The Illinois livestock industry is shrinking, yet it continues to grow nationwide.  Nic Anderson, Illinois Livestock Business Developer for the Illinois Livestock Development Group, will shed light on how improving this industry will not only help agriculture but the entire Illinois economy as well.

Since graduating from WesternIllinoisUniversity 1988, Anderson has worked in the livestock sector serving in procurement for FDL Foods in Rochelle, as promotion and producer service director for Illinois Pork Producers Association, and most recently in customer consultation and sales for Premier Pork Systems.

The livestock business developer serves an essential element of ILDG’s priorities by providing key support to both current and prospective Illinois producers by assessing their siting and feasibility potential

ILDG created the position as part of the coalition’s long-term effort to support a vibrant livestock industry in the state.   ILDG was formed in April 2003 with representatives from Illinois Beef Association, Illinois Pork Producers Association, Illinois Milk Producers Association, Illinois Corn Growers Association, Illinois Soybean Association, and Illinois Farm Bureau.


The 2012 Illinois Commodity Conference will take place Tuesday, Nov. 20, at the DoubleTree Hotel & Conference Center in Bloomington, Ill.  The annual one-day event brings together crop growers and livestock producers from all over the state to discuss the triumphs and challenges the agricultural industry faces.

“Working Together Everyone Achieves More,” is the theme for the conference, which starts at 10 a.m. A full day of speakers can help attendees regroup and recharge, and include:

  • “Marketing Plans for a Difficult Year”

    Jody Lawrence, Strategic Trading Advisors

  • “Why a Growing Livestock Industry is Important to Illinois” Nic Anderson, Illinois Livestock Development Group
  • “KIC 2025: Embrace Good Stewardship and Water Quality Practices”

    Jean Payne, Illinois Fertilizer and Chemical Association

    Dan Schaefer, Illinois Council on Best Management Practices

  • “Telling the Story of Illinois Agriculture”

    Kevin Daugherty, Ag in the Classroom

  • “Watch Us Grow: Mom Tested. Mom Approved.”

    Mike and Lynn Martz, Watch Us Grow

  • “The True Value of Working Together”

    Coach Herman Boone, inspiration behind Remember the Titans

Participants should register with their respective commodity groups.  Before Nov. 8, registration is $45.  After Nov. 8, the fee is $60.  Students can register for $20.  For more information, visit ilcommodityconf.wordpress.com.  The conference is sponsored by the Illinois Beef Association, Illinois Corn Growers Association, Illinois Milk Producers Association, Illinois Pork Producers Association, Illinois Soybean Association and Illinois Wheat Association.




In 1971, Herman Boone faced the challenge of a lifetime, and his inspirational story was captured in the Disney film Remember the Titans starring Academy Award-winner Denzel Washington. In 1971, racial tensions ran high in Alexandria, VA, as three schools were newly integrated to form the T.C. Williams High School. It was from this union that the Titan football team was created. The former rivalries between the schools coupled with the strain between the black and white players resulted in a team that was far from united.

Tensions only escalated when Boone, assistant coach of the former T.C. Williams High School, was named head coach of the Titans, passing over Bill Yoast, the local favorite and successful head coach of the former white Hammond High. Yoast’s supporters were angered by Boone’s appointment, which was seen as a gesture of goodwill to the black community.

Remarkably, the two coaches were able to put aside their prejudices, and in doing so they unified their players to form a team whose common vision was to respect each other and win football games. At the same time, through the game of football, Boone and Yoast were able to help their small Virginian community put aside their intolerance and join together to support their children. The Titans became one of the best teams in Virginia, compiling a 13-0 record and went on to win the state championship.

Remember the Titans screenwriter Gregory Allen Howard said in a Washington Post interview, “Herman is Shakespearean. The beauty of Herman and what he did was that it was sort of unconscious. If you’d ask Herman when he took over T.C. Williams, ‘Were you trying to make a point with these kids?’ he would have said, ‘No, I just want to win football games.’ He had to get the players to get along to win football games. And it worked for just that reason—because it wasn’t self-conscious. He did something quite beyond what even he realized.”

Boone is now retired but continues to motivate and inspire audiences.  In the closing session at this year’s conference, he will discuss the importance of teamwork in agriculture and how if we work together, we can achieve extraordinary results.



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The history of ag in our education system has evolved from being an integral part of every student’s life to being studied only as a specialty for those who want to go into farming.  Kevin Daugherty, Ag in the Classroom coordinator, will tell us how educating students and teachers about the interlocking role farming has on food and fiber production makes a positive impact on our future.

Kevin Daugherty became Illinois Farm Bureau Education Manager in April 2000.  In that role he is responsible for the IFB Board’s Expansion Plan for Agriculture in the Classroom.  He was named Education Director June 1, 2009.

Teacher Training heads the priorities for Ag in the Classroom.  Kevin directs his staff’s involvement with over40 week long Summer Ag Institutes per year, workshops & exhibits for teacher conferences, and workshops for pre-service teachers at universities throughout the state.

Kevin also directs development of classroom resources for County Farm Bureau use with teachers including Ag Mags, teacher newsletters, teacher resource guides, and the http://www.agintheclassroom.org website.  Agriculture in the Classroom volunteer training, program evaluation, and networking round out Kevin’s responsibilities.

Kevin was elected President of the USDA Agriculture in the Classroom Consortium for 2004.  He also serves on the Governor-appointed Illinois Committee for Agricultural Education.

Kevin came to Illinois Farm Bureau following 10 years as a classroom teacher and work as a marketing and implementation specialist for an educational materials publishing company.  He holds a bachelors degree in Secondary Education from the University of Illinois, and a Masters in Technology with focus on human resources and training from EasternIllinoisUniversity.  He and his wife, Katherine-the Senior Marketing Research Analyst for GROWMARK, and their three children live in LeRoy, where he is active in church and serves as President of the LeRoy School Board.



The 4Rs of nutrient stewardship – Right Source, Right Rate, Right Time and Right place – are key to the new collaborative program “Keep it for the Crop by 2025” or “KIC2025”.  Jean Payne and Dan Schaefer will share how utilizing these practices will help growers reduce nutrient losses and enhance farm economics.

Jean is President of the Illinois Fertilizer and Chemical Association which represents over 1,100 members of agricultural input supply and service industry.  The IFCA office is headquartered in Bloomington, Illinois.

She is involved in the management of the Association, including oversight of regulatory and legislative issues that impact the industry.

Jean is a graduate of Illinois State University.  She has served on Board of Directors for the Ag Retailers Association and The Fertilizer Institute.  She is also a member of the College of Agriculture Advisory Committee for both the University of Illinois and Southern Illinois University and represents the industry on Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s ag advisory committee.

Dan is the Director of Nutrient Stewardship for the Illinois Council on Best Management Practices.  He joined CBMP in this new role in January 2012.  Previously Dan spent 30 years in the ag retail business as an agronomist and plant manager for Illini FS, working directly with growers on improving their yields through agronomic practices and recommendations, and assisting the University of Illinois with on-farm research to improve nutrient efficiency.

Dan has a Master of Science degree in Agronomy from the University of Illinois.  He is a Certified Professional Agronomist and a Certified Crop Advisor (CCA).  Illinois Farm Bureau named him CCA of the Year in 2010.

Dan and his family reside in Tolono, Illinois.



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We will kick of the conference this year in Brickyard Rooms 2 and 3 with Jody Lawrence.  He will share his marketing advice for difficult years and help you get 2013 off to a great start.

Mr. Lawrence has been in the commodity and farm consulting business since 1991 as both a broker and cash advisor.  He started Strategic Trading Advisors in 2001 and writes a daily marketing newsletter that is subscribed to by over 3000 farmers in 32 states across the U.S.


Two former directors of the Illinois Department of Agriculture, Chuck Hartke and Tom Jennings, were awarded the 2011 Friend of Agriculture Award at the 2011 Illinois Commodity Conference that was held in Bloomington Tuesday, November 22.

“Both Chuck Hartke and Tom Jennings have dedicated many years to serving Illinois farmers and improving Illinois agriculture,” said Mike Haag, a pork producer from Emington, Ill., and current Illinois Pork Producers Association president. “They both have been outstanding ambassadors for agriculture and have been supportive of the pork industry in Illinois. Chuck and Tom are very deserving of this honor.”

The Friend of Agriculture Award is presented by the Illinois Beef Association, Illinois Corn Growers Association, Illinois Milk Producers Association, Illinois Pork Producers Association, Illinois Soybean Association and Illinois Wheat Association.

“We salute former Director Jennings for being such a strong supporter and friend to Illinois beef producers,” stated Jeff Beasley, Illinois Beef Association president. “Tom had a great way of solving issues in a common sense manner. He used his years of experience as both an ag professional and producer to help better the lives of many cattlemen and women statewide. We wish him the best in his retirement and congratulate him on this distinguished award!”

The award is given each year to individuals who have significantly contributed to improving agriculture in Illinois. Nominees are submitted by each of the sponsoring commodity groups and selected by representatives of the groups.

Hartke was named interim director of the Illinois Department of Agriculture in April 2003 and was confirmed by the Illinois Senate in May 2003. He stepped into the position of Illinois’ top agriculture official with more than 30 years in local and state politics and a lifetime of experience in the agriculture industry. As director, Hartke supported the expansion of livestock in Illinois; worked to expand the biofuels industry including ethanol, biodiesel and biomass; strengthened relations with foreign trading partners; supported specialty crop and diversified agriculture operations; and worked to protect the state’s food supply and expand use of the Illinois State Fairgrounds. Hartke retired in February 2008.

Jennings worked for the Department of Agriculture in various capacities for over 30 years. He began working at the Department as a grain warehouse examiner in June 1978 after graduating from the University of Illinois with a degree in agricultural economics. During his career, he also served as the Department’s assistant director, chief of staff, manager of the Division of Agriculture Industry Regulation and bureau chief of warehouses. In addition, he managed the Illinois Grain Insurance Fund. Jennings was appointed acting director when Hartke resigned from the director’s position, and he was named director in October 2008. Jennings retired October 18, 2011.


Unfortunately, Philip Seng, President and CEO of U.S. Meat Export Federation will no longer be able to make it to this year’s conference.  Dan Halstrom, USMEF Senior Vice President of Global Marketing and Communication will be taking his place.  He will begin his presentation of “Opening the Gate to New Markets” at 11:30am and will examine ways that the USMEF is working to put more U.S. meat on tables throughout the world through trade agreements, international partnerships and consumer education

Dan joined USMEF in 2010 after 26 years in the meat industry with Swift & Company, which operated over the years under the names of Monfort of Colorado, ConAgra Beef Company and, finally, JBS.

Dan began his career as a management trainee for Swift Independent Packing Company at the National Stockyards Illinois Pork plant outside of St. Louis.  There he learned every job in the plant from the kill floor and cut floor to fabrication, loading, rendering, freezer operations and hog procurement.  He then moved into commercial sales and, ultimately, into international sales.  As senior vice president of International Operations for JBS, he oversaw global beef and pork operations for the world’s largest red meat company.

A graduate of the University of Iowa, Dan was born and raised near Cherokee, Iowa, on a 1,200-acre grain farm that also had a 3,000-head cattle backgrounding operation.  He and his wife, Becky, have been married 19 years and have two sons.


Agricultural commodity producers from across the state will gather for the 2011 Illinois Commodity Conference on Tuesday, November 22 at the DoubleTree Hotel and Conference Center in Bloomington, Ill. The one-day event – centered on the theme “Gateway to the Future” ­– begins with registration at 7:30 a.m., which is followed by networking at 9:00 a.m. The first speaker starts at 9:55 a.m., and the entire program ends at approximately 2:30 p.m.

Six Illinois commodity groups are hosting the conference, including the Illinois Beef Association (IBA), Illinois Corn Growers Association (ICGA), Illinois Milk Producers Association (IMPA), Illinois Pork Producers Association (IPPA), Illinois Soybean Association (ISA) and Illinois Wheat Association (IWA). In addition, three agricultural companies – Monsanto, Syngenta and Pioneer – are serving as major sponsors of the event. Developed to promote leadership and cooperation among these commodity groups, it also serves as a venue for educating producers and enhancing market opportunities.

“The Illinois Commodity Conference provides a valuable opportunity for Illinois farmers to come together to discuss the issues that affect us all,” explained ICGA President Jim Reed. “For that one day, it doesn’t matter what we grow – it’s all about collaborating for the benefit of the entire Illinois ag industry.”

Matt Hughes, ISA board chairman, added that producers will not only benefit from networking with their peers, but they also will learn from three very different speakers: “We’re excited about this year’s presenters. They are from extremely diverse backgrounds, which will help us all look at our operations from new perspectives. Too often, we get caught up in our routines and entrenched in old habits. This conference gives us an opportunity to reflect on those things and re-evaluate the way we do business.”

This year’s scheduled speakers include Roger Cady, Ph.D., Dan Halstrom and David Zach. Cady, Senior Technical Consultant for Elanco, will challenge attendees’ thinking about the term sustainability and what it really means. As Senior Vice President of Marketing and Communications for the U.S. Meat Export Federation, Halstrom will examine ways that organization is working to put more U.S. meat on tables throughout the world. Zach – one of the very few professional futurists on the planet – will be sharing the importance of looking back when trying to move forward.

Producers interested in attending the 2011 Illinois Commodity Conference may register in advance or at the door. The fee, which includes lunch, is $65 before November 14 and $90 thereafter. Students are eligible to register at a discounted rate of $30.