Archive for the ‘corn’ Category

Sustainably Feeding the World

By: DeEtta Bohling, Communications Specialist

How can we best feed the word? Alex Avery of the Hudson Institute talks about how to best protect the environment with regards to agriculture on a new episode of Green State TV.

New research shows that the best way to save the biodiversity of Mother Earth is to produce as much as you can on a given acre. Avery states that we need to use synthetic nitrogen fertilizer. Avery goes on to say that “if we had to do it organically, you’re talking about the equivalent manure of 6-8 billion additional cows on the Earth, which is five times more cows than exist on the plant today. When we are already pasturing and grazing 26% of the Earth’s total land area, 500% more cows is going to take up all that is left.”

Alex Avery also speaks about pesticides and herbicides which help growers produce more per acre in a sustainable manner. Today, growers are able to produce more with less soil erosion. Farmers have adopted conservation tillage on millions of acres of land – and continue to expand the use of no-till and minimal till practices. The benefits for the environment are significant. No-tilling means remnants from the previous year’s crop are left untouched. Not only does this improve the soil over time, but it significantly reduces soil run-off during snowmelt or heavy rain.  In fact, the U.S. Department of Agriculture noted that America’s corn farmers have cut soil erosion 44 percent in two decades by using these innovative conservation methods.

Kirk Wiscombe of Overbrook, KS plants corn

Avery gives credit to a popular herbicide, Atrazine which has been used by corn, sorghum, sugarcane and other produce growers since the 1950s.  Atrazine is the cornerstone of sustainable, low erosion, no-till farming which has revolutionized sustainability in agriculture. Conservation tillage is an option for more farmers today because of technological advances. Corn plants that are resistant to safer herbicides means controlling weeds in a no-till field is more efficient and less harmful to the land and people. Seed that resist insect damage mean fewer insecticides are needed to protect the crop, and that means fewer passes across the field. These technologies are made possible through biotechnology.

With advancements in technology, farmers can continue to produce more food with less soil erosion, less fertilizer, less acreage, less water and less fuel. America’s farmers have a moral obligation to care for Mother Earth and produce food for a growing population.

Additional Resources:

Corn Farmers Coalition

Biotechnol0gy

Conservation

Are Vegetarians Happier?

By: DeEtta Bohling, Communications Specialist

Beef and chicken gyro with brussels sprouts and fruit salad

I recently saw an article posted on Facebook from The Huffington Post called “Vegetarian Diet Could Make You Happier and Less Stressed, Study Shows”. I consider myself an optimistic, healthy and happy omnivore, so I decided to take a look.

The article states that embracing a vegetarian diet could make you happier and less stressed because of fatty acids in meat and fish. It states that “diets that include meat and fish are higher in arachidonic acid (AA), an animal source of omega-6 fatty acids. Much of the meat Americans eat today is quite high in AA: The average omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acid profile of modern grain-fed meat is 5 times higher than grass-fed meat.”

Shalene McNeill, who has a Ph.D. in human nutrition and is executive director for human nutrition research at the National Cattleman’s Beef Association, acknowledges that “if you feed (cows) grass, you can slightly increase the omega-3 content, but if you look at it in terms of a whole diet, it’s not a significant advantage to human health.”

Though I experience stress (usually self-inflicted), running has become a great outlet for me. Personally, I would become very grumpy (and stressed) without beef, pork and poultry as a regular part of my diet. I think it’s safe to say as a whole, Americans are increasingly overfed yet undernourished so it’s essential that we get the most nutritional value from the food and beverages we enjoy. I enjoy meat. I’m not turning vegetarian.

What are the benefits of consuming meat? Since meat contains a great deal of protein, it repairs and promotes the building of body tissues and produces antibodies that will protect the body from infections, therefore strengthening the immune system. Since meat contains all the essential amino acids, it ranks as one of the best sources of protein.

Meat is rich in iron, zinc and selenium which results in forming hemoglobin that transports oxygen to different parts of your body, tissue formation and metabolism, and breaking down fat in the body. Meat also contains Vitamin A, B and D which promote good vision, stronger teeth and bones as well as support the central nervous system.

What do I think is the biggest benefit of meat consumption? It tastes excellent. Therefore, it keeps this girl happy, healthy and loving life!

Additional Resources:
Kansas Beef Council
Kansas Pork Association
CommonGround
National Cattleman’s Association
National Pork Producers Council

Kansas Joins CommonGround Program

Farmers Greet Guests with Delicious Food and Genuine Conversations at State Launch

The Kansas State University Lady Wildcats may have shot better hoops than the University of Kansas Lady Jayhawks Saturday night, but the real winners were the farm women who started a conversation about food at Allen Fieldhouse prior to the game.  Teresa Brandenburg, Kara James and LaVell Winsor hosted dinner to launch the Kansas arm of the CommonGround program—a national grassroots movement, designed to bridge the gap between the women who grow food and the women who buy it.

The event brought together members of the media, academics and government officials to discuss modern farming. During the dinner, guests were invited to partake in conversation about farming and food while enjoying delicious food and the company of the new Kansas CommonGround volunteer farmers.

The reason Kansas became a part of the CommonGround movement was clear during dinner as Alton, Kan. CommonGround volunteer, Teresa Brandenburg explained, “many consumers are confronted by a barrage of inaccurate information and rumors about food. All three of us (volunteers) want to share our stories and personal understanding of agriculture and food.” She also noted, “who is better to tell that story than someone like me, a mom, and a farmer?” Throughout the dinner, the volunteers shared anecdotes from their farm and used their agriculture knowledge and expertise to address guest’s concerns about our nation’s food supply.

Many questions were about the locavore movement and organic farming, but LaVell Winsor, a grain farmer from Grantville, Kan. said, “many of the topics we discussed centered around the facts on organics and implications of a shift toward eating locally produced foods.” She enjoyed being able to address misconceptions throughout the evening. “Some of the attendees pulled me into a discussion on the benefits of organics to ask for my thoughts.  I explained that, while farmers in our country do provide a variety of healthy, safe options, there is no evidence that organic production results in a more nutritious, healthier choice. Really, they could rest assured that they were providing their family with the wholesome nourishment they need whether they buy organic or conventionally produced foods. It was great being able to put a face and a name with agriculture so that people knew they can contact a real person about farming and food!”

To close out the evening, guest were encouraged to fill their reusable CommonGround grocery bags with facts about food production and recipes the volunteers shared from their own kitchens. Following the dinner, the entire group was invited to join in the festivities and watch the University of Kansas women’s basketball team take on their rivals from Manhattan.

“As a Kansas CommonGround volunteer, I hope our guests left with a better understanding of how food is grown and that, as farmers, we want to speak with the public about what we do,” said Karra James, CommonGround volunteer from Clay Center, Kan. “When farmers like myself say something about food I think our message comes from a more genuine place because we are connected directly to agriculture.”

The CommonGround program is moving forward in 15 states including Colorado, Delaware, Iowa, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dokata, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and South Dakota. The movement will continue to grow and expand nationwide.

Want to join the CommonGround Conversation? Stay tuned for more CommonGround Kansas updates and what you can to help.

Website: www.FindOurCommonGround.com

YouTube: www.youtube.com/user/FindOurCommonGround

Twitter: www.twitter.com/commongroundks

Twitter Hashtag: #CGConvo

Facebook: www.facebook.com/CommonGroundKansas

Blog: http://commongroundkansas.wordpress.com/

About the volunteers:

Teresa Brandenburg from Alton, Kansas

Teresa was the 2006 American Honey Princess, crown and all.  But that hardly serves as her only contribution to agriculture. Starting out, Teresa grew up in a small town in Iowa where her dad drove a truck hauling farm commodities. Teresa started raising livestock with her family when she was 10.  Now, she and her husband, Luke, are the fourth generation on his family’s farm. Their son, Jacob, represents the fifth generation.  She is currently serving on the Kansas Soybean Association Board of Directors, and enjoys working with her husband to raise cattle, corn, milo, soybeans and wheat.

LaVell Winsor from Grantville, Kansas

LaVell has a unique perspective on agriculture, having worked as a farmer with responsibility for merchandising and managing grain sales while keeping financial records, and outside of the farm with other growers as a business consultant specializing in risk-management.  Coupled with her previous experience in succession and estate planning, LaVell understands the vast array of financial issues facing farmers and agriculture as a whole.

Karra James From Clay Center, Kansas

Karra works with her husband Derek on his parent’s farm to grow grain, raise cattle and, more importantly, their elementary school-aged son and daughter.  Having earned a degree in Food Science and worked in the food safety field, Kara understands the science behind many of the questions consumers have about their food. As she increases her involvement on the farm, she also broadens her perspective on the modern technologies and techniques they use every day.

Lori Deyoe From Ulysses, Kansas

Farming is Lori’s heritage from several generations back on both sides of her family, and her work has always reflected that. She is a farmer’s daughter, the wife of a cattleman and mom to two children. Even her education, a degree in agricultural economics with minors in animal science and women’s studies from Kansas State University, is rooted in agriculture. Before Lori and her husband started a family, she worked as the assistant grain manager at an elevator in town. And currently, Lori coordinates logistics for their small beef feed yard; handles the accounting; and writes on their blog about agriculture. No need to say it – this woman is all about farming.

About CommonGround™

CommonGround is a grassroots movement to foster conversation among women – on farms and in cities – about where our food comes from. CommonGround was developed by the United Soybean Board (USB) and National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) in an effort to give farm women the opportunity to speak with consumers using a wide range of activities. USB and NCGA provide support and a platform for the volunteers to tell their stories. The opinions and statements made by the volunteers are not necessarily representative of the policies and opinions of USB or NCGA.

Chinese Crop Tour

By: DeEtta Bohling, Communications Specialist

This past week I have been traveling NE China (Beijing, Harbin, Zhaodung, Zhaoyuan, Fuyu, Changchun, Changling, and Shuangliao) with the U.S. Grains Council and corn growers from Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois, Wisconsin and Nebraska as a part of the Chinese Spring Corn Tour. The purpose of this tour is to survey the crop growing conditions including the weather, planting and germination. By participating on this tour, we better understand the corn market, Chinese government policies, marketing and demand, and the local feed and livestock situation.

I have spent the last three days touring the countryside of NE China and speaking to the farmers out working in their fields. It has to be intimidating for the farmer to see about twelve foreigners walking through their field towards them, but everyone has been willing to speak with us and allowed time for us to ask questions about what they are doing and why they are doing it. Agriculture is their livelihood, just like many of the growers I am traveling with and their love for the land shows.

The average size of land per farmer here is 2 hectors (about 5 acres) and the government owns all the land so farmers rent the area from the government. We have toured several fields (growing corn, rice, peppers, grapes, onions, and others), a grain buying facility, an ethanol plant, a feed mill operation, a fertilizer dealer, an equipment dealer and hog farmer.

We stopped and visited with two farmers that were doing some replanting of the skips on the first day. Corn is as far along here as it is in many areas of the U.S. farmers are having many of the same issues that folks in the United States are having, be it cooler temperatures, high moisture, or delayed planting. There is a vast amount of farm land in the areas we have toured and the soil quality is great. The last two days we have spent time in Jilin Provence. The area consists of 55 million hectors with a population of 27.9 million people. Fourteen million of those people are living in the country.

Currently, there are 3.3 million hectors dedicated to corn, though that number continues to rise. The yield also continues to rise. On average, there

are 52,000 corn plants per hector of land. Recently they have been experiencing lower temperatures during the month of May, but their largest concern is drought during the summer months. The western part of Jilin Provence has been experimenting with irrigation due to drought conditions. The cost for this is 20,000 RMB (about $3,125) per hector of land. 55% of farmers in thisarea use compound fertilizers. There are currently 8,000 seed companies in China but only 100 of them have research behind them.

The group, overall, has been impressed with the corn and soil quality and the amount of work that goes into planting by hand. Needless to say, the potential for Chinese agriculture is huge along with the use of modern agricultural technology.

Check out more photos on the U.S. Grains Council’s Flickr site.

Kansas Corn Gets Firsthand Look at China Spring Crop Progress

Corn Tour Report

On Ethanol, Energy . . . and Dark Parking Lots

The Kansas Corn Car Loves Ethanol!

By Sue Schulte, Director of Communications

On Monday, I drove the Kansas Corn Car to Holcomb to speak at an FFA district banquet—what a great group of young people! After the program, I was energized and inspired, and headed to Garden City to my hotel. On my way, I stopped at the U Pump It Country Corners station in Garden City for fuel. The station features ethanol blender pumps that offer E20, E30, E50 and E85 fuels for flexible fuel vehicles. The price of regular unleaded was $3.66, but I paid just $2.99 for E85. It felt good to purchase fuel for less than $3 a gallon!

It is true that you lose some fuel mileage when using E85 in a flex fuel vehicle, but I have found that the lower price of E85 normally pays for the loss in mileage. I did the math, taking into account the lower fuel price and the decreased mileage, and I easily drove more miles per dollar on E85 than regular unleaded. It normally works out that way with the Corn Car, a Chevy Impala. What makes a bigger difference to me is that I know that at least 85 percent of my fuel dollar is staying in the U.S. and not going to the Middle East.

The Corn Car is pretty visible, and I am accustomed to answering questions about corn and ethanol while driving it. That’s what makes the Corn Car so great, right? When I pulled into the hotel in Garden City a little before 10 p.m. Monday night, a man in the rather dark parking lot hollered at me, “Flex fuel? You’ve gotta be joking!” I responded, “It’s no joke, I just filled up for $2.99.” He proceeded to tell me some myths about ethanol, and I told him were erroneous. Then he said, “I’m not into politics and I hate ethanol!” Judging from the beer cans that littered the parking lot and the slur in his voice, I quickly deduced that this man didn’t hate all ethanol, just the stuff he couldn’t drink. Believe me, I had a lot of things I wanted to say to him, but arguing with a drunk man in a dark, deserted parking lot didn’t seem like a good idea. I scooted into the safety of the hotel lobby.

Things I wanted to say to the parking lot drunk:
• “You hate ethanol? I hate sending my fuel dollars to the Middle East!”
• “Do you think there are no politics involved in importing billions of dollars worth of foreign oil into the United States? And what about the billions of consumer dollars we send out of our country to OPEC every year?”
• “I’ll get more miles per dollar with E85 than I will with regular unleaded.”
• I can’t lie, E85 smells better than regular gas, oh, and it’s less polluting too!

Later, safely tucked away in my hotel room, I thought about my brief conversation with the parking lot drunk. I have run into my fair share of people who say they hate ethanol, and it’s a real hatred. I don’t get it, or maybe they don’t get it. Ethanol does get some subsidies, but look at the billions of taxpayer dollars that go to the oil industry, directly through subsidies and indirectly through protecting foreign sources of oil. No one ever says, “If imported oil is viable, why can’t it survive without government support?”

Ethanol is mostly produced in small communities throughout the U.S., especially in the heart of the nation. When you buy ethanol, that part of your fuel dollar stays in the U.S., and possibly in your own community. It’s the only fuel that substantially offsets the amount of foreign oil we use to power our vehicles. It makes up about 10 percent of our nation’s fuel for gas-powered vehicles. The current fuel price spikes are being blamed on low oil supplies. What would happen to gas prices if ethanol production stopped and ten percent of our fuel disappeared?

Farmers rely on all kinds of energy to produce their crops—ethanol, gasoline, diesel, natural gas and more. I don’t know any farmers who are against oil or other types of energy. We need them all and we need them to be abundant and affordable. And I think a majority of people wish more of our energy was produced here, and not imported from many countries that are either unstable, hostile to the U.S. or both. In parts of Kansas, we’re proud of the oil and natural gas being pumped from deposits beneath fields where our farmers grow corn and other crops. Some of that corn or sorghum may be used to make ethanol. Now that’s an energy farm!

Instead of fighting between ourselves over ethanol, a domestic fuel that works, maybe we should simply support all the energy we can produce here. Domestic energy provides jobs and economic growth, something our country certainly needs today.

Aunt Velma’s Strong Hands and Warm Heart

By DeEtta Bohling, Communications Specialist

Last week I attended my great-aunt Velma’s funeral. Velma passed away at the age of 87 in my hometown in Southwest Iowa.

After graduating from high school, Velma taught in three one-room country schools, Eureka No. 1, Eureka No. 8 and Jackson No. 6 for six years. She later married a farmer and gave birth to six children.

As I sat through the service last Friday listening to Velma’s children and grandchildren speak, I caught onto something each of them mentioned. Velma was not “just a housewife” but a partner in the family farm. She worked side by side with her husband with all the outside chores and kept records of transactions.

Velma, just like many women in agriculture, was a hard worker on and off the farm. Raising children, cooking meals, cleaning the house, growing crops, caring for animals, keeping records, and tending to the garden were all in a day’s work. When time allowed, she would also squeeze in some of her personal interests such as reading, genealogy, local history and sending cards and letters to family and friends. More often than not, we don’t give credit to the women who represent family farms across the U.S.

If you are not familiar with an initiative called CommonGround, I encourage you to check it out the website. CommonGround is a collaborative effort created by the National Corn Growers Association and the United Soybean Board. It was developed to help develop strong grassroots campaigns that provide farm women with the tools and opportunities to speak directly with the public about farming.

Nebraska and Iowa both launched their CommonGround initiatives at Hy-Vee stores in the city, giving consumers an opportunity to speak one-on-one with the CommonGround spokeswomen. Through this direct, open communication, the shoppers learned the true story about agriculture without media filters while the new spokeswomen developed a better understanding of the concerns facing the 98.5 percent of the U.S. population no longer involved in agriculture.

I am certain that Velma’s passion for the land and putting healthy, bountiful food on the table will live on through many. Women like Velma are truly an asset to American agriculture.

Corn Commentary: Burritos Without Integrity

Chipotle’s newest campaign to make a buck once again serves up an attack on farmers with a phony newspaper filled with self-promotion and at least one glaring error. At the risk of repeating a negative, they significantly downplay the role of family farms in an attempt to perpetuate a make-believe distinction between “family farms” and so-called “factory farms.” Their non-sourced stat provides a much lower number than reality; according to the USDA, family farms of different sizes account for 98 percent of farms and 82 percent of production.

And it really is nice they offer a column called “Ask Chipotle” but they really should provide contact information so we can send in questions.

In the end, this newspaper proves useful – for providing a placemat to soak up all the drippings of their thousand-calorie burritos.

By Ken Colombini, NCGA Director of Communications
Originally posted on Corn Commentary.

 

HFCS made from real corn!

 

Go Green with E-15

By: DeEtta Bohling, KCGA/ KGSPA
Communications Specialist

Last week NASCAR announced their partnership with American Ethanol, stating that E15 ethanol blend will be used for the 2011 NASCAR racing season.

I grew up watching (and napping to) NASCAR. In fact, the basement at my parents’ is decorated in racing memorabilia, so you can imagine the excitement I had when I found out that this partnership was in the works.

NASCAR is one of the most effective marketing and advertising organizations in the world. The sport’s recent decision to use E15 as the fuel for its 2011 racing season is clearly a powerful move for the American ethanol industry. Not only is this an opportunity to show that American farmers are the most productive in the world and have the ability to produce our nation’s own source of fuel; but it also means a steady market for the rapidly increasing supply of corn we grow in this country.

This year’s corn harvest, despite many challenges, was our third-largest in U.S. history. With precision farming, innovation and technology, American corn farmer can double harvest within 30 years. America’s corn farmers are feeding and fueling the world.

As Agriculture Secretary, Tom Vilsack recently said- “If E15 is good enough for Jimmie Johnson, it is good enough for the rest of the American public.”

I look forward to watching American ethanol continue to create jobs in the U.S, help foster energy independence, and continue to show that E15 is food for racing, good for America and good for the environment.

Daily Californian Article on Tyrone Hayes Raises Questions on Frogs, Fibs and Scientific Method

11-15-10–Berkeley anti-atrazine research Tyrone Hayes was featured in today’s issue of The Daily Californian, the independent newspaper of the University of California-Berkeley. The article outlines Hayes’ research that claims atrazine in extremely small amounts, sterilizes and feminizes male frogs. It also documents Hayes’ ongoing fights with Syngenta Crop Protection, the main manufacturer of atrazine. Atrazine is a herbicide used on corn, sorghum, sugar cane and other crops.

In the article, Hayes strongly refuted claims that he has not shared data on his atrazine research with the Environmental Protection Agency. The article quotes one researcher who says Hayes’ research hasn’t been replicated, and another researcher who says that is irrelevant.

Reproducibility
Yale University professor David Skelly, a researcher who participated in two EPA panels that reviewed the results of atrazine studies, told the newspaper that his is not aware of anyone who has been able to replicate Hayes’ results. The concept of being able to replicate the results of research is called “reproducibility”.

But that’s not relevant, according to Gail Prins, physiology professor at University of Illinois at Chicago. She told the Daily Californian that it is not important that others have not been able to replicate Hayes’ study results. She said she trusts his methods. However, reproducibility is widely recognized as one of the main principles of the scientific method (unless Gail Prins trusts you).

Missing Data?
Syngenta toxicologist Tim Pastoor told the newspaper that Hayes’ results will not be considered reliable until he gives his raw data to EPA to evaluate. Hayes hasn’t done that. Hayes’ responded by saying that allegation is “blatantly false” and told the newspaper that he had allowed EPA into his laboratory in 2002.

In a June 18, 2010 article written by Alex Avery of the Center for Global Food Issues, titled “EPA Exposes Hayes–Again!” documents Hayes’ failure to provide proper data to EPA (information excerpted  below).

2005: Anne E. Lindsay, then-deputy director of the EPA’s Office of Pesticide Programs, gave Hayes a hard review in testimony before the Minnesota House of Representatives in 2005.  Lindsay said EPA had never seen the results from any independent investigator published in peer-reviewed scientific journals, or the raw data from Hayes’ additional experiments. Hayes’ responded to Lindsay’s remarks in a paper recently put out by anti-pesticide activist organization, PANNA, refuting Lindsay’s 2005 testimony by pointing to a 2002 letter from EPA’s Tom Steeger praising him for sharing raw data.

2010: Illinois State Representative Dave Winters asked EPA recently if the agency had received “a complete, transparent set of raw data which could be interpreted and analyzed by the EPA and used in generating a full evaluation of his work.”  Donald Brady, Director of the Environmental Fate and Effects Division replied:  “I regret that the EPA science staff in the Office of Pesticide Programs’ EFED could not properly account for the sample sizes and study design reportedly used by the Berkeley researchers.  As a result, we were unable to complete any independent analysis to support the study’s conclusions.”

Bottom Line
Dr. Hayes’ research can’t be replicated. He won’t share his data, even with EPA. He is a self-described anti-atrazine activist, bringing his objectivity into question. It is hard to ignore these facts when considering his claims against atrazine. Let’s hope EPA still believes in the scientific process.

(By Sue Schulte, Director of Communications, Kansas Corn Growers Association, Kansas Grain Sorghum Producers Association)
For more information visit: http://www.ksgrains.com or http://agsense.org
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