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

SOCIAL MEDIA – ARE YOU DOING IT RIGHT?

If you are reading this blog, you already know about and are participating in social media. Chances are you are also aware of how popular social media outlets such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and blogging (to name a few) have all become. But what can we do, as representatives of the agriculture industry, to make our use of social media more effective in reaching more diverse demographics and creating a positive image of the industry that we are all so passionate about?

Today, I watched a Ustream video on U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance’s website Food Dialogues. The live video stream today was called “Hollywood and “Vine”: The Intersection of Pop Culture and Food Production” and included representatives from both the agriculture and media industries. The discussion was largely based on how agriculture and the media need to work together to bring real facts and honest stories to the consumer. It was mentioned that the next generation of kids will be able to operate an iPad or laptop without any problem, but they won’t have a clue about where there food comes from. Examples from current “educational” cartoons were depictions of bulls with udders and an understanding that “if it has horns, it must be a bull.”

Most of you reading this (I hope) understand that those things are not true, but how are we ensuring that our kids know and understand these concepts? Another suggestion in the Food Dialogue was that agriculture needs to be a source for these materials. If we are making the cartoons and other informational outlets, we have control over the messages and information being presented to kids in our schools.

There is one thing in particular that stands out to me from the video stream: Social media is NOT a “magic cure-all” for agriculture’s challenges today. It is a tool, and if used correctly, it can make a big impact. When it comes to reaching a large and diverse audience and getting them to listen to your message, there is a right and a wrong way to use social media. Jeff Fowle, one of the panelists today, is a farmer/rancher who knows how to use social media effectively. He is one of the founders of the Ag Chat Foundation, which has this mission: “to empower farmers, ranchers and foresters to share their stories effectively through social media platforms.” More recently, he began the  Just Farmer blog with a few other colleagues. This is a social media platform for dialogue between consumers and producers that has seen a lot of success.

Check out some of these organizations and ideas to learn more about how you can make better use of you social media skills to start more discussions about food production! My generation has already accepted and flocked to social media, now all you have to do is find a way to keep their attention and tell them your side of the story!

Rosie Sanderson
ICGA/ICMB Membership Administrative Assistant

A REFLECTION AND A NEW RESPECT

Being a video editing intern at the Illinois Corn Marketing Board has been a fruitful experience. Being born and raised in Chicago, I didn’t have a clue about agriculture or farming. On the contrary, most of the Corn Board employees were raised on farms, own farms, or have relatives that are farmers. Although I didn’t have any knowledge of farming, I was eager to learn and felt that my urban perspective was valued by the Corn Board.

During the few months I spent visiting Illinois Corn Board farmers, I learned that farmers have quite a bit in common with city folk. The biggest thing we have in common with each other is family values. Just like most people, farmers have an obligation to provide for their families. Harvest after harvest, the farm is not only the home to crops but it’s home for the farmer, his parents, wife, children, grandchildren…and dog. So whether you live in an urban city surrounded by trains and buses, or in a rural town with a population of 500, you have a place to call home and a family to care for.

Also, I learned about the various uses for corn. Before I interned, I was under the impression that all corn was grown to be eaten by humans. However, after visiting and speaking with several farmers, I learned that corn can be used to make ethanol, feed livestock, and be used in other products as corn starch, corn syrup, etc. Most people immediately assume that corn is grown for consumption. Although this is true in some cases, it doesn’t mean that all corn growers are producing the kind of corn that will sit on your table.

The farmers on the Illinois Corn Marketing Board are passionate about their work. They take good care of their crops and treat them like their own children. Just like you, farmers want to protect their children, not harm them. The chemicals and fertilizers used when planting are safe and government approved. Not all chemicals are harmful – it’s no different than when people take medicine or get vaccines to prevent illness – crops need pesticides and fertilizer so they can grow healthy.

I am thankful for the opportunity to work with the Illinois Corn Marketing Board. Lastly, this internship has given me a new respect for farmers. I didn’t know that farming was such a gamble. It takes a lot of guts to take out loans, buy expensive equipment, plant seeds, and pray that rain falls out of the sky. Agriculture is a risky business. You have to be passionate in order to be in this career, otherwise it’s not worth the effort. My advice for consumers and people who thought like me before I interned at the Illinois Corn Marketing Board, is to trust your farmer. They wouldn’t be in this profession if they didn’t have passion and dedication; and since this work is so risky and expensive, farmers can’t afford to harm their crop, which would consequently be harming themselves. 

Kamaya Thompson

MOTHER’S DAY RECOGNITION FOR FARM MOMS

Mothers do so much for their children and their family. I know my mother has had to take my brothers and me to school every day, she made sure that we were always safe, and she did her best to set us up for success in our future. My mother and many other farm mothers are particularly special in my opinion. Since we’re just past Mother’s Day 2012, I would like to give farm mothers some special recognition for mother’s day this year.

I don’t think that anyone appropriately expresses how much they appreciate their mothers. This is particularly true when it comes to mothers whose family farms. Farm mothers often go above and beyond to contribute to the happiness of the family and the success of the farm.

Recently, I interviewed Ruth Hambleton, founder of Annie’s Project for farm women. Annie’s project for farm women is a 32 state program designed to educate and empower farm women to improve as business partners in a farm business. Annie’s Project offers classes across the country to provide general information about finances marketing and estate planning as well as several classes that go in-depth into specific topics. Annie’s Project actually was named for Ruth’s mother, Annette Fleck. When describing her mother Ruth said, “She grew up in a small town and spent the weekends on her grandfather’s farm outside of the edge of the town and that is where she fell in love with the idea of being a farmer… She was the one who held the farm together, the family together. She was the center of the whole operation.”

Ruth recognizes that in different farm families, the mother has a different role, but all of the possible roles of a mother on a family farm deserve great recognition. Whether the mother is actively involved in the day-to-day operation of the farm, keeps the farms records, provides supplemental income to the farm by working at an off farm job, acts as a mediator for conflicts between family members, or serves any other sort of role on the farm, she deserves recognition for her indispensable contribution to the farming operation.

It is important for every mother to know how valuable they are to the farm. Some mothers may mistakenly believe that their contribution to the farm is minor if they spend most of their time working at a job away from the farm. This could not be farther from the truth. Ruth Hambleton put it this way, “Every dollar that they bring in for family living is a dollar that gets to stay within the farm. It is retained capital. Women who contribute to the family living through their off farm jobs have a huge contribution to helping these farms grow.”

I believe that most farms could not function and grow as they do if they did not have that farm mother holding everything together. I thank my farm mother who contributed to the farm through an off farm job as a speech pathologist at the local elementary school. I also thank all of the other farm mothers. No matter how you contribute to the farm, what you do is truly indispensable to your family’s farm business.

Nick Suess
Southern Illinois University student

THE IMPORTANCE OF RECORD KEEPING

In every single business no matter the industry, record keeping is a must. Keeping track of your receipts, expenses, and of course don’t forget taxes, is vital to success. But one challenge that business owners and companies often come to face is trying to find employee’s with experience in the simple task of record keeping. It’s not just business owners either, entrepreneurs looking to start their own businesses definitely need to know how to keep books of their finances and inventories. Luckily, organizations like the National FFA are taking steps to help young people gain experience with record keeping.

So what exactly are students doing to help them prepare? They are completing their own records on their own enterprises or employment. Each member of the FFA completes a Supervised Agricultural Experience Program otherwise known as an SAE. Through an SAE, FFA members start their own agricultural business or seek employment in an agricultural business. Currently there are 52 areas of record books a student can enroll in. Each area is specific to a certain area of the agricultural industry, for example, wildlife production & management, crop production, horticulture, diversified ag production, and agricultural sales. Once a student begins his/her business or becomes employed, they start their record books. Record book keeping includes taking inventory, keeping receipts and expenses, completing taxes, writing down safety activities they complete, and hours worked. Basically, the same information business owners need for their records. After a year’s worth of records books have been completed by an FFA member, they can continue to build their books year after year and also have the chance to compete against other members.

The SAE is a part of the three circle model of agricultural education. It is a very integral part of agricultural education so that the end result after students graduate, is a workforce that is now trained and ready. But not only do FFA members who complete record books learn how in the classroom, they learn through real-world experience! They actually start a business or work for an employer and keep physical records of their actions. What better way to help students learn the system than actually immersing them in what they are learning! This is what the FFA is all about, agricultural education through real world experience in competition and classroom!

Mike Shively
IL FFA PRESIDENT

WHAT’S ILLINOIS DOING WITH TWO CORN ORGANIZATIONS?

Yes, it’s true.  Illinois does have two corn organizations.  The Illinois Corn Growers Association and the Illinois Corn Marketing Board are both housed under this roof in Bloomington, IL.

Each have very different functions.

The Illinois Corn Growers Association is a membership organization.  Illinois corn farmers pay dues to be a part of our association and the Association lobbies in Washington, DC and Springfield, IL on their behalf.  The ICGA concerns themselves with issues like Farm Bill negotiations in Washington, DC, regulations that prevent farmers from farming the best and most efficient way, and providing information on candidates and their agricultural platforms to help our members make informed voting decisions.  We also work on educating our members on key issues and calling them to action when needed.

The Illinois Corn Marketing Board administers the Illinois corn checkoff.  A checkoff is a system for Illinois corn farmers to pool their money to promote their product.  Just like a business would have a marketing and promotion budget, most of the major commodities grown in the US have a checkoff.

In Illinois, every time a farmer markets a bushel of corn, he or she pays 3/8 of a cent into the Illinois corn checkoff.  In 2012, we estimate that amount will be roughly $7 million.  The Illinois Corn Marketing Board then allocates that $7 million into projects that better the Illinois corn industry.

As an example, a new crop insurance product is available for Illinois farmers in 2012 that saves them significant premium costs.  The product was created, researched, submitted for approval, and now offered to farmers with the corn checkoff funds that each farmer donated.

The Illinois Corn Marketing Board works on issues like building new markets for corn, talking about corn farmers and corn farming to non-farmers, and helping corn move more efficiently into the marketplace.

Want to know more about what both organizations are doing?  Check us out at www.ilcorn.org!

Lindsay Mitchell
ICGA/ICMB Marketing Director

LAWN AND GARDEN CHECKLIST

April is National Lawn and Garden month!  I think it’s safe to say that winter is over and now is the time to get in the gardening state of mind.  Not sure where to start?  Here’s a checklist to get you going this month:

  • If you haven’t already, start seeds indoors for warm-season vegetables.
  • Plant perennial vegetables like asparagus, rhubarb, horseradish, etc.
  • Plant peas, carrots, beets, spinach, cauliflower, cabbage, etc. As your direct-seeded crops sprout, be sure to keep them thinned out to avoid crowding and encourage growth.
  • Root crops like potatoes, radishes, parsnips and onions can be planted at anytime.
  • Late this month you can plant beans and corn. Warmer weather crops like tomatoes; squash, cucumbers and peppers should not be planted until next month.
  • Sow seeds and begin transplanting warm-season seedlings outdoors at the end of April when the soil has warmed and night temperatures stay above 50o F. But, be prepared for cold snaps at night. Use row covers, newspapers or sheets to protect seedlings.
  • Use plant markers to mark each row or plant so you’ll remember what you put where.
  • Control weeds and aerate the soil by cultivating between the rows of plants.
  • April is a great time to select and plant fruit trees and berry plants. Fruits and berries do best when planted in full sun.
  • Cut out all the dead canes from your raspberry patch. The new canes that will bear this year’s fruit should have new, swollen buds along the edges. Thin these to five canes per foot of row to allow good air circulation and prevent overcrowding.
  • When danger of frost has passed, uncover strawberry beds and keep them well watered.