WELCOME ARON CARLSON!

Welcome to Photo Week on Corn Corps! To celebrate National Photography Month, we’re bringing you one photo every day this week that celebrates Illinois agriculture, corn production, and farm family life!

Welcome to our newest Illinois Corn Growers Association District II Director, Aron Carlson!  Aron and his five year old daughter enjoy working on the farm, raising corn and soybeans in Northern Illinois.  When Aron isn’t farming, he enjoys golfing and he looks forward to learning more about farm policy during his tenure on the ICGA Board of Directors!

Get to know more about Illinois farmers, their families, and their crops by checking out the Illinois Farm Families website!

ILLINOIS CORN FARMERS WANT TO BE UNDERSTOOD

Welcome to Photo Week on Corn Corps! To celebrate National Photography Month, we’re bringing you one photo every day this week that celebrates Illinois agriculture, corn production, and farm family life! We will still have our Friday Farm Photo so if you have a great picture you’d like to see there, send it to ilcorn@ilcorn.org.

In recent years, Illinois corn farmers have told us that public education and communications back to non-farm consumers is a priority. Illinois corn farmers want to be understood; they want non-farmers to know that they are hard-working, family men and women that grow food with pride. Illinois Corn’s venture into the world of NASCAR is doing just that, talking about ethanol and the farmers that are fueling the ethanol industry on a national stage.

Here, Scott Stirling represents Illinois Corn Marketing Board at the debut of the American Ethanol promotion at Daytona.

GET TO KNOW AN IL CORN FARMER: ERIC KUNZEMAN

IL Corn wants you to know more about our farmers and we are making an effort to introduce them to you. Get to know Eric Kunzeman, the Illinois Corn Growers Association District 8 Director and enter to win an Illinois Corn prize package!

Leave a comment telling us what you think about the video or tell us what else you’d like to know about Eric! Curious about biotechnology? Want to understand more about his pig farm? Wonder how he manages a day job and a farm too? Any comment will enter you to win!

Contest ends Wednesday, May 25.

AMERICAN ETHANOL AND NASCAR INTRODUCE E15 TO THE PUBLIC

NASCAR and American Ethanol are natural partners: NASCAR is a great American sport founded on the sands of Daytona Beach more than 60 years ago, and American Ethanol is produced on family owned farms across our country’s heartland. It’s truly a winning combination.

American Ethanol is the name given to a coalition of groups, lead by Growth Energy and supported by the National Corn Growers Association and many of its member states including the Illinois Corn Marketing Board.  The partnership between American Ethanol gives corn farmers the opportunity to showcase their product to a national audience and it was one that they simply couldn’t overlook.

  • By using American Ethanol, NASCAR will demonstrate ethanol’s superior performance not only to the NASCAR audience, but to the broader public as well. 
  • A 15% blend of ethanol uses 50% more homegrown fuel than the current E10 standard blend in the U.S. NASCAR is leading by example by utilizing Sunoco Green E15 race fuel, showing that American ethanol-blended fuel works.
  • NASCAR is going green. And ethanol is the only commercially viable alternative to gasoline. We are honored to partner with NASCAR to show Americans that ethanol is clean, green and homegrown.
  • For the first time ever, starting in 2011 in Daytona, the NASCAR Green Flag will be branded with American Ethanol, representing the continued efforts of NASCAR and its commitment to environmental responsibility.
  • Also premiering in 2011, every lap of every NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, NASCAR Nationwide Series and NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race will be fueled by Sunoco Green E15 -– a fuel that includes 15% renewable American Ethanol, which is produced from corn grown and harvested on family farms across our country.
  • NASCAR fans will see the same great racing they have come to expect, but powered with a new, greener fuel.

What’s interesting and even more powerful is that while American Ethanol and NASCAR talk about E15 on a national stage, Illinois Corn continues to support the movement here at home with a partnership with Kenny Wallace and an opportunity for you to become part of the Family Farmers High Performance Team on June 4. 

The two programs are separate, but integrated.  One is introducing ethanol as a green, clean, homegrown fuel to audiences in the south and on the coasts that Midwestern farmers struggled to reach, while the other teaches about the family farmers behind that ethanol.

Watch and learn more!

FARMING IS IN HIS BLOOD

Bill Christ farms in Metamora, IL.  He lives on the farm his wife’s family settled in the 1800’s and raises cattle, corn, and grapes on the farm his family settled when they arrived in IL.  This is his grandparent’s house and where he still chooses to spend many of his weekends.

Bill showed us around his farm yesterday and I was literally moved to tears at the history, the stories, and the legacy he lives out with his wife and two children.

Learn more about Bill in the coming weeks right here on Corn Corps …

THANK YOU, IL CORN BOARD MEMBERS!

Some people may not realize this, but both the Illinois Corn Growers Association Board of Directors and the Illinois Corn Marketing Board of Directors are composed of volunteers.

Our farmers are investing in the future of their business and ensuring there is a business climate that promotes agriculture by volunteering on our boards.  They are leaving behind their farms, their livestock, their wives and families to spend countless days per year together working for the benefit of corn farmers everywhere.

They are not paid by a company for the time they spend with us, because they have no company to be paid by.  They are just themselves, small business men who chose both a business and a lifestyle, and when they come to the Illinois Corn home office for a meeting they leave behind cows to feed, machinery to fix, and marketing decisions to be made.

Some of them come knowing very little about international markets, how crop insurance really works, or what’s going on in Washington, DC.  But they learn.  They sign up to have their inboxes filled with emails and to spend countless nights reading reports and fact sheets about these and hundreds of other topics.

Our board members see the future of their industry and make decisions that they feel will make it better.  They develop comraderie because it’s a tough business with gambles to be made, but they leave the office knowing they have just made the best decisions they could for their children and grandchildren.

ICMB and ICGA board members are volunteers and on this Volunteer Recognition Day, I want to let them all know how much we appreciate them.  They are full of enthusiasm and spunk, they offer friendship when warranted, and they understand how to get down to business.  We understand their sacrifice and we appreciate every minute they give to the industry we are trying to serve.

I love corn farmers.

Lindsay Mitchell
ICGA/ICMB Marketing Director

GARDENING: A FARM FAMILY ACTIVITY

I am Marla Hasheider.  My husband Larry and I are grain and livestock farmers.  We have three children and three grandchildren, with one on the way in a month.  We also have a love of gardening.

Larry and I love tilling the soil, planting seeds, watching them grow, and harvesting from our labor.  It doesn’t matter how well or bad my garden did last year, I am optimistic this year will be a good year and have a good harvest.  Larry (and I believe all farmers) are excited and optimistic in the spring when they plant their seeds and watch them grow.

Two weeks ago we tilled the garden to prepare for planting.  I have lettuce and spinach up and growing already and I have peas, potatoes, and strawberries in the ground.  I will also plant broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, bell peppers, green beans, tomatoes, and jack-o-lantern and pie pumpkins when the time is right.

Larry looks forward to our garden maturing because he likes to go in the garden and pick some pea pods and just shell them and eat.  Talk about a healthy afternoon snack!

I love planting the large varieties of watermelon.  Last year I grew a watermelon that weighed 120 pounds.  I picked it to enter it in the Okawville Wheat Festival and won first place.  After the fair, we cut it open and it was not even red inside.  It had a lot of maturing to still do.

Giant PumpkinTwo years ago I planted pumpkin seeds for large pumpkins.  Once the pumpkins developed on the vine, you could see it getting bigger every day.  When the grand kids came over, I would take them out to the pumpkin patch to see the pumpkin.  Larry, our son and a nephew loaded it on a trailer and we took it to enter it in the Wheat Festival.  The scale at the Wheat Festival was not big enough to weigh the pumpkins so we took them to the grain elevator in town to weigh them.  I grew a pumpkin that weighed 500 pounds (and two others that weighed 340 and 380 pounds!) I won first place with that pumpkin.

I am the cook at our Lutheran School in town.  Last year I grew enough jack-o-lantern and pie pumpkins that I gave every student (60) in our school a pumpkin.  We also have blackberries, cherries, rhubarb and grapes that we enjoy every year.

Larry plants lots of sweet corn.   Our son wanted to plant a lot so we could give some away.  Our children and grandchildren come over and in assembly line fashion, we cut the corn off the cob and freeze it.  Everybody takes plenty home to eat all year long.  The extra corn we give to family and friends.  For us, it is more fun to give it to friends to enjoy than to take it to farmers market and sell it.

The garden is a fun place for me.  I love to try growing new things and I appreciate the bounty that it provides my family and my community every year.  Especially at this time of year, when my plot of soil is so full of the promises of good food, my family working together and award winning crops, I can always look out at my garden and smile.

Marla Hascheider
Illinois farmer

KNOX COUNTY FARMER WINS $2,500 FOR YOUNG FARMERS COMMITTEE

Everyday America’s farmers are becoming more of a lifeline for feeding the nation’s rapidly growing population. Farmers are in great demand, and although technology has made agriculture a safer industry, there are always dangers lurking.

In keeping with this thought, Jeff Link, an Abingdon farmer, donated $2,500 to the Knox County Young Farmers Committee to be used towards the purchase of five grain entrapment rescue tubes. Link was selected as a winner in the Monsanto Fund’s America’s Farmers Grow CommunitiesSM program, which gave farmers the opportunity to direct a donation of $2,500 to their favorite local nonprofit. Registration for this round of the program ran from August through the end of December 2010.

On a typical weekday in January, Link received a call that he was the winning farmer for his county. When asked where the donation should go, Link requested additional time to discuss his decision with his family. Link knew he wanted the donation to be ag-related, but wasn’t sure about the best use of the money for his community. It was his daughter, who did an internship at the Knox County Farm Bureau, who reminded Link that the Farm Bureau would be a good place. His daughter’s suggestion, along with Link’s large use of grain bin storage on his farm, helped make the decision much easier.

The rescue tubes were donated to local fire departments and first responders during a training session hosted by the Young Farmers Committee on Saturday, March 19. The training session included 60 firefighters from 14 fire departments throughout Knox County and surrounding communities.

From August thru December 2010, in more than 1,200 eligible counties, farmers signed up for the chance to win $2,500 for their favorite community non-profit organization. The Monsanto Fund expects to invest more than $3 million in local communities. In total, more than $200,000 has been donated to nonprofits in Illinois.

The America’s Farmers Grow Communities program is part of a broad commitment by the Monsanto Fund, the philanthropic arm of Monsanto Company, to highlight the important contributions farmers make every day to our society by helping them grow their local communities. To date, more than 60,000 farmers participated in the program, which is designed to benefit nonprofit groups such as ag youth, schools and other civic organizations. Please visit the Grow Communities website to view a complete list of winners.

Farmers can begin signing up for the next round of America’s Farmers Grow Communities program on August 1, 2011.

Paul Suess

CORN FARMERS (& SOME STAFF!) ON THE HILL

Illinois Corn spent National Agriculture Week at our nation’s capitol, talking with elected officials, agencies, and NGOs about the upcoming Farm Bill 2012 negotiations, ethanol policy, locks and dams, biotech, and trade

We might have snuck in a fun picture of the capitol here and there too!

If you have a picture you’d like to submit to be the next Friday Farm Photo, send it to ilcorn@ilcorn.org!

DEBUNKING THE MYTH OF FAMILY FARMS

Have you ever heard that “There’s no such thing as family farms? “ I say we think again! A lot of people think that most farms are run by enterprises, but in all reality, family farms make up more than 95% of all farms!

These family farms are so important to not only the regions they are serving, but to more global regions as well. Family run farms are more conscious of what they are doing in the long run. While corporations and bigger farming enterprises have the economic goals in mind, more small farms and families are aware of other issues at hand such as; preserving surrounding environments from harmful chemicals and preserving green space untouched by development.

Small family farms also aid in their local economies; providing employment, services and food to their friends and neighbors. Looking outside of the local perspective, it is important to note that, contrary to popular belief, family farms represent 78% of all farm sales. This is a HUGE percentage, especially when comparing with corporate farming and industrial agriculture. In doing a little research myself, I find that the family farms have surged ahead, always increasing sales, while the corporate farms aren’t doing as hot, lacking more in the sales department.

Overall, the vast majority of farms are still family owned and operated; they are just shielded by the common misconceptions of today’s economy and corporate farming images. It doesn’t take a whole lot to debunk this myth, but to continue keeping people aware is the challenge.

Kayla Portwood
Illinois State University