Monday, June 8, 2015

What Happens to Iowa's Corn Crop?

In 2014, Iowa farmers produced nearly 2.37 billion bushels of corn!  But what happens to all of that corn?  Who will use it? Where does it go?

Typically, Iowa has three primary markets for its corn: ethanol, exports and livestock. This year, our main markets are ethanol and livestock.

Ethanol is Iowa’s largest user of corn; producing high octane fuel for drivers and high-protein feed for livestock and poultry industries here in Iowa and around the world. This year, Iowa’s 42 ethanol plants are expected to use approximately 1.3 billion bushels of corn, which will produce well over 3.9 billion gallons of renewable ethanol fuel and 9.37 million U.S. tons of the livestock feed, distillers dried grains (DDGs).

The other primary market for Iowa’s corn crop is livestock. Feed and residual use will consume 455 million bushels of this year’s crop. Actual feed use in state will total approximately 296 million bushels. Below is an estimated corn consumption breakdown for 2014/2015 crop from the state’s different livestock sectors:

  1. Hogs – 163 million bushels
  2. Beef Cattle – 61 million bushels
  3. Poultry – 52 million bushels
  4. Dairy – 18 million bushels
  5. Other – 2 million bushels    

Another major livestock-related market for corn is distillers dried grains (DDGs). This often forgotten ethanol co-product has become extremely popular among cattle feeders, hog producers and poultry feeders due to its high protein content compared to whole corn and soybean meal.  2.315 million short tons will be fed to livestock and poultry in the state of Iowa, and another 7.054 million short tons will be exported. The 2.315 million short tons that will be fed in Iowa will displace the need for an additional 118 million bushels of corn. This stat clearly debunks the “food vs. fuel” myth–ethanol produces “FOOD and FUEL.”  

Being able to provide food, feed, clean fuel and fiber to the world’s growing population is something that all Iowans should take great pride in.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Get to Know Natalie Te Grootenhuis, Market Development Intern at Iowa Corn

Hello everyone, my name is Natalie Te Grootenhuis and I am the new Marketing Development Intern here at Iowa Corn.

I grew up on a farm outside of Hospers, Iowa, my dad is a farmer and my mom is a fifth grade teacher at MOC-Floyd Valley. I have one younger brother who will be a sophomore in high school. At a young age I learned to love agriculture, when I was younger we raised baby calves and bottle fed about five hundred of them. This meant while other kids were at the pool swimming I was hanging out with my four legged best friends. My family now raises cattle and pigs along with crop farming corn and soybeans.

I graduated from MOC- Floyd Valley in 2013 where I was involved in FFA, 4H, softball, student council and served on the State of Iowa Youth Advisory Team. Following that I enrolled at Northwestern College (NWC) in Orange City Iowa, where I have an Ag-business and Marketing major. At NWC I serve as the women’s basketball manager as well as work with our local NRCS office doing surveying work. I am a member of the 2014-2015 Collegiate Advisory Team here at Iowa Corn as well. Though this experience I became more aware of what Iowa Corn is allowing me to step into my position here as the marketing intern well. Next spring I will enter “the real world” where I hope to be employed at an agriculture based business doing marketing work.

This summer I will be working a lot with the Iowa Corn 300 race as well as promoting other Iowa Corn events.  I am really excited for my summer at Iowa Corn; I look forward to getting to know my co-workers better and learning a lot from the organization.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Meet an Iowa Farmer: Ryan Gallagher

The Iowa Corn Growers Association is proud to serve our more than 8,000 farmer members across the state. These members are the backbone of our organization and each month we are honored to introduce you to a new ICGA member through our "Meet an Iowa Farmer" series. This month we are proud to feature Ryan Gallagher, a farmer and ICGA member from Washington County.

Tell about you, your family, and your background and farm operation.
I grew up on a century farm in Washington, IA and now have become the 5th generation to raise corn and soybeans on our family farm.  I work every day with my father and uncle on the farm, which is great because it keeps our family close together and makes us proud of our heritage.  My wife Jessica and I got married about two years ago.   We are both looking forward to raising a family on the farm-with hopefully many more generations to continue farming in the future. 

Why did you decide to be a farmer?
I grew up working on the farm and always loved the work!  In farming you will run into a lot of new obstacles and challenges every year.  I have always been the type of person who enjoys taking on those new challenges.  Having a farm in the family for over 100 years has made me feel proud of my heritage and inspired me to continue on the same path.  I went to college in Arizona and worked in Minneapolis for a while, but I always missed my life on the farm.  Living in Iowa, working on the farm with my family and raising kids on the farm is the American dream for me. 

What else do you dedicate time to outside of farming?
Family and friends, traveling, bicycling, golf, boating and Hawkeye sports.

Any farming advice or life lessons you'd share with new farmers?
When it comes to farming what works strategy wise one year might not work at all the following year or any year after that. It is important to evaluate every year differently than the last and be ready and willing to adapt as needed, without over committing yourself one direction or the other. 

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Leadership and the Political Process

Good things come in threes. Maybe it’s just a trite saying, but maybe there’s something to it. I-LEAD Class 7 gathered for our third session in late March and here are three key takeaways:

1) We connected with other young professionals and senior executives at the annual Young Professional in Ag (YPiA) Executive Breakfast, with a keynote address from National Corn Growers Association CEO, Chris Novak. 

Key takeaway: Life is too short to wake up every day and do something you don’t love. 

2) We teamed up with Iowa Farm Bureau’s Ag Leader participants to meet with Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds at the state Capitol, completed an educational exercise illustrating the decisions folks in Congress have to make, and listened to a water quality and nutrient management update. 

Key takeaway: The issues elected officials have on their plates are typically complicated and interrelated with other matters – it may not be as straight-forward as it appears from my point of view. 

3) After individually reading the book "The Five Dysfunctions of a Team" by Patrick Lencioni prior to our session, we discussed the lessons and application to our work and personal lives. 

Key takeaway: High performing teams start with a foundation of trust. A team can’t develop further unless there is trust among the team. 

Mission to New Orleans
As the weather warms to summer, I-LEAD Class 7 is preparing for our domestic mission to New Orleans in late June. As I think about New Orleans and the significance of its ports to the ag industry, I’m reminded of a speaker I recently listened to at the National Agri-Marketing Association’s annual conference in Kansas City. 
The speaker’s name was Peter Zeihan, a geopolitical strategist, which means he uses geography to understand societies, political environments, economies, etc. One of the ideas Peter talked about was that the United States has more navigable miles of river than the rest of the world combined, and those rivers conveniently overlay some of the most productive soil in the world – the Midwest. He explains that this is one of the factors that help make the U.S. a world superpower.  We are able to efficiently move commodities and goods down the Mississippi to New Orleans (and other ports) and export them around the world. To further clarify why this is an economic advantage, Brazil’s transportation costs are 100 times the U.S. Our transportation cost advantage isn’t entirely due to the Mississippi, but it certainly has played a key role throughout history and remains relevant today. 
While in New Orleans, one of the things we’ll be learning about is the port infrastructure. After listening to Peter speak and downloading the audio version of his book, The Accidental Superpower, I now have an even greater appreciation for the influence partner industries, like transportation, have on agriculture and am excited to learn more. 

My name is Laura Holoubek, current member of I-Lead Class 7 and author of this post. I work in marketing and communications for agribusiness clients at a West Des Moines, IA advertising agency called Meyocks. Originally from a diversified farm in Nebraska, I graduated from the University of Nebraska with an Ag Communications degree. I'm involved in the National Agri-Marketing Association, Young Professionals in Agriculture and helped start a young adults group at my local church. Sometimes I claim to be an 81-year-old woman in a young person’s body as my primary hobbies include quilting, baking and gardening. 

Monday, May 11, 2015

Ode to Iowa Corn-Fed Beef

Much to some’s disbelief, there’s nothing better than Iowa corn-fed beef.
It’s tender, delicious, and positively nutritious.

Just 3 ounces at each meal, cooked any way you feel.
You’ll have more energy than a machine, because beef’s a great source of protein.

There’s T-bones and tenderloins, cheeseburgers and sirloins
With 29 different lean cuts to choose from, your taste buds will never get tiresome.

Raised right here in the midwest, by the farmers and ranchers we know best.
Who ensure the highest quality product gets from their gate, all the way to your plate.

So fire up the grill, grab a glass of something chilled,
and breathe a sigh of relief, because you’re about to enjoy the best Iowa corn-fed beef.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Meet an Iowa Farmer: Emily Cook

The Iowa Corn Growers Association is proud to serve our more than 8,000 farmer members across the state. These members are the backbone of our organization and each month we are honored to introduce you to a new ICGA member through our "Meet an Iowa Farmer" series. This month we are proud to feature Emily Cook, a farmer and ICGA member from Wright County.

Tell about you, your family, and your background and farm operation
I’m a third generation farmer, working alongside my husband, and my family. On our farm we grow mainly corn here in Wright County.  I graduated from Iowa State with a degree in Apparel Merchandising. I started my working career in the apparel side of high end golf courses across the country. In those jobs I learned valuable lessons about myself, and what I really wanted in my life. However, my heart always remained on the farm back in Iowa. I’ve been blessed to have family who is willing to take time to share their knowledge and experiences with me. I’m forever grateful for their patience with me as I continue to learn about agriculture and the farm.    

Why did you decide to be a farmer? 
When my husband and I first got engaged we tried to figure out where we wanted life to take us. We both wanted to have a career which made a difference in the world, one where we could find happiness, and still be close to family. The answer for us was Iowa, and the farm where I grew up.  

What else do you dedicate time to outside of farming?
My husband and I are active in our church where we teach an after school program for the youth in our community. I also enjoy baking, throwing dinner parties, gardening, and reading classic books. 

Any farming advice or life lessons you'd share with new farmers? 
I think it is important to not be afraid to break the mold and the stereotypes which women often face in agriculture. Find what makes you happy, and do everything you can to stay that way.  
During the Iowa Corn Cy-Hawk game who do you root for?
My Alma Mater, Go Cyclones! 

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Corn Farmers Care: Our Environment

Today, April 22nd, is a special day. A day where people across the United States celebrate efforts to protect our environment and encourage discussion about what can be done in years to come. While the calendar carves out just one day each year for this celebration, for America’s corn farmers every day is Earth Day.

"Farm ponds provide wildlife habitat and reduce phosphorus loss in Warren County." #FarmersCoverIowa
Farmers are closely connected with the environment, more so than many other professions. Their ability to cultivate crops and raise livestock largely depends on proper management of natural resources. They need a continuous supply of rich soil, clean water, and fresh air; which is why Iowa farmers work day in and day out to protect these vital resources.
"Cover crops reducing nitrate loss in Jasper County." #FarmersCoverIowa

Curious about what farmers are doing across the country to protect our environment? Check out some of these recent stats:

  • According to the USDA, farmers have reduced cropland soil erosion by 32%. (source)
  • From 1980 to 2010, U.S. farmers increased corn production by 87.5% while using 4% less fertilizer inputs.  (source)
  • Iowa farmers have voluntarily restored more than 377,811 acres of wetlands. (source)
  • 40 demonstration farms from 7 different states are showcased in the Soil Health Partnership, a farmer-led project aimed at researching management practices to improve soil health. (source
  • Organizations, such as the Iowa Agriculture Water Alliance, have been developed to help educate producers and the public on water quality efforts. (source)
  • Iowa’s agricultural researchers were 1st in the nation to develop a Nutrient Reduction Strategy, providing farmers with the framework they need to help improve Iowa’s water quality. (source)
  • The Iowa Farm Environmental Leader Award, now in it's 4th year, recognizes the exemplary voluntary efforts of Iowa's farmers committed to environmental stewardship. (source)
"Grass waterways reduce gully erosion in Dallas County." #FarmersCoverIowa