TOP 5 MYTHS ABOUT CORPORATE FARMING

One of the first criticisms farmers seem to hear from their urban cousins is that corporate farming is bad.  This is also one of the largest misunderstandings non-farmers have … corporate farming isn’t at all what they think it is.  And it definitely isn’t as prominate as they think.

Check out this blog post to read the Top 5 Myths About Farm Corporations, by family farmer Wanda Patsche.

There seems to be a lot of myths in print and the Internet about farm corporations. First, let’s look at what is a farm corporation? According to the Minnesota Department of Ag, a farm corporation is:

Family farm corporation” means a corporation founded for the purpose of farming and the ownership of agricultural land in which the majority of the stock is held by and the majority of the stockholders are persons, the spouses of persons, or current beneficiaries of one or more family farm trusts in which the trustee holds stock in a family farm corporation, related to each other within the third degree of kindred according to the rules of the civil law, and at least one of the related persons is residing on or actively operating the farm, and none of whose stockholders are corporations

So what are the top 5 myths of farm corporations?

1. Farm corporations are controlled by large corporations.

You may be surprised to know that the vast majority of farm corporations are family farms and are not controlled by large corporations. That’s right, 98% of all farm corporations are owned by farm families.

And we are one.

But you would never know it by looking at our farm. Even though we are a farm corporation, it changes nothing in our day-to-day activities on the farm. We still take care of our animals everyday by feeding them, making sure they have water and caring for the sick.

2. Farm corporations are devastating our land, water, and air.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Farmers follow numerous environmental regulations and are strictly regulated by the EPA. We have land setbacks to prevent herbicides from entering the waterways. Soil tests are taken regularly to monitor the soil nutrients. Farmers also need to be certified and recertified to apply pesticides to their farmland.

3. Farm corporations are heavily subsidized by the government.

In all reality, the amount we receive in government subsidies is very small. For example, in the year 2012, the amount of direct payment subsidies our farm corporation received was just a little over 1% of our gross revenues. And more than likely, direct payments will go away with the new farm bill.

4. Monsanto controls farm corporations on what farmers can and cannot grow.

I hear this a lot. And it cannot be further from the truth. We grow whatever crop we want, in the quantities that we want and where we want. Enough said. No, we cannot save our seed from the previous year(s), but we wouldn’t want to. It benefits us to plant quality seed with the best technologies and we get that by purchasing new seed yearly.

5.  Animals that are raised in farm corporations are only raised for profits and are treated inhumanely in small, dark, unventilated, and cramped pens.

It makes no sense for farm corporations to treat their animals in that way.  Modern housing is well-ventilated, warm, well-lit, clean, and scientifically-designed to meet an animal’s specific needs – including temperature, light, water and food. An animal’s well-being is the top priority for any farm corporation.

For more information on farm corporations, here are a few links to other sources of information. One organization is called CommonGround – a site where conversations about farming and food take place. http://findourcommonground.com/food-facts/corporate-farms/ , another is is RealFarmers RealFood and also checkout FoodDialogues.  Lots of great information!  Do you have any specific questions on farm corporations? Please be sure to ask!

IS “CHEMICAL” REALLY A DIRTY WORD?

Fbananaarmers have been battling public perception for years.  It seems there has always been the faction that is distrustful of modern farming practices according to a quick walk through the ag papers and publications of the past, but it wasn’t until recently that agriculture was literally thrust into the world of high stakes media outreach.

So now, we work harder to see the world through the lens of a non-farmer.  And we know from our conversations and research that “chemical” is one of those words that strikes fear in the hearts of non-farmers and urbanites.

Organic food has become the gold standard because it is marketed as “chemical free.”  It isn’t grown without using chemicals, but marketing and media have made it that way and now that is the understanding of the public … right or wrong.

Cleaners are marketed as “chemical free.”  Yes, I have been invited to home parties all over the state where I can buy the latest chemical free cleaning rag to protect my family from the dangers of those horrible things.

The fact is … nothing is chemical free.

In this article, the author really examines the idea that the word “chemical” and even “chemisty” and all the technology and innovation both supply us with, have become negative and bad things in today’s society.

She writes, “Marketers take advantage of the poisoned meaning of the word chemical to tout their products as being safe, healthy, and chemical-free. It’s another gimmick. In 2008 in the U.K., a Miracle Gro compost product was labeled “100% chemical free.” That’s not truthful, according to the scientific definition of chemical. Yet the advertising authority decided that most people interpret chemical-free as synonymous with “organic” and okayed the use of the term “chemical-free.” Organic products are not only made with and contain chemicals but can be produced with natural pesticides (also chemicals). Natural or synthetic, you can’t be free from chemicals. It’s ridiculous to use the term “chemical-free”.”

I understand that labels and marketing and all the conflicting media makes it hard to understand what is true and what isn’t.  But at the heart of it, you are really doing yourself and your family a disservice if you don’t read up on food issues and be prepared to throw out the media hype.  After all, what else could you afford if you weren’t buying “chemical free?”

Fear clouds common sense.  Don’t be bullied into buying high priced items because marketing tactics have scared you into it.

Lindsay MitchellLindsay Mitchell
ICMB/ICGA Marketing Director

FARM WORK DOESN’T STOP IN THE WINTER!

Where did January go?!?

So trite, but so true. January is the one month when you think there should be a bit of down-time on the farm, especially a Midwest grain farm! But not so.

January seems to be the month to haul the recently harvested corn and beans to market.  For our farm, that means hauling to several different buyers. One is the local coop that loads containers for the Asian customers. Another is a ag company who loads 100-car unit trains. Most of this grain goes to feed cattle and chickens, which eventually ends up as protein-packed meat on our dinner plates.

When we are not hauling grain, my husband, brother and nephew are doing maintenance work on the tractors and planting equipment in preparation for spring. Although it is 2 degrees, with 30 mph winds today, I know spring WILL come! A few years ago we built a heated shop.  That makes it a lot more comfortable for the the guys on these cold days.  We did buy a new machine to apply nitrogen to the young corn plants this spring.  They guys are putting that machine together in the shop too.  It’s always a bit more fun to be working on something new than just repairing the older machinery!

January is also the month that I do “catch up” in the farm office. We meet with some of our landlords in January too.  In fact, just a couple weeks ago, a father-son landlord team brought their wives to our home for dinner.  It’s always fun to visit and learn what is happening with their children and grandchildren.

donna and gkidspaul swimming

 

 

Speaking of family, we take every possible opportunity to play with our granddaughters! In January, my daughter-in-law, Erin, hosted a bridal shower brunch at her home for my niece.  That meant Erin had to miss parent/tot swim lessons. But, Grandpa said he would love to help out! Even though Grandpa said he was the only guy with gray hair in the pool, he had a blast!

A few farm meetings, opportunities to speak to an area high school agricultural class and the local Rotary, as well as, watching a few Illini basketball games with friends bring us to the last week of January and looking forward to what possibilities February will bring.

donna jeschke
Donna Jeschke
Farm wife, mother, grandmother
and former IL Corn board member

WHAT WILL YOU DO WITHOUT BECAUSE YOU’RE PAYING MORE FOR FUEL?

sacrifices - ethanolAmericans have to cut back on a lot of things when the price of fuel goes up.  With ethanol running $1.00 cheaper than gasoline, every extra bit of ethanol you can use in your tank will put extra cents in your pocket.

If you’d like to see the EPA tell retailers to blend more renewable fuel rather than less, visit us here to make comments to the docket!

WHAT RESOLUTION?

New Year's ResolutionsAs the middle of January draws upon us, the “r-word” has become a faint memory for some.  Resolutions made almost a month ago seem to be on the back-burner as the impending doom of the New Year has passed.  Modifications and additions of “cheat days” have become ever popular and the constant pinning, liking, and sharing of workout tips, healthy food recipes, and future silhouettes have subsided…for now.  Some, though, still hold on to these resolutions to be healthier in 2014, but are going about it in different ways.

Forget about doing one hundred crunches everyday or drinking some miracle concoction guaranteed to burn belly fat.  A healthy lifestyle begins much more foundationally than in typical weight loss.  For some, a healthy lifestyle includes getting back to simpler times, eliminating stress, finding confidence, and eliminating clutter (both symbolic and literal).  For others, a healthy lifestyle may include being conscious about what they put on, in, and around themselves.

The utilization of social media has been instrumental to successful resolutions for many.  Outlets such as Pinterest allow you to create boards and categorize your healthy lifestyle goals for 2014.  Perhaps becoming more informed about controversial issues is a healthy lifestyle goal of yours.  Creating a board that you can pin blogs and facts about food issues like GMO and organic, treatment of drugs in agriculture, ethanol, etc. where they can be easily accessed and viewed will turn your Sunday night of TV and binge-eating into an educational conversation-starter. You’ll be surprised what you learn in one sitting!  Staying up to date on controversial issues will allow you to be a better consumer and make better, more informed decisions about the things you purchase (food or not) and surround yourself with.

A resolution of mine this year was to not eat and drive.  Though this serves as an elimination of fast food, it also served other health benefits.  Becoming aware of my priorities was important for me.  In a culture where we need everything instantaneously, the drive home was costing me not only in money spent on food, but in time being miserable when I got home.  Taking time at home to find a recipe, get the freshest ingredients, and then take the time to create and enjoy and learn about my food enriched my diet and my time spent at home after work.  I have a board created for quick meals, slow meals, and meals that are a challenge to motivate me to research and learn about my food…and save some money and calories while I’m at it.

New Year resolutions shouldn’t start and stop in January…they just have to be tailored to long-term goals.  Being aware of your needs as a consumer is the first step.  If being healthy is your goal, think about what is practical, then do the research. Utilize social media, scour boards on Pinterest for others who are doing the same things as you—find motivation in your surroundings!  Pin and post often to keep yourself on track and brag to yourself about your accomplishments so far.

Motivation is everywhere; Pinterest pages like IL Corn are more than just agriculture-based.  Boards that focus on food issues, nutrition, and even healthy lifestyles may surprise even city-dwellers.  Find your motivation in unexpected places!

Mariah DavidsonMariah Davidson
Illinois State University Student

MISCONCEPTIONS OF FARMING

There are misconceptions about everything in life. Religion, schooling, and sexuality are just a few. One common misconception that many people have are understanding someone else’s occupation. People always seem to have an opinion of what someone else does for a living and most of the time it is very skewed.

Farming, agriculture, and rural life are some of the many occupations that people have a misconception of. When someone who isn’t familiar with agriculture describes a farmer and their life, they would probably use the stereotype description. They would say that a farmer is someone that lives in a “hick town”, wears blue jean overalls, and talks with a southern twang. However, for those of us that farm, we know that this isn’t usually the case. People misunderstand what farmers do and what rural life actually consists of all the time and as farmers we wish that people could understand our life styles better.

There are five things I wish my classmates and peers around me would better understand about farming/agriculture/rural life:

bag of money1. For starters, everyone thinks that all farmers are rich and that is why they farm. I can’t think of a single farmer I’ve known whose goal was to get rich. People farm because they love it. Farmers farm out of a deep desire to help, to make a positive difference in the world. Farmers also farm simply because they realize that farming that it is truly necessary.

city

2. People that live in a rural community understand that there is more out there then just farming. People tend to believe that since someone grew up in a small community that they don’t know that there is more to the world than a small town. Just because someone grew up in a rural community doesn’t mean that they have never seen a skyscraper or been on an airplane. Farming and small towns coincide because of the advantage of excess land not because the people are sheltered individuals.

father & son

3. Just because you grew up on a farm, doesn’t mean that you will be a farmer the rest of your life. There is a common misconception that people who grow up on a farm will forever be farmers and never do anything else. Many children of farmers go to college and receive a degree and never farm another day in their life.

field

4. There’s no future in agriculture. WRONG, WRONG, WRONG. The people that do not believe that there is a future in agriculture obviously wants to stop eating. Fox News recently said that farmers are the “hot ticket” for job growth because it is completely necessary for everyone. People will forever need to eat and therefore there will need to be people supplying and taking care of what goes into our food.

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5. Farmers are uneducated. This is a myth and one we need to bust. The days are gone when you learned everything you needed to know about farming from your grandfather. This doesn’t mean we don’t use grandpa’s advice, since it is based on years and years of experience, however, it does mean that farmers today need post-high school training. They need training in many categories such as science, business, marketing, and communications. Farming is a life long learning process and will continue to need educated people doing it.

maschingGrace Masching
Illinois State University Student

SOUP MONTH: NO KNEAD BREAD

January is National Soup Month! Makes sense; there couldn’t be a better time to come in out of the cold and warm up with a tantalizing bowl of comfort food!

And I understand that today’s recipe isn’t exactly soup … but it’s crusty bread.  And really, what is soup without a warm crunchy slice of homemade bread to dip in it?

This recipe is adapted from the original, found here, which was printed in the New York Times, adapted from the Sullivan Street Bakery.

Today’s fact: Etiquette experts tell us we “eat,” rather than “drink” soup because it is considered part of the meal. Additionally, in most cultures soup is consumed with a spoon rather than sipped from the container.

Today’s tip: Never boil your soup.  Simmering keeps the flavors intact.

Today’s recipe: No Knead Bread

no-knead bread

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon instant or rapid rise yeast
  • 1 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cups tap water

In a large bowl, combine the flour, yeast, and salt.

Add water and mix.  Dough will look messy, but don’t worry.

Cover with plastic wrap and let rise, 12-18 hours.

After 12-18 hours, flour your surface and coax the dough from the bowl.  Form into a ball.  Let rise again 1-2 hours.

While bread is rising the second time, preheat your oven and pot (at least a 3 quart, preferably something larger with a lid) for 30 minutes in a 450 degree oven.

Once oven, pot and lid are preheated – and dough has rested a second 1-2 hours – plop the dough into the pot.  Put it back in the oven for 30 minutes covered.

At the 30 minute mark, remove the lid for an additional 10 minutes.

Lift out your loaf of bread and marvel at your creation!!!

mitchell_lindsayLindsay Mitchell
ICGA/ICMB Marketing Director

SOUP MONTH: LIMA BEAN SOUP

January is National Soup Month! Makes sense; there couldn’t be a better time to come in out of the cold and warm up with a tantalizing bowl of comfort food!

We will be celebrating soup month all week long, so check back here every day for a new recipe, soup fact, and tip to add to your culinary repertoire!

Today’s fact: The etymological idea underlying the word soup is that of soaking. It goes back to an unrecorded post-classical Latin verb suppare soak’, which was borrowed from the same prehistoric German root (sup-) as produced in English sup and supper. From it was derived the noun suppa, which passed into Old French as soupe. This meant both piece of bread soaked in liquid’ and, by extension, broth poured onto bread.’ It was the latter strand of the meaning that entered English in the seventeenth century.

Today’s tip: If you have a recipe that calls for cream, you can often substitute yogurt for a lighter overall dish.

Today’s recipe: LIMA BEAN SOUP

lima bean soup

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cups lima beans
  • 3/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 11/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 basil sprig
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • splash of lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup fresh corn
  • 1/4 cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

Combine first 7 ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium heat; bring to a simmer. Cover and cook 40 minutes or until beans are tender. Discard basil sprig. Reserve 1/4 cup beans; set aside.

Place remaining bean mixture in a blender; add juice. Remove center piece of blender lid (to allow steam to escape); secure blender lid on blender. Place a clean towel over opening in blender lid (to avoid splatters). Blend until smooth. Cool slightly; refrigerate 2 hours or until chilled.

Heat a small nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add corn; sauté 2 minutes or until browned. Combine reserved 1/4 cup beans, corn, red pepper, chopped basil, and oil in a small bowl. Divide soup evenly among 8 bowls; top with corn relish.

mitchell_lindsayLindsay Mitchell
ICGA/ICMB Marketing Director

SOUP MONTH: CHEESY POTATO SOUP

January is National Soup Month! Makes sense; there couldn’t be a better time to come in out of the cold and warm up with a tantalizing bowl of comfort food!

We will be celebrating soup month all week long, so check back here every day for a new recipe, soup fact, and tip to add to your culinary repertoire!

Today’s fact: 99% of all American’s homes have soup in them.

Today’s tip: If you’re soup is lacking some flavor and you aren’t sure what to add, try adding some V8 vegetable juice! It is full of all kinds of vegetables, and it’s flavor can be better than supermarket tomatoes in the dead of winter (plus, it’s easier to keep on hand)!

Today’s recipe: Easy Cheesy Potato Soup

This is one of my favorite recipes. Of course you could always make this soup from scratch, but sometimes it’s nice to take the easy route and let Campbell’s help you out!

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Ingredients:

  • 1 can chicken broth
  • 2 cans cheddar cheese soup
  • 2 cups milk
  • 3-5 diced potatoes (or use 1 bag frozen southern style hash browns)
  • Optional: add any vegetables you like to add color, flavor, & nutrients to your soup

Garnishes (optional):

  • Cheddar cheese, grated
  • Parsley
  • Sour cream
  • Bacon bits

You can make a double batch of this soup in a crockpot, or make it on the stove!

Combine chicken broth, cheddar cheese soup, and milk into a pot and put over medium heat.

While that begins to cook, dice your potatoes or add your frozen potatoes (and other vegetables if desired).

Heat & let simmer for approximately 20-30 minutes (once the potatoes are cooked, your soup is ready!)

Season with salt & pepper, add your desired garnishes & enjoy!

ImageRosalie Sanderson
Membership Administrative Assistant