American Ethanol 225 Winner

The winner of the American Ethanol 225 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race is James Buescher. He’s pictured here in Victory Lane at Chicagoland Speedway. Presenting the trophy is Chairman of the Illinois Corn Marketing Board Bill Christ and Tricia Braid, Communications Director.

During the post race press conference I asked James what he thought of racing on a blend of home grown fuel made by corn farmers. He says “It’s really cool to be able to be part of NASCAR going green. It’s only positive. We’re helping the environment.” By the way, he had to have his carburetor replaced during the race!

Listen to James comment on ethanol here:

Illinois Corn Growers NASCAR Weekend Photo Album

Chuck Zimmerman

Posted by Chuck Zimmerman, AgWired

Green Flag For American Ethanol 225

Illinois corn farmer Donna Jeschke got to wave the green flag for the American Ethanol 225 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race tonight. Donna is ending her term on the board of the Illinois Corn Marketing Board. She found the experience to be exciting and just a little scary. She says this type of promotion puts what she does as a farmer out in front of the public to help them better understand where their food comes from.

Listen to my interview with Donna here:

Listen to the race invocation and national anthem here:

Listen to Mark Marquis, Marquis Energy, make the “Drivers, start your engines” call here:

Please share and use photos from the Illinois Corn Growers NASCAR Weekend Photo Album

Chuck Zimmerman

Posted by Chuck Zimmerman, AgWired

Kenny Wallace and Family Farmers

Illinois Corn Growers got to hang out with “The Agvocate” Kenny Wallace at Chicagoland Speedway today. It’s NASCAR racing weekend and Kenny will be driving in the Nationwide STP 300 race.

Kenny attracted a big crowd to the exhibit area outside the grandstands this afternoon. He talked to them and signed autographs for an hour. I heard one fan say after he got an autograph that he had just had a conversation with Kenny Wallace and his day was complete. See why fans love him in the video below.

Kenny loves farmers and he loves ethanol and lets everyone know about it. He says there may be some people who disagree about using ethanol but they need to talk to him because he knows everything there is to know about the subject. I hope a lot of people talk to him!

Listen to my interview with Kenny Wallace here:

Watch Kenny in action in this video:

You can find photos from the weekend activities here: Illinois Corn Growers NASCAR Weekend Photo Album

Chuck Zimmerman

Posted by Chuck Zimmerman, AgWired

ILLINOIS FARMERS EXPLAIN THE DROUGHT TO WASHINGTON, DC

This week, the farmer leaders of the Illinois Corn Growers Association are in Washington, DC visiting the Illinois Congressional Delegation and talking about their priority issues.  But the question they are asked the most is, “How is your crop in the middle of this drought?”

The crop is bad.  This image by Meghan Grebner, Brownfield Ag News, of a Litchfield, IL corn field really showcases the drastic situation that some of Illinois is in.  Farmers are worried about their crop and emotions are running high because they have put in all the labor and money to put a crop into the ground and now they have to watch while Mother Nature burns it up.

Illinois corn, Meghan GrebnerStill, most farmers will be ok because they take out crop insurance to protect them against failures like these.  The Federal Government partners with farmers to purchase crop insurance because food security is in everyone’s best interest.  There will be no food if droughts like this one knocked every farmer out of business.

Crop insurance and other risk management programs are what farmers are trying to preserve in the Farm Bill being debated on the Hill right now.  So in an interesting way, the drought is a curse and a blessing, reminding all of us that our food supply is subject to the whims of Mother Nature and that farmers need a way to protect it.

Illinois corn farmers are in Washington, DC right now, talking about their crop and reminding Congressmen and Senators that we must invest in food security.

2012 STATE FARM FRONTIER LEAGUE ALL-STAR BREAK AND DIERKS BENTLEY CONCERT

Last week was an exciting week at the Corn Crib! The Normal CornBelters, presented by the Illinois Corn Farmers, hosted the 2012 State Farm Frontier League Home Run Derby and the All-Star Game on July 10 and 11.

The Home Run Derby took place on Tuesday, July 10 at 6:30pm. Before the bats started swinging, the All-Star players from the Western and Eastern Divisions made special appearances to Advocate BroMenn Medical Center: Adult Day Services and the Boys and Girls Club of McLean County. While at the medical center, the players from the Eastern Division got to talk about all things baseball and had the chance to share stories with their elders while hearing a few as well. Over at the Boys and Girls Club, players from the Western Division had the chance to hang out with those on the other side of the age spectrum. Kids aged 5-13 were able to play sports with professional baseball players. The All-Stars played whiffle ball, mat ball, basketball, air hockey and more with over 60 kids from the club.

In the afternoon, the All-Stars, sponsors, fans and staff participated in an All-Star Luncheon presented by the Bloomington/Normal Convention and Visitors Bureau at the Marriott in Normal. Keynote speaker Mike Veeck was the special guest during the event. Veeck is the son of the famous Bill Veeck, Hall of Famer and owner of several major league baseball teams.

The Corn Crib opened early the night of the derby so fans of all ages could go down onto the field and get autographs from their favorite All-Star players, which was presented by Wilber. Reggy the Purple Party Dude, presented by the Illinois Corn Growers, made a special appearance to the ballpark and provided hilarious entertainment for the crowd throughout the derby. The CornBelters very own Pat Trettel competed in the Derby, but Russell Moldenhauer from the Lake Erie Crushers took first place with 12 home runs total. The night ended with a fantastic fireworks show presented by Illinois Lottery.

On Wednesday, July 11, the Corn Crib hosted the State Farm Frontier League All-Star Game. Players, staff and sponsors from the Frontier League were invited to a relaxing day at Fox and Hounds Day Spa or to play a round of golf at Ironwood Golf Course before the big game took place. The game kicked off at 6:30pm as the Western and Eastern Divisions battled it out for the number one spot. Reggy the Purple Party Dude, presented by Illinois Corn Growers, was back to provide more crazy entertainment throughout the game. The East took the victory over the West, outscoring them 9-6. The London Rippers’ Joash Brodin was honored with the game’s Most Valuable Player Award, going 4-5 with a home run and three runs scored. Frontier Communications presented fireworks immediately following the game and the fun kept rolling with a Post-Game Party presented by Mid Illini Credit Union. Special guests, Brushfire, were the musical entertainment for the after-party as they provided their unique mix of country and upbeat rock music.

Country sensation Dierks Bentley entertained a crowd of over 5,000 at the ballpark despite a little rain, as he headlined a concert on July 14. Along with 107.7 The Bull and S.A.W. Entertainment events, the CornBelters were able to bring this first ever stand-alone concert to the Corn Crib. The concert also featured Josh Thompson and John Pardi as the opening performances.

“We feel that the Corn Crib is the best concert venue in Central Illinois,” said team President Steve Malliet. “We learned a lot from this event and look forward to hosting many more concerts in the future.”

Andi Grindley
CORNBELTERS
Public/Media/Community Relations Coordinator

WATCH US GROW … YOUR PORK!

If you’re interested in livestock production and how Illinois farmers raising your beef, pork and poultry, you might want to take a few minutes to watch this video.

And then check out more at www.watchusgrow.org.  Through the Field Mom program, Chicago moms are learning first hand how Illinois farmers grow your food.  You can learn right along with them using these videos.  Go check it out!

I DARE YOU TO … TAKE MORE PHOTOS!

The world is different today than it used to be.  Yes, a picture has always been worth a thousand words, but today, photos are telling stories at the speed of light.  And no longer are readers going to seek out stories, the stories and the photos are coming to them.

Within the agricultural industry, communicators like myself have been encouraging farmers to take more photos of what they do because each and every photo tells a really important story.  Less than 2 percent of the population are farmers … those few need to be capturing a story that speaks to the many.

Illinois farmer,pick up, truck, corn field, soybeansHere is a photo of the ICGA 2010 President, Tim Lenz.  I’ve always loved this photo and it tells a couple of important stories.

  • Farmers don’t always wear bib overalls.  Farmers actually dress almost exactly like you and I.  You wouldn’t necessarily be able to pick out the farmer in a crowd of his urban peers.
  • Farmers are frugal.  I LOVE the old truck Tim is sitting on.  It looks like it has been through years and years of work, it’s almost in partnership with Tim on his farm!  And this old truck is worth something to Tim.  I’d venture to guess he will drive it until it simply won’t go anymore.  I sort of love that frugalness about farmers.

john deere combine

Here’s another one I love with some good stories.

  • The farmer is talking on his phone while driving the combine to harvest his corn.  Farmers are clueless about technologies.  In fact, his cell phone and the rest of the equipment in that machine probably have more technology than you utilize in a day.
  • This is a picture of bounty.  Look at the mound of corn growing over the cab of the combine!  U.S. farmers are so productive which keeps you fed and costs significantly less.
  • There’s a tiny bit of an old farmsted in the background.  I love the juxtaposition of new and old in this photo.  That’s sort of what being on the farm is … cherishing and learning from the old while embracing the new.

There’s a lot to be learned from photos.  I dare you to take more photos to share your story.  Share it with us too!  We’d love to know more about you!

Lindsay Mitchell
ICMB/ICGA Marketing Director

I DARE YOU TO … WORK TOGETHER!

I dare you to work together.  That is the opportunity posed to Illinois agriculture, and we accept.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimates only two percent of the U.S. population is comprised of farm and ranch families.  That means 98 percent of the people around us are not necessarily familiar with modern production agriculture.  With that in mind, Illinois corn and soybean farmers and beef and pork producers are always looking for opportunities to join together and help educate consumers about their food and how and where food is produced.

With funding from the soybean checkoff (financial contributions from all Illinois soybean farmers), we participate in a wide range of activities.  The list includes talking to Chicago area moms about agriculture, working with teachers and students in the classroom, and going into grocery stores and answering shopper questions about the food they purchase.

One great project that represents a cross-section of Illinois agriculture is Illinois Farm Families.  ISA helps lead the effort.  Through Illinois Farm Families, farmers from around the state open their doors to consumers and show how they grow safe, healthy food for all families.  And considering that about half of Illinois soybeans are fed to hogs, chickens and cattle, along with corn, Illinois crop farmers play a significant role in growing food for consumer tables.

As part of Illinois Farm Families, Chicago-area moms are getting their food questions answered by those of us who grow it.  We call them “Field Moms.”  You can read more on the Field Moms blog.  These city moms have been out to visit our farms and meet our families.  They are learning firsthand about farm chemicals, pesticides, the environment, animal care, hormones and antibiotics, while also uncovering the commonalities they share with farm families.

One of their activities is to grow soybeans on their back porches this year as part of a Field Moms’ Acre project.  The Field Moms are caring for and watering their container soybeans to mimic the production season of soybeans planted on an acre at Ron and Deb Moore’s farm in western Illinois.  Field Moms will see firsthand how soybeans grow.  After they see the soybeans on the Moore farm harvested this fall, proceeds from the acre will be donated to charity.

Another great example of Illinois crop and livestock producers working together is through the Pork Power: Partnering to Fight Hunger in Illinois” campaign.  Ground pork is periodically donated to the eight regional food banks associated with Feeding Illinois, with support from the Illinois Pork Producers Association, Illinois Corn Marketing Board, Illinois soybean checkoff and cash donations from pork producers and consumers.  The more than 256,000 pounds of pork donated since 2008 amounts to more than one million servings for families throughout Illinois, and helps raise awareness of the ongoing problem of hunger in our state along the way.

These are just a couple of examples of how Illinois agriculture works together to talk to consumers about the food they eat.  We dare to work together!  We all want consumers to understand their food is safe and nutritious.  Our families eat it, too.

Illinois soybean farmer Matt Hughes
Illinois Soybean Association chairman and soybean farmer from Shirley, IL

I DARE YOU TO… RETHINK ETHANOL

Corn-based ethanol is subjected to criticisms, lies and misinformation.  It has been battered and bruised, to hell and back – so to speak, and penalized in federal policy.  But what if you were to separate everything you’ve already heard and spend a moment to refocus on corn-based ethanol and why it was a good idea for our domestic energy policy?

I dare you to rethink ethanol.

Corn-based ethanol is made from dent corn grown right here in the U.S.  Dent corn is the sort of corn fed to livestock and is very different from the sweet corn that we eat.  The food vs. fuel debate is really non-existent because we have enough corn to feed to livestock in the U.S. and U.S. meat consumption isn’t increasing so corn needed for livestock has reached its limit.  And corn yields are increasing every year thanks to new technologies and new seeds.  Farmers need new markets to use up increasing corn yields.

Corn-based ethanol is renewable.  Instead of using petroleum to fuel the country, we can use crops that grow from the earth every year.  This energy source will never be used up.  And as we progress in the technologies used to make ethanol, we will continue getting more and more energy out of fewer bushels of corn.

Corn-based ethanol is domestic.  Why buy oil from foreign countries that hate us?  Why allow our American progress to hinge on Iraq or Mexico when we can rely on ourselves?  Why send jobs and money overseas?  The concept of buying American used to be so deeply entrenched in our psyche that we wouldn’t conceive of penalizing an American product and rewarding a foreign product.  Yet, that is what we do every day.  Corn-based ethanol means jobs in rural America.   It means economic growth.  And it means energy security.

Corn-based ethanol is environmentally friendly.  Corn has been grown in America for generations; in fact, Midwestern farmers would argue that the prairie soils in much of America are almost created for growing corn, a native grass.  As farmers learn how to produce more corn with less impact on the environment, corn-based ethanol becomes increasingly more environmentally friendly.  Ethanol from corn burns cleaner, producing less air pollution in our largest cities.

Doesn’t this seem like a no-brainer?

There are cons to producing every sort of fuel.  Yes, corn-based ethanol requires water in production.  But water is required in the refining of oil too.  Yes, growing corn requires inputs like trips over the field with a tractor and man hours, but have we forgotten that oil requires drilling, refining, and other inputs too?  Yes, corn-based ethanol makes the price of corn higher, but it also means that farmers don’t need the government to artificially support the price.  Farmers did give up a huge chunk of their payments this year in the Farm Bill negotiations which the ethanol market helped justify!

Rethink ethanol.  It’s good for rural America, good for the environment, and good for energy security.

Dave Loos
ICGA/ICMB Technology & Business Development Director