FRIDAY FARM PHOTO

Illinois Corn recognized that we will likely see a shift in the Congressmen that represented us, but no one predicted quite this large of a shift! Here are the new faces we look forward to working with in January!

Congratulations to Joe Walsh, Robert Dold, Randy Hultgren, Adam Kinzinger, Bobby Schilling, & Mark Kirk on their new offices and thank you to Cong Bean, Foster, Halvorson, & Hare for your service.

NOVEMBER 2ND: NOT MUCH HAS CHANGED

Wow! What happened in that last election (held Tuesday, November 2, 2010 if you have forgotten already)?

Already, much has been written, analysis made, and perhaps even plans formulated about the effect of the national elections. Folks are still trying to figure out how this affects Illinois, especially on the myriad problems and issues facing our new governor (perhaps the old governor) and the newly elected state legislature.

The unusual thing about the Illinois election in terms of the legislature is that really, not much changed. Before the election, Democrats held supermajorities in each chamber. The Illinois House Democratic majority was 70 Democrats to 48 Republicans. After the election, going into the 2011 session, it will be 64-54. Republicans actually won 7 seats formally held by Democrats but lost a north suburban Chicago seat held by a Republican legislator who retired. The net effect is a gain of six seats.
In the Illinois Senate elections, Republicans gained two seats formally held by Democrats. Prior to the election, the Democratic supermajority was 37-22. The majority in the 2011 session will now be 35-24.

Many folks wonder why state elections did not mirror the national trend this year. One of the reasons relates to the redistricting process that each state goes through every ten years following the completion of the national census. States are given the new population data and go through the process of drawing new legislative and congressional district maps that rebalance the population in each district, to essentially provide that the districts have the same number of people in them that a particular officeholder will represent. A significant part of that redistricting planning relates to identifying and consolidating political party affiliation to provide greater opportunity for success by the dominant party in the district.

The legislative maps drawn in 2001 reflected the interests of the dominant political party at that time (Democratic) and reflect those interests in 2010 as well. Legislative district elections tend to focus more on local and state political issues and interests (like tax policies, social service issues, education and the like). Since they are also smaller population political subdivisions, they add credence to the notion that “all politics are local” more so than larger political subdivisions like congressional districts. In comparison, congressional elections (U.S. House and U.S. Senate seats) reflect substantially more on those national policy issues, which oftentimes are separated in the voter’s mind from the state and local political scene.

The Illinois legislature will have redistricting on it’s “must do” list in the 2011 legislative session. Approval of a new plan for re-apportioning legislative and congressional district maps requires only a simple majority vote of the Illinois Senate and Illinois House, and approval by the Governor. However, if the General Assembly cannot agree upon a plan, a Redistrictricting Commission is established under the Illinois Constitution. As witnessed in the November 2010 election results, this decision, made every ten years, has a significant impact over the next ten years that it will be in effect, in terms of elections and ultimately, how the major issues facing the state will be considered, and by those persons elected within that framework.
Rich Clemmons

WHAT DOES NOVEMBER 2 MEAN FOR ILLINOIS AGRICULTURE?

In the wake of a long night waiting up to see the results of the elections (and still waiting to see the outcome of the Gubernatorial race) I’d like to take a moment to reflect on what the outcomes, or proposed outcomes, mean for agriculture. If we assume Governor Quinn wins, we already know he supports an income tax increase and I have to assume that it will be a priority to help resolve our budget mess. The problem with this plan of attack is that it only solves half the annual shortfall at most and does nothing to address our State’s huge backlog of past bills yet to be paid. That means either greater revenue increases or budget cuts, neither of which will be easy.
Furthermore, if Governor Quinn decides to only represent the Chicago area, ag and business are in for a rough four years as additional revenue and/or cuts will not be made over a broad base. Long-term, this continues to put the Illinois economy in a tailspin and business leaves the state.

Farmers can’t move the land so our businesses can’t leave the state! Our choice is to be proactive early on so that the “pain” is shared as equitably as possible and our state’s economy can grow. If not, the result will be that our state will continue its economic decline.

illinois election congressional districtsMoving on to the federal races, I was blown away by the magnitude of the Republican wave. We had four Congressional seats “flip” from Democrat to Republican: Halvorson, Foster, Hare and Bean. I had expected only one or two.

What does this mean? First of all I hope that the zealousness of USEPA on regulations slows down and in some cases stop. Although it was not an election issue, I believe that USEPA is not well-liked in the rural areas for the agenda they have been trying to move forward. The danger for agriculture though is to assume that all of this goes away. Some will slow down, some will be put on the shelf, but some will continue. As an example, nutrient regulation will continue because the movement of nutrient regulation is based on the Clean Water Act that all states were to implement and USEPA was to enforce back in 2000. There’s no getting away from this one.

The other major effect to agriculture is in the area of funding. Nearly everyone elected last night in either the US House or the US Senate will want to demonstrate to the electorate they did something about the deficit when they are up for re-election. This will be a priority. That means that Farm Bill, business tax credits, ethanol tax credits, research, and any other spending by the Federal Government will be under the microscope. This is not a bad thing, but if we expect our elected officials to reduce the federal deficit, ag must be prepared that some of our own programs will be part of the solution.

All in all, it was a fun election night that offers a host of new challenges and opportunities for ag. We have four new US Congressman and a new US Senator that know very little about ag issues and I look forward to the dialogue as we teach them what Illinois’ number one industry is all about.

Rodney M Weinzierl
ICGA Executive Director

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DIRTY ADVERTISING IS NOT A NEW TACTIC

Negative political advertising is almost as old as America itself. In fact, Thomas Jefferson hired James Thomson Callender to write inflammatory stories about the Federalist Party, hoping no one would know that he was behind them. Callender was arrested for these articles under the Alien and Sedition Act, which made it a law not to criticize high ranking government officials. When Jefferson did not rescue him, Callender broke the story regarding an illicit relationship with slave Sally Hemmings. John Adams released ads stating that Jefferson would bring “murder, robbery, rape and incest” to the U.S. because of his support for the French Revolution. It has been nasty ever since.

The Johnson-Goldwater race in 1964 had the famed daisy ad. A little girl picked the petals off of a daisy one by one, while a voice over counted down to one, afterwards a nuclear bomb exploded, obliterating the image of the girl. The message was clear that Goldwater’s response to the cold war was to use nuclear weapons. Goldwater had a slogan, “in your heart you know he’s right.” The Johnson rebuttal was, “in your guts, you know he’s nuts.”

Every election cycle seems to get more expensive and have more extreme ads. The 2010 election will cost between $3 and 4 billion in total advertising. We will not know the final amount for several more days. But it is clearly the dirtiest on record. An ad against House Speaker Pelosi compares her to the “Wicked Witch of the West” complete with flying monkeys on a Wizard of Oz screen with her face on the witch. Nancy Pelosi’s favorable rating is 10 percent nationally, lower than former Vice President Dick Cheney, at his lowest point.

Majority Leader Reid released television ads stating that opponent Sharron Angle has been drinking “crazy juice” causing her, of course, to be crazy. The ad has a caption stating that Sharron Angle thinks “the government is poisoning you with fluoride.” An independent group, Latinos for Reform, released an ad asking Hispanics not to vote at all. This ad has been linked to Sharron Angle and other Republicans. Senator Reid’s ad states that Sharron Angle is calling for “armed resistance against the U.S. Congress.’ She countered by saying Reid wants waves of illegal aliens streaming across our border, joining violent gangs, forcing families to live in fear, giving them free social security benefits, tax breaks and college tuition.

Rep. Grayson of Florida, called his opponent Dan Webster, “Taliban Dan” and released an ad, stating that battered women should stay in abusive marriages comparing his position on women’s issues to the Taliban. Governor Manchin of West Virginia, who is running for the late Robert Byrd’s Senate seat has an ad showing him firing a shot gun against the cap and trade bill. It states that Manchin” is no liberal and he will get government off our backs.” He has the gun pointing at the screen. As a Democrat, this shows him distancing himself from President Obama and the party leadership.

Christine O’Donnell of Delaware ran an ad stating that “she is not a witch and that she is really one of us.” O’Donnell, a Tea Party candidate, has been barraged, along with the others, with a torrent of ads calling them a “veritable army of zombie grandmothers, grandfathers, veterans and neighbors hell bent on dragging the country back to the constitution, killing homosexuals and espousing crazy, radical ideas.” Other ads state that they would “tear down the 100 year safety net, succeed from the Union, advocate murder for homosexuals and lesbians and declare climate change a myth.” Not to be outdone, a pro-Tea Party Ad calls illegal immigration, a way to “bring millions of extra people into the U.S. defecating and creating garbage and looking for jobs.”

One political pundit, decrying the union and corporate ads, states that “candidates and party money no longer have to do the heavy lifting on negative ads. It is being outsourced to nameless, faceless assassins who come in at night and take out the opponents.”

So now it is Election Day and this madness will be over, until the 2012 election campaign starts. If this election cost between $3 and 4 billion, without President Obama on the ballot, can one imagine how much the next election will cost? And based on this election, can one imagine just how dirty and harsh the ads will be?

Even so, we hope you voted today. If you did, you have strengthened our Democracy.

lobbying politics election

David Crow
President, DC Legislative & Regulatory Services, Inc.
 

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DON’T FORGET TO VOTE TOMORROW!

vote election november 2

I hear you when you say that it’s hard to get motivated to vote.  Not only are you so sick of the political campaigns by the time election day comes around that you can’t fathom spending another hour trying to sort through the mess of candidates, but you’re also so confused about who stands for what and who lied to whom that you aren’t sure what direction is up anymore.

That, my friends, is an unfortunate symptom to our democratic, two-party system.  Or maybe of our media only publicizing the worst story.  Or maybe of a lack of upstanding candidates.

Those quandaries are for another post.

What can’t be put off is the simple privilege offered to us in the opportunity to vote tomorrow.  Yes, we may not love the candidates and we may tire of the campaign, but we can’t put aside the millions of people outside our borders that are dying, literally dying, for the same opportunity that you will be offered tomorrow.

While I remain unsure who will ultimately get my vote, I have to admit that Congressman Mark Kirk (currently running for US Senate) did get my attention during his visit to IL Corn in August when he said that electing him to serve Illinois during the lame duck session* would change the balance of parties in the Senate during a time when one party might try to shove policies through the system before the other party gains power in January.  To think that the voters of Illinois might have that much power over policies and the federal government … well … it’s an empowering reminder of how important each vote is!

The moral of the story here is that every American citizen is important.  And to that end, every FARMER is important.  With fewer than 2 percent of the population having your profession and voting in a way that might benefit you, it becomes all the more important to exercise your right.

No one else is going to do it for you.  Don’t forget to vote tomorrow.

*current Illinois Senator Roland Burris who was seated by Rod Blagojevich just before his world blew up was ruled an unconstitutional act and now the people of Illinois get to vote for Senator twice tomorrow – once to fill the seat during the lame duck session and once to fill it starting in January.

Lindsay Mitchell
ICGA/ICMB Marketing Director

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LOVED OUR LAST YEAR AT THE CORN CRIB – LOOKING FORWARD TO ANOTHER!

cornbelters baseball farm harvest combine

Last year at this time, the Illinois Corn Marketing Board was celebrating our new partnership with the Normal CornBelters and announcing the name of The Corn Crib.  Now, with a year of successful corn promotion under our belt at The Corn Crib, we can’t wait to see what new opportunities come up in 2011 to tell the story of the Illinois corn farmer!

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HFCS FEAR IS THE TRICK THIS HALLOWEEN

Ghouls and Goblins will soon be running up and down the streets in your local neighborhood. Children of all ages are on the prowl in stunning costumes to find their favorite candies. Halloween brings visions of ghosts and witches often giving little ones nightmares. But this year parents need not fear High Fructose Corn Syrup as it is nutritionally equal to other table sugars.

High-fructose corn syrup is a popular ingredient in soda pop and other flavored drinks. In fact, this sweetener is the most common on the market and found in processed foods and snacks. But don’t get confused that it’s called “high-fructose” corn syrup. The facts are that table sugar consists of 50/50 fructose and glucose, while HFCS is approximately 55 percent fructose and 42 percent glucose. Does this make them nutritionally different? Not a chance.

The Corn Refiners Association is currently working with the FDA to rename HFCS to “Corn Sugar.” Since consumers believe (and rightfully so based on the name!) that HFCS is actually higher in fructose than other sugars, the petitioners are joining forces with farmers to help clarify consumer product labels and give this sweetener a chance. Corn sugar has been around for over 40 years and refiners have set a goal that the renaming of HFCS will help consumers understand that the HFCS is no different from other sugars and also makes it clearer where the sugar comes from.

HFCS will likely be in all the Halloween candy that you consume this weekend. It naturally enhances flavors, provides a soft texture, and helps make all the foods we love even more enjoyable. This yummy additive is also in ketchup, yogurt, baked goods, and canned fruits. 

This Halloween don’t get tricked by the labels, treat your guests with their favorites. This sweetener made from a natural grain is FDA approved and contains the equivalent amount of calories as sugar. Provide those scary trick-or-treaters with gummy or chocolaty candies without a fear!

Have a Safe and Happy Halloween!!!

Traci Pitstick
Illinois State University
Illinois farm girl

 
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THE US EPA’s VERSION OF A HALLOWEEN DECORATION

Exactly two weeks ago, we let you know that the EPA had approved E15 for cars model years 2007 and newer. We also told you that we weren’t sure the announcement really accomplished anything.

Now, we’re even more sure that the US EPA discriminates against corn-based ethanol based on the proposed labeling requirement they intend for every fuel dispenser. Take a look for yourself. Tom Waterman of The Ethanol Monitor is right when he says that all that’s missing is the skull and cross bones.

ethanol label caution warningVery obviously, the EPA intends to scare people away from using corn-based ethanol before they are even able to give it a second thought. Why not a label that says “this fuel is only EPA approved for cars model years 2007 and newer?” Why not a label that says “Ensure your car is newer than 2007 before using this fuel?”
 
Because our suggestions are about facts and not about fear. The EPA hasn’t approved E15 for 2007 cars and newer not because there’s a lack of information or because there’s anything scientific about cars older than 2007 running less efficiently on E15. They didn’t approve it because there’s an agenda in the US EPA and that agenda very much dislikes corn-based ethanol.
Waterman said, “It seems the agency understands its confusing decision on E15, which probably will not lead to even one gallon of additional ethanol entering the motor fuel pool in the US, and wants to make certain it won’t.”
The scary label is just one more tactic in their war against energy security, against rural America, and against a greener world.
 
NOTE: The EPA is holding a public hearing on November 16, 2010 at the Millennium Knickerbocker Hotel in Chicago, IL. The hearing starts at 10 am CST and continues until everyone has had a chance to speak. The public hearing will address the EPA’s proposed E15 warning label. Please contact the IL Corn office at ilcorn@ilcorn.org if you want additional information on how to testify at this hearing.
Dave Loos
ICGA/ICMB Ethanol Guru

AGRICULTURE – MY HOME AWAY FROM HOME

I loved my house I lived in growing up. It was an average size house but what made it special was the land on which it sat. My grandparents lived next door; separating us was but a wooden pathway and a large fence of trees. All together my brother and I had about 10 acres of land filled with trees and grass to roam and explore. We lived in a crowded northwest suburb of Chicago but when we were home playing, “our town” was the ten acres that sat on a corner hidden by trees. We didn’t have neighborhood friends to play with, we had each other. I was raised with strong family ethics and morals. Sure I was blessed with my friends from school but my best friends were my family. Aside from my mom, dad, brother and grandparents, down a gravel road was a woman who owned donkeys, horses, pigs, and lots of cats. I remember taking walks with my mom and brother to visit her and her animals.

I vaguely recall going with my parents and grandparents to a meeting at our city hall. I was probably about seven years old at the time and there are two things that I still remember about it. One, it was boring. Second and most of all, I remember the woman down the street from me. She was upset; she was opposed to the building of apartments and townhouses behind her property. I remember her tears as she pleaded with the men and women in suits not to build. About a year later that woman moved away to a rural town in northern Illinois. It wasn’t long until we too sold our house. I was devastated the day my mom told my brother and me we were moving. We weren’t moving to a different town, just five minutes down the road to your average suburban neighborhood. I knew that my house was special, now we were leaving it and deep down I knew things were going to change.

Although my grandparents and parents did not sell our houses to developers, we knew it would only be a matter of time until some car dealership got their paws on our property. Sure enough, five years after we moved the trees that sheltered our home and my childhood were gone, vanished like they never existed. I told myself I would never forget what it was like to grow up there. To always remember everything that made it so special. And I do; I remember what it looked like, the tractor rides, playing in our tree house and on our giant tree swing, running through the “forest” with my brother, and having the best birthday parties. However, up until recently I forgot the feeling growing up there gave me.

This may sound outrageous to some, but I think those of you who are a part of agriculture will understand. When I entered the agriculture program at Illinois State University (ISU) I found a familiar feeling that I had almost forgotten. Tens years after I moved away from my old house I discovered that being involved in agriculture gives me the same comfort. If asked four years ago if I could ever see myself in agriculture I would have said no way. Now I can’t see myself anywhere else; I am at home.

When I entered the agriculture program at ISU, before classes started, I thought I would be transferring out within a semester. But after the first two weeks of my classes I was hooked. I instantly felt at home and recognized that the agriculture industry is unlike any other. All my teachers and classmates share a personable quality that I’ve learned goes beyond the classroom and into all aspects of the industry. Agriculture is truly the heart of the world. There is a negative misconception amongst consumers towards farmers that is ignorant and misguided by mediated propaganda. The true faces of farmers are hard working, loyal, and honest. Becoming apart of agriculture has given me this insight and now I wish everyone could see agriculture through my eyes.

At ISU I have become very active in the agriculture department and have built strong relationships with my professors. I am vice president for National Agriculture Marketing Association (NAMA) and will be attending my second Agriculture Future of America (AFA) Leader’s Conference this year. I am a senior this year and it will not be long before I enter the professional field of agriculture. I do not yet know where I will start my career or with whom, however I do know that I want to be a part of the relationships that together, make this industry what it is today. I know that my opportunities are endless and wherever I find myself in a year, I will be a part of something unique. I am confident that ISU and the organizations in which I am involved have prepared me for the professional field and I can not wait to continue my life in agriculture. I know I still have a lot to learn about this industry, but I feel so blessed to have found something that sparks such motivation within me.

Maggie Henning
ISU Student

ILLINOIS CORN FARMERS WENT TO THE RACES WITH KENNY WALLACE

With Danika Patrick there, the famous opening line was tweaked a bit, but the resulting roar was just as satisfying…”Drivers! Start your engines!”
That’s all it took to turn this girl into NASCAR’s newest fan. That’s right, add me to the other 75 million Americans the racing giant counts as its constituency.
I was already a Kenny Wallace fan. Sure, I’m a “Johnny come lately” as they say, but I recently met the man who represents the heart of racing to many. He’s one of NASCAR’s most beloved drivers. To me, he’s a genuine guy with a genuine interest in the things that make America great. We have that in common. That, you see, is why I took to him immediately. He saw in me a common love of laughing and (sometimes) ornery behavior.
It was an opportunity made it heaven. Since I count myself as one of farming’s biggest agvocates, my work with Illinois corn farmers was going to be extra special and even more heartfelt than usual this time. We were going to reach an entirely new audience, with a (pardon the pun) entirely new vehicle for that message.
And this (see the picture below), my friends, is that vehicle. But despite how absolutely fantastic it is, the car isn’t what our partnership with Kenny Wallace racing was about.
nascar kenny wallace IL corn farmers
The promotional partnership struck between the Illinois Corn Marketing Board (called Illinois Corn Farmers outside of farm circles) and Kenny Wallace Racing was about the people. In this case, those people include Kenny Wallace, NASCAR and Kenny’s fans (see the people waiting for his autograph?), and Illinois corn farmers.
nascar wallace IL farmers ethanol

And as it happens, the corn gods evidently smiled upon us. Because the day after we announced our partnership, NASCAR publicly announced their intention to move the entire NASCAR series of races to E15 starting in the 2011 season.
Illinois Corn Farmers…NASCAR…fans…Kenny Wallace…ethanol! That’s Good Clean Fun and Good Clean Fuel!

Now, not only can Kenny talk about the family corn farmers of Illinois and ethanol, but he can talk about it in the venue of NASCAR and racing. He did just that at this NASCAR press conference the day before the race at Gateway.

Kenny talked about corn farmers, their crop, and corn ethanol in all his television and radio appearances. He filled his twitter feed and facebook pages with great information about all of you corn farmers. And people responded in the positive.
So did our partnership yield a nicely painted up, sharp looking, eye catching car? You bet. Did we have signage at the track, viewed by the 30,000 people in attendance and the millions on television? Of course. Did we get one-on-one conversations with people visiting the track? More than we could count. Did we get a car that ran in the Top 10 most of the race and finished in the Top 15? Oh ya. How about media coverage? ESPN, Speed TV, AP, local news…yup, they were all there.

But the best thing we got out of this partnership was a new spokesperson and advocate.

You see, what all the research we’ve undertaken here recently at IL Corn has indicated is that despite the issues, it’s the people that matter. You can dispute someone’s facts, but you can’t dispute their feelings. That is a lesson that we in agriculture need to take close to our heart. People carry messages. And we have some of the best people in the world, right here in our midst.
So yes, I’m a new fan of Kenny Wallace.

I’m a new fan of NASCAR.

And I’m a fan of Illinois Corn Farmers.

We reached countless people over the weekend with Kenny Wallace. As a checkoff contributor you can feel proud of that.
Illinois Corn Farmers are in the driver’s seat. Where will you take the opportunity to have a conversation?

nascar ethanol wallace

Tricia Braid
ICGA/ICMB Communications Director

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