Happy Love Your Pet Day!

Pets are often viewed as members of the family today. It is not uncommon to dress up pets in cute little outfits, Screen Shot 2014-02-16 at 7.51.46 PM refer to them as your baby, Screen Shot 2014-02-16 at 7.55.00 PMor even buy them luxury items such as a bed that is probably more comfortable than your own. Screen Shot 2014-02-16 at 7.56.47 PMHowever, a variety of pets such as horses, dogs, cats, and goats often are not only companions, but hard workers as well! Horses can pull great weights behind them whether it’s a cart, Screen Shot 2014-02-16 at 8.03.53 PM an old-fashioned plow for the fields, Screen Shot 2014-02-16 at 8.06.01 PMor the Budweiser carriage in a parade. Screen Shot 2014-02-16 at 8.07.37 PMGoats provide a source of dairy. Screen Shot 2014-02-16 at 8.13.26 PM Cats help keep the vermin population down. Screen Shot 2014-02-16 at 8.14.49 PM Dogs can guard, herd animals,Screen Shot 2014-02-16 at 8.18.52 PMkeep down vermin population, hunt, and even rescue humans! Dogs assist the police and military. Screen Shot 2014-02-16 at 8.19.35 PMDogs and miniature horses can be service animals to the disabled.Screen Shot 2014-02-16 at 8.20.42 PM Animals are a truly amazing resource!

 

megan kastnerMegan Kastner
University of Illinois Student

APPLES AND PUMPKINS AND PIES, OH MY!

Can you believe it? It’s already the last day of September. It still feels like summer outside with some of the weather we have been having, but the cool mornings and combines in the fields tell me “IT’S FALL!” This calls for a trip to the apple orchard this weekend!

Apple cider, apple doughnuts, apple pie, apple crisp… BRING. IT. ON.

As much as all of those delicious apple treats make my stomach growl, I should point out that most apple orchards offer so much more than enjoyable treats. I always love to see parents bringing their kids to an apple orchard because it gives those kids (and maybe even some of the parents) their first hands-on experience with farming. Picking your own apples or pumpkins, navigating through corn mazes, climbing on the straw bales, petting zoos… all of these experiences can give people a link to farming.

So many people today have concerns about their food for one very basic reason: they don’t have any connection to farming. This lack of a connection often means a lack of understanding, which, in turn, can create concern about the way their food is grown. Creating a connection to farming can be something as simple as meeting a farmer, walking through a corn field, or even picking your own apples.

Obviously farming involves far more than climbing on straw bales and checking the pumpkin patch, so people aren’t going to gain a comprehensive understanding of what we do on their trip to the apple orchard. But their experience is real, it is tangible. If we can teach a person one thing about farming and they are eager and willing to listen, that is a “win” in my book.

I’m not saying that a trip to the apple orchard will solve the dilemma we face today… but it sure doesn’t hurt! Baby steps, people.

You can find me elbow-deep in the Honeycrisp Apple bin this weekend. I hope you all get a chance to make it to your local apple orchard this fall, too!

rsandersonRosalie Sanderson
Membership Administrative Assistant

FARM PROGRESS SHOW A SUCCESS

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 excrutiatingly 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.

Lindsay MitchellLindsay Mitchell
ICGA/ICMB Marketing Director

COME VISIT IL CORN AT THE FARM PROGRESS SHOW!

Are you going to the Farm Progress Show in Decatur, IL next week? If you are, stop by our tent to see us! Here are some of the things we are doing for the event this year:

Navigate the Farm Progress Show

IL Corn will feature a geocache contest during the Farm Progress Show which will allow you an opportunity to visit our partner companies, see the show, geocache, and enter to win an iPad!  Participants of all ages are welcome; FFA and 4-H students encouraged to participate and engage in this contest.

Click here for more information and contest rules.

Navigate through the muck of Regulations

We heard our membership say that the increasing number of government regulations was concerning to them.  Talk with our IL Corn staff about what you can do to help minimize the impact these burdensome regulations on your farm and hear about upcoming regulations that might impact you!

 

Navigate your way to a five-year Farm Bill

Fighting for a Farm Bill continues to be a top priority for IL Corn.  Make your voice heard by faxing your Congressman on site at the Farm Progress Show and letting him or her know how important a Farm Bill is to the future of your family farm.

Unsure of your Congressman?  Click here to determine your zip+4.  Then click here to use the zip+4 to discover your Congressman.

Navigate to the nearest E85 station

Based on the fall prices for corn right now, margins will be tight during the 2013 crop year.  Increase the demand for your product by fueling up with E85 in your flex fuel vehicle!

The American Lung Association will be on hand in the IL Corn tent with their E85 locator and some interesting information on ethanol blends.  You might even consider looking up whether or not your vehicle is flex fuel before you arrive!

IL Corn has even more educational opportunities for you at the Farm Progress Show.  Make sure to stop by, talk to your IL Corn staff, and pick up the free give-a-ways that we have for you.  You won’t be sorry!

FARMING & WATER QUALITY

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!

rsandersonRosalie Sanderson
Membership Administrative Assistant

ILLINOIS FARM COUPLES: JUSTIN AND RACHEL DURDAN

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!

illinois farmers, love, valentines day, farm families

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.

 

It’s a Tough Job, But Someone’s Got to Do It

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.

IMG_1758I 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!

Rosie PhotoRosalie Sanderson
Membership Administrative Assistant

CHECK THESE OUT!

Great articles from others in the industry on some interesting topics … check them out!

 

Support for California GMO-labeling Proposition Plummets

As the election draws closer, more and more California voters oppose Proposition 37, commonly referred to as the GMO-labeling law. A sharp decline in support, 19 percent in two weeks, shows that Californians understand the regulation increases opportunities for frivolous lawsuits and redefines simple terms like “natural” in a confusing way without actually providing useful information that benefits consumers.

Lifting the Mask on HSUS’s Veganism

The Humane Society of the United States (not to be confused with your local pet shelter) doesn’t often come out and openly demand that you “go vegan” like its comrades at PETA do. Shoot, HSUS even let a boutique meat producer sign on to one of its recent op-eds. So is HSUS really on the side of the 99 percent of Americans who aren’t vegan? Is HSUS just a bunch of misunderstood animal activists instead of anti-meat zealots?

Beyond the Spin

The election is drawing closer and so are the polls. Fresh off the last
debate the major news organizations have released their new polling numbers.
CNN’s poll, pictured here, surprised me the most because of Governor Romney
appears to have taken a slight lead over President Obama among likely voters in
Florida

YOU CAN’T HAVE YOUR CORN AND EAT IT, TOO.

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!

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Rosalie Sanderson

Membership Administrative Assistant