THE GIFT THAT KEEPS ON GIVING

Christmas is two weeks away… have you got a gift for the farmer in your life yet?  If you’re anything like me, my dad is the hardest person on my list.  A new tie?  The two he has are still in perfect condition.  Cologne?  The fresh scent of manure is completely free!  A new wrench set?  He’s already bought it for himself.  What to get for the man who has everything and asks for very little?  I’ve got a great idea for this year…. An ICGA membership!

I’m not sure why I didn’t think of this sooner.  An ICGA membership is the perfect gift.  Why?  It is one of the best investments a farmer can make for their farming operation.  Corn Grower member dollars are very important in making ICGA successful because they support legislative activities.  These funds are used for lobbying and political activity at the state and national levels.  Without membership dollars, IL Corn producers have no voice at the government level (by law, checkoff dollars cannot be used for legislative activities).

Not only do membership dollars lobby for corn farmers, they also go towards defending markets for corn.  I’m sure you’ve heard that mainstream media and foodies have falsely labeled HFCS as less healthy than other sugars.  ICGA is here to set the record straight!

You can sign up your loved one for a 1-year, 3-year or lifetime membership.  Visit our website for more information.  It will be the best stocking stuffer they get!

Becky FinfrockBecky Finfrock
Communications Assistant

DID YOU KNOW … NOTABLE FACTS ABOUT IL CORN

The last two weeks have been busy for the Illinois Corn Growers Association and the Illinois Corn Marketing Board.

(As a refresher, the Illinois Corn Growers Association is a membership organization where farmers pay dues to have us represent them on legislative issues in Springfield, IL and Washington, DC.  The Illinois Corn Marketing Board manages farmer check off funds which is essentially money that each farmer pays to pool their money and have a corn “public relations” division to promote and educate about their product.)

Here are some notable “Did You Know’s” about the past two weeks that might surprise you!

Lindsay MitchellLindsay Mitchell
ICGA/ICMB Marketing Director

THANKFUL FOR GROWING UP ON A FARM

Thanksgiving is a time to remember what we are thankful for and be grateful for the opportunities we have had that make us who we are. As I remember what I am thankful for I think about what has impacted my life the most. I am thankful for the opportunity to grow up on a farm. Although the farm was not big I learned working hard was the key to being successful.

My grandparents (who were originally from Chicago) decided to buy a small farm in Northern Illinois and start a dairy operation. Although they did not know the hard work they were going to face, they hit the challenge head on. Dairy farms raise female dairy breed cattle that produce milk for ice cream, cheese, and other dairy products. Dairy farming was not financially feasible for my family which made my farm switch from dairy to grain.

Thankfully, my family decided and were able to keep up with farming rather than give up on it all. Sadly, many farmers have had to stop farming because of financial issues and the younger generations not wanting or able to take over the farming operation. Luckily, my family was able to start a corn and soybean farm and my dad was willing to it take over.

When I was young I can remember how hard my dad worked to create a successful farming operation; but it was not until I was older when I had to get down and dirty learning it the hard way. Although not all times of the year are always busy and stressful, the busiest time of the year is where I learned the most about hard work. And that time of the year is both spring when planting and the fall when harvesting (picking the corn and soybeans). During spring and fall time the most physical labor is done as well as the longest hours. Of course if the weather is accommodating planting and harvest would go a lot smoother. Nevertheless, as we all know, the weather is unpredictable this makes planning for these two seasons almost impossible. But no matter what Mother Nature has in store, the job has to get done and patience was important to be able to keep working hard through long hours day and night.

This is only one example out of many others of how I have learned hard work from being on the farm. I am thankful for having the opportunity to live and work on my family’s farm. Through my experiences, I learned the importance of patience and the rewards of hard work. Qualities like this many farm kids acquire at a young age and use throughout their life, whether they decide to stay on the farm or pursue other careers.

Remember to be thankful for your experiences because they shape who you are.

Bronwyn Burgweger
Illinois State University

SO, YOU THINK FARMERS ARE RICH?

It is a common misconception, thinking that farmers are big money-makers. Did you know that in 2011, the average total farm household income was $57,067, with the farm income alone being NEGATIVE $2,250? Still think farmers are rich?

Commodity prices are publicly broadcasted, but the input prices are not. It has become more expensive than ever to put seed corn and soybeans in the ground. It cost farmers just at $500 per acre to put the crop in the ground. So, figure they get lucky and sell their corn for $7.00 per bushel. With a yield of 150 bushels to the acre, that would be about $1,000. Take out the $500 for the seed, fertilizers, crop insurance, storage, hired labor, and all things necessary to keep the crop healthy, and the farmer is left with $500 per acre. With that money they have to buy their big pieces of machinery, such as a tractor, planter, or combine. Still think they are rich?

For most farmers, their crop production is their only source of income. So after all the business operations are complete, they have to support their family. With all of that, they do not have the leisure of having the opportunity of calling in sick or just taking the day off. Each day is crucial in their operation so they can be as productive as possible. There is always that possibility that they could lose everything in a matter of days, weeks, or months by wind, fire, or other disaster. Farming is an unbelievably uncertain profession to go into.

Farm subsidies are a very important part of a farmer’s business. What happens if there is a really bad drought? Or a new insect or disease introduced to their area? What if commodity prices are down? The farmer still paid that initial money up front to put the crop in the ground. When the yield is below normal, the government steps in and helps the farmer out. Private companies do not have the means of accommodating the riskiness associated with farming.

The subsidies are not free money, either. The farmers have to put forth a lot of work in order to show that their yields are down. For most programs, there is an average bushel per acre that they have as a standard. Another stipulation is that the farmer cannot enroll in multiple programs. They choose what best fits their needs.

The government is helping out its producers, but that gives a lot of help to the consumers too. Farmers are our source of food, fuel, clothing, basically anything you can think of. Would you rather support the government and our farmers, or rely of the Middle Eastern countries to provide us with our gasoline? The government has to guarantee food security for its citizens. Also, to make sure we can sustain our country and not have to rely on others to support our needs.

Do you still think that farmers are rich? Maybe the farm subsidies are not such a bad deal after all.

Katlyn Pieper
Illinois State University

A FARMER’S VOICE

What comes to mind when you think of a farmer? Is it someone who grows food for us and hogs up the road with their tractors in the fall? Or maybe someone who works for the government, providing specifically what they are told. If you are not involved in the agriculture world, you may not know what really goes in to farming, and in return, what comes out of it.

Agriculture is all around us, we sometimes just don’t realize. Think about what you ate today, a good percentage of that food was most likely grown by a farmer. It was planted, harvested, and sent to the store for your consumption. But do you ever wonder where all of that food comes from? And what the decision-making process is behind growing the product was? The answer links back to our American farmers.  

A common misconception among today’s society is that the government tells farmers what to plant and how to plant it. This is in fact false. Farmers do have their own voice on their farm. It is ultimately their decision what type of crop they want to grow, as well as what brand of seed, fertilizer, chemicals, etc. they desire to use once it is planted. Whether its corn, beans, wheat, grass, or another type of plant, farmers make the decision on their own with limited help from outside influences.

Much of their decision on what to plant each year relies on personal preference. Many farmers follow a field rotation of planting corn one year, and then beans the next.  Although, sometimes this pattern can be disrupted if the farmer feels they will receive more money from planting a certain crop back-to-back years, or if other incentives arise that persuade them in a different direction.

When to plant, and when to harvest are determined by the farmer as well. Depending on the crop and the weather conditions throughout the growing season, farmers can assume the best time to take action in their fields. Farmers are their own boss, and can make the decisions on what is best for themselves and their business on their own. (Insert image 2 here).

However, the government does have a say on a certain type of land. This exception is called Highly Erodible Land, or HEL. HEL is land that is steeper sloping and has a higher possibility of eroding, or washing away. Government regulations on this type of land state that you must do a no-till process on the field. No-till means, that after harvesting the crops in the fall, farmers will not do any tilling work to loosen up the ground to prepare for planting the following spring. This process will leave the ground firmer, and thus make it more difficult to wash away, therefore slowing down the erosion process in the future.

Most farms are independently ran operations. Hard work and sweat are the things we notice about farmers from a distance, but behind the scenes is another story. Not only do they work hard to feed America, but farmers tackle a major decision-making process every day. They have their own voice, and success on their farms can be measured by their decisions.

Amy Erlandson
Illinois State University

CELEBRATE WORLD RECORD DAY WITH AG!

Did you know that today is Guinness World Records Day? The annual event, which commemorates the day in 2004 when Guinness World Records became the world’s bestselling copyright book, sees thousands of people all over the world attempt to secure a prestigious world records title during the 24 hour period. People from all walks of life and every corner of the earth are celebrating the weird, wacky and downright astonishing.

How is agriculture represented? Let’s take a look at some of the records held:

• As of July 7, 2006, the record for the smallest living horse is Thumbelina, a miniature sorrel brown mare who measures 44.5 cm (17.5 in) to the withers and is owned by Kay and Paul Goessling who live on the Goose Creek Farm Inc, St Louis, Missouri.


• The most people husking corn is 351 and was achieved at an event organized by Knott’s Berry Farm in Buena Park, California, on July 14, 2011. The record attempt acknowledged Knott’s Berry Farm founders Walter and Cordelia Knott’s 1920’s era corn farming heritage. The record was attempted as part of the Cedar Fair Entertainment Company and Guinness World Records summer 2011 partnership.

• The most spring barley seed planted in 24 hours is 163,907 lb covering an area of 1,431 acres by an unmodified AGCO Challenger MT865 tractor pulling a 60 ft wide Horsch seeder at the Agro-Soyuz farm in Ukraine from April 23-24, 2003. At 500 horse power, the Challenger MT865 tractor is considered the world’s largest production tractor. The record was set on just two fields, one having runs up to 2.8 miles long and the other up to 1.55 miles long. The average work rate was 57.8 acres/hr.

• The largest egg on record weighed 5 lb 11.36 oz and was laid by an ostrich at a farm owned by Kerstin and Gunnar Sahlin in Borlänge, Sweden, on May 17, 2008.


• The largest recorded number of livestock killed by a single bolt of lightning is 68. The Jersey cows were sheltering under a tree at Warwick Marks’ dairy farm near Dorrigo, New South Wales, Australia, on October 31, 2005. A further three were paralyzed for a few hours, but later recovered.

• The most people transplanting seedlings is 1,215 achieved by Council of Agriculture Executive Yuan on an event organized by Taoyuan County Farmers’ Association in Taoyuan, Chinese Taipei, on August 18, 2012. The record was broken by 1,215 participants aged from 16 to 96. They used 16 minutes 20 seconds to transplant more than 300,000 rice seedlings into 2 hectares of rice paddy.

• The largest horn circumference on a steer measured 37.5 inches on May 6, 2003 and belonged to Lurch, an African watusi steer owned by Janice Wolf of Gassville, Arkansas. Sadly, Lurch died at 3 p.m. on 22 May 2010 of a cancer at the base of one of the horns. The body has been released to a local taxidermist, who will produce a full-sized taxidermy of the steer.

THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE

“When I was younger and it would rain in the summer, my brothers, the neighbors down the road, and I, would swim in the ditches,” I recently told a friend I met in college.

“Wow, you are country,” was her response.

It was at that moment where I started to think about the differences between growing up in the country compared to growing up in town.  The lifestyles are completely different and as my peers become older, I personally notice the positive impact of being raised in the country. It seems to me that my peers from the same background as myself are laid back, and not afraid of a little grease under the fingernails.   While in college, I’ve become friends with individuals who were raised in the city, and I have since been able to experience their way of living. Their lifestyle is so different as they always seem to be on-the-go while keeping up with the latest trends on the street.  Side note: According to my childhood scrapbooks, keeping up with fashion was not something that ever interested me.  Thanks to my mom for allowing me to wear my cut-off jeans made into shorts, and over the ankle leather lace up boots with white socks peeking out of the top.

Growing up in the country is a fond memory, and one that I will never forget.  During my childhood, my brothers and I would play hide-and-go-seek in the cornfield, we would walk through the large tunnels at the end of the asphalt road (it was especially fun when we would lay on top of the tunnels and look at each other from opposite ends), and we would climb the wobbly wooden steps up to the hayloft in the barn just to hangout.  My three brothers were my best friends.  My greatest summer accomplishments would be to replace last years’ kiddie tractor pull trophies with new ones from local festivals, and county and state fairs, and our family vacation location depended on where my dad would be showing his antique tractors.

In the country, you’ve got to make do with that you have.  When the closest ‘big town’ is twenty miles away, a trip to town was something to look forward to for days to come.  Transportation included our bicycles that got us half a mile down the road, and sometimes if we promised to stay together we could take a long ride to grandma’s house three miles away (three miles is a long way when you’re eight years old). The individuals who I argued with, laughed with, and relied upon were my family.

After nineteen years of calling home “the middle of nowhere,” it was my time to move to college. I still remember the day I was with a friend and she saw a combine and had no idea what this “large vehicle” was, or why it was “running over the plants.”  While I’ve had the opportunity to experience both lifestyles, I look back and realize how blessed I was to grow up in the country.  My background has helped me to become the hard working individual who I am today, while learning to appreciate the small things in life.

While my friends in the city describe the country life as boring, there’s just something indescribable about sitting on the back porch looking at nothing but cornfields and bean fields for miles.

Abby Coers
U of I Graduate

RESOURCES

Looking for social media about agriculture?  Check out these great resources that focus on everything you need to know about agriculture.  Whether you’re a farmer or not from a farm background this compiled list has everything you are looking for.

Ag Everyday: This is an exceptional FACEBOOK page.  It is great for all ages to explore different agricultural topics. It appeals to not only farmers but to also urban families.  It includes fun recipes, facts, and hot topics about agriculture.

Keeping it Real: Through the lens of a Farm Girl:  This is a unique FACEBOOK page that focuses on incorporating photography with current agriculture issues.   The beautiful pictures aren’t only fun to look at but are educational.

She’s Country: This FACEBOOK page appeals to women all over who have a little bit of country in them.  It includes facts, recipes, and conversation threads to include all women.

FBlog: Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau this blog is great for the public to learn and discuss today’s leading topics in agriculture.  It covers all agriculture topics and is a great read.

Illinois Farm Families Blog: This website is great for city mom’s looking to see where their food comes from.  This fun website features different farmers, agriculture issues, facts about farming, and allows the opportunity to start and comment on different agriculture related discussions.

Farm Progress: This website features local and national farm news.  This is an informational news site that provides current facts about what is going on in today’s agriculture.  A mobile app is available for on the go information.

I’m Farming and I Grow It: This YouTube video is for our younger generation.  This fun music parody gives insight to the life of an active farmer and promotes agriculture.  Follow the Peterson Farm Brother to see their other fun videos.

USDA YouTube Channel:  The United States Department of Agriculture has a great channel of movies that interview farmers, discuss current issues in agriculture, and give informative footage on all different types of agriculture.

Remember, for FACEBOOK pages, you can “like” them to continue receiving their posts and for blogs you can “subscribe” or “follow” to continue reading.

Alyssa Kabureck and Leah Wilkening
Illinois Corn Summer Interns

PENCILS, PAPERS, & ERASERS, OH MY!

Back to School with Agriculture in Mind

It’s that time of year, the time that parents look forward to the most and the time children dread. It’s time for children everywhere to go back to school! At the end of summer, schools post their back to school items needed for each student to be successful in the coming school year. Whether your child is going into Kindergarten or High School, some of the items on the back to school lists consist of the same items including, pencils, crayons, glue sticks, and loose leaf paper. All of these products are extremely important for students all around the world and they all include American agricultural products to succeed in classroom activities.

Most school supplies are made from some part of United States agriculture whether it is made form crops or renewable resources. Luckily one of the biggest producers of school supplies comes from forests all around America. About 33% of the U.S is forestland that is the same as 737 million acres! Forests have many responsibilities; one, which is extremely important, and that is the production of paper. Millions of children all around America use paper for all sorts of activities in their classrooms. Fortunately trees are renewable, most of the paper that is used come from managed timberlands or tree farms that are specifically grown to produce paper products including paper and pencils.

Agriculture in the United States is playing an increasing role. Two of the biggest crops that are not only used for food and fuel but also classroom school supplies all come from soybeans and corn. One supply that students look forward to using the most is crayons, not only for the completion of assignments graded by their teachers but also because crayons bring to life so many children’s visions. Not only are soybeans used for food, and bio diesel but are also used to make crayons that millions of children use daily.

Corn also makes its appearance in the production of one favored children’s school supply, glue. When children have the opportunity to use crayons and glue in any school assignment, the creations that they make are important for the building blocks of a child’s life. Without these “basic” supplies, the students who are our future would be less prepared because they would not have the opportunity to create such monumental creations in all years of learning.

It is clear that Agriculture plays an increasing role in the school supplies that students use every year. Take a moment to realize how important Agriculture plays a role in the production of supplies all around the country.

Alyssa Kabureck
Illinois Corn summer intern
Illinois State University Student

FOUNDING FARMERS

One small step for America, one giant step for farmers? This nation was built on the beliefs of 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence over 200 years ago. The country was built by everyday men with exceptional dreams and beliefs. Not all of them were business merchants or even politicians, 14 of those men were farmers.  These men used the land and hard work to make a living and support their families, so it seems to make sense that they would do anything in their power to help protect it. By defending their freedom, they defended their right to profit off of the land and the rights of farmers in the future.

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The Fourth of July is a time to remember what sacrifices have been made in the name of freedom.  This year, take the time to remember the farmers who signed for our freedom and the local farmers still working to feed America.

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Cara Workman

ICGA/ICMB Ag in the Classroom Intern