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!

Huge Piles of Corn!

corn pile with men

  1. When corn comes out of the field, farmers put it into semi trucks (or other sorts of trucks, but usually semis) and haul it to the elevator.  The elevator is a company that buys, sells, and stores grain.  It is called an “elevator” because the corn is elevated into huge silos for storage.
  2. But in some years like 2014, we produce more corn than we have room to store.  So the elevators put up temporary storage, like the piles you see above, just to keep grain moving out of the field.  To maintain the grain in the same quality in which it arrived, these piles will be covered with huge tarps to keep moisture from getting in.  The piles were also poured on top of huge tiles that will circulate air under the pile and prevent spoilage, damage, and mold
  3. Elevators must apply for a permit from the state to create temporary storage like this – and they can only leave this corn laying here for a short time.  So as they sell the corn, the corn in these piles will be the first to go.
  4. Corn leaves the elevator via train, truck, or river barge to go to other states (like Texas) or other countries to feed livestock.  In Illinois, just under half of our corn leaves the state to feed livestock.
  5. Many people who aren’t familiar with farming understand that the yields we get per acre are pretty static, but nothing could be further from the truth.  Every year, because of superior seed genetics and more efficient crop management practices, our potential yields increase.  Weather or pests sometimes challenge the yields, but the fact remains that our yield potential has a significant upward trend.  We are producing more corn every year than the year before!  That’s great news for a growing world population!


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!!


mexicoMay is World Trade Month and this week in particular has been designated to celebrate agriculture’s contributions to U.S. trade.  If you’ve always wanted to know more about how farmers contribute to our economy via trade, you’ve come to the right place!

(In reality, I’m guessing you’ve never considered that farmers are a major contributor to the products leaving the U.S. and the economic boom that trade provides American citizens.  This is your week!  Learn something!)

Mexico is a hugely important buyer of corn nationally, and also has a great impact as a buyer of Illinois corn. Our river transportation system sends much of our corn directly to the Gulf of Mexico, where it makes the short trip to Mexican markets. This should remind us how important our river transportation system is, and with it, the need for repaired and upgraded locks and dams.

Illinois Corn Marketing Board partners with the U.S. Grains Council to expand export opportunities for corn, ethanol, and DDGS. USGC leverages Illinois farmer checkoff dollars with matching dollars from USDA to expand the work. Learn more about USGC’s work in Mexico at www.bit.ly/1zsm5Ml.

Here are some specifics about Mexico as a buyer of corn:

  • USDA weekly sales info as of 4/23 says Mexico is the top market for U.S. corn this marketing yr, buying 9.5 MMT (million metric tons) so far
  • Mexico imported 10.4 MMT of yellow corn during the 2014 marketing yr, making it 2nd largest market for U.S. yellow corn
  • Mexico imported more than 1.5 MMT of U.S. DDGS last year, making it the second largest market behind China
  • A critical trade deal made booming U.S. grain sales to Mexico possible – read more at www.bit.ly/1FKvRuE
  • Mexico farmers see dramatic results in DDGS feeding trials, building confidence, sales – more at www.bit.ly/1OTJKMM

What’s this mean for you as a non-farmer, an eater, and an American?

  • Vibrant and growing markets mean increased farmer income.
  • Farmers reinvest additional income into their farms.
  • This money drives the Illinois economy, provides jobs, reinvigorates rural America, and promotes investment in new technologies to make agriculture more efficient.


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 …



5. Better relationships with our customers – overseas and domestic

When I interviewed our staff and this one floated to the top of the list, I have to admit thinking that it was a bit different from the things we’ve asked for in past years.  Still, having a good relationship with our customers is a really important thing and maybe something so broad that we’ve overlooked the impact it could have on a host of other things we’d love to have.

Relationship building at its best: IL Corn hosts a Japanese trade team!
Relationship building at its best: IL Corn hosts a Japanese trade team!

Having a better relationship with our overseas customers – really understanding what Chinese buyers want in terms of quality corn and amazing meat products as an example – would have a massive impact on what we were able to supply them and the markets we could drive in the U.S.

It could minimize impacts to U.S. farmers when new traits are approved in our country, but not yet approved for sale to other countries.  What results from this catastrophe is that a lot of corn sits around waiting for a place to be sold.

It could maximize the extent to which the entire globe works together to get food to the hungry people who need it.  Better relationships with customers always seem to impact other areas of our lives, don’t they?  A better working relationship with Colombia for example would surely result our countries working together more efficiently to accomplish other goals, wouldn’t it?

And we're trying to talk to all the Americans who eat about what we do as well!
And we’re trying to talk to all the Americans who eat about what we do as well!

Having a better relationship with our domestic customers (livestock farmers, ethanol manufacturers, and the Americans who eat) would change a lot of dynamics here in the States as well.  Understanding each other would help us to be on the same page for legislative initiatives or attacks on agriculture.

Having a better understanding of what Americans who eat are looking for could help us in a host of ways as well – I’m sure we’re already doing a lot of what they hope we’re doing, but we just don’t understand each other well enough to speak the same language!

In the end, this relationship building gift would impact market opportunities in a huge way and would help us to communicate better with the folks who buy our corn.  It’s a win-win for everyone!

Please Santa, please!  Help an industry out!

Mitchell_LindsayLindsay Mitchell
ICGA/ICMB Marketing Manager



We also want:

4. Fuel Pump Standardization

3. A Functioning State and Federal Government

2. More Stable Farm Profitability


“American” defined by Webster’s Dictionary as relating to, or characteristic of the United States.

patriotism_-_rooseveltThe definition is a broad statement of what an “American” can be defined as.  People from America sometimes don’t full understand the concept of what an “American” may resemble.  I came up with a short list of what an American should focus on when they say claim to be “American”.

#1 Patriotism: Being proud of where you came from should be a #1 focus for Americans. We should be proud of where we came from and the people that live on this great land we call “Home”.

your_vote_counts#2 Freedom: Freedom is what America was founded on.  Without freedom our country would be forced to surrender the rights that we sometimes take for granted. Many countries today are not free to practice voting, religion, or speak. —-I wouldn’t be able to write this blog if those freedoms weren’t in place.
#3 Voting: Having the right to participate in an election is a key way to exercise being American. Many don’t participate in this right and are missing out. We forget that we are in charge of making America great for generations to come and this is how we can do it!


#4 Military: Americans should invest in serving others. By serving others we can join the military, celebrate military holidays, and welcome home soldiers.  Those serving are giving their lives to provide us with Freedom and we should show our gratitude for that privilege.

#5 Equality: Having equal rights is another focus for Americans. We should others the way we want to be treated. By treating others equally we can achieve this focus throughout America.

download (1)#6 Progress: As Americans, we should always strive to be progressive. Progress can be a broad term for many but as long as we are continuing to better ourselves and learn from the past ..we can progress.

And Finally….

#7 Buying:  Buying to support our American companies is a main focus that can be achieved each day.  Going to the grocery store and investing in American made products is way to buy American. The American consumer is keeping jobs in America and keeping money in American pockets by keeping it in our country.

Another example is fuel selection… 145

Buying ethanol is a simple way to be American. We drive to many places; grocery store, school, work, etc…. We have a choice to what fuel type we choose to pick.  Buying ethanol fuel is environmental friendly, less dependent on foreign oil, and keeps money in America. It’s overall a Win, Win for everybody!

If you keep these seven focuses as an American, you will have a good idea of what a true American resembles.  These simple focuses can help show your patriotism and ultimately be American Made!

THEAThea Fruhling
Illinois State University


colombiaWe talked a little bit about trade last month during World Trade Month and hopefully you learned something about Mexico that you didn’t know before.

Since trade is a all over the news lately (while Congress debates/argues/discusses Trade Promotion Authority and Trade Adjustment Assistance) it seems like the right time to help you understand just how important trade is.

Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) basically allows President Obama to negotiate free trade agreements.  Congress then gets to vote yes or no on the deal he’s negotiated.  For more on the ins and outs of TPA, read this.


One free trade agreement that has hugely benefited Illinois in the last couple of years is the Colombian Free Trade Agreement.  This agreement was passed by Congress in October 2011 and effective in May 2012.

colombia-chartSince that time, trade with Colombia is booming.  Colombia is importing a similar amount of U.S. corn in the first four months of this calendar year as last year and will likely exhaust its duty-free quota soon. This is in stark contrast to just two years before when only 18,500 metric tons (728,000 bushels) of U.S. corn were imported by Colombia from January to April 30.

This large increase in the past two years was made possible by both greater availability and the U.S.-Colombia free trade agreement (FTA).

The FTA gives U.S. corn imports up to 2.43 million tons (95.6 million bushels) duty-free treatment, which has been advantageous so far this year. U.S. corn will likely continue to see a price advantage over other competitors even when the country is forced to import outside the duty-free treatment. The quota increases 5 percent every year until 2024 when U.S. corn will not have a duty to enter Colombia.


For the average Illinoisan, this means significant economic stimulus in Illinois.  (Do I have to remind you that we are in desperate need of economic stimulus?!)

Illinois corn is a natural to ship to Colombia.  We have easy access to the Mississippi River and from there, easy access to Colombia.  We also have a plethora of the golden goodness that Colombia needs.  And the price is right because of the duty free status.

Extra money in Illinois means more money changing hands, more jobs, more of everything.  And while trade can’t fix Illinois’ problems over night, it certainly doesn’t hurt.


Trade is good for ALL Americans.  Free trade agreements are often really beneficial for trading farm products like commodity corn or meat because that’s what America is good at, but also includes other stuff from the manufacturing sector.  Products leaving America, no matter the product, is good for Americans.

Even farm products leaving Illinois benefits the rest of the country as Illinois citizens buy products from other states and barge and rail employees benefit from the increased traffic.

Also important to note: if Illinois is absent from trade negotiations with other countries, they’ll enact their own free trade agreements without us, leaving America at a disadvantage.  We really can’t afford to miss out on the economic benefits that trade provides.


I would love to chat with you about them in the comments!!

Mitchell_LindsayLindsay Mitchell
ICGA/ICMB Marketing Manager




Exports (trade) really is so important to the Illinois economy.  Illinois ranks among the top 5 state exporters in 41 industries, including first in railroad rolling stock ($957 million) and second in ag & construction machinery ($8.0 billion), oilseeds & grains ($4.2 billion), and engines & turbines ($2.6 billion).

Between 2009 and 2013, Illinois goods  exports have increased by 53 percent and services exports by 32 percent.  That’s a lot of economic activity during the U.S. downturn and a budget and revenue crisis in Illinois!
exports by the numbers


source: http://tradebenefitsamerica.org/sites/default/files/IL_TRADE_2013_0.pdf 


trade agreements

Just 20 of the world’s 260+ trade agreements include the U.S. It’s time to pass Trade Promotion Authority!

Also loving this update from Mitt Romney on Facebook today.  If someone like Gov Romney is in favor of giving President Obama authority over trade, maybe we should all be in favor!

“It probably wouldn’t be a bad rule of thumb to oppose anything President Obama supports. But Trade Promotion Authority is an exception. Admittedly, his ham-handed rally at Nike gives pause–he should instead have visited New Balance, which still makes some of its shoes in the United States. But putting Obama’s missteps aside, TPA is good for America.

Global trade happens. The old Soviet Union tried to wall itself off from trade and got poorer and weaker as a result. In the modern world, if you can’t compete, you can’t survive and thrive. Fortunately, America can compete–and succeed–if the rules are right, and if they are enforced. Our trade with China has been decidedly disadvantageous because China cheated, big time. And if we don’t negotiate a fair and enforceable trade regime with other nations in Asia, China’s cheating will get even worse.

I can’t be sure that President Obama can negotiate a trade deal that’s good for America, but I am sure that the Republican Congress will turn down one that’s not. And properly crafted, a trade deal will mean more and better paying jobs for Americans–the 38 million trade related jobs in America today pay a good deal more than the average. We can’t ignore the fact that 95% of the world’s consumers live outside the United States: if we can’t successfully sell our products and services to them, we will become an economic backwater like the Soviet Union–and ultimately face the same fate.

Let’s direct the president to do his best and then vote it up or down.”