#TBT MEET OUR FARMERS

It’s always a great day to meet our farmers!

These videos profile real farmers in Illinois that are serving their industry as board members for IL Corn. Each farmer and his family are interesting and amazing in his own right, but together with their exciting array of different farming styles, backgrounds, and experiences, they build a board that makes great decisions for IL agriculture!

If you’ve always wanted to know more about agriculture, here’s your chance! Ask any of our farmers a question in the comments – we’d love to answer!

FARMING AND TEACHING SHARE PARALLEL CONCERNS

teachers learning ag in the classroomThis summer nearly 600 teachers from across the state took part in the annual Illinois Agriculture in the ClassroomSummer Agricultural Institutes”. During these week long sessions, teachers took an opportunity to find how they can integrate agriculture into their curriculum during the coming school year.  These courses featured opportunities to hear from the AITC program and various commodity groups as well as take traveling workshops to explore careers in agriculture by visiting various local agriculture industries and first hand experiences at farms.

By far, the most exciting part, typically after a couple of brief introductory comments is a panel where farmers share with teachers issues and concerns that they face.   These farmer panels are typically my favorite part, and I work to make sure I get to be there for some of these.  Farmers share concerns about government regulations at the national, state and local level.  Farmers share the lack of understanding that many have about what goes on with a farm.  They even share thoughts and comments about labor issues.   I am always impressed with their honesty and integrity.  More than once I have heard a farmer say, I don’t know about that because we don’t face that issue on our farm.  Teachers, and the general public, appreciate honesty!

If I am present, as the conversation wraps up, I try to ask a couple of questions of the teachers about their challenges.  Often teachers share their frustrations with the issues of regulations at the state and national level.  They also share their frustrations relating to the fact that the general public is out of touch with the practices of modern education.  In the end, I feel our farmers and teachers see parallels within their livelihoods.

Most importantly for both, I work to point out that our farmers need to know what is going on in school and our teachers need to know what is going on in agriculture.  In an era of turmoil with state funding, public education is even more reliant on the local property tax base.  In many school districts across the state, the agriculture sector plays an important role in local funding.  I urge teachers to reach out to the agriculture community, and the farmers to reach out to the teachers to find out what is new and emerging in their chosen field.  Reflect back to the innovations that have become common place on your farm in the last few years, and realize that many new innovations have also occurred in education.   In our work in Agriculture in the Classroom we are fortunate to work with people that are passionate about their career and livelihood-both farmers and teachers and I hope both will take an opportunity to explore what is new with each!

Daughtery_Kevin 2x2 10Kevin Daugherty
Illinois Ag in the Classroom Coordinator

 

Read more articles by Kevin!

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AUGUST ILLINOIS COUNTY FAIR SCHEDULE

In a few days the Illinois State Fair will be starting. It is the mother of all fairs here in Illinois.

We would like to keep the trend going this summer, below is a list of all the country fairs taking place in August.

Get out there and show your support to your favorite 4-H-er, queen contestant or tractor puller.

Illinois State Fair in Springfield has rides and attractions, concerts, horse racing and other family-friendly activities.
Illinois State Fair in Springfield has rides and attractions, concerts, horse racing and other family-friendly activities.

Boone Co. Fair Assoc. – Boone
8/11/2015 – 8/16/2015

Contact:
Chris Schmuggerow
PO Box 97
Belvidere, IL 61008
Phone:  815-509-3870

Launch Web Site

Illinois State Fair – State
8/13/2015 – 8/23/2015

Contact:
P.O. Box 19427
Springfield, IL 62794
Phone:  217-782-6661

Launch Web Site

Greenup-Cumberland Co. Fair Assoc. – Cumberland
8/14/2015 – 8/22/2015

Contact:
Stacey Holsapple
PO Box 679
Greenup, IL 62428
Phone:  217-923-1507

Launch Web Site

Pulaski Civic & Comm. Fair Assoc. – Pulaski
8/16/2015 – 8/22/2015

Contact:
Robert Thurston
PO Box 98
Pulaski, IL 62976
Phone:  618-967-7819

Launch Web Site

Whiteside Co. Central Ag. Society – Whiteside
8/18/2015 – 8/22/2015

Contact:
Mary Beth Dombroski
PO Box 88
Morrison, IL 61270
Phone:  815-336-2046

Launch Web Site

Winnebago Co. Fair Assoc., Inc. – Winnebago
8/18/2015 – 8/23/2015

Contact:
Shawn Connnors
PO Box 810
Pecatonica, IL 61063
Phone:  815-239-1641

Launch Web Site

Fairbury Fair Assoc. – Livingston
8/19/2015 – 8/23/2015

Contact:
Sally Goembel
PO Box 74
Fairbury, IL 61739
Phone:  815-848-3189

Launch Web Site

Union County Fair – Union
8/21/2015 – 8/29/2015

Contact:
Mike Meisenheimer
PO Box 144
Anna, IL 62906
Phone:  618-833 -2408

Launch Web Site

Will County Fair Assoc. – Will
8/26/2015 – 8/30/2015

Contact:
Dana Schubbe
PO Box 578
Peotone, IL
Phone:  708-258-9359

Launch Web Site

Bureau Co. Ag. Board – Bureau
8/26/2015 – 8/30/2015

Contact:
Pete Reviglio
14232 2300 E St.
Princeton, IL 61356
Phone:  815-875-2905

Launch Web Site

DuQuoin State Fair – State
8/28/2015 – 9/7/2015

Contact:
655 Executive Drive
DuQuoin, IL 62832
Phone:  618-542-1515

Launch Web Site

FRIDAY FARM PHOTO

8-7-15 4-H Fair Project editThe best thing about summer? County fair time!

I finally got my yearly -corn dog, funnel cake and lemon shake-up fix.  Food, hands down my favorite thing about fair time.

This time to year also brings the time for children to show off all of their hard work and talents with their 4-H projects. These projects range from cake decorating to showing livestock and everything in between.

4-H is the nation’s largest youth development organization, empowering six million young people throughout the United States. 4-H empowers youth to reach their full potential, working and learning in partnership with caring adults.

Head, Heart, Hands, and Health are the four Hs in 4-H, and they are the four values members work on through fun and engaging programs.

  • Head – Managing, Thinking
  • Heart – Relating, Caring
  • Hands – Giving, Working
  • Health – Being, Living

LIVING THE SIMPLE LIFE

Gpa working on planterIt is very easy to get caught up in the rat race of life. Don’t be afraid to step off that wheel and set your own pace. That is your best chance a living a happy, successful life. Here are a few ways to live a life that isn’t more complicated than it has to be.

You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. If something works well, but isn’t perfect, don’t Kids looking at chickensstart from scratch. Just try to improve what you already have. You’ll save yourself a lot of time, energy, and stress.

Remember that you are working hard for the next generation. Show them who you are by your actions. They will follow your example; set a good one.

Farmer tending to cattleFind a job that you love and it will never feel like work. If you manage that, no matter how much you make at the end of the day; you’re rich.

Don’t ever stop learning or trying to be your best. Even if you fail, you’ll know what you can improve on for the next time. Challenges build character and will make you a better individual.kid showing cattle

Never stop appreciating the beauty of your life. Not everyone has the chance to spend their day working with their hands and following their dreams. Plus, you get to spend a lot of time with chicks.

Don’t worry about going fast. There is nothing chickwrong with taking it slow. Ask any farm kid and they will tell you that this is the best ride they have ever been on. 

Kids in tractor

 

 

 

 

 

nicole yorkNicole York
Southern Illinois University Carbondale

WHY ETHANOL MANDATES?

Most Americans don’t like mandates.

As Americans, we typically believe in capitalism and a business model that sends products out into the world and asks them to stand on their own two feet or die trying.  Yet, farmers have continuously asked for ethanol mandates and I know that’s confusing.

It’s a complex issue – aren’t they all?  You’ll have to stick with me, but I know we’ll come out at the end much smarter …

1. Gas Stations are largely owned by or on contract with “Big Oil.”

rfs lowers costs at the pumpThere are a few locally owned gas stations – in Central Illinois a company called Qik N EZ is popular and those stations do not apply here – but most stations are owned or on contract with the big oil refiners like BP, Shell, or Mobil.

BP, Shell, and Mobil have a significant interest in petroleum-based fuels.  I think we can all agree on that.  And if they don’t own the station, they spell out the terms in a contract that ties the hands of the local owner and doesn’t allow him to make all his own decisions regarding the fuels he can offer.

2. “Big Oil” wants to protect its market.

Of course.  This makes sense.  If I’m a company in the business of refining and retailing petroleum-based fuel, then I obviously want to protect my market and continue making money off petroleum-based fuel.

No one begrudges the oil industry for their self-preservation.  It’s the American way and exactly what we’d expect any other industry to do.

FYI – Exxon Mobil made $4.9 billion in the first quarter of 2015 for reference.

3. But “Big Oil” has little interest in the ethanol industry.  Anything more than 10% ethanol is a competitor.

In a different world, if we were writing a different story, the oil industry would have seen the potential for corn-based ethanol and invested heavily.  If that were the case, we’d be fighting some other battle right now because “Big Oil” would want to see ethanol succeed.  But that didn’t happen.

As it stands, we have a corn-based fuel and a petroleum-based fuel fighting for market share.  Cost of production and cost to the consumer ends up being a huge player in who will succeed.

Ethanol is cheaper and cleaner with better performance so we are poised to win.  But …

4. All those gas stations are owned or contracted with “Big Oil” so they won’t allow ethanol* to be sold.

flex fuel pumpYou know what?  This makes sense too.  It’s sort of like asking Kroger to sell Wal-Mart products out of the goodness of their heart when we all know that the Wal-Mart prices are going to be cheaper.

Selling cheaper corn-based fuel is not in the best interest of the oil industry who wants to protect its market and profit, even though selling corn-based fuel is in the best interest of Americans who want to save money, protect the environment, and not send their sons and daughters overseas to fight for oil.

5. Here’s where the mandate comes in.

It’s not the best option, but America isn’t a Utopian society.  Since selling ethanol* doesn’t make sense for the oil industry and they won’t do it just to be nice (who would?), we have to make them sell it because it’s better for the country.

By the way, the “mandate” is more commonly referred to as the RFS – the Renewable Fuel Standard.  It’s a piece of legislation that forces retailers to sell increasing amounts of ethanol every year because Congress understands that ethanol is good for America.

6. And all those negative things you hear about ethanol?  Those are stories spun by a very wealthy oil industry that doesn’t want to lose market share.

Questions?  Comments?  Let’s chat in the comments …

Mitchell_LindsayLindsay Mitchell
ICGA/ICMB Marketing Manager

 

 

*beyond 10% blends

WAT-about hER-MELON?

It is National Watermelon Day! 8-3-15 Watermelon Tractors 3

To celebrate this delicious fruit, I have compiled a list of some really awesome things to do with watermelon.

First things first, picking the perfect watermelon:

Find one that is heavy for its size. Watermelons are mostly water, so find that one that is heavier than it looks.

Find the yellow spot. This spot should be a creamy yellow, and it is where the melon was sitting on the ground. If the spot is white or not even there, put it back, this means the watermelon is under ripe.

“Knock, Knock. Who’s there?” When you knock on the melon it should have a deep hollow sound and your knuckles should bounce off of it. If the knock sounds dull, it means the flesh is soft –which you don’t want.

Last, but not least, make sure the watermelon is uniform in shape. Irregular bumps or knots could mean it got inconsistent amounts of sun or water.

8-3-15 Watermelon Tractor 2After you have picked your perfect watermelon, now it is time to make something delicious.

I cannot get enough of the all the watermelon carvings. These have become very popular for parties. I have seen them carved into some interesting designs and then used as serving bowls for mixed fruit.

8-3-15 Watermelon John Deere TractorOf course, at IL Corn our favorites are the ones that are carved to look like tractors.

These carvings are a fun way to make eating fruit exciting, especially for young children.

Watermelons don’t have to be limited to just cutting up and put into a fruit bowl. Below are some fun and interesting recipes that include the fruit of the day.

For the adults, Boozy Watermelon Mint Lemonade. Beat the summer heat with this pink drink. You will be the life of the party if you bring this refreshing cocktail. You could also substitute the booze for water to make virgin lemonade.

Sweet and Spicy Watermelon Salsa. This recipe is pico de gallo, but with watermelon instead of tomatoes. It is a great change of pace, and will satisfy the whole pallet. My suggestion would be to add in pineapple if you want some added sweetness.

Watermelon-Cucumber-BitesWant to try something outside the box? Try these Watermelon, Cucumber and Feta Bites. I personally have never tried these, but they sound amazing! The recipe adds a maple-lime glaze that is sure to make them over the top good.

If you have other creative watermelon recipes, we would love to hear them! Drop them in the comments section below.

 

Hannah ZellerHannah Zeller
Communications Assistant