ALL WE WANT FOR CHRISTMAS: A FUNCTIONING STATE AND FEDERAL GOVERNMENT

dear santa

 

 

It’s become a tradition and we aren’t stopping now!  Want to know what’s on IL Corn’s Christmas list this year?  We’re hoping Santa brings us …

 

 

3. A Functioning State and Federal Government

Here’s the thing: an organization like ours appreciates the opportunity to get things done.  Getting things done within a non-functioning government framework is very, very difficult.  Ergo, our organization isn’t getting anything done for farmers – and it’s frustrating.

Illinois State House Capitol - Springfield
Illinois State House Capitol – Springfield

Illinois is in a bit different scenario than some of our fellow Midwestern ag states.  Most of them are dealing with the same frustrating federal government status quo, but they find opportunities to benefit farmers in their states by moving state initiatives and they still accomplish some good.

In Illinois, we can’t move state OR federal initiatives.  So we often feel like we’re twiddling our thumbs.

In spite of the broken state of our state and federal government, we have accomplished a few things:

  1. The livestock industry in Illinois is growing.  Certainly, this has much to do with market signals that are screaming at farmers to invest, but the economic impact that results from investment in the livestock industry (an estimated $70 million!) can’t hurt our broken state.
  2. We are effectively working with our state EPA and other agencies to clean up Illinois water.  To date, we have several important projects going on – both research and educational – to help farmers understand the VOLUNTARY practices that will minimize nutrient run off.  When we keep the practices voluntary but still accomplish the goal, we relieve the burden of paperwork for farmers and the cost of implementation for our state.
  3. We’ve secured some federal grant monies to help with that fuel pump standardization priority that I mentioned yesterday.  With any luck, many of the fuel pumps will be ready to handle higher blends of ethanol by this time next year!

Though we’ve found places to make a difference and we’re continuing to positively impact the farmers in Illinois, it would definitely be nice to have a functioning government to help and not hinder our growth.

Santa, this is a huge ask, but can you make our government work!?

 

Mitchell_LindsayLindsay Mitchell
ICGA/ICMB Marketing Manager

 

 

We also want:

5. Better relationships with our customers – overseas and domestic

4. Pump standardization

2. More Stable Farm Profitability

CHRISTMAS RECIPES TO REPEAT: YOUR FOOD AND THE FARM IT IS FROM

Recipes for Success: Your Food and the Farm it is From

The world today is full of diets, food advice, food controversy, gluten-free, organic, free-range, and all sorts of other things that make choosing the food you eat down right confusing. So today we are going to try and provide you with resources that will hopefully be useful in your search for delicious food.

  1. Farmland

farmlandThis film takes a candid look at American farmers and ranchers from around the United States. It is a documentary funded by U.S. Farmers and Rancher Alliance and takes a look at 6 different farms and ranches while getting the farmers’ perspective on controversial topics like GMOs, antibiotic use, and the overall treatment of animals. It is an excellent film and provides a close look at places your food could be coming from.

  1. watchusgrow.org

watch us grow logoThis website is simply awesome and provides a look into Illinois farms. Watch Us Grow has partnered with Illinois Corn for their main program. The main program they have brings urban moms to rural farms in order to see how they food they eat is produced. They discuss livestock as well as crops. It is a good resource if you have the time browse.

  1. This Article on Pesticides and this Website Discussing Antibiotics

There is a lot of misinformation about food being unsafe because of pesticides and antibiotics, as well as the belief that organic is outright healthier than conventionally raised foods. Both of these places discuss these issues and talk about the facts.

  1. Your Food, Farm to Table

This is a great video short that shows how farming has changed since it first began. “Your Food, Farm to Table” is an animated video made by the International Food Information Council Foundation to give consumers an idea of just where there food comes from. While not nearly as controversial as some of the other topics in this list, it is still worthwhile to watch if you have a couple of minutes to spare.

  1. The Official USDA Website

USDA logoThis page is a good place to go get some general information about anything from food production to current food programs that are going on in the US. From here you can also read about the current laws and regulations in place by the USDA for crop and animal production. You can also access the 2012 farm census data.

6. Lastly…….

Stay up to date and be sure to continue to check out CornCorps!

derekDerek DeVries
Illinois State University student

FRIDAY FARM PHOTO: FIGHTING HUNGER IN ILLINOIS

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As part of the Pork Power: Partnering to Fight Hunger in Illinois campaign, the Illinois Pork Producers Association (IPPA), along with the Illinois Corn Marketing Board (ICMB) and the Illinois Soybean Association (ISA), presented $9,050 to provide ground pork to the Midwest Food Bank (MFB). The groups also partnered with Steidinger Foods of Fairbury and Calihan Pork Processors of Peoria in this donation which in total will amount to 12,500 pounds of ground pork donated to MFB.

#TBT DISTILLERS GRAINS WITH SOLUBLES: WHAT ARE THEY?!

This post was originally posted on January 15, 2015.

Farmers, livestock feed, texas mission, ddgsDried distillers grains with solubles (DDGS) have become a valuable part of agriculture.  A by-product of ethanol production, this product makes an excellent livestock feed and is transported by rail to various parts of the U.S. so that the livestock centers of the world can take advantage of it.  DDGS are also exported to other countries to feed livestock there.

coop, livestock feed, ethanol plant by productDDGS can be either dry or wet.  In the Midwest, it is very common for ethanol plants to dry their DDGS in a dryer.  This dry product stays fresh for a much longer time and is able to be transported across the country or world.  It is also cheaper to transport because ethanol plants are not shipping so much water weight.  The DDGS in the photo above are dried.

ethanol plant, by product, livestock feed, wet distillers grains

The Distillers Grains in this photo are wet.  Often, ethanol plants that are co-located with livestock farms don’t undergo the additional cost to dry their DDGS because they can be used nearly instantly by area livestock.  Also, with livestock close by, these WDGS don’t need to be transported great distances, thus the water weight does not matter.  The WDGS pictured here are produced in Texas and feed almost immediately to cattle.

One-third of the corn used in ethanol production returns to the market as livestock feed.  In fact, DDGS have replaced soybean meal as the second largest livestock feed component, second behind corn.

Want to learn more about DDGS?  Check out these links:

DDGS OVERTAKE #2 SPOT IN LIVESTOCK RATION FEEDSTOCK FROM SOYBEANS

NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION ABOUT DDGS FROM DIFFERENT IL ETHANOL PLANTS

Lindsay Mitchell
ICGA/ICMB Marketing Director

FALL FASHION- OR SHOULD I SAY ‘FARM’ FASHION

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!

Flannel

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.

vest1Vests

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.

Boots

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

5 FACTS ABOUT FARMING SOMEONE ELSE’S LAND

  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

10 FOOD FACTS EVERYONE NEEDS TO KNOW

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.

Cattle

  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.

Food&FarmChat

  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

THE PROS AND CONS OF “BIG AG”

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.
money-corn

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.

Pros

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.

Cons

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

EVERY AMERICAN SHOULD FOCUS ON THESE 7 THINGS

“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!

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#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