If you haven’t already tuned into the new level of activism in agriculture, especially regarding misinformation on our largest industry, then you won’t find better evidence of this evolving cultural phenomenon than the Corn Farmers Coalition.
Speaking to a couple of family farmers recently they expressed their frustration at the misinformation, innuendo and outright fabrications that are being used to frame their chosen profession. As upset as they were, there was also a prevalent sense that there was nothing they could do to change things.
If you are frustrated and tired of all the attacks and negative news swirling around agriculture you have come to the right place. Read slowly, soak this up, and then if you are a corn farmer give yourself a big pat on the back.
Imagine 60,000 city people getting a positive message about farmers every day. As they go to and from work, go out for dinner, go to a movie, or just go about their life in general. Next imagine that most of these people are employed in jobs on or near Capitol Hill in Washington, DC…Congressmen, staffers, agency employees, lobbyists, environmental groups, and even media. That’s what is happening right now as you read this thanks to the efforts of farmers themselves.
In the attached photo of the Union Station Metro stop in Washington, DC you can see several of the ads that will be prevalent throughout June and July as part of CFC’s efforts. From the highly trafficked Metro system, to Reagan National Airport, to the most widely read political publications like Politico and Congressional Quarterly. Throw in on-line advertising at the aforementioned publications, WashingtonPost.com, National Public Radio, ads in the Washington Nationals baseball team programs, and a smattering of talk, sports, and contemporary radio and you begin to get a feel for the breadth and scope of this campaign. It is conservatively estimated the educational campaign will create more than 10 million positive impressions in the land of policy and regulation.
Equally as impressive is that CFC, and the $1 million in corn checkoff funds backing the campaign, comes straight from family farmers in Maryland, Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Iowa, Wisconsin, South Dakota, Nebraska, Colorado, Kansas and Michigan who believe we need to introduce a foundation of facts to the dialogue in Washington.
Ten messages based on USDA and EPA facts will be used in the campaign to show tech-savvy, innovative farmers are growing more corn every year – for food, animal feed, ethanol and exports – while using fewer resources and protecting the environment.
The coalition will meet with media, members of Congress, environmental groups and others to talk about what’s ahead: how U.S. farmers, using the latest technologies, will continue to expand yields and how this productivity can be a bright spot in an otherwise struggling economy.
We have a great story to tell so take heart. You can make a difference and CFC offers clear evidence.
Illinois’ corn farmers helped build a Field of Dreams in the Normal-Bloomington area.
Tuesday night was the inaugural home game for the Normal CornBelters, a new professional team for the region, playing at the all new Corn Crib ballpark, thanks in part to a multi-year partnership with the Illinois Corn Marketing Board (ICMB).
ICMB Chairman Jim Rapp of Princeton threw out one of the ceremonial opening pitches at the inaugural game. “This is a neat venue for the community of Bloomington-Normal, right here in the middle of the Corn Belt, great to have the CornBelters playing for us,” said Jim.
The corn growers got interested in the ballpark and team when a contest to name the team resulted in the winning “CornBelters.” Illinois Corn Executive Director Rod Weinzierl says it was a natural sponsorship opportunity and they came up with the name Corn Crib as kind of a play on words. “For us older folks, we all know what the corn crib is on the farm, but for the younger generation, crib means home. So, we thought it was a pretty neat name and it really points out the communications bridge that we’re trying to build with the general public and with the next generation about what corn is about and what farming is about.”
Listen to my interview with Rod here:
The entire ball park has a corn theme, from the Kernel Kitchen and Corn Crib Cafe, to Corny the Mascot, to the corn planted under the scoreboard. Additional agricultural sponsors for the park include Pioneer, Syngenta, the Illinois beef and pork producers and Prairie Farms from the dairy side. Pioneer provided the corn for the landscaping and it’s already making good progress.
Nearly 6,000 fans attended the opening home game against the Windy City Thunderbolts, and even though the Cornbelters lost 3-2, it was a good game and everyone had a great time. See more photos from the event, thanks to coverage by Agwired, in the photo album below.
The Minnesota and Wisconsin Corn Growers Associations teamed up last week to promote ethanol in a border battle last week between two fuel retailers on opposite sides of the St. Croix River. As part of the fun, Alice in Dairyland (aka Cheryl O’Brien), Wisconsin’s official agricultural ambassador, squared off with the University of Minnesota mascot Goldy Gopher to represent each state.
The promotional event on Thursday featured a rush-hour special where both stations sold E85 (85 percent ethanol fuel) at an 85 cents per gallon discount from 4-6 pm. The promotion was also supported by Holiday Companies, Erickson Oil, American Lung Association of the Upper Midwest and MN & WI Clean Air Choice Teams.
Bob Moffit with the American Lung Association of the Upper Midwest reports that the Wisconsin station ultimately won the border battle, selling 589 gallons of E85 during the two-hour promotion, while the Minnesota station sold 447 gallons.
Flex-fuel vehicle (FFV) drivers in central Illinois have more choices at the pump now thanks to a blender pump just installed in Sullivan, Illinois. The pump is the first of 20 planned in the state under a pilot program approved by the Illinois Department of Agriculture with support from the state Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, the American Lung Association of the Upper Midwest and the Illinois Corn Marketing Board.
During the official ribbon cutting ceremony, state officials and corn grower representatives addressed the success story of Illinois corn farmers and the Illinois ethanol industry partnering with petroleum marketers to increase consumer choice. “We’re excited to see this blender pump in Sullivan,” said Jim Rapp, Illinois Corn Marketing Board Chairman and a corn farmer from Princeton, IL. “Consumers deserve a choice and the opportunity to choose the fuel that best fits their needs and their pocketbook.”
Past National Corn Growers Association president Leon Corzine, a grower from Assumption, Illinois, was one of the many who were at the promotion offering discount pricing on ethanol blended fuel and $10.00 E85 coupons for FFV owners.
E-K Petro Mart owner Jon England received a $20,000 grant for participating in the Blender Pump Incentive Pilot Program. Each two-sided pump offers both regular unleaded gas blended with 10 percent ethanol plus a flex-fuel option that dispenses E85, E50, or E30 for E85-capable FFVs by blending regular unleaded gasoline with E85 from a second tank. “It’s nice to have a choice,” England said. “Somebody can come in and pick the product that best suits their economic situation.”
Illinois corn growers are among many in the agriculture industry taking a stand against Chipotle for its support of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). As they point out in a post on “Corn Corps,” Chipotle is supporting HSUS efforts to regulate animal agriculture in Ohio:
Chipotle is a corporate sponsor for their effort. They are allowing ballots to be placed in their stores throughout Ohio to make it easier for unsuspecting patrons to vote in their favor, bringing us one step closer to ending animal agriculture in the United States.
The question is – will it do any good? As agricultural journalist Trent Loos points out in a comment on one of the fan pages, “I do not want to dampen anyone’s spirits here but I will tell you I chased this rabbit two years ago. Owner Steve Ells agrees with HSUS rheotric and does not even eat meat himself. The best you are going to do is NOT go there and tell you friends and neighbors there are good alternatives.” To get an idea of where Ells stands, check out his testimony in support of the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act. There is a prominent link to this from the main page of the Chipotle website.
Chipotle wants to appeal to the market segment that wants organic food, promoting that fact on its own Facebook page. “That’s why we serve meats raised without antibiotics or added hormones. And it’s why we buy local and organic produce when we’re able. And why we prefer to work with small family farms that raise their animals responsibly and humanely.”
That’s fine, if that’s what they want to do and how they want to position themselves in the very competitive chain restaurant market. The problem is they believe that if Chipotle can do it, all restaurants can – and, more problematic, SHOULD. That’s where we draw the line, so it’s important for people who do not think that way and do not want to support the HSUS agenda to be aware of it. Yes, we should find some place else to get our burritos if we feel this restaurant chain is actively working against our industry – and we should inform others about it. But, it is doubtful we are going to change their minds if there is a market segment that responds positively to that agenda and will patronize them because of it.
So, boycott away – but changing their minds may be like trying to convince HSUS that cage-free chickens is a dumb idea.
Standing next to a front end loader filled with corn at an ethanol plant in Macon, Missouri on Wednesday, President Obama stressed his administration’s goal to more than triple America’s biofuels production in the next twelve years, and noted that “there shouldn’t be any doubt that renewable, homegrown fuels are a key part of our strategy for a clean energy future.”
Missouri Corn Growers Association CEO Gary Marshall was thrilled that the president visited a corn-based ethanol plant in his state. “It’s fantastic, primarily because it is the first time since he’s been sitting as president that he’s toured an ethanol plant, so I think it bodes very well for future of the corn-based ethanol industry in this country,” Gary said in an interview with Agwired’s Chuck Zimmerman. “This symbolic visit to a corn-based Midwest ethanol plant could really drive a lot of the issues we’re working on at the national level. Whether it’s re-doing the tax credits for ethanol, whether it’s E15 which we think we need to go to because we’re maxed out on the blend wall, or even moving corn-based ethanol forward as an advance biofuel. This just kind of kicks off that entire effort for us.”
Thanks to the “Blend Your Own” BYO Ethanol campaign, motorists in Sioux Falls, SD now have more fuel choices at the pump with the installation of four new ethanol blender pumps at a Kings Mart gas station in the city.
“This a huge accomplishment for the corn and ethanol industry to unveil a blender pump in Sioux Falls. Corn farmers take great pride in helping to produce over a billion gallons of ethanol in our great state, and installing infrastructure like this moves our industry in the right direction,” said David Fremark, President of the South Dakota Corn Utilization Council.
The BYO Ethanol campaign was launched last year as a partnership between ACE, the Renewable Fuels Association, the National Corn Growers Association and leading corn-producing states such as South Dakota. The campaign works to show gas station owners the benefits of blending ethanol and using blender pumps to provide choices for motorists.
The Sioux Falls blender pump location joins 40 other locations across South Dakota and around 150 nationwide. ACE offers an on-line map of blender pump sites.
For the price of a few minutes worth of education about agriculture, people in several different states have a chance to win $5000 worth of groceries. Seems like a pretty good deal!
Agricultural organizations in Michigan, Missouri, Indiana, Iowa and Ohio have banded together for the ag literacy sweepstakes on “FarmersFeedUS.org” featuring poster farmers and ranchers for each state. You have to watch at least one of the videos to enter the contest, and to do that you just click on your state and choose from producers of dairy, beef, pork, corn, soybeans, poultry, eggs, and more.
One would hope that a year’s worth of groceries would be good incentive for anyone to take a few minutes and watch a video about food production. What is crazy is that we even have to do this. Farmers and ranchers should be out on the job putting food on our tables, instead of having to resort to bribery to educate the public about how that food is produced. Agriculture is having to bribe people to learn about what we do, because what they don’t know can and already does hurt us. We are hoping that if they know us better and understand better how food is produced that people won’t pass laws that hurt our ability to feed the world.
With the goal of providing drivers with more choices at the pump, the Missouri Corn Merchandising Council (MCMC) has been awarded a $200,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to expand the number of ethanol stations along major thoroughfares in the Show-Me State.
DOE awarded eight grants to five entities nationwide this week, investing $1.6 million in fueling infrastructure for ethanol blends. Through the Missouri Ethanol Blends Infrastructure Project (MoEBIP), 16 blender pumps (pumps that dispense ethanol blends ranging from 10 to 85 percent, as well as regular gasoline) are to be installed across the state, with the potential to displace an estimated 10.1 to 15.1 million gallons of petroleum.
The blender pumps will be installed across five major fueling corridors in the state, focusing on regions with large numbers of Flex Fuel Vehicles (FFVs). FFVs are able to run on regular unleaded gasoline, E85 (blend of 85 percent ethanol, 15 percent gasoline) and any blends in between. With 115 of the state’s 4,200 fueling stations currently offering E85, the project will expand fueling options for FFV drivers along portions of I-70, I-44, I-29, Hwy 40/61 and Hwy 63.
Captain Cornelius delivered an early Christmas for Judy Koons of Webster City, Iowa who was the grand prize winner this month in the Iowa Corn Fed GameDay DriveAway campaign. Her name was drawn to win a victory red, 2009 Flex-Fuel Chevy Silverado at the Iowa vs. Iowa State basketball game December 11 in Ames.
The Iowa Corn Fed GameDay DriveAway was part of a GameDay partnership that included the Iowa and Iowa State football, basketball, and wrestling seasons. Consumers could enter the drawing from July 10 through November 21 for a chance to win the 2009 Flex-Fuel Chevy Silverado. Other prizes awarded included $500 cash and a year’s worth of ethanol blended fuel from Kum and Go.
“We’ve reached thousands of people with the Iowa Corn Fed GameDay DriveAway promotion,” said Shannon Textor, director of market development for the Iowa Corn Promotion Board (ICPB) and the Iowa Corn Growers Association (ICGA). “Ethanol use was just one benefit featured in the program, which included food and feed uses for corn and messages about corn’s importance to Iowa’s economy, environment and energy independence.”