R.F.D. NEWS & VIEWS: Illinois ag reacts to E15 reversal

By Tim Alexander for Chronicle Media

Randy DeSutter, president of the Illinois Corn Growers Association and a farmer from Woodhull, is pushing back against the recent appeals court reversal of a rule that allowed for year-round sales of E15 corn-based ethanol to motorists.

BLOOMINGTON — America’s independence from foreign, fossil-based fuels hit a roadblock just before the nation’s 246th birthday. On July 2, the D.C. Court of Appeals struck down an EPA ruling that allowed for year-round sales of corn-based, E15 ethanol blends to motorists. The reversal of the 2019 ruling will undercut both current and future E15 production and expansion, according to Randy DeSutter, Illinois Corn Growers Association president.

“The ICGA is very disappointed in this Circuit Court decision because it will slow the growth and opportunity for E15 and that means reduced market opportunity for Illinois corn farmers,” said DeSutter, in a prepared statement. “This decision will also have a huge impact for everyone else in our world, farmer and non-farmer alike. Because of ethanol’s renewable, cleaner burning qualities, making higher blends of ethanol available to consumers is the only immediate way to utilize our current liquid fuel fleet and infrastructure to have an impact on our climate. Higher blends of ethanol reduce greenhouse gas emissions and clean our air. It’s a simple, available solution for climate, human health, and rural communities. ICGA will continue working to make sure EPA and our elected officials understand that.”

The three-judge panel comprising D.C.’s Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Big Oil in their decision in the case, American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers, et. al. vs. EPA. The Renewable Fuels Association, Growth Energy, National Corn Growers Association and the Illinois Farm Bureau joined ICGA in decrying the Court’s reversal of the rule.


WREP enrollment benefits local farmers

CHAMPAIGN — The Department of Agriculture is investing up to $17 million for farmers to help protect and restore critical wetlands through the Wetland Reserve Enhancement Partnership, according to a July 2 news release. Proposals that focus on assisting historically underserved producers conserving wetlands will be prioritized for funding. Restored wetlands help to improve water quality downstream, enhance wildlife habitat, reduce impacts from flooding and provide recreational benefits, according to Ivan Dozier, State Conservationist in Illinois.

“Our goal is to support agricultural producers in their efforts to conserve natural resources on their land,” said Dozier.  “Wetland Reserve Enhancement Partnerships help partners and producers work together to protect wetland ecosystems on working lands.”

Under WREP contracts eligible conservation partners protect, restore and enhance high-priority wetlands on agriculture lands, enabling effective integration of wetland restoration on working agricultural landscapes. The program also provides meaningful benefits to the communities where the wetlands exist. Eligible partners include state and local governments and non-government organizations. WREP partners are required to contribute a financial or technical assistance fund match, which is then distributed to farmers enrolled in conservation contracts.

WREP funding is for fiscal year 2022 which begins Oct. 1. Proposals from partners are due Aug. 15. Those interested in applying should contact their NRCS state office for more information.


Required anhydrous training dates set

SPRINGFIELD — Recently enacted state training requirements affecting farmers and farm operators who transport or apply anhydrous ammonia, or otherwise maintain anhydrous ammonia equipment, are now in effect. The requirements, found within Illinois Department of Agriculture administrative rules regarding anhydrous ammonia, dictate that growers or farm operators who transport or apply anhydrous ammonia, or otherwise maintain anhydrous ammonia equipment, shall be certified to understand the following: properties of ammonia; competency in safe operating practices; how to take appropriate actions in the event of a leak or emergency; personal protective equipment & first aid, and transportation safety.

“Offering in-person anhydrous ammonia grower training this fall is an excellent opportunity for growers to meet the training requirement prior to the April 1, 2022, deadline,” said KJ Johnson, President, Illinois Fertilizer and Chemical Association. “The in-person anhydrous ammonia training has been a collaborative effort between IFCA, Illinois Farm Bureau and the Illinois Department of Agriculture. This course provides excellent safety information for growers, farm employees and family members that transport, apply or otherwise maintain anhydrous ammonia equipment.”

In-person training begins Sept. 7 at the Days Inn in Rock Falls and continues Sept. 8 at the  Knox Agri Center, Galesburg. On Sept. 9 training will be offered at Poe’s Catering, Springfield; on Sept. 10, at Unique Suites, Charleston; on Sept. 13, at Asmark Institute Agricenter, Bloomington; and on Oct. 4, at Asmark Institute Agricenter, Bloomington

Anhydrous Ammonia Certified Grower Training can also be fulfilled online. Questions and assistance with the training content can be answered by the Illinois Department of Agriculture at 217-782-3817.


STAR features new web app

CHAMPAIGN — STAR (Saving Tomorrow’s Agricultural Resources) is now accepting enrollment in their conservation evaluation system program for the 2021 crop year through the Champaign County Soil and Water Conservation District. In addition, the program will launch the new STAR Web App which provides results from field evaluation forms in real-time.

“In early 2020, several key partners of STAR wanted to create a reliable and engaging online platform to encourage enrollment and simplify field form scoring and tracking,” said Erin Gundy, Resource Conservationist for Champaign County SWCD. “The new STAR Web App will allow users to create customized field improvement plans, connect with local resources and technical assistance, and share their STAR Ratings with their online communities with a few simple clicks.”

According to Grundy, the goal of STAR, created in 2017, is to encourage the continued adoption of conservation practices and recognize farmers for their commitment to nutrient loss reduction and soil health. More info: call 217-352-3536, ext. 3. (Champaign Co. SWCD news)


Illinois Farm Fact:

The STAR evaluation system assigns points for management activities on an annual basis. Scores are converted to a STAR rating of 1 to 5 STARs, with 5 STARs indicating commitment to a suite of practices proven to improve soil health and water quality. (Champaign County SWCD)