FRUSTRATION WITH BIASED MEDIA REPORTING

corn ethanol performsThe buzz around the IL Corn office is this Associated Press article released on Tuesday.  We have reporters calling the office wanting comments.  We have farmers calling the office asking us to please do something.  We have frustration in the office because we are all farmers or farm kids ourselves and to see our industry bashed is painful.

Let me start my commentary by being real with my readers.  The agricultural industry isn’t perfect.  The ethanol industry isn’t perfect.  We have corn farmers who do the wrong thing – sometimes because the science hasn’t told them it’s the wrong thing yet and sometimes because they think no one will notice.  We have bad farmers.  We have good farmers.

We are representative of the industries all over the U.S.  We make mistakes.  We have successes.  We aren’t perfect, but we’re trying.

What makes us different from other industries is that we aren’t corporate.  There’s no CEO telling our farmers what to do, how to do it, what to plant, when to plant it.  Each individual farmer is just a man, trying to do the best he can for his family and his land every single day.  That means reading scientific research, keeping up the latest and greatest technology, and keeping in touch with the land in his charge.

This “reading scientific research” is the part I’d like to focus on.  Because while farmers are spending their evenings going to meetings led by University scientists – while they are reading articles on peer-reviewed research to make the best decisions on their land – the journalists who report their stories aren’t doing the same.

10% ethanolAs an example, I’ll point to the AP story released this week, but really, it’s the same thing in the media over and over and over again.

The AP story focuses quite a bit on the fact that land has come out of conservation programs and into production.  The story blames this phenomenon entirely on ethanol production, but fails to mention that funding for conservation programs was cut in the 2008 Farm Bill; therefore, the number of acres that can possibly be enrolled in the program is fewer after 2008 than before.  Farmers can’t possibly reenroll acres in a conservation program that is significantly smaller.

This has nothing to do with ethanol.  It has to do with the federal budget.

As another example, Mike Flannery, Fox News Chicago reported that gas prices are dropping, but that they would be dropping faster without 10 percent ethanol added into each gallon.  This confuses me because ethanol is about $1.00 cheaper than gasoline per gallon … how can a cheaper fuel make each gallon more expensive?

My point?  Think about what you’re reading.  Ethanol isn’t perfect, but it’s cheaper, it’s renewable, and it’s domestic.  The infrastructure exists now to sell it.  The industry is here to produce it.  The efficiencies continue to improve.  The air quality shows significant gains.

By contrast, gasoline is more expensive.  Nearly half is imported.  It is not renewable and it is not helping our air quality in the least.  It does have a successful industry and infrastructure in place to produce and sell it – which is the real root of the problem.

The oil industry doesn’t want to sell more ethanol.  Why would they?  It’s like forcing Walmart to stock Kroger groceries on 10 percent of their shelves and give them the profit.

This ethanol bashing in the media is really about the oil industry not wanting to allow ethanol shelf space at their stations.  And while we can all understand that, are we going to allow it?  Ethanol offers Americans so many benefits.

Think critically about what you read.  Do the research.  Understand the debate.

And then, you’re probably going to want to fuel up with ethanol.

Lindsay MitchellLindsay Mitchell
ICGA/ICMB Marketing Director

ICC – EARLY REGISTRATION ENDS THIS FRIDAY!

Have you registered for the 2013 Illinois Commodity Conference?  If you plan on attending you won’t want to miss out on the reduced early registration fee of $60 that ends on the 15th.

The 2013 Illinois Commodity Conference will take place on Tuesday, Nov. 26th, at our new location, the Marriott Hotel & Conference Center in Normal, IL.  The annual one-day event brings together crop growers and livestock producers from all over the state to discuss the trials and triumphs the agricultural industry faces.

Connect with your Customer” is the theme for the conference, which starts at 10:15 am.  A full day of speakers can help attendees regroup and recharge, and include:

2013 ICC“Connect with your Membership”
Moderated by Jeff Nalley
Featuring ICGA President Paul Taylor, ISA Chairman Bill Raben, IPPA President Dereke Dunkirk, and IBA President Alan Adams

“International Buyers in a U.S. Economy”
Speaker from USMEF

“What Women Want”
Amy Rossi, Naperville, IL

“Connect with your Congress”
Mike Stokke, Farm Credit

“The New Face of Uncle Sam”
George P. Bush

Farmer leaders are encouraged to register with their respective commodity groups.  Other farmers, agribusiness leaders, students, or others may register by downloading the registration form and sending it with a check to the address indicated.

DOWNLOAD REGISTRATION FORM HERE

Before Nov. 15, registration is $60, after Nov. 15, the fee is $90. Students can register for $25.

The conference is hosted by the Illinois Beef Association, Illinois Corn Growers Association, Illinois Milk Producers Association, Illinois Pork Producers Association, Illinois Soybean Association and Illinois Wheat Association.

We look forward to seeing you on November 26!

Becky FinfrockBecky Finfrock
ICGA/ICMB Communications Assistant

IF YOU ARE REALLY THANKFUL, YOU SHARE

Since we were born, we have been told to be thankful for everything we have in life and to share, but what does that really mean? To be thankful means to be aware and have appreciation of a benefit; to be grateful and express gratitude towards something or someone. To share means to let someone else have or be apart of something you have. These words are not something we think about doing but rather do it subconsciously.

fall color

As we all know, Thanksgiving is near and that means family time, football, and food, but I think we should all take a minute to remember the roots of the holiday. A quote that I believe represents Thanksgiving well is “ If you are really thankful, what do you do? You share.” this quote was made famous by W. Clement Stone. It means that if a person is truly grateful for what they have, they will share it. They will pass along whatever they have to someone else no matter their personal connection to it.

This holiday season, most of us will go to a family gathering and expect that there be food there, but why? Well the answer is simple; we expect to have food because we always have. What if that all of a sudden stopped? We woke up one day and there is no food for us to eat, what would you do? We would all be shocked and of course hungry. Although this is not likely, we should all start taking precaution and treat our environment and those who work to make our food with more respect.

All of us this holiday season need to share in the responsibility of making sure our food supply never ends. We can easily do this by making minor changes in our lives.

Most people believe that being a farmer is just a hobby and don’t realize that it is actual occupation. People don’t understand how much of a time commitment being a famer is. It takes hard work, long hours, and commitment. This holiday season I want everyone to say thank you to a farmer they know. Share with them how thankful you are for all the hard work you put into making sure we have something to eat every day. If all of the farmers just stopped doing their job, our food supply would be more than scarce so take some time out of your day and share with them how much you appreciate what they do.

As for our environment, one of the very popular trends happening now is people switch to ethanol gasoline. For those of you who don’t know what ethanol is, it is a clean-burning, high-octane motor fuel that is produced from renewable source. It is a grain alcohol and is produced from crops such as corn. Overall, ethanol is considered to be better for the environment than gasoline. The cars that run on ethanol fuel produce lower carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide. Go the extra mile, literally, and switch to the environment friendly way by using ethanol.

So as this holiday season approaches, take some time to think and appreciate everything and everyone. Appreciate the little things in life, such as food and those who produce it. Share your kindness with others and let them know you are thankful.

maschingGrace Masching
ISU Student

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MORE CORN THAN WE KNOW WHAT TO DO WITH

piles of corn at harvestIn today’s WASDE (World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimate) Report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture predicted that U.S. corn farmers will produce about 14 billion bushels of corn.  This is a record high!

All that corn will be more than enough to supply our ethanol markets, livestock markets, export markets, and human consumption markets with bushels and bushels left over!

WHATS IN STORE FOR OUR FARM BILL NEGOTIATIONS?

Illinois, farm, field, farmer, country, scenicOn October 30, 2013, the House and Senate Farm Bill Conferees held their first public conference committee meeting.  The conference committee is chaired by Congressman Frank Lucas (R-OK), Chair of the House Agriculture Committee.  Ranking Member Collin Peterson (D-MN) called the meeting the “beginning of the end” of the Farm Bill, which has been a 3 years in the making effort.  Each of the Farm Bill conferees made introductory statements in which they outlined their priorities for the Farm Bill conference committee.

The three main points of controversy in the conference committee process will be:

SNAP cuts: The House Farm Bill proposes $39 Billion in SNAP/food stamp cuts over 10 years.  The Senate version only proposes $4 Billion over the same time period.  The resulting “compromise” number/amount of cuts is hard to predict, but a reasonable middle ground number will be necessary to complete a bill and have it pass both chambers of Congress. Senator Stabenow, Chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee, has said that she thinks it will be difficult to get 60 votes in the Senate for a bill that cuts more than $10 Billion in food stamps.

Crop Insurance:  Differences between the House and Senate version of the Farm Bill are significant with regards to crop insurance.  The House version is more favored by Southern commodity crops for its target price formula provisions, while the Senate version is more favored by Midwestern farmers, who prefer what’s referred to as a “shallow loss coverage” program.  How those differences will be resolved could also indicate how the conference process will unfold.

Permanent law vs. 1938 and 1949 law: The Senate bill retains the 1938 and 1949 farm laws as the basis for agricultural programs.  The House bill would make the 2013 commodity title permanent law. The Democrats are opposed to making the 2013 law permanent.  They would argue that one of the reasons the Farm Bill is reauthorized every 5 years is due to the threat posed by failing to act.  A return to the 1938 and 1949 farm laws would be detrimental to the farming community, given the multitude of important provisions that did not exist in those farm laws that exist in modern law.  How these conversations evolve will determine how and whether a Farm Bill can be signed into law by year’s end.

It is difficult to predict at this point how these differences will be sorted out as the conference committee continues its work on the Farm Bill, but most Farm Bill observers are cautiously optimistic that a Farm Bill can be completed and sent to the President for his signature by the end of 2013.

David-Beaudreau_175x420David Beaudreau
DC Legislative and Regulatory Services

COUNTING MY BLESSINGS

As I sat down to write today’s blog post, I scrolled through some of my older posts for topic inspiration. When I came across a post about the growing conditions we had last year, I stopped. This year may not have been ideal—it was a dry summer, the recent rain is slowing down harvest, we have even had SNOW in some parts of the state already—but, wow, are we better off than we were a year ago or what?

Sometimes, it seems as though farmers are never satisfied. It’s either too hot, too cold, too dry, too wet… but I can honestly say I have noticed a big difference in attitude this year. Isn’t that how it always goes? It takes some bad days to get us to really appreciate the good ones. Sometimes, we don’t even need to experience a bad day ourselves, we just have to see others go through it. How about those ranchers in South Dakota that experienced such great loss in their cattle herds this year? I bet that put things into perspective for many other cattle farmers across the nation.

So, today I am counting my blessings. Even if rain (or snow) is keeping your combine out of the fields today, take a moment to appreciate the many blessings we do have this year. Thanksgiving is right around the corner, but don’t wait until then to give thanks. We have so much to be thankful for, we should take more than one day a year to recognize our blessings!

rsandersonRosie Sanderson
ICGA/ICMB Membership Administrative Assistant

“FRANKENFOODS?” DEBUNKING 13 MYTHS ABOUT GMO FOODS

Buzzfeed has joined the GMO debate, addressing some common myths behind GMOs using short, animated clips.

Opponents of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) continue to wage their war on science, resorting to fear mongering and baseless accusations. Despite their well-funded and sophisticated operation, GMOs are not only safe, but are thriving due to technological innovation and widespread acceptance.

Read the full, original story here: “Frankenfoods? Debunking 13 Myths Behind GMOs”