5 THINGS ABOUT THIS PHOTO: CONG QUIGLEY ON THE FARM!

We’ve got some great photos in the IL Corn library – photos that speak volumes about what we do and who we are as an organization as well as who the farmers are that we serve! This week, we’ll feature a few of those photos as well as share the lessons you can glean from them!

Congressman Quigley on the Farm

quigley on farm1.  In this photo, Congressman Mike Quigley (IL-5) visited the farm to learn more about the primary industry in Illinois.  Congressman Quigley does this very cool “Undercover Congressman” program where he visits Illinoisans and tries to learn more about even the most menial jobs in our state.  I think it shows a real desire to learn – and we couldn’t have been happier to let him farm for a day

2. Connecting Illinois farmers, IL Corn staff, and elected officials is one very important job that IL Corn performs for its members.  As voters, every single American would do well to make at least one connection a year with the people that represent them!  That priority gets lost in the busyness of all of our days – so one job of our association is to help our members connect with elected officials and help elected officials understand as much about farming as possible.

3. The Congressman is standing in front of the machine that harvests corn – called a combine.  A combine is a VERY expensive piece of equipment (just under $500,000!) that a farmer simply can’t do without!  Learn more about combines here.

4. Congressman Quigley was likely shocked to learn about the very technical nature of a modern combine.  Combines monitor yield per acre, utilize GPS to minimize fuel usage and maximize efficiency, and employ a ton of other modern conveniences to make U.S. farming the most efficient food and fuel production industry in the world.

5. As farmer Steve Ruh was harvesting this field in October 2015, he was likely making around 200 bushels per acre.  (A bushel is about the size of a large bag of dog food and an acre is about the size of a football field.)  In October 1980, this same field would have yielded only about 100 bushels per acre.

BEST POSTS OF 2015: TOP FIVE ANSWERS ON FARM SUBSIDIES

As we head into 2016, we’d like to look back at the best performing posts of 2015.  All week, we’ll repost the articles you liked best!  Enjoy!!

TOP FIVE ANSWERS ON FARM SUBSIDIES

Americans have questions about farm subsidies – and why shouldn’t they?  Americans deserve to understand what their taxes are paying for and why.  So here’s the top five questions we get on a semi regular basis and the best, short answers we can provide.  Do you have more questions on farm subsidies?  Ask away in the comments!

1. Why should tax payer dollars fund farmers anyway?

The government got involved in helping farmers stay afloat because they were interested in food security.  Our country needs to guarantee a safe, affordable, DOMESTIC food supply and not put ourselves in the position to have to import food because American farmers go out of business.  The food security portion of this equation is what makes government payments to farmers different than other businesses or industries that are also reliant on weather or market conditions.

Helping farmers stay in business also supports American rural economies that are built on farming and agriculture.  Without farm subsidies, rural communities would be completely desolate and Americans would be forced to urban areas to find work.  In essence, farm subsidies that keep farmers in business help many more Americans that don’t farm, but live in rural communities.

Illinois, farm, field, farmer, country, scenic

2. I don’t want to pay a farmer to not farm!  That’s not right!

There was a time in our history when farmers were paid to leave their land fallow.  The “set aside” program sought to control supply and increase commodity prices.  But we haven’t done this since the 1990s.  The “set aside” program was unauthorized in the 1996 Farm Bill.

3. I don’t really understand what farm subsidies are paying for then.

Government payments to farmers currently come in the form of subsidized crop insurance.  Because farming relies on the weather and is so unpredictable, farmers must insure their crops or face investing a ton of money to plant a crop only to have Mother Nature ruin their crop and leave them with no income for the year.  Crop insurance protects farmers when this happens.

But private insurance companies find the proposition too risky.  No private company can withstand a weather event like the 2012 drought we experienced here in IL.  So the government subsidizes crop insurance, making it available for farmers and encouraging them to protect themselves.

Farmers do pay a portion of their premium AND what amounts to an average of a 20 percent deductible in the event of a loss.

(Stay tuned for a more in-depth look at crop insurance and what it means to farmers in the near future!)

Marty Marr Family

4. Farmers are small businessmen and should compete in a fair and free market just like all other Americans, without government assistance.

Yes.  And that would be amazing.

But consider that farming is a different business model than most.  In most other small businesses, the business buys inputs at wholesale prices, builds a product or completes a service, and then determines the cost for the product or service based on the input costs.  Farmers do not have this business model.buy wholesale, pay retail

They must buy inputs at retail prices, pray for great weather, and accept whatever commodity price the market dictates for that month and year.  Yes, opportunities exist for farmers to mitigate risk, but they should not and can not be compared to all other small businesses because they do not get to dictate market prices that cover their cost of production.

Also, back to the first point, guaranteeing that we have affordable access to domestic food supply is somewhat different than guaranteeing access to barbershops or photographers.

5. Farmers made so much money last year.  I don’t understand why farm subsidies are still needed or even considered by Congress.

Yes, farmers did have a great year in 2013.  Commodity prices were high because of the low corn supply after the drought, but farmers still grew a lot of corn.  They did well and they didn’t need/use their crop insurance.

But like all American families know, you have good years and you have bad years.  Farmers are well versed at saving money back from the good years like 2013, to pay for the bad years like 2014 (and probably 2015!).  Government subsidized crop insurance is still needed because bad years always happen no matter how good the good years were.

If you’re still curious about farm income, read ARE FARMERS RICH here!

I am very excited to answer your questions about farm subsidies and crop insurance.  Please leave a comment!

Lindsay Mitchell 11/14

Lindsay Mitchell
ICGA/ICMB Marketing Manager

CHRISTMAS ON A DAIRY FARM

Christmas is that one-day of year where most people are entitled to getting the day off. But that is a little different for a dairy farmer. No matter what day it is, the cows still have to be milked.  The cows don’t know if it’s Christmas or not. All they know is that they still want to be milked three times a day. Here is an example of a schedule that a dairy farmer might have to go through on Christmas day:

dairy farm calf6:00 am- Wake up and start to prepare yourself for your day. Get everything ready to start milking your herd.

7:00-9:00 am- You start milking your cows. You will have the challenge of dealing with sick cows and any other problems that may pop up during milking.

9:00-10:00 am- Of course a mess is always going to occur when working with cows. If you have been around cows, you know that they like to poop a lot. So this time would be clean up time. Milking parlors have high standards and must be spotless.

images10:00am – It is time to feed your hungry cows. They aren’t like dogs where you have to go out and put some food in a bowl. You have to mix the feed to a precise ratio.  Cows are actually very picky eaters; so all the feed must be very uniform.  It takes a lot of time especially if you have a high number of cattle.

12:00 pm- It is finally noon, and this is the time when you get to sit down eat your lunch and cram in a two hour nap.

2:00-4:00 pm- It’s that time again! Time to milk your cows for the second time today. Each milking is never the same. You will still have some challenges that you will have to overcome.

4:00- 5:00 pm-And still the cows know how to make a mess. Cleaning is very big part of the work that goes into a dairy farm.  There is always something that needs to be cleaned.

dairy farm feed5:00 pm- Before you are able to enjoy the rest of your Christmas, you need to feed your cows one more time. You never want your cows to run out of feed. If the cows are not fed, they will not produce milk.

6:00 pm- You are now able to sit down with your family and enjoy your Christmas. You get to have that typical Christmas evening just like every one else. But that doesn’t get to last for long. You are only able to stay up for a few hours since you have to get up soon to do your third milking.

11:00-1:00 am- Most people are asleep in their beds, but you are up doing your third milking.

1:00-2:00 am- Time to clean up for the final time of the day. It seems like cleaning is a never-ending chore on a dairy farm.

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As you can see, no matter what day it is the cows still need to be milked. But dairy farmers love what they do. They would have to love it to be able to do it all the time. But you must think that if we didn’t have those people who love milking their cows, we wouldn’t have the dairy products that we all so love.  So there has to be somebody out there to do it.  So make sure you remember those dairy farmers this Christmas, and be thankful that they love to work with their cows no matter the day.

samanthaSamantha Wagner
Illinois State University

ALL WE WANT FOR CHRISTMAS: MORE SOCIAL MEDIA INTERACTION

dear santa

 

 

It’s become a tradition and we aren’t stopping now!  Want to know what’s on IL Corn’s Christmas list this year?  We’re hoping Santa brings us …

 

 

1. More Social Media Interaction

Yes, it’s definitely the least important on our Christmas list, and yet, if more people were plugged in to who we are and what we are doing, we think getting the other items on our list would be so much easier!

Everyday, IL Corn staff and farmer leaders are publishing information that is relevant to Illinois farmers and Illinois ag.  If you really want to understand what it is to be a farmer and what farmers are facing today, we wish you’d plug in!

Are you curious about the science and the economics behind farming?  You might get something out of our daily news updates.  We call them “Corn Scoops,” and they are geared towards our farmer members, but you can subscribe to the updates too!  Get them daily or weekly … your choice.  Click right here to sign up.

adopting biotechnologyMaybe you’d like a little less intense look at Illinois agriculture.  Find some motivating quotes, beautiful farm scenes, and important ag facts on our Instagram page.  It’s our fastest growing social media outlet!  (Click here to see what we’re up to, but to subscribe, you need to download Instagram on your smart phone and search for ilcorn.)

Perhaps the easiest place of all to keep up with us is on Facebook.  We’re sharing interesting articles from all over the web here as well as our own stories.  This is the very best place to learn more about what IL Corn is doing, but also to learn more about farmers in general, how they farm, and why they are invested in doing what they do well.  This will take you directly to our page!

And, if you haven’t already, make sure you’re following this blog.  You can follow us by checking out the bar on the right side of this page!

If more people read about, paid attention to, and understood farmers and farming, we know that all our other issues would melt away!

Mitchell_LindsayLindsay Mitchell
ICGA/ICMB Marketing Manager

 

 

We also want:

 

5. Better relationships with our customers – overseas and domestic

4. Pump standardization

3. A functioning state and federal government

2. More stable farm profitability

 

ALL WE WANT FOR CHRISTMAS: A FUNCTIONING STATE AND FEDERAL GOVERNMENT

dear santa

 

 

It’s become a tradition and we aren’t stopping now!  Want to know what’s on IL Corn’s Christmas list this year?  We’re hoping Santa brings us …

 

 

3. A Functioning State and Federal Government

Here’s the thing: an organization like ours appreciates the opportunity to get things done.  Getting things done within a non-functioning government framework is very, very difficult.  Ergo, our organization isn’t getting anything done for farmers – and it’s frustrating.

Illinois State House Capitol - Springfield
Illinois State House Capitol – Springfield

Illinois is in a bit different scenario than some of our fellow Midwestern ag states.  Most of them are dealing with the same frustrating federal government status quo, but they find opportunities to benefit farmers in their states by moving state initiatives and they still accomplish some good.

In Illinois, we can’t move state OR federal initiatives.  So we often feel like we’re twiddling our thumbs.

In spite of the broken state of our state and federal government, we have accomplished a few things:

  1. The livestock industry in Illinois is growing.  Certainly, this has much to do with market signals that are screaming at farmers to invest, but the economic impact that results from investment in the livestock industry (an estimated $70 million!) can’t hurt our broken state.
  2. We are effectively working with our state EPA and other agencies to clean up Illinois water.  To date, we have several important projects going on – both research and educational – to help farmers understand the VOLUNTARY practices that will minimize nutrient run off.  When we keep the practices voluntary but still accomplish the goal, we relieve the burden of paperwork for farmers and the cost of implementation for our state.
  3. We’ve secured some federal grant monies to help with that fuel pump standardization priority that I mentioned yesterday.  With any luck, many of the fuel pumps will be ready to handle higher blends of ethanol by this time next year!

Though we’ve found places to make a difference and we’re continuing to positively impact the farmers in Illinois, it would definitely be nice to have a functioning government to help and not hinder our growth.

Santa, this is a huge ask, but can you make our government work!?

 

Mitchell_LindsayLindsay Mitchell
ICGA/ICMB Marketing Manager

 

 

We also want:

5. Better relationships with our customers – overseas and domestic

4. Pump standardization

2. More Stable Farm Profitability

CHRISTMAS RECIPES TO REPEAT: YOUR FOOD AND THE FARM IT IS FROM

Recipes for Success: Your Food and the Farm it is From

The world today is full of diets, food advice, food controversy, gluten-free, organic, free-range, and all sorts of other things that make choosing the food you eat down right confusing. So today we are going to try and provide you with resources that will hopefully be useful in your search for delicious food.

  1. Farmland

farmlandThis film takes a candid look at American farmers and ranchers from around the United States. It is a documentary funded by U.S. Farmers and Rancher Alliance and takes a look at 6 different farms and ranches while getting the farmers’ perspective on controversial topics like GMOs, antibiotic use, and the overall treatment of animals. It is an excellent film and provides a close look at places your food could be coming from.

  1. watchusgrow.org

watch us grow logoThis website is simply awesome and provides a look into Illinois farms. Watch Us Grow has partnered with Illinois Corn for their main program. The main program they have brings urban moms to rural farms in order to see how they food they eat is produced. They discuss livestock as well as crops. It is a good resource if you have the time browse.

  1. This Article on Pesticides and this Website Discussing Antibiotics

There is a lot of misinformation about food being unsafe because of pesticides and antibiotics, as well as the belief that organic is outright healthier than conventionally raised foods. Both of these places discuss these issues and talk about the facts.

  1. Your Food, Farm to Table

This is a great video short that shows how farming has changed since it first began. “Your Food, Farm to Table” is an animated video made by the International Food Information Council Foundation to give consumers an idea of just where there food comes from. While not nearly as controversial as some of the other topics in this list, it is still worthwhile to watch if you have a couple of minutes to spare.

  1. The Official USDA Website

USDA logoThis page is a good place to go get some general information about anything from food production to current food programs that are going on in the US. From here you can also read about the current laws and regulations in place by the USDA for crop and animal production. You can also access the 2012 farm census data.

6. Lastly…….

Stay up to date and be sure to continue to check out CornCorps!

derekDerek DeVries
Illinois State University student

FRIDAY FARM PHOTO: FIGHTING HUNGER IN ILLINOIS

IMG_6272 edit

As part of the Pork Power: Partnering to Fight Hunger in Illinois campaign, the Illinois Pork Producers Association (IPPA), along with the Illinois Corn Marketing Board (ICMB) and the Illinois Soybean Association (ISA), presented $9,050 to provide ground pork to the Midwest Food Bank (MFB). The groups also partnered with Steidinger Foods of Fairbury and Calihan Pork Processors of Peoria in this donation which in total will amount to 12,500 pounds of ground pork donated to MFB.

#TBT DISTILLERS GRAINS WITH SOLUBLES: WHAT ARE THEY?!

This post was originally posted on January 15, 2015.

Farmers, livestock feed, texas mission, ddgsDried distillers grains with solubles (DDGS) have become a valuable part of agriculture.  A by-product of ethanol production, this product makes an excellent livestock feed and is transported by rail to various parts of the U.S. so that the livestock centers of the world can take advantage of it.  DDGS are also exported to other countries to feed livestock there.

coop, livestock feed, ethanol plant by productDDGS can be either dry or wet.  In the Midwest, it is very common for ethanol plants to dry their DDGS in a dryer.  This dry product stays fresh for a much longer time and is able to be transported across the country or world.  It is also cheaper to transport because ethanol plants are not shipping so much water weight.  The DDGS in the photo above are dried.

ethanol plant, by product, livestock feed, wet distillers grains

The Distillers Grains in this photo are wet.  Often, ethanol plants that are co-located with livestock farms don’t undergo the additional cost to dry their DDGS because they can be used nearly instantly by area livestock.  Also, with livestock close by, these WDGS don’t need to be transported great distances, thus the water weight does not matter.  The WDGS pictured here are produced in Texas and feed almost immediately to cattle.

One-third of the corn used in ethanol production returns to the market as livestock feed.  In fact, DDGS have replaced soybean meal as the second largest livestock feed component, second behind corn.

Want to learn more about DDGS?  Check out these links:

DDGS OVERTAKE #2 SPOT IN LIVESTOCK RATION FEEDSTOCK FROM SOYBEANS

NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION ABOUT DDGS FROM DIFFERENT IL ETHANOL PLANTS

Lindsay Mitchell
ICGA/ICMB Marketing Director

FALL FASHION- OR SHOULD I SAY ‘FARM’ FASHION

As apple picking, harvest, and pumpkin patches give way to Christmas shopping, snow, and snowboarding I’d like to take a minute to reflect on this Fall’s fashion trends. “Why,” you ask? Because I’m ecstatic that in the past season fashion and functionality finally became friends! Take a look at these 2015 fall trends and just TRY to deny the fact that
farmers have had it goin’ on all along!

Flannel

flannelsFlannel button downs were hot this season for both men and women. Slip a puffer vest over that and you have the perfect outfit to run your morning errands in… OR haul corn in! Country folks have been sporting flannel since the beginning of time. This breathable, soft fabric is the perfect blend of durable, lightweight, and warmth. It allows a guy to go from temperature-controlled combine, to field, to grain truck, to elevator office without breaking a sweat. Its vast array of colors and patterns also make this the ideal transition piece from fall to winter.

vest1Vests

Outerwear vests are another fashionable item that we ripped right off the backs of farmers and outdoorsmen. I like them because they allow me to go from car to mall without the bulk of sleeves to carry around with me while I tote a 7 pound purse and numerous shopping bags… Humph! Imagine that! Farmer’s feel the same (almost). Plus there’s that macho aspect of withstanding the cold without an actual coat.

Boots

BootsFarmers wear boots. Cowboy boots, mud boots, work boots, steel toe boots. There are LOTS of boots. On my front porch. I think I have 6 pairs of boots myself… (mud, snow, riding, flat, heal, and a cute little pair of oxblood colored booties) and that still does not rival my farmer’s boot collection. You know that you’re an amateur in the boot dept. when your husband schools you on tight rolling your jeans.

Skinny jeanswrangler butt

Speaking of tight rolling jeans… Farmers have a version of skinny jeans of their own. They’re called Wranglers. Bear in mind not all Wranglers are skinny, and they certainly aren’t 5% spandex like women’s skinny jeans. But they have the same ability to tuck easily into boots… and desirable effect on the rear. And I am not complaining.

Thanks to these popular 2015 trends, this harvest my farmer was able to brush off bees wings, switch out boots and head out the door in a flash. And I have to say, I coordinated with him quite nicely!

A&G cropped

Deal_AshleyAshley Deal
Administrative Assistant

5 FACTS ABOUT FARMING SOMEONE ELSE’S LAND

  1. Not all farm land is owned by farmers.

Even though the farmers are the ones working all year long on the land, the farmer is not always the owner of the land. In many cases, investors, heirs of land, and retired farmers own land and it is leased to other farmers to use in different ways.

  1. 10537792-A-farmer-with-a-calculator-on-cereal-box-Subsidies-in-agriculture-Stock-PhotoSome farmers rent land from owners.

While farming land that they own, farmers also will rent land from owners. These agreements can vary, but usually they consist of an agreed upon amount that the farmer will give the owner so that they have full rights to raise a crop on. For example, if an owner owns 80 acres of field prime for corn and soybeans, a row crop farmer will pay a set amount per acre to the owner. This varies by location, but for example we can use $300. Therefore, the farmer will pay $300 per acre of the 80 acre field, and will pay the land owner $24,000 to use the field for that year. This would just be like renting an apartment from a landlord for a set amount each month.

  1. There are different types of land agreements beyond just renting the land.

handshakeWhile some agreements are farmers just renting land from an owner, other types of agreements exist where farmers and land owners make a prearranged schedule of payments on various inputs and the splitting of the output. For example, a land owner might want to split in half the costs and income from a farm. So if seed, chemical, and machinery costs $1,000 a year per acre, the farmer will pay $500 while the owner pays $500. At the end of the year, if the income is $2,000 per acre, the farmer and owner will both receive $1,000.

  1. Owners can pick whoever they want to farm the land.

Owners can obviously choose whoever they want to farm their land. With this in mind, farmers make sure to take care of the land as best as possible. Farmers do not want to lose the bond and agreement with the land owners, so they take care of the land as best they can. This includes using current technologies to save soil and waste less water and nutrients on the fields. The better a farmer treats the land and the land owner, the better chance that they will keep the farm for years to come.

  1. Being respectful to land owners pays off in the long run.

farmerinfieldOver time, building a strong relationship with a land owner can be the best thing a farmer can do. A farmer can make sure to meet the land owner’s wants and needs at a fair price. In the long run, a farmer hopes it works out financially, creating a great business relationship that helps promote the strength of the farm. In some cases, the farmer may even be able to buy the land off of the original owner for a lower price that what would be sold to the public.

Overall, farmers and land owners can be compared to renting a house or apartment from a landlord. The stronger the relationship and the more understanding from each side helps the bond become strong and successful.

dakota cowgerDakota Cowger
Illinois State University Student