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

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 farmstead 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.”  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

I DARE YOU TO…. TEACH SOMEONE ABOUT AGRICULTURE!

Really, YOU!! Teach someone about agriculture!  You are the expert!  You know your subject matter, and there are plenty of folks that you can help teach about what it really means to farm out there!

At Agriculture in the Classroom, we concentrate our efforts on teaching teachers, and providing classroom visits to students.  Both make an impact, getting an expert in front of a group of students is very powerful, but providing the teacher with additional training and follow up material helps multiply the effort.

You don’t have to wait for an opportunity this fall, take a moment this week in your local community.   Have you ever overheard someone telling a mistruth in the line at the grocery store? Or at a ballgame?  Help preserve that ‘teachable moment’ for adults and youth.  You are the expert, if you encounter someone that isn’t telling the truth, ask them why they think that, and then provide your side of the story.

Throughout the summer, Illinois AITC with the generous support of our Commodity Organizations, have been engaging teachers in our annual Summer Agricultural Institutes at the county level.  Many farmers have stepped up to the plate to provide ‘the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth’ about their program.

Questions such as ‘Why do you use GMO seeds?’ and ‘How do you pay for that expensive equipment?’ have been answered by the folks that know the answers they best.  The local farmer.  It really does make an impact when a teacher finds someone from their area that they might see in the grocery store or at a ball game that can answer a questions truthfully and honestly.

At a recent gathering, I had the opportunity to urge the teachers and the farmer to discover a little more about each other.  What the group was most shocked about was–there were ‘mis-truths’ about both education and agriculture that the other groups didn’t know were an issue.

During this time of the year, you sometimes see roadside stands of some sort offering fresh sweet corn for sale.  Sometimes the stand is set up in front of a field of field corn.  This continues the misconception that sweet corn is grown in many of our fields.  You might just point out that all corn isn’t corn.  It is that simple.

So….take a minute—listen and find out what the questions are that the general public has about agriculture and take time to fill them in.   Take a minute to teach someone about agriculture.  I dare you!

Kevin Daugherty
Education Director
Illinois Agriculture in the Classroom