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The Prairie State is a leader in ethanol production and research

Farms On the Prairie

IllInoIs Ranks natIonally In coRn, soybeans and poRk

Illinois Department of Agriculture // // 2012




7 8

a look Inside Illinois agriculture overview

Top Commodities
10 on top
Illinois is a leading state in corn, soybeans and pork Illinois Grain Insurance Fund prevents losses due to failed grain dealers and warehousemen

15 a Farmers safety net

Agriculture Exports
16 a World Market
Illinois is a top exporting state, connecting with Asian, Pacific, Central and South American markets

Ethanol & Biofuels

20 Fueling success
Illinois ranks among the top states for ethanol production Pontiac High School prepares students for careers in agriculture and renewable energy

23 energy to burn and learn






Farm Conservation
24 through the ages


Consumer & Industry Services

38 protecting consumers 41 Inspectors Weigh In
Department of Agriculture inspections safeguard the public Weights and Measures assures accuracy for consumers

Centennial and Sesquicentennial farms across the state celebrate agriculture and family history

Illinois Food
28 stamp of approval
Illinois Products logo program promotes local food and products Illinois leads the U.S. in processed foods sales

Specialty Crops
42 an Illinois specialty 44 a Fresh approach
Pumpkins, melons and horseradish are among some of the states diverse crops Logo program promotes specialty crop producers around the state DriftWatch web-based program helps keep neighboring farms in the loop

30 a Valuable process

Consumer Interest in Agriculture

34 From Farm to Fork
Ag groups ramp up consumer outreach efforts Illinois farmers markets provide more than produce

45 be a Good neighbor

37 a Growing Market

Illinois State Fairs

46 best in show
Agriculture is deeply-rooted in the Illinois state fairs

on tHe coVeR Photograph by Antony Boshier Tree Farmer of the Year Dr. Salem Saloom on his tree farm with Long Leaf Pines.




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When it comes to being a prime

Illinois is a leading state in corn, soybeans and pork

location for crop production, you might just say Illinois has hit pay dirt. Thats because the state has some of the finest soil in the world to produce food and fiber, says Gary Struben, a state soil scientist with the Natural Resources Conservation Service. Continental glaciers smoothed the land at a relatively gentle slope and deposited fresh mineral materials that were picked up by the rivers, taken by the wind, and deposited on the area like a blanket, Struben says. In addition, the state was covered with prairie grass, which has an extensive root system that deposits additional organic matter into the soil. Organic matter is a key ingredient. Its the glue that holds the soil together. It provides natural fertility and helps with infiltration of air and water into the soil. Add to that a favorable climate and adequate rainfall, and you have a recipe for growing success. Our deep black prairie soils are hard to beat, says Struben, noting that they are among the most productive in the world. The state has 36 million acres of land. Of that, 21 million are prime farmland,

and in Illinois 19 million are crop acres. Thats the highest in the U.S. Some states have more prime acreage but not as much of it is in use for crops. Its no surprise then that Illinois is one of the nations top producers of corn and soybeans. But what may be a surprise is that easy access to abundant grain also makes the state a top producer of swine, since pork production is one of the largest consumers of corn and soybeans. Thats where Dereke Dunkirk comes in. A swine producer in Morrisonville, Dunkirk says living in a state noted for its corn and beans is a definite advantage when raising pigs. It makes sense to grow the livestock close to the feed, he says, especially in a state that has such a rich grain heritage. As the fourth leading producer of pork in the country, Illinois hog farmers have their own strong tradition. Dunkirk, and the other 3,400 producers in the state, raise more than 4 million pigs and contribute to an industry that generates nearly $2 billion in economic impact.

Welcome to

HigH on tHe Hog

Dereke Dunkirk raises 4,200 pigs and grows 2,000 acres of corn and soybeans in Morrisonville, ill.



ILLInoIs agrIcuLture




optIMIzed FoR onlIne
each article can be read online, as a web article or in our digital magazine.

Dear Friend of Agriculture: Welcome to Illinois Agriculture. Through these stories, we want to give you a glimpse into the broad range of issues, policies and activities that make Illinois agriculture as exciting, diverse and influential as it is. We would like for everyone to understand how agriculture is woven into the fabric of their life and to appreciate the people, businesses and organizations involved. Leading the Illinois Department of Agriculture, I am humbled by the opportunity to serve in a role where I can promote real and positive change in the lives of Illinois families. I am committed to three major priorities for the Department of Agriculture: Achieve Governor Quinns goal of doubling Illinois exports by 2014, Maximize every opportunity to strengthen rural development in Illinois, Partner with the agriculture community in ongoing efforts to ensure our food is safe. The Director of Agriculture should be a goodwill ambassador and the number one advocate for the farm families, communities and companies that make our state great. As Director, and on behalf of all the citizens of Illinois, I will listen, deliberate and actively lead on behalf of the many agriculture stakeholders in our state. I would like to thank the advertisers and sponsors for making this publication possible. We appreciate the support from agricultural leaders, institutions, organizations and businesses. I know they join us in advocating on behalf of Illinois vibrant, diverse and proud agricultural heritage. Sincerely,

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The is a Prairie lead produc er in State tion ethanol and rese arch




IllInoI s Ran ks nat Ionally In coR n, soy
Illino is Depa rtmen

Fa Onrms the

Prair ie
beans and poRk
ulture // ILagr icultu m // 2012

t of Agric


the special tablet edition is designed especially for use on ipads and other tablet devices.

no public funds were used in the publishing of this magazine.

Robert F. Flider Acting Director Illinois Department of Agriculture




Illinois Agriculture
A look at the states diverse industry
Agriculture in illinois
has roots as deep and as diverse as the crops growing in the states fertile soil. Illinois stands out as a top producer of corn, soybeans and pork, and also grows specialty crops, is a leader in the production of ethanol, has a booming food manufacturing industry, and ranks among the top states in exports. More than 74,600 farms cover nearly 26.6 million acres, 75 percent of the states total land area. Illinois fertile soil, favorable climate and availability of transportation via water, highway rail and air, allow the state to be world supplier of food, feed and fiber. About 19 million of the states 26.7 million acres of farmland are used for growing crops primarily corn and soybeans. While its no surprise then that Illinois is one of the nations top producers of corn and soybeans ranking second in the U.S. in the production of each this easy access to abundant grain also makes it a top producer of swine, since pork production is one of the largest consumers of the states top two crops. Illinois abundance of corn also allows it to be one of the leading states in ethanol production. Illinois is home

to the National Corn-toEthanol Research Center, where researchers seek new technologies for producing fuel ethanol more effectively. In addition to Illinois top commodities, the states 1,500 different soil types allow for an abundance of specialty crops. Pumpkins, wine grapes, peaches, popcorn and several others are also grown in the states rich soils. And consumers in the state are anxious to connect with their farmer. Illinois ranks fourth in the country in the number of farmers markets, and with programs through FFA, 4-H, University of Illinois extension services and schools with agriculture-specific curriculum, the states consumers are growing more interested in how their food is grown. In addition to farming, Illinois is a leading state in agriculture-related industries, including soybean processing, meat packing, dairy manufacturing, feed milling, vegetable processing, machinery manufacturing, and foreign exports. Food processing is the No. 1 manufacturing activity in Illinois and plays a large role in the industrys exports. Illinois ranks third in the U.S. in agriculture exports, reaching more than $6 billion in 2011.

Food processing and manufacturing is a huge industry in Illinois. The state ranks 1st in the U.S. in food processing sales; 6th in the U.S. in the number of food processing facilities (2,514); and 3rd in the U.S. in the number of food processing employees (82,540).

Illinois workers are employed in the food and fiber system.

1.5 million



Whats online
access more agriculture facts at




Source: Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity

In Illinois there are 74,600 farms across 26.6 million acres, representing

of the total land area of the state

Illinois ranks 2nd in the U.S. in corn and soybean production. Illinois ranks 4th in the country in pork production.

357 acres.
Soybeans accounted for 53.4% of the total ag exports.



$6 billion

in 2011, with exports including corn, soy, wheat and livestock.

Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service





Illinois is a leading state in corn, soybeans and pork




When it comes to being A prime

location for crop production, you might just say Illinois has hit pay dirt. Thats because the state has some of the finest soil in the world to produce food and fiber, says Gary Struben, a state soil scientist with the Natural Resources Conservation Service. Continental glaciers smoothed the land at a relatively gentle slope and deposited fresh mineral materials that were picked up by the rivers, taken by the wind, and deposited on the area like a blanket, Struben says. In addition, the state was covered with prairie grass, which has an extensive root system that deposits additional organic matter into the soil. Organic matter is a key ingredient. Its the glue that holds the soil together. It provides natural fertility and helps with infiltration of air and water into the soil. Add to that a favorable climate and adequate rainfall, and you have a recipe for growing success. Our deep black prairie soils are hard to beat, says Struben, noting that they are among the most productive in the world. The state has 36 million acres of land. Of that, 21 million

are prime farmland, and in Illinois 19 million are crop acres. Thats the highest in the U.S. Some states have more prime acreage but not as much of it is in use for crops. Its no surprise then that Illinois is one of the nations top producers of corn and soybeans. But what may be a surprise is that easy access to abundant grain also makes the state a top producer of swine, since pork production is one of the largest consumers of corn and soybeans. Thats where Dereke Dunkirk comes in. A swine producer in Morrisonville, Dunkirk says living in a state noted for its corn and beans is a definite advantage when raising pigs. It makes sense to grow the livestock close to the feed, he says, especially in a state that has such a rich grain heritage. As the fourth leading producer of pork in the country, Illinois hog farmers have their own strong tradition. Dunkirk, and the other 3,400 producers in the state, raise more than 4 million pigs and contribute to an industry that generates nearly $2 billion in economic impact.

HIGH on tHe HoG

dereke dunkirk raises 4,200 pigs and grows 2,000 acres of corn and soybeans in Morrisonville, Ill.




Dereke Dunkirk is a hog farmer in Morrisonville, Ill., and president of the Pork Producers Association. He raises 4,200 pigs for Borgic Farms.

Dunkirk and his father, Gary, raise 4,200 of those 4 million pigs on a contract basis for Borgic Farms. Under that arrangement, Borgic delivers 15-pound pigs to the Dunkirks, who care for them for about 24 weeks until they reach market size, which is around 275 pounds. In return, the Dunkirks receive rent for their barn space and a continuous supply of manure to fertilize the 2,000 acres of corn and soybeans they also grow nearby. By raising the pigs indoors, Dunkirk explains, you can better control disease and you contain the manure in a pit that can be more easily loaded for use on the farm. The climate-controlled environment also keeps the animals more comfortable. The happier the pigs are, the faster they grow, he says. While the Dunkirks previously had their own sows and did all the production, marketing and shipping for their operation, this move to contract finishing in 2011 allowed them to make more efficient use of their labor. It has also allowed them to expand from one barn 10 years ago to two in 2006. In 2012, they will be adding a third barn that will accommodate 2,500 more pigs. And, most importantly, their successful growth has provided the financial wherewithal for another generation of Dunkirks to join the operation. My hope is that Im laying the groundwork for my young son and daughter to return to the farm, should they want to when they get older, just as my father did for me, Dunkirk says.




photography by todd bennett

Matthew Hughes is a soybean producer in Shirley, Ill., and chair of the Illinois Soybean Association.

Matt Hughes doesnt raise livestock, but he grows a crop that feeds them. A soybean farmer from southwestern McLean County, Hughes says, Soybeans are an amazing crop that can provide a good yield even in a drought, fit well in crop rotation practices, and provide an important protein that livestock, and the 7.5 billion people in the world, need. With nearly 9.7 million acres of soybeans in Illinois, the state is a national leader in soybean production. Hughes and his wife, Connie, farm 2,600 acres, nearly half of which is soybeans. About 75 percent of the soybeans are grown for seed, and the remaining 25 percent are non-GMO. Non-GMO is a specific market demand for those who dont want modified genetics in the seed, Hughes says. It requires identity-preserved production, which for producers means additional work in ensuring their purity. But the upside is that non-GMO varieties pay a

soy FRoM IllInoIs

premium to compensate for the extra work. Hughes, who has a masters degree in agricultural economics, enjoys the challenge of those risks and the others associated with farming. He is innovative in his operation and committed to researching and testing new technology. We had one of the first yield monitors for John Deere, and we employ lots of technology in our operation, such as auto steer equipment, GPS mapping, record keeping, analysis, and soil fertility application, he says. Having the right tools gives us the luxury of being able to test new fertilizer management and seed technologies as well as different planting dates and other strategies for improving production. New technologies are always there, Hughes says, you just have to be willing to take the risk to try them. The efficiencies that these and other advanced technologies provide continue to enhance yields. Its what will take growing soybeans to the next level.



Jim Rapp farms corn in Princeton, Ill., with his sons Nick and Ben.

Jim Rapp is a third-generation farmer whose operation in central Bureau County and eastern LaSalle County includes a fourth generation his sons, Nick and Ben. This year, 75 percent of their acreage will be planted in corn, a crop that is grown across almost 12 million acres of Illinois farmland and that the state is known for worldwide as both a source of feed and a source of fuel. Ethanol has made a huge difference for Illinois corn producers as well as for the prosperity of rural America, Rapp says. As a state, we have so many acres committed to corn, and without ethanol we would have had an overabundance of corn, which leads to lower prices. Its been a significant change for corn growers. As a farmer for more than 40 years, Rapp has seen a lot of change in the industry, from the development of the ethanol market to the advancements in precision farming, herbicides and genetics to changes in tillage strategies. These new technologies offer a lot for everybody, and we make use of a lot of it, Rapp says We also want to learn and understand how to do spring strip till because we would like to get there 100 percent. You have to keep up with these changes to be successful. But at the same time, the worries that kept Rapp awake at night when he was starting out in the 1960s continue to be a challenge today. The most difficult things about farming are the same as theyve always been weather and the markets, he says. Thats what provides the biggest challenges as well as the opportunities. I still havent figured out either of them. Cathy Lockman

MaIze pays





A Farmers Safety Net

Illinois Grain Insurance Fund prevents losses due to failed grain dealers and warehousemen

ith 2 billion bushels of corn and 450 million bushels of beans produced on average each year in Illinois, the states farmers have their financial livelihood tied up not just in the production of grain but in the merchandising of it as well. To protect their investment, the Illinois Department of Agriculture established the Illinois Grain Insurance Fund. The purpose of the fund is to provide a guarantee for producers that they will be compensated for grain sold to or stored with state-licensed grain dealers or warehousemen even if that licensee becomes insolvent. Basically, its a safety net for farmers paychecks, says Stuart Selinger, chief of the bureau of warehouses. Heres how it works: All state-licensed grain dealers, warehousemen and sellers, as well as those banks that lend to them, pay assessments to the fund to ensure its funding to at least $6 million. If an insolvency occurs and a farmers grain is in storage at the failed facility, the fund will be used to reimburse them for 100

percent of what theyre due at the market price on the day of the insolvency. There is a sliding scale of payment percentages and limits for other circumstances, but the goal in all cases, Selinger says, is to protect the financial interests of the states grain producers and the communities where they reside. There would be a tremendous trickle-down effect in the local economies if producers were not guaranteed their income. Selinger adds that the fund offers reassurance for lending institutions as well, since grain receipts issued by grain warehousemen are often used by banks as collateral so licensees and producers can borrow money to operate their businesses. Banks have a higher confidence level knowing there is an insurance fund, Selinger says. It increases their willingness to lend to the industry. Cathy Lockman

Illinois top commodities

Ranking second in the U.S. in soybean production, Illinois produced 416 million bushels in 2011, up 8 percent from the previous year. About 8.9 million acres of soybeans were harvested, totaling $ 5 billion. Soybeans accounted for 30 percent of the states total cash receipts.

Of the states 22.6 million acres of harvested crop land, 12.4 million acres nearly 55 percent are corn. Illinois ranks second in the U.S. in corn production, totalling $12.3 billion in 2011. Not only an important export, corn is used for animal feed and ethanol production.

Easy access to abundant grain like corn and soybeans makes Illinois a top producer ranking fourth in the U.S. of swine, since pork production is one of the largest consumers of the states top two crops. In 2011, Illinois produced 1.9 billion pounds of pork.

The largest concentration of the states 1.1 million head of cattle is in northern Illinois, where rolling pasture land is more suitable for cattle production. Illinois cattle are valued at more than $1 billion. There are 331,000 beef cows and 99,000 milk cows in the state.

Wheat is one of Illinois top five agriculture exports. In 2011, there were 46.7 million bushels of winter wheat harvested from 765,000 acres, producing about 61 bushels per acre. The wheat harvested totaled $ 303 million.










Illinois is a top exporting state, connecting with Asian, Pacific, Central and South American markets
tim seifert believes u.s.
farmers produce enough food to feed the world, its just a matter of finding a way to get it there. Seifert is a thirdgeneration farmer who grows 3,000 acres of soybeans and corn as a partner at RTS Farms in Auburn. He is a tour guide and trade emissary, hosting more than 200 international visitors at RTS Farms each year and joining Illinois trade missions abroad to further boost the states agricultural exports. In Illinois, 9.2 percent of the states exports come from agriculture, totaling more than $6 billion in 2011. We, in the U.S., are the most efficient farmers in the world, and the U.S. cannot consume the amount that the American farmer produces, says Seifert, who also maintains research plants for Monsanto and the University of Illinois and dedicates 5 acres for growing sweet corn that is turned over to the Auburn Food Pantry. Getting more of the states agriculture products into international markets is a cornerstone for Illinois economic development efforts. The states agriculture exports have increased 50 percent since 2009, and Illinois Governor Pat Quinn wants to double current export values by 2014. According to the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, over 600,000 jobs in the state are supported by




Tours of grain house facilities around the state educate buyers.

exports. Illinois top export commodities include feed grains, soybeans, live animals and meat, wheat, and feeds and fodders. Every year the Illinois Department of Agriculture (IDOA) hosts formal and informal international delegations, and sponsors three big industry tours grain, pork and dairy. The department also takes part in multiple trade missions abroad in order to make connections with potential markets. These efforts generated more than $76 million in actual and projected export sales in 2011. Jim Mackey is one of three people at the IDOA working to boost Illinois exports. One of the departments missions is making an impression on visitors about the quality and quantity of grain available in the state. To get that message across, Mackey takes people out to the farms. Seeing miles and miles of fields and seeing how grain is harvested and handled accomplishes that, he says. RTS Farms, located about 10 miles south of the state capitol in Springfield, is a popular stop on the industry grain tour, which takes place during the fall harvest season. On the farms, visitors get a chance to inspect the quality of the crops as well as see the process of growing and harvesting. They can see our technology and our all-GPS equipment, Seifert says. They get to see an average or

ReacHInG out to tHe WoRld

above-average farm in real-world scenarios. This is not a greenhouse. We put (the crops) in with a planter, harvest it with a combine. The potential buyers also get the opportunity to see quality in how transactions are processed, Mackey says. One of the major advantages U.S. products have on the world stage, and why U.S. products command a premium, is when you buy something you get what you pay for. Illinois isnt just waiting on the markets to come to it. Through transportation avenues that include rail, river and deep-water shipping, commodities from Illinois farms are landing far from home. In late 2011, a 22-member delegation from the Taiwan Feed Industry Group signed commitments to import Illinois grain. The group agreed to purchase 303 million to 413 million bushes of U.S. corn, 43 to 59 million of those bushels will come from Illinois. The deal could bring up to $393 million to Illinois corn growers. The delegation, which also included representatives from Taiwans Vegetable Oil Manufacturers and Oilseed Processing Association, signed similar letters outlining its intent to purchase up to 118 million bushels of U.S. soybeans. Illinois share of the transaction is around 14 million bushels, or $182 million worth, of soybeans. Pamela Coyle

stRIkInG a deal WItH taIWan




photography by todd bennett


Fueling Success
Illinois ranks among the top states for ethanol production
if corn is king in illinois, then ethAnol is
definitely prince. A decade ago, 55 percent of the countrys gasoline supply came from imported oil; today, that number is 45 percent. And ethanol is the big reason why. In addition, ethanol now accounts for one out of every four gallons of fuel produced from domestic energy sources. In Illinois, that growth means good business. With 14 ethanol plants in the state producing 1.7 billion gallons of ethanol each year, the industry utilizes 670 million bushels of Illinois corn, employs nearly 4,000 workers, and adds about $5.3 billion to the states economy. Its an industry that fuels much more than gaspowered vehicles. Ethanol has been the economic engine of agriculture throughout the United States, says John Caupert, director of the National Corn-to-Ethanol Research Center (NCERC). Illinois is a good example, he explains, because its an industry that has provided tremendous financial stimulus for rural areas, which, in turn, has been good for business across the state. In fact, Illinois strong reputation as corn country and its role as one of the pioneers in ethanol production have made it not only a prime location for the industry but home to the NCERC as well. Located on the campus of Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville, the center

photography by todd bennett

John Caupert is the director at the National Corn-to-Ethanol Research Center in Edwardsville, Ill. The center is the only one of its kind in the world where researchers seek new technologies for producing fuel ethanol more effectively.




is a non-profit research facility that works with clients to facilitate the commercialization of their biofuel product or technology. Most clients are vendors to the biofuels industry, which includes conventional ethanol, cellulosic ethanol, advanced biofuels and other specialty chemicals. Private sector clients utilize the NCERC pilot plant for demonstration testing of their products and technologies. Our pilot plant has every single process unit that a typical corn ethanol plant has, Caupert says. Weve just shrunk it from a volume perspective. If it happens in a commercial ethanol plant, we can do it here. That allows clients to test their technology and show their customers or investors real data from a real facility. At the same time, it protects their intellectual property, since the centers clients are fee-for-service and own all the data produced from their project. What is responsible for the growth of the ethanol industry? Much of it can be attributed to the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS), which was passed in 2005. RFS calls for the United States to increase its consumption of renewable fuels each year. In the first year, 2008, the goal was a minimum of 9 billion gallons. Corn farmers across Illinois and the country took up the challenge, meeting production expectations even as the targets rose each year. But that success raises new challenges. Now, as production reaches the ceiling established by the RFS and consumers use less fuel by driving fewer miles and buying fuel-efficient vehicles, less ethanol will make its way to the marketplace. The way to overcome that is to have higher blends of ethanol and gasoline, Caupert says, suggesting that moving from the current 10 percent blend to a 15 percent blend would be a win-win for the industry and the environmentally conscious consumer.

tHe peRFect blend

A researcher works in the lab at the National Corn-to-Ethanol Research Center in Edwardsville, Ill.,a non-profit research facility located on the campus of Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville.




of Illinois corn are used each year to produce more ethanol than any other state.

274 Million bushels

Corn grown in Illinois is used to produce 15 percent of the ethanol consumed in the U.S. (2010).
Distillers Grains are proteins created during ethanol production. This co-product can be milled dry or wet, but Dried Distillers Grains (DDGs) are easiest to handle. Of the 3.2 million metric tons of DDGs produced annually in North America, about 700,000 metric tons are exported for use in livestock feeds.

the ethanol industry generates

jobs in plant operations and

other industry related jobs.

800 4,000


14 of 171
pRoteIn-packed pRoFIts


Renewable fuel isnt the only valuable commodity produced at Illinois ethanol facilities. The production of ethanol creates proteins called Distillers Grains, a co-product that can be milled dry or wet. Dried Distillers Grains (DDGs) are the easiest to handle, and most ethanol plants dry their Distillers Grains. Exporting DDGs provide additional opportunities for producers. Marcus Throneburg, director of DDG marketing for Marquis Grain in Hennepin, says that on average ethanol represents 80 percent of revenue for the plants and DDGs are responsible for 17 percent of the revenue, with other byproducts, such as corn oil, responsible for the remaining 3 percent. Throneburg says DDGs serve primarily a replacement for corn in livestock feed, making up between 40 and 50 percent of the beef cattles diet and 30 percent of the swines. Nearly 80 percent of DDGs are used by American livestock producers, and 20 percent are exported, with Mexico, China, Canada and Vietnam being the largest buyers.

Illinois ethanol production has increased the national market price for corn by 25 cents per bushel.
If youre exporting the product, it has to be dry for shipping, Throneburg says. And because we are located near Chicago for grain movement and close to the river for export through New Orleans, we dry all of our DDG. Other states whose geography isnt as conducive to exporting will produce wet distillers and distribute domestically. Throneburg says that when ethanol plants began production, naysayers felt that DDGs would not be a profitable byproduct that there would be too much of it and that the excess would have to be disposed of. But those predictions have not panned out, nor have the predictions of those who thought the production of ethanol and its byproducts would compete with food production. Statistics indicate we are producing 47 percent more corn today than we were on the same number of acres a decade ago, Caupert says. Were not only satisfying all market demand, but foreign demand is at historically high levels. If American farmers are allowed to do what they do best, which is produce, there will never be a food versus fuel issue. Cathy Lockman





Energy to Burn and Learn

or agriculture teacher Jesse Faber, educating students about energy alternatives is not only a practical lesson but is also a logical progression. We teach our students where their food comes from, Faber says, so it makes sense to teach them where their fuel comes from, too. And thats just what Faber and his colleague, Parker Bane, have done at Pontiac High School. What started as small projects focused on biodiesel and wind energy has grown into a yearlong class devoted to the study of renewable energy. The class, which is open to juniors and seniors, covers a lot of territory, exploring the science behind a variety of alternative energy sources, such as ethanol, biodiesel, solar power, wind energy, fuel cells and hydropower. Students learn the science behind the technology through a variety of hands-on projects, including producing biodiesel from vegetable oil, making ethanol in mash formation and then using tabletop models for the distillation and fermentation processes, and measuring windmill design and solar cell alignments. Students have really taken to the class, tackling a variety of energy topics as their final class projects. For instance, the 23 students in the most recent class presented their research on everything from assessing blade design for windmills to creating a

Pontiac High School prepares students for careers in agriculture and renewable energy

photo by staff

solar-powered remote control car. In addition to the hands-on research, students also learn practical lessons about the renewable energy field, including the job opportunities. With every topic we cover, we discuss the careers associated with that industry, Faber says. Thats because students can often have a narrow view of what jobs are available, he says. For instance, students who are interested in working with animals think the logical career choice is to work as a vet. We try to impress on them that there are all kinds of careers

associated with an industry that maybe they havent thought about, Faber adds. The alternative energy field needs accountants, salespeople, human resource specialists and promotions staff in addition to the engineers, technicians and production specialists. We want them to be aware of all the opportunities in the field, so they can make informed decisions about their careers. Faber also wants them to come away with something else. We hope we are helping our students prepare for jobs that havent been created yet. Cathy Lockman







louie and tina donnell transformed portions of the donnell family sesquicentennial farm in shelbyville, Ill., into a winery five years ago.




Centennial and Sesquicentennial farms across the state celebrate agriculture and family history
for louie Donnell, the fAmily fArm neAr
Shelbyville isnt just where he grew up generations before him grew up there as well. The family has the states designation as a Sesquicentennial farm and retains the land purchase documents signed by U.S. Presidents Martin Van Buren, James Polk and Zachary Taylor. Today, keeping the farm in the family has meant agreements not to sell and expanding from corn and soybeans to organic produce and a winery. It just brings a lot of pride to us, Donnell says. Our grandkids are now living in that house and that makes the sixth generation in our family to live on that farm. Since the 1970s, Illinois has registered more than 600 Sesquicentennial and more than 9,000 Centennial farms, says Delayne Reeves, program coordinator with the Illinois Department of Agriculture. Roadside signs also provide visibility for the farms that remain family owned. Its part of the states efforts to retain the farming heritage and show pride in the family farm. Many families have faced many hardships to hold on to the land and pass it down to their children and grandchildren, Reeves says. Pride is key for many of the farmers who register with the program. Willard Carroll signed up after the four Stark County farms in his family all passed the centennial mark. He gathered up documents showing how the farms had been passed down and had them verified. All owners have to be able to trace themselves back to one common ancestor. He hopes the signs erected on his land that designate his farm as a centennial farm give passersby more of a connection to the land and an understanding that families still own it. He also wants to pass down to his

A few old buildings remain on the family farm where Louie still grows corn.




grandson ways to keep the soil in place instead of letting it wash down the creek, and keep the land producing as it has for more than 100 years. His great-grandfather was a country doctor and bought the first parcels. Theyve worked hard to keep it in the family. Were conservative people, watch our profitability, make sure we have enough for payroll for another year and keep up with the machinery and so forth, Carroll says. Keeping the land in the Donnell family has meant recent crop diversification. Donnell and his wife, Tina, started growing grapes as a hobby on some pasture land a few years ago. Now Willow Ridge Winery near Shelbyville is packed on holiday weekends. He wants to pass on to his children the connection he feels to the land and to his past. His daughter has started an organic produce business on a few acres making weekly deliveries of ripe veggies throughout the area. The grapes and produce are more labor intensive, but Donnell says they face the same issues of rainfall, diseases and insects as with row crops. That crop diversity will help keep it together in the future, he says. Sonja Bjelland

h ow To A p pLy
Find an application at: Fee: $50 Requirements:
Farms must be in the same family for 100 or 150 years Title companies, lawyers, or a County Recorder of Deeds must verify the documents An agriculture property must have been owned by the same family of lineal or collateral descendants




clockwise from top: The Willow Ridge Winery owned by Louie and Tina Donnell. Willard Carroll stands in front of the barn his grandfather built in 1914 in West Jersey, Ill. Carrolls family farm was recently recognized as a Centennial farm. The family owns four Centennial farms in Illinois; the Willow Ridge Winery honors the farms history with a label on its wine bottles featuring Louie Donnells father driving a combine; a sign on Louie and Tina Donnells farm marks it as a Sesquicentennial farm, owned by the same family for 150 years; a basset hound sits on the front steps of the old Donnell family farm house in Shelbyville, Ill.

photography by todd bennett





A rtists put their signAture on their Work.
Its a sign of pride and a way for those who enjoy it to know where it came from and how to find more. Thats the concept behind the Illinois Products logo, a program coordinated by the Illinois Department of Agriculture (IDOA). The logo provides an easy way for producers to add a signature to their products, and it helps consumers quickly identify locally grown, processed and packaged food. As the nations leader in food processing sales and a significant player in the growing local food movement, Illinois has a strong reputation for producing quality food products. Adding a symbol of Illinois pride to those products makes it easy for consumers to recognize that quality, says Jennifer Tirey, Bureau Chief of Marketing, Promotion and Grants for the IDOA. More than ever, todays consumers are educating themselves on how and where their food is grown, she says. The IDOA is promoting two initiatives to help add to those economic benefits. Recently, it unveiled an updated, visually engaging Illinois Products logo. Its a simple way for producers to get the consumers attention and let them know that they are an Illinois

Illinois Products logo program promotes local food and products


takInG tHe cHallenGe

Whats online
take the buy Illinois challenge pledge at

product but still keep their brand identity, Tirey says. The IDOA has also established the Buy Illinois Challenge, an online initiative that encourages individuals to pledge to spend $10 of their weekly grocery budget on Illinois products. That can include anything from fresh produce to the long list of food processed in the state. Its a modest pledge, but if half of the states 4.7 million households took the challenge, it could generate $1.2 billion per year for the state economy. But for consumers to buy the products, they must be able to find them. Its important that the retailers who sell the products make the consumer aware that they carry these products by displaying them prominently and proudly, Tirey says. For a complete listing of Illinois food and agribusiness products, visit index.php. Cathy Lockman





Inspired by founder Joes rural Southern Illinois upbringing, Uncle Joes offers sauces with flavors like sweet mustard and tangy BBQ. The company is based in Ina.

1 2 3 4 5 6


Country Bob Edson created his perfect sauce in 1968 and began selling it commercially in 1977. Today, the company based in Centralia has expanded their product line to include two more sauces and a seasoning blend.

Located in Taylorville, this confectionery creates custom candies, cupcakes and gift baskets filled with gourmet goodies.

Based in Decatur, this company still follows the original chili recipe founded by Rays brother, Port DeFrates, back in 1914.

jImmy bS SALSA
Offered in mild, medium and hot, Jimmy Bs salsa features seven varieties of fresh peppers, as well as tomatoes, onions and more from his personal garden. The company is located in Springfield.

Located just outside of Summer Hill in Rockport since it opened in 2007, Hopewell Winery makes nine different wines including Chambourcin, Hunter White, and Raspberry Port.





Illinois leads the U.S. in processed foods sales

A Valuable




from bAkeD gooDs AnD ArtisAn cheeses to

photography by todd bennett

sauces and salsas, shelves in homes and grocery stores across the state boast food products processed in Illinois. Food processing, Illinois leading manufacturing activity, contributes more than $13 billion to the value of raw agricultural products. Illinois is home to more than 2,514 food manufacturing companies. While many of the foods processed in state are sold locally, much of it makes its way to other states and international markets. Illinois is the sixth-leading processed foods exporting state in the country, with annual exports of more than $2.7 billion. Josh Harris is now in his 20th year as the president of Distinctive Foods LLC, a Wheeling-based baking company. Distinctive Foods has shipped its lines of specialty, value-added foods across the globe for 20 years, packaged under brand names including Butcher & Baker, Chicago Flats and Pie Piper. Our products are sold through every venue possible club stores, retail grocers and exportation, Harris says.

We export primarily to Asia but also to 10 other countries including Mexico, Canada, Denmark, Japan, Taiwan and mainland China. Chicago and Illinois, and the Midwest in general, are ideal locations for food processing because we have all the resources at our fingertips, from the raw products to the talent. Some companies expand to international markets with the help of the Illinois Department of Agriculture (IDOA) and the Food Export Association of the Midwest USA, a Chicago-based nonprofit organization whose mission is to promote the export of food and agricultural products from the Midwest. We work closely with the state departments of agriculture to provide activities and services to help the companies export their product overseas, says John Belmont, communications manager for the Food Export Association of the Midwest.

tHe bRanded pRoGRaM

Workers package Giardiniera at E. Formella & Sons, a gourmet Italian specialty product processor in Countryside, Ill., just ouside of Chicago.




Most notably, the two organizations work together on the Branded Program, a cost-share program that supports the promotion of branded and private label food in foreign markets. Kathy Formella is the owner of E. Formella & Sons in Countryside. Her line of gourmet Italian specialty products including olives, pepper mixes and pasta, can be found across the U.S. and Canada. Succeeding in international markets is a feat she couldnt have imagined without the help of the IDOA and the Food Export Association. My first trade show was the National Restaurant Association trade show 10 years ago, Formella says. It had a huge impact, and without that first trade show, I dont think Id be here. I wouldnt have even tackled exporting without the Branded Program. The booming food processing industry isnt just contributing to the states economy, its also a leading employer in Illinois. More than 82,540 people are food processing employees. Mike Vanee is the executive vice president of Vanee Foods Company, a Berkley company that has been in business for 62 years. With just over 250 employees, Vanee Foods Company ships its line of canned gravies, broths, sauces, and soups all over the state and internationally. And while some of the products find their way across the sea, their production creates jobs and a little closer to home. We hire local service companies to build our buildings, maintain our plants and test our products, Vanee says. We make efforts to buy from local suppliers to reduce cost of incoming freight. While boosting and staying viable in an ever-changing economy are essential to these companies, the bigger goal for many of these companies is to cultivate the next generation of Illinois food processors. We are trying to be innovators with new products and packaging, Formella says. We want to grow the business and hope to leave it to the next generation. Kirby Smith

eMployInG tHe FutuRe

top: Randy and Kathy Formella own E. Formella & Sons, a processor of gourmet Italian specialty products. bottom: Workers package Giardiniera, an Italian relish of pickled vegetables, at E. Formella & Sons in Countryside, Ill.

Illinois is the 6th-leading processed foods exporting state in the country, with annual exports of more than

$2.7 billion.

For a searchable database of Illinois companies and products, visit the Food and Agribusiness Guide:



from to





Ag groups ramp up consumer outreach efforts

K aren Fraase Knows how
to wrap farm talk and food into a tasty presentation. The agriculture advocate creates about 11,000 omelets annually for the Illinois Department of Agricultures school-based omelet workshops. She folds conversations about nutrition, farm issues and animal care into egg wraps along with concoctions of ham, tomatoes, raspberries even buffalo chicken that appeal primarily to teenagers. A goal is to take Illinois agriculture to consumers, who today are growing more removed from the farm and more often question their food source. In response, groups that represent farmers, universities and government throughout Illinois have ramped up efforts to connect farm to fork. Such a small percentage of the public, approximately oneand-a-half percent, are actively engaged in production agriculture, says Mike rahe, who manages the soil and water conservation program for the Illinois Department of Agriculture. Its our responsibility to help educate the non-farm public and those who are not directly involved as to how their food is produced and where it comes from.

Mike osborn checks on his bees at the Henry White experimental Farm in belleville, Ill. the educational and research farm hosts tours of its 94 acres of research fields.




top: Dale Drendel works in the milking parlor on his dairy farm in Hampshire, Ill. Drendel offers farm tours through the Illinois Farm Families Field Mom tours, which open up Illinois farms to Chicago-area moms. bottom: A volunteer works in the gardens at the Henry White Experimental Farm in Belleville, Ill.

A number of programs attempt to attain that ideal: Agriculture in the Classroom partnerships, the University of Illinois Extensions Farm to School program and the states development of 174 rentable garden plots at its Springfield fairgrounds. Youth activities through 4-H and FFA make strides, too, including at the innovative Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences. All 600 students of this magnet school are members of the National FFA Organization and earn a career-oriented education through agricultural applications. Meanwhile, groups like Illinois Farm Families tap social media and initiate face-to-face meet-ups for consumers to interact with farmers. The coalition, an effort of the states major farm groups, particularly shines in its Field Moms program. An inaugural class of nine Chicagoarea moms in 2011 became Field Moms, a title that gives them a backstage pass to tour Illinois farms and meet families in the business of growing corn, soybeans and wheat or raising pigs, beef or dairy cattle. The misconceptions that these moms once had about how our farmers are growing and raising our food are diminishing, says Carla Mudd, manager of consumer communications for the Illinois Farm Bureau. Conversation

between the farmers and the moms is working. Likewise, farm tours are encouraged at the state-owned Henry White Experimental Farm. The 94-acre farm near Belleville conducts research on vegetables, field corn, soybeans, bees, trees, prairie grasses and conservation methods. Staff members offer guided tours and informational presentations. We use the farm as an educational and research farm, Rahe says. Rahe also has a role in Earth Stewardship Day, an annual event drawing 1,000 fourth graders to the states fairgrounds in early May. Nearly 40 volunteers present a days worth of interactive activities related to soil and water conservation, such as natural resource demonstrations on stream dynamics and Environmental Jeopardy. As with the omelets, these programs encourage hands-on learning and viewing. The value that I see is to have the spatula in the students hand and cooking on the burner and really getting the feel of how to make their omelet, Fraase says. Its a fun way to get people to learn about agriculture and say, Oh, I never thought about that. Joanie Stiers





A Growing Market
ost people visit their local farmers market because of its locally grown, reasonably priced and easily accessible produce. But patrons in Illinois are seeing interesting additions to the handmade wooden stalls and colorful bouquets of fruits and vegetables. Illinois is home to more than 300 registered farmers markets throughout the state and is a national leader in community-supported agriculture. Kristi Jones, manager of the Illinois Department of Agricultures Illinois Products Farmers Market in Springfield, believes the growing popularity of these markets comes from both growers and consumers. My mother used to challenge me to shop the perimeter of the grocery store whenever I went since that is where the freshest and most healthy food is, Jones says. The great thing about a farmers market is that fresh and healthy food is everywhere. There are items you wouldnt see at the grocery store and that dares the buyer to learn more about the product, Illinois farmers and agriculture. Jones has transformed the 366-acre state fairgrounds into an evening destination. When consumers visit the evening market, they can eat a dinner prepared by the Illinois Beef Association, buy wine from Illinois wineries, view cooking demonstrations with produce from the growers, participate in health and wellness demos, and have their gardening, pest and lawn care questions answered by the University of Illinois master gardeners, as well as do their shopping.

Illinois farmers markets provide more than produce

photo by staff

Much of the growth in farmers markets has come from their willingness to provide options for all potential customers. Local markets can participate in the Department of Human Services Farmers Market Nutrition Program, which allows growers to accept senior and WIC coupons. The Illinois Products Farmers Market is also a recipient of the Link Up Illinois grant, which allows Link cardholders to swipe their cards and double the value of their transaction up to $10. From 2010 to 2011, the market saw a 232 percent increase in Link card usage at the farmers market. To find a farmers market near you and learn about the opportunities available, visit

Beverley Kreul

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1st Farm Credit Services Brandt Consolidated Inc. Central Illinois Tourism Decatur Economic Development Corporation Farm Credit Services of Illinois Growmark Inc. Illinois Department of Agriculture American Egg Board Illinois Soybean Association Pioneer Hi-Bred International Rovey Seed Co. Stone Seed Group University of Illinois College

Americas egg farmers are committed to caring for our animals and providing nutritious and affordable eggs to you.

Egg Recipes and Education Resources

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Protecting Consumers
Inspections safeguard the public




Jim kunkle is Well AWAre of pAst

photography by todd bennett

outbreaks of foot-and-mouth disease in England and more recently in Japan and South Korea, that cost those countries billions of dollars in agricultural losses. He doesnt want such an outbreak to happen in Illinois. Kunkle is manager of Emergency Programs for the Illinois Department of Agriculture, and says foot-andmouth disease is the IDOAs biggest scare. An emergency response plan is in place if the disease ever breaks out in Illinois and threatens the livestock industry. Foot-and-mouth is one of the most infectious diseases known to man, affecting cloven-hoofed livestock like cattle, swine, sheep, goats and deer, he says. Its a severe plague that spreads from animal to animal through aerosols, contact with contaminated farming equipment, vehicles, clothing or feed, and by domestic and wild predators, infecting the animals with high fever and blisters. If such an emergency occurred, response measures could include quarantines, herd depopulation, carcass disposal, vaccination, as well as stopped and/or controlled movement in and out of infected areas. Kunkle says the disease could be accidentally transported to the U.S., but someone might also intentionally bring the disease into the country, in a blatant act of agro-terrorism. Agro-terrorism is defined as a deliberate introduction, use or threatened use of a chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear or explosive agent against one or more components of the food or agriculture sectors, he says. The IDOA works closely with the FBI and representatives from the beef, pork, dairy, poultry, soybean, corn, and feed and fertilizer associations, all for the ultimate protection of Illinois consumers. Kunkle says the IDOA also collaborates with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and a consortuim of agriculture departments from 13 other Midwestern states to prepare against all forms of agro-terrorism.

The IDOA also protects consumers by conducting quality-control inspections within a variety of individual food sectors. For example, Illinois is regarded as one of the top three meat inspection states in the country. No slaughterhouse in Illinois operates without one of our field personnel being present to inspect every carcass or every bird during the harvesting process, says Dr.

beeFed-up secuRIty



hEAD oF LIvESToCk IN 2011.



until recently, all recalls were voluntary. In January 2011, president barack obama signed the Food safety Modernization act, which gave the u.s. Food and drug administration (Fda) the authority to remove products from the market in the event that company refuses a voluntary recall.

top: Jim Kunkle is the manager of emergency programs for the Illinois Department of Agriculture. left: An IDOA inspector monitors meat at Tom and Franks Sausage Company in Chicago, Ill.




Kris Mazurczak, chief of the IDOA Bureau of Meat and Poultry Inspection. There are 60 slaughterhouses in Illinois, and our 110 field personnel inspected 908,811 head of livestock in fiscal 2011. Mazurczak says every animal is inspected while alive, then examined postmortem. We observe internal organs, carcasses and lymph nodes, and employ veterinarians in case an inspector notices any abnormalities such as lesions or pathologies, he says. The egg industry in Illinois is also highly regulated, and IDOA egg program manager Suzanne Moss says inspectors check arbitrary eggs for quality, damage, weight, sanitation and labeling. Our staff obviously cant observe every egg in Illinois, so we conduct random visits to distribution points such as warehouses, grocery stores, restaurants, hospitals and nursing homes, she says. If a substandard egg is found, the carton is pulled and the distributor is told about it. Moss says warning messages are sent to alert distributors of any problem. Most distributors want to do the right thing, and appreciate us bringing any issue to their attention, she says. We are all after the same goal a good, quality egg for Illinois consumers. Kevin Litwin
Illinois Department of Agriculture inspectors check eggs for quality, damage, weight, sanitation and labeling.

GRade a InspectIons





Inspectors Weigh In
henever you buy lunchmeat at a supermarket deli, the Illinois Department of Agricultures Bureau of Weights and Measures makes sure you get exactly what you pay for. The same holds true at the gas pumps. Our bureau of 26 field members and four office staffers inspect 134,000 weights and measurement devices each year, including all scales ranging from those found on delicatessen counters to the huge weigh-station scales that police use on the interstates for large trucks, says Doug Rathbun, chief of the IDOA Bureau of Weights and Measures. We also check gas pumps to make sure that when a customer pumps 15 or 20 gallons into their vehicle, they get precisely 15 or 20 gallons. By law, the bureau is required to inspect every scale and gas pump in Illinois at least once every year. Rathbun says stores and gas stations are not given any advance warning when they are about to be inspected. We just show up, he says. The businesses are expected to always dispense the correct amount of fuel, or weigh their commodities appropriately. If not, they face hefty fines and potential closure. Mike Rockford, state metrologist for the Bureau of Weights and Measures, oversees the Standards Laboratory in Springfield where the exact calibrations for mass (weight) and volume (measures) are set. Not only do we make sure that the customer is getting what they pay for, but we also protect the people selling the products, making sure they arent giving away too much, he says.

Weights and Measures assures accuracy for consumers

Rockford says calibrations for weights at the Standards Laboratory range from 5,000 pounds to 1 milligram, while calculations for volume range from 500 gallons to 1 gallon. For example, we have precise one-pound weights that we give our field staff. They will enter a grocery store, place that one-pound weight onto a deli scale, observe the digital readout from the scale, and make sure customers are indeed getting one pound of turkey, ham or corned beef when they order, he says. Grain elevators, asphalt plants, livestock auctions wherever there are public scales, our bureau checks them. Rockford says the bureau also performs official weigh-ins that take place at the Illinois State Fair. Thats so the fair can categorize all the animals into appropriate weight classes prior to judging, he says. The cows we document vary in weight from 1,000 to about 1,800 pounds, and we also weigh every lamb, sheep and hog that will be entered into competition.

exact MeasuReMents

photo by todd bennett

Rockford adds that the precision scales in the Standards Laboratory are so sensitive that they have actually picked up vibrations from far-away earthquakes and major weather disturbances. Our bigger scales, called mass comparators, detected a tsunami in Indonesia as it was happening in 2009, plus we received readouts as an earthquake was occurring in Baja California in 2010, he says. We have access to amazing advanced equipment here at the Bureau of Weights and Measures. Kevin Litwin

detectInG tHe unexpected





Illinois Specialty
Pumpkins, melons and horseradish are among some of the states diverse crops
When people think of
Illinois agriculture, corn and soybeans are likely the first crops that come to mind. But great soil, favorable growing climate, strong family tradition, and good old Illinois ingenuity make the state a top grower of several specialty crops as well. Pumpkins, melons, horseradish, peaches, popcorn and grapes for wine production are just some of the lesserknown crops grown on 100,000 acres of Illinois farmland each year. In 2010, specialty crops generated more than $390 million in sales. Frey Farms, which is headquartered in Keenes, is, in fact, the nations top producer of everyones fall favorite ornamental crop the pumpkin. Sarah Frey-Talley, president and CEO, developed an interest in the specialty crop industry as a teenager, when she took over her mothers produce delivery route and began expanding it, building relationships with farmers that eventually led her to buy some of their small farms as

photography by todd bennett

Dennis Diekemper is the manager at J.R. Kelly Company, the nations largest supplier of horseradish roots.




top left: Frey Farms, headquartered in Keenes, Ill., plants, harvests and ships pumpkins, melons and other produce to major grocery stores. bottom left: Horseradish at J.R. Kelly Company, the nations largest supplier of horseradish roots. Right: Horseradish root is prepared for packaging at J.R. Kelly Company in Collinsville, Ill.

they scaled back operations. Now, 20 years later, Frey Farms has grown from 100 Illinois acres to 7,000 acres across the country. That translates into millions of pumpkins, as well as tons of cantaloupe and watermelon. Frey-Talleys business acumen, entrepreneurial spirit and commitment to building strong relationships with retailers, combined with a reliable, quality product, have helped Frey Farms achieve success. The company supplies pumpkins and melons to some of the largest retailers in the country, including Walmart, Aldi, Kroger, Whole Foods, Lowes and Target. Like soybean and corn farmers, specialty crop growers must face the challenges of handling the curve balls Mother Nature throws them. Regardless of the weather, we must always be sure we come

through for our retail partners year after year, Frey-Talley says. They have to be able to depend on us, and that means we have to always be thinking about risk management. We spread out our risk by growing in a variety of regions across the country and by diversifying our product offerings. We are always assessing the market and exploring niche areas where we can utilize our existing infrastructure in the off-season to offer additional specialty products. Horseradish may be less recognizable than pumpkins, but its a hot Illinois commodity just the same. In fact, the Collinsville area is the self-proclaimed Horseradish Capital of the World and the home to J.R. Kelly Company, the nations largest supplier of horseradish roots. Dennis Diekemper, manager of

Rooted In tRadItIon

J.R. Kelly Company, explains that his company is basically a grain elevator for horseradish roots, shipping 10 to 12 million tons of them across the U.S. and the world. Their buyers include both processors and fresh market businesses. Among their many suppliers are more than a dozen Collinsville area farmers, most of whom are descendants of the first horseradish growers to come to the area in the late 1800s, and other producers in Madison, Monroe and St. Clair counties. While tradition plays a part in the success of the areas horseradish crop, Diekemper explains that theres another important reason as well. You cant beat the great river bottom soil in the area, he says. High-quality Illinois soil produces high-quality horseradish. Cathy Lockman




A Fresh Approach
Logo program promotes specialty crop producers around the state
hile Frey Farms and the J.R. Kelly Company are well known nationally for their products, you dont have to be big to be successful in the specialty crop industry. A viable business plan, a passion for the industry, and a strong work ethic can take you far. A little help from some experts doesnt hurt either. Thats where the Illinois Department of Agriculture (IDOA) comes in. As part of the federal Farm Bill, the IDOA has received funding over the past few years to promote the specialty crop industry in the state. According to Delayne Reeves, grant manager for IDOA, the funding received from the federal program is used to increase the competitiveness of the industry and to help it grow. For 2012, the state received $630,000 in specialty crop grant monies. Recently, weve used the grant money for outreach, education, research and promotion of the industry as a whole, Reeves says. The efforts must be a partnership that benefits the whole industry rather than assisting individual producers. One such effort is the Where Fresh Is campaign, a logo program that Illinois producers can use as a marketing tool to help sell their produce at local grocery stores and farmers markets. In addition, IDOA partners with the CBS affiliate in Chicago to promote Where Fresh Is, and the programs website makes it easy for Illinoisans to find a farmers market near them. Other initiatives that assist the specialty crop growers are the

diverse training programs provided by the University of Illinois Extension Local Food Systems and Small Farm educators. Deborah CavanaughGrant is one of several extension educators across the state working with growers as they establish and build their businesses. Such businesses require special people willing to work long hours in the heat performing physical labor. It takes a very strong work ethic, Cavanaugh-Grant says. And although the University of Illinois Extension training programs cant teach that, they do assist new and transitional producers in the development of scale-appropriate business and farm management plans. The Extension initiatives provide

information and training in production and marketing techniques through workshops, classes, field days and beginning farmer training programs. For the small specialty crop farmer, these efforts often fulfill a dream in addition to providing a living, and for consumers, retailers, restaurants and even schools, these efforts provide nutritious local food options. In area communities, the Where Fresh Is program brings a healthy agritourism industry and economic opportunities, such as farmers markets, apple orchards, and pumpkin patches. To find a famers market near you, check out the IDOAs directory: farmers Cathy Lockman





be a Good neighbor
DriftWatch program helps communication
While rural neighbors may live miles apart, whats done on one farm operation can impact another, especially when it comes to pesticide application. Thats why the Illinois Department of Agriculture (IDOA) has introduced a new, web-based program, called Driftwatch, to enhance communication between commercial pesticide applicators and specialty crop growers. This online program, which was first used in Indiana and launched in Illinois in 2011, allows organic and specialty crop growers to enter the location of their fields on an Internet map that pesticide applicators can consult to avoid spraying sensitive crops. Every time a new field is added, the program sends an e-mail alert to registered applicators. Our objective is to reduce the potential for pesticide drift or the accidental application of farm chemicals to unintended areas, says Warren Goetsch, IDOA bureau chief of environmental programs. Applicators always take precautions, but they can make better decisions on how and when to spray if they know where the specialty growers are located. Its a shared responsibility, Goetsch says. Growers must be certain they enter the locations of their fields and enter them accurately. Pesticide applicators must be committed to checking the Driftwatch site before they spray and adjusting their application accordingly. That might mean selecting a day when the wind is blowing away from the specialty growers crop, for instance. Or it might mean accommodation by the specialty farmer. Although its too early to measure the success of the program, since specialty crop growers are still entering the system, Goetsch believes that Driftwatch is a promising nonregulatory approach to solving concerns about pesticide risk and/or misuse. To learn more, visit illinois.agriculture. Cathy Lockman

We salute IllInoIs farmers for producIng safe, qualIty food for thIs generatIon and the next!
To learn more about our non-GMO programs and premiums for white and yellow corn and soybeans, call or email us!

1157 rovey ave. farmersville, Il 62533 (217) 227-4541





In Show
Agriculture is deeply-rooted in the Illinois state fairs




For 160 years, the state fairs in Springfield and Du Quoin, Ill., have showcased the states agriculture industry.

every August, hunDreDs of thousAnDs of

Illinoisans grab their sunscreen, pack up the car, and head to one of Illinois two state fairs, in Springfield and Du Quoin. For some, its their first trip to visit the butter cow, take in the agriculture exhibits, and enjoy the rides, the food and the entertainment. For many others, however, its an annual trek, a long family tradition, that includes spending time at the 4-H events, the livestock shows, the horse races and the tractor pulls. And while some make it a day or a weekend trip, there are many for whom the fair experience has been a year or more in the making. Theyve been raising their cows, sheering their sheep, grooming their horses, canning their jams, and perfecting their recipes in anticipation of the fairs many agricultural shows and contests. But no matter why fairgoers come or what they expect, the state fairs in Illinois do not disappoint. For 160 years, they have served as a showcase for Illinois agriculture. Thats because although much has changed across the Land of Lincoln since 1853, the states prominence in the agriculture industry has not. About 75 percent of the land in Illinois is still devoted to production agriculture. The 76,000 farms in the state are the foundation of a multibillion-dollar industry. In addition, the state is home to more than 2,500 food companies and hundreds of agribusinesses that provide the tools farmers need to produce their commodities, from seed, chemical and feed companies to equipment manufacturers and implement dealers. Together, these agriculture-related businesses employ nearly one of every four Illinois workers. One of those employees is Amy Bliefnick, manager of the state fair in Springfield. She says that the agriculture focus of the fair makes it a fun, educational and hands-on

experience for families. We have nearly 10,000 animals at the fair, including some of the finest livestock in the country, and we have over 8,000 competitions, the majority of which revolve around agriculture, Bliefnick says of the Springfield fair. You can go into any of the barns during the fair and talk with families that have competed for generations. The fair has been, and continues to be, an important part of Illinois history. Bliefnick says the fair provides the perfect opportunity for young and old, rural and urban residents to learn about the states agriculture industry in a way that makes a real impact. For children, theres Farmers Little Helpers, a hands-on experience where kids do the tasks of a farmer on a small, simulated scale gathering seed, feeding pretend animals, harvesting vegetables, selling produce, and reaping the benefits. Adults get hands-on experience at the fair, too. You can milk a cow, get an up-close look at the implements farmers use to plant and harvest their fields, talk to young people about caring for animals, and sample and buy Illinois agriculture products, Bliefnick says. Once youve had that kind of experience, it helps you better understand the work, the investment and the dedication of Illinois farmers. While Bliefnick acknowledges that many fairgoers come for the entertainment, she says theyll actually come away with a lot more than that. The fair started as a way to showcase agriculture, and its still the heart of the fair, she says. If you come for the rides and the concerts, we make sure that while youre here you get a taste of the agriculture industry and an understanding of how it impacts you. Cathy Lockman

photos courtesy of the illinois department of agriculture




C4 1st Farm Credit serviCes 33 Brandt Consolidated inC. C3 Central illinois tourism 4 deCatur eConomiC development Corporation 6 Farm Credit serviCes oF illinois C2 Growmark inC. 37 illinois department oF aGriCulture ameriCan eGG Board 2 illinois soyBean assoCiation 40 pioneer Hi-Bred international 45 rovey seed Co. 1 stone seed Group 19 university oF illinois ColleGe

A Day at the Races


Harness racing is a tradition at fairs across the state

ntertainment and agriculture go hand in hand at Illinois state fairs, and nowhere on the grounds is that more evident than at the grandstands during the fairs five days of harness racing. The races attract everyone from breeders to riders to horse enthusiasts to the curious spectator. And because harness racing is also a tradition at 33 county fairs across the state, there are more than 100 afternoons a year when Illinoisans can enjoy watching standardbreds, thoroughbreds and quarter horses race without traveling far from home. With five additional racetracks in Illinois that extend the season (Arlington, Balmoral, Hawthorne and Maywood in the Chicago area, and Fairmount in Collinsville), horse racing is big business. According to the Horsemens Council of Illinois, more than 2.6 million spectators attend horse races in Illinois each year, and more than 200,000 Illinoisans are involved in the states horse industry as owners, service providers, employees and volunteers. They estimate that Illinois horses are valued at more than $300 million and that the states horse industry contributes more than $3.5 billion to the gross domestic product. While it would take a whole lot of $2 bets at the state fair to add much to those numbers, the financial impact is not the reason why fairs have horse racing in their line-ups anyway. Its pure fun, says Charlyn Fargo, bureau chief of county fairs and horse racing for the Illinois Department of Agriculture. For many spectators, the fair is their first or maybe only exposure to the sport. They can appreciate the beauty and athleticism of the animals, or just sit back, relax and enjoy a day at the track with friends and neighbors. Cathy Lockman

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Harness Racing is a tradition at 33 fairs across Illinois.