This week has been a hot one for the IL Corn staff. We’ve been outside all week, talking with Illinois farmers about their futures and what working together can accomplish at the Farm Progress Show in Decatur.
No matter what, the Farm Progress Show is always excruciatingly hot or cold and rainy. But we love being there because we love farmers.
The thing is, farmers tend to be solitary creatures. I mean, you aren’t raised out in the middle of the country with your nearest neighbor a couple of miles away without developing a love of doing things on your own and being set apart. But when it comes to legislative and regulatory concerns – things that could put farmers out of business – one farmer acting on his own just can’t get it done.
That’s why farmers have the IL Corn Growers Association and the IL Corn Marketing Board. It’s a way to pool money, to accomplish things that are for the common good of all corn farmers. We work to minimize regulations and paperwork farmers have to complete. Farmers became farmers because they love being outside, not because they like sitting at a desk and doing paperwork.
We work to represent them in Congress on issues like crop insurance. After all, it’s hard to keep a farm in the family when Mother Nature is working against you and destroys a year of hard work.
We help them create markets for their crops so that they can focus on providing yields and managing the resources in their care. And we teach them how to talk about their story and their farm – how to share their story. It is pretty important in this technological age after all.
So this week, we sat at the Farm Progress Show. We talked to farmers about things coming up that they might want to think about. We encouraged them to talk to their elected officials. And we reminded them that their association always has their back.
It was a good week.
ICGA/ICMB Marketing Director
It’s finally here! The month you have all been waiting for: Water Quality Month. Let’s celebrate our corn farmers for all of the things they do to improve the water quality on their farms, shall we?
Oftentimes, technology on the farm seems to raise concerns about the integrity of how our food is being grown. But in reality, technology helps farmers to do their job more efficiently and with more precision! This precision plays a huge role in a farmer’s ability to raise crops without having a negative impact on the environment.
One example of this is GPS and soil mapping technology. This technology has enabled farmers to apply the exact amount of fertilizer to specific areas of their field as needed. This way, over application is avoided. Less over application of nutrients means less nutrient runoff into waterways and streams. Here, some farmers from Illinois explain this technology to Chicago moms:
Stay tuned to learn more about farming and water quality!
Membership Administrative Assistant
It’s that time of year again! The IL Corn staff is at the racetrack in Joliet, IL this weekend working to promote ethanol and family farmers. Here is a picture from last year’s event. Kenny Wallace talks to the crows about ethanol, farming, and life as a NASCAR driver!
They say February is the season for love … and we’re celebrating by giving you a glimpse of five Illinois farm couples throughout the week! These couples practice their love for each other and the land every day on their farms. Get to know them and the work they love to do!
Justin and Rachel Durdan were married on March 19, 2010. They have two kids, Ella and Ian, and enjoy travelling together. In fact, they have just enjoyed a recent visit to Mexico!
The couple live in LaSalle County, IL where Justin has farmed since he was a little boy and finally joined the partnership in 2004.
Growing up on a livestock farm, you learn about the “circle of life” at a young age. Most, if not all, farm kids will get attached to a particular animal at one point or another, and ask questions about why the animal has to be sent to market. There are various explanations that a parent can give at this point, but the bottom line is that it is part of your job as a farmer.
I was thinking about this as I talked to my dad recently about what to do with one of the cows in our beef cattle herd. I have had her since I was 7; so that would make her 15 years old now. Needless to say, I am attached to this one. She has been one of our best cows, she was my first bucket calf, my first show calf, the cow that started our herd of 50 head today… and now she is getting old and her health is less than perfect. So, my dad is giving his 22-year-old daughter the same-old speech about the “circle of life” and making a good business decision as a livestock farmer.
Now, having grown up on a farm and experienced this before, I know how this is going to have to go at some point. (Really, I am lucky to still have her around after 15 years!) But what I think a lot of people need to know about farmers is that this is not always an easy decision to make, and it isn’t a part of our jobs that we would generally describe as “enjoyable.” I have had individuals with no farm experience ask me about this part of being a livestock farmer, and the best way I know to answer them is to be honest: It isn’t our favorite part of the job, but we know going into it that sending animals to harvest is part of the deal.
Numerous surveys show (and any farmer can probably tell you) that farmers are at the top of the list of people who are happy with their job. Farming is a great profession and one that I am proud to be a part of, even though it isn’t always easy. It can be tough work, but it has a lot of great rewards that make it all worth it at the end of the day!
Membership Administrative Assistant
As harvest gets underway, farmers are waiting to see how much damage this year’s drought has really done to their crops. We are not only hearing concern on the producer side of things, many consumers have also expressed concern regarding the higher corn prices and how it is going to affect their grocery store expenses. (How do corn prices affect consumers?)
With new drought-resistant corn hybrids becoming available and expected to be more sought-after in years following this growing season, I am beginning to wonder: Are consumers more concerned with low yields driving the price of corn up or their qualms with GMO crops? If (heaven forbid) next year we have another drought, but farmers had all planted drought-resistant corn, would consumers be happy to see unwavering yields? Or would farmers get criticized for planting genetically modified organisms?
Of course, each consumer would have a different opinion on this matter, so I do not have the answers to these questions. But it’s an interesting thought. Some may say that farmers are caught in a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” situation here, but I see a learning opportunity for those concerned with how their food is grown. This year’s drought and the resulting drought-resistant hybrids are a perfect example of why the agriculture industry has been and continues to use GMO crops. There aren’t scientists sitting in a lab somewhere conjuring up different ways to mess with your food just for the fun of it. These crops give farmers a fighting chance against the many factors we cannot control (i.e. weather, pests, disease, etc.) They help to make your food supply safe and abundant.
So, to those consumers who want high crop yields to keep our economy strong and our food prices affordable without the use of technology on our farming operations… think about what you are asking farmers to do. We can’t compete with the weather, we simply have to use the tools we are given to help our crops along the best we can. So the more tools we have available to our farmers, the better!
Membership Administrative Assistant
For the past few weeks on our IL Corn Facebook Page we have been posting facts and photos of corn throughout history. In case you missed it, here in a overview:
A reception was thrown last night in honor of NCGA’s President, Garry Niemeyer, at the Commodity Classic in Nashville, TN. If you weren’t able to attend, you missed out on a great evening of “Backyard BBQ”!
In honor of National FFA Week, Erin Ehnle, over at Keeping it Real: Through the Lens of a Farm Girl, has created some images of the FFA Creed. These are only the first three paragraphs.