By Tim Alexander for Chronicle Media

The Illinois Beef Association (IBA) announced the 2017 IBA award winners last week, presenting five families with awards for their dedication to the beef industry. The award winners, led by IBA Farm Family of the Year, the Adams family of Sandwich, were recognized at the IBA Summer Conference in Quincy.

It was a particularly “beefy” news week for farmers and rural dwellers, with trade deals announced with China and suspended with Brazil, beef was prominent on ag talk shows and print media. We have information on both, along with Illinois Beef Association news and more, capsulized and presented for your perusal. Please read on…

US selling beef to China, refusing Brazilian

ASTORIA — Astoria rancher Steve Fogelsong, currently serving on the U.S. Agricultural Trade Advisory Board, called the June 12 announcement that China would suspend its embargo on U.S.-raised beef “a big deal” for Illinois cattlemen such as himself. Foglesong, a past president for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and owner of Black Gold Ranch and Feedlot in Astoria, said the agreement means not only an increase in beef demand, but also an increase in value to commodities like corn and soybeans used for cattle feed.

In a phone call, Fogelsong offered one caveat to be considered: packers must be diligent in meeting the “somewhat onerous” conditions of the new deal, or China will pull the plug on the deal as they did in 2003, leading to a 14-year embargo of U.S. beef to the Communist nation.

Beef made news again on June 22, when United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Sonny Perdue announced the suspension of all imports of fresh beef from Brazil because of “recurring problems about the safety of products intended for the American market.” The Brazilian government pledged to address the USDA concerns, but the suspension of shipments will remain in place until the Brazilian Ministry of Agriculture takes “corrective action which the USDA finds satisfactory,” according to a USDA news brief.

Illinois Beef acknowledges industry leaders

SPRINGFIELD — The Illinois Beef Association (IBA) announced the 2017 IBA award winners last week, presenting five families with awards for their dedication to the beef industry. The award winners, led by IBA Farm Family of the Year, the Adams family of Sandwich, were recognized at the IBA Summer Conference in Quincy.

Alan and JoAnn Adams, along with their son, daughter-in-law and two children work together to raise soybeans, corn and cattle on their fifth-generation farm. The farm stepped up production after son Alan and family joined the operation in 2009, with the addition of a new cattle barn. Since then, two more barns have been constructed for feeder cattle to help generate enough income to sustain two families.

Other IBA award winners included Kassing Farms of Mount Sterling (commercial producer of the year), Tree Lane Farms (seedstock breeder of the year), Isermann Farms of Streator (environmental steward of the year) and Gabrielle Lemenager (outstanding junior of the year), according to an IBA news release.

Beef association seeking best Illinois burger

SPRINGFIELD — The Illinois Beef Association is seeking Illinois’ best beef burger, and the honor is currently up for nomination. If you have a favorite restaurant that serves a great burger, you can nominate the eatery online through IBA’s “Quest for Illinois’ Best Burger” contest through July 14 at the IBA website, www.illinoisbeef.com

“We work with cattlemen every day and we try to celebrate the end product as well,” said Jill Johnson, IBA director of communications. “So, we’re excited anytime we can connect the two. It will be so much fun to have farmers and consumers be able to nominate their favorite restaurant and celebrate the best beef burger they have on the menu.”

Following online voting, the winning restaurant will be announced during the Illinois State Fair in August. The winning establishment will receive a $1,000 advertising package sponsored by IBA. Those who vote in the contest will be entered into a random drawing for three $50 beef gift certificates from IBA. (IBA news release)

Illinois Farm Fact:

A 100-head beef barn will use an estimated four tons of soybean meal per year to feed cattle. (Illinois Soybean Assoc./Ill. Beef Association)

Soybean growers name priorities

BLOOMINGTON — Some 73 percent of all Illinois-grown soybeans are destined for livestock feed, making beef cattle and other livestock the top consumer of the multi-purpose legume (how’s that for a nice segue?). After a record crop producing nearly 593 million bushels of soybeans in 2016, the Illinois Soybean Association board members passed a number of new programs and named priorities moving forward to the board’s goal of utilizing 600 million bushels of soybeans by the year 2020. ISA announced that during the 2018 fiscal year, which begins Sept. 1, great focus will be placed on increasing biodiesel demand in Illinois.

Other priorities: promoting preference of Illinois soy for export markets and animal agriculture (see China beef export deal above), helping farmers become more profitable through business management, yield, and sustainable production practices, building member, corporate, industry and advocacy relationships, ensuring Illinois soybean products reach their destinations efficiently, and increasing effective, progressive leadership in the ISA. 

“We know Illinois soybean farmers are very good at producing soybeans, so we have to pass new and exciting programs that continue to benefit our farmers,” said Daryl Cates, ISA chairman and soybean farmer from Columbia, in an ISA prepares statement. “That means it is our job at ISA to work at a strategic level and focus on projects that continuously improve the knowledge of our farmers, but also to focus on the influencers we work with and the markets where we sell our beans.”

The ISA is comprised of the farmer-funded Illinois soybean checkoff and the membership-supported Illinois Soybean Growers. Comprised of 24 farmer-leaders who serve on either the marketing or production and outreach committees, the ISA serves over 43,000 Illinois soybean producers.