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

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

A CALL FOR FOOD PRODUCTION TRANSPARENCY

In a recent News Watch, the Food Production Industry was called to increase their transparency. It pointed out that while the population wants to know more about what is going into their food, there is no one group that helps wholly responsible for this effort.

It’s no secret that consumers are becoming more and more interest in the makeup of their food. A trip to the grocery store once involved choosing between the name and generic brand now involves sifting through a collection of letters and symbols placed on the food all in an attempt to learn a bit more about what is going into their body. This transparency is a right consumer have, but who is ultimately responsible? And who should be making sure the consumers understand the labels in front of them?

One must remember that the average consumer has very little knowledge of how their food is produced. It is easy to blame their lack of knowledge on an absence of effort in finding answers. They don’t spend their days in a field and their nights and weekends discussing yields with their neighbors. Their chosen profession is just as foreign a concept to a farmer.

When an average consumer hears the phrase “all natural” they honestly believe it is better for them, and why wouldn’t they?  Farmers use chemicals with names that are hard to pronounce for reasons that a consumer can’t understand. If there is a safer way to get the job done, why isn’t it being done the way? This is where transparency is the job of the agriculture industry.

Increasing industry transparency should be a top priority for producers globally. Agriculture has nothing to cover up. Safe food is produced that feeds a growing population. With the evolution of technology, questions can be answered and experiences can be shared at a much larger speed than ever before.

Americans and the global population want to trust farmers. These men and women represent the heart of the values that are held near to the hearts of the people. They are the foundation and how the country became what it is today. Each and every farmer is responsible for the life of 155 people.

Shelby Carlson
IL Corn Intern

ORGANIC OR CONVENTIONAL?

Are you one of so many moms that can’t decide which food is best for her family?  Do you burst the grocery budget to buy organic because it’s healthier or safer?  Or do you stick to the budget and buy conventionally grown food and splurge taking the kids to the pool?

The fact of the matter is that both choices are good choices.  Both foods are safe for you and your family.  But if you’d like to hear a farmer break it down for you, you’ll definitely want to check out this video:

And when you’re done, look for more resources about organic and conventionally grown foods, straight for the farmers, right here at www.watchusgrow.org.

Or, watch one of our Illinois farmers apply a herbicide and some fertilizer to his growing corn in a cool 360 degree video.

Enjoy!

APPLES TO ORANGES: WHY CROPS THRIVE WHERE THEY DO

Jennie is a Maryland farmer. She is also a registered dietitian who speaks about food and farming systems, sustainability and family farms.

[Originally published on CommonGround]

Drive through the Midwest and you’re likely to see field after field of corn and soybeans. Head down South, there’s cotton as far as the eye can see. And of course, Florida is synonymous with oranges and other citrus groves. Why are certain crops most prevalent in certain areas? And how do farmers decide what crops to plant on their farms?

The first is often dictated by climate and season length. Crops require a certain number of days before they reach maturity and are ready to harvest. Citrus fruits, for example, need more days of warmth and sunshine, which suits them well for states like California and Florida, while crops like corn can thrive in places like the Upper Midwest, where the days get shorter and colder in early fall.

America in Miniature

My home state of Maryland is sometimes called “America in miniature” because of our diverse ecology. From ocean to mountains, we have it all, along with a typical climate that’s somewhere between that found in the north or the south. We also have well-drained soil that’s not too dense, making it good for many crops. You see a wide array of crops grown throughout Maryland – just about everything, with the exception of citrus fruit.

As I write this blog, I’m in the middle of harvesting my twenty acres of wine grapes. You may equate wine grapes with places like Napa Valley, but grapes also thrive in Maryland, New York and elsewhere in New England. We have some great wineries! We often say that grapes don’t like wet feet, meaning they thrive in soil like mine that dries quickly and where the water table isn’t high. This keeps the roots from wet soil. In addition, on our farm we grow barley, wheat, tomatoes, green beans, corn and soybeans – which we harvest in that order, from June to October.

Climate and soil type aren’t the only factors that help farmers decide what crops to grow – things like infrastructure also play a large role, and I’ll talk more about that in my next blog. But if you’ve ever wondered why there’s a Corn Belt across the U.S. and orange groves in the South, you can bet that Mother Nature is the primary reason.

Amy Erlandson
CommonGround

AG CAREER PROFILES: COOPERATIVE BOARD MEMBER

Sam Deal is a local farmer in the Danvers area and serves on the Board of the Danvers Farmers Elevator (DFE) cooperative. A cooperative is a business where a group of farmers comes together to buy and sell crop inputs and commodities in bulk to obtain the best prices. Farmers make the decisions for each cooperative by electing members to their local board. Sam is one of the many farmers who serves on cooperative boards to help run the business.

DFE Cooperative is full-service cooperative with a retail business of agronomic products such as seed, fertilizer, and crop protection products. The business provides grain marketing services and grain storage for members of its business.

Cameron: What is your role as a member of the DFE Cooperative Board?

Sam: I serve on the board of the cooperative and help run the business. I help hire the general manager for the cooperative, who oversees the business. I also examine quarterly financial statements to ensure the business is profitable. From those statements, I help make decisions to spend less money or grow the business. I also have a unique role on the board where I am the Secretary. With that job, I oversee keeping the minutes of the monthly meetings of the board.

Cameron: Why did you choose to be in this role on the DFE Cooperative Board?

Sam: Serving on the board of a local cooperative allows me to help make decisions that are better for my operation, as I am a member of the cooperative itself. Additionally, it allows me to help out my neighbors by listening to their problems and fighting for changes on the local level to help their farming operation out.

Cameron:  Can you tell us how the DFE Cooperative impacts the farmers it serves?

Sam: Farmers across Central Illinois utilize DFE Cooperative’s services for agronomic and grain resources. For over 100 years, the business has helped farmers get the best prices, service, and knowledge of their farming operations. Additionally, the cooperative’s grain advantage allows the business to offer higher prices for corn and soybeans due to larger amounts of commodities being sold.

Cameron: What role do you see cooperatives playing in the future of agriculture?

Sam: Cooperatives provide an outlet for farmers for their grain to get a higher price, something that will be needed as the price to a produce a bushel of corn and soybeans rises. I see the cooperative, not only DFE, but all others grow and get bigger to stay competitive.

Cameron Jodlowski
Iowa State University Graduate

GRILLING WEEK:GRILLED CITRUS SEASONED TILAPIA

As we officially head into summer, enjoy the recipes of grilling week!  We’ll be featuring opportunities for you to get more delicious pork, beef, and chicken into your diet and sharing some fun facts about livestock farming in Illinois & and the U.S.!

Fun Fact: Globally, aquaculture supplies more that 50 percent of all seafood produced for human consumption – that percentage has been and will continue to rise.  Conventional wisdom holds that traditional fisheries are producing near their maximum capacity and that future increases in seafood production must come largely from aquaculture.

Today’s Tip: Use a grill for foods that might fall through the grill rack or are too cumbersome to turn over one by one (vegetables, fish, tofu, fruits, etc.).

Today’s Recipe: Grilling Week: Citrus Seasoned Tilapia

What You Need:

What To Do:

  1. Mix butter, juices, seasoned salt, parsley and pepper in small bowl until well blended. Place fish fillets in center of large sheet of heavy-duty aluminum foil or grill pan. Brush with butter mixture.
  2. Grill over medium heat 12 to 15 minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork. Sprinkle with additional seasoned salt, if desired.

Lindsay Mitchell
ICGA/ICMB Marketing Director

GRILLING WEEK: GRILLED CHICKEN SANDWICHES WITH PESTO, BRIE, AND ARUGULA

As we officially head into summer, enjoy the recipes of grilling week!  We’ll be featuring opportunities for you to get more delicious pork, beef, and chicken into your diet and sharing some fun facts about livestock farming in Illinois!

Fun Fact: A poultry farm worker who separates chicks into males and females is known as the sexer, and can separate 1,000 chicks per hour with almost 100% accuracy.

Today’s Tip: Even on a clean grill, lean foods may stick when placed directly on the rack. Reduce sticking by oiling your hot grill rack with a vegetable oil-soaked paper towel: hold it with tongs and rub it over the rack. (Do not use cooking spray on a hot grill.)

Today’s Recipe: Grilled Chicken Sandwiches with Pesto, Brie, and Arugula

What You’ll Need:

1 pound thin cut chicken cutlets
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

8 slices crusty sourdough bread
1/4 cup basil pesto (may use purchased)
1/4 cup olive oil
1 large tomato
4 ounces Brie, thinly sliced
1 cup packed baby arugula (a good handful)

What You Do:

  1. Combine all ingredients for marinade and pour into a plastic Ziploc bag. Add chicken, seal, and marinate for at least 30 minutes.
  2. Heat grill on high. Add chicken, grill for 2-3 minutes, turn, and grill for another 2-3 minutes or until chicken registers 160 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer. Remove and reserve.
  3. Spread each piece of bread with 1/2 tablespoon of pesto. Slice the tomato into 8 slices. Place chicken on four of the bread slices. Top chicken with Brie slices, arugula, and 2 tomato slices. Top with prepared bread slices, pesto side toward the tomato.
  4. Brush the outside of each sandwich with about 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil. Place on grill, reduce heat to medium, and grill for 2-3 minutes per side or until bread is nicely toasted with grill marks. Cheese should be melted.
  5. Remove from heat, cut each sandwich in half, and serve. Serves 4.

Nutrition Information, Per Serving:
940 calories; 38 g fat; 11 g saturated fat; 99 g carbohydrate; 6 g sugars; 52 g protein

Lindsay Mitchell
ICGA/ICMB Marketing Director