R.F.D. NEWS & VIEWS: 4-H poultry exhibits in question

By Tim Alexander for Chronicle Media

The Illinois Department of Agriculture is extending its ban on live poultry exhibitions in Illinois until at least mid-June, casting uncertainty on 4-H youth competitions at county fairs. (Photo by Rick Hibbert/Chronicle Media)

The Illinois Department of Agriculture announced late last week that as it continues to monitor avian flu incidence in the state, all live 4-H poultry exhibitions remain under a quarantine; we have details on this development. In addition, we have reports on upcoming crucial farmer surveys and changes coming to the University of Illinois’ popular Agronomy Day. Please plow forward …


4-H poultry exhibits in question

SPRINGFIELD — Whether or not 4-H members will be allowed to show and compete in live poultry competitions at the Illinois State Fair and county fairs is yet to be determined due to the continued presence of highly pathogenic avian influenza. On May 20, the Illinois Department of Agriculture announced it will continue to enforce emergency rules prohibiting the sale or exhibition of poultry until at least June 17, when the IDOA will again evaluate the situation.

This means that any 4-H poultry competitions at county or 4-H fairs scheduled through June 17 will need to be postponed or converted into a virtual-online format, according to 4-H livestock specialist Ken Jennings, who this reporter spoke to on Wednesday, May 18. The news was confirmed by Illinois Extension 4-H Director Lisa Diaz two days later in the news release.

“We want all youth to know they will still have an opportunity to exhibit and share what they’ve learned in their 4-H poultry project this year,” said Diaz, adding that live poultry exhibits and competitions could resume as soon as the emergency order is lifted. According to IDOA State Veterinarian Mark Ernst, there is a good chance the ban could be lifted as soon as June 17.

“The extended waterfowl migration, cooler average temperatures, and increased rainfall this spring, are factors contributing to the identification of additional detections in Illinois,” Ernst said. “It is our hope that within the coming weeks, migration will be completed, the weather will be consistently warmer and drier, and the risk for spread will be dramatically lower.”


FSA director: Fill out your acreage reports

SPRINGFIELD — The Illinois Farm Service Agency is encouraging farmers to take the time to complete critical acreage surveys for the crops they produce.

“I would like to encourage those who have not yet completed their crop acreage reports to make an appointment with their local county FSA Office before the applicable deadline (of) July 15, 2022,” noted Scott Halpin, Illinois FSA director. “An acreage report documents a crop grown on a farm or ranch and its intended uses. Filing an accurate and timely acreage report for all crops and land uses, including failed acreage and prevented planted acreage, can prevent the loss of benefits.”

Producers should be prepared to provide information, including crop and crop type or variety, intended use of crops, Intended use of the crop, number of acres of the crop, a map with approximate crop boundaries, planting dates and patterns, producer shares, irrigation practices, and other information as needed.

“Producers should also report crop acreage they intended to plant, but due to natural disaster, were unable to plant. Prevented planting acreage must be reported on form CCC-576, Notice of Loss, no later than 15 calendar days after the final planting date as established by FSA and USDA’s Risk Management Agency,” said Halpin. For questions, please contact your local County FSA office. (Illinois FSA news)


U of I retires ‘Agronomy Day,’ announces series of events

URBANA — A University of Illinois educational tradition that brought together farmers and agronomists since the 1950s — Agronomy Day — is no more. In an announcement sure to upset old-school traditionalists (you know who I am), U of I Department of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences leaders will instead host a series of traditional field days, new “pop-up tailgate events” and “shade tree talks,” according to a news article published by the Department of ACES on May 20.

The old home of Agronomy Day, South Farms on the Champaign-Urbana campus, will not be abandoned with the new plan. A Small Grains Field Day, set for June 8 at South Farms, will allow participants to tour research demonstration plots and hear directly from researchers on the latest findings. Less formal shade tree talks will be held at the Seed House at South Farms and will include light refreshments. Impromptu Tailgate events will be announced sporadically to allow for more timely presentations on crop research developments, according to Adam Davis, head of the U of I Department of Crop Sciences.

“Every week of the growing season, something interesting is happening on our research farms. Because field work unfolds unpredictably, these events won’t be scheduled months in advance — rather, it’s a standing invitation to the public to visit our farms, with the understanding that if they check in regularly, they will be able to find something useful to attend,” Davis said.

A schedule of announced U of I Agronomy Day — or what used to be called Agronomy Day — events for 2022 can be found at www.agronomyday.web.illinois.edu/events/.


USDA seeks conservation motivations

SPRINGFIELD — The USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service wants to know farmers’ motivation for adopting conservation practices on their lands. Is it the money or incentives offered by government and private stakeholders? Their love for the Earth and all of its natural assets? The information farmers share through the upcoming survey could allow USDA to better tailor their conservation-related programs to a changing farm demographic.

“Gathering information about farmers’ and ranchers’ motivation for and adoption of conservation practices allows USDA to understand the use and awareness of its programs,” said Mark Schleusener, NASS’s Illinois state statistician. “Effective implementation of USDA programs helps both producers and conservation efforts.”

Survey recipients can respond securely online at www.agcounts.usda.gov using a 12-digit survey number provided with the mailing. In addition to completing surveys, the new portal allows producers to access data and reports, links to other USDA agencies, local weather updates and more. Producers may also opt to mail their survey responses. Results of the survey will be published on Sept. 15 at nass.usda.gov and quickstats.nass.usda.gov. (USDA-NASS)


Illinois Farm Fact:

May 31, 2022 is the last date farmers can request 2021 Crop Corn, Soybean and Grain Sorghum Marketing Assistance Loans. (Illinois FSA)