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)
Dirk 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.
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.
It’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.
This 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:
- Illinois Corn presented a donation to Illinois Agriculture in the Classroom, an important program by the IAA Foundation that provides agriculture education resources to teachers and students across the state.
- Government officials including Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner and U.S. Congressman for Illinois Cheri Bustos showed their support by meeting with industry leaders.
- Illinois FFA members interacted with government and industry officials to talk shop as they learn more to become our nation’s next agriculture 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?
MARY: 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.
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 MackinsonDairy.com, and their Facebook at facebook.com/MackinsonDairyFarm
“OMG, GMOs!” This seems to be the mantra of consumers everywhere on the topic of food safety. The issue is, people have no idea where their food comes from, let alone what GMOs are. The website GMO Answers describes a GMO as “a crop that has very specific changes made to its DNA. They usually have one to two genes added or silenced to achieve a desired trait. This plant breeding technique is called genetic engineering, and it enables plant breeders to take individual traits from one plant or organism and to another with the purpose of improving or changing the trait.” GMOs are not created by sticking a syringe into your fresh produce. The process is way more special (and safer) than that! Watch this video for more information.
One of the largest misconceptions on GMOs is that the aisles at your local grocery store are full of GMOs. Have you ever seen GMO-free bread on the shelf? It’s usually more expensive than “regular” bread. Funny story, you’re paying for that “GMO Free” label. There is no such thing as Genetically Modified wheat. There are only nine GMO crops commercially available in the U.S. today: corn, soybeans, cotton, canola, alfalfa, sugar beets, papaya, summer squash, and potatoes.
Americans will soon begin to see more labels, like the one above, on a variety of food products. Due to a law enacted by Vermont in 2014 that takes effect July 1 and due to a lack of a nationwide policy, all products containing GM ingredients will require a label. These labels will cost consumers across the country roughly $3.8 billion. That’s approximated $50 per family! Those costs, however, are just the start. The switch will cost $81.9 billion annually, costing $1,050 per family per year. Over the course of 20 years, every household would be spending an extra $13,250 on food labels.
To the average consumer, a label may seem like a good idea. GMOs are scary, right? Wrong. GMOs are safe and have been tested to prove that. Here you can find a list of 1,785 long-term GMO studies. By the year 2050, farmers are going to be tasked with feeding 9 billion people. How are they going to do that? Science. Science is helping farmers feed the world and science is proving that GMOs are safe. It’s important to remember that GM isn’t a “thing.” It’s a process. What’s most important is that food safety be confirmed by thorough testing.
Kellie Blair, a farmer, and agronomist from Dayton, Iowa, says, “I would never intentionally feed my family anything that would be unsafe, and as a farmer, I would never want to produce food that is unsafe for others. I believe that on my farm, we are growing safe food, and I take that responsibility very seriously.”
If you’re looking for more information about GMOs, check out Emily Webel’s blog, Confessions of a Farm Wife! Also, be sure to check out the blog Find Our Common Ground, as well as GMO Answers. All three sources will give you a better understanding of GMOs and their importance.
Milk is one of the integral parts of my breakfast. Whether served as a full glass or mixed in with my favorite cereal, I have milk every day. Drinking milk is an old standby for parents: it develops strong bones and gives you the Vitamin D you need daily. This adage may gain new ground, because right now milk is incredibly cheap. Prices in places like Wisconsin are down a third from a five-year high. But why is it so cheap? Let’s take a look.
Shipping Out Isn’t Shaping Up
America exports roughly 15% of its milk production overseas. Yet, different countries have stopped importing American dairy. China, a major importer of American dairy, has an abundant supply that results in smaller milk purchases. It also does not help that economic sanctions against Russia have halted exporting to the Asian country. Exporting less creates a higher American supply than demand for milk. This overabundance of supply causes prices of milk to plummet.
Milk Means More…Competitors
While exports represent 15% of American milk sales, other countries are coming to play. China has begun producing more milk than it imports. Additionally, New Zealand is a major competitor, only adding to the growing milk production. Equally, this competition forces market prices to decrease. Therefore, the declining exports yet growing milk production by competing countries creates an atmosphere that demands unfavorable action to move milk off the grocery shelves (e.g. slashing prices).
The Cost of a Dollar
The rising strength of the U.S. dollar is another important factor to consider. A strong dollar may signal a stronger U.S. economy than seen in recent years, but that makes American dairy less attractive. Rather than spend loads of money on high-cost milk, importers might choose cheaper options from different countries. Reports of federal interest rates rising will only strengthen the U.S. dollar. Therefore, dairy prices may continue to drop due to less exporting.
Ultimately, low prices may be good for consumers, but American dairy farmers are already feeling the effects.
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.
Today, some of our staff and board members had the chance to visit the Illinois State Fair for Ag Day.
They spent the day visiting and discussing current ag issues, and even sitting down with Congresswoman Bustos.