R.F.D. NEWS & VIEWS: Farm Bureau lays out ’18 agenda

By Tim Alexander for Chronicle Media

Stephanie Porter (right) of Burrus Seed, Arenzville, receives the CCA Soybean Master Adviser award from Jenny Mennenga, Illinois Soybean Association Production and Outreach Committee chair, at the 2018 ILSoyAdvisor Soybean Summit in Springfield.

This week’s rural news report includes highlights of the American Farm Bureau Federation’s legislative agenda for 2018, announced at the recent AFBF annual meeting, reports of ice accumulations on the Illinois River slowing harvest grain transportation, the naming of the 2017 Illinois Soybean Association CCA Soybean Master Adviser, and more. Please read on …

Farm Bureau lays out ’18 agenda

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The 2018 legislative agenda for the American Farm Bureau Federation was unveiled in front of farm bureau managers from Illinois and elsewhere during the AFBF annual convention, held earlier this month in Nashville. In addition to re-electing Zippy Duvall as president, delegates also approved agenda items designed to help assure a prosperous agricultural and rural economy. Encompassing a gamut of issues, including trade and regulatory reform, crop insurance and biotechnology, AFBF’s 2018 agenda gives members a “clear roadmap at a time when farmers are on the verge of a fifth consecutive year of shrinking net farm income,” according to Duvall.

“Despite these difficulties, we remain optimistic. Official Washington feels more like a partner than it did just a short time ago. We have real opportunities to make progress in policy that we have not had in the past,” Duvall said. AFBF issued a statement detailing 10 action items approved by delegates for 2018, including an improved Agricultural Risk Coverage program to decrease risk management disparities across counties. Other measures approved include strengthened and more flexible risk management and safety net programs for dairy farmers, the elimination of sunset provisions in trade agreements, modification of NAFTA to improve market access and improve food safety standards for imports, support of trade agreements that strengthen market opportunities for U.S. farm products and permission for workers to seek employment from more than one farmer under the H2A temporary worker program. (AFBF news)

Ice accumulation slowing ag trade

PEORIA — Ice accumulations on the Mississippi, Illinois and Ohio rivers have had a negative impact on barge transportation, the director of the Soy Transportation Coalition said last week. Weekly grain tonnages along the inland waterway system were 63 percent lowe — at 496,000 tons — than the same period last year, Mike Steenhoek reported.

“According to the USDA, ice accumulation on the Illinois River has reduced the number of upbound empty barges to 10 for the week of Jan. 13. During the same period last year, 180 upbound empty barges were shipped on the Illinois River,” Steenhoek said in an email. “A number of barge companies have continued to suspend operations on the Illinois River and portions of the Ohio River until conditions improve.”

Whenever barge transportation becomes more encumbered, the results are disproportionately passed on to farmers, Steenhoek continued. “If there is a supply chain disruption and logjam along the river, soybean and grain shippers that utilize the inland waterway system are less able to move product via their back door. If a soybean and grain shipper cannot move product via their back door, they are less able to accept product via their front door. As a result, soybean and grain shippers will drop the price offered (i.e. basis will be widened/more negative) to farmers. Therefore, farmer profitability will be impacted not because they did anything wrong, but simply because the supply chain is not operating as expected,” said Steenhoek.

Illinois Farm Fact:

There are 19 sweet-corn varieties recommended for growing in Illinois. (U of I Extension)

Soybean master adviser named

SPRINGFIELD — Stephanie Porter, an agronomist with Burrus Hybrids, was named the 2017 CCA Soybean Master Adviser during the 2018 ILSoyAdvisor Soybean Summit, held Jan. 11 in Springfield. The award, presented by the Illinois Soybean Association, recognizes certified crop advisers who excel in helping farmers improve soybean production. With Burrus, Porter advises growers on the types of pests that affect corn, soybeans and alfalfa. She has also worked for the UIUC Plant Clinic, University of Illinois Extension and the Association of Illinois Soil and Water Conservation Districts in agronomy, horticulture, plant diagnostics and education.

“Stephanie wears multiple hats in our family business,” said Todd Burrus of Burrus Seed. “She provides customer support for the eastern half of our sales area, writes numerous articles concerning agronomic issues, and does employee training for half of the account management staff, making her a vital part of the Burrus team.” Congratulations, Stephanie!

Optimal sweet corn varieties identified

URBANA — Researchers at the University of Illinois utilized environmental data and case production records from a vegetable processing company to calculate yield stability for the 12 most commonly planted sweet corn hybrids grown for processing. Marty Williams, an ecologist with the U of I Department of Crop Sciences and the USDA Agricultural Research Service, says the study has resulted in several recommendations for where to grow specific cultivars for the best results.

An article on the research published Jan. 16 notes that in sweet corn production for processing it is vegetable processors, not growers, who get to choose the sweet corn hybrid for each field. The study examined 12 hybrids that account for the most acreage planted to sweet corn over a 20-year period by the unnamed vegetable processing company. Ten hybrids were rated average for both stability and yield. While most hybrids accounted for 1 to 4 percent of planted acreage, a single hybrid — also unidentified in the article — was planted on 31.2 percent of the planted acreage and exhibited above-average stability across a range of growing conditions.

This “workhorse” hybrid seems to offer Midwest processors the best yield stability along with a greater sense of security for growers. Want more info? The article, “In Sweet Corn, Workhorses Win,” can be viewed on the U of I College of ACES website. The study was also published in “HortScience.”



R.F.D. NEWS & VIEWS: Farm Bureau lays out ’18 agenda–