Retired Illinois Rep. Cheri Bustos’ Next Generation Fuels Act, which would establish carbon emission standards in new automobiles and encourage corn ethanol production, has been reintroduced. We’ll tell you just who the next generation of proponents are. For this and more news and views for Illinois farmers and rural dwellers, please read on …
Bipartisan senators reintroduce Next Gen Fuels Act
BLOOMINGTON — A bill that had its origins in the U.S. House of Representatives, former Rep. Cheri Bustos’ Next Generation Fuels Act, has been reintroduced in the 118th Senate by a pair of veteran bipartisan lawmakers. Along with original Senate bill sponsors Illinois Sen. Tammy Duckworth and Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa and Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn. led the bipartisan Senate reintroduction.
This bill supports the use of biofuels in vehicles, including by establishing a minimum octane standard for gasoline as well as making related biofuel requirements for vehicles, their fuels, and fuel infrastructure. Bustos’ original bill was referred to the House Subcommittee on Environment and Climate Change by the Committee on Energy and Commerce in August 2021, according to Congress.gov.
Following the bill’s original introduction in the House, the National Corn Growers Association offered its support of the action on behalf of corn farmers. “The Next Generation Fuels Act is the next step in corn farmers’ efforts to build on the success of the RFS (Renewable Fuels Standard) to continue growing the role of low carbon, affordable and renewable ethanol in the fuel supply. Not only does this legislation yield economic benefits for rural America, but it also results in common sense environmental benefits,” the NCGA stated in December 2020.
In a news release lauding the bill’s 2023 reintroduction in the Senate, Illinois Corn Growers Association President Matt Rush said he looks forward to the entire Illinois delegation considering support for the bill after its reintroduction in the 188th U.S. House.
“This policy benefits everyone with cleaner air, lower greenhouse gas emissions, and cheaper fuel. It is also great for rural economies and automakers. New engines optimized to this new high-octane fuel will get more miles per gallon, and the increased fuel efficiency reduces emissions, makes driving cheaper, and creates an opportunity for automakers to more easily meet efficiency standards and carbon reduction goals,” Rush said.
Illinois corn yields among nation’s tops
URBANA — McLean County in central Illinois led the nation in county corn production with close to 71 million bushels harvested in 2022. In terms of yield per acre, however, McLean wasn’t even in the top 10 counties in the nation — or even in Illinois. Nationally, the highest 2022 county yield was in Elmore, Idaho, where farmers harvested 247.3 bushels per acre.
In Illinois, Stark County led with a yield of 240.6 bushels of corn per acre. Next in Illinois were in Woodford County (235.7 bushels per acre), Ogle County (234.7), DeWitt County (232.9), Macon County (232.5), McLean County (232.3), Henry County (231.9), and Sangamon County (231.9), according to the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service.
Overall, U.S. corn yields have been below trend in three of the last four years: -6 bushels per acre in 2019, -3 in 2020, +1 in 2021, and -5 in 2022. These below-trend yields coincided with above-average corn prices beginning in 2020, noted the University of Illinois farmdoc team.
“While many factors influence corn prices, U.S. yields are significant factors. A below-trend yield acts to increase the price because of lower supply. The reverse is true as well. Above trend yields lead to higher supply and place downward pressure on corn prices. The period from 2013 to 2018 had above-trend yields, which tended to put downward pressure on prices. From 2013 to 2019, corn prices were generally low,” according to the farmdoc team, in a March 21 Weekly Economics Outlook (Schnitkey, G., N. Paulson and C. Zulauf. “2022 County Crop Yields“ farmdoc daily).
Christian Farmers seek fence builders
LEXINGTON – The McLean County-based Fellowship of Christian Farmers International (FCFI) is gearing up for a new fence-building and disaster cleanup mission in Alabama and Louisiana, and are looking for new volunteers (including FFA and other youth groups) interested in joining them. There is also a need for more volunteers in flood-stricken eastern Kentucky.
“FCFI is busy helping people recover from flooding in eastern Kentucky. We are currently set up in Jackson, Kentucky. Contact the FCFI Home Office to learn more about disaster relief opportunities in Eastern Kentucky. Area Leader Mike Weaver has been leading teams there since early August. We are also starting to plan a trip to the Montgomery, Alabama area to clean up after tornadoes there,” stated an FCFI update to members dated March 23.
According to FCFI Executive Director Dennis Schlagel, FCFI is always in need of disaster relief workers for fence building, flood restoration and general clean-up and repair. Join a work team today by calling Schlagel at 309-530-7004 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for details. Volunteers can also sign up at www.fcfi.org. (FCFI news)
IDNR seeks input on planned mine reclamation projects
SPRINGFIELD — Attention rural landowners: Illinois has been awarded $75.7 million to restore abandoned mine land to safe condition as part of the federal Inflation Reduction Act. The Abandoned Mine Land program addresses serious environmental and safety problems at coal and noncoal mines that were abandoned prior to Aug. 3, 1977, according to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, which announced last week that a public comment period for input on the projects will end on May 22.
Some 55 projects encompassing 24 Illinois counties have been identified and tagged for funding in the project’s first year. IDNR is eligible to receive $75.7 million per year for a total of 15 years to address additional reclamation projects. Abandoned mine land problems may include hazards resulting from legacy coal mining that pose a threat to public health, safety, and the environment, along with water supply restoration and coal abandoned mine land emergencies.
Comments can be emailed to Lance.L.Range@illinois.gov or mailed to Lance Range, Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Office of Mines and Minerals, 1 Natural Resources Way, Springfield, IL 62702. The list of first-year Illinois projects is available online at https://bit.ly/IDNRAMLfy23projects.
Illinois Farm Fact:
Illinois had the top five counties in the country for total 2022 corn production. McLean County led the nation with nearly 71 million bushels of corn produced. Rounding out the top five producing counties are Iroquois, Livingston, LaSalle, and Champaign counties. (USDA-NASS)