R.F.D. NEWS & VIEWS: Farm Progress Show returns to Decatur

By Tim Alexander for Chronicle Media

Some of the 40 members of the Lexington (McLean County) FFA chapter who attended the Farm Progress Show on Aug. 31 are pictured. The Lexington chapter is advised by agriculture teacher Joseph Schneider. (Photo by Tim Alexander)

We have a brief report and observations from last week’s Farm Progress Show in Decatur, a report on 2022 priorities of the Illinois Soybean Association and news about a $50 million investment by USDA to allow disadvantaged farmers to access climate-smart agriculture tools. Please plow ahead for this week’s report …


Farm Progress Show returns to Decatur

DECATUR — The 2021 Farm Progress Show returned to Decatur Aug. 31-Sept. 2 after  the pandemic forced the cancellation of last year’s event in Boone, Iowa. Those attending the three-day exposition were blessed with bright, breezy and cooler than normal weather conditions. The huge crowds included international farmers, buyers and journalists, Midwest seed cap-wearing row crop farmers and ranchers, beginning farm families — many towing children along in wagons — and energetic youth FFA and 4-H members and their advisers.

Oh, and the politicians were there, too. Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker was the first to appear on day one, speaking outside the FPS media tent about an expansion of farmer mental health initiatives across the state. Later in the day, Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-Moline, U.S. House Committee on Agriculture chair, joined farm broadcasting legend Max Armstrong for a chat on current priorities of the committee, including clean energy, carbon sequestration, ending small refinery ethanol exemptions and enforcement of the federal Renewable Fuels Standard. Later, Armstrong was joined by committee member Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Taylorville, for a similar discussion in the Prairie Farmer Pavilion.

On day two, Davis played host to a congressional biofuels summit along with biofuels caucus colleagues Rep. Mike Bost, R-Murphysboro, Rep. Darin LaHood, R-Peoria, and fellow Republican Reps. Randy Feenstra and Mariannette Miller-Meeks of Iowa, and Jim Baird of Indiana. The group was in lockstep in recognizing the need for long-term biofuels policy, a strong RFS and year-round E15 sales. Most indicated support for Bustos’ Next Generation Fuels Act, showing that bipartisan policy agreement can be achieved when it comes to agriculture.

As entertaining and thought-provoking all of the political maneuverings and posturing taking place during the FPS are to reporters, this scribe is always more taken with the positive energy and enthusiasm displayed by the brightly dressed FFA and 4-H chapter members as they peruse the exposition grounds. Their numbers, their curiosity, their energy and their polite manners truly inspire hope for the future of agriculture in Illinois — and for youth in general.


USDA investing in disadvantaged farmers

CHAMPAIGN — Providing climate-smart agriculture and forestry to historically underserved farmers and ranchers is the impetus of an investment of $50 million by the United States Department of Agriculture. The Racial Justice and Equity Conservation Cooperative Agreements are available to entities and individuals for two-year projects that expand the delivery of conservation assistance to farmers who are beginning, limited resource, socially disadvantaged, and veteran farmers, according to Ivan Dozier, Illinois State Conservationist for the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.

“Historically underserved producers face significant barriers in accessing USDA assistance for conservation and climate-smart agriculture,” said Dozier, in an Aug. 31 Illinois NRCS news release. “USDA is committed to revising programs to be more equitable, and these producers deserve our support as they contribute to our vibrant and diverse agricultural communities.”

The two-year project agreements will help the farmers implement natural resource conservation measures that improve soil health and water quality, provide habitat, improve the environmental and economic performance of working agricultural land, and strengthen local food projects that provide economic opportunity. Those eligible for assistance include beginning farmers, those with limited resources, socially disadvantaged and veteran farmers.

Those interested should reach out to their county NRCS office for more details. Applications must be received by Oct. 25. (Ill. NRCS news)


Soybean group begins checkoff programs

BLOOMINGTON — The Illinois Soybean Association announced a roster of ambitious checkoff-funded projects and directives for fiscal year 2022 focusing on market development, government relations and soybean utilization. Last week, the ISA provided more details on their direction for the coming fiscal year:

  • Market development: ISA will channel resources into its farmer biodiesel use campaign and Illinois animal agriculture and promote soy with the U.S. Soybean Export Council in Egypt and promote soy protein for human use in Indonesia. An interactive world map will be created for farmers, showcasing the different avenues Illinois soy can take once it leaves the farm. Other projects include bridge bundling solicitation, a lock and dam program and an incentive rural bridge replacement program.
  • Government relations: Efforts will include B20 (biodiesel) education and outreach, polling farmers for federal farm program feedback and future program needs, as well as the new Midwest Soybean Collaborative, a coalition of leading soybean states committed to expanding agricultural solutions through innovative thinking and programming.
  • Utilization: Work includes enhancing the ILSoyAdvisor experience, with plans for a website redesign and development of a new app. A new carbon education campaign for farmers called CarbonSmart will focus on providing nonbiased education about sequestration, credits, the carbon market and banks. Precision Conservation Management, a joint program with IL Corn, will expand tech support and cost share to Illinois farmers regarding on-farm conservation practices in counties participating in PCM.

“We have a new board, a growing staff, and an ambitious lineup of projects for FY22 that will equip Illinois soybean farmers for the future,” said ISA Chairman Steve Pitstick, in an ISA news release. “These projects were each born to help increase the value, awareness, and the opportunities for Illinois soybeans. That translates into profitability and sustainability for our 43,000 farmers across the state.” (ISA news)


Illinois Farm Fact:

The 2022 Farm Progress Show is scheduled for Aug. 30-31 in Boone, Iowa.

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