R.F.D. NEWS & VIEWS: Corn, beans looking good as prices tumble

By Tim Alexander for Chronicle Media

“We want to hear from our customers so we can learn what we’re doing right and where we’re missing the mark,” said Bill Northey, undersecretary for farm production and conservation for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. (USDA photo)

Crop conditions are improving heading into an expected bountiful harvest, but prices paid farmers continue to deteriorate. Also this week: an Illinois legislator is working to provide grants for struggling dairy farmers, and USDA is announcing a new survey designed to indicate farmers’ confidence in USDA programs and administration. For these and more headlines affecting Illinois agriculture and rural life, please read on …


Corn, beans looking good as prices tumble

SPRINGFIELD — Seventy-six percent of Illinois corn is currently in good or excellent condition, as are soybeans. This is according to the Aug. 3 USDA-National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) Illinois Crop Progress and Condition report, which also notes that corn in the silking stage, at 96 percent, is 21 percent above 2019 progress and four percent above the five-year average. The week also brought above-average precipitation of 1.89 inches, 1.14 inches above normal.

Markets for both commodities remained stagnant or lost value. CBOT corn futures for December showed a tumble to around $3.20 per bushel, while soybeans held steady at around $8.75. Doug Uphoff, a Shelby County farmer and Farmweek crop watcher, is among the Illinois growers who are tired of market restrictions for their products.

“We’ve got to get more markets out there,” Uphoff reported. “We’ve got to get our exports up and get the price up a little higher, especially in corn. Beans, the price is high enough we can make money … if we have the yields to go along with it. But corn’s right there on the edge. We’re going to have to get some markets somehow.” (USDA-NASS/Illinois Farm Bureau)


Soy Association leaders named

BLOOMINGTON — The Illinois Soybean Association elected new leadership during its board meeting on July 29. Doug Schroeder, Mahomet, was re-elected chairman. Schroeder raises soybeans and seed corn along with his wife, Stacy, his son, Bob, and his son-in-law, Matt. Schroeder also previously served as the organization’s vice-chairman for two years. Other executive committee members include Vice-Chairman Steve Pitstick, Maple Park; Treasurer Dwayne Anderson, Lynn Center; Secretary Elliott Uphoff, Shelbyville; and Assistant Secretary-Treasurer Scott Gaffner, Greenville. Joining the executive committee are Ron Kindred, Atlanta, as Government Relations Committee chair; David Wessel, Chandlerville, as Utilization Committee chair; and Rick Rubenacker, McLeansboro, as Market Development Committee chair. The board also approved a new strategic plan for the 2021 fiscal year. (ISA news release)


DBIA offering grants to dairy producers

PARK FOREST — Providing financial and technical support to the Illinois dairy industry is the purpose of grants provided through the Dairy Business Innovation Alliance. The grants will offer financial and technical support for dairy farmers and businesses, according to State Sen. Patrick Joyce, D-Park Forest.

“Every dairy farmer should look at this grant opportunity,” said Joyce, a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, in a Senate Democrats’ news release. “These grants are designed to help dairy producers and processors expand, while promoting more entrepreneurial efforts.”

Goals of the program include increasing on-farm diversification, creating value-added products and expanding export opportunities. A total of $220,000 in funding is available to applicants, who are eligible for up to $20,000 each.

The deadline for applications is Aug. 14. Call DBIA at 608-265-1491 for more information.


USDA wants to know how they’re doing

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Department of Agriculture is curious as to how they are doing. Specifically, the department is curious as to where improvements might be needed in the administration of the Farm Service Agency, Natural Resources Conservation Service and Risk Management Agency. An initial sampling of 28,000 random producers will receive the survey over the coming weeks, but all producers are eligible to participate in the survey online at www.farmers.gov/survey.

“We want to hear from our customers so we can learn what we’re doing right and where we’re missing the mark,” said Bill Northey, undersecretary for farm production and conservation for USDA. “Good data is critical to good decision-making. The survey consists of 20 questions and takes around 10 minutes to complete; all responses are confidential. (USDA news release)


Ostrich rescued after dash for freedom

O’FALLON — An ostrich had to be tranquilized and rescued from a ditch after a short-lived escape from a farm that raises ostrich meat for Lyme disease patients and others with an aversion to red meat. It happened at an unidentified ostrich farm near O’Fallon last week, according to a report from the Associated Press.

According to the story in the Belleville News-Democrat, a veterinarian tranquilized the 300-pound ostrich before four members of a fire rescue crew entered the ravine near O’Fallon and strapped the bird to a board. It was hauled from the ravine using a pulley system. O’Fallon Fire Chief Brad White said the animal had fallen about 15 feet into the ravine and suffered a long neck laceration that caused it to lose “a good amount” of blood. However, the ostrich was treated by the veterinarian and returned to its owners at a nearby farm.

Afterwards, Fire Captain Tim Claxton said the ostrich rescue was something new for O’Fallon’s fire department. “We’ve had to get a goat out of a muddy lake before. Things like this happen once in a while, but I’ve never seen an ostrich before,” he said.

O’Fallon is located approximately 25 miles east of St. Louis.


Virtual Field Days this week

MONMOUTH — The University of Illinois Extension is offering Virtual Field Days from their Monmouth-based research farm this week. On Aug. 12, Nick Seiter is providing a soybean cyst nematode update. Aug. 13 will feature a hemp production update from Philip Alberti, and on Aug. 14, Nathan Kleczewski will provide a corn tar spot update. All sessions begin at 1 p.m. using Zoom. Register for free online at www.go.illinois.edu/ExtensionWebinars.


Illinois Farm Fact:

The IDOA is offering a free recycling program for agrichemical containers. A list of dropoff sites and dates can be found at www.agriculture.illinois.gov under “Environment” and “Agrichemicals.” (IDOA news)