ON #GIVINGTUESDAY, HERE’S WHO IL CORN GIVES TO …

Today is known as #GivingTuesday, a day where people are reminded of the importance of charitable giving. Yet, it can also be a good time to understand where money goes into any organization. That’s why IL Corn is using today to talk about where member contributions go.

Here’s the article: 

To celebrate #givingtuesday, we’re offering a bit of a different take on the idea.

Who does IL Corn give money to?

Granted, these are not charitable organizations and farmers do not invest their money in the Illinois corn checkoff because they want us to do charitable work (though we do SOME charitable work!).  These are the organizations we partner with and provide funds to, to help accomplish our mission of improving corn farmers’ profitability.

U.S. GRAINS COUNCIL: The U.S. Grains Council works all over the world to increase the amount of corn and corn co-products we can sell overseas.  USGC has offices in 10 different countries and enjoy working within those countries promoting U.S. corn, U.S. ethanol, and U.S barley and sorghum.  They encourage buyers to consider U.S. corn, they help settle trade disputes, and they create new markets overseas.  Overall, they build export market demand for Illinois corn which impacts your bottom line.

U.S. MEAT EXPORT FEDERATION: USMEF has a very similar mission to the U.S. Grains Council, only they specialize in marketing red meat overseas.  They also have many country offices, where USMEF employees pay attention to food trends and determine how U.S. beef and pork can fit into those trends.  They simply try to sell more U.S. red meat overseas and add value to each carcass.  With one out of every four hogs exported out of the U.S., this is a huge value opportunity.

U.S.A. POULTRY AND EGG EXPORT COUNCIL:  Ditto everything for U.S. Grains Council and USMEF, only for poultry and egg products.  Did you know that poultry consumes more corn than pork or beef?

NATIONAL CORN GROWERS ASSOCIATION: Certainly, IL Corn is interested in funding their national organization fully so that the corn industry can have a united voice nationwide.  NCGA represents the corn industry in marketing and PR efforts like Common Ground and U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance, they conduct research that benefits the industry, and they are active in Washington, D.C.

ILLINOIS PORK PRODUCERS ASSOCIATION & ILLINOIS BEEF ASSOCIATION: Corn farmers are best served when their markets are vibrant and healthy.  IL Corn partners with IPPA and IBA on a myriad of projects and member service opportunities to support the livestock industry in Illinois.

AG IN THE CLASSROOM: The best way to impact the future is to educate future voters today when they are still young.  Ag in the Classroom partners with IL Corn to provide ag education to rural and non-rural schools through programs and presentations to students, free curriculum, and continuing education for teachers.  Because a vast majority of Americans are removed from the farm, this effort becomes increasingly important.

WATERWAYS COUNCIL INC: Years and years later, IL Corn is still working to get funding for upgraded locks and dams on the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers.  Waterways Council Inc is a coalition of all interested industries who want to build new locks and dams working together to obtain funding.  Investing in transportation is important for farmers who will save considerable money when efficiencies are realized.

IL Corn gives to other groups, organizations, and partnerships too!  These are but a sampling of the work that we are involved in, helping to make the corn industry in Illinois as profitable as possible for our farmers.

Thank you for the opportunity to work on your behalf!

4 THINGS THAT FARMERS HAVE TO BE THANKFUL FOR

Being a farmer is just as much of a career as any other job.  In fact, a family farm is a business that takes years to become established and to grow.  For some people, being a farmer is in their blood.  I don’t think I have never met a farmer who did not love what they do.  I think that farmers can see good in any situation easily because focusing on the positives is often what gets them through.  Without the following, farmers could not do what they do.

  1. Family

On most days, a farmer’s family is what gets them through the day.  Maybe it is his spouse, who does everything she can to work as a team to make sure they run a successful operation.  Maybe it is his kids who he wants to be an example for.  It could even be his parents, who taught him everything he knows about farming.  Even when a farmer does not have a typical family or isn’t a 5th generation farmer, his family is still what got him to where he is today. The family is something that the farmer can go to after all the work is finished.

  1. Land

40% of all land in the United States is farmland. This seems like a lot, but as time goes by acquiring land is becoming more and more difficult.  Land is so precious because everyone who has it wants to keep it.  A common way that a farmer own land is by inheriting it from his father or grandfather.  This doesn’t mean that he didn’t work for it, though, because odds are he has been working this land his entire life and maybe even for free. He might have even bought it off of his parents.  In addition to owning land, the farmer probably farms other people’s land for a profit, which is called cash-rent.  With land being so rare, farmers are so thankful that they have it.

  1. Equipment

Farm technology has come a long way.  Farmers today rely so heavily on technology, but it is part of what has made them so successful in recent years.  Equipment can be expensive and maintenance can be difficult, but investing in these machines is so worth it.  With so many other factors that go into farming, having more efficient machinery is a huge advantage.

  1. Good Weather

Yes, everyone likes good weather, but farmers need good weather.  Good weather has different definitions, and for most people that includes sunshine.  Farmers are thankful for sunshine because the crops need it, and they are thankful for the predictable weather because that’s how they know when to plant and harvest.  Unlike most people, farmers love the rain.  When farmers have the right amount of rainfall on their crops, they are so thankful.  Their livelihood depends on the weather, so farmers are especially grateful for good weather because it means they will usually have a good crop.

“The farmer has to be an optimist or he wouldn’t still be a farmer” is a quote from Will Rogers.  It means that no matter what goes wrong, the farmer has to look at what is right to keep going.  When a farmer is blessed with family, land, equipment, and weather, he is very blessed.  When he is not, he still has many other blessings to count.

Kylie Lindley-Bohman
University of Illinois

CURRENT CORN PRICES: THE BEST BLACK FRIDAY DEAL

Black Friday, also known as the Super Bowl for shoppers, is quickly approaching. Shoppers are actively searching and price checking to see which stores are going to have the best deals to start their holiday shopping. Black Friday shoppers are currently making a game plan of what stores they need to shop at and where to get the best deals as possible to be used as gifts for their loved ones during this season of giving.

But what makes Black Friday Deals so great?

Companies are creating more of their products so they can sell at a lower price so it attracts customers not only to their product but to their company as a whole. Is this ideal for the company right away? Probably not, but with the long-term goal in mind it probably favors them.

Current corn prices are a lot like Black Friday deals. Buyers are getting a heck of a deal on corn, but the Company (corn farmers in this case) are really taking a cut in what they should be taking because prices are so low.

But why are Corn Prices so low?

There is a couple of factors that play into this one.

  1. Drought

Throughout the world, there has not been a significant drought for at least 18-24 months. When a drought happens, corn does not grow or produce as much as it normally would. When all of the countries around the world are all producing crops at a normal or even higher rate, prices are bound to get lower because no one is suffering from a shortage. Though it’s good that droughts are not impacting a specific country, it’s really taking a toll on the corn market.

  1. Technology

With the advancement of crop technology such as the use of GMO’s, corn has been able to produce higher yields. With more corn being grown more than before all around the world, we have created an overabundance which results in lower prices. On the contrary, though, farmers are wanting to grow more corn though so they have more to sell, even though prices are very low.

This year’s corn crop has made an abundance more than it normally does (though it has not set a record high). Corn prices really stink right now, but we are hoping to be prepared in the future when someone bad happens to a corn crop anywhere in the world. Prices are bound to get higher in the future because that is how this cycle works. Farmers have to practice patience and trust that one day the deal is going to play in their favor, just like what Black Friday shoppers do each and every year.

Abby Jacobs
Illinois State University

YOUNG PERSON IN AG: KADE HILL

If you would have told Kade when he was a freshman, enrolling in his first Introduction to Agriculture class that he would eventually pursue a career within the agriculture industry and even get to spend a year promoting it and speaking with all kinds of people serving as the Illinois FFA State President, he would have most likely called you crazy. Kade’s passion for agriculture and educating people about it is something that is truly commendable. Kade is already doing great things as a Young Person in Ag.

  1. What is your ag background?

My agriculture background is fairly limited. My mom works in healthcare and my dad owns a small painting business, so I really didn’t grow up around production agriculture at all.

  1. What were some of your high school experiences/involvement in ag?

I would say I got my start in agriculture when I enrolled in an introduction to agriculture class as a freshman at Paxton-Buckley-Loda High School. Honestly, the main reason I signed up was that two of my good friends were going to take the class and I wanted to take a class with my friends. I had no idea that taking that class would give me such a passion and appreciation for agriculture. As far as one specific experience, it’s hard to nail one down. However, one huge thing I pursued was running to FFA National Office in 2016 and 2017. Even though I was not elected, I think it truly made me learn about myself, my strengths, weaknesses, the National FFA Organization, and agriculture as a whole.

  1. What college do you attend and what is your major?

I am currently a sophomore at The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in the Agriculture Science Education program.

  1. What is your involvement at U of I?

Probably the biggest thing I am involved with at the U of I is the Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity. There I do a lot of different things, but I hold the Recruitment Chair position. I am also involved with the Agriculture Education club, collegiate farm bureau, and a couple other organizations.

  1. Have you had internships/involvement?

This past summer I interned for WYXY Classic 99.1 as a farm broadcaster intern, and I worked under Gale Cunningham in Champaign, IL at the Illini Radio Group. It was a really great way to get agriculture information from a 1st hand point of view. Anywhere from county fairs, to agriculture expo, to even working in the studio I could talk to all sorts of people and hear their stories. As a non-traditional person in agriculture, it was a great way for me to also learn more about production agriculture.

  1. What is your dream job?

As of now becoming a high school Agriculture Education Teacher and FFA Advisor within the state of Illinois is the dream job. Right now, I see the best place for me and where I can make the biggest impact is in the classroom.

  1. Do you have any mentors?

I have always been a strong believer in the saying “It takes a village to raise someone up,” and I truly have had a village who have guided me and helped me in so many aspects of my life. Two big influential people would have Mike White and Doug Anderson, they were my Agriculture Teachers and FFA Advisors. They have invested a lot within me and were always there to advise me when needed, but also to be a supporter as well. If I had to choose someone else, it would have to be my mom. I know that I can go to her for anything, good or bad, and she will in some way help.

  1. Do you remember anything that has really changed while you have been active in the agriculture industry?

Something that I have paid attention to quite a bit has been food labeling. Whether companies put if it is organic or has Genetically Modified Organisms. As a freshman in high school getting into agriculture for the first time this was a hot topic. There were a lot of people that were advocating either for or against it. And now it has transitioned into something that is still very important, but not as on the forefront as it was at first.

  1. How do you see the agriculture industry changing in the next 5-10 years?

Agriculture is an ever-evolving industry and we are always trying to find the best ways to do things. Something that I think people have tried to push or advocate for is inclusiveness of people. I have found that inclusiveness is a very broad term, meaning anything from minorities to non-traditional agriculturists, to religion. So, how do we involve all types of people within the industry and make it welcoming and accepting to those who want to play a part? I am interested to see what steps we as an industry take to become more diverse and inclusive.

  1. Do you have any advice for younger people in agriculture/FFA or thinking about agriculture as a career?

If you’re thinking about trying something, like taking an ag class or competing in a contest, and there is something that is holding you back, just try it. You will never know if you like or dislike something until you have tried it at least once. A lot of things I tried while in FFA were not in my comfort zone, however trying them and finding out that I like them allowed me to broaden my knowledge. Getting out of your comfort zone is difficult, but once you take that leap of faith you will find your passion.

  1. What do you think sets the agriculture industry apart from other industries?

The best way I could describe it would be the unknown of the industry. There are many people who do not truly understand what all agriculture is about. No, we are not all farmers. We, as an industry, are so broad including, research, communications, education, business, as well as production agriculture. Because many people do not know what all it involved it does set ourselves apart. But in a way that is a good thing too.

Lacie Butler
Lake Land College

WHAT WAS FARMING LIKE 10/25/100 YEARS AGO?

 

Change is the only constant in a perpetually evolving world.  Just as life and traditions change, so do farming practices. In today’s day in age, farmers have easy access to tractors and large machinery, which make the profession of farming much easier. Agriculturists also have the technology of fertilizers, that ensure the crops receive necessary nutrients. Advancements in chemicals such as herbicides and pesticides are used to rid fields of unwanted weeds and pests. However, farming has not always been this precise of a science. It’s interesting to look back and see how far farmers have come in the past century.

Early in the 20th-century farmers used a system of planting called hill dropping of checked corn. This system required a wire to be strung from one end of a field to the other, and it would be strung through a planter powered by a team of horses. This wire would release a small pile of corn, hence the term ‘hill’, in 42-inch rows. But why 42 inches? Because that’s the average width of a horse! These checked rows allowed for cultivators to be easily pulled through the field. Since there were no herbicides to kill weeds, farmers relied solely upon cultivators to uproot the nuisances. More in-depth information on this practice can be found here!

Fast forward to about 25 years ago, when farming seems to have vastly improved from the seemingly primitive ways of the early 1900’s. Instead of farming in 42-inch rows, corn grew within 30-inch rows. This allowed for more plants to grow in each field, which lead to an increase in yields. By this point in time, farmers were using tractors to pull their planters, which greatly increased the efficiency of their time and efforts.  However, these aren’t the only technological benefits! In the 1990’s farmers started utilizing satellite technology to increase their accuracy, which made the farming profession a very meticulous one. Additionally, the number of farmers trying conservation tillage methods continued to rise. This simply means that producers leave more plant residue in the field, with intentions to prevent erosion. This extra plant material will add organic matter to the soil, which will also improve the land’s productivity. On top of all these advancements, in 1997 the first insect and weed resistant crops become commercially available. If you’re particularly interested in learning more about how farming improved in the 90’s, I suggest you check out this link!

Farming in the early 2000’s… was it really that much different from farming today? To start off with, one of the most important pieces of legislation regarding farming practices was passed. The Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008, also referred to as the Farm Bill, created rules and regulations for anything from conservation practices, to organic agriculture, to crop insurance. This bill promoted innovative solutions to resource challenges, established a new disaster assistance program, expanded the opportunities for farmers’ markets, and much more!  Further information about the full impacts of the 2008 Farm Bill can be found here. Without these past accomplishments, the agriculture industry would certainly not be the same as it is today.

Rosie Roberts
Iowa State University

AFTER THE ELECTION – A YEAR IN REVIEW

Scrolling through the archives, I found this article posted on November 10 last year.  Reading it takes me back to the uncertainty of America as she woke up following election day 2016.  Many of us were surprised by the election results and scrambling to make some sense of what would come next.  In the IL Corn office, there were also excited feelings – as following any major change in electorate – about the challenges of educating a new President about our issues and the opportunities that a new administration might hold.

Almost a year through this presidency, we’ve been on a roller coaster ride.

Back then, we were excited about the promise of a Republican-controlled House, Senate, and Presidency and the results that such an alignment might deliver.  Happily, nothing negative has happened, but neither have any positive results passed for the country.  There’s just – nothing.  This conservative voter is disappointed to see that having a majority in both houses of Congress and the Executive Office still doesn’t deliver results.

One year ago, Illinois looked forward to working with our newest member of Congress, Raja Krishnamoorthi.  This relationship couldn’t have played out better!  Congressman Krishnamoorthi is responsive to our requests and accessible to farmers.  He is interested in learning about agriculture – the economic driver of Illinois – and willing to help see farmers succeed.

Senator Duckworth is also finishing out her first year in the Senate with many accolades from IL Corn.  We appreciate her support of ethanol and her willingness to learn about the need for lock and dam upgrades, but we had experienced a positive relationship working with her in Congress and expected nothing less.

Farmers are pleased with the team President Trump has assembled for himself, specifically as relates to agriculture.  The President’s choice for Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue, has been an asset leading our industry and farmers are also happy with nominations for Bill Northey, Steve Censky, Ted McKinney, and others.  We see this team coming to agriculture’s defense and helping to promote the industry as recently as last week when Sec Perdue said that withdrawing from NAFTA would have “some tragic consequences.”

Speaking of NAFTA, we worried about it one year ago and we’re still worried about trade today.  President Trump’s trade conversations have caused a bit of upheaval with our foreign customers.  IL Corn was disappointed to see America step out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and nervous to hear of a potential “cancellation” of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).  At the same time, farmers have seen the Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule stopped in its tracks and are mostly pleased with the administration of the Environmental Protection Agency taking more of a commonsense, science-based approach to environmental regulations.

All in all, you win some, you lose some.  I suppose that’s the way our government is designed.  A win for any one industry or any one person wouldn’t always be good for the whole, right?

Our office remains excited about the opportunity to work with the administration and the Congress towards some of our most important priorities.

Lindsay Mitchell
ICGA/ICMB Marketing Director

YOUNG PERSON IN AG: MAZI WALKER

Mazi can make friends anywhere she goes. On a bus going to Washington D.C. or at a conference for an organization, she loves meeting new people. Don’t talk about sheep too close to her or she will talk your ear off about how much she loves sheep and its industry. Her passion for meeting new people, sheep, and leadership is what makes her a great young person in ag.

  1. What is your ag background?

I am the fourth-generation agriculturists where in the past we farmed corn and soybeans, but know we are only focused on the sheep industry. We currently run about 20 breeding ewes with alternating breeding rams every two years. The lambs will be born between January 1st and March 31st. The lambs that don’t meet show quality will be sold to local consumers and sale barns. The sheep industry has opened many doors for me and is something I am happy to be a part of and teach others about it.

  1. What college do you attend and what is your major?

I am a freshman at Lake Land College in Mattoon, IL in the Agriculture Transfer program. After Lake Land, I will transfer to a four-year university and double major in agriculture business and animal science.

  1. What is your involvement at Lake Land?

I am a Freshman Delegate in the Student Government Association that represents the student body. I am also a part of our Agriculture Transfer Club and the Inaugural Colligate Farm Bureau here on campus.

  1. What were some of your high school experiences/involvement in ag?

I was a part of many organizations including serving on the 2016-2017 state FFA officer team as the Section 13 President. I also served as the District III student director. In 4-H I have been the president of my club for the past 4 years. My senior year I was able to start my own agricultural business, Black Sheep Photography. I traveled to different livestock shows and farms to take photos of livestock that was then used as promotional tools.

  1. What is your dream job?

I really hope to one day open up my own feed mill to supply livestock producers with feed as well as help them with supplements for their animals.

  1. Do you have any mentors?

My main mentor would have to be my mom. She has never relied on anybody, even in terms of a job. She has opened two successful businesses.

  1. Do you remember anything that has really changed in agriculture?

I have seen more and more involvement with the youth in the agriculture industry. Youth are becoming involved earlier in 4-H and learning about where their food comes from. However, there is still a large gap between those children and other children who do not know where their food comes from.

  1. How do you see the agriculture industry changing in the next 5-10 years?

I see technology becoming bigger and better. I also see GMO’s becoming bigger and better. Hopefully with that comes, even more, education about where our food comes from so consumers can be well educated.

  1. Do you have any advice for younger people in agriculture/FFA or thinking about agriculture as a career?

Don’t sell yourself short, even if you don’t come from an agriculture background. Agriculture is getting bigger, never smaller. If you think you can play a part in this industry or have a new idea then go for it.

  1. Have you ever been looked down on because you’re a young woman in the agriculture industry?

Women in the livestock industry/ show industry are supposed to know their place which is usually just along the fence or alongside the show ring and aren’t supposed to do anything. When they do step up they are looked at as bossy or rude when really, they just want the same opportunities as everyone else. I would say that I have experienced this and have learned how to deal with it.

Lacie Butler
Lake Land College

CANNED PUMPKINS: FROM FARM TO STORE SHELVES

The Today Show recently featured a story on how Libby’s Pumpkin products are produced, starting with the farm. This in-depth leaves no step of the process to the imagination as you the journey from the farm to store shelves. This transparency is something we welcome in the agriculture industry and hope that through this video, consumers will have a better understanding of how food gets to their tables.