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

By Tim Alexander for Chronicle Media

The Farm Progress Show, cancelled in 2020 due to COVID-19, returns to Decatur from Aug. 31-Sept. 2. (FPS photo)

In this week’s column, we spotlight an Illinois farmer’s testimony on Capitol Hill, along with information on how farmers can test products offered by start-up agtech companies on a partnership basis. For this and more, please read on…


Illinois farmers testify on relief payments

BLOOMINGTON – Jeff Kirwan of New Windsor was among several Illinois farmers and industry experts who testified to the effectiveness of emergency COVID-19 relief payments made to farmers during a U.S. House Agriculture Subcommittee on General Farm Commodities and Risk Management hearing last week. According to some who testified, safety net program payments from the Agricultural Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC) options, taken alone, would not have provided enough of revenue to keep many producers afloat during the worst months of the pandemic.

“Never in recent memory, nor in my farming career, has agriculture become so reliant for such an extended period on emergency assistance. While we might not always express it, farmers greatly appreciated the efforts of Congress and USDA over the past three years to address the magnitude and cumulative impact caused by each of these natural and economic disasters,” said Kirwan, a Mercer County farmer.

The Mercer County producer noted that in addition to ARC, PLC and federal crop insurance, the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP), Wildfire and Hurricane Indemnity Program Plus (WHIPP), and the Market Facilitation Program (MFP) helped many farmers to remain solvent.

“Through it all, the farm safety net, ARC and PLC, played a key role in keeping farmers afloat,” Kirwan said. “But in the absence of ad-hoc disaster assistance, there’s no question those programs and the timing of payments were simply not designed to address extraordinary economic and weather-related disasters. There needs to be a review of these programs, and farm organizations need to be part of that conversation.”

The subcommittee, chaired by Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-East Moline), also inquired about the current widespread Western droughts, ways to improve crop insurance, the timing of program payments and more. (Illinois Farm Bureau news)


ISA: Agtech startups are seeking farm partnerships

BLOOMINGTON – The new Illinois Soybean Association (ISA) AgTechConnect program is connecting farmers with leading agtech companies looking to test their latest technologies on-farm. According to a recent ISA news release, opportunities are already lined up. Innovators currently looking for leading-edge farm partners to work with include:

  • AgroWhere: a drainage water management consultant utilizing drone imagery is seeking farmers in Dekalb, LaSalle, Kendall, Grundy, Lee and other northeast counties for partnerships.
  • Crop Rx: Soil testing company uses “Soil Sense” to enhance nitrogen use efficiency and soil health; seeking two southern Illinois and one central Illinois farmer for consultation and testing.
  • EarthSense: Developer of small-scale robots for field scouting and planting cover crops is looking for farmers in east-central Illinois
  • TellTail: Software firm seeks farmers in the Champaign area to test program features to digitize and simplify documentation in grow-finish swine barns.
  • Holganix Bio 800+: Farmers across the state– especially near Springfield– are sought to test their 100 percent organic microbial product that stimulates root growth and enhances soil quality.

The ISA is urging interested producers to visit AgTechConnect (www.ilsoyadvisor.com/on-farm/ilsoyadvisor/agtechconnect) to learn more and sign up for partnership opportunities.


Group urges Pritzker to sign Home-to-Market Act

SPRINGFIELD – Though the Illinois General Assembly unanimously passed the Home-to-Market Act (SB2007) in the spring, the bill has yet to receive the approval of Gov. J.B. Pritzker. The inaction has prompted the Illinois Stewardship Alliance to reach out to members and small business owners to send a message to the governor asking him to sign the Act, which is sponsored by Rep. Will Guzzardi (R-W. Chicago) and Sen. David Koehler (D-Peoria), into law.

“This exciting new legislation helps farmers and food entrepreneurs grow a business from their home kitchen and gives Illinois shoppers greater access to support their neighbors and enjoy all the unique, local, and artisan foods that Illinois has to offer,” stated Molly Gleason, Alliance communications director.

“Supporting cottage food businesses means supporting farmers; it means supporting women-owned businesses; it means supporting scale appropriate regulations that enable people of all income-levels, but especially those who are socially disadvantaged, to start and grow a business; it means keeping food dollars local; it means reinvesting in Illinois communities. And it means laying the groundwork for a food secure Illinois, where Illinois farms and food businesses can feed Illinois.”

An email link to the governor’s office is provided at the Alliance website, (ilstewards.org).


Field, equine demos set for 2021 FPS

DECATUR – With the 2021 Farm Progress Show (FPS) scheduled for Aug. 31-Sept. 2 in Decatur, field demonstrations will once again be front and center. A corn harvest is slated for 11 a.m. each day, prior to which company representatives will showcase their machinery to the public before taking to the field. Tillage tools, including deep rippers and chisel plows, and other special machinery will operate each day from 2 p.m. CDT. In addition, tiling Demonstrations will take place at noon daily, according to show organizers.

Horse training demonstrations, a key attraction at the Farm Progress Show, will again be featured. Steve Lantvit of RFD TV and The Cowboy Channel will be demonstrating his techniques daily in the northeast corner of the show grounds. According to Lantvit’s website, he has created a training program based on trust, gentle hands, and a true partnership with the horse regardless of the rider’s discipline or experience. Lantvit’s “Sure in the Saddle” program airs on RFD-TV on Thursdays.

For more information on the 2021 FPS visit www.farmprogressshow.com.


Illinois Farm Fact:

Visitors to the Farm Progress Show indicated they farmed on 1,714 average total acres, versus the national average of 441 acres. (Farm Progress Company)