NORMAL, Ill. — The Illinois Corn Growers Association honored five individuals who have played an important role in promoting the industry.
Honorees recognized at ICGA’s annual meeting were: Art Bunting, World of Corn Award; Bob Fitzpatrick and John Sullivan, Ethanol Awards; Susan Adams, Environmental Award; and Stu Ellis, Excellence in Media Award.
World Of Corn Award
Bunting is the recipient of this award that was created to recognize the global importance of corn and specifically honor individual pacesetters that have made Illinois a leader in the corn industry.
“Art has been an amazing leader in our association with a commitment that has never faltered. He is still one of the farmers we can call anytime with a need or a request, and he’s happy to help the association in any way he can,” said Jeff Jarboe, ICGA president.
Bunting joined the ICGA board in 1999 and served as president in 2007-2008. He also has served the association as a part of its barge tours and river infrastructure efforts, NCGA Action Teams and, most recently, the Zea Mays board of directors. Zea Mays is an agricultural foundation that works closely with Illinois Corn.
Among his many accomplishments, Bunting also served as the model in a “Fight Back” campaign, where he dressed as a professional boxer and participated in a photo shoot to engage farmers in fighting for their industry.
“The example Art provides to other farmer leaders is outstanding — that all farmers would be so willing to help and so excited to share our time, energy and resources to benefit all Illinois corn farmers,” Jarboe said.
Bunting and his wife, Kathy, have two daughters. They reside on the family farm near Dwight.
Retiring Illinois state Sen. Sullivan, D-Rushville, was recognized for his work in support and promotion of the ethanol industry.
“Senator Sullivan has been a tireless advocate for agriculture — one that will be sorely missed. Advocating for agriculture in general and ethanol specifically is going to be considerably more difficult without his voice of reason and open mindedness in Springfield,” Jarboe said.
Sullivan was first elected to the Senate in 2002. He has served on various committees, among them the Agriculture Committee, Transportation Committee and Environment and Conservation Committee.
He also has served as assistant majority leader since 2011. Sullivan did not seek re-election in November, and his service with the Senate will end in January 2017.
In 2003, during his first year in the Senate, Sullivan led the effort to extend the state sales tax credit for 10 percent blends of ethanol and for the first time included E85. Also within that legislation, he created a grant program that helped to build several new ethanol plants in Illinois.
More recently, Sullivan always could be counted on to sponsor ICGA legislation that would bring 15 percent ethanol to the marketplace.
Before joining the Senate, he worked on his family farm.
Fitzpatrick, a retired farmer and former leader of the ICGA, also was honored for his support of the ethanol industry.
“Bob left his mark on the Illinois ethanol industry during his tenure on the ICGA board. He was always willing to stand up for Illinois corn farmers, for the Illinois ethanol industry and for what he knew was right. We are so grateful for his commitment to ICGA,” Jarboe said.
Fitzpatrick joined the ICGA board in 1986 as an at-large director, but ran for District I director in 1989 and represented counties in northern Illinois until he retired from the board in 1995. Fitzpatrick was ICGA president in 1994.
Among his most notable accomplishments during his nine-year term on the board, Fitzpatrick testified repeatedly at U.S. Environmental Protection Agency hearings in Washington and Chicago to secure the Reid Vapor Pressure waiver for E10.
He also worked to secure a role for E10 in the reformulated gasoline markets such as Chicago. Chicago’s example using E10 to improve air quality moved ethanol blends into the market place all over the country.
Fitzpatrick also lead investigations into the feasibility of ethanol in Avgas, the fuel for small airplanes.
Fitzpatrick and his wife, Nancy, moved to Texas after his retirement from the farm in Custer Park.
Adams, an Atlanta family farmer, was recognized for her commitment to conservation and environmental preservation.
“Sue has been an incredible asset to Illinois corn farmers over the years. She’s always been a voice that drives discussion and questions the status quo. Her commitment to our natural resources and her ambition to make Illinois farmers constantly better is admirable,” Jarboe said.
Adams grew up in the Chicago suburb of Oak Park, but has proudly been a farmer with her husband, John, since 1973. They are the fifth generation to live and run the Adams family farm since it was homesteaded in 1862.
They made a commitment to reduced tillage in 1976 and moved to no-till in 1983. The farm currently is 100 percent no-till and has been since 1988, with some strip till being used in the last 10 years.
This continuous move to the most cutting-edge management practices continues today, with Susan using GPS to apply fertilizers and crop protection productions only where they are needed and using a yield monitor to record yields and RTK.
The Adamses also have created nitrogen test plots in a field for several years to determine what levels of anhydrous with N-Serve make the most sense on their farm.
She serves as chair of the Illinois Water Authority Association and vice president of Zea Mays, while also sitting on the boards of the Mahomet Aquifer Consortium and the East Central Illinois Regional Water Supply Planning Committee.
Among the work she is most proud of is her time representing the ICGA on the Council on Food and Agriculture Research. She worked with George Czapar on a strategic research initiative in water quality-nutrient standards.
Adams said her main role over the years has been to question what she and her husband are doing on their farm, that is “Why are we doing this instead of that?” and to bring those questions and the resulting answers to discussions happening within statewide associations.
Ellis, of S2LS Ag Communications, was feted for his promotion of Illinois agriculture and specifically, Illinois corn and corn farmers, through his media coverage.
“I’m happy to recognize a fixture in our ag industry with this media award. Stu has had many homes since his first career as a farm broadcaster, but every change and new opportunity only brings more value for Illinois farmers,” Jarboe said.
Ellis currently provides daily radio programs in Clinton and Taylorville and a daily television program on WAND Decatur and writes a weekly newspaper column for the Decatur Herald and Review.
For more than 18 years, he has written CornBelt Update, a weekly newsletter on farm management and marketing with a wide subscriber list — even into Texas.
Most recently, Ellis has embarked on an additional career in video production and editing, producing videos for commercial agricultural clients and video features for farmers to put on their websites and Facebook pages.
Over the years, Ellis has been a farm broadcaster, marketing director for the American Soybean Association, education director for Illinois Farm Bureau and Macon County Extension agent and was instrumental in building a permanent Farm Progress home in Decatur.
Ellis and his wife, Cindy, reside in Decatur. They have two daughters and two granddaughters.