Here in Illinois, the harvest is in full swing. Over in western Illinois, it seems as though there isn’t much left to be harvested. Most of the corn and beans are gone, and it seems like everyone can take a small sigh of relief…for now.

However, for me, I’m sad that it’s all coming to an end. Sure, I’m glad it’s over because that means my dad gets to enjoy a less stressful Dad’s Weekend at the University of Illinois with me, but the harvest is easily one of my favorite times of the year. The picture below is one that I shot coming home from the University of Illinois a couple of weeks ago. Sometimes we can take this harvest for granted, but if you look a little closer at the photo, there’s a story to tell. So here are five things about this photo!


  1. As I mentioned, this picture was taken on my way home from school. I noticed a few family members in the field and decided to stop by. My grandma was ready with a field meal (complete with homemade bread and cake… she doesn’t mess around when it comes to this stuff), and the sun was setting on a long and relatively warm day. I enjoy being able to come home from school and spend a little bit of time hearing about how everything is going!
  2. The grain cart has an orange and yellow triangle; this shows to the people driving down the road that it is a slow-moving vehicle. This cart takes our corn from the combine to the elevator. It is important to notice these triangles while traveling on the road and to drive cautiously. These people are feeding you!
  3. If we look at the sky, we see it is a perfect day for harvest. The clouds are covering the sky just enough to ensure the farmer has shade to take a rest, but the sun for them to remember why they do what they do. In the FFA, the sun is the token of a new era in agriculture. As more and more technologies are brought into the agricultural industry, this new era is becoming one of the greatest we’ve seen. However, it’s important to trust the agriculturalists who are making these great strides!
  4. The field to the side of the tractor and semi show the promise there is still more to go. Agriculture is an industry that will always thrive and produce. The field in the background illustrates the essence of harvest, the work that never ends in the life of the farmer.
  5. This picture most importantly shows hometown agriculture. I am thankful for having the opportunity to grow up in a town that is so heavily reliant on agriculture and for it being such an important industry to my family. The sense of community is only strengthened by the bond of agriculture, and for me, it is always exciting to come home and witness this first hand.

Kaity SpanglerKaity Spangler
University of Illinois


1. What is the TPP?

TPP stands for Trans-Pacific Partnership. The TPP creates rules and agreements for trade all over the world. The amount of tax on imports and exports and other regulations for countries are laid out in this agreement. A review of the effects that the TPP will have on agriculture in the United States can be read in full here.

2. What will the TPP do for United States Agriculture?

The implementation of the TPP will increase cash receipts for livestock. What this means is that the United States will trade more livestock products to other countries, increasing income from what we get from these goods now. This estimated raise in livestock exports pairs well with the expected decrease in the country’s trade of corn. This is because we will be able to keep that corn in the country and use it to feed the higher number of livestock that we are growing for trade. This use of corn is adding more value to the industry than it would if it was simply traded in bulk. Also, the overall farm income is expected to increase $4.4 billion for the country which is a very positive result for agriculture.

3. What will the TPP do for Illinois Agriculture?

1As the deal increases cash receipts for the entire country, it would also do great things for Illinois agriculture. The chart shown explains that cash receipts for many Illinois products increase greatly with implementation of the TPP. This increase in income also comes with an estimated 960 jobs into the Illinois economy, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation. Corn is the biggest agriculture industry in Illinois and the exports from the country are expected to decline; however, Illinois is a perfect example of how that corn that is not being exported can be used to raise livestock. The TPP will also increase overall trade for other Illinois products such as pork, soybeans, and processed foods.

This trade deal is a big step for agriculture and the economy of the country. The American Farm Bureau Federation stresses the importance of the United States getting on board with the deal quickly. Other countries are ahead of the United States in making trade agreements that could help their economies.


There will soon be more news on the ratification of this in the United States.

Any questions? Ask in the comments!!


Amanda Rollins
Illinois State University



Did you know we have a podcast section to our website? During planting and harvest season, we know you’re out in the fields and don’t have as much time to read, but you want to keep up with the news. So catch up and fill your time in the combine by listening to news updates and original industry updates from our office.


Harvest season is in full effect, but it doesn’t work like most seasons do: there isn’t always a concrete timetable or schedule for the farmer to follow. Farmers start and finish at different times. Why does this happen? There are multiple factors that influence harvest progress, but weather is arguably the most important factor. Late summer and early fall weather forecasts are notoriously unpredictable in the Midwest. Sometimes harvest can be delayed for days due to unwelcome rain and then even more time may be needed to let the crop dry. If you add in a planting season so wet that many farmers had to replant crops that were washed out, some farmers are further ahead than others.

As of last Friday, here’s where farmers around the state were in their harvest:

*Note. Important term below: “the historical average” – the average yield of a crop that a farmer’s own land has produced over a certain period of time. Think of it like a baseline for what is normal for that land to produce. (Ag people know this as the actual production history – a component of crop insurance)

10-3-16_harvest_updateDirk Rice, Philo: Corn is 20% done. At this point, I would guess 5-7% above the historical average. Stalks are getting brittle; we aren’t getting discounted, but we have fairly significant percentages of discolored kernels. Still going to likely end up being my 3rd best corn harvest year.

Jeff Jarboe, Loda: We’re 20% complete and our yield is 15-20% above the historical production average.

Jim Reed, De Land: As of this evening (10/1), I will be 60% done with corn. Yields are around 30 bushels per acre better than the historical average.  It looks to be the third best crop ever after 2015 and 2014 (so maybe it’s average?). Corn is really dry. Have yet to see a load with over 19% moisture.

10-3-16_harvest_update2Justin Durdan, Utica: We’re 50% completed with corn, yields average 15% above the historical average. Stay safe!

Mike Wurmnest, Deer Creek: We are 65% done with corn. Moisture is running about 18% with some stalk breakage. Yields are 20% above the five-year average.

Paul Jeschke, Mazon: We are 40% done on corn and our yield is 15% above the historical average.

Randy DeSutter, Woodhull: We are about one-third (33%) done with corn. So far, this year’s corn harvest is our best ever. The yields in 2014 were not out of this world for us. So, I guess this is our 2014. At this point, our yield is 10-15% better than the historical average, at 230-260 bushels per acre.


atrazine_infographic_fightepa_urlAtrazine.  This funny-sounding word might not sound like anything that pertains to your life, but it affects you more than you know.  The EPA is currently investigating and is considering further regulating atrazine, which could be costly for farmers, and eventually, consumers like you and me.

But what even is atrazine, you ask?  It can be a little tough to explain, so I’ll break it down the best that I can.  The portions in bold should help things make sense.

Atrazine is a herbicide that is applied typically to crops with weed issues.  There are many different ways to control weeds in farming, but for farmers, it’s a cheaper to purchase and apply this herbicide than it is to buy fuel and till up the weeds (pull them up by loosening the soil). Also, the continuous tilling of the weeds can add compaction to the soil levels deep underground, as well as cause erosion on the top soil.

Farmers need a way to feed the world safely and economically.  Atrazine helps immensely with that.  While tilling weeds under is often considered the “safer, chemical-free” option, it’s often worse for the soil in the long-term. 

atrazinePreviously, atrazine has been investigated thoroughly by the EPA and other government regulatory agencies for its environmental impacts and safety risks, and it has been approved for continuous use.  Seriously, the EPA means business when it checks these things out.  From water safety studies to human and animal cancer studies, the EPA and other agencies like it have put atrazine through the wringer to make sure it’s safe and sustainable to use on our farms and on our earth.  Except this time around, the EPA is backtracking its endorsement.

It’s like if a friend had really great shoes that you wanted to borrow, and she said you could.  Every time you ask her, she says yes.  You use the shoes, take the utmost care of them, and return them in the condition you got them.  Every time, she approves and is pleased with the condition of her shoes.  However, for some reason out of the blue, when you ask her this time, she says she’s not sure.

cost-of-no-atrazineThis pullback and restriction of atrazine use can have some costly effects on farmers and consumers alike.  According to a 2012 University of Chicago study, farming without atrazine could cost farmers up to $59 an acre.  With the average family farm being roughly 231 acres, that adds up to over $13,500 in one year.

For the average family farmer, that can mean they can’t afford their child’s college tuition.  This cost will eventually get passed on to the consumer, meaning higher prices for you at the grocery store and the gas pump. Yikes.

So what can we do to show the EPA that we’re ready to approve atrazine?  Share this article and inform your friends about atrazine.  Call your congressman or send them an email letting them know you approve atrazine for farmer’s use.  

Together, we can keep an affordable, safe, and sustainable food supply for the world.

Molly Novotney
University of Illinois


9-16-16harvestIt’s that time of year again! All of your hard work over the summer is about to pay off…after a little more hard work. The end is in sight! (but let’s be honest – farmer’s work never really ends). Be safe out there and happy harvest! Be sure to give us your updates in the field on social media by using #harvest16 and #ILharvest16.


IMG_8861This past Tuesday (August 16) was Ag Day at the Illinois State Fair. If you’re familiar with the history of the fair, you’ll know the fair’s primary purpose was for agriculture. People brought their animals from across the state and to compete in showing. For instance, the competition would decide which dairy cow had the best features and characteristic of the ideal dairy cow that would best carry on the breed. These competitions still exist today and have varying criteria based on the category/animal.

Since then, the Illinois State Fair has evolved to include a non-farming audience with different games, rides, concerts and foods. While no one is discounting the glory of a funnel cake, Ag Day was created to give a spotlight to the fair’s original intention. This year, IL Corn joined other agriculture organizations, farming families, and government leaders to showcase the industry while also engaging the non-farming community to learn about issues agriculture faces today.

Among the events:



  • 8-16-16rauner

    Government officials including Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner and U.S. Congressman for Illinois Cheri Bustos showed their support by meeting with industry leaders.




  • IMG_8851Illinois FFA members interacted with government and industry officials to talk shop as they learn more to become our nation’s next agriculture leaders.



Check out more from our Facebook, where we livestreamed an interview with Illinois FFA members and heard from IL Corn leaders.


Mary Mackinson Faber is the 5th generation involved in her family’s farm near Pontiac, Illinois. She grew up on her family’s grain and dairy operations located about 100 miles southwest of Chicago. Currently, she is employed with Graymont Cooperative as the Controller, and she manages her family farm’s social media presence online. She graduated from Illinois State with a B.S. in Agribusiness and an MBA. She is married to Jesse Faber, Agriculture Teacher and FFA Advisor at Pontiac Township High School. They have two kids, Ava and Eli.


DAKOTA: What made you decide to work in an agribusiness?

MARY: Graduating from high school, I did not know what I wanted to “be when I grew up.”  I took one area that I was and still am incredible passionate about, agriculture and another idea that I really enjoyed, business and decided to major in Agriculture Business at Illinois State University.

DAKOTA:  What is your day to day role in your job?

agribusiness_controllerMARY: I am the Controller for Graymont Cooperative Association a local agriculture cooperative that is a grain storage facility, agronomy input supplier, feed mill and internet provider. My job responsibilities include human resources, customer credit and collections, and accounts payable. I oversee the sale and purchase of common and preferred stock and patronage pay-out and redemption. I take great pride in the reconciliation and presentation of department and company-wide monthly and fiscal year-end financial statements. In addition to making sure that all of the numbers balance, I enjoy serving and engaging with the local farmers. I am extremely proud to work for a company that has been owned by hard-working farm families for more than one hundred years.

DAKOTA: Explain your role on your family’s dairy farm.

MARY: I am the 5th generation to grow up on Mackinson Dairy Farm.  Mackinson Dairy is a dairy and grain farm located north of Pontiac, Illinois or about 100 miles south of Chicago on Interstate 55.  Mackinson Dairy Farm is home to around 165 milking cows and over 150 head of heifer and calves in addition to roughly 2,000 acres of cropland where we grow corn, soybeans, wheat and alfalfa.  Growing up, while I loved the cows and agriculture, I knew I was not cut out to be on the farm every day.  As I entered college, I started to realize the disconnect between consumer and farmer and soon discovered my passion for advocacy.  I have been trying to bridge the disconnect ever since but truly became active advocating on social media after I became a Mom.  Today, I am responsible for managing the farm’s social media presence.

7-7-16mary1DAKOTA: To someone outside of the agriculture industry, why should they join in on the careers involved in agriculture?

MARY: As more agriculturists start to tell their amazing stories, people will see agriculture is more than just plows, cows, and sows. The image of what an agriculture career looks like needs to be updated. The image should include the farmer, but also a nutritionist, food scientist, machinist, mechanical engineer and social media expert. Agriculture needs to embrace the diverse opportunities available and build enthusiasm for these types of careers. My husband and I are fortunate to have amazing jobs in the agriculture sector, and it is a wonderful industry for raising a family.

You can find Mary on her blog at, and their Facebook at

Cowger_Dakota_IL CORN INTERN 2x3 16

Dakota Cowger
Communications Intern
IL Corn