YOUNG PERSON IN AG: KADE HILL

If you would have told Kade when he was a freshman, enrolling in his first Introduction to Agriculture class that he would eventually pursue a career within the agriculture industry and even get to spend a year promoting it and speaking with all kinds of people serving as the Illinois FFA State President, he would have most likely called you crazy. Kade’s passion for agriculture and educating people about it is something that is truly commendable. Kade is already doing great things as a Young Person in Ag.

  1. What is your ag background?

My agriculture background is fairly limited. My mom works in healthcare and my dad owns a small painting business, so I really didn’t grow up around production agriculture at all.

  1. What were some of your high school experiences/involvement in ag?

I would say I got my start in agriculture when I enrolled in an introduction to agriculture class as a freshman at Paxton-Buckley-Loda High School. Honestly, the main reason I signed up was that two of my good friends were going to take the class and I wanted to take a class with my friends. I had no idea that taking that class would give me such a passion and appreciation for agriculture. As far as one specific experience, it’s hard to nail one down. However, one huge thing I pursued was running to FFA National Office in 2016 and 2017. Even though I was not elected, I think it truly made me learn about myself, my strengths, weaknesses, the National FFA Organization, and agriculture as a whole.

  1. What college do you attend and what is your major?

I am currently a sophomore at The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in the Agriculture Science Education program.

  1. What is your involvement at U of I?

Probably the biggest thing I am involved with at the U of I is the Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity. There I do a lot of different things, but I hold the Recruitment Chair position. I am also involved with the Agriculture Education club, collegiate farm bureau, and a couple other organizations.

  1. Have you had internships/involvement?

This past summer I interned for WYXY Classic 99.1 as a farm broadcaster intern, and I worked under Gale Cunningham in Champaign, IL at the Illini Radio Group. It was a really great way to get agriculture information from a 1st hand point of view. Anywhere from county fairs, to agriculture expo, to even working in the studio I could talk to all sorts of people and hear their stories. As a non-traditional person in agriculture, it was a great way for me to also learn more about production agriculture.

  1. What is your dream job?

As of now becoming a high school Agriculture Education Teacher and FFA Advisor within the state of Illinois is the dream job. Right now, I see the best place for me and where I can make the biggest impact is in the classroom.

  1. Do you have any mentors?

I have always been a strong believer in the saying “It takes a village to raise someone up,” and I truly have had a village who have guided me and helped me in so many aspects of my life. Two big influential people would have Mike White and Doug Anderson, they were my Agriculture Teachers and FFA Advisors. They have invested a lot within me and were always there to advise me when needed, but also to be a supporter as well. If I had to choose someone else, it would have to be my mom. I know that I can go to her for anything, good or bad, and she will in some way help.

  1. Do you remember anything that has really changed while you have been active in the agriculture industry?

Something that I have paid attention to quite a bit has been food labeling. Whether companies put if it is organic or has Genetically Modified Organisms. As a freshman in high school getting into agriculture for the first time this was a hot topic. There were a lot of people that were advocating either for or against it. And now it has transitioned into something that is still very important, but not as on the forefront as it was at first.

  1. How do you see the agriculture industry changing in the next 5-10 years?

Agriculture is an ever-evolving industry and we are always trying to find the best ways to do things. Something that I think people have tried to push or advocate for is inclusiveness of people. I have found that inclusiveness is a very broad term, meaning anything from minorities to non-traditional agriculturists, to religion. So, how do we involve all types of people within the industry and make it welcoming and accepting to those who want to play a part? I am interested to see what steps we as an industry take to become more diverse and inclusive.

  1. Do you have any advice for younger people in agriculture/FFA or thinking about agriculture as a career?

If you’re thinking about trying something, like taking an ag class or competing in a contest, and there is something that is holding you back, just try it. You will never know if you like or dislike something until you have tried it at least once. A lot of things I tried while in FFA were not in my comfort zone, however trying them and finding out that I like them allowed me to broaden my knowledge. Getting out of your comfort zone is difficult, but once you take that leap of faith you will find your passion.

  1. What do you think sets the agriculture industry apart from other industries?

The best way I could describe it would be the unknown of the industry. There are many people who do not truly understand what all agriculture is about. No, we are not all farmers. We, as an industry, are so broad including, research, communications, education, business, as well as production agriculture. Because many people do not know what all it involved it does set ourselves apart. But in a way that is a good thing too.

Lacie Butler
Lake Land College

WHAT WAS FARMING LIKE 10/25/100 YEARS AGO?

 

Change is the only constant in a perpetually evolving world.  Just as life and traditions change, so do farming practices. In today’s day in age, farmers have easy access to tractors and large machinery, which make the profession of farming much easier. Agriculturists also have the technology of fertilizers, that ensure the crops receive necessary nutrients. Advancements in chemicals such as herbicides and pesticides are used to rid fields of unwanted weeds and pests. However, farming has not always been this precise of a science. It’s interesting to look back and see how far farmers have come in the past century.

Early in the 20th-century farmers used a system of planting called hill dropping of checked corn. This system required a wire to be strung from one end of a field to the other, and it would be strung through a planter powered by a team of horses. This wire would release a small pile of corn, hence the term ‘hill’, in 42-inch rows. But why 42 inches? Because that’s the average width of a horse! These checked rows allowed for cultivators to be easily pulled through the field. Since there were no herbicides to kill weeds, farmers relied solely upon cultivators to uproot the nuisances. More in-depth information on this practice can be found here!

Fast forward to about 25 years ago, when farming seems to have vastly improved from the seemingly primitive ways of the early 1900’s. Instead of farming in 42-inch rows, corn grew within 30-inch rows. This allowed for more plants to grow in each field, which lead to an increase in yields. By this point in time, farmers were using tractors to pull their planters, which greatly increased the efficiency of their time and efforts.  However, these aren’t the only technological benefits! In the 1990’s farmers started utilizing satellite technology to increase their accuracy, which made the farming profession a very meticulous one. Additionally, the number of farmers trying conservation tillage methods continued to rise. This simply means that producers leave more plant residue in the field, with intentions to prevent erosion. This extra plant material will add organic matter to the soil, which will also improve the land’s productivity. On top of all these advancements, in 1997 the first insect and weed resistant crops become commercially available. If you’re particularly interested in learning more about how farming improved in the 90’s, I suggest you check out this link!

Farming in the early 2000’s… was it really that much different from farming today? To start off with, one of the most important pieces of legislation regarding farming practices was passed. The Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008, also referred to as the Farm Bill, created rules and regulations for anything from conservation practices, to organic agriculture, to crop insurance. This bill promoted innovative solutions to resource challenges, established a new disaster assistance program, expanded the opportunities for farmers’ markets, and much more!  Further information about the full impacts of the 2008 Farm Bill can be found here. Without these past accomplishments, the agriculture industry would certainly not be the same as it is today.

Rosie Roberts
Iowa State University

AFTER THE ELECTION – A YEAR IN REVIEW

Scrolling through the archives, I found this article posted on November 10 last year.  Reading it takes me back to the uncertainty of America as she woke up following election day 2016.  Many of us were surprised by the election results and scrambling to make some sense of what would come next.  In the IL Corn office, there were also excited feelings – as following any major change in electorate – about the challenges of educating a new President about our issues and the opportunities that a new administration might hold.

Almost a year through this presidency, we’ve been on a roller coaster ride.

Back then, we were excited about the promise of a Republican-controlled House, Senate, and Presidency and the results that such an alignment might deliver.  Happily, nothing negative has happened, but neither have any positive results passed for the country.  There’s just – nothing.  This conservative voter is disappointed to see that having a majority in both houses of Congress and the Executive Office still doesn’t deliver results.

One year ago, Illinois looked forward to working with our newest member of Congress, Raja Krishnamoorthi.  This relationship couldn’t have played out better!  Congressman Krishnamoorthi is responsive to our requests and accessible to farmers.  He is interested in learning about agriculture – the economic driver of Illinois – and willing to help see farmers succeed.

Senator Duckworth is also finishing out her first year in the Senate with many accolades from IL Corn.  We appreciate her support of ethanol and her willingness to learn about the need for lock and dam upgrades, but we had experienced a positive relationship working with her in Congress and expected nothing less.

Farmers are pleased with the team President Trump has assembled for himself, specifically as relates to agriculture.  The President’s choice for Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue, has been an asset leading our industry and farmers are also happy with nominations for Bill Northey, Steve Censky, Ted McKinney, and others.  We see this team coming to agriculture’s defense and helping to promote the industry as recently as last week when Sec Perdue said that withdrawing from NAFTA would have “some tragic consequences.”

Speaking of NAFTA, we worried about it one year ago and we’re still worried about trade today.  President Trump’s trade conversations have caused a bit of upheaval with our foreign customers.  IL Corn was disappointed to see America step out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and nervous to hear of a potential “cancellation” of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).  At the same time, farmers have seen the Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule stopped in its tracks and are mostly pleased with the administration of the Environmental Protection Agency taking more of a commonsense, science-based approach to environmental regulations.

All in all, you win some, you lose some.  I suppose that’s the way our government is designed.  A win for any one industry or any one person wouldn’t always be good for the whole, right?

Our office remains excited about the opportunity to work with the administration and the Congress towards some of our most important priorities.

Lindsay Mitchell
ICGA/ICMB Marketing Director

YOUNG PERSON IN AG: MAZI WALKER

Mazi can make friends anywhere she goes. On a bus going to Washington D.C. or at a conference for an organization, she loves meeting new people. Don’t talk about sheep too close to her or she will talk your ear off about how much she loves sheep and its industry. Her passion for meeting new people, sheep, and leadership is what makes her a great young person in ag.

  1. What is your ag background?

I am the fourth-generation agriculturists where in the past we farmed corn and soybeans, but know we are only focused on the sheep industry. We currently run about 20 breeding ewes with alternating breeding rams every two years. The lambs will be born between January 1st and March 31st. The lambs that don’t meet show quality will be sold to local consumers and sale barns. The sheep industry has opened many doors for me and is something I am happy to be a part of and teach others about it.

  1. What college do you attend and what is your major?

I am a freshman at Lake Land College in Mattoon, IL in the Agriculture Transfer program. After Lake Land, I will transfer to a four-year university and double major in agriculture business and animal science.

  1. What is your involvement at Lake Land?

I am a Freshman Delegate in the Student Government Association that represents the student body. I am also a part of our Agriculture Transfer Club and the Inaugural Colligate Farm Bureau here on campus.

  1. What were some of your high school experiences/involvement in ag?

I was a part of many organizations including serving on the 2016-2017 state FFA officer team as the Section 13 President. I also served as the District III student director. In 4-H I have been the president of my club for the past 4 years. My senior year I was able to start my own agricultural business, Black Sheep Photography. I traveled to different livestock shows and farms to take photos of livestock that was then used as promotional tools.

  1. What is your dream job?

I really hope to one day open up my own feed mill to supply livestock producers with feed as well as help them with supplements for their animals.

  1. Do you have any mentors?

My main mentor would have to be my mom. She has never relied on anybody, even in terms of a job. She has opened two successful businesses.

  1. Do you remember anything that has really changed in agriculture?

I have seen more and more involvement with the youth in the agriculture industry. Youth are becoming involved earlier in 4-H and learning about where their food comes from. However, there is still a large gap between those children and other children who do not know where their food comes from.

  1. How do you see the agriculture industry changing in the next 5-10 years?

I see technology becoming bigger and better. I also see GMO’s becoming bigger and better. Hopefully with that comes, even more, education about where our food comes from so consumers can be well educated.

  1. Do you have any advice for younger people in agriculture/FFA or thinking about agriculture as a career?

Don’t sell yourself short, even if you don’t come from an agriculture background. Agriculture is getting bigger, never smaller. If you think you can play a part in this industry or have a new idea then go for it.

  1. Have you ever been looked down on because you’re a young woman in the agriculture industry?

Women in the livestock industry/ show industry are supposed to know their place which is usually just along the fence or alongside the show ring and aren’t supposed to do anything. When they do step up they are looked at as bossy or rude when really, they just want the same opportunities as everyone else. I would say that I have experienced this and have learned how to deal with it.

Lacie Butler
Lake Land College

CANNED PUMPKINS: FROM FARM TO STORE SHELVES

The Today Show recently featured a story on how Libby’s Pumpkin products are produced, starting with the farm. This in-depth leaves no step of the process to the imagination as you the journey from the farm to store shelves. This transparency is something we welcome in the agriculture industry and hope that through this video, consumers will have a better understanding of how food gets to their tables.

YOUNG PERSON IN AG: ELIZABETH MILLER

Elizabeth can always be seen with a smile on her face and an encouraging word for anyone she crosses paths with. She is a go-getter who is always working on something for an organization, school, or her upcoming wedding in May. Being a woman in the agriculture industry has given her motivation to do whatever she sets her mind on. Which makes her a great Young Person in Ag.

  1. What college do you attend and what is your major?

I will be graduating in May from Western Illinois University with a major in Agriculture Business with a minor in Agriculture Communication.

  1. What is your involvement at school?

I am currently the President of the Sigma Alpha sorority where I have been involved with them since my freshman year, as well as seen and helped it grow from 15 girls to right around 60 girls. I also am one of the student recruiters on the Agvocare Team for the college of agriculture where I get to go to high schools and different college fairs and show potential students what it’s like to come to WIU. I have done a little bit of everything and have been involved in just about everything within the ag division in some way.

  1. Ag background?

I did not grow up on a farm. My family owns land that we cash rented out so I wasn’t really around a lot of farming. However, both of my parents and many of my family members work in the agriculture industry. My dad is an agronomist and my mom works for a company that handles accounting for different peanut companies.

  1. Dream job?

I would say that I am soon starting my dream job. After graduating I will be hired on with ADM as a grain merchandiser. I hope that will give me my start to getting to what I eventually want to do is be somewhat of a mentor for young people in agriculture. Maybe something like an intern coordinator or helping new hires into a company. I also really enjoy college relations so maybe going to colleges and telling students about opportunities and careers for a company.

  1. Mentors?

My mentors throughout high school were my two agriculture teachers and FFA advisors, Mr. Hoffman and Mrs. Rost. They pushed me to step out of my comfort zone and try new things like public speaking. The person I really look up to now here at Western would have to be Jana Knupp. She is one of the instructors here but she also works on marketing and communications for the college of agriculture and is involved with so many clubs all while being a mom of three boys. She is truly someone I look up to for so much.

  1. High school experience/involvement in ag?

Many if not all the experiences I had in high school were stepping stones that helped me choose Western, choose agriculture, and choose just about everything I have been involved in. I was the Section 17 FFA President my senior of high school and that helped me grow and engage with so many opportunities and people.

  1. Some internship highlights?

The past two years I have worked for ADM at two different processing plants. One was in Quincy, Illinois and the other one was in Lincoln, Nebraska at a corn processing plant. There I got to work with producers, accountants, grain merchandisers. I really saw what all went into grain farming.

  1. In the terms of age of Agriculture, we are very young people, but do you remember anything that really changed agriculture in any way

Agriculture has changed in the aspect of women in agriculture. I remember when I was little and my dad saying that if I wanted to be a part of agriculture that I would have a struggle to do so. Looking at just grain elevators, since that is sort of what I am getting into, there are still a select number of woman in that field. During my internship in Lincoln, Nebraska there was a woman manager there and she was awesome and knew just as much as the guys.

  1. How do you see the woman/ agriculture industry changing in the next 5-10 years?

Women are going to become even more involved than they already are. The older men who have been in this industry for a long time, and maybe not understands us being there, are going to become more accepting of women working alongside them. As far as the agriculture industry, we are such a cyclical industry. We may have good years and bad years. This means that we will have to take matters into our own hands. If that means that when we are having a not so good year we are still paying farmers a fair price for grain, while still making money. Technology will play a huge part of this as well.

  1. Do you have any advice for younger people in agriculture/FFA or thinking about agriculture as a career?

Being involved in leadership. Being involved in a club or organization or whatever it may be is one thing, but being involved and active with the leadership is even better. You get to see the ups and downs of whatever you’re involved in and it will make you grow as a person and leader.

Lacie Butler
Lake Land College

ILLINOIS: THE GREAT PUMPKIN STATE

John Ackerman grows more than 160 different varieties of pumpkins at Ackerman Farms in Morton, Illinois. Morton is known as the Pumpkin Capital of the World.

An Illinois farm likely grew both your Halloween pumpkin (known in the industry as ornamental) and the prime ingredient in your Thanksgiving pie (called processing pumpkins).

When it comes to pumpkin production, Illinois smashes the competition. Prairie State farmers grow more ornamental and canning-type pumpkins than any other state. In fact, Illinois produced more than twice as many pumpkins in 2012 as second-ranked to California.

“I doubt if the average person in Illinois realizes the impact of pumpkin growing in this state,” says John Ackerman, owner of Ackerman Farms near Morton. He, his wife, Eve, and their children grow both ornamental and processing pumpkins.

The state’s farms harvested a record 16,200 acres of pumpkins in 2012, according to the Illinois Agricultural Statistics Service (IASS). Most of those were processing pumpkins, the best type for canning and cooking. More than 90 percent of the nation’s canning pumpkins grow in Illinois, says Mohammad Babadoost, a plant pathologist and professor at the University of Illinois.

Illinois earns the top rank for several reasons. Pumpkins grow well in its climate and in certain soil types. And in the 1920s, a pumpkin processing industry was established in Illinois, Babadoost says. Decades of experience and dedicated research help Illinois maintain its edge in pumpkin production.

Two pumpkin processing facilities exist in Illinois today – Nestle Libby’s in Morton and Seneca Foods in Princeville, both located near Peoria.

Meanwhile, ornamental pumpkins offer entertainment value for Illinoisans. People enjoy pumpkins, farms and the autumn agritourism destinations surrounding them.

“We have limited recreation opportunities,” Babadoost says. “We don’t have oceans. We don’t have mountains.”

But Illinois has tons of pumpkins. In fact, farms throughout the state grew more than 278,000 tons last year, according to IASS. That translates to millions of pumpkins.

THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN PUMPKINS YOU EAT AND PUMPKINS YOU CARVE

Jack-o’-lantern pumpkins can be eaten. Processing pumpkins can be carved. But for best results, stick to the pumpkin’s intended purpose.

Ornamental pumpkins possess decorative appeal. They exhibit bright orange, smooth flesh with heavy handles. A few varieties offer uniquely colored flesh or warty texture.

Some Illinois farms sell decorative pumpkins wholesale, including to major retailers such as Walmart, Babadoost says. Many ornamental pumpkin growers, like Ackerman, invite customers to their farms to pick pumpkins in person. More than 2,000 schoolchildren and an unrecorded number of other visitors come to Ackerman Farms each fall.

Processing pumpkins are bred and selected to be canned. They have pale flesh, meatier insides and a more palatable flavor. The production of these pumpkins has increased with the growing public demand for pumpkin-flavored products, Babadoost says.

SEE MORE: Pumped for Pumpkin Recipes

Pumpkins grown for consumption pack a nutritional punch of antioxidants, fiber and vitamin A. As a result, home cooks use pumpkin to flavor soups, pasta dishes, cookies, breads, pancakes and more. Even some dog foods contain the healthy power of pumpkin.

HOW PUMPKINS GROW

Pumpkins take about 120 days to grow from planting to harvest.

Nestle Libby’s and Seneca Foods each contract with farmers within their region to grow processing pumpkins. Farmers plant seeds in April and May for a harvest that starts in late July and lasts through November, Babadoost says. Farmers plant ornamental pumpkins in May and June for harvest closer to the beginning of fall.

The sprawling plants grow and cover fields with vines up to 30 feet long. The vines contain flowers that bees pollinate to become pumpkins. Disease presents the biggest challenge during the growing season, Babadoost says. Warm and moist conditions increase those concerns.

Farmers use machines to harvest processing pumpkins. One farm machine moves the pumpkins into rows, while another elevates them into trucks. Then the crop travels to the facility to be washed, chopped, processed and canned.

In contrast, farmers harvest ornamental pumpkins using good old-fashioned manpower. These decorative gourds must be gathered by hand to avoid bruising and damage. Ackerman and about five employees pick up thousands of pumpkins on his 30-acre farm. One year, he estimated selling more than 30,000 pumpkins off the farm.

“We love what we do,” Ackerman says. “I don’t think you could do this if you didn’t enjoy it.”

Originally published by Illinois Farm Bureau Partners Magazine.

JOANIE STIERS

YOUNG PERSON IN AG: KADE GAMBILL

Kade Gambill, Second From Right

Kade Gambill knows his stuff. Ask him just about any questions about agriculture, politics, or agriculture policy and Kade most likely knows it. Kade did not grow up on a farm but once he got into the industry and saw what all it had to offer he was hooked. His goals and passions are very commendable making him a great leader as well as a great young person in ag.

  1. What college do you attend, what is your major and your future plans?

I am currently a sophomore at Kaskaskia College in Centralia Illinois. After that, I plan to go to Murray State University in Murray, Kentucky to major in Agriculture Business with a focus in Economics. I have also really found a passion for Agriculture Policy so that is something I may go into also. I want to work in Southern Illinois where I am originally from and possibly open some sort of AgriBusiness business or work with Farm Bureau or a private company with their agriculture policy and law department. I may not know exactly what I want to do, but I do know that I want to work in the Agriculture Industry.

  1. What is your involvement at school?

I am involved in multiple different clubs including Ag Club as an officer and PAS. I also work some with the research farm that my agriculture department partnered with the Fayette County Farm Bureau to operate, as well as helping organize different contest for different FFA contests

  1. High school experience/involvement in ag?

I was involved in numerous clubs and organizations. I was the Section 21 President my senior year of high school and got the opportunity to travel the state as well as to a few states with my 29 other teammates where we lead, organized, and helped with anything Illinois FFA related. My section included about 16 schools and 1000 students and is something that I will never forget. I also was involved with Farm Bureau and served as the student representative on the school board.

  1. Mentors?

My freshman year of high school was the first year that agriculture classes were being offered so I decided to take one. Before high school, I was not even thinking about being any part of the agriculture industry. My agriculture teacher and FFA advisor Casey Bolin really pushed me and encouraged me to be involved and to make my own path in this industry as well as in FFA to take leadership roles that I didn’t think I would normally.

  1. Some internship highlights?

This past summer I interned for the Lieutenant Governor, Evelyn Sanguinetti, and her office. I went to Springfield twice a week and assisted her staff on different legislation she was trying to push as well talking to legislators and representatives of various interest about different bills. We also went to different businesses with her and went with to the DuQuoin and Illinois State Fairs. It was a great experience getting to talk with and get close with the Lt. Governor as well as other lawmakers. As well as, getting to see the behind the scenes work at the state government level that goes on. It gives you a new appreciation/look at that process.

  1. In the terms of age of Agriculture, we are very young people, but do you remember anything that really changed agriculture in any way

I think there has been a lot of misinformation that has gone around. Whether that be because people are not from the farm or people making up things I don’t know. But I think it is our job as young people to hopefully fix that kind of gap of what is right and wrong information.

  1. How do you see the agriculture industry changing in the next 5-10 years?

Technology is going to get bigger and better. I look forward to the day that farmers are getting to run their combines or tractors from their phone. Hopefully, by then agriculture companies and interest groups like the Farm Bureau will have been able to bridge that gap we just talked about on what agriculture really is and where people’s food and fiber come from.

  1. Do you have any advice for younger people in agriculture/FFA or thinking about agriculture as a career?

I may not know exactly what I want to do, but I do know that I want to work in the Agriculture Industry. I have met so many people through FFA, college, and so many other things. This industry is welcoming and encouraging and I want to be a part of that. My advice would be to embrace ALL those welcome people and opportunities. I have regretted some missed opportunities of things that would have helped me in my professional life. You can’t be too involved in a group or organization.

Lacie Butler
Lake Land College

WHY FARMERS CARE ABOUT LEGISLATIVE ISSUES

Farmers are often considered to be a “jack of all trades”, and there is a reason for that.  On any given day, they can be mechanics, construction workers, scientists, and meteorologists.  What most people don’t think farmers specialize in is policy, but they do that too.  It makes sense if you think about it. There are a lot of rules when it comes to farming, and they need to stay up to date on legislative issues because they directly affect their livelihood.

They have a lot to lose

 

Because farmers have so much invested, they also have a lot.  In all reality, it is a wonder that farmers are able to survive in today’s economy.  It may seem like their fields of green turn into the best kind of green (money), but that is not always the case.  Farmers spend millions on their harvesters, planters fertilizers, irrigation, sheds, seeds and land but that doesn’t mean that they have millions.  Their inputs cost so much, that they need the highest prices out of their outputs possible just to stay afloat.  The government can help farmers through creating policies that help farmers yield the most out of their inputs.

 

Farmers are usually self-employed

 

In my family, my parents’ employers provide insurance and retirement, but that usually isn’t the case for farmers.  Especially if the farmer’s spouse does not have outside employment, they have to make room in their income for things that most people are provided in the workplace.  In order to afford this, they need to make their voice heard to lawmakers when it comes time to create policies like health care acts.  Farmers also need the government to support companies that give them loans to make large purchases like equipment.  Especially considering that farming is dangerous, farmers need insurance.

They care about their families

 

Even if they make enough to provide for their family right now, they can never be certain for the future.  Farming is a family tradition.  Most farmers have been passed down land from many generations, and they want to pass it down to their children.  When farmers get involved in legislative issues involving agriculture, it is because they care about the future of their farm.  One year yields could reach an all-time high, and the next year a drought could kill all of the crops.  On top of this, land is becoming more and more valuable with technology advancements.  Legislators need to implement policies that ensure long-term farming success, and they are more likely to listen to the farmers talk about their families than anyone else.

For some farmers, it’s a hobby

Policy is interesting. Even if a farmer runs a very successful operation, they might be involved just because they can make a difference for other farmers.  The agriculture industry is huge, and companies have plenty of representation, but what politicians like to see are the real people, like farmers, who care.

Over the summer, I was able to see how involved farmers actually are in farm policy.  They want to talk to legislators, and they want to be heard.  Because farming is so necessary to our economy, farming is highly regulated.  The people who know agriculture best are the farmers cultivating the land, which is why their voice matters the most.

Kylie Bohman
University of Illinois

THE “GHOULING” TRUTH ABOUT DRIVING DURING HARVEST

Harvest season is in full swing throughout the Midwest region, and with harvest comes farmers (and their equipment) driving on the roads. The ‘average Joe’ would have no clue what really goes into driving combines down a busy-traffic road, but it is really quite dangerous. It is important to realize that a farmer puts his safety at risk every time he/she drives down the road in their farm equipment. Road safety is important, especially in the country this time of year. Here are 5 spooky truths about driving during this harvest, Halloween season.

  1. Your car is a ‘ghost’ to the equipment driver.

When driving past any piece of farm equipment, passing is very dangerous. Most likely, the driver cannot see you- there is a lot more of him than you, and it can be difficult to get around the vehicle in a timely and safe manner. The last thing anyone wants is a deadly accident. Farm equipment can usually only go a max speed of 30 mph, and they are prone to wide turns.

2. Move with caution, the signs are as orange as pumpkins.

Most farm equipment has large, orange caution signs on the back, visible to other drivers. When you see these signs, be cautious. Realize that you might need to slow down, pass with care, and realize that you have to share the road.

3. Don’t be ‘spooked’ by big farm equipment.

You will know farm equipment when you see it: a giant green or red tractor, combine, carts, or trucks. Most farmers know that their equipment is big, slow, and take up a lot of space. But, don’t forget that a farmer’s 18,000-pound tractor cannot go 70 mph. down the road. Be prepared to slow down to their speed.

4. No need to be a ‘witch’, farmers understand.

Farmers understand that their equipment is slow, they understand you want to pass them as you’re trying to get to your destination. Farmer’s will drive over the shoulder of the road, but you have to give them time. They have to be cautious of guard rails, road signs, and other vehicles on the road. There is no need for you to honk, make angry gestures, or anything of that nature. Realize that farmers are just trying to do their job.

5. Trick or Treat! Farmers are just like you and me.

This is the busiest time of the year for farmers all across the country. Making sure they can get their crops in before snowfall and freezing temperatures is hard. This is their job, we have to respect that. Safety comes first.

The most important thing to remember this time of year is that safety is the most important thing. We have to remember that this is a part of country life, farmers driving is just the norm this time of year. The spooky truth is this- farmers have a family to come home to at the end of each night during harvest, so please drive safe. For more tips and tricks this harvest season- check out this article full of harvest driving to-dos.

To all the farming families here in the Midwest and across the country, we wish you a bountiful harvest and a safe fall and Halloween season!

Ashley Hauptman
Illinois State University