JUNE DAIRY MONTH: CELEBRATE THE POWER OF DAIRY FOODS

June is National Dairy Month-the perfect time to raise a glass of milk to honor America’s dairy farmers. Observed since 1937, first as National Milk Month, then as June Dairy Month, the designation focuses attention on the importance of dairy and the dairy industry to our nation.

To celebrate this special month, St. Louis District Dairy Council offers these important nutrition facts about milk, cheese, yogurt and the family farmers who supply them:

Dairy Farm Industry

  • 98% of dairy farms in the United States are family owned.
    The Midwest is home to over 11,000 dairy farms.
  • 879 of these are in Illinois.
  • In terms of dairy product production, Illinois ranks first in the nation in low-fat ice cream, second in creamed cottage cheese, fifth in sour cream, twelfth in cheese and twentieth in the nation in milk.
  • According to Jim Fraley, manager of the Illinois Milk Producers’ Association, “Since the end of World War II, U.S. dairy farm families produce 4.5 times more milk per cow, with one-third of the cows. They are the model of efficiency and carbon footprint friendly.”

Dairy’s Nutrition Value

    • Dairy foods are nutritional bargains. Milk, cheese and yogurt are naturally nutrient-rich providing important nutrients, such as protein, vitamin D, potassium and calcium to the diet. Few foods deliver dairy’s powerhouse of nutrients in such an affordable, appealing and readily available way.
    • Dairy foods provide about half the calcium and more than half of the vitamin D in the U.S. diet, yet only one tenth of the calories.
    • Milk is the number one food source of three of the four nutrients the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) identified as lacking in the American diet – calcium, vitamin D and potassium.
    • Flavored milk contributes only 3% of the total added sugars in children’s diets, and provides 9 essential nutrients, making it a nutritious choice.

Dairy Farmers Dedication to Children’s Health

  • Through National Dairy Council, dairy farmers have provided child nutrition research, education and communication to their communities and schools for over 95 years. Now, this commitment supports Fuel Up to Play 60, a school wellness program launched by the National Dairy Council and the National Football League in cooperation with the United States Department of Agriculture. Based on youth’s input and in line with the 2010 DGA, this program encourages consumption of low-fat or fat-free dairy foods, fruits, vegetables and whole grains, and achieving at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day. The appeal of the program is evidenced by the enrollment of over 70,000 schools – that’s two-thirds of all schools in the U.S., with the potential to reach over 36 million children. Visit www.fueluptoplay60.com to learn more.
  • America’s 56,000 dairy farm families work hard every day to provide fresh, great-tasting, nutrient-rich milk and dairy products for the health of children. The 2010 DGA note it is especially important to establish the habit of drinking milk in young children, as those who consume milk at an early age are more likely to do so as adults. This has lifelong benefits because current evidence indicates that intake of dairy foods is linked to improved bone health, especially in children and adolescents.

This June Dairy Month, make the commitment to enjoy three servings of dairy daily. For more information on the nutritional value of dairy and the dairy industry’s commitment to child health visit Dairy Council’s website, www.stldairycouncil.org.

Jennifer DeHoog, R.D., L.D.N.
Nutrition Educator
St. Louis District Dairy Council

Ethanol Good For Lung Health

We can all breathe a little easier the more we use ethanol to replace petroleum gas. And to back that up I spoke with Angela Tin (pictured on left), American Lung Association, during the NASCAR STP 300 race weekend. Angela is VP for the American Lung Association in Illinois. Angela says that clean air is good for lung health and that’s why they help promote ethanol.

STP 300 Nationwide Series NASCAR Weekend Photos

Chuck Zimmerman

Posted by Chuck Zimmerman, AgWired

Chicagoland Speedway In Corn Country

The President of Chicagoland Speedway is Scott Paddock. He manages a beautiful racing facility. This is a bird’s eye view of the track before the NASCAR STP 300 race. I spoke with Scott who says they’re celebrating their tenth anniversary.

We talked about the fact that we were about to see the inaugural STP 300 race as well as the fact that this is the inaugural season for NASCAR to use a blend of ethanol in their fuel. He says that the partnership with American Ethanol and Illinois Corn Marketing Board allows them to do something to help protect the environment. He says that the nearby drag strip and the track were essentially started by a group of farmers. If you visit the track you’ll see that it sits right in the middle of fields of corn. I was glad to see the corn because it added a visual connection to the whole home-grown fuel concept!

You can listen to my interview with Scott here:

STP 300 Nationwide Series NASCAR Weekend Photos

Chuck Zimmerman

Posted by Chuck Zimmerman, AgWired

Illinois Corn and Soybean Team Up For NASCAR

The Illinois Corn Growers teamed up with the Illinois Soybean Association to provide some hospitality to farmers and others attending the NASCAR STP 300 race. The hospitality area provided a meeting place to gather for some pre-race fellowship. Family Farmers/Team Marquis car driver Kenny Wallace showed up and talked about his involvement in becoming an advocate for ethanol and family farmers. Both organizations have also teamed up to form the Family Farmers coalition

While there I visited with several of the growers in attendance. They all provided their perspective on the investment in NASCAR to help educate the public about the benefits of home grown fuel.

First up is Jim Reed, Illinois Corn Growers Association President:

Next, I spoke with Kent Hodel, Iowa Soybean Association Field Promotions Coordinator:

And I also spoke with Ron Moore, Illinois Soybean Association Chairman:

STP 300 Nationwide Series NASCAR Weekend Photos

Chuck Zimmerman

Posted by Chuck Zimmerman, AgWired

NASCAR Nationwide Loves Ethanol and Corn Growers

The director of the NASCAR Nationwide Series is Joe Balash, pictured here before Saturday’s STP 300 at Chicagoland Speedway. He’s proudly displaying the American Ethanol name around the gas coupler on this car that just happened to be rolling by. That name is on all NASCAR cars.

I talked with Joe before the race. He talks about how STP has “come back” to NASCAR as a major race sponsor. Then we moved to ethanol. He says that using a blend of ethanol is “part of the things we’re trying to do to become less dependent on foreign fuels.” Joe believes it’s great to partner with American Ethanol and be able to use ethanol mixed with their Sunoco racing fuel to provide a very high quality, high power fuel for the race cars. He says the fuel is performing very well for the NASCAR teams which is a comment I heard repeatedly over the race weekend.

Joe says he grew up in Indiana corn country and has had a lot of opportunity to talk with corn growers as he travels around. He says there is a great tie between NASCAR and farmers and ethanol since Nationwide Insurance, the series sponsor, has farmers on their board of directors! He also made a great statement for why ethanol is good for America. He’s obviously done his homework. You can listen to my interview with Joe here:

STP 300 Nationwide Series NASCAR Weekend Photos

Chuck Zimmerman

Posted by Chuck Zimmerman, AgWired

Spokesperson For Ethanol

He calls himself The spokesperson for ethanol. He is Kenny Wallace, NASCAR driver. Kenny finished 7th in Saturday’s NASCAR Nationwide Series STP 300 driving the Family Farmers/Marquis Energy car. The photo is of Kenny in his car just prior to the start of the race.

I’ve been following some race car advocates for clean burning ethanol for a while but I think Kenny has them all beat. I wish I had recorded his remarks to the crowd of farmers gathered for the race. It was awesome baby. I especially liked his message to America’s Family Farmers that what they do is important and that they are loved and appreciated regardless of any critics out there. Amen to that! They are feeding and fueling America and I’d rather burn ethanol than imported oil based fuel from countries and people who don’t like us! Kenny agrees and is on a mission to let everyone know. He has a lot of channels to communicate that message too. Besides racing, Kenny is very involved in social media and does regular interviews for shows on Fox Sports.

I didn’t record Kenny’s comments but I did interview him on Saturday. Listen to an agvocate in action:

STP 300 Nationwide Series NASCAR Weekend Photos

Chuck Zimmerman

Posted by Chuck Zimmerman, AgWired

Ethanol Burning #31 Car Wins STP 300

The inaugural STP 300 Nationwide Series race is in the books. The winner is Justin Aligaier, Brandt Racing, in the #31 car. He actually ran out of fuel right after crossing the finish line. Now that’s calling it close!

The Family Farmer/Marquis Energy car driven by Kenny Wallace finished 7th. And since all these cars are running on a fifteen percent blend of ethanol I think farmers win and ethanol producers win. Actually the American public wins with this clean burning fuel. Hopefully the efforts being taken by organizations like American Ethanol, National Corn Growers Association and my sponsor for this event coverage, the Illinois Corn Marketing Board, are paying off with better understanding by the public of the benefits and value of home grown fuel.

Justin gave a great shout out to a question I posed during the press conference following the race. I think you’ll enjoy it.

I have updated my photos from the activities here in Chicago and will have some more stories to share.

STP 300 Nationwide Series NASCAR Weekend Photos

Chuck Zimmerman

Posted by Chuck Zimmerman, AgWired

Family Farming On Display At Chicagoland Speedway

It’s race day in Joliet, IL at the Chicagoland Speedway. Race goers will learn all about family farming and the benefits of ethanol in their gas tank when they visit Champions Park right outside the track. These guys are part of the team that set up the display yesterday. Pictured (l-r) are Jim Tarmann, Field Services Director, Illinois Corn Growers, and Mark Schneidewind, Will County Farm Bureau and a corn grower. I asked them to tell me what race goers will find when they come out to the Speedway and what they hope to accomplish.

Here’s what Jim had to say:

Here’s what Mark had to say:

Activities kick off today with the Champions Park exhibit area and a hospitality event for farmers off site being hosted by the Illinois Corn Growers and Illinois Soybean Association.

STP 300 Nationwide Series NASCAR Weekend Photos

Chuck Zimmerman

Posted by Chuck Zimmerman, AgWired

NASCAR Promotion Works

Past Chairman of the Illinois Corn Marketing Board, Jim Rapp, visited the Marquis Energy Appreciation Day. He’s pictured on the far right next to NASCAR driver Kenny Wallace and Jim’s sons, Nick and Ben. Jim says that the NASCAR promotional opportunity that the industry has become involved in proves that a fifteen percent blend of ethanol works. He’s a major advocate for the renewable fuel that’s good for our country! As a family farmer he’s thrilled to have Family Farmers emblazoned on the #09 car that will be driven in the STP 300 Nationwide Series race at Chicagoland Speedway.

You can listen to a short interview I did with Jim here:

Marquis Energy Appreciation Day Photos

Chuck Zimmerman

Posted by Chuck Zimmerman, AgWired

FRIDAY FARM PHOTO: CONGRATULATIONS!

Illinois Corn past Summer Intern, Sara Brockman, was hired as a County Farm Bureau Manager Trainee in the IFB Member Services and Public Relations Division effective Monday, May 23, 2011.

Sara graduated from the University of Illinois in May of 2011 with a bachelor’s degree in Agriculture Leadership Education, and a minor in Animal Sciences.

Sara’s work experience includes working at the Grundy County Farm Bureau, Imported Swine Research Lab, and the Illinois Corn Marketing Board.

 She grew up in Verona, IL, in Grundy County.

We wish you luck in your career Sara and enjoyed getting to know you!