R.F.D. NEWS & VIEWS: Global Illinois corn demand will increase

By Tim Alexander for Chronicle Media

Export demand for Illinois corn is rising along with increased foreign meat demand. Much of that corn leaves from grain elevators such as this one in Woodford County. (Photo by Tim Alexander)

This week in farm and rural news: the Illinois Farm Bureau has issued a new action report that addresses COVID-19 challenges to agriculture; we will summarize them. Also this week: global demand for corn is expected to increase with worldwide meat demand, according to Illinois Corn. In addition, Illinois’ popular cover crop incentive program will return this fall — we have details. For these and other items of interest to farmers and rural dwellers, please read on …


Guebert: IFB working to support farmers during COVID-19

BLOOMINGTON — Priority initiatives included in the newly-issued Illinois Farm Bureau Action Report include building demand for Illinois crops and products, while supporting the state’s farmers through the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. This was announced by IFB President Richard Guebert Jr., who also advised farmers to prepare for farm policy shifts.

“I was very hopeful that the ag economy, particularly here in Illinois, had turned the corner,” Guebert said in a podcast. “And then COVID-19 hit and turned this whole country upside down.”

IFB leaders have been grappling to determine how to best help farmers and processors up and down the supply line, Guebert continued. “Trade comes to mind, imports come to mind … . Depending on who is elected in November, if there is a change in the White House or a change in the Senate, what is farm policy going to look like?” he said. “There is a lot of chatter about conservation programs moving forward. What is that going to look like? Climate will be a part of the conversation.”

The farm bureau president added that the IFB’s priority initiatives have been forwarded to county farm bureau officers for managers to share with their farmer-voters, in order to encourage local input. “We want the county leaders to have these conversations in their board rooms. We want input and feedback. What are the areas that we missed? We want them to share their ideas with us that we can implement going forward,” said Guebert.


USDA: Illinois harvest on target

SPRINGFIELD — Corn in maturity was at 12 percent last week, signaling that the 2020 corn harvest is ready to begin in southern Illinois. This compares favorably with the five-year average of 13 percent maturity this time of year. In addition, the Aug. 31 USDA-NASS Illinois Crop Progress and Condition report showed that corn in dough stage was at 97 percent compared to the five-year average of 93 percent. Corn dented was 71 percent compared to the five-year average of 67 percent. Corn condition was rated 2 percent very poor, 5 percent poor, 23 percent fair, 57 percent good, and 13 percent excellent, signaling a largely healthy crop.

Soybeans setting pods was at 97 percent compared to the five-year average of 94 percent. Soybean condition was rated 1 percent very poor, 5 percent poor, 22 percent fair, 58 percent good, and 14 percent excellent, according to the report. This also portends a healthy Illinois soybean crop.


Illinois cover crop incentive returns

SPRINGFIELD — The Illinois Department of Agriculture announced its “Fall Covers for Spring Savings Program” will return. The program is applicable for acreage in Illinois planted to cover crops in the fall of 2020 that will be planted to an insurable crop in 2021, according to a Sept. 1 IDOA news release. Under the program, eligible applicants receive a $5 per acre premium discount on the following year’s crop insurance invoice for every acre of cover crop enrolled and verified in the program.

“This is a very exciting program that can benefit soil health and protect water quality on and around our farms,” noted State Sen. Patrick Joyce, D-Essex, in a separate news release. “I strongly encourage local farmers to take this program into consideration.”

The inaugural season of the premium discount program resulted in an additional 50,000 acres of cover crops planted, according to IDOA, with 70 percent of applicants identified as planting cover crops for the first time. The program was designed to promote additional acres of cover crops that are not covered by other state or federal incentives. It is only applicable for those with coverage through the United States Department of Agriculture Risk Management Agency crop insurance program.

“Cover crops are a great way to keep soil anchored, salvage nitrogen, capture carbon and create weed suppression,” said Jerry Costello II, IDOA acting director. In the long run, cover crops will help Illinois farmers reduce the need for fertilizer and reach the goals of the Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy.” Applications will be available in December on the Illinois Department of Agriculture website. Further information can be obtained by contacting the IDOA at 217-782-6297. (Illinois e-News)


Report: Global Ill. corn demand will increase

BLOOMINGTON — Pork exports are expected to rival poultry exports by next year, which will provide Illinois corn farmers with enhanced revenue opportunities. This is according to the Illinois Corn Growers Association, which noted in a Sept. 3 article that hog exports are on pace for a record setting year — thanks in part to investment by the Illinois corn checkoff and their partnership with the U.S. Meat Export Federation.

“This is a really good example of the checkoff working for corn farmers,” noted Illinois Corn’s Collin Watters, director of exports and logistics. “By working with global partners, we’re finding opportunities for corn consumption any way that we can. Often in ways you might not think of every day.”

The data reveals the truth of Illinois Corn’s claim. A large percentage of rising demand for corn can be tied to the rate of meat exports. From 2015-19, one out of every four bushels of added corn demand was due to beef or pork exports, representing the fastest growing demand sector. In 2019, pork and beef exports added $6.26 billion of value to the corn crop, reported Dan Obert of Illinois Corn.


Illinois Farm Fact:

Red meat exports contribute $0.46 per bushel specifically to Illinois corn farmers. (ICGA/ICMB)