FARMER LINGO: YIELD

Check out this fun series!

Learn the lingo farmers use … and today we’re talking about yield!

Posted in Education | Leave a comment

HAPPY JULY FOURTH!

corn and flagEnjoy your holiday, celebrate your freedom, remember the sacrifice.

See you on Monday!

 

Posted in Friday Farm Photo | Leave a comment

#TBT: THE MIRACLE OF CORN!

Throwback Thursday to the oldest video on our YouTube channel – “The Miracle of Corn!”

It’s a 1989 video and you can tell it, but it’s just as valuable today as it was then. The data has changed a bit though – we produce a lot more, using a lot less and we impact the environment in a much smaller way.

Enjoy this video? Check out the others on our YouTube channel!

Posted in Education | Leave a comment

G-M-OKAY, I FEEL BETTER NOW

GMOs and biotechnology are among the most asked about topics on watchusgrow.org. Recently, a group of IFF City Moms, who have toured Illinois farms and wanted to ask additional questions about Monsanto, were given the opportunity to visit their Biotechnology Research Center. The tour was provided by IFF,  with additional support from the Illinois Corn Marketing Board.  Here is one mom’s take on the tour and the experience.

On April 25th, I was fortunate enough to tour Monsanto’s research center in St. Louis, Missouri, with a group of Mom’s dedicated to learning about food and farming. We boarded a plane early in the morning, and hit the ground running. I was a nervous wreck…not just because I hate to fly, but also because I felt intimidated, and I felt overwhelmed at the prospect of the million different questions that were bouncing around my head. I was worried that even if we asked the truth, we wouldn’t get it, it would be smoke and mirrors in an attempt to appease our concerns.

I am happy to report…..I was WRONG. Much to my surprise, they were MORE than transparent, and they answered our questions with incredible knowledge of fact, incredible displays of science, and incredible rebuttal to fiction. I left,feeling more overwhelmed than ever, but now, it was because nearly every argument I had set out to have, had been laid to rest. And really, who likes admitting that they’re wrong?? Certainly, not  ME.

So, where do I start ? How do I begin trying to educate my readers on a topic as hot and explosive as biotechnology ?? How do I break it down to its basics, in hopes that you will keep reading ? Willing to put your opinions aside ? As many have expressed, quite loudly, when I signed up for this tour, I had sold my soul to the devil. I assure, I have done no such thing. I went with an open mind, and I listened, and I talked, and I learned. I sat before four incredibly intelligent women, also Mothers, give me the facts on GMO technology. I set aside my pre conceived notions and embraced the science behind the madness. I went in with a willingness to get both sides of the story. And guess what I heard ? I heard the things no one talks about on the internet, the things that no one reads (even though they ARE out there….check out http://www.GMOANSWERS.com ) I learned answers to questions I was afraid to ask, I learned that ever so valuable lesson, that NOT everything you read on the internet is true. Who knew?

Our Q & A Panel

SO…let’s get down to brass tacks….shall we ?

What exactly ARE GMO’s ?? Those in the field, prefer the term biotechnology, but tomato, tomAHto…..In essence, GMO’s in plant agriculture in the most basic of terms, means intentionally taking a gene for a trait you want or need from one plant and inserting it into another. Are you asking yourself  BUT WHY ? I did…..and the answer was both complex and simple at its core. It all boils down to what’s best for the farmer : Farmer’s select GMO’s to aid in things such as pest control (this means LESS pesticide is sprayed topically, which means less drift, less use, less impact), GMO’s help to protect from extreme drought, disease and they also allow a farmer to plant more food on less usable soil. Remember, only 1/4 of the Earth has available land and 1/2 of THAT is unusable. So more for less, goes a long way. GM crops also help a farmer with soil conservation by allowing to take a no – till approach, this is important because it takes over 100 years to create 1 inch of topsoil. It simply cannot afford to be lost.

There are only eight crops that are available from GMO seed : Field corn, Canola, Soybean, Alfalfa, Cotton, Sugar beets, Sweet corn, Summer squash and Rainbow papaya. My favorite little factoid ?? Without biotechnology, the papaya would be EXTINCT…no more…gone forever….and I don’t know about you, but man….I would MISS IT. Eating a ripe papaya is like taking a mini tropical vacation with each bite.

GM cotton

You see, genetically modified crops have been around long before a scientist ever thought of gene insertion. 10,000 years ago, yes 10,000….humans began crop domestication using selective breeding, Every fruit, vegetable and grain that is commercially available has been altered by human hands. EVEN ORGANIC. How about that ??

And in the 1700’s farmers and scientists began cross-breeding plants within a species Without crop domestication, Brussels sprouts, Romanesco cabbage, Broccoli, Kale and Bok Choy would not be available for our dinner plates, as these all are genetic relatives of wild cabbage !! It has always been done. It’s just that now, it’s done more precisely.

I truly could go on and on, but at the risk of boring you to tears, I won’t. I promise.

I asked many of you, what questions do you want answered ? And the question that came up most was… ARE THEY SAFE ??

The simple answer….Y E S.

The more complex one: Biotech crops are the same as their non – GM buddies !! Nutritionally as well as broken down to its most basic structures. GMO foods have been in the marketplace for 17 years. They have been found, through repeated testing to be NO different from their NON GM counterparts. GM crops are subjected to more testing than any other new crop variety, therefore, we know more about them than any other crops that have been developed over the past few CENTURIES. GM crops are assessed by two, and sometimes three Federal agencies: the FDA, USDA and EPA. They don’t reach your grocery cart until they have been deemed safe and nutritious.

So, what does biotechnology hold for the future?

It has been demonstrated that this technology can increase the amount and stability of pro-vitamin A, iron and zinc and improve the digestibility of sorghum. What is so important about that ? It is anticipated to benefit Africans who rely upon sorghum, which is normally deficient in key nutrients.

Another example ? Golden Rice.

Golden Rice is another biotech crop which is nutritionally improved. The amount of beta carotene has been increased and could provide half the daily required provide HALF the required pro-vitamin A for a 1 to 3-year-old child. That can save lives.

But the most important example ?? Biotechnology can help us meet the growing demand for food, despite the influences of drought, poor soil, and B U G S. More full bellies.

To me, helping to produce more food, and improve the crops that those in developing countries rely upon, well, that has the power to change the World.

That is worth its weight in science !!

I encourage each of you to read , to research, to ask honest questions and open your mind to honest answers. The future truly is now.

Check it out:
http://www.biofortified.org
http://www.findourcommonground.com

Travel expenses within St. Louis and lunch courtesy of Monsanto.

Originally posted on Three Little Birds and One Messy Nest.

Katie Grossart
Chicago, IL

Posted in Activism, Food, Organic | Leave a comment

RAIN CAN BE A HUGE PAIN!

We love this parody by Ohio Ag Net’s Ty Higgins.  Rain IS a big pain all over the Midwest.


On Friday, after leaving IL Corn’s rained out golf outing, I took this quick video (below). You can see clearly see the damaged caused to this corn by standing water and inadequate drainage. The dark spots are higher ground where the corn wasn’t trying to grow in standing water. The lighter green spots are lower ground where the corn is struggling to survive.


Here’s a photo I took today on my way back to the office after lunch. See how the corn is lighter colored where it’s excessively wet?

wet field

This damage is everywhere. Farmers are starting to get nervous. THIS is one of the reasons why farming is such a risky business.

Mitchell_Lindsay
Lindsay Mitchell
ICGA/ICMB Marketing Manager

Posted in Field Updates | Leave a comment

ILLINOIS LIKE INDIA DURING MONSOON SEASON

instagram post - rainThis Instagram post is funny – and I laughed.  Then I cried.

It’s pouring right now in Central Illinois.  And I’m sad that our IL Corn “Greater Ethanol Open” Golf Outing is getting rained out for the first time in 23 years.  And I’m sad that my kid’s 7-10 pm private pool party will surely be cancelled. And I’m sad because all this gray weather puts a damper on my mood.

But think about the farmers out there.  Their corn and soybeans are drowning – IF they got the chance to put them in the ground in the first place.  On some fields, crops have been planted, replanted, and replanted again in an attempt to grow something on those acres this year.  The plants are being starved of oxygen because the soil is so saturated.

Some farmers will see significant loss.

Pray for relief.  For a few weeks of dry weather.  Definitely because your mood could use it and because your kid wants to play a few baseball games this year that aren’t rained out, but also because the farmers and the crops are suffering!

 

Posted in Field Updates, Friday Farm Photo | Leave a comment

WOULD YOU PAY YOUR BOSS $6,000 TO WORK FOR ONE WEEK?

Originally posted July 22, 2014, but a great throwback considering the great response we had to our article Tuesday.   Do you have comments?  We’d love to hear them!!

 

dollarsCan you imaging paying your boss around $6,000 for the opportunity to work this week?  Getting no benefits?  No paycheck?  No time off or contribution to your 401K?  That’s what farmers are doing this year …

Corn prices are right now below the cost of production.

It’s one thing to say that, and another to understand what it really means.

First, you have to realize that every farm is a small business and every farmer will opt to run his farm a different way.  Some will own their land, others will rent it, and others will crop share with their landowners.  Some farmers will get rain or drought or disease on their farms and others won’t.  For every farmer and for every farm, the production practices and input costs can vary SIGNIFICANTLY.

Still, understanding that, we can make a few assumptions.  An average cash rent price per acre is $350.  Average production costs per acre are around $500 (this includes fuel, seed, fertilizers, etc).  We can assume that for many farmers, they paid around $850 per acre to put a crop in the ground and get it to grow.

Corn prices today are around $3.50 per bushel.  A reasonable Illinois average is 180 bushels per acre so we can calculate out that a farmer could make $630 per acre if he sold his crop today for cash.

It doesn’t take a mathmetician to figure out that a farmer is losing around $220 per acre on his crop this year.

He is actually paying his farm for the privilege of farming.

Taking that a step further, if an average Illinois farmer is farming 1,500 acres, he’s losing $330,000 this year.  Money that should be going to make payments on tractors and combines.  Money that should be paying for his family’s insurance coverage.  Money that could be buying next year’s seed.

A loss like that puts a gain in previous years in perspective, doesn’t it?  Farmers must save in the good years to cover the bad.  Thus, farmers never really “get rich.”  They just try to make enough to raise their family year after year.

Mitchell_LindsayLindsay Mitchell
ICGA/ICMB Marketing Manager

Posted in Who are Illinois Corn Farmers? | Leave a comment