In this week’s news roundup for Illinois farmers and rural dwellers, we have excerpts from an interview with an Illinois gubernatorial hopeful whose controversial views on dicamba use made headlines around the state last week. Also: the time is now for farmers to let Congress know what they want from a federal transportation infrastructure package, says one expert. For more on these stories and other items of interest, please read on …
Daiber: No to dicamba, yes to GMOs
PEORIA — A part-time farmer and school district administrator from Marine (Madison County) who wants to be the next governor of Illinois is garnering some support — along with some disdain — from the farm sector for his much-publicized views on dicamba use for soybeans. “I believe it’s an herbicide that has the potential to do really extensive crop damage as the seed system expands in the 2018 planting season,” Bob Daiber, who is running as a Democrat in a crowded gubernatorial primary field that includes multi-millionaires J.B. Pritzker and Christopher Kennedy, told Peoria’s WGLT-FM radio.
For that reason and others, including the potential for human health risk, Daiber wants the Illinois General Assembly to begin drafting legislation to ban the in-season herbicide, per Arkansas and Missouri. In a phone interview, Daiber told me his position on dicamba and a number of other issues central to Illinois agriculture, including current state regulations for confined animal feeding operations, or CAFOs (“I would re-examine them by bringing together a coalition of the people involved, go through a review process, and have them submit a recommendation to me as governor”), and the estate tax system (ditto).
Given his position on dicamba, an herbicide that can only be applied to dicamba-resistant, genetically modified (GM) plants, it came as a surprise to hear Daiber speak in favor of GM technology. “I’ve been planting GM beans since the day they came out. I’ve planted glyphosate (resistant) beans and had a lot of success with them. I still plant non-GMO crops as well,” he said.
On a federal level, Daiber said he supports remaining in the North American Free Trade Agreement (NATFA), but has some issues with the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Daiber would leave WOTUS as-is, because of “the need as I see it at this time.” He would like to see a 2018 Farm Bill that provides more reliable cyclical payments for farmers, with funds available to provide the crop insurance farmers need. “There must also be support in the farm bill to ensure that the crops in the U.S. are properly marketed,” Daiber added.
Daiber also told me that as governor, he would assign a high priority to resolving the broadband access issues that stifle growth in rural businesses and communities across Illinois. He also supports adjusting the current method of assessing property taxes on farmland to base tax assessments on the crop production quality of the region and the land.
STC: Farmers should voice infrastructure needs
ANKENY, Iowa — The Soy Transportation Coalition (STC) timed the release of its “Top Ten Most Wanted List” for infrastructure priorities with President Donald J. Trump’s State of the Union address on Jan. 30. During the SOTU, Trump called for Congress to craft an infrastructure improvement bill that would create up to $1.5 trillion in project funding.
The STC wish list called for (in top-10 order) 1) maintenance and rehabilitation of locks and dams, 2) more focus on dredging projects on the lower Mississippi River, 3) depth maintenance measures on the Columbia River, 4) permitting six-axle, 91,000-pound semi trucks on the interstate highway system, 5) increasing the federal tax on gasoline and diesel fuel, 6) providing greater funding reliability for lock and dam projects, 7) providing block grants to states to replace rural bridges and 8) state grants for rural bridge inspections, 9) ensuring full utilization of the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund for port improvements, and 10) a permanent or multi-year extension of the short line railroad tax credit.
Farmers can have a voice in shaping Trump’s infrastructure proposal by developing a dialogue with their elected congress members, according to Gerry Hayden, a Kentucky soybean farmer who serves as chairman of the STC. “Farmers should realize that if we are unwilling to promote the transportation solutions that would benefit our industry, we should not expect others to do so,” he said. “It is critical the farmer perspective has a seat at the table.”
Illinois Farm Fact:
Estimated U.S. soybean exports for 2018 are expected to total 4 billion bushels. (American Soybean Association)
Last harvest of 2017 or first of 2018?
JACKSONVILLE — Thanks to WILL-FM ag radio broadcaster Todd Gleason — one of the best in the business — for passing on a photo of Murrayville farmer Jon Brickey harvesting corn on his vintage late-1960s Case 1160 combine. In addition to the nostalgic iron, what makes this photo interesting is that Todd took this photo on Jan. 25, 2018. This begs the question: Is it the last harvest of 2017 or the first of 2018? To see the YouTube video Todd shot, visit https://www.youtube.com/embed/inWEiHxQewA.
Resilient Farmer Roadshow starts next week
BLOOMINGTON — This could be your last call to register for the upcoming, highly recommended Resilient Farmer Roadshow, which details the financial habits of proven-successful Illinois grain farmers in the post-ethanol boom era. “We expect growers will hear lots of practical, actionable advice to help their bottom lines and feel more confident about managing the business side of their operations,” said Linda Kull, director of strategic research for the Illinois Soybean Association, which is holding the event along with the University of Illinois and Illinois Farm Business Farm Management.
The five-city roadshow will hit Dekalb Feb. 13, Galesburg Feb.14, Bloomington Feb. 15, Altamont Feb. 20 and Mount Vernon Feb. 21. For more information and registration, visit www.farmdoc.illinois.edu/resilient-farmer/. (ISA news)
–R.F.D NEWS & VIEWS: Dicamba Use and Transportation Infrastructure–