By Tim Alexander for Chronicle Media

ISA Executive Committee 2017-18 include (top row, from left) Jenny Mennenga, John Longley, Stan Born, Austin Rincker, (bottom row, from left) Jared Hooker, Lynn Rohrscheib and Doug Schroeder.

This week: renewable fuel proponents just won a court victory, of sorts, and we have perspective on the decision from Illinois Corn leadership to pass along. Also, farmer-members have elected new leadership for the Illinois Soybean Association; we’ll tell you who’s what. In addition, there are some great new food surprises in store for visitors to the 2017 Illinois State Fair. For more on these and other stories, please read on …

Court Says EPA’s RFS numbers don’t add up

BLOOMINGTON — Word was spread among renewable fuels proponents on July 28 that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia struck down the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) methodology to determine 2016 total Renewable Volume Obligations (RVO) under the federal Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). In layman’s terms, the EPA has been undermining the Congressional mandate for the amount of renewable fuels to be produced and mixed in the nation’s fuel supply, and a high court has finally sided with ethanol and biofuel proponents along with many in the agricultural community.

EPA’s flawed methodology has shortened the nation’s fuel supply by an estimated 800 million bushels of potential corn grind during 2014, 2015 and 2016, according to one study, said Justin Durdan, Illinois Corn Growers Association (ICGA) president and a farmer from Utica. “The court’s decision falls directly in line with the comments we’ve been making to the EPA for years. ICGA members have written hundreds of comments to the EPA over time, pointing out EPA’s flawed methodology in establishing the yearly RVO numbers under the RFS.

“To see the court back us up is quite gratifying. Corn farmers in Illinois should see this as a win and an affirmation of their position on the issue as it has been demonstrated time and time again,” Durdan stated in an ICGA news release.

The court action may ultimately result in more demand for corn and soybeans, if RVOs are increased in coming years under different EPA methodology and a new administration. If the large harvest that is expected this year will serve as any indication, Illinois corn and soybean growers should have no trouble growing enough of their commodities to meet Congressionally-mandated RVOs in the coming years.

ISA elects new leadership

BLOOMINGTON — Lynn Rohrscheib, a Fairmount farmer, was elected by members of the Illinois Soybean Association (ISA) as its new chairwoman last week. Rohrscheib will succeed current chair Daryl Cates of Columbia, who served in the leadership role for the past two years.

“I am so excited to have this opportunity to serve Illinois soybean growers as chairwoman. I am excited to help implement plans that will continue to make farmers more profitable and knowledgeable. I also look forward to the new endeavors in the Chicago area that the organization continues to focus on,” said Rohrscheib, whose family farm operation includes a custom application business. She previously served as ISA vice-chairwoman, secretary and at-large director.

“Lynn has been a vocal leader at ISA for many years. She is well respected on our board and in the community said Cates. “We look forward to starting new projects with her leading our board.”

Other ISA executive committee members include vice-chair Doug Schroeder of Mahomet, treasurer Jared Hooker of Clinton, secretary John Longley of Aledo, and assistant secretary-treasurer Stan Born of Lovington. Joining the committee are Jenny Mennenga of LeRoy as production and outreach committee chair, and Austin Rincker of Moweaqua as chair of the marketing committee. Congrats to the new and returning ISA leaders, committee members and directors!

Illinois Farm Fact:

About 61 percent of Illinois’ land area is covered in soy and corn. (Ill. Soybean Assoc.)

Next wave of drones to include ground robots?

URBANA — A one-hour “drones in agriculture” chat was recently hosted on Twitter and podcast by University of Illinois Extension educator Dennis Bowman and Girish Chowdhary, assistant professor at the U of I Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering. During the chat, Chowdhary, an expert in field robotics and unmanned aerial systems (UAS), said the next wave of drone technology will include ground robots and drones working together to tackle field chores such as weeding, fertilizing and plant sampling.

“The real game changer will be when drones start working with autonomous ground equipment — small robots that can go under the canopy,” said Chowdhary. “Drones are really useful when the canopy closes because you can’t walk in that canopy. Unfortunately, a lot of the time by the time (problems are) visible in the canopy it is often too late. Ground robots are small enough to drive between the rows and go under the canopy.”

You can hear the entire chat between Bowman and Chowdhary regarding drone and robotic technology in agriculture, as well as changes to FAA regulations for drone operators, at http://go.illinois.edu/drones. (U of I Dept. of ACES news)

State Fair to feature daily speed eating events

SPRINGFIELD — The Illinois State Fair, along with the Springfield State Journal Register newspaper, will introduce daily “competitive” eating contests during the fair’s Aug. 11-20 run in Springfield. The contests, which will take place at 3 p.m. each day on the Rising Star Stage, will pit three contestants going jaw-to-jaw to see who can consume the most food in five minutes. All of the food items featured in the contest are traditional state fair food staples made mostly from Illinois farm products. The daily contest food items, in order from Aug. 11-20, are watermelon, corn dogs, cantaloupe, mini doughnuts, sweet corn, pork chop sandwiches, french fries, ribeye sandwiches, the Golden Abe Contest (for best fair food concession) winner, and, lastly, funnel cake.

In addition, the Illinois Pork Producers Association is urging farmers and others to stop by the Pork Patio and try out their new “Pork Twister” marinated pork and bacon kabob. It looks delicious!