LOVED OUR LAST YEAR AT THE CORN CRIB – LOOKING FORWARD TO ANOTHER!

cornbelters baseball farm harvest combine

Last year at this time, the Illinois Corn Marketing Board was celebrating our new partnership with the Normal CornBelters and announcing the name of The Corn Crib.  Now, with a year of successful corn promotion under our belt at The Corn Crib, we can’t wait to see what new opportunities come up in 2011 to tell the story of the Illinois corn farmer!

If you liked this post, check out:
The Illinois Field of Dreams
Reflections from a City Girl
Illinois Corn Farmers Went to the Races

HFCS FEAR IS THE TRICK THIS HALLOWEEN

Ghouls and Goblins will soon be running up and down the streets in your local neighborhood. Children of all ages are on the prowl in stunning costumes to find their favorite candies. Halloween brings visions of ghosts and witches often giving little ones nightmares. But this year parents need not fear High Fructose Corn Syrup as it is nutritionally equal to other table sugars.

High-fructose corn syrup is a popular ingredient in soda pop and other flavored drinks. In fact, this sweetener is the most common on the market and found in processed foods and snacks. But don’t get confused that it’s called “high-fructose” corn syrup. The facts are that table sugar consists of 50/50 fructose and glucose, while HFCS is approximately 55 percent fructose and 42 percent glucose. Does this make them nutritionally different? Not a chance.

The Corn Refiners Association is currently working with the FDA to rename HFCS to “Corn Sugar.” Since consumers believe (and rightfully so based on the name!) that HFCS is actually higher in fructose than other sugars, the petitioners are joining forces with farmers to help clarify consumer product labels and give this sweetener a chance. Corn sugar has been around for over 40 years and refiners have set a goal that the renaming of HFCS will help consumers understand that the HFCS is no different from other sugars and also makes it clearer where the sugar comes from.

HFCS will likely be in all the Halloween candy that you consume this weekend. It naturally enhances flavors, provides a soft texture, and helps make all the foods we love even more enjoyable. This yummy additive is also in ketchup, yogurt, baked goods, and canned fruits. 

This Halloween don’t get tricked by the labels, treat your guests with their favorites. This sweetener made from a natural grain is FDA approved and contains the equivalent amount of calories as sugar. Provide those scary trick-or-treaters with gummy or chocolaty candies without a fear!

Have a Safe and Happy Halloween!!!

Traci Pitstick
Illinois State University
Illinois farm girl

 
If you enjoyed this post, you might also enjoy:
MAYBE WE’RE TAKING THIS TOO PERSONAL?
DO SUGAR CUBES GROW ON TREES?
YESTERDAY’S AGRICULTURE CANNOT FEED 9 BILLION PEOPLE

THE US EPA’s VERSION OF A HALLOWEEN DECORATION

Exactly two weeks ago, we let you know that the EPA had approved E15 for cars model years 2007 and newer. We also told you that we weren’t sure the announcement really accomplished anything.

Now, we’re even more sure that the US EPA discriminates against corn-based ethanol based on the proposed labeling requirement they intend for every fuel dispenser. Take a look for yourself. Tom Waterman of The Ethanol Monitor is right when he says that all that’s missing is the skull and cross bones.

ethanol label caution warningVery obviously, the EPA intends to scare people away from using corn-based ethanol before they are even able to give it a second thought. Why not a label that says “this fuel is only EPA approved for cars model years 2007 and newer?” Why not a label that says “Ensure your car is newer than 2007 before using this fuel?”
 
Because our suggestions are about facts and not about fear. The EPA hasn’t approved E15 for 2007 cars and newer not because there’s a lack of information or because there’s anything scientific about cars older than 2007 running less efficiently on E15. They didn’t approve it because there’s an agenda in the US EPA and that agenda very much dislikes corn-based ethanol.
Waterman said, “It seems the agency understands its confusing decision on E15, which probably will not lead to even one gallon of additional ethanol entering the motor fuel pool in the US, and wants to make certain it won’t.”
The scary label is just one more tactic in their war against energy security, against rural America, and against a greener world.
 
NOTE: The EPA is holding a public hearing on November 16, 2010 at the Millennium Knickerbocker Hotel in Chicago, IL. The hearing starts at 10 am CST and continues until everyone has had a chance to speak. The public hearing will address the EPA’s proposed E15 warning label. Please contact the IL Corn office at ilcorn@ilcorn.org if you want additional information on how to testify at this hearing.
Dave Loos
ICGA/ICMB Ethanol Guru

AGRICULTURE – MY HOME AWAY FROM HOME

I loved my house I lived in growing up. It was an average size house but what made it special was the land on which it sat. My grandparents lived next door; separating us was but a wooden pathway and a large fence of trees. All together my brother and I had about 10 acres of land filled with trees and grass to roam and explore. We lived in a crowded northwest suburb of Chicago but when we were home playing, “our town” was the ten acres that sat on a corner hidden by trees. We didn’t have neighborhood friends to play with, we had each other. I was raised with strong family ethics and morals. Sure I was blessed with my friends from school but my best friends were my family. Aside from my mom, dad, brother and grandparents, down a gravel road was a woman who owned donkeys, horses, pigs, and lots of cats. I remember taking walks with my mom and brother to visit her and her animals.

I vaguely recall going with my parents and grandparents to a meeting at our city hall. I was probably about seven years old at the time and there are two things that I still remember about it. One, it was boring. Second and most of all, I remember the woman down the street from me. She was upset; she was opposed to the building of apartments and townhouses behind her property. I remember her tears as she pleaded with the men and women in suits not to build. About a year later that woman moved away to a rural town in northern Illinois. It wasn’t long until we too sold our house. I was devastated the day my mom told my brother and me we were moving. We weren’t moving to a different town, just five minutes down the road to your average suburban neighborhood. I knew that my house was special, now we were leaving it and deep down I knew things were going to change.

Although my grandparents and parents did not sell our houses to developers, we knew it would only be a matter of time until some car dealership got their paws on our property. Sure enough, five years after we moved the trees that sheltered our home and my childhood were gone, vanished like they never existed. I told myself I would never forget what it was like to grow up there. To always remember everything that made it so special. And I do; I remember what it looked like, the tractor rides, playing in our tree house and on our giant tree swing, running through the “forest” with my brother, and having the best birthday parties. However, up until recently I forgot the feeling growing up there gave me.

This may sound outrageous to some, but I think those of you who are a part of agriculture will understand. When I entered the agriculture program at Illinois State University (ISU) I found a familiar feeling that I had almost forgotten. Tens years after I moved away from my old house I discovered that being involved in agriculture gives me the same comfort. If asked four years ago if I could ever see myself in agriculture I would have said no way. Now I can’t see myself anywhere else; I am at home.

When I entered the agriculture program at ISU, before classes started, I thought I would be transferring out within a semester. But after the first two weeks of my classes I was hooked. I instantly felt at home and recognized that the agriculture industry is unlike any other. All my teachers and classmates share a personable quality that I’ve learned goes beyond the classroom and into all aspects of the industry. Agriculture is truly the heart of the world. There is a negative misconception amongst consumers towards farmers that is ignorant and misguided by mediated propaganda. The true faces of farmers are hard working, loyal, and honest. Becoming apart of agriculture has given me this insight and now I wish everyone could see agriculture through my eyes.

At ISU I have become very active in the agriculture department and have built strong relationships with my professors. I am vice president for National Agriculture Marketing Association (NAMA) and will be attending my second Agriculture Future of America (AFA) Leader’s Conference this year. I am a senior this year and it will not be long before I enter the professional field of agriculture. I do not yet know where I will start my career or with whom, however I do know that I want to be a part of the relationships that together, make this industry what it is today. I know that my opportunities are endless and wherever I find myself in a year, I will be a part of something unique. I am confident that ISU and the organizations in which I am involved have prepared me for the professional field and I can not wait to continue my life in agriculture. I know I still have a lot to learn about this industry, but I feel so blessed to have found something that sparks such motivation within me.

Maggie Henning
ISU Student

ILLINOIS CORN FARMERS WENT TO THE RACES WITH KENNY WALLACE

With Danika Patrick there, the famous opening line was tweaked a bit, but the resulting roar was just as satisfying…”Drivers! Start your engines!”
That’s all it took to turn this girl into NASCAR’s newest fan. That’s right, add me to the other 75 million Americans the racing giant counts as its constituency.
I was already a Kenny Wallace fan. Sure, I’m a “Johnny come lately” as they say, but I recently met the man who represents the heart of racing to many. He’s one of NASCAR’s most beloved drivers. To me, he’s a genuine guy with a genuine interest in the things that make America great. We have that in common. That, you see, is why I took to him immediately. He saw in me a common love of laughing and (sometimes) ornery behavior.
It was an opportunity made it heaven. Since I count myself as one of farming’s biggest agvocates, my work with Illinois corn farmers was going to be extra special and even more heartfelt than usual this time. We were going to reach an entirely new audience, with a (pardon the pun) entirely new vehicle for that message.
And this (see the picture below), my friends, is that vehicle. But despite how absolutely fantastic it is, the car isn’t what our partnership with Kenny Wallace racing was about.
nascar kenny wallace IL corn farmers
The promotional partnership struck between the Illinois Corn Marketing Board (called Illinois Corn Farmers outside of farm circles) and Kenny Wallace Racing was about the people. In this case, those people include Kenny Wallace, NASCAR and Kenny’s fans (see the people waiting for his autograph?), and Illinois corn farmers.
nascar wallace IL farmers ethanol

And as it happens, the corn gods evidently smiled upon us. Because the day after we announced our partnership, NASCAR publicly announced their intention to move the entire NASCAR series of races to E15 starting in the 2011 season.
Illinois Corn Farmers…NASCAR…fans…Kenny Wallace…ethanol! That’s Good Clean Fun and Good Clean Fuel!

Now, not only can Kenny talk about the family corn farmers of Illinois and ethanol, but he can talk about it in the venue of NASCAR and racing. He did just that at this NASCAR press conference the day before the race at Gateway.

Kenny talked about corn farmers, their crop, and corn ethanol in all his television and radio appearances. He filled his twitter feed and facebook pages with great information about all of you corn farmers. And people responded in the positive.
So did our partnership yield a nicely painted up, sharp looking, eye catching car? You bet. Did we have signage at the track, viewed by the 30,000 people in attendance and the millions on television? Of course. Did we get one-on-one conversations with people visiting the track? More than we could count. Did we get a car that ran in the Top 10 most of the race and finished in the Top 15? Oh ya. How about media coverage? ESPN, Speed TV, AP, local news…yup, they were all there.

But the best thing we got out of this partnership was a new spokesperson and advocate.

You see, what all the research we’ve undertaken here recently at IL Corn has indicated is that despite the issues, it’s the people that matter. You can dispute someone’s facts, but you can’t dispute their feelings. That is a lesson that we in agriculture need to take close to our heart. People carry messages. And we have some of the best people in the world, right here in our midst.
So yes, I’m a new fan of Kenny Wallace.

I’m a new fan of NASCAR.

And I’m a fan of Illinois Corn Farmers.

We reached countless people over the weekend with Kenny Wallace. As a checkoff contributor you can feel proud of that.
Illinois Corn Farmers are in the driver’s seat. Where will you take the opportunity to have a conversation?

nascar ethanol wallace

Tricia Braid
ICGA/ICMB Communications Director

If you liked this post, you might also enjoy:
Kenny Wallace Announcement
Family Farmers are the Face of Agriculture
EPA Approves e15 for 2007 Model Years and Newer

CHINESE DELEGATION VISITS IL CORN

Illinois Corn hosted twelve Chinese academia today who had questions about corn production in Illinois and about our agricultural technologies for producing corn.

On the fact finding mission, the group asked questions about machinery, planting techniques, conservation tillage, and others because they use different methods of agriculture than what we do in the US. Their techniques are about 30 years behind our techniques.

A few highlights: 
  • These twelve men were from maize research institutes and academia in china
  • Sharing information with them is a valuable exercise because when we provide them data about our cropping techniques, we get to ask them questions about their techniques as well.
  • In a competitive global market, it’s important to know what other countries are doing and speculate how much corn they can grow because the US might be able to provide the shortfall.
  • In particular, Illinois is well poised to take advantage of any shortfall in Chinese corn because of our position on the river system and our transportation advantages.
For more information on Illinois Corn’s activities regarding export promotion or trade missions, please visit our website at http://www.ilcorn.org/ or email Phil Thornton at pthornton@ilcorn.org.

MAYBE WE’RE TAKING THIS TOO PERSONAL?

Sometimes, when you take a step off your soapbox and look at the world around you, you realize that it’s not all about you.  That’s exactly what I did this morning when I read this article.

So … apparently the joke’s not just on us. And actually, the joke’s not just on the sugar industry in general. It just so happens that the joke is finally on the American consumer.

The agricultural industry is fairly criticized as constantly talking about facts in these “food vs. fuel,” “slow food,” “corn is causing obesity” discussions that we find all around us, instead of the emotions behind the concern. Research tells us that saying that we’re growing food for a hungry world isn’t a good argument because consumers honestly *feel* like someone is pulling the wool over their eyes and no one is being genuine with them about the food production chain.

But here’s where the rubber might finally meet the road.

Agriculture has been telling the world over and over that if we don’t use modern food production methods, people are going to go hungry. Leaders in the humanitarian effort have praised the use of modern agricultural methods for feeding third world countries and lessoning the impacts on the environment. Still, consumers are skeptical.

Let me connect the dots for you one last time.

Modern agriculture allows us to produce enough food to feed a growing world population. If the world wants agriculture to operate as it did in the 1920s, we’re going to have yields just like we did in the 1920s. And things were a lot tougher in the 20s so, get ready.

Consumers have thrown a mini temper tantrum over the use of high fructose corn syrup in their foods and have used buying power to convert many products over to the same old table sugar that you’ve known and loved for decades. At the same time, you’ve voted in administrations that are so concerned about the environment that they won’t allow GMO sugar beets to be grown. That means no sugar supply because growing “sugar” like we did in the 1920s yields a lot less sugar. Get ready.

And all this despite science that proves that we’re not hurting the environment and that high fructose corn syrup doesn’t actually make you any fatter than regular old sugar. You wanted it, you’re getting it. Get ready.

Turns out you can’t have your (table sugar) cake and eat it too.

Lindsay Mitchell
ICGA/ICMB Marketing Director

EXTREME HOMEPAGE MAKEOVER!

I’m very excited about something I’ve been working on for a few months now. Very diligently working, and it’s all for you.

That something is the redesign of the Illinois Corn website! When I was hired on as the Communications Assistant one of my main tasks was to get a new, updated website. For any of you that remember what the old one looked like, let’s just be honest, we were in dire need of change.

When we first launched the new look of the website two summers ago (August 13, to be exact) I was very pleased with how it turned out. But I also knew there were still some tweaks and adjustments that needed to be made to fit with the vision I (as well as others in the office) had.

I think this time we may have gotten it right! Of course, I’m sure along the way we will find more things that we want to modify, that’s just the way it goes. Technology is always changing and with that a website must keep up with it. So if there is something you see that you really don’t like and would like to see a change, or something you see that you love, please let us know!

Here a few of my favorite changes:

CSS Fader
This is a fancy term that the programmers like to use for the main picture on the homepage. It fades into new pictures. I like this feature a lot.

Auction Page
We’ve added a special new section for our members only. It’s like an eBay for Illinois Corn. Pretty cool if you ask me. Not a member? You can sign up here and not miss a thing!  (But its still under construction so be sure to check back for this feature!)

Social Media Tools
We have taken a large leap into the world of social media, this blog being one example. On the redesigned site, we make it easier for you to stay in touch with us. There is a section for our latest tweet and tabs at the top of the page for Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Corn Corps. See a story you’d like to share? You can easily tweet or facebook it from that page!

Background
The background itself has been updated. I love the cleaner look of it as well as the colors.

Archives
I’ve had requests in the past for old Corn Scoops stories. On the old site we only had 15 stories up at a time, with this feature we will be able to archive the old ones.

Priority Issues
In this section, we have a permanent home for many of our priorities like locks and dams, exports, public education, and Farm Bill. I’m excited that new visitors will be able to read through the main things we’re working on without having to dig even further through daily news stories and news releases. We also have much more flexibility on our homepage to feature the most important stuff which hopefully makes your visit to our website that much more enjoyable.

There are more added features, some behind the scenes that will ultimately help me help you, and others that will subtlety make your viewing experience a better one, like the font size and color. All in all, I love the new look and hope you do as well.

Please remember though, creating a new website is a time consuming procedure.  Cut us a little slack as we continue to finish new pages and update old ones!  We are under construction!

I would like to thank the folks at Cybernautic for all their patience and help. And patience. I’ve been in constant contact with them about changing the color of that or the position of this. So much so, that I worry when they hear my name or see an email from me that they cringe and hide under their desks. They assure me that’s not the case, but I’m certain they are happy to have me off their backs with the launch of the updated site. So again, thank you Cybernautic team, without you this would’ve been a much more stressful time for me!

Becky Finfrock
ICGA/ICMB Communications Assistant

ILLINOIS CORN FARMERS AND KENNY WALLACE RACING

Hopefully over the weekend, all our Corn Corps followers had an opportunity to check out the news.  And if you didn’t, here’s the biggest news item we’ve seen in a while.

Illinois Corn has entered into a promotional partnership with Kenny Wallace, NASCAR so that we can better tell the story of Illinois corn farmers and their families to a much, MUCH bigger audience.

At the same time, NASCAR announced on Saturday that they are moving to a 15 percent blend of ethanol to gasoline for the 2011 season.

nascar kenny wallace combineLet me tell you, if these two announcements in one weekend don’t excite you, I’m not sure what will.  According to NASCAR.com, NASCAR is the No. 1 spectator sport — with more of the top 20 highest-attended sporting events in the U.S. than any other sport — and is the No. 2 rated regular-season sport on television. NASCAR fans are the most brand loyal in all of sports.

I think what this means is that if Kenny Wallace says corn farmers are good, NASCAR fans will believe him.  And if NASCAR says that all vehicles run well on e15, American’s will line up in droves to by it.  Looks like we’ve got a perfect test case on our hands.

Can’t wait to see the results of this dynamic partnership!

Lindsay Mitchell
ICGA/ICMB Marketing Director