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
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
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:
Today the Illinois Corn Growers Association hosted a golf outing for our community members and other’s who work with us in accomplishing our goals. It is our way of saying “thank you for the support!”
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 paragaraphs, make sure you check out her facebook page for the last two!
At the recent Corn Utilization and Technology Conference our very own David Loos, Technology and Business Development Director, moderated a panel titled, “Life Cycle Analyses Applications to New Technologies.” One of the issues that takes up a lot of his time is ethanol. And ethanol was a big part of the conversation at the CUTC as you might imagine. I spoke with David during a break.
Dave says that new technologies that are increasing production while reducing inputs are proving that corn can be very sustainable. I asked him what he’s working on that needs to become better known by the public. He says that science is “on our side” on issues like yield increases, inputs, green house gas emissions from growing corn or producing ethanol. He says it’s our job to make sure the research gets done, is documented and delivered to audiences like EPA. He pointed to new research by the University of Illinois-Chicago which found that energy consumption by ethanol plants is down about 30 percent. I’ll have more on that in another interview with one of Dave’s panelists. Dave also talks about his goal of having EPA recognize corn ethanol as an advanced biofuel. The research and science backs it up. The challenge is getting regulators to recognize it!
You can listen to my interview with David here: download (mp3).
Here’s a link to a bunch of photos from the conference: CUTC Photo Album
Posted by Chuck Zimmerman