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

FARM BILL, ACTUALLY SIGNIFICANT SPENDING FOR FOOD STAMPS

You might have already heard in the news that the Senate passed a 2012 Farm Bill and now we’re waiting patiently for the House to negotiate a bill and hopefully get a workable program before the current program’s expiration in September 2012.

But does it really mean anything to you?

The first thing to understand is that the “Farm Bill” is 1/5 programs for farmers and 4/5 food stamps and nutrition programs.  It would be better called a “Food and Farm Bill,” but the rhetoric is so deeply entrenched at this point that it seems pointless to try to change it.

The second thing to understand is that cuts to farm programs and government subsidies to farmers might put a dent in Farm Bill spending, but a dent the size of grocery cart ding not something much larger like most of the population expects.  When farm programs are only 20 percent of the bill, the cuts to food stamps will have to be substantial in order to really make this entire Farm Bill cost significantly less.

Democrats are ready to dig their heals in and fight to maintain spending on food stamps.  And why shouldn’t they, when nearly 45 million Americans rely on food stamps for their daily bread?  But Republicans are motivated to cut spending and in order to actually cut spending on this bill in a meaningful way, they will have to cut food stamps.  This isn’t really a win-win for anyone.

Still, the fact remains, that most Americans see “Farm Bill” and the enormous price tag that comes with it and think farmers are making out like bandits.  This isn’t the case at all.  Nor will it be an easy task to minimize the Farm Bill budget.

Stay tuned for the debate to continue in Washington on this one …

Lindsay Mitchell
ICGA/ICMB Marketing Director

FOUNDING FARMERS

One small step for America, one giant step for farmers? This nation was built on the beliefs of 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence over 200 years ago. The country was built by everyday men with exceptional dreams and beliefs. Not all of them were business merchants or even politicians, 14 of those men were farmers.  These men used the land and hard work to make a living and support their families, so it seems to make sense that they would do anything in their power to help protect it. By defending their freedom, they defended their right to profit off of the land and the rights of farmers in the future.

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The Fourth of July is a time to remember what sacrifices have been made in the name of freedom.  This year, take the time to remember the farmers who signed for our freedom and the local farmers still working to feed America.

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Cara Workman

ICGA/ICMB Ag in the Classroom Intern

WALLACE POSTS 11TH PLACE FINISH AT KENTUCKY SPEEDWAY

Last weekend, more than 3,000 NASCAR fans received free American Ethanol flags to show their support for Family Farmers and corn ethanol, our nation’s only commercially viable alternative to petroleum-based fuels. Representatives of the Illinois Corn Growers Association and the Kentucky Corn Growers Association braved the 100+ degree heat to have one-on-one conversations with NASCAR fans about the importance of supporting family farmers and ethanol.

To further make the point, “American Ethanol from Family Farmers” was the official sponsor of NASCAR Nationwide Series driver Kenny Wallace’s car on Friday night. Kenny raced the car to an impressive 11th place finish, gaining highly valued television visibility for the brand, and the issues, in front of some of NASCAR’s tens of millions of fans.

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CONCORD, N.C. (July 2, 2012) – Kenny Wallace and RAB Racing overcame handling issues in the first half of Friday night’s Feed the Children 300 at Kentucky Speedway to post an 11th-place finishing position.

Making the first of two trips to the Bluegrass State during the 2012 season, Wallace and RAB Racing recorded the 19th and 21st-fastest times, respectively, in the two scheduled NASCAR Nationwide Series practices leading up to the Friday night event. After his qualifying attempt on the 1.5-mile tri-oval, Wallace posted a speed fast enough to slot into the 26th starting position.

Upon taking the green flag, Wallace reported a loose-handling condition with the No. 99 American Ethanol from Family Farmers Toyota Camry. The RAB Racing crew, led by crew chief Scott Zipadelli, worked tirelessly throughout the night to make the right adjustments that kept their machine in tune with the changing track conditions, allotting Wallace the ability to gain positions when it counted. Breaking into the Top 20 by Lap 140, The St. Louis native would continue to wage battle with the front-runners in the closing stages of the race, continuing to improve positions as the laps wound down, helping them secure a solid 11th-place finish.

Team owner Robby Benton gained one position in the owner point standings, moving into 20th position.

“We’re happy with that finish,” said Wallace. “Our American Ethanol from Family Farmers Toyota Camry wasn’t the best all night, but Scott Zipadelli and the guys kept adjusting on it all night and got it dialed in at the end. I thought we’d have a shot to get a few more position at the end, I knew some of the guys up front were tight on fuel. Regardless, I’m happy with the finish and have to thank everyone at RAB Racing for their hard work.”

The next stop for Kenny Wallace and the Family Farmers NASCAR Nationwide Series will be July 22 at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, IL.