SHARING MYTHS AND FACTS ABOUT CORN

My name is Brittany Hosselton, the current Ag in the Classroom intern for the Illinois Corn Marketing Board/Illinois Corn Growers Association. During my internship I have had the wonderful opportunity to travel throughout the beautiful state of Illinois and share my passion for agriculture, more specifically corn production, with teachers at various summer agriculture institutes.

Sharing the message of the Illinois Corn Marketing Board/Illinois Corn Growers Association with all levels of educators has been especially exciting for me, due to my background in agricultural education. I recently spent three months student teaching in a high school agricultural classroom, and from that experience I realized who students rely on to receive a majority of their information; their teachers. From this realization, I find it vital to first reach out to teachers and expand their knowledge on the importance of agriculture and corn production.

Even though it is still early in the summer, I have met some wonderful teachers, who have been very receptive to the message I have shared as an intern. My main focus this summer is to talk about common myths when it comes to corn production and then share the facts. With this approach, I spend a majority of my thirty minute presentation talking to teachers about high fructose corn syrup and ethanol production. Before speaking about the facts on either topic, I ask teachers to share with me what they have heard, what they believe to be true, or what they are unsure about when it comes to corn production. At every summer agriculture institute, I get the response that “high fructose corn syrup is bad”. Teachers have also shared their thoughts that “ethanol production is taking away from livestock feed sources” and “the production of ethanol consumes more energy than it produces”. Although these are the responses I sometimes hear at the beginning of my presentation, teachers respond very well to the facts I share with them and have a positive outlook on corn production by the end of my presentation.

There are numerous misleading advertisements out there about corn production, and the responses I hear from teachers at the beginning of my presentation confirms that people are listening to them. In my opinion, the only way corn producers can change these negative thoughts is to educate the public on the facts of corn production, which has been my mission this summer. Again, I feel that teachers are a wonderful first step in this education process because they have the opportunity to share their knowledge with multiple children at one time. However, I am a firm believer that education can reach any person at any age. I have been given the opportunity to share the positive aspects of corn production at summer agriculture institutes, but I believe corn has very powerful message that should be continually shared by all of those who are passionate about corn production.

Brittany Hosselton
ICMB Ag in the Classroom intern

MEET AN ILLINOIS CORN FARMER: DONNA JESCHKE!

Donna is a mother, grandmother, wife and business partner. She participates in all aspects of their family farming operation and she can’t wait to share her story with you!

If you have questions for Donna about her life on the farm, her experience as a farm wife, or her interest in talking to others about agriculture, leave them in the comments!

CONGRATS ON GETTING IT RIGHT, EPA!

The U.S. EPA released the newly approved label for E15, a 15 percent blend of ethanol into gasoline.

You might remember our posts from back around Halloween, when we determined that the EPA was going to use E15 as a popular scare tactic.  But through the power of a public comment period and by listening to the myriads of people (consumers, farmers, ethanol producers and more) they settled on a much more acceptable alternative.

Yes, the color still indicates warning … or maybe it is just meant to grab attention so that consumers don’t fuel up with the wrong fuel.  Illinois corn farmers would argue that the science behind not allowing older vehicles and other gasoline powered motors to use E15 isn’t really there either, but we can leave that alone for now.

What we’re really excited about is seeing the EPA use common sense.  This label is informative and educates consumers instead of instilling fear.  And that is something we can all get behind.

To read what ICGA President Jim Reed thinks about the new label, click here.

Lindsay Mitchell
ICGA/ICMB Marketing Director

CELEBRATE WITH US

Does it surprise you that June is Country Cooking Month?  When you take into account all the barbecues, backyard grilling and home gardens that many people have, it makes perfect sense to us!

To me country cooking means good ingredients, great recipes, homemade meals and sitting around the family table.  To others it may mean something different.  I think there is one common element throughout though, a mouth-watering finished product.

Share with us your definition of country cooking and how you might have celebrated County Cooking Month.  Even though June is almost over, that doesn’t’ mean you can’t carry on the celebration!  Here are a few of my favorite country recipes to help get you started:

Jalapeno Pepper Jelly

Grilled Corn Dip

The Real Deal Santa Maria Tri-Tip

Becky Finfrock
ICGA/ICMB Communications Assistant

WATCH US GROW

We haven’t talked much about it, if at all, but the Illinois Corn Marketing Board is part of a group of Illinois commodity groups that are trying harder to connect with our urban cousins.  We’ve been conducting research for a while about what non-farmers think of us and what they’d like to know more about.  We found out things about the way we talk with non-farmers (we get too technical most often) and what they’d like to know more about (namely, they’d like to know US and feel like they can trust us).

And now we’re doing something about it.

The Illinois Corn Marketing Board, the Illinois Beef Association, the Illinois Farm Bureau, the Illinois Pork Producers Association, and the Illinois Soybean Association – who represent probably every farmer in Illinois among the six of us – have come together to reconnect with consumers.  And we’re calling ourselves “Illinois Farm Families.”  Because that’s who we are and we’re proud of it!

First, check us out at www.watchusgrow.org.  We’ve got a blog there for urbanites to read more about what we do and we’re inviting “Field Moms” to apply to visit several farms and video and blog about their experiences.

Second, if you’re a farmer that wants to get involved, let us know.  There are multiple opportunities for you to connect with your customer and we’d love to help you find just the right fit.

Lindsay Mitchell
ICGA/ICMB Marketing Director

CORNBELTERS SEASON UPDATE

The CornBelters are nearly one-third of the way through the regular season. With a record of 18-11, the team is currently 3rd in the Frontier League’s West Division standings. CornBelters players have put their names on several leader boards in the Frontier League so far this season: Center fielder Alvaro Ramirez ranks 5th in batting average (.351); First baseman Steve Alexander is 2nd in home runs (8); Right-handed pitcher Ryan Sheldon ranks 1st in games won (4); Right-handed pitcher Bobby Pritchett ranks 3rd in strikeouts (38). Third baseman Daniel Cox is also on a 20-game hitting streak, which is half way to the League’s record of 40.

During the first 15 home games this season, fans have enjoyed daily themes, specific themed nights, and giveaways too. Here are just a few of the highlights so far this season:

  • Autograph Sundays with post-game autograph sessions with players, coaches , and Corny, presented by MAGIC 100.7
  • IL Corn Growers Night, on Mondays, where all IL Corn Farmers receive 50% off tickets when they show their association card, corn dogs are just $1 and one concessions item made of corn is featured
  • Early Bird Mondays for half price concessions and half off one item in the Team Store from 6:00-6:30pm
  • Rosati’s of Normal Reading ‘Round the Bases Tuesdays where kids are recognized for meeting reading goals at school or their local library; post-game kids can run the bases
  • Dog Days Wednesdays where fans can bring their four-legged friends to the ballpark
  • Thirsty Thursdays with $1 beers and bags tournaments
  • CEFCU Fireworks Fridays where fans can enjoy a spectacular fireworks show from on-field
  • State Farm Starstruck Saturdays with special appearances and autograph sessions by celebrities. Lee Smith, Ron Kittle, and Otis Wilson stopped by to throw 1st pitches and meet fans.
  • May 29 – State Farm Logo Baseball Giveaway #1
  • June 5 – The Community Cancer Center’s Cancer Survivors Night in which cancer survivors were invited onto the field for an in-game recognition ceremony.
  • June 7 – Frontier Corny Bobble-Head Giveaway
  • June 9 – Budweiser Pint Glass
  • June 17 – Father’s Day Weekend Workshop Built by Home Depot where kids and their dads could work together to build a model sailboat

Upcoming promotions include: State Farm Starstruck Saturday Presents Jesse White Tumblers (June 25), Christmas in June & State Farm Logo Baseball Giveaway #2 (June 26), Armed Forces Tribute Night (July 5), Bud Light Pint Glass Giveaway (July 7), State Farm Logo Baseball Giveaway #3 (July 10), “Ag Week” Presented  by Illinois Corn Farmers and their check-off (July 18-23), Livestrong Night (July 22), State Farm Starstruck Saturday Presents Dave Kingman (July 23), State Farm Starstruck Saturday Presents Dawn Wells, CornBelters Baseball Card Set Giveaway Provided by Disabled American Veterans (July 31). 

Although CornBelters games are the main attraction for fans at the Corn Crib, it is truly a multi-purpose facility that is set to host a Concert by three-time Grammy Award winners, Jars of Clay. Jars of Clay will headline a Concert for the CornBelters Christian Family Day on Saturday, July 9, 2011. Additional performers include Danny Oertli, Rachel West Kramer, Aleska Barkoviak, and Four Jesus. Fans will enjoy the Concert beginning at 3pm, followed by the CornBelters game at 7pm. A VIP Experience is available and includes a ticket with an all-you-can-eat and all-you-can-drink menu for an hour after the concert as well as the opportunity to meet the Jars of Clay!

Ashlynne Solvie
Public/Media Relations Manager for Normal CornBelters

FARMERS WORRIED ABOUT ETHANOL SUBSIDY CUTS

We applaud ICGA District I Director Paul Taylor for representing corn farmers across America.  For more information on VEETC, click here and here.

Originally posted on CBSNews By Cynthia Bowers

The overwhelming U.S. senate vote last week to end massive annual subsidies to the ethanol industry wasn’t the final word on the issue, but it did show the program is in peril. The prospect is not going over well in the heartland of America, either.

CBS News correspondent Cynthia Bowers reports that farmers like Illinois corn farmer Paul Taylor says he was caught off guard by the Senate vote to cut $6 billion in ethanol subsidies.

“I think it’s a blow to American corn farmers,” Taylor says.

The 45-cent per gallon tax break goes to ethanol refiners, but farmers benefit because the increased demand for corn boosts prices.

“The impact it could have on our bottom line is anything we do to reduce demand ultimately reduces our price,” Taylor says.

Still, corn prices have doubled since last year, and with this week’s vote, the Senate sent the message when it comes to budget cutting that everything is fair game.

In a statement, Republican Senator Tom Coburn said: “Today’s vote was a major victory for taxpayers and a positive step toward a serious deficit reduction agreement, which is our only hope of averting a debt crisis.”

Just one short decade ago, about 10 percent of America’s corn went to ethanol. Now, the number is closer to 40 percent. That’s nearly half of all the corn we grow in this country going right into the gas tank.

Oil analyst Phil Flynn says after 30 years of tax payer help, it’s time for the ethanol industry to stand on its own.

“This industry is big enough to take the training wheels off. You know, why do they need a 45- to 50-cent a gallon credit just to do their business?” Flynn says.

Michigan Congressman Mike Rogers agrees. He said he applauds the Senate action and expects to see similar action prop up in the House.

“I believe ethanol is a viable fuel source, but it can’t continue at the way we are doing it. It may in fact be bankrupting the country. We just can’t allow for that to happen,” Rogers says.

One alternative that could save billions of dollars is to reduce the subsidy, and farmer Paul Taylor says he could live with that.

“The short answer is: Yes, we’re willing to play ball. We want to be at the table. We want to be players. We want to talk about where the ethanol industry is going from this,” Taylor says.

For now, farmers are watching this year’s crops and wondering about what’s next.

ILLINOIS HOUSE DEVELOPS BIPARTISAN BUDGET

The Illinois legislature adjourned slightly before and after midnight on May 31. The House adjourned around 11 p.m. and the Senate adjourned about an hour later, just after midnight. Considering the fiscal condition of the state, the session was generally viewed as a step forward in dealing with the budget deficit, and creating some “reality” in the budgetary process.

The reality side is that both the House and Senate in a bi-partisan way established a finite number for the amount of revenue they would base their spending (appropriations) on for each element of the budget. Governor Quinn had suggested in February that spending of state dollars should be around $35 billion. The Senate set their number at a billion less than the Governor (real money??) at just over $34 billion, and the House established their revenue number at a billion less than the Senate, at just over $33 billion. Each chamber then went about establishing spending levels in the five large categories of the budget, allocating their suggested available funds within each category. That is where the similarities in process ended, unfortunately for the Senate.

While the House Democrats and Republicans rolled up their sleeves and worked together, the same did not hold true for the Senate. Senators spent their time in partisan wrangling, with Republicans ultimately voting against the Senate version of the budget. House members could not contain themselves in congratulating their colleagues for the engagement process, the spirit of bi-partisanship that held throughout their discussions and debates, and in the final approval process the House budget won out over the Senate version. Hey, they proved that it could be done! And, in a tough budget year when the discussion was based on where to cut (first time in a long time when the budget actually is smaller than the previous year), it was not pleasant for legislators to say no to worthy causes when they are used to saying yes.

There is still the reconciliation of the little $430 million add-on the Senate placed on the Capital projects legislation for regular budget items. The legislature will likely come back into session for a short time in July to deal with that.

At the beginning of the Session in January, two things stood out this year—the requirement that the legislature reconfigure the legislative and U.S. House districts to adjust for population changes, based upon the new census data, and the requirement to pass a budget. The Democratic majorities were determined to do that before May 31, since after that date, majorities for passage of legislation seeking an immediate effective date for implementation of new law require a three fifths majority. A three fifths vote in each chamber would require additional votes from the minority party (Republicans) and give them leverage and a bigger voice in the outcomes of legislation.

Many other bills were passed during the session—reform of workers compensation statutes, energy legislation, gaming expansion, and other important items, but the two things that needed to be done by May 31 were accomplished, for better or worse for Illinois citizens. We will now see the political effects of those two things in the coming fiscal year, and the 2012 election year, when candidates run in those new districts.

Rich Clemmons
GovPlus Consulting