R.F.D. NEWS & VIEWS: Fair canceled, but Pork Power T-shirts still for sale

By Tim Alexander for Chronicle Media

Pork Power! T-shirts, usually sold at the Illinois State Fair at the Illinois Pork Producers Association Pork Patio, are available only via U.S. mail this year due to the pandemic. (IPPA image)

This week’s farm and rural news roundup features the latest salvo from agriculture over the dicamba ban controversy — this week in the form of an amicus brief from Illinois farm groups. In addition, we have info on how you can support the Illinois Pork Power program, which is losing an annual revenue source due to the cancellation of the Illinois State Fair. And though the fair is off, the fairgrounds will play host to the Illinois Products Farmers’ Market, which began last week. Please read on …

Ag coalition supports dicamba extension

BLOOMINGTON — Responding to the Ninth Court of Appeals’ June 3 ruling to vacate the registration for popular herbicide dicamba, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, under the direction of Andrew Wheeler, issued its own guidance allowing farmers to continue to use purchased dicamba products through the end of June. The EPA action was met with a chorus of approval from a coalition of six national agricultural associations, including the American Farm Bureau Federation, in the form of an amicus brief in support of the “existing stocks” order. “Granting petitioners’ request to immediately ban growers’ use of existing stocks of the dicamba products would put America’s soybean and cotton growers at risk for financial devastation,” the coalition’s letter, which is also supported by the Illinois Farm Bureau, reads in part. “Growers have planted millions of acres of crops that depend on the use of dicamba products this growing season.

“Because no viable alternatives exist that can be deployed immediately, banning growers’ use of existing stocks of dicamba products could have disastrous consequences. The Court should not interfere in EPA’s decision to allow growers to use the existing stock of dicamba products through July 31, 2020.” (Illinois Farm Bureau news)

Report: Pollinator sightings increasing

BLOOMINGTON — While some environmental activists point to dicamba’s negative effect on specialty crops and pollinating plants as a reason to support its ban, those in agriculture are seeing their efforts to restore critical pollinator habitat on unused farmland pay off, according to CropLife America. “Action and awareness are making a difference,” said Laura Temple, on behalf of CropLife, in a news release announcing that National Pollinator Week is June 22-28. “Since the first National Pollinator Week in 2007, U.S. honeybee colonies have increased 15 percent, according to USDA data. And much of the Midwest supports this trend. For example, Illinois honeybee colonies have increased 22 percent, Iowa has increased 46 percent and Indiana has increased 12.5 percent.”

Fair canceled, but Pork Power T-shirts still for sale

SPRINGFIELD — Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, long time visitors to the Illinois State Fair are lamenting the loss of some of the fair’s iconic features, including the Illinois Pork Producers Association Pork Patio, home of pork on a stick and other porcine culinary delights. To create revenue for their popular Pork Power program, which donates tons of ground pork to regional food banks every year, IPPA members usually sold souvenir Pork Power T-shirts to Pork Patio visitors. Though there will be no fair this year, for a $20 donation a “Bacon Never Broke My Heart” T-shirt can be shipped to you in return. For those who wish to support this worthy cause and receive a nifty T-shirt, they can be purchased via your donation through a link on the IPPA website, www.ilpork.com. (IPPA news)

 Fairground farmer market greenlighted

SPRINGFIELD — The Illinois Department of Agriculture will open the Illinois Products Farmers’ Market on June 18. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and public health measures put in place patrons will see some changes in this years’ market.

“Our priority is the health and safety of those who attend our Farmers’ Market,” said Nicole Moore, IDOA Farmer’s Market Coordinator. “We worked with the Illinois Department of Public Health to come up with the safest way for us to hold the Illinois Products Farmer’s Market and that includes modifications.”

Entertainment, the picnic area and sampling will not be available. All prepared and ready-to-eat food will be served in the grab and go style. Signage will indicate entrances and exits with a one-way traffic pattern. SNAP benefits will be accepted, and the Illinois Products Farmers’ Market received a grant from Experimental Station to double SNAP purchases up to $25 per card holder per market day.

IDOA encourages patrons to minimize their time at the market. Many of Illinois’ farmers markets are now in full swing, albeit with social distancing regulations in place designed by the Illinois Farmers Market Association in conjunction with the Illinois Department of Health. (Illinois

e-News release)

Dairy webinar examines shifting consumer demand

SAINT PAUL, Minn. – Midwest Dairy announced registration is now open for the third annual Dairy Experience Forum to be held virtually on July 15. This one-day, online event will take place in three, 90-minute segments, featuring industry experts who will share actionable consumer insights, future forecasting and thought leadership — all to help the dairy supply chain drive demand during today’s rapidly changing food and beverage climate.

Discussions will address questions such as “How has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted food and beverage trends?” and “What’s next for dairy?”

“Building on the foundation of the past two Dairy Experience Forum events, we’re proud to bring representatives from the entire dairy supply chain together once again, especially given current circumstances and the rapidly changing shopping habits of consumers,” said Molly Pelzer, CEO, Midwest Dairy. “During these challenging times, it’s crucial we remain at the forefront of inspiring thought provoking conversations that will drive dairy innovation and fuel dairy demand. We’re excited to bring this virtual format that will offer people across our 10-state region the opportunity to join these dynamic discussions from the comfort of their own home.”

Dairy farmers and industry members alike can register by visiting

w ww.dairyexperienceforum.com. (Midwest Dairy news)


Illinois Farm Fact:

Answers to last week’s trivia question about the causes of prior Illinois State Fair cancellations: 1942-45 World War II; 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago; 1862 Civil