My name is Nicole York and I’m the Issues Management and Social Media Intern this summer. I was on the fence over what I wanted to do with my life. Then one day I realized that I wanted to help feed the world. That is work I can be proud of. My major is Agricultural Communications and I’m minoring in Public Relations from Southern Illinois University Carbondale.
When I got to IL Corn, I really didn’t know what to expect. I was in a city I’d never been to before, living with a stranger I found on Craig’s list, and a new job. It was an adjustment to say the least. I knew the basics about corn and not much else before I started here. My background was in beef and pork. I wanted to step outside of my comfort zone and learn something new.
This has been a busy summer at IL Corn between Waters of the US (WOTUS) and the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). It has been awesome to see all the work that happens behind the scenes to protect the livelihood of IL farmers. I was also shocked to learn about how much misinformation there is in regards to agriculture. I am in charge of several social media pages so I have been able to interact with people from all walks of life. Here are a few common things people have said:
“Where did all the family farms go? These are all factory farms ruled by corporations.”
- 95% of farms are family owned.
- The average farm is 413 acres.
“GMO crops are going to destroy our health.”
- There has not been a single documented case where GMO foods have harmed or killed people. (This is coming from over 1,200 scientific studies.) There are only eight GMO crops available to the public: corn, soybeans, alfalfa, sugar beets, papaya, canola, cotton, and squash.
“All farmers care about is making money. Look at how expensive food is.”
- Yes, farming is a business. The farmer is trying to make a profit, just like every other business in existence. But farming is very risky. You have to have passion for it otherwise you wouldn’t put up with all the lows and highs that come along with it. On average farmers make between 16 cents and 24 cents for every dollar spent on food. That small amount has to cover all production costs and you don’t have much control on how much it will sell for.
“Why are animals given hormones and antibiotics?”
- It is illegal to give pigs and chickens growth hormones. Don’t pay extra for a marketing ploy.
- Antibiotics are only given when necessary and prescribed by a veterinarian. There is a standard set in place for drugs to be out of the animal’s system before it returns to the production line.
The voice of American farmers are not being heard. That has to change. This is where I’d like to focus as a career. I also hope to help establish programs that limit food waste, increase regulation on food labeling (particularly removing misleading language), and to increase public awareness, understanding, and the benefits of GMO crops.
I’d like to thank IL Corn for giving me this opportunity to work here this summer. (Special shout out to Shannon- the other intern. You made all of our projects fun to work on.) I can use the skills and information I learned here throughout my future career, wherever that may be.