(Posted Fri. Jun 8th, 2012)
June 8: The National Corn Growers Association continues the second season of Field Notes, a series that takes readers behind the farm gate to follow the year in the life of American farm families. While these growers come from diverse geographic areas and run unique operations, they share a common love for U.S. agriculture and the basic values that underpin life in farming communities.
Today, Field Notes checks in with Billy Thiel, a farmer from Marshall, Missouri who plays an active role in both his state and national corn associations. Taking a break from visits with Missouri government officials, Thiel explains how dry conditions have impacted the corn and soybean crops in mid-Missouri.
“Right now, if you are driving through corn fields in my area you can actually see that the leaves are rolled up in the middle of the day,” Thiel explained. “It does this to conserve moisture. Then, at night, it will let itself back out and look as it normally would. This is the time of year when the ear size of corn is determined and rain would be very beneficial. The early rain and subsoil moisture allowed corn to grow deep roots that are tapping that reserve. So, the corn crop looks better than it might were this not the case, but continued dry conditions could shorten kernels, even whole ears, and that would lead to yields decreasing as well.”
A strong advocate for his fellow farmers, Thiel spent part of his week in the Missouri state capital, Jefferson City, helping to educate growers on the importance of the Renewable Fuel Standard.
“As farmers, we need the Renewable Fuel Standard to keep our rural economies and ethanol plants up and running,” Thiel explained. “In areas like mine, farmers have worked together to start up their own ethanol plants that use our abundant corn crop to create a sustainable, domestically-produced biofuel. The money from this incredible alternative fuel then flows back into farmer pockets. And, I am not sure why but the old adage is true, when a farmer makes a dollar, he spends a dollar. He invests it in his community really. From the added tax base from these operations which helps fund improvements in rural schools to the money that flows into our local diners from the truckers taking ethanol to the rest of the country, ethanol has put a spring back in the step of rural America.”
To listen to the full interview, click here.
Stay tuned over the coming weeks as Field Notes follows the growers who have opened their farms, families and communities up this year and meet the true faces of modern American agriculture.