By Tim Alexander for Chronicle Media

Andrew Roselius, a soybean farmer and Illinois Soybean Association Soy Ambassador from Onarga, Illinois, talks with dinner guests about life on the farm during a soy-inspired farm-to-table dinner at the Museum of Science and Industry Smart Home on Aug. 16.

This week’s rural and farm news roundup examines the growing number of dicamba-related crop damage complaints lodged by farmers in Illinois and across the nation. We also have highlights from Gary Schnitkey’s recent forecast of 2017 net income on Illinois grain farms, and the winner of the Illinois Beef Association’s best burger contest has been announced. For those news items and more, please read on …

Report: Dicamba injuries doubled in Midwest

COLUMBIA, MO. — The number of reported cases of crop injury from dicamba drift has doubled and the reports just keep coming, according to a University of Missouri report. State extension weed scientists have reported that Illinois has sustained some 600,000 acres of dicamba-injured soybean acreage, as of Aug. 10. As a result, there were 214 official dicamba-related injury investigations acknowledged by the Illinois Department of Agriculture.

All in all, there have been at least 1,411 dicamba injury investigations launched in 16 states. More than 2.5 million acres of soybeans are estimated with dicamba injury. “In comparison to the previous reports from just a few weeks ago, the number of cases under investigation in many states in the Midwest has at least doubled, and the soybean acreage estimated with dicamba injury has increased dramatically in many of these same locations,” the report reads, in part.

Dicamba is a crop herbicide that was recently cleared by the U.S. EPA for over the top, or postemergence, use on soybeans in many states. For more information, see the article at agfax.com/2017/08/15/missouri-dicamba-update-on-injury-investigations-and-estimates-of-injured-soybean-acreage/.

Economist says lower yields will depress grain income

URBANA — Net incomes on Illinois grain farms are forecast down from 2016 levels primarily due to lower yields, according to University of Illinois College of ACES farm economist Gary Schnitkey. “Decreases in non-land costs should partially offset revenue declines from lower yields,” the economist noted in his essay, “Forecast of 2017 Net Income on Grain Farms in Illinois,” published Aug. 15. Schnitkey warned that above-trend yield forecasts issued by USDA could decline due to recent dry weather across much of the state.
“Reductions in yields will result in lower incomes if no positive price response occurs,” said Schnitkey. “As always, net incomes will vary across Illinois, with areas of lower yields facing lower incomes.”

Schnitkey’s study included a projection on marketing gains, which occurs when the average sales price is higher than the inventory price. He projects that 2017 marketing gains will average an estimated $35 per acre for corn and -$3 per acre for soybeans. In addition, corn revenue is projected at $686 per bushel, down by $6/bu. from 2016, while soybean revenue is projected at $522/acre for 2017, down $53/acre from last year.

Regarding Agricultural Revenue Coverage (ARC) payments, farmers should expect payments of $15/acre for 2017 crops, which is $4 lower than 2016 payments. Non-land costs are projected to be down from 2016 levels by $23/acre for corn and $25/acre for soybeans. Cash rents were down by just $3 from 2016 levels.

“The early forecast of 2017 incomes could change,” Schnitkey concluded. “Changes will most likely originate from differences in actual yields and actual prices from those used in forecasts. In my opinion, USDA yields used in forecasts may decline due to dry August weather. Time will tell if that is the case. Offsetting lower yields, however, could be positive price responses.”

ISA present “Soy in the City,” Chicago-style

CHICAGO — An influential audience of food bloggers, dietitians and other “foodies” met at Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry August 16 for a soy-inspired farm-to-table dinner sponsored by the Illinois Soybean Association (ISA) checkoff program. Part of ISA’s Soy in the City initiative, the dinner allowed soybean farmers to talk about their local operations and production practices with those in touch with Chicago-area millennial consumers.

“There’s this heightened interest in all things local,” said Andrew Roselius, an ISA Soy Ambassador and farmer from Onarga. “That’s why we wanted to bring together a variety of influencers who, in their own ways, are impacting consumers. We wanted to show that local farmers like me are sustainably growing the soy-based ingredients Chicagoans use at home.”

On the menu was teriyaki chicken, Asian bacon coleslaw and southern soy-lacquered pork belly. Soybean growers and chefs shared their own “farm” and “table” perspectives on topics ranging from the role soybeans play in feeding Illinois pigs, to the nutritional benefits and versatility of the oilseed crop. (ISA news)

“Brew & Chew” has Illinois’ best beef burger

SPRINGFIELD — We’ve been following the Illinois Beef Association’s (IBA) 2017 Illinois Best Burger Contest, sponsored by the beef checkoff, and the votes have been tabulated: Route No. 73 Brew & Chew, located in Pearl City, is the winner. Beef-loving Illinoisans submitted over 300 nominations representing over 90 restaurants in June and July, and cast a total of 1,241 votes. Brew & Chew secured more than 30 percent of the first-place votes.

The restaurant serves 15 specialty burgers with the PB&J burger, P.C.F.D. burger and the Chew burger receiving the most fan recognition. Former IBA leader and DeKalb cattleman Mike Martz can be counted among the restaurant’s many fans.

“I visited Brew & Chew recently and ordered one of their many signature burger options. The restaurant has a great atmosphere and the burger was very juicy with outstanding flavor,” Martz said in an IBA news release. “I was also impressed to learn that they source all their beef from a local meat processor.”

In addition to Brew & Chew, other top-five restaurants in fan voting included (alphabetically) Gillerson’s Grubbery in Aurora, Mascoutah Steak House in Mascoutah, Ridott Corners in Ridott and Small Town Saloon in Elizabeth.

Illinois Farm Fact:

On Aug. 10, Illinois growers had registered the third most (214) dicamba-related damage reports in the country, trailing only Arkansas (876) and Missouri (257). (University of Missouri)