R.F.D. NEWS & VIEWS: ICF seeks conservation hero

By Tim Alexander For Chronicle Media

2019 Illinois Conservation Foundation Hall of Fame nominees Doug and Diane Oberhelman of Edwards are pictured. (Ducks Unlimited photo)

With another growing season in full bloom, Illinois farmers are ahead of the average in corn and soybean planting pace. However, crop quality conditions are varying statewide. Other items of interest from the week in agriculture include comments on the future of the food supply chain from Bill Even, National Pork Board CEO, and information on how you can nominate a farmer for the Illinois Conservation Hall of Fame. For this and more, please read on…


Field conditions spotty across Illinois

PEORIA – Coming home through Champaign County on I-57 on Saturday, June 27 flooded and saturated soybean fields were evident on both sides of the interstate. Thanks to a favorable weather window in April, many farmers were able to plant both corn and soybeans comparatively early to the 2019 crop.

In certain areas of Illinois, those early-planted crops have endured several rounds of stress, including recent heat and dryness. This is resulting in crop growth stages fluctuating wildly across the state.

“It’s crazy how far things are spread apart,” Matt Rinehart, a crop consultant with Nutrien Ag, told the Illinois Farm Bureau news service last week. “Some farmers are (already) post-spraying corn and beans.”

With root zone moisture lacking due to the prolonged June heatwave, the soybean fields I saw in Champaign County probably could not handle the strong thunderstorms that soaked the area last weekend. From the road at 70 m.p.h., it appeared some fields would need to be replanted. Coincidentally, soybean condition rated excellent in Illinois fell by four percent — from 13 to nine percent — during the week ending June 21, according to the latest USDA Illinois Crop Progress and Condition report. Last weekend’s heavy rains won’t improve soybean conditions in Champaign County, it would appear. Across Illinois, 97 percent of soybeans had been planted as of June 21.


Poll: Farmers wary of post-COVID-19 economics

DES MOINES, Iowa – I sat in on a recent National Pork Board webinar featuring comments from Bill Even, National Pork Board CEO, who discussed the future of the food supply chain post-COVID-19. During the meeting, a poll was taken that revealed the following:

  • Pork producers are highly concerned about the economic sustainability of farming due to the effects of the pandemic.
  • Producers support the increased use of automation in farms and packing plants in the future.
  • Innovation adoption throughout the supply chain will continue to remain at high levels.

These revelations can be interpreted to mean that pork producers may feel that in order to secure the continuity of the food chain and to ensure public trust, some processing jobs currently handled by humans will need to become automated.

I would welcome any of my readers’ thoughts on the topic and would love to include them in a future column. You can send your comments to me via farmrep1@gmail.com.

Meanwhile, you can view the archived webinar at www.pork.org


ICF seeks conservation hero

PARK FOREST – Farmers and residents have a chance to nominate an Illinoisan who has shown unwavering commitment to conservation efforts in Illinois for the Illinois Conservation Foundation’s (ICF) 2020 Outdoor Hall of Fame. Since 2002, the ICF has recognized people who have records of commendable service and commitments to improving conservation efforts and outdoor recreation opportunities in Illinois.

Past inductees have led efforts to preserve and enhance fish and wildlife habitat, to protect and restore Illinois’ lakes and rivers, participated on the national and international stages in conservation advocacy, and provided resources for thousands of youth and adults to enjoy fishing, hunting, conservation and safety education.

“As an outdoorsman and outdoors enthusiast, I can’t stress enough how vital conservationists are for protecting our natural spaces,” said State Senator Patrick Joyce (D-Essex), in a news release. “I encourage people to nominate someone who has worked tirelessly to improve and enhance public spaces for generations to come.”

Nominations must be submitted by July 8 on the official Hall of Fame Nomination form, which is available at a link on the ICF website:  https://ilconservation.org/Who-We-Are/Outdoor-Hall-of-Fame


Link to county fairs added to IDOA page

SPRINGFIELD – The 2020 Illinois State Fair and DuQuoin State Fair have been cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many county fairs have followed suit.

The Illinois Department of Agriculture has recently added a link listing county fair cancellations and postponements to its website (www2.illinois.gov/sites/agr/Fairs/CountyFairs/Pages/Fair-Cancellations.aspx).

County fairs in Illinois that have been canceled as of June 28 include those in Bond, Boone, Brown, Carroll, Cass, Champaign, Christian, Clinton, Crawford, DeWitt, DuPage, Edwards, Fayette, Ford, Green, Grundy, Henderson, Henry, Iroquois, Kankakee, Knox, Lake, LaSalle, Lawrence, Lee, Livingston, Logan, Madison, Marshall-Putnam, Clark, Hamilton, Macon, Macoupin, Menard, Monroe, Montgomery, Morgan, Moultrie-Douglas, Moultrie-Sullivan (Jr. Fair), Ogle, Peoria, Perry, Piatt, Pike, Richland, Randolph, Rock Island, Schuyler, Shelby, Stephenson, Vermilion, Washington, Wayne, White and Williamson counties.

Postponed Illinois county fairs include the Elizabeth Community Fair in Jo Daviess County (August 21-23), Jasper County Fair in Newton (dates TBA), Mercer County Fair in Aledo (dates TBA), and the Sangamon County Fair in New Berlin (Oct. 2-3).


Illinois Farm Fact:

The Illinois Pork Producers Association now offers a customer service hotline for producers to call or text with questions related to pork and the COVID-19 crisis. You can call from 8 am – 5 pm, Monday-Friday or text 24/7. HOTLINE TO CALL/TEXT: 217-393-8498.