WHAT DOES A FARMER LOOK LIKE?

What does a farmer look like?  Something like this?

Or maybe more like this?

We’re exploring these answers and more in our research about the image farmers have with the general consumer.  You might be surprised to know that consumers think most Illinois farmers are the big, bad, corporate sort … but to see these photos, they’d agree that they like these farmers and have something in common with them.

Interested in this sort of research?  Contact Illinois Corn to find out more!

WHY ARE FARMERS SO LAZY?

A woman asks a farmer’s wife, “Why are farmers so lazy?” The farmer’s wife replies, “What do you mean?” The woman says, “Well, every year they wait for the corn to get brown and die before they pick it!”

This is in fact a true story and it goes to show just how uninformed most people are about agriculture. It is important for everyone to know where their food comes. If you ask a child where their food comes from they will more than likely say the grocery store, not a farm. Because consumers are so removed from their food source these misconceptions, like farmers’ laziness, are created.

A recent study conducted by The Illinois Corn Marketing Board, Illinois Beef Association, Illinois Pork Association and Illinois Soybean Association set out to understand public perceptions of farmers. They found that the trust between farmers and consumers is greatly diminishing. Consumers also have very negative opinions of large scale farming. The study also found that moms are the most concerned about where their food comes from. The bottom line is that consumers want trust-worthy farmers growing healthy, safe food in an environmentally conscious manner. Now that the negative public opinions have been identified it’s time to restore the image of agriculture.

As most of us know farmers are not lazy, in fact they already have several jobs but it’s time to add one more; public educator. Negative views on the agriculture industry are readily available and it’s up to us to change that. The public would like to maintain the image of a small family farm that milks a cow and collects eggs but we know this is no longer viable. We need to maintain the family aspect of farming while promoting the benefits of modern agriculture. Farmers need to be ambassadors of the agriculture industry so the public can see that farmers are not lazy, instead they are hard-working, caring people who provide consumers with a safe, healthy food supply.

Sarah Carson
University of Illinois student
& a farmer’s daughter

EPA APPROVES E15 FOR 2007 MODEL YEARS AND NEWER

Illinois Corn is mourning the loss of a heated battle today.  The EPA announced that they are approving e15 for cars model years 2007 and newer which effectively places a huge wedge right in the middle of the industry. 

Of course, there is always that saying.  We may have lost the battle but we haven’t lost the war.

In Illinois Corn’s press release about the US EPA’s announcement, our president, Tim Lenz, is quoted as saying, “EPA should make decisions such as this using sound science and good common sense. We have always been adamant that moving to higher blends should work for everyone including petroleum marketers, automobile manufacturers, and obviously for consumers … But the fact is Administrator Jackson has made up her mind. Where we go from here is what should be focused on now.”

I couldn’t agree more. 

I’m disappointed in the EPA’s continued disregard for science and common sense and I’m outraged at their lack of understanding of the reality of the marketplace.  What retailer wants to take the gamble to offer e15 when only a fraction of his customers can use it?  And then, will he be liable for any customer that unknowingly uses e15 in their older than 2007 car, only to blame the fuel on some random vehicular problem?

I’m guessing few retailers will take that chance.

My other big disappointment is that Administrator Jackson didn’t take the option we offered – increase the blends to 12 percent, keep the ethanol industry afloat and move towards energy independence and the goals of the RFS, while gaining some time to further investigate e15.  Illinois Corn felt this across the board approach was a much better solution for the ethanol industry, as well as a solution that addressed concerns from petroleum marketers, automobile manufacturers and consumers.

Once again, no common sense.

But to do exactly what Lenz suggests and focus on the next steps, Illinois Corn will continue to point to the latest research, showing that e15 is perfectly fine for cars as old as 1994.  And we will take this very small victory, albeit empty, and run with it … on e15.

Dave Loos
ICMB/ICGA Ethanol Guru

ENTERTAINING AND INFORMATIVE: IS THIS THE WAY TO GO?

It seems that those milk producers are always on the cutting edge.  Here in America, we all realize the popularity of the “Got Milk” ads.  They are almost collectables!  But in Europe, there’s a new breed of dairy farmer and they are hitting television screens for the first time in their new video for Yeo Valley.

http://www.youtube.com/v/qLySx6wSSmo?fs=1&hl=en_US

Intro

The sun is up, the milk is chilled, it’s gonna be a good one, yo yo

Farmer 1
Yo I’m rolling in my Massey on a summer’s day
Chugging cold milk while I’m bailing hay
Yeo Valley’s approach is common sense
Harmony in nature takes precedence
My ride’s my pride
That’s why you’ll never see it dirty
And I love it here man
That’s why I’m never leaving early
I’m so girt
In my cap and my shirt
I’m representing for west
So hard that it hurts

Farmer 2
We make this look easy
Cause we’re proper modern with this farming believe me
Wind turbines they’re shining baby
And solar farming no buts no maybe’s
Ye, when we’re down with the soil association
And we do lots of what, conservation
Sustain, maintain it ain’t no thing
We set the bar
Real leaders by far

Chorus
Yeo Valley Yeo Valley
We change the game, it will never be the same
Yeo Valley Yeo Valley
Big up your chest and represent the West

Farmer 3
This isn’t fictional farming
Its realer than real
You wont find milk maidens
That’s no longer the deal
In my wax coat and boots
I’m proper farmer Giles
Now look
You urban folk done stole our styles
I’m not a city dweller,
Me I like to keep it country
The air is clean and
All those cars will make me jumpy
It’s different strokes
For different folk, my man
Just enjoy the results
Of what we do on the land

Farmer 4
Check out Daisy she’s a proper cow
A pedigree Friesian with know how
Her and her girls they have there own name
We treat them good
They give us the cream

Chorus
Yeo Valley Yeo Valley
We change the game, it will never be the same
Yeo Valley Yeo Valley
Big up your chest and represent the West
Big up your chest…
Represent the West…

Interesting that these European farmers are addressing exactly the same questions we’re trying to address.  They mention that they are sustainable and environmentally conscious … and that they treat their cattle well.  Also, I love the line “Different strokes for different folks, Just enjoy the results of what we do on the land.”

Are Illinois farmers ready to get out there and do something like this that is entertaining and informative?  Does this push the bar too far or just far enough?  Is this the way to get consumer attention and give them permission to get farmers farm?

What are your thoughts?

Lindsay Mitchell
ICGA/ICMB Marketing Director

WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION RECOMMENDS LESS STRINGENT GUIDLINES FOR ATRAZINE IN DRINKING WATER

Originally published in Pesticide and Toxic Chemical News

The World Health Organization has increased its drinking water quality guideline for atrazine from 2 parts per billion to 100 ppb — a far less stringent level than EPA’s current drinking water standard of 3 ppb.

Atrazine proponents say the new guideline reaffirms the safety of atrazine, which EPA is currently re-evaluating. But a long time critic of the herbicide says WHO failed to take into account infants and young children’s special vulnerability and higher exposure per body weight than adults.

The new 100 ppb guideline will be included in the 4th edition of WHO’s Guidelines for Drinking-water Quality, to be published in 2011. The purpose of the guidelines is to assist regulators and policymakers in the development of national standards.

“The WHO has no regulatory force at all, and the drinking water guidelines are merely recommendations,” Jennifer Sass, senior scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council, tells Pesticide & Toxic Chemical News via e-mail. “They are often adopted by countries that do not have the resources to conduct their own assessments.”

Sass says while both WHO and EPA rely on the same study to achieve their guideline and standard, respectively, EPA has attempted to address the vulnerability of infants and children, “albeit not to our satisfaction,” by applying the 10X Food Quality Protection Act safety factor.

Furthermore, to arrive at its drinking water guideline, WHO assumes a 60kg adult drinking two liters of water a day, with 20% of total daily intake of atrazine coming from drinking water. But kids drink more water per body weight than adults, Sass says, noting EPA has a default water intake rate of one liter of water per day for a 10kg child.

However, others say EPA should take a page out of WHO’s scientific playbook.

“Here in the U.S., activists, insisting that atrazine levels at or even below 3 parts per billion are dangerous, have led EPA and the American taxpayer on an expensive wild goose chase,” says Triazine Network Chairman Jere White, referring to what he believes is a politically motivated atrazine re-evaluation. “The U.S. EPA should follow the lead of the World Health Organization and continue to rely on sound science to evaluate atrazine,” White adds in an Oct. 5 statement.

James Lamb, director and principal scientist at consulting firm Exponent’s Center for Toxicology and Mechanistic Biology, says EPA’s current drinking water standard for atrazine appears to be too severe.

“These new findings from WHO suggest that the EPA should re-evaluate the current 3 parts per billion standard in order to bring it into line with the latest scientific data,” he says in the statement.

WHERE WERE YOU ONE YEAR AGO?

                                                         photo taken October 6, 2010
ICMB Director Tim Seifert anticipates being done with his harvest on this coming Monday, October 11.  Last year, he remembers starting his harvest around October 10 or 12.  What a difference a year makes!

HOLY COW! THAT’S ALOT OF CORN!

USDA reported corn carry-out for 2009-10 was 1.707 billion bushels compared to 1.673 billion last year. In the September report, USDA estimated 1.386 billion carry-out, so this latest report added 321 million bushels to the current year’s (2010-11) total supply.
Carry-out is the term farmers use to describe the corn left at the end of the year – this is the corn that just sits around extra without any market.  And some people think farmers can’t produce enough to feed and fuel the world! 

 



CONG HALVORSON, JOHNSON SUPPORT IL CORN EFFORTS

My kids, four and six, often ask me what I do.  My job isn’t easy to describe to a four year old or a six year old or even the class of first graders I talked to the other day.  Put simply, all the staff at Illinois Corn are trying to help farmers, support farmers, and make it as easy as it possibly can be to do their jobs.

One of the ways we’ve been trying to do just that is to address the federal crop insurance program.

Have we fixed it yet?  Not at all, but we are working on it.  Will our current solution make a dent in the problems crop insurance presents to Illinois corn farmers?  Definitely.  In fact, experts predict that the current route we’re taking to fix crop insurance will “fix” about 50% of the problems farmers have with the program.

As with any federal program, our fix for crop insurance is complicated.  If I were to put it in layman’s terms, I’d tell you simply that Illinois Corn Growers Association is working on an endorsement that will take into account the exponential growth in corn yields over time.  Right now, farmers are typically underinsured because the current program assumes that yields stay the same over time.  The “fix” will help farmers who try to insure 80% of their expected yield actually insure nearly 80% of their expected yield.

But here’s the take home message.  Because we’re working with the federal government (USDA Risk Management Agency) on this possible new endorsement, its a long and complicated and involved procedure.  So the Illinois Corn Growers Association would like to express their sincere appreciation to the Illinois Congressional Delegation that sent a letter to the RMA Administrator this week in support of our proposal.

Thank you, Congresswoman Debbie Halvorson, for spear-heading a letter that was signed by Congressmen Hare, Foster, Bean, Costello, and Lipinski among other out of state Congressmen.  And thank you to Congressman Tim Johnson for heading up a letter signed by Congressmen Schock and Shimkus as well as other Congressmen from Iowa and Nebraska.

Illinois corn farmers appreciate your assistance and your support!

 

Lindsay Mitchell
ICGA/ICMB Marketing Director

A QUICK VISIT TO THE WORLD DAIRY EXPO …

The World Dairy Expo was held September 28 through October 2 in Madison, Wisconsin. As a dairy enthusiast myself, attending Expo is always a great treat. It is the meeting place for over 65,000 people from around the world for this five day event. It is much more than the famed dairy cattle shows and sales, but includes seminars, collegiate and 4-H judging contests and exhibits of all kinds. As a stop for many on the “tanbark trail,” the best cattle from the United States and Canada are exhibited at this amazing exposition. While some are exhibiting, thousands come to watch the show, view the modern equipment exhibits, learn about the latest in feed and nutrition, check out colleges, discover new advances in genetics, and to just mingle with members of the dairy and agriculture industry from around the globe.
A major attraction is the trade show. It includes over 750 exhibitors from within the United States and internationally as well. A trip through the whole trade show, exhibition hall, or coliseum is well over a full day’s event. Freebies and lots of information can be gained on a treck through the trade show buildings. One of these exhibits was the Illinois Livestock Development Group. The Illinois Corn Marketing Board works with this development group to bring cattle to Illinois. Illinois produces lots of corn, and livestock is the number one market for number two yellow corn. It is a win win situation, strong corn state and strong dairy state. There is a strong connection between the gold crop and the big black and whites…or any dairy cow for that matter.
In addition to the trade show and exhibition hall, one can enjoy a variety of exhibits outside and some delicious food as well. Dairy products are presented at their finest at such an event as this. Whether it is the traditional grilled cheese, a milkshake, or some awesome cheese curds, one will not be disappointed. If the cattle are more of interest, a trip through the numerous cattle barns or a venture through the sale tent will be sure to satisfy.

The World Dairy Expo was a great experience and did not disappoint. From watching the shows, to sitting next to many international guest and hearing their opinions of the shows, to enjoying my grilled cheese sandwiches and milk, to talking about future plans with exhibitors present, to purchasing a jacket, expo met my expectations. Though it is a little too late to watch the shows live online, all the results can be found on the website. www.worlddairyexpo.com. Also, the site includes a lot of information about this year’s expo besides show results. Whether you are a diary enthusiast or not, the World Dairy Expo is a great event to experience, so I would suggest that you work that into your plans for next fall!

Amy Schaufelberger
University of Illinois student and Illinois farm girl

AVENTINE HEADQUARTERS MOVING TO TEXAS

Sadly, last week brought about the news that the headquarters for Aventine Renewable Energy in Pekin, IL will be moving out of Illinois to Texas.  Aventine is a leading producer and marketer of ethanol and related by-products.

Early reports indicate that the move has been brought about simply because the top executives for the company reside in Dallas. 

Aventine has its roots in sugar beet processing in Pekin, extending more than 100 years to the 1890’s. 

You can read more in the Chicago Tribune.

Dave Loos
ICGA/ICMB Ethanol Guru