#TBT: LIVING THE SIMPLE LIFE

Gpa working on planterIt is very easy to get caught up in the rat race of life. Don’t be afraid to step off that wheel and set your own pace. That is your best chance a living a happy, successful life. Here are a few ways to live a life that isn’t more complicated than it has to be.

Kids looking at chickens

You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. If something works well, but isn’t perfect, don’t start from scratch. Just try to improve what you already have. You’ll save yourself a lot of time, energy, and stress.

Farmer tending to cattle

Remember that you are working hard for the next generation. Show them who you are by your actions. They will follow your example; set a good one.

Find a job that you love and it will never feel like work. If you manage that, no matter how much you make at the end of the day; you’re rich.

kid showing cattleDon’t ever stop learning or trying to be your best. Even if you fail, you’ll know what you can improve on for the next time. Challenges build character and will make you a better individual.

chickNever stop appreciating the beauty of your life. Not everyone has the chance to spend their day working with their hands and following their dreams. Plus, you get to spend a lot of time with chicks.

Kids in tractor

Don’t worry about going fast. There is nothing wrong with taking it slow. Ask any farm kid and they will tell you that this is the best ride they have ever been on. 

 

nicole yorkNicole York
Southern Illinois University Carbondale

IF YOU GIVE A FARMER A REQUEST

If you give a farmer a request, he is going to follow through. In 1985, If You Give A Mouse A Cookie by Laura Joffe Numeroff was published and detailed the endless track of chores that might occur if you gave a needy mouse a cookie. This trouble is not quite what ensues when you give a farmer a request, but you can almost guarantee your requests might become endless of him. Here are a few requests we all have asked of farmers over the years.

  1. If you ask a farmer for a tow, he is going to pull you out. Whether is it getting pulled out of snowy road bank or a muddy road, a farmer will be quick to lend a hand with his truck or tractor. Last time I got my dad’s jeep stuck on the dirt road, I had a list of people I was ready to call before my dad ever had to know.
  2. If you ask a farmer for a for a ride, he is going to give you a lift. To the next town, down the road, or the field to pick up your truck, a farmer will do what he can to help you out. The only stipulation is that he might expect you to return the favor. I know I have had a neighbor or two knocks on my door and ask if I have time to take him to his truck in the field down the road.
  3. If you ask a farmer for advice, he is going to give you a wise word. Whether you need advice on what crops to plant in a field or how to make up with a friend over a conflict, a farmer will always lend his wisdom. Farmers are often wiser than their years because they have been caring for other animals and plants that depend on them for life. In my life, rarely have the wise words of a farmer led me astray.
  4. If you ask a farmer for a hand, he is going to lend on. Farming is not only an industry that revolves around family but community. Whether it’s finishing up harvest in time or volunteering to cook at a school fundraiser, a farmer will always lend a hand. In anything I am doing, I know my farmer support system is just a phone call away.
  5. If you ask a farmer to feed you, he already is. Farming feeds the world. Farmers produce that feed with all the energy and love that they put into feeding their own family. I have watched these men and women work their days and nights away doing what they love and I know there is no job more underappreciated but more rewarding than a farmer.

Shelby Carlson
IL Corn Communications Intern

SIX REASONS FARMERS HATE THE HEAT

1. Walking Beans

/wÔk ing bēns/
1. strolling up and down the rows of a bean field pulling weeds.
2. typically reserved for the very young or very broke in a family, usually on days 90 degrees or warmer
3. a “fun” family activity conducted between the hours of 6 – 11 am, includes water and a sack lunch

2. Baling Hay

/bāl ing hā/
1. walking behind a wagon, picking up bales of hay and throwing them onto the wagon while another stacks the bales neatly on the wagon.
2. young men are often rushed through this job trying to beat a rainstorm, which also causes humidity to be at its highest

3. De-tasseling Corn

/de-tasəl ing kôrn/
1. the act of removing the corn tassels one by one throughout the entirety of a field.  Can be every row or select rows/plants depending on the intent.
2. de-tasseling allows the plant breeder to choose the pollen that will fertilize each ear on a plant
3. timing: this can not be completed until late June, early July when tassels form, so temperatures are usually high and there is no air flow in the middle of a field of tall corn
4. workers are urged to use cornstarch liberally

4. Cleaning out grain bins

/klēn ing out grān bin/
1. Sweeping out excess grain from a bin in an attempt to get paid for everything you grew and harvested.
2. Also, when one desires to store a different type of grain in a bin (was corn, now soybeans as an example), the bin must be cleaned of all the old grain.
3. Often occurring in August to prepare for a new harvest when temperatures inside a metal cylinder are excruciating and without air flow.

5. Mucking stalls

/mək ing stôls/
1. Shoveling animal excrement and used bedding from indoor stalls into a wheelbarrow.  Washing out stalls and replacing clean, new bedding.
2. This happens year round, but is particularly miserable in the late summer when air flow inside a barn is minimal and the heat increases the smell of feces.

6. Mowing

/mō ing/
1. Clipping the grass on roadsides, waterways, and yards.  Also, trimming around fence posts and outbuildings.
2. Very similar to the act in suburban communities, made more miserable because farmers will mow 4-6 acres at a time.
3. A right of passage for the children in a farm family.

WHY WE’RE ALWAYS TALKING ABOUT TRADE

Trade is a huge deal for agriculture – particularly Illinois agriculture – but I can’t help but feel like we’ve been talking trade, trade, and more trade for more than a year!

First, we constantly lobbied Congress to help us get the Trans Pacific Partnership passed.  Then, President Trump pulled us out of that potential trade agreement and even considered suspending the North American Free Trade Agreement, which would be a huge loss for ag.

Now, it seems IL Corn is spending a lot of time talking about trade and reminding the folks in power why it’s so important for farmers.  In case you’ve got questions, here’s a few reminders:

  • Every $1 billion in agricultural export revenue supports 8,000 jobs, according to USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS)
  • $340 Billion in economic output produced by U.S. ag exports in 2014,  including $150 billion in export value and an additional $190 billion in other economic activity.
  • 1.1 Million Jobs supported by U.S. agricultural exports, including 800,000 in the non-farm sector (or 73% of the total employment effect), which are required to assemble, process and distribute agricultural products for export.
  • U.S. ag exports are projected to account for one-third of total farm sector gross earnings in 2017, according to the Congressional Research Service.
  • 95 percent of the world’s consumers live outside the United States, while we’re producing a significant amount of the world’s food right here.

For me, maybe the most important reason why America needs to prioritize agricultural trade is that the food is here, and the hungry people are in other countries.  For purely humanitarian purposes, we got to be open to ag trade – we’ve got to make it easier – in order to get the food from where it’s grown to where people need it.

Do you have questions about trade?  I’d love to start a conversation with you in the comments!

Lindsay Mitchell
ICGA/ICMB Marketing Director

WILL FARMERS GO BROKE IN 2017?

Every once in a while, I check in on some of the most frequently asked questions about farmers on Google.  I’m always surprised.

While the day-to-day tasks of my job always lead me to believe that people are interested in GMO’s, organic food production, trade, and other important topics, turns out that people really care about how much money farmers are making.

You might start out by reading a couple of these.  They are going to help you understand an average Illinois farmer’s balance sheet.
ARE FARMERS RICH IN 2017?
ARE FARMERS RICH?
ARE FARMERS RICH? UPDATED!!

But to answer the overall question of farmers, how much money they make, and if their cries about profitability have any weight, check out this graph:

This graph is basically showing us that after adjusting for inflation, farmers are making considerably less money than they used to make.  Look at the depression years!  Farmers are making less net profit right now than they were making in the 1920s and 1930s.

It’s definitely an eye opener.

As for the immediate question, will farmers be going broke in 2017?  I think the answer is no.  We will not see farmers declaring bankruptcy in droves this year.  The thing about farmers is that they are good at saving for a rainy day, so most can weather this downturn.

But what’s helping them withstand this low price period is good farm programs, good crop insurance, and good marketing opportunities.  What we can’t do is forsake programs to help farmers weather bad years and bad prices because we perceive them getting rich.

Lindsay Mitchell
ICGA/ICMB Marketing Director

 

SOCIAL MEDIA ACCOUNTS TO FOLLOW

If you’re interested in ag and you’d like to have real news and updates delivered to your Facebook or Twitter feed, then these are the social media accounts to follow!

 

Farm Babe

Farm Babe works on the family farm and uses social media to bridge the gap between Farmers & consumers. She is a writer and public speaker for agriculture.

Michelle Miller was once a big city girl and moved to rural Iowa for love. Once there, she learned that her original thoughts of Modern agriculture were very inaccurate (based on mainstream Hollywood media and marketing) and now enjoys debunking myths and spreading facts about REAL Farms from REAL farmers.

CropLife America

If you’re interested in more information about chemicals, why farmers use them, and a more balanced viewpoint, CropLife America is your stop.  CLA’s member companies produce, sell and distribute virtually all the crop protection and biotechnology products used by American farmers.

CLA is dedicated to supporting responsible stewardship of our products to promote the health and well-being of people and the environment, and to promote increasingly responsible, science-driven legislation and regulation of pesticides.

The Pollinator Partnership

We protect the habitats of managed and native pollinating animals vital to our incredibly vibrant North American ecosystems and agriculture. (Pollinating animals are responsible for an estimated one out of every third bite of food and over 75% of all flowering plants.) 

Dairy Carrie

I never thought I’d be a dairy farmer. I grew up in Madison, WI with no real ties to agriculture. I WAS the average American, generations removed from the farm. Then one day when I was 15 I met a guy…and started dating his friend. Fast forward several years and more questionable dating choices and I married the guy I met all those years ago. He wasn’t a dairy farmer (at the time) but his parents were.

My background was in sales and marketing, but my love of animals drew me to trying out farm life shortly after we got married. It stuck and I found out that I was born to be a caretaker of cows and the land.

Waterways Council Inc

Because we talk about needing upgraded locks and dams A LOT and these guys are the authority on what exactly farmers need, why they need it, and how we’re going to get it.

Waterways Council represents agriculture, the barge industry, and even the conservation community who are all working together to restore our river system to its former commerce and habitat glory.

 GMO Answers

Many of you are interested in GMOs in your food and what impact they might have for you and for the environment.

The goal of GMOAnswers is to make information about GMOs in food and agriculture easier to access and understand. GMOAnswers is committed to answering questions about GMOs — no matter what they are.

 

MAKE AN APPOINTMENT WITH YOUR CONGRESSMAN TODAY

It’s late July and the U.S. House of Representatives is preparing for August recess.  Congressmen and women are headed home to their districts for some one-on-one time reconnecting with constituents.

Make sure you are on their agenda.

I’m always a little shocked when I hear this because it’s never been a part of my personal reality, but the feedback I hear most often after I’ve visited the Hill with farmers is that people are shocked that they can actually sit down with their Congressman and say what’s on their minds.  AND THEIR CONGRESSMAN WILL LISTEN.

The sad fact is, the media makes our elected officials out to be monsters sometimes.  Yes, some make grave mistakes.  Yes, some are in office for the completely wrong reasons.  But the vast majority that I have met actually want to serve their districts and are trying to govern and compromise the best that they can.

Your Congressman WILL listen to what you have to say – and making an appointment with him or her when they are back in district for the month of August is the perfect time to make that connection.

HOW TO PREPARE FOR A CONGRESSIONAL APPOINTMENT

  1. Call whichever district office for your Congressman is closest to you.  Ask when the Congressman will be in and make an appointment.
  2. Think about your top three concerns.  It’s hard to reduce it down to just three, but your meeting will be much more productive if you focus in on just the few most important things.
  3. Be prepared to talk about your three top priorities and how they are impacting YOU, YOUR FAMILY, YOUR COMMUNITY.  Your Congressman is much less interested in talking points, and much more interested in you.  The good thing about this one is you don’t have to look up data and statistics if that’s not what you’re good at.  You don’t have to flood the Congressman with information or justification about your worry.  You simply have to tell him or her that this issue is impacting the health of your family, your family budget, your retirement plan, etc.  Information on how much extra the concern could cost your family is relevant, but you really don’t need more data than that!
  4. When you enter the office, share your name and a business card with the staff that greets you.  Grab a business card from the office staff as well.
  5. When your Congressman is able to sit down with you, share your concerns, be respectful, and be prepared for a conversation.  He or she may disagree with the way you’d fix this particular issue and that’s ok.  Elected officials are ready to hear from folks with many different viewpoints, and can actually have their minds changed if they hear from enough of their constituents that disagree with their point of view.
  6. After the visit, email a thank you note to the staff business card you grabbed.  Ask the staff to relay your thanks to the Congressman and reiterate your three priorities.  Staff are often following issues and briefing the elected official so making sure staff understands your concerns is just as important!

That’s it!

Really, the hardest part is making yourself make that first phone call and scheduling time for an appointment – but having a relationship with your elected official is one of the most important things you can do, and a right that so many in the world don’t have.

Don’t miss August recess!  Do this today!

Lindsay Mitchell
ICGA/ICMB Marketing Director

AG SPIES: A REAL THING

As the agriculture industry becomes more diverse the need to gain the most knowledge and the best products has become a very tempting business. Many people across the world, specifically people in China, have been caught trying to take away research and ideas in order to progress their work. The FBI warns of “agricultural economic espionage ‘a growing threat’ and some are worried that biotech piracy can spell big trouble for a dynamic and growing U.S. industry.”

Ventria Bioscience president and CEO Scott Deeter displays some of the bio-engineered rice developed in his company’s laboratory. CREDIT BRYAN THOMPSON FOR HARVEST PUBLIC MEDIA

Recently a group of Chinese scientists traveled to Hawaii for business. On their way back to China, U.S. customs agents found rice seeds in their luggage that were not supposed to be there. Because of this offense, at least one of those scientists is going to be finding a new home in the federal prison system.

Sadly, this is not the only time one of these offenses have taken place. At Ventria Bioscience, scientists figured out how to “genetically engineer rice to grow human proteins for medical uses.” After hosting a meeting of scientists from the Chinese crops research institute it was found that Weiqian Zhang had rice seeds in his luggage. He is currently awaiting his sentencing in federal court.

Another issue that has occurred was back in 2011 where a field manager for Pioneer Hi-Bred International found Mo Hailong, a man with ties to China, digging up seed corn out of an Iowa field. In January 2016 he pleaded guilty to stealing trade secrets involving corn seed that was created by Monsanto and Pioneer.

But why do they do this?

According to the assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Iowa, Jason Griess, “There are countries in this world that are in dire need of this technology and one of the ways you go about obtaining it is to steal it.” With a huge population in China, they are very interested in getting better access to seeds and technology to grow and feed their growing population.

To read more about this topic check out the original article from KCUR 89.3

Abby Jacobs
IL Corn Communications Intern