FALL HARVEST 2016 UPDATE

Harvest season is in full effect, but it doesn’t work like most seasons do: there isn’t always a concrete timetable or schedule for the farmer to follow. Farmers start and finish at different times. Why does this happen? There are multiple factors that influence harvest progress, but weather is arguably the most important factor. Late summer and early fall weather forecasts are notoriously unpredictable in the Midwest. Sometimes harvest can be delayed for days due to unwelcome rain and then even more time may be needed to let the crop dry. If you add in a planting season so wet that many farmers had to replant crops that were washed out, some farmers are further ahead than others.

As of last Friday, here’s where farmers around the state were in their harvest:

*Note. Important term below: “the historical average” – the average yield of a crop that a farmer’s own land has produced over a certain period of time. Think of it like a baseline for what is normal for that land to produce. (Ag people know this as the actual production history – a component of crop insurance)

10-3-16_harvest_updateDirk Rice, Philo: Corn is 20% done. At this point, I would guess 5-7% above the historical average. Stalks are getting brittle; we aren’t getting discounted, but we have fairly significant percentages of discolored kernels. Still going to likely end up being my 3rd best corn harvest year.

Jeff Jarboe, Loda: We’re 20% complete and our yield is 15-20% above the historical production average.

Jim Reed, De Land: As of this evening (10/1), I will be 60% done with corn. Yields are around 30 bushels per acre better than the historical average.  It looks to be the third best crop ever after 2015 and 2014 (so maybe it’s average?). Corn is really dry. Have yet to see a load with over 19% moisture.

10-3-16_harvest_update2Justin Durdan, Utica: We’re 50% completed with corn, yields average 15% above the historical average. Stay safe!

Mike Wurmnest, Deer Creek: We are 65% done with corn. Moisture is running about 18% with some stalk breakage. Yields are 20% above the five-year average.

Paul Jeschke, Mazon: We are 40% done on corn and our yield is 15% above the historical average.

Randy DeSutter, Woodhull: We are about one-third (33%) done with corn. So far, this year’s corn harvest is our best ever. The yields in 2014 were not out of this world for us. So, I guess this is our 2014. At this point, our yield is 10-15% better than the historical average, at 230-260 bushels per acre.

THE BIG DEAL ABOUT ATRAZINE

atrazine_infographic_fightepa_urlAtrazine.  This funny-sounding word might not sound like anything that pertains to your life, but it affects you more than you know.  The EPA is currently investigating and is considering further regulating atrazine, which could be costly for farmers, and eventually, consumers like you and me.

But what even is atrazine, you ask?  It can be a little tough to explain, so I’ll break it down the best that I can.  The portions in bold should help things make sense.

Atrazine is a herbicide that is applied typically to crops with weed issues.  There are many different ways to control weeds in farming, but for farmers, it’s a cheaper to purchase and apply this herbicide than it is to buy fuel and till up the weeds (pull them up by loosening the soil). Also, the continuous tilling of the weeds can add compaction to the soil levels deep underground, as well as cause erosion on the top soil.

Farmers need a way to feed the world safely and economically.  Atrazine helps immensely with that.  While tilling weeds under is often considered the “safer, chemical-free” option, it’s often worse for the soil in the long-term. 

atrazinePreviously, atrazine has been investigated thoroughly by the EPA and other government regulatory agencies for its environmental impacts and safety risks, and it has been approved for continuous use.  Seriously, the EPA means business when it checks these things out.  From water safety studies to human and animal cancer studies, the EPA and other agencies like it have put atrazine through the wringer to make sure it’s safe and sustainable to use on our farms and on our earth.  Except this time around, the EPA is backtracking its endorsement.

It’s like if a friend had really great shoes that you wanted to borrow, and she said you could.  Every time you ask her, she says yes.  You use the shoes, take the utmost care of them, and return them in the condition you got them.  Every time, she approves and is pleased with the condition of her shoes.  However, for some reason out of the blue, when you ask her this time, she says she’s not sure.

cost-of-no-atrazineThis pullback and restriction of atrazine use can have some costly effects on farmers and consumers alike.  According to a 2012 University of Chicago study, farming without atrazine could cost farmers up to $59 an acre.  With the average family farm being roughly 231 acres, that adds up to over $13,500 in one year.

For the average family farmer, that can mean they can’t afford their child’s college tuition.  This cost will eventually get passed on to the consumer, meaning higher prices for you at the grocery store and the gas pump. Yikes.

So what can we do to show the EPA that we’re ready to approve atrazine?  Share this article and inform your friends about atrazine.  Call your congressman or send them an email letting them know you approve atrazine for farmer’s use.  

Together, we can keep an affordable, safe, and sustainable food supply for the world.

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Molly Novotney
University of Illinois

FRIDAY FARM PHOTO: #HARVEST16

9-16-16harvestIt’s that time of year again! All of your hard work over the summer is about to pay off…after a little more hard work. The end is in sight! (but let’s be honest – farmer’s work never really ends). Be safe out there and happy harvest! Be sure to give us your updates in the field on social media by using #harvest16 and #ILharvest16.

FRIDAY FARM PHOTO: ILLINOIS STATE FAIR

IMG_8861This past Tuesday (August 16) was Ag Day at the Illinois State Fair. If you’re familiar with the history of the fair, you’ll know the fair’s primary purpose was for agriculture. People brought their animals from across the state and to compete in showing. For instance, the competition would decide which dairy cow had the best features and characteristic of the ideal dairy cow that would best carry on the breed. These competitions still exist today and have varying criteria based on the category/animal.

Since then, the Illinois State Fair has evolved to include a non-farming audience with different games, rides, concerts and foods. While no one is discounting the glory of a funnel cake, Ag Day was created to give a spotlight to the fair’s original intention. This year, IL Corn joined other agriculture organizations, farming families, and government leaders to showcase the industry while also engaging the non-farming community to learn about issues agriculture faces today.

Among the events:

 

 

  • 8-16-16rauner

    Government officials including Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner and U.S. Congressman for Illinois Cheri Bustos showed their support by meeting with industry leaders.

 

 

 

  • IMG_8851Illinois FFA members interacted with government and industry officials to talk shop as they learn more to become our nation’s next agriculture leaders.

 

 

Check out more from our Facebook, where we livestreamed an interview with Illinois FFA members and heard from IL Corn leaders.

AG CAREER PROFILES: WHAT DOES AN AGRIBUSINESS CONTROLLER DO?

Mary Mackinson Faber is the 5th generation involved in her family’s farm near Pontiac, Illinois. She grew up on her family’s grain and dairy operations located about 100 miles southwest of Chicago. Currently, she is employed with Graymont Cooperative as the Controller, and she manages her family farm’s social media presence online. She graduated from Illinois State with a B.S. in Agribusiness and an MBA. She is married to Jesse Faber, Agriculture Teacher and FFA Advisor at Pontiac Township High School. They have two kids, Ava and Eli.

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DAKOTA: What made you decide to work in an agribusiness?

MARY: Graduating from high school, I did not know what I wanted to “be when I grew up.”  I took one area that I was and still am incredible passionate about, agriculture and another idea that I really enjoyed, business and decided to major in Agriculture Business at Illinois State University.

DAKOTA:  What is your day to day role in your job?

agribusiness_controllerMARY: I am the Controller for Graymont Cooperative Association a local agriculture cooperative that is a grain storage facility, agronomy input supplier, feed mill and internet provider. My job responsibilities include human resources, customer credit and collections, and accounts payable. I oversee the sale and purchase of common and preferred stock and patronage pay-out and redemption. I take great pride in the reconciliation and presentation of department and company-wide monthly and fiscal year-end financial statements. In addition to making sure that all of the numbers balance, I enjoy serving and engaging with the local farmers. I am extremely proud to work for a company that has been owned by hard-working farm families for more than one hundred years.

DAKOTA: Explain your role on your family’s dairy farm.

MARY: I am the 5th generation to grow up on Mackinson Dairy Farm.  Mackinson Dairy is a dairy and grain farm located north of Pontiac, Illinois or about 100 miles south of Chicago on Interstate 55.  Mackinson Dairy Farm is home to around 165 milking cows and over 150 head of heifer and calves in addition to roughly 2,000 acres of cropland where we grow corn, soybeans, wheat and alfalfa.  Growing up, while I loved the cows and agriculture, I knew I was not cut out to be on the farm every day.  As I entered college, I started to realize the disconnect between consumer and farmer and soon discovered my passion for advocacy.  I have been trying to bridge the disconnect ever since but truly became active advocating on social media after I became a Mom.  Today, I am responsible for managing the farm’s social media presence.

7-7-16mary1DAKOTA: To someone outside of the agriculture industry, why should they join in on the careers involved in agriculture?

MARY: As more agriculturists start to tell their amazing stories, people will see agriculture is more than just plows, cows, and sows. The image of what an agriculture career looks like needs to be updated. The image should include the farmer, but also a nutritionist, food scientist, machinist, mechanical engineer and social media expert. Agriculture needs to embrace the diverse opportunities available and build enthusiasm for these types of careers. My husband and I are fortunate to have amazing jobs in the agriculture sector, and it is a wonderful industry for raising a family.

You can find Mary on her blog at MackinsonDairy.com, and their Facebook at facebook.com/MackinsonDairyFarm

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Dakota Cowger
Communications Intern
IL Corn

BREAKING DOWN THE MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT GMOS

“OMG, GMOs!” This seems to be the mantra of consumers everywhere on the topic of food safety. The issue is, people have no idea where their food comes from, let alone what GMOs are. The website GMO Answers describes a GMO as “a crop that has very specific changes made to its DNA. They usually have one to two genes added or silenced to achieve a desired trait. This plant breeding technique is called genetic engineering, and it enables plant breeders to take individual traits from one plant or organism and to another with the purpose of improving or changing the trait.” GMOs are not created by sticking a syringe into your fresh produce. The process is way more special (and safer) than that! Watch this video for more information.

GMO Free BreadOne of the largest misconceptions on GMOs is that the aisles at your local grocery store are full of GMOs. Have you ever seen GMO-free bread on the shelf? It’s usually more expensive than “regular” bread. Funny story, you’re paying for that “GMO Free” label. There is no such thing as Genetically Modified wheat. There are only nine GMO crops commercially available in the U.S. today: corn, soybeans, cotton, canola, alfalfa, sugar beets, papaya, summer squash, and potatoes.

Americans will soon begin to see more labels, like the one above, on a variety of food products. Due to a law enacted by Vermont in 2014 that takes effect July 1 and due to a lack of a nationwide policy, all products containing GM ingredients will require a label. These labels will cost consumers across the country roughly $3.8 billion. That’s approximated $50 per family! Those costs, however, are just the start. The switch will cost $81.9 billion annually, costing $1,050 per family per year. Over the course of 20 years, every household would be spending an extra $13,250 on food labels.

To the average consumer, a label may seem like a good idea. GMOs are scary, right? Wrong. GMOs are safe and have been tested to prove that. Here you can find a list of 1,785 long-term GMO studies. By the year 2050, farmers are going to be tasked with feeding 9 billion people. How are they going to do that? Science. Science is helping farmers feed the world and science is proving that GMOs are safe. It’s important to remember that GM isn’t a “thing.” It’s a process. What’s most important is that food safety be confirmed by thorough testing.

Blog4Kellie Blair, a farmer, and agronomist from Dayton, Iowa, says, “I would never intentionally feed my family anything that would be unsafe, and as a farmer, I would never want to produce food that is unsafe for others. I believe that on my farm, we are growing safe food, and I take that responsibility very seriously.”

If you’re looking for more information about GMOs, check out Emily Webel’s blog, Confessions of a Farm Wife! Also, be sure to check out the blog Find Our Common Ground, as well as GMO Answers. All three sources will give you a better understanding of GMOs and their importance.

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Kaity Spangler
Legislative Intern
IL Corn

THE REASON FOR UTTERLY LOW MILK PRICES

Milk is one of the integral parts of my breakfast. Whether served as a full glass or mixed in with my favorite cereal, I have milk every day. Drinking milk is an old standby for parents: it develops strong bones and gives you the Vitamin D you need daily. This adage may gain new ground, because right now milk is incredibly cheap. Prices in places like Wisconsin are down a third from a five-year high. But why is it so cheap? Let’s take a look.

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Credit: Peter Thomson, La Crosse Tribune

Shipping Out Isn’t Shaping Up

America exports roughly 15% of its milk production overseas. Yet, different countries have stopped importing American dairy. China, a major importer of American dairy, has an abundant supply that results in smaller milk purchases. It also does not help that economic sanctions against Russia have halted exporting to the Asian country. Exporting less creates a higher American supply than demand for milk. This overabundance of supply causes prices of milk to plummet.

Milk Means More…Competitors

While exports represent 15% of American milk sales, other countries are coming to play. China has begun producing more milk than it imports. Additionally, New Zealand is a major competitor, only adding to the growing milk production. Equally, this competition forces market prices to decrease. Therefore, the declining exports yet growing milk production by competing countries creates an atmosphere that demands unfavorable action to move milk off the grocery shelves (e.g. slashing prices).

The Cost of a Dollar

The rising strength of the U.S. dollar is another important factor to consider. A strong dollar may signal a stronger U.S. economy than seen in recent years, but that makes American dairy less attractive. Rather than spend loads of money on high-cost milk, importers might choose cheaper options from different countries. Reports of federal interest rates rising will only strengthen the U.S. dollar. Therefore, dairy prices may continue to drop due to less exporting.

Ultimately, low prices may be good for consumers, but American dairy farmers are already feeling the effects.

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Taylor McDonald
Communications Assistant
IL Corn

SIX YEAR ANNIVERSARY!

This silly blog of ours has been around for six years this month.

On my end, that’s six years of monthly blog calendars.  Six years of coming up with fun topics that non-farmers might enjoy.  Six years of editing and proofreading and photographing agriculture.

are farmers richIt’s also six years of helping non-farmers understand agriculture a little bit better.

That might include facts and data, like this popular post on how much farmers might make in a year.

ARE FARMERS RICH?

Or maybe it’s more about who farmers are as people and what sorts of ideals and value systems they have.

WHAT MY KIDS LEARN WHEN THEY DO THEIR CHORES

We’ve been pretty successful sharing information about the business of farming …

growing up in a farm familyFARMING FOR DUMMIES: CASH RENT VS. CROP SHARE

And about the joys and sorrows of farm life.

5 THINGS YOU DIDN’T KNOW ABOUT GROWING UP IN A FARM FAMILY

We’ve even tried to help you understand your food and food labeling,

5 FOOD LABELS YOU SHOULDN’T PAY EXTRA FOR

food labels you shouldn't pay forWhile helping you teach your kids more about farming, food and agriculture.

FUN WAYS TO TEACH YOUR KIDS ABOUT AGRICULTURE

No matter what you’ve gotten out of it, I hope you can safely say that you have learned at least one thing from this blog over the course of six years!

Stick around – there’s lots more learning, fun, and investigation of our industry coming up!

Mitchell_LindsayLindsay Mitchell
ICGA/ICMB Marketing Manager