Archive for the ‘food prices’ Category

Happy Friday, all! Big plans this weekend? Hubs and I have big plans that involve little to no sleep because we’re moving H to her ‘big girl bed.’

If that doesn’t mean, “Congrats, mom and dad, no sleep for you,” I don’t know what does.

But hey, what are parents if they aren’t gluttons for punishment? Anyway, on to the Weekly Round Up!

  • The big news here in the agriculture community is the current state of the farm economy. If you’re not intimately involved in agriculture, it may be news to you. But for farmers, the downturn in the farm economy has been brewing for a while and it doesn’t look to improve too soon. To learn more about why that’s a problem for farmers – and you – check out these articles from Reuters (this one features one of my favorite farmers, Dave Kestel!) and Farm Futures.
  • Along the same lines, Illinois Corn Growers posted an excellent breakdown of how ag products are priced and the share the farmers receives – it’s Ag Econ 101. Where was this when I was in college?
  • This, because it’s awesome. Here’s the guys and gals out there growing our food. FB_IMG_1459210414746
  • In the same vein as the farm economy stories I mentioned above, here’s another that you may not be aware of. Recently, a wildfire broke out in Oklahoma and then rapidly moved into Kansas. Across the two states, ranchlands were burned, putting ranchers in a tough spot coming in to spring. For more information on how ranchers are dealing with the fires, check out this post from Tales from a Kansas Farm Mom.
  • This, because it doesn’t seem like a day goes by without hearing some other completely incorrect nugget of information regarding GMOs. This? This is good stuff. AnFB_IMG_1454119992741
  • And, speaking of GMOs – check out this article. I realize I’m a little biased because I think GMOs are all around pretty great. And I do have some issues with a couple of the statements made here (especially about pesticide use), but overall, I think it’s a great piece that outlines just how silly mandatory GMO labeling actually is.
  • And finally, this. Because, obviously. Farm to table

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Are you seeing the trend here? There have been a whole lot of food safety, food processing, consumer question answering websites over the last 22 days.

Today is no different.

Today, we’re headed over to U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance’s (USFRA) Food Dialogues page.

A little bit of background about USFRA:

USFRA is made up of more than 80 farmer – and rancher-led organizations and agricultural partners representing virtually all aspects of agriculture, working to engage in dialogue with consumers who have questions about how today’s food is grown and raised. USFRA is committed to continuous improvement and supporting U.S. farmers and ranchers efforts to increase confidence and trust in today’s agriculture.

Essentially, USFRA is a national version of Illinois Farm Families (www.WatchUsGrow.org) and Common Ground (www.FindOurCommonGround.com). Same concept of transparency and answering consumer questions, but on a bigger scale. Plus, there are events!

In addition Food Dialogues being an internet presence where farmers can answer questions and talk about why they do what they do, USFRA hosts Food Dialogues events across the country where panels of farmers and industry professionals are on hand to answer consumer questions in a live setting.

On their website, you can find information about animal welfare, antibiotics, GMOs, farm size and ownership, food choices and price, food safety, hormones and growth tools, pesticides, herbicides and fertilizer, water quality and a section on how farmers do what they do.

As with all of the other websites I’ve featured, lots of good stuff if you take the time to read it. So make sure you take the time.

To see the rest  of the 30-day series, check out the links below:

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I’m a firm believer in embracing differences and looking for similarities. Some of my best friends came from very different backgrounds than I, but have some kind of common thread, too.

4-H House 2

These gals were kind enough to ‘shower me’ when I got engaged many, many moons (and pants sizes) ago.


Take, for example, these girls. These are my 4-H House girls — at least, most of them.

All of us come from different backgrounds. Some of us grew up on farms; some of us didn’t. But the one thing we all had in common was 4-H and living in 4-H House at the U of I.

That one common thread has led to lots of friendships. And those friendships have morphed from Lord knows how many late night dance parties to a whole bunch of wedding invitations and a bunch of really cute kids — and regular email updates and get-togethers to keep everyone updated.

You can find the commonality in anything. It’s like the six degrees of Kevin Bacon — there’s a connection in everything.

And that’s what FindOurCommonGround.com was founded on; finding the common ground between consumers and farmers.

Similar to WatchUsGrow.org, FindOurCommonGround.com is a collection of farmers, mostly women, who openly talk about farm practices and topics, including antibiotics in meat, animal welfareorganic and local foods, GMOs, food safetyhormones, food prices, sustainability, farm ownership, and more. The only difference is these farmers don’t only farm in Illinois — they farm in states across the country.

You can even select your home state to find a list of farmers who can answer your questions about any topic under the sun. How cool is that?

Funded from checkoff dollars from the American Soybean Association and the National Corn Growers Association, FindOurCommonGround.com is an excellent source of information for all of your farming questions.

The see the rest of the 30-day series, check out the links below:

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A couple of months ago, I had a call from a British TV producer, looking for a farmer she could interview about sweet corn. After asking some additional questions, I found out the producer wanted to talk to a ‘large scale’ sweet corn farmer, and visit him or her during harvest in October or November to pick up footage of him or her taking corn out, then visit a plant to watch it canned.

A couple of problems with this:

  • Sweet corn production isn’t exactly large scale here in Illinois; and
  • Sweet corn is harvested in July and August. By October or November, sweet corn is long gone.

I realized the producer was confused about corn production here in Illinois and explained to her that the corn she’s seen in footage is actually field corn used for animal feed and ethanol, and sometimes, food production in the form of packaged foods. Field corn is taken out in October or November, sometimes even September if the weather cooperates, and is hauled back to the farm or the elevator to be sold, not to a plant to be canned for human consumption.

I explained to her that field corn is left until mid- to late-fall so it can dry in the field and is then harvested by combine. The combine picks the corn, stalk and all, then separates the stalk from the ear, and the corn kernels from the cob, right there in the field.

The farmer who owns the field across from our house has been busy picking corn this week. He harvests and then off loads to a waiting semi truck, which then hauls the grain back to his farm for more drying or storage, or to a local elevator to be sold.

The farmer who owns the field across from our house has been busy picking corn this week. He harvests and then off loads to a waiting semi truck, which then hauls the grain back to his farm for more drying or storage, or to a local elevator to be sold.

H has been super interested in the goings-on lately. She loves running into the yard, looking and the "bombine" and watching them harvest the fields around our house.

H has been super interested in the goings-on lately. She loves running into the yard, looking and the “bombine” and watching them harvest the fields around our house. Unfortunately, last night, the “bombine” was out working. But she was equally happy to look at the “big tacker,” too.

She was amazed and thought they may be interested in covering that, too, but would let me know later for sure.

I hung up the phone and smiled a little at the misconception, and then spent my day toying with a British accent in my head because, obviously, I would sound better as a British version of myself.

But then I realized, she might not be the only one who doesn’t realize there’s a difference between sweet corn and field corn. And she might not be the only one who didn’t realize that all of the picking and shucking and everything else happens right there in the field.

Did you know that? No? Well, then check out this video from HowStuffWorks. It does an excellent job of explaining how a combine works and how much ground can be harvested using a modern combine.

The only caveat to this video is that it’s a couple of years old. Near the end, the announcer mentions that corn prices are near record highs, however, that isn’t the case this year. In fact, corn prices have dipped pretty significantly, causing many farmers to put a hold on purchases like combines and other machinery.

Want more information on harvest, how farmers make decisions, what corn is used for or anything else? Let me know if the comments. I would be happy to answer any questions I can — or find a farmer to answer your questions! You can also follow the #harvest15 hashtag on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter to find real-time pictures and information from farmers themselves!

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Time for another edition of the Weekly Round Up — albeit, two days late. Apparently, when I was working on this Thursday, I forgot to schedule the post to go up on Friday. Because I’m awesome.

Oh well, better late than never, right?

  • We’ll kick things off with the big news in Illinois this week — news that has us aggies pretty upset. You see, farmers tend to feel pretty underrepresented and, for the first time, it felt like we had a guy in our corner. Then, all of the sudden, we didn’t. For more info, check out stories herehere, here and here.
  • This, because it seems to fit nicely with the political happenings from this week. farming is easy
  • This story, from Forbes Magazine, which I thought was pretty interesting. There’s been a crusade against GMOs as of late. Folks are out to get them out of every single food they eat — or at least get them labeled. Personally, I’m just fine with GMOs in my food. They’ve been proven safe in study after study, but that’s just my personal choice. But did you know that GMOs aren’t just in food?
  • And speaking of GMOs, this story about a popular spice company going organic and GMO-free by 2016. Again, if you’re all for the organic, non-GMO movement, I that’s your choice. But here’s something to keep in mind as you’re buying organic, non-GMO labeled spices: those spices have always been non-GMO because GMO varieties of those plants don’t exist.
  • This, because it’s awesome. success
  • And this, from the Washington Post, about the tyranny of olive oil! But seriously, am I the only one who really isn’t crazy about the taste of olive oil? I would much rather stick with butter. The fact that I grew up with dairy cattle probably has something to do with that, too. 🙂

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I don’t know about you guys, but my yard should not be the this healthy this far into summer. My mower just quit and, any other year, that would be fine because I might be able to get squeeze by for a couple of weeks without mowing. Not this year. I guess I need to get a new mower.

Oh well, it’s just money, right? Ugh.

In the meantime, here’s another edition of the Weekly Round Up:

  • If you’re not a fan of western sports, this may not mean much to you, but yesterday was the 26th anniversary of bull rider Lane Frost’s death. Lane, who died in the arena at the Cheyenne Frontier Days, took the rodeo community by storm for being a heck of a bull rider and genuinely nice guy. When he was killed after a bull got a horn on him and broke his ribs, the rodeo community was lost. Today, nearly 30 years after his death, it’s hard to go to a high-profile rodeo and not hear Lane’s name. To learn more about him, and what made him a joy to watch, check out Wrangler Network’s special tribute to Lane last year on the 25th anniversary of his death. Also, of you’re a country music fan (especially red dirt!), check out Aaron Watson’s July In Cheyenne. It’s pretty great.
  • Also, this. Dirty Clothes
  • This piece from the Washington Post, which talks about how consumers think about and articulate their opinions on food — and how we’re all wrong, regardless of our opinion.
  • This. Because, obviously. Not in the supermarket
  • This post, from Emily Webel at Webel Family Farms. I always enjoy reading Emily’s posts because she has such a common sense, straight-forward way of explaining or talking about current issues in ag, and this post is no different. This time, Emily tackles the “War of Words” and why, when it comes to agriculture, some words are off-limits.
  • Want some behind the scenes dairy information? Check out The Udder Truth. Videos. Information. Cows. What could be better?
  • And finally, this story from The Hill, featuring our favorite Iowa Congressman Chuck Grassley. I’ve heard he manages his own Twitter account. Based on these pictures, I have to assume that’s no lie.


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It’s you. You, as a consumer, are the last link in the chain.

Farmers do what they do because of you. They change the way they farm because of your questions, needs, concerns and requests. You’re the reason we do what we do.

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If you’ve learned anything reading this series, I hope it’s that farmers care about what you think and they care about their product. They care because they’re eating the same food your family is eating. And they care because you’re the one with the purchasing power.

So if there’s something you want, tell us. We’re working hard to listen. But remember, the listening needs to go both ways. Farmers love what they do and don’t want to jeopardize that. They’ve worked hard to harness technology and employ the latest in science, so when they say they’re working hard for you, listen.

And remember, if you have questions, ask. We’re only to happy to answer.

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Don’t forget to check out all the awesome blogs happening this month over at Prairie Farmer.

For the full Faces Behind Your Food Series, check out the links below:

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