R.F.D. NEWS & VIEWS: Farmer’s food share record low and more

By Tim Alexander for Chronicle Media

The farmer’s share of the food dollar has shrunk to an all-time low, according to the USDA. The 2018 Farmer’s Share of the Food Dollar breakfast, held by the Peoria County Farm Bureau in March, offered a $10 retail breakfast to consumers for just 90 cents. (Photo courtesy of the Peoria County Farm Bureau)

In this week’s farm and rural news roundup: The farmer’s share of the food dollar has fallen to its lowest level since at least 1993, according to the USDA. We also have news about Illinois’ farmers and agribusiness’ continuing compliance with IEPA environmental regulations, tips for hunting morel mushrooms and Peoria County Farm Bureau scholarship winners. Please read on …

Farmer’s food share at record low

PEORIA — The farmer’s share of the food dollar has shrunk to its lowest since the United States Department of Agriculture opened its Food Dollar Series in 1993, most likely due to depressed commodity prices. The farmer’s share of the food dollar dropped to 14.8 cents per dollar in 2016, USDA Economic Research Service announced in April.

In Peoria County, the farm bureau’s Farmer’s Share of the Food Dollar breakfast, held on March 10, 2018, was offered for 90 cents. In March of 2017, the breakfast cost consumers just 70 cents. The breakfast consists of two wheat pancakes, two pork sausage patties, two scrambled eggs and eight-ounce glasses of orange juice and milk. The price paid reflects the price farmers receive for their eggs, sausage, milk and other commodities. The average retail price for the breakfast is estimated at around $10.

When consumers dined at home, the farmer’s share of food and beverages was 18.9 cents in 2016, down 3.8 percent from the prior year, according to USDA. For food consumed in restaurants or outside the home, the farmer’s share dropped to 4.4 cents, which was 10.2 percent lower than in 2015. Nonfarm-related marketing including transportation, processing and marketing, rose to a record high of 85.2 percent.

Livestock’s environmental sustainability touted

BLOOMINGTON — Illinois livestock producers are embracing tenets of the state’s Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy and adhering to Illinois Environmental Protection regulations, according to a report issued by the Illinois Agriculture Coalition. Since 2014, when IEPA’s livestock rules were made more stringent to meet federal requirements under the Clean Water Act, farm operators are doing more to ensure the environmental sustainability of their farms, notes Don Mackinson, a Pontiac dairy farmer and president of the Illinois Milk Producers Association.

“Livestock producers have multiple layers of environmental regulations to comply with in Illinois,” said Mackinson, in an Earth Day news release issued by the IAC. “Multiple agencies at both the federal and state level govern livestock production, giving Illinois a very comprehensive, robust regulatory program.”

Producers are using fewer chemical fertilizers and more manure to enrich their crop fields thanks to technological advances in livestock housing and stricter clean water regulations, added Mike Borgic of the Illinois Pork Producers Association. “Livestock manure reduces the amount of commercial fertilizer we apply to our crops, saving us money and increasing our profitability,” he said.

The IAC developed a resource guide for swine, beef and dairy farms to help clarify and simplify IEPA livestock rules in 2017. To date, more than 6,000 of the free resource guides have been distributed, according to Lauren Lurkins of the Illinois Farm Bureau and IAC. (IFB/L. Lurkins)

IFCA, Agrible working on 4R documentation

SPRINGFIELD — A program to document all of a farmer’s 4R nutrient management practices in order to meet Illinois Nutrient Loss Reduction (NLRS) standards has been launched. The platform, developed by the Illinois Fertilizer and Chemical Association and Agrible, Inc., has already been embraced by Illinois retailers, according to a Brandt representative.

“This program provides useful metrics and tools to both retailers and growers to track the (tenets) of the 4Rs and enables retailers to be more valuable to their growers,” said Karl Barnhart, chief marketing officer for Brandt in Springfield. The program documents all of the 4R practices in order to illustrate farmers’ efforts to ensure compliance with edicts of the NLRS.

“We will be able to demonstrate the progress that Illinois agriculture is making to reduce nutrient losses and to ensure that these practices support a sustainable, profitable future for nutrient use in Illinois crop production,” added Jean Payne, IFCA president. The 4R practices are right source, right rate, right time to apply and the right placement of soil nutrients. (Farm Journal)

Illinois Farm Fact:

Since the inception of the Peoria County Farm Bureau Foundation in 1982, 105 Peoria County students have received over $95,000 in scholarship awards. (PCFB Foundation)

PCFB scholarship winners named

PEORIA — The Peoria County Farm Bureau Foundation announced on April 23 they have awarded five $1,000 scholarships to local students pursuing agriculture-related degrees. The students are Kylie Cagwin of Brimfield High School, Will Feucht of Princeville High School, Kelly Gill of Princeville, Breeanna Kent of Brimfield and Allison Sniff of Chillicothe-IVC. Congratulations students! (PCFB news)

Morel season ramping up central Illinois

SPRINGFIELD — A stretch of warmer — albeit still below normal — temperatures has central Illinois morel mushroom enthusiasts champing at the bit to get out to their favorite hunting grounds and track down the savory fungus. A slow start to the season in central and northern Illinois should give way to even warmer temps and prime hunting conditions in coming days, according to Tim Schweizer with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. He also wants to remind morel hunters that they will need to share the woods with gun-wielding turkey hunters until May 10 in the southern zone and May 17 in the northern zone of the state.

“We need to remind those mushroom collectors that in a lot of our state parks, state fish and wildlife areas and state recreation and conservation areas, that it’s also spring turkey season,” Schweizer said on RFD Radio last week. “And turkey hunters have dibs on those sites until 1 p.m. each day during turkey season.”


–R.F.D. NEWS & VIEWS: Farmer’s food share record low and more–