think that is how they (the consumers) will get the best quality product. When in fact, the products they have been getting all along are just as healthy and safe as their “all natural” or “antibiotic free” counter parts.

If advertisements could be compared to a used car salesman, this would be the salesman convincing you to buy a car you didn’t want or need at a way too high of a price.

Producers have an obligation to make sure they are producing the best quality product possible. (Especially when it comes to food.)

But consumers have an obligation to be educated about the products they are buying to ensure purchasing decisions are based on quality instead of fancier advertisements.

Don’t be fooled by the salesman. Drive, eat, and wear, etc. the products you think are best for you based on your own scientific review.

Hannah ZellerHannah Ferguson
Communications Assistant


530collage5:30AM: Farm kid wakes up to start morning chores with the livestock animals, sometimes even earlier, allowing them able to watch the sunrise. Animals need to be fed and taken care of at the beginning and end of each day. Waking up hours before school is required to keep the animals happy.

City kid is sleeping.

7collage7:00AM: Farm kid boards the school bus to head to school. Living in the rural country means not being close to the school, so bus rides can exceed one hour at times.

City kid wakes up, or keeps snoozing and eats breakfast, gets ready for school, and heads off for school usually just a few minutes from home before 8.

schooldaycollage8:00AM to 3:00 PM: Farm kid sits through school, where their favorite class is the agriculture class, learning about the industry they know and love. They’ll share stories with friends on what happened on the farm yesterday or in the morning, and share their favorite stories about their favorite animals.

City kid sits through school, discussing what video game is currently the best, and what new episode will be on TV later that day.

4collage4:00PM: Farm kid finally gets home from school after a long bus ride. Plenty of chores are needed to be finished, so they start working with the animals, on the equipment, or whatever various thing need to be done.

City kid has been home and playing video games or watching television. They’ll work on homework before dinner in the next few hours.

6collage6:00PM: Farm kid continues their chores. At this time, they are probably milking cows, feeding animals, cleaning the pens, and making sure everything is ready for the night. This takes up a bulk of the afternoon. During harvest, kids will be busy in the field for the entire evening after school and well into the night.

City kid prepares to eat dinner with their family. The entire family sits down for dinner.

730collage7:30PM: Farm kid hopefully has chores done and heads into the house for dinner, likely alone or with a sibling and mom. Many times on the farm the entire family is busy doing different chores and doesn’t all eat together, or they wait till everyone is in the house, which can be after nine!

City kid is busy catching up on their favorite TV shows that night and finishing up homework.

10collage10:00PM: Farm kid is probably still up finishing homework. Some nights require them to be back in the barn helping with livestock births and finishing chores.

City kid is ready for bed, but probably stays up online talking to friends and checking Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

midnightcollageMidnight: Farm kid finally gets to sleep after finishing all chores and homework, ready to get up in a few short hours to do it all again.

City kid has been asleep and getting eight hours of sleep, ready for another day of school.

Every single kid is different. While some come from the farm, the city, and something in between, each one has their own daily routine that probably varies from above. However, the same holds true for each kid. All work hard and stay busy with school and other activities. Farm kids just happen to have a longer day with more work and chores, however, they wouldn’t have it any other way.

dakota cowgerDakota Cowger
Illinois State University Student


I personally have never raised cattle but I have been around them long enough to basically know how to raise a healthy, breathing cow. When you really think about it, it’s just like raising any other pet! They need shelter, need a well-balanced diet, water, and love and care. The only difference is they may be a tad larger than your average housedog. Although it has been proven that if you give your cow a name and treat her as an individual she will produce 500 more pints of milk a year.  So basically if you give your cows the love they deserve, it will not only benefit you it will also benefit the cattle as well. I am going to share a few different tips with you on how to raise your cattle.
Cow running

Be Ready to Work

I’m not going to tell you that raising cattle is easy because it is definitely the opposite of easy. It comes with long hour days and sometimes a lot of stress. Each day is never the same. There is always something new happening each day. One day, someone could have left the gate open and then there goes the cows, running down the street. And let me tell you that is not a fun day when that happens. You better be ready to run, and you better be ready for some very grumpy workers after. But then the next day, everything could run really smoothly. You just need to be prepared for anything when working on a cattle farm, or any farm for that matter.
Cow cuddling

Each Cow Has a Different Personality

You will immediately come to figure out which cow you absolutely love and which one you cannot stand.  Every cow is very different. They are literally like people. You could have the nosey cow, the stubborn cow, the loving cow, the dumb cow, etc. The list could go on and on. I still remember this cow that I could not stand.  Every time I tried to get her to move, she would just turn around and look at me and not move an inch. That doesn’t sound so bad but it’s a problem when you are on a tight schedule, and you are busy yelling at a cow for 10 minutes. And one thing you should definitely know is the older the cow gets, the grumpier she is.  I would always want to work with the younger cows over the old ones.  Nobody likes to be around a grumpy old cow.

In The End, You Will Fall in Love

No matter what kind of cow you are raising, you will end up falling in love with them. Cows just start to become a part of your lifestyle. You almost become addicted to being around them. You cannot be away from them for too long. They definitely need your love every day, but you also will get love from them in return. Everyone says that cows are stupid and are dumber than a box of rocks. But in reality, they are actually very smart. They know when they are being treated the right way, and they know when someone really does care for them. So basically all you need to really do is just care for you cow.

samanthaSamantha Wagner
Illinois State University


I’m not a scientist and I would never pretend to be one.  But, I do have a science degree and I do work in a particularly science-heavy industry, so I feel like I know a few basic things about common science and science.

Which is why it angers me and saddens me that our world today consists of millions of people who will believe anything they read as law without questioning it first.  They could be reading the opinions of a five-year old on nuclear weapons and suddenly, that five-year old should be the next Secretary of State – or at least the head of the U.S. Army.  Or maybe a housewife with too much time on her hands has created the next fad diet that will melt away the weight with only toilet paper and kosher meals as seen on Orange is the New Black – and suddenly everyone is eating kosher and pretending to be Jewish.

Either way, I’ve come up with a few questions to ask yourself when you’re reading something new.  These are meant to simply help you question the validity of everything you read and to get the thoughts flowing – they will not determine fact and fiction for you.  Only your amazing God-given brain will do that.

  1. Who is the author of this article/research/data?

Anything that you read that causes you to consider changing any aspect of your life bears some amount of research into the author.

who is the authorIs the author an honest-to-goodness expert in this area with an advanced degree?  Is the advanced degree in a related field to the information they are sharing?  (Don’t listen to a Ph.D. in Journalism tell you about Engineering and think she’s an authority!)  Does the author work for someone other than themselves?  Is their employer a reputable source?

Before you cut all red fruits and veggies from your diet, google the name of the person telling you to do that.  If that person isn’t a registered dietitian for a reputable company or a food scientist from a serious university, you probably need to investigate further.

2. Does the article/advice make sense given what you already know?

This particular pointer falls into the “Is it too good to be true” category.  No one is going to lose 50 pounds in 1 week using this quick and easy tip.  No one is going to single-handedly change the course of human history by eliminating this from their schedule.

does the article make senseIf the lifestyle changes you’re considering making don’t fit within the framework of what you already remember from grade school science, then you should probably look further.

As an example, there is a movement supporting raw milk these days.  The folks that feed their families only raw milk are ignoring basic science and history that I know they learned in fourth grade.  Heating milk to kill pathogens is healthy.  The end.  If drinking raw milk promises you all sorts of health benefits with none of the risks of Listeria, then it’s too good to be true.  It just is.

3. What does the rest of the industry say about this advice/information?

If you’re reading about vaccines, what do all other medical professionals say about this advice?  If you’re considering a new exercise plan, what do other personal trainers and physical therapists say about this plan?  If you’re worried about the latest food borne illness scare and considering swearing off fruits and veggies, what does the ag industry and the nutritionists and dietitians say about this food borne illness occurrence?

I understand that those of you with a tendency to believe everything you read have a natural hesitation to accept the advice of the industries you’re reading about.  You have a natural inclination to be skeptical.  But be skeptical of what you read too.

If farmers, who have been farming for decades and whose families have been farming for a century, tell you that an article is not true, it probably isn’t.  If a doctor with a real medical degree advises you that the medical community agrees on this course of treatment, trust that to a certain degree.

Even if you don’t 100% believe what the related industry is telling you, hearing their opinion is important to developing a more rounded view of the data you’re considering.

At the end of the day, just use your brain.

keep calm use your brainI know that reading and understanding scientific articles can be difficult and no fun.  Scientists are not skilled journalists and their writing is not always easily understood or very clearly written.  But you don’t have to dig through research journals to figure everything out.

Use your brain.  You know what sounds too good to be true.  You know what seems like complete medical quackery.  Listen to the body of experts around you.  Do a little research.  Remember, not everything on the internet is true.

Mitchell_LindsayLindsay Mitchell
ICGA/ICMB Marketing Manager

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