Welcome to Illinois agriculture, where we treat our cows like members of the family!
The Illinois National Ag Statistics Service (NASS) crop report today indicated that Illinois corn yields are expected to be significant this year, equal to the last record set for Illinois in 2004. Compared to expected US average corn yields, Illinois is estimated to yield 6 more bushels per acre than last year.
Couple this information with the reality of widespread drought in Ukraine and other surrounding areas and experts suppose Ukraine will import 59 million bushels of corn in 2010, a 30% increase over last year.
Certainly, Illinois corn farmers are growing food for a world population. Without biotechnology and conventional agriculture capable of achieving these yields, humans in other countries would go hungry and Midwestern US would be unable to bring economic benefits of agricultural exports to our damaged economy.
Conventional agriculture feeds the world and fuels our economy. What’s so bad about that?
ICGA/ICMB Value Enhanced Projects Director
Remember when the price of food went up a bit last year and everyone screamed and cried? Legislators were getting calls right and left about how their constituents couldn’t afford to go to the grocery store anymore? The media had us all concerned that Americans were finally going to go hungry?
Michael Pollan, journalist and self-appointed “food production system expert” with zero background in food science, nutrition or agriculture, has announced that he feels $8 for a dozen eggs is a great thing!
What’s even crazier is that the elite in this country agree with him!
I’m afraid that we have seriously gotten to a point in this country where we are way too wealthy and out of touch with reality. We don’t know what it is to be hungry and we left our common sense in back in the 1900’s.
If you need more proof that the rich and influential in American are getting a bit extreme, check out this article on how the EPA wants to regulate dust in the air. Dust!
Author Mary Eberstadt may really be onto something. And if you’re into the philosophical or practice deep thinking, this might be just the article for you.
The fundamental question posed by Eberstadt is what happens when, for the first time in history, adult human beings are able to have all the sex and food that they want?
Yes, the subject may feel a bit racy for our modest little blog, but the question really deserves some thinking. In the interviews with Eberstadt posted on Truth in Food, Eberstadt describes two fictional women, Betty and Jennifer. Betty was 30 years old in 1958 and had a very strict moral code about what was appropriate behavior and what was not regarding sexual activity. While she may have had similar preferences about her food choices, she didn’t feel the need to push those choices onto others quite the same way that she felt morally obligated to share her choices about sex.
Eberstadt’s Jennifer is 30 years old today and her feelings on the two subjects are decidedly opposite Betty’s. She may feel that she has no right to judge other’s sexual activity, but is an adament proponent of organic food or vegetarianism or … fill in the blank.
“I find it really interesting that these two codes, one about food and one about sex, seem to be existing in this inverse relationship, where as one gets stricter the other gets more lenient,” Mary tells Truth in Food interviewer Kevin Murphy. “I think the fallout [over the negative consequences of the post-pill sexual revolution] makes a lot of people uncomfortable, in a way that they’re not even necessarily fully aware of. We live with these major consequences…day in and day out. And I think a lot of people have the sense this has all gone too far, that nobody meant for the party to have gotten so out of hand, and no one knows how to stop it. My supposition is that part of what’s behind these increasingly moralistic attitudes toward food is that people have displaced the kinds of feelings human beings have always had about sex onto food instead,” says Eberstadt.
Eberstadt believes that society is taking feelings we’ve always had about sexuality and moral codes regarding sexual behavior and placing those same moral codes on food.
After all, thinking of the food “issues” we farmers deal with on a day to day basis … isn’t it odd that food is all of the sudden a moral decision?
They can be hard to come by…actually, no, I take that back. They can slap you in the face when you’re least expecting that. College is definitely a time for learning and experiencing life as never before. It’s when you learn to survive in that big bad world out there. There are ways to better equip yourself, though. There are things you can do to learn in a positive environment, to better understand who you are, where you’re going, and what you want to do. One of these tools for better preparation is the idea of interning.
Kristie: My county fair was the McLean County fair, the biggest 4-H fair in the country, and I was a member of the Blue Ribbon Kids 4-H group from Colfax. Although I grew up on a farm, I never showed any animals at the fair. All of my friends had cattle, swine, goats, or chickens, but the biggest animal that I ever showed was my cat Buttercup, who was not the most cooperative of all animals.
Kristie: My 4-H experience was much different from my friends’, but I would never say that I missed out on anything. I learned many different skills that I continue to use today, and 4-H allowed me to try out as many skills and ideas that I wanted so that I could figure out which things I was good at and what I liked the most. If it weren’t for 4-H, I wouldn’t have been able to make the decorative throw pillows and oil paintings for my new apartment, I never would have found my passion for cooking or learned how to wire a trouble light or turn a wood lathe, and my stressed out cat probably wouldn’t have lost as many years off of his life.
Kelsey: I can imagine that showing a cat is considerably harder than showing a cow. You have my sympathies.
Kristie: Thanks, but I don’t envy you walking around the fairgrounds in heels.
Kelsey: Still, 4-H is such a valuable program because it has something to offer every kid in every walk of life. Like Kristie said, these are experiences you always remember, family memories that you would never want to forget, and life skills that you take with you when you grow up.
Kristie: The fair is the culmination of all those activities. When you bring your hard work from the fields or the sewing machine and have it evaluated, you feel a sense of accomplishment, but you also learn to appreciate constructive criticism.
Kelsey: So from two farmer’s daughters that spent the afternoon at the fair yesterday and can’t wait to get back, get involved in 4-H and participate in your county fair. You’ll never be sorry that you did.
ICGA/ICMB Summer Intern
Illinois State University student
I find it interesting that this is “breaking National news.”
Are there any readers that were under the assumption that food was just going to magically appear in your refrigerator? Did any of you think that world population was decreasing?
Of course farmers need to work smarter in order to grow safe, affordable, wholesome food for a world population that is growing exponentially. That’s why growing more with less is exactly what we’re doing.
“Maintaining adequate food production levels in light of increasing population, climate change impacts, increasing costs of energy, constraints on carbon, land degradation and the finite supply of productive soils is a major challenge,” said Dr. Neil MacKenzie says in the article.
That’s why corn farmers are facing that challenge head on.
They’ve decreased the amount of land needed to produce one bushel of corn, the amount of soil lost per bushel of corn, the amount of energy used to produce one bushel of corn, and the emissions per bushel of corn.
The article also quotes Ms. Wensley, a former Australian ambassador for the environment, who said scientists have an important public advocacy role in the face of “growing disconnect between food production and consumption on our heavily and increasingly urbanized planet.”
And I guess that statement is exactly why the fact that we need to grow more food with less is breaking National news. It’s not that farmers aren’t able to meet the challenge. It’s not that corn farmers aren’t ALREADY meeting the challenge. It’s that consumers don’t understand what actions corn farmers are taking and that we actually have a challenge in the first place.
That’s where you come in.
Have you connected with important ag media outlets to get good tidbits of information to share with your friends? Have you made an effort to connect your friends with those same outlets? Check out Agricultural Everyday on Facebook. Check out The Beef Ambassador blog or Midwestern Gold. Follow @agchick on Twitter. Encourage your friends, neighbors, and acquaintances to do the same.
Start talking about agriculture. Let’s make the awesome job that farmers are doing the next national headline.
ICGA/ICMB Field Services Director
“We respect efforts for a clean and healthy environment, but not at the expense of common sense.”
If we had an awards show for things elected officials say, (why not? Everyone else has an awards show!) this quote about the EPA would win in my book, hands down.
And to what issue is the quote referring? The EPA is now considering regulating dust as a harmful pollutant. If this isn’t some sort of indication that we’ve let the EPA go a little too far, I don’t know what is.
I leave it to you to figure out how exactly the EPA will regulate farm dust … perhaps they will fund replacing all those dirt roads and driveways with pavement? Perhaps they will loosen the reins on our water supply so that we can spray everything down? Perhaps they will just decide that they would rather go hungry?
When did common sense become … well … less common?
ICGA/ICMB Communications Assistant
All the farmers I know tend to be a “glass half full” sort. I’m guessing that’s because farmers have to weather all sorts of disasters that can make or break their crop and they have to make a decision to see the positive or go home. But it’s getting increasingly different to see the glass half full when it comes to popular media and the multitudes of attacks on agriculture coming from every direction.
That’s why, we’ve got to take the positive and run with it!
These are all variations on the same story, but its a good story and I’m seeing it everywhere. That’s a great thing! This was obviously sent out on the AP wire and tons of folks are picking it up.
Kuddos to our own Len Corzine for a great interview!
ICGA/ICMB Marketing Director