A LITTLE FARM POETRY …

Farming is not a job that just anyone can do
In fact it’s a job that is done by few

About 2% of people claim farming as their occupation
But 2.2 million farms is a good foundation

FAMILY PETSThere’s always work to be done; rain or shine
Oh, you need a nap? There is no time!

Throwing hay bales in the summer’s heat
Or doing chores in the rain, snow, or sleet

Manual labor isn’t always fun
But farmers do what they have to, to get the job done

Mechanics and farmers go hand-in-hand
Because farming is unpredictable and doesn’t always go as planned

Hogs, cattle, chickens, goats, and sheep
It’s never quiet on the farm; there’s always a peep

sunset plantingWhen do farmers plant in the spring and harvest in the fall?
They rely on Mother Nature to help make that call

An acre is about the size of a football field
The more you produce, the better the yield

Corn is grown in every state in the United States
That’s a fun fact to remember when it’s on your plate

Alfalfa is the oldest plant known that is used for livestock feed
A nutritious choice that is a supply in need

Farming could not improve without science
Together they have quite the alliance

Illinois farmers, farmKeeping equipment and genetics up to speed
Technology helps the farming industry succeed

National Poetry month happens to be April
Enjoy reading this farm poem around the kitchen table

Ali Seys
Illinois State University Student

WHAT’S IN YOUR FARM STAND?

It’s that time again in the spring where we see all the big tractors putting seed into the ground. It is also the time to start gardening! Maybe you don’t have a green thumb, like myself, we will stick to purchasing our produce at our favorite spot! No one can deny that fresh always taste better. It could be a salad on a summer night, a picnic thrown together for an afternoon, or even grilling vegetable! With spring well on its way, we will begin seeing those fresh fruit and veggies everywhere. Since everything has its season, I will have to wait for those delicious berries until June or July but some things will by ready in early June or even May!

kale and tomato seedlings

I visited a local family produce stand and farm in the middle of March, and they had already begun planting all their seed in the basement of their home! I would have never thought to start plants inside under lights, but that is why they have a business in produce and I do not. It’s a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes. They had multiple trays under lights just waiting for the sun to shine, to be put into the grown for the summer. While trays of tomatoes were in the house, they had a small green house outside that they had actual leafy plants of kale, lettuce, and cabbage.

cabbage and lettuce seedlings

Asparagus was beginning to grow along with rhubarb. Now when the owner said rhubarb, I honestly had no idea what it was at first. The only thing that came to mind was rhubarb pie, but that didn’t help either. After a little research on the handy dandy Internet, I found that it is mainly used in desserts or jams as a fruit. Also there are two parts to rhubarb, stalk and leaves. Only eat the stalks! Asparagus is great on the grill on a summer night, and honestly about the only time I enjoy eating it. All you really need is to lightly coat the asparagus in olive oil with a pinch of sea salt to top them off, then grill for around seven minutes. Delicious as always!

Rhubarb

If you ever have time to stop at a local produce stand, or even a farmers market, I would do it! If you have questions, they are always willing to answer them and take the time! This family took me around for 45 minutes showing me everything they had done! They enjoy what they do and what to show it off to you! Different times of the year brings wonderful flavors, try something new this summer! Remember fresh always taste better!

Parkes Family Produce

jenna sudethJenna Sudeth
University of Illinois

TAKE YOUR DAUGHTER TO WORK ON THE FARM

“Whelp, time to go to work.” These are the famous words spoke by my dad as he is about ready to head out to work in the morning or after lunch. We know that when we hear those words, break time is over because he had work to be done. And for those of you who grew up on the farm, you know there is always work to be done.

-viewfrommyofficeToday, April 24, is recognized as “Take Your Daughter to Work” day. Now many people think of taking their daughter to their office to go to work, but what if the office is a tractor seat? There is no better place to have your daughter sit alongside of you. In fact, I believe that’s what buddy seats are for.

As a farmer’s daughter, I think the best memories are made when working or riding alongside mom and dad. It provides a perfect opportunity for hours of meaningful or silly conversations. For farming parents, it is a chance to teach your daughter about the factors that go into each decision made. It is a time where she can ask question after question about farming, or maybe just about life.

Farmer’s daughters are no longer just delivering meals to the field. They may still do so, but they are also getting behind the wheel. They are becoming active contributors to the family farm. Taking them to work, showing them how to operate the equipment, or teaching them the tips and tricks is a good start. Buying them lunch, letting them make a big decision, or getting a tootsie pop from the local grain elevator might just make a future farmer out of them.

-nitrogen

In his America’s Farmers video, Matt Martin says, “I think a dream for someone, especially involved in agriculture or someone who is self employed or has a trade, is that their children would follow in their footsteps. Whether it be a daughter or a son, or whatever it is. I think it’s something that every person in agriculture strives for, to be able to lay that foundation for the future generation.” Start laying that foundation today. Take your daughter to the fields. Let her help refill the planter. Let her drive the tractor. Help plant the seed of farming into her heart, into her life, and into her future.

-cropcheckin

paige ehnlePaige Ehnle
Illinois Central College student

 

 

 

 

ILLINOIS IN THE SPRING

Ah, spring! After the long winter we experienced this year in Illinois, I think one thing is for sure, Illinois residents have never been so excited to see green grass and hear birds chirp. Hopefully all of the freezing temperatures and record-breaking snowfall is behind us. Springtime is the best in Illinois because of all of the wonderful things that come with the season.

Warmer Weather- Meteorologists try their best but the fact of the matter is that Illinois weather is very unpredictable. Sometimes it feels as if we experience all four seasons in one day. I guess you could say that the weather in Illinois keeps us on our toes. Warm weather shouldn’t always be taken for granted. These temperatures may not stay for long. You may be wearing shorts one day, and jeans the next!

Sights of guys back in the fieldThe sight of guys back in the field- Spring starts another year of new agriculture and new hope for Illinois. This is an exciting time for farmers because after a long winter they are anxious to get back out into the fields. Preparing for the spring planting season includes preforming maintenance on machinery, killing weeds by some form of tillage, and applying herbicides to kill weeds. Farmers must be patient because they have to wait on 50 degree soil temperatures. These temperatures may come before or after other states in the US. If you were passing by fields while on the interstate you could see for miles because Illinois is so flat. I wouldn’t change the flat land for anything because there isn’t anything more empowering and humbling than standing on the porch looking across your land.

Smells of SpringSmells of Spring- Spring is not all about just the beautiful sights, it’s also the smells. The common smells of spring include is freshly mowed lawns and the smell of dirt. This may sound funny to some people but the smell of dirt is something that most of us directly correlate with springtime. Nothing compares to the smell of freshly turned ground or freshly cut grass.

Birth of farm animalsBirth of farm animals- Whether you are looking forward to a foal from your favorite mare, a calf from that nice heifer, some lambs, there is one common agreement. Birthing season is a period of hard work, but also a period of great reward. Specifically in Illinois, our hog and cattle numbers are increasing.

Trees greeningTrees Greening- The sight of trees greening in Illinois is a special time because this means our trees with soon be full again. Our state tree, the White Oak is grown in all 102 counties in Illinois.

Driving with the windows down- After hopping into the car and immediately turning the heat up to high, it’s a nice change to be able to drive with the windows down. This simple pleasure can only be done between noon and four because any times earlier or later it would be way too cold. But, with the windows down you can smell the sweet aroma of new life and growth.

Spring is closer to summer- Spring is a stepping stone towards another great season or arguably the best season, summer. In Illinois we experience vastly different seasons. Most of the time, the weather is so unpredictable that we can end up experiencing all four seasons in one day. Spring is a step closer to even warmer weather and even longer days.

These are a few of my favorite things about springtime in Illinois. I can’t imagine spending one of my favorite times of the year somewhere else!

amanda zAmanda Zuercher
Illinois Central College student
IL Corn Instagram Manager

 

 

GENERAL MILLS FLIP FLOPS ON GMOs

Thank you to Amanda, The Farmer’s Daughter, for allowing us to reprint her article today!

If you’ve been following General Mills and their relationship with biotechnology, you may be getting whiplash.

cheerios2Who can forget that in January, the company decided to “reformulate” their original Cheerios so they could slap a GMO-free label on the box. The move was obviously calculated to sell product, because Cheerios, apart from a small amount of corn starch has always been GMO-free (there are no GMO oats available for commercial use).

But then, we found out that GMO-free cereal was actually less healthy than the prior recipe — apparently the company had to cut out some added vitamins from the ingredient list to keep that label.

Here’s the best part about this saga: the GMO-free label did nothing to help sales. Even better, the company decided they would not “reformulate” any other brands of cereal so it too could carry the GMO-free label. In other words, the labels didn’t help sales (which is what this was all about) so General Mills is done with it.

That isn’t the end of the story though. General Mills just released its annual 2014 Global Responsibility Report. In it, the company had a change of heart about biotechnology.

In the report, General Mills had this to say about biotechnology:

SAFE – We know consumers care about the foods they eat – and we care about the foods we provide. As genetically modified (GM) ingredients become more common in the global food supply, particularly in the U.S., we know that some consumers may have questions about this technology. On safety – our No. 1 priority – we find broad and deep global consensus among food and safety regulatory bodies that approved GM ingredients are safe. Those who have approved biotech crops to be as safe and acceptable as their conventional counterparts include: the WHO, U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, European Food Safety Authority, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and Health Canada. The National Academy of Sciences, American Medical Association, and the British Royal Society also say there is no health risk associated with GM foods or ingredients.

This technology is not new. Biotech seeds have been approved by global food safety agencies and widely used by farmers in food crops for almost 20 years. Because U.S. farmers use GM seed to grow certain crops, 70 percent of foods on U.S. grocery store shelves likely contain GMO ingredients. As a result, if an American food or beverage product lists corn, soy, canola, cottonseed or beet sugar as an ingredient – and it’s not organic – it likely contains GMOs. Global food safety experts will note there has not been a single incident of harm to health or safety demonstrably linked to the use of GMOs anywhere in the world. Numerous studies have found certain benefits, however.

(Emphasis added.) You can read the full report here.

If I didn’t know any better, I might think that General Mills has been reading my blog in preparation for compiling this report. Of course, we know that there has never been a single scientific study showing detrimental effects to humans or the environment because of biotechnology. None.

The problem is, General Mills knew this before they tried a, quite frankly, pathetic marketing trick with their GMO-free label. But now that it hasn’t panned out, they’re back tracking and supporting biotechnology again.

So, TFD readers, what’s the verdict? Does General Mills get a free pass for their fear-based mistake, or not? Let me know your thoughts in the poll and comments below (head to Amanda’s blog to vote or comment!):

Is General Mills forgiven?
Yes, they realize it was a mistake
Yes, but only if they remove the GMO-free label from Cheerios
No, not unless we get an apology.
No, we need to see more action to correct their wrong.
No way. Never.
pollcode.com free polls

Let me know what you think! I’ll reveal the answer next week.

the farmers daughterAmanda
The Farmers Daughter

RAIN FOR SEVEN SUNDAYS

As the Easter holiday and spring season are coming up, I found myself thinking about the old wives tales that seem to be very popular during this time of year. Most of these tales have come from farmers who are worried about what the rain is going to do during this year’s crop. Others, I was very curious to find out what the originators of these stories were doing and why. Regardless! I thought I would do a little research and get to the bottom of these tales. I did not find a lot of factual information about where these rumors came from or if they have any substantial truth to them, but I did find some entertaining old wives tales!! Here are some of my findings and opinions… Enjoy!

Easter

“If it rains on Easter Sunday, it will rain for seven Sundays”

From what I’ve heard this saying stands pretty true! ‘Rain’ doesn’t necessarily mean a downpour, a little sprinkle here or there qualifies also. Definitely something to watch for this upcoming holiday!

                             easter        “For good luck throughout the year, wear new clothes on Easter”

Clearly this was thought up by someone who really wanted a new Easter dress. Who likes wearing the same one as last year with a different sweater or the one your sister has already worn 3 times? No one, that’s who.

“Cut your hair on Good Friday to prevent headaches in the upcoming year”

I don’t get headaches too often but for those out there that do, it’s worth a shot! Hurry up and make an appointment!

 Spring

“April showers bring May flowers”

Definitely one of the most popular sayings of spring time! I also found some pretty interesting tales about what those ‘spring flowers’ mean!

“First Flower of Spring: The day you find the first flower of the season can be used as an omen:

Monday means good fortune, spring flowers

Tuesday means greatest attempts will be successful,                                     

Wednesday means marriage,

Thursday means warning of small profits,

Friday means wealth,

Saturday means misfortune,

Sunday means excellent luck for weeks.”

Farming

“If the sun sets behind a bank of clouds on Thursday, it will rain before Sunday”

tree budsIf the goose looks to the left before it skydives out of the plane and is caught by a flying pig it may rain sometime this year.

“If there is thunder in February, it will frost in May”

I feel like this one is a possibility this year with all the crazy weather we have had and the “snow-pocalypse 2014”! And, if memory serves me correctly, we did have some thunder in February…..the farmers better be prepared! Plants cannot grow in cold weather conditions, so a frost in May would make for a very unsuccessful crop year.

“Plant corn when the oak leaves are as big as a squirrel’s ears”

Is it just me or does this sound like a way Native Americans knew when to plant?

“Your corn should be knee high by the Fourth of July”

For the most part this wives tale is true, depending on when the crops get planted of course!

Wait…What?!

“If your wife can’t get pregnant, spank her with a split shingle.”

“If a girl burns the cornbread, it means her sweetheart will be angry with her.”     Cinderella-Servant

“If a girl catches a butterfly and bites off its head, she’ll get a new dress of the same color.”

“If a girl leaves cobwebs on the kitchen door, her suitor won’t come back.”

“If a girl clips her fingernails on nine successive Sundays, her sweetheart will come for dinner.”

“If a girl gets her apron wet while washing, her husband will be a drunk.”

I think all the explanation that this section deserves is someone wanted their wife to carry on the family name, be well groomed, a good cook, and an expert house cleaner.

 

All of those old wives tales were starting to sound like a country song with all of the rain, lovers leavin’, and bad luck! Some people sware by these legends, others mock them, but the decision is up to you!! I had a blast looking up all of these old stories and would highly recommend it! Remember, don’t step on cracks, never open umbrellas inside, and don’t get out of bed on the wrong side!!

Happy Easter!!

courtney millerCourtney Miller
Illinois State University student

THE ONE THING YOU DON’T WANT TO SPEND YOUR TAX REFUND ON …

snoopy taxesHappy Tax Day!

Today’s the deadline.  There are some of us that have already filed and those of us that will be up until 11:59, but regardless, many Americans are enjoying a little bump in their income stream this spring, commonly known as an income tax refund.

Sadly, for many Americans, much of that money will be spent on increased cost of living, namely higher gas prices and higher food prices.

Here’s what interesting: The Consumer Price Index for food increased 0.3 percent from January to February and is now 1.4 percent above the February 2013 level.  This, even though corn prices are near or below the cost of production.

Both grocery store food (food at home) and restaurant food (food away from home) have increased over the same time frame last year.  You can read all the details for yourself in this report from the USDA Economic Research Service.

The correlation bears repeating.  Corn prices have dropped to near or below the cost of production.  Food prices are still increasing.  Could it be that corn and ethanol production is not to blame for increasing food prices?

Yes. We said it before and we’ll say it again: corn and ethanol production are NOT responsible for increasing food prices.

The economics behind this can be confusing and start with a basic understanding that corn used to make ethanol is not the corn that you eat frozen, from a can, or off the cob.  The corn used for ethanol production is also used primarily for livestock feed and export.  Farmers are not diverting corn from your plate to fuel tanks.

Secondly, corn yields are increasing.  Nearly every year (sometimes this isn’t true because of extreme weather like the drought) we produce more bushels of corn than we did the year before.  Livestock numbers aren’t increasing.  So we have extra corn just sitting around waiting to be used.

Extra corn equals low corn prices, which harms family farmers who make a living growing corn.  And if food prices were correlated to corn prices, food prices would be dropping dramatically right now because we have tons of extra corn and the low prices that go with them.

A more realistic correlation is food prices and petroleum prices.  Food is still expensive because petroleum is still expensive.  Have you filled up your gas tank recently?  Gas is still expensive!

(And I’m sure there’s also that pesky little phenomenon that says once a consumer is used to buying a smaller amount of food at a higher price, prices will never decrease again, yielding the food manufactures more cash.  There’s always that.)

The take home points here are simple:

  1. If corn prices caused food prices, food would be dirt cheap right now.
  2. Historically, food prices have been more similar to gasoline prices – we’re trucking that food from somewhere!
  3. I hope you love spending that tax refund on cereal and frozen pizza.

mitchell_lindsayLindsay Mitchell
ICGA/ICMB Marketing Director

GROCERY SHOPPING: OPTIONS ARE GOOD.

As if it’s not bad enough that it’s Monday… I had to go grocery shopping today. Like most of you, I assume, this isn’t exactly one of my favorite activities. Not to mention money is always tight, so it’s never fun spending what you do have on boring stuff like peanut butter and paper towels.

But something amazing happened today. I got all of the items on my list (plus a few extra things like raspberries & kiwi because I felt like treating myself), and my total at the register was UNDER $25. As old and boring as it makes me feel to be THIS excited about my total grocery bill… I couldn’t help but smile as I pulled out of the parking lot.

Image

I grew up on a farm that raises beef cattle and various crops. We generally use conventional farming methods, but my family is also very interested in conservation of the soil & water on our farm so we take some special measures in those areas. I also have many friends that farm organically or choose to buy organic products at the grocery store. Essentially, I understand where everyone is coming from and truly value everyone’s right to make their own choices about the food they eat.

But today, I am so thankful that I had the option to purchase items at the grocery store that kept my bill under $25. The store I was at offered an organic brand for raspberries, but, to me, raspberries are expensive to begin with and a real treat when I do decide to buy them. So I’m glad I got to spend $3.00 on my raspberries rather than buying no raspberries at all because a store only offered the $6.00 organic product.

This is something I wish the more radical “organic pushers” would understand. I respect your right and ability to buy all organic for you and your family; that’s your prerogative. What I have a problem with, is when people say that their choice is the only right choice, and therefore we, should do away with all other options in grocery stores. I think conversation and education on these issues is incredibly important, but in my opinion, there is no right & wrong when it comes to this debate, there are only options. And, personally, I like options.

rsandersonRosalie Sanderson
Membership Administrative Assistant