MOBILE WEBSITE UPDATED

If you have a smartphone or tablet you may have noticed a change to the IL Corn website.  At the end of 2012 we unveiled a new mobile version.  As corn farming has developed and changed over the years, so has our online presence.  In order to continue to be a great resource and provide valuable information for corn farmers and consumers we know we can’t stay stagnant and we need to evolve.

Comparing the last 30 days to the same 30 day period 2 years ago, we have had a 545% increase in mobile traffic and in the last year we’ve had a 144% increase!  12% of ALL of our traffic in the last year came from a mobile device and in the last 30 days that number has increased to 17%.  We know many people are on the go and these numbers prove that.

With the new mobile website you can still find all the same information, but in a faster more streamlined way.  It will make it easier for you to find the latest updates on industry topics and events.  If you haven’t yet checked us out on your mobile device, give it a try.  Visit www.ilcorn.org from ANY mobile device and the website will automatically format specifically for you!

Becky FinfrockBecky Finfrock
ICGA/ICMB Communications Assistant

A PICTURE IS WORTH A THOUSAND WORDS

It’s a new year and IL Corn has New Year’s Resolutions too!  In 2013, we hope to:

  1. Pass a workable Farm Bill
  2. Defend the Renewable Fuel Standard
  3. Secure funding to upgrade locks and dams on the Mississippi River
  4. Reintroduce ourselves to the non-farming public

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4. REINTRODUCE OURSELVES TO THE NON-FARMING PUBLIC

If a picture is worth a thousand words, we’re prepared to use a thousand pictures to help non-farmers understand what farmers are really about.  Today, for “Friday Farm Photo” day, I’d like to share a few pictures to illustrate who Illinois farm families really are and the values and goals they have defined for themselves.

illinois farm family, justin durdan95% of all corn farmers in America are family owned

This means that the picture of “big, corporate farming” that the media has used to instill fear in the public is actually just a mom and pop farm getting bigger to capitalize on economies of scale, just like the rest of the American economy.  Most of our farmers are family farmers who have specialized in one or two crops or a specific livestock species, and started producing more of that product in order to afford costly inputs like machinery, seed, regulatory guidelines, and more.

corn, corn stalks, tillage, farm, agriculture

American farmers have cut soil erosion by 44% by using innovative conservation methods.

One such method is called “strip till,” where the remains of last year’s corn crop are left on the field over the winter to secure the soil during the spring thaw season, and the next year’s corn crop is planted in a strip of dirt where a previous pass has cleared away some of the stalks and leaves.  Another method would be “no till” where the next year’s crop is simply planted into the refuse of the previous year with no tillage performed.  This method works best in a crop rotation as soybeans can perform well with the remains of the corn crop around them.  Corn doesn’t do as well growing in the remains of the previous year.

Illinois family farmer, farm boys, eric kunzeman

Corn farmers plant genetically modified crops because they perform well under more stressful conditions, require less maintenance, and produce more food … not because they believe that GM crops are likely to harm people and simply don’t care.

GM crops perform better in stressful conditions, eliminating some of the crop loss when Mother Nature strikes.  This gives the U.S. a more even corn crop across the years and fuels our livestock and ethanol markets.  GM crops require less pesticides and less pesticides requires less trips over the field and less fuel.  Farmers are interesting in growing more, using less.  GM crops produce more food even under these circumstances to feed a growing world population.

Science has proven GM crops to have no nutritional impact to humans or animals.

Farmers don’t bend on emotional whims.  They stick with scientifically proven fact and strive to reduce their inputs, feed more people, and produce safe food for their families and yours.

We are trying to help the non-farming public understand what we are doing and why through important programs like Corn Farmers Coalition, U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance, Illinois Farm Families, Illinois Family Farmers Racing Team, and our work at the Normal CornBelters.  In 2013, we look forward to continuing those important programs to help you understand who we are and how we are growing your food with care.

Lindsay MitchellLindsay Mitchell
ICGA/ICMB Marketing Director

LOCK AND DAM FUNDING NEEDED!

It’s a new year and IL Corn has New Year’s Resolutions too!  In 2013, we hope to:

  1. Pass a workable Farm Bill
  2. Defend the Renewable Fuel Standard
  3. Secure funding to upgrade locks and dams on the Mississippi River
  4. Reintroduce ourselves to the non-farming public

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3. SECURE FUNDING TO UPGRADE LOCKS AND DAMS ON THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER

I really feel like I’m beating a dead horse with this one, but here goes …

bargeIllinois farmers, as well as Illinois business and Illinois citizens, need upgraded locks and dams.  They are an important part of the economic driver that agriculture is to the state (more than 50% of our corn is exported) and they are the means by which we receive coal, road salt, and other important inputs.

To put it mildly, if a lock or dam was to fail and commerce on the Mississippi was to stop, every single one of us would feel it.

Commerce on the Mississippi has been significantly slowed this winter as the effects of the 2012 drought linger on.  If Mississippi River commerce had closed in the two month period of December to January:

  • Over 410 tows would be impacted, and more than 10,600 barges would be stopped
  • 4,100 towboat jobs would be impacted
  • 5 million barrels of domestic crude oil would be replaced by imported crude, costing $545M in additional imports
  • About 300 million bushels of farm products delayed in reaching market
  • Coal worth $192M would be shut in
  • Total cargo valued at $7 billion would stop moving if the river were closed between St. Louis and Cairo, IL, due to low water

And that’s just a two month closure!  What we’re actually looking at is a catastrophic failure that will take months to fix unless we proactively update the locks and dams.

The locks we’re using were built for paddle boats in Mark Twain’s era.  We need to upgrade them so we can compete with other nations.  Not to mention, that we will become second to Panama (SECOND TO PANAMA) when their expanded locks and dams open and ours are still old, crumbling, and inefficient.

Read these articles for more information and definitely tune in tomorrow!

OUR LOCKS AND DAMS NEED HELP FAST!
THE STATE OF LOCKS AND DAMS
GOVT INEFFICIENCY PLAGUES LOCK AND DAM UPGRADES
IL CORN’S CHRISTMAS LIST: NEW LOCKS AND DAMS!

Lindsay MitchellLindsay Mitchell
ICGA/ICMB Marketing Director

CORN-BASED ETHANOL IS A POSITIVE FOR AMERICA!

It’s a new year and IL Corn has New Year’s Resolutions too!  In 2013, we hope to:

  1. Pass a workable Farm Bill
  2. Defend the Renewable Fuel Standard
  3. Secure funding to upgrade locks and dams on the Mississippi River
  4. Reintroduce ourselves to the non-farming public

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2. DEFEND THE RENEWABLE FUEL STANDARD

renewable fuel, E85, corn based ethanolCorn-based ethanol is under attack.  Not only does Big Oil despise the homegrown fuel – even though it has made them a lot of money – but corn’s other end users are concerned about supply.  In fact, livestock producers pushed their governors to request a waiver to the Renewable Fuel Standard last year, which was ultimately denied by the EPA.

Don’t know what the Renewable Fuel Standard is?  Read this.

Want the background on the RFS waiver request?  Click here.

In the end, the RFS waiver was denied last year because the EPA realized that mandating the use of ethanol to achieve our country’s energy independence goals, not to mention gaining on environmental impacts and cost savings for consumers, did not cause substantial or significant harm to the economic climate in the U.S.

Now that the waiver has been denied, corn farmers, ethanol producers, and the rest of the agricultural and rural community that benefits from ethanol production feel that a request to repeal the RFS is coming.  We plan to defend the bill’s success and necessity to lawmakers in 2013.

  1. Corn-based ethanol is not taking food out of hungry mouths.  The corn used to produce corn-based ethanol is not the same food that you eat at the dinner table.  The major market for this sort of corn is livestock mouths.
  2. Corn-based ethanol is not starving livestock or negatively affecting livestock producers.  Yes, because of the drought, corn stocks are low right now which is a sad circumstance caused by Mother Nature.  However, history shows us that corn yields are increasing exponentially due to new technologies and better management.  On average, there will be more than enough corn to go around.
  3. Corn-based ethanol is saving consumers money at the pump.  In 2010, consumers saved around $200-$400 a year, or about $0.89 per gallon, on fuel than they would have without the inclusion of ethanol.
  4. Corn-based ethanol is reinvigorating rural economies.  During the last few years when most of the nation has experienced severe economic downturn, rural economies have been somewhat buffered by ethanol and the jobs and economic impacts it provides.
  5. Corn-based ethanol is produced in the U.S. with renewable resources.  The alternative is fuel from overseas where we fight wars and American’s are killed.

Check in later this week for more of IL Corn’s 2013 priorities!

Lindsay MitchellLindsay Mitchell
ICGa/ICMB Marketing Director

FARM BILL IN 2013 … OR BUST!

It’s a new year and IL Corn has New Year’s Resolutions too!  In 2013, we hope to:

  1. Pass a workable Farm Bill
  2. Defend the Renewable Fuel Standard
  3. Secure funding to upgrade locks and dams on the Mississippi River
  4. Reintroduce ourselves to the non-farming public

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1. PASS A WORKABLE FARM BILL

Like it or not, the farm bill doesn’t just apply to farmers.  In fact, a majority of the bill (around 80 percent) deals with nutrition programs that have little to do with farmers and more to do with needy families and school lunches.  Fact is, if you are an eating, tax-paying citizen of the U.S., you should care about the farm bill.  Here’s where it stands right now and where IL Corn hopes to see it before the end of 2013.

Actual Farm Bill SpendingJust into the beginning of 2013, Congress passed an extension of the current farm bill that expired near the end of 2012.  The extension gives farmers some idea of what programs they are operating under for 2013 and helps them decide how to manage their crops and their risk in the new crop year.  What it doesn’t do is any of the elements IL Corn lobbied for clear back into 2011.

IL Corn is ready to give up direct payments.  Illinois corn farmers want to do their part to lower the federal deficit and we believe giving up direct payments, along with the money that program represents, is the responsible thing for us to do.  Our preferred version of a new farm bill eliminates direct payments and funnels some of the savings towards …

Beefed up crop insurance.  What farmers really need is protection against natural disasters like the drought that occurred in 2012.  Farmers need to be protected against unforeseen events, much like you’d protect yourself against a house fire or a car wreck, but the risk is too high for private companies to manage, thus the federal government must get involved with good policies.  Farmers really need the new farm bill to offer better crop insurance options to keep farmers and farms in business year after year after year, even when the weather takes a turn for the worst.

Simplify the program and eliminate duplication.  IL Corn would like to see a program that could be easily understood by farmers, land-owners, and administrators.  IL Corn would like a farm program that does not guarantee profit, but manages risk.  We hope to pass a farm bill that is fair and equitable across all crops and all regions of the United States.  Accomplishing these goals can be difficult, but it can be done if we don’t allow politics to get in the way.

Overall, our goal will be to move a new Farm Bill through the political pipeline sooner rather than later.  We are already a year behind and Illinois corn farmers have other priorities on their list as well.

Stay tuned to find out more of the work IL Corn plans for 2013!

Lindsay MitchellLindsay Mitchell
ICGA/ICMB Marketing Director

FRUCTOSE – HERE WE GO AGAIN.

Well, fructose is in the news again. The findings from this latest preliminary research suggest that fructose does not send signals to our brain to tell us that we are full or satiated. I find it interesting that they are reporting this as new information when I remember learning this 2 years ago in my college nutrition class. Is this really new information? Or just the media generating hype because “new and exciting discoveries” will get a larger audience than “we have known this for a while but we decided to tell all of you about it again”? I digress…

Here are my thoughts on sugar in general: We all know we shouldn’t eat the cookie, but we like cookies, so we are going to eat it anyway. Why everyone is so captivated by this research on sugar is beyond me. To explain it in the simplest way possible, sugar breaks down into starch in our body, which is then either burned as energy or stored as fat. If you eat a ton of sugar and don’t burn the energy, it is going to be stored as fat. Since fructose doesn’t tell your brain you are full the way glucose does, when we eat something with fructose in it we tend to eat more.

So, what has fructose in it? HFCS often receives the most blame when it comes to fructose issues, but the truth is that fructose is present at comparable levels in lots of other foods, so we can’t focus on that one sweetener. Table sugar is 50/50 fructose/glucose whereas HFCS is most commonly 55/45 fructose and glucose respectively. Fruit is a healthy choice right? Not if you don’t want to eat any fructose, it is the naturally occurring sugar in fruit. Have you heard of agave nectar? It is a popular sweetener in health food circles; but guess what, it has one of the highest levels of fructose among all sweeteners! The list goes on.

Fructose is in a lot of different things that we all eat, and you know what? That’s OK! It’s just like our parents used to tell us: “Everything in moderation.”  The fact of the matter is that this preliminary research finding isn’t news. If nothing else, it is a reminder to do your research on these things so you can make an informed decision that is right for you. Don’t wait for the news casters to tell you what you should and shouldn’t eat.

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Rosalie Sanderson

Membership Administrative Assistant