MY EXPERIENCE AS AN IL CORN INTERN

Through out my education I have had many experiences that have taught me more than just basic video techniques and tricks. My time as the video intern with the Illinois Corn Marketing Board has shown me what hard work and love farmers and their families put into the farms they manage. Though I come from a largely agricultural community I never had the experience of growing up on a farm like many of my classmates. This internship not only gave me my first experience riding in a combine but also interacting with a group of individuals who are truly dedicated to their work.

I was very impressed by how important farmers considered protecting the earth to be. Every farmer that I met or interviewed had a number of techniques they used in order to conserve the ground they worked and produce the best quality crops for the public. They considered themselves “Stewards of the Soil” which I consider to be a testament to the devotion they have to be to do the work they do. Many of the farmers I met understands that the food they grow is the same food they give to their families. It is very important to them that they produce high quality crops for everyone. It was also interesting to see the changes and advancements that are still happening in the field. I always thought that a practice that has been around as long as agriculture has would be limited in how much growth can really be made. All of the farms I visited were family owned and run. It is inspiring to me to see real people working the land that in some cases has been in the same family for generations.

For the agriculture community, this year was especially difficult due to the drought early this summer. Even with set backs that were out of their control and extremely damaging financially … even though the odds were not in their favor, everyone I met was still outwardly positive about the future and talking about next year rather than dwelling on what was happening then.

In my interviews one of the questions I always asked was “why do you farm?” Each person answered that they farm because they love it and couldn’t imagine doing anything else. It was explained to me that due to the amount of work and tireless hours put in to running an efficient farm it would be nearly impossible to do if you didn’t love doing it. Farming was never something I thought much about in the past but after this experience I have a new appreciation for the people who make it their life’s work to provide for more than just their own family.

Ashley BartholomewAshley Bartholomew
Illinois State University

 

 

See Ashley’s work by clicking here, here or here!

MISSISSIPPI RIVER-WATCH

The drought of 2012 might seem to be over, but take a closer look. The sub-soil moisture is still drastically low in many areas. Also, the Mississippi River is illustrating what a lack of rain can do. The River is so low in the Mid-Mississippi area that barge traffic may be halted due to low water levels.

That won’t be the case if Illinois Corn Growers Association has anything to say about it. IL Corn is working with an industry group called Waterways Council, Inc., to find ways to keep the river moving. You see, more than 50% of Illinois’ corn crop leaves the state, with a good portion finding its ride down the river on barges. Also, fertilizer moves into the state via northbound river traffic, so in this case, a low-water issue can get us coming and going.

Earlier this week IL Corn representatives met with IL Senator Dick Durbin and other stakeholders to discuss the best ways to keep the Mississippi River open to commerce and other traffic. Illinois Lt. Governor Sheila Simon attended the meeting, as well, and was kind enough to go on the record with us about her thoughts on the issue. Watch below for her statement.

Braid Terry_Tricia  mugshotTricia Braid
ICGA/ICMB Communications Director

STABLE AG CAREERS ABOUND

I have been trained as an agriculture education teacher, though I don’t spend my days in a classroom.  Still, bringing up the next generation of agriculture professionals is a task that remains near and dear to my heart.

When I get the opportunity to talk to junior high or high school students, I still highlight to potential of agriculture.

  • Agriculture is the top employer in many states, including Illinois where it provides more than 700,000 jobs.
  • Illinois did almost six billion dollars of export business related to agriculture.  Frankly, people are always going to need to eat and that economic driver isn’t going away.
  • When you’re in agriculture, you’re either creating wealth or supporting those that create wealth.  Think about it … in what other industry do you start with something as small as a seed, something nature provided, and literally create wealth?  Agriculture truly is the industry from which all others spring.

And here’s the really cool thing: it’s an industry that has a job for everyone, regardless of your interest.  There are over 300 careers in the industry and I’m guessing more are created yearly as our technology advanced.  Yes, if you have any skills at all, you can most likely use them in agriculture.scientist_2193498b

Are you an artist?  Consider graphic arts, website design, or marketing.  Every day, I work with an excellent artist that designs our advertisements and communications to membership.  I also work with other talented artists creating infographics that support our industry and logos that bring us into the current century.

Are you a mathmatician?  Every farm, every farm association, every farm business needs accountants.  And many of those hire statisticians as well to analyze important data.

Do you excel in the sciences?  Agriculture has opportunities in genetics, biochemistry, veterinary sciences, and a myriad of others.  In fact, agriculture IS science, so your opportunities here are endless.

Do you enjoy writing?  Photography?  You might be a fit for agriculture communications.  The need for excellent communicators in the ag industry is growing as farmers seek to reach out and reconnect with non-farmers for the first time in decades.

Are you a people person?  Enjoy talking and visiting?  You might be a great fit for sales.  Agriculture has seed salesmen, equipment salesmen, fertilizer salesmen, and many others.  And I can tell you first hand that farmers are a great group to chat with!

Ag has opportunities in engineering, law, technical writing, laboring, health, education, biology … the possibilities really are endless.

If you are a student looking for a place to fit, consider agriculture.  You just might have more incommon with the people that grow your food than you think.

Lindsay MitchellLindsay Mitchell
ICGA/ICMB Marketing Director

FARMER SAFETY SESSIONS TO BE HELD IN BLOOMINGTON

asmark buildingThe Illinois Corn Growers Association is hosting three, one-day producer education seminars to promote farm safety and help farmers understand current on-farm hazards at the newly built Asmark Agricenter in Bloomington, IL.

The sessions, held on January 9, January 18, and February 1, will teach participants anhydrous ammonia safety, U.S. Department of Transportation Compliance and Regulatory Enforcement, Oil Spill Prevention, and Pesticide Containment regulations. The cost for the day is $100 which includes lunch, conference materials, and appropriate safety gear.

“Safety and regulatory compliance will continue to become more prevalent in the agriculture industry. The Illinois Corn Growers Association continues to advocate for voluntary training instead of mandatory requirements and we hope that our membership will find these sessions of value,” said Paul Taylor, President of the Illinois Corn Growers Association and Esmond, IL farmer.

To register you and your family or other employees for one of these important seminars, download this brochure or call the ICGA office at 309-557-3257.

TRY DABURGER – AT A CHICAGO SPORTS ARENA OR AT HOME!

DaBurger Efforts Promote Ground Pork 

Have you ever had a pork burger at the IL State Fair or at a county fair? Pork burgers are popular items at these venues. In some areas of the state such as Jasper County (where they would argue that the pork burger originated from) you can find pork burgers served at many festivals and community events.

For many years, the IL Pork Producers Association (IPPA) has been serving up nearly 10,000 pork burgers during the ten days of the IL State Fair. We have also handed out numerous pork burger samples to people around the state and many times the reaction is very similar – “Wow this is great, where can I get this at?” To which we would have to reply “Check with your local processor or grocery store.” Pork burgers have been hard to consistently find at the retail level, but IPPA is making progress on that front.

In 2011 IPPA, in conjunction with the Illinois Corn Marketing Board (ICMB), Illinois Soybean Association (ISA), Iowa Pork Producers Association (IPA) and National Pork Board (NPB), leveraged a sponsorship opportunity with the Chicago Bears to pilot a ground pork burger at Soldier Field. The pork burger was named – DaBurger™ and is made up of a half-pound pork burger with a variety of toppings (all including bacon of course!!). DaBurger made its professional sports debut on the menu of Soldier Field on September 1, 2011.

Bears, Blackhawks, CubsFrom there it was added to the menu at the United Center at four locations during all Chicago Bulls home basketball games, Chicago Blackhawks home hockey games (back when they actually played hockey!!) and at other events and concerts. DaBurger was visible to 2.5 million consumers, and more than 3,600 DaBurgers were sold in six months. DaBurger also joined the lineup at U.S. Cellular Field during White Sox home baseball games in front of 2 million consumers. Partnerships with WGN, WBBM and The Score (WSCR) radio stations raised awareness with many consumers listening to sports coverage on the radio.

During the 2012 Bears season fans can find three DaBurger™ varieties available at 4 locations:

  • The Pork BLT – pork burger with bacon, lettuce, tomato and dijonnaise
  • The Bacon Cheddar Delight – pork burger with bacon, cheddar, grilled onions and BBQ sauce
  • Pork 3-Ways – pork burger with pulled pork and bacon topped with cheddar and BBQ sauce (Our personal fav – pork on top of pork on top of pork!!)

As part of the 2012 Bears DaBurger sponsorship, a major four week retail promotion was held in October 2012 with Jewel stores in Chicago. DaBurgers and ground pork were featured in 167 Chicagoland Jewel stores with a 29% increase in pork sales during the promotion!

The DaBurger promotion efforts allow IPPA an opportunity to:

1. Get consumers to try pork in a new way – pork burger. The majority of people in Chicago has never heard of a pork burger, let alone ate one!

2. Promote the use of ground pork with consumers. The idea is to get people to try a DaBurger and then look for ground pork in the grocery store to fix for their family.

3. Have conversations with Chicago consumers about food and issues related pork production. This is a great tie-in with the Illinois Farm Families efforts to engage consumers.

IPPA has developed a new website specifically for promoting DaBurger and ground pork to consumers. The site contains high resolution pictures of the 4 DaBurger varieties with recipes that can be downloaded. Sports fans can also see where to find DaBurgers at Chicago sports venues. Consumers can also submit their own ground pork recipes.

Check out the NEW DaBurger website – www.Da-Burger.com!!

Tim_MaiersTim Maiers
Illinois Pork Producers Association Director of Communications

THE GIFT THAT KEEPS ON GIVING

Christmas is two weeks away… have you got a gift for the farmer in your life yet?  If you’re anything like me, my dad is the hardest person on my list.  A new tie?  The two he has are still in perfect condition.  Cologne?  The fresh scent of manure is completely free!  A new wrench set?  He’s already bought it for himself.  What to get for the man who has everything and asks for very little?  I’ve got a great idea for this year…. An ICGA membership!

I’m not sure why I didn’t think of this sooner.  An ICGA membership is the perfect gift.  Why?  It is one of the best investments a farmer can make for their farming operation.  Corn Grower member dollars are very important in making ICGA successful because they support legislative activities.  These funds are used for lobbying and political activity at the state and national levels.  Without membership dollars, IL Corn producers have no voice at the government level (by law, checkoff dollars cannot be used for legislative activities).

Not only do membership dollars lobby for corn farmers, they also go towards defending markets for corn.  I’m sure you’ve heard that mainstream media and foodies have falsely labeled HFCS as less healthy than other sugars.  ICGA is here to set the record straight!

You can sign up your loved one for a 1-year, 3-year or lifetime membership.  Visit our website for more information.  It will be the best stocking stuffer they get!

Becky FinfrockBecky Finfrock
Communications Assistant