By Tim Alexander for Chronicle Media

The Illinois Pork Producers Association announced the hiring of Katlyn Puclik-Baker as its new marketing manager.

The nation’s eyes turned briefly on the needs of agriculture — as it relates to trade — when the president stumped for inland waterways infrastructure repairs funding as part of his federal budget plan. Illinois and Corn Belt commodity group leaders and farmers were invited to attend. We also have news of upcoming field days sponsored by the Illinois Soybean Association, and an important pork producers’ election currently underway. For more info, please read on …

Soy, corn growers attend Trump rally

BLOOMINGTON — Illinois Soybean Growers (ISG) and Illinois Corn representatives joined President Donald Trump in Cincinnati last week as the national media focused, however briefly, on the critical need for investment in transportation infrastructure, notably the aged levees, locks and dams regulating the Ohio River and inland waterways system. ISG and Illinois Corn officials noted that a large proportion of Illinois’ agricultural exports rely on the nation’s inland waterways system, where deteriorating locks and dams designed and built in the 1930s have vastly outlived their 50-year life spans.

‘When a lock fails, all the barges stop. This halts our producers’ ability to get their soybeans to their customers,” stated ISG Chief Executive Officer Craig Ratajczyk, who attended the event. “Thousands of dollars of increased transportation costs also add up as the barges line up and wait their turn. That impacts customers, shippers, manufacturers, commodity investors, farmers and consumers.”

Illinois Corn Growers Association President Justin Durdan, a farmer from Utica, said Trump’s speech raised the issue of waterways infrastructure and exports to a “position of prominence” in the nation’s consciousness. “Each day that passes with the system in decline represents a loss to our competitive advantage,” Durdan said, in part. “We look forward to more details coming from the Trump administration and will eagerly participate in all opportunities to provide input to modernize our nation’s aging system of locks and dams.” (ISA, Illinois Corn news)

STC:  budget proposal needs more specifics

ANKENY, IOWA — The Trump administration invited a Who’s Who of Midwest agriculture officials to Cincinnati last week to rally support for his budget proposal, which would allow $200 billion in federal funding to kick-start his $1 trillion public-private infrastructure upgrade plan. Mike Steenhoek, executive director for the Soy Transportation Coalition (STC), attended the event and offered a few observations, most notably that stakeholders should be encouraged the president selected a lock and dam in the Midwest as his stage to promote his infrastructure upgrade agenda.

“The president and his administration should be commended for calling attention of our inland waterway system and the locks and dams that have fallen into disrepair,” Steenhoek said in an email to select ag media outlets, before expressing concern about funding and the current political climate in Washington.

“It remains to be seen how the president intends to provide $200 billion in federal funding and design a system that generates an additional $800 billion in private equity to address our transportation challenges. Both are ambitious amounts,” Steenhoek noted. “A concern that I and so many others have on this issue and a host of others is whether all of the political oxygen will get sucked out of the room due to all the time and energy being devoted elsewhere. Regardless of one’s political persuasion, it continues to be discouraging that the long ‘to do list’ on behalf of the American people continues to be insufficiently addressed.”

Illinois Farm Fact:

Annual value of whole soybean exports from Illinois, combined with the value of exports of soybean oil, seed and other soybean products originating from Illinois, along with the value of Illinois soybeans commingled with soybeans from other states at consolidation points along or across state lines before being exported: $3 billion. (Illinois Soybean Growers/US Census export data)

ISA Field Days return with focus on production tips

BLOOMINGTON — The latest tools and technology in soybean production and tips to boost yield will be the focus of two, half-day ILSoyAdvisor.com Field Days, scheduled for July 19 and 20 at separate Illinois locations. Sponsored by the Illinois Soybean Association (ISA), the July 19 meeting at Moore Farms in Roseville and July 20 gathering at the Southern Illinois University Belleville Research Center will all soybean growers to connect with experts for local growing tips and practical on-farm advice.

Topics will include “Combining Strategies for Producing High Yields,” “Recognizing and Managing Soil Pathogens” and “Soybeans: Paying More Attention to In-Season Management.” A stand-alone session, “Diversifying Weed Management,” is scheduled for Roseville only, while another, “If You Don’t Use a Pre, Don’t Call Me,” will be held at Belleville only.

“ISA is committed to helping our state’s soybean farmers be more successful, competitive and profitable,” according to Linda Kull, ISA director of strategic research programs. “The past two years of free, local field days have successfully allowed us to interact directly with more farmers.” For detailed information and registration, visit www.ilsoy.org/fielddays.

Illinois pork getting out the vote

SPRINGFIELD — The Illinois Pork Producers Association (IPPA) wants all Illinois pig farmers to know that the election for pork producer candidates for the 2018 National Pork Producers (Pork Act) Delegate Body is winding down. Any producer, ages 18 and above, who is a resident of the state and has paid all assessments due may vote or be considered as a delegate candidate. See www.ilpork.com or phone the IPPA office at (217) 529-3100 for more information.

The IPPA also announced the hiring of Katlyn Puclik-Baker as its new marketing manager. A Springfield native who earned a bachelor’s degree in agribusiness at Western Illinois University and recently worked as development and marketing manager for Girls on the Run of Central Illinois, Puclik-Baker also has a background in equestrian sports and animal science.

“Katlyn’s strong experience in marketing will elevate IPPA and make her an asset to team pork,” said Jennifer Tirey, IPPA executive director. Puclik-Baker started her now job at IPPA June 5.