R.F.D. NEWS & VIEWS: Illinois farmers featured in Big Game

By Tim Alexander for Chronicle Media

From left to right: back row: Brittany and Chad Bell; front rwo: Amelia and Charlie Bell. (Photo by Illinois Farm Families)

This week we introduce new leadership within the Illinois Pork Producers Association and take a look at the possibility of record beef prices in 2023. Please plow ahead …


Leman to lead pig farmer board

SPRINGFIELD — A Secor (Woodford County) livestock producer has been elected 2023 president of the board of directors of the Illinois Pork Producers Association.

Elected during the 2023 Illinois Pork Producers Association annual meeting, Leman is a third-generation farmer who owns Leman Farms Inc., which specializes in the production of hogs, corn, and soybeans. Partnering with contract growers, Leman Farms contracts approximately 100,000 hogs each year while operating a Pioneer seed dealership since 1991.

Leman and his wife, Staci, have four daughters. He is actively involved in his community, having previously served on the Eureka CUSD school board and currently as an elder at New Castle Bible Church in Mackinaw.

“My pledge to you today is that I will commit the time and the resources necessary over the course of this next year to represent you well across the state. I will not shrink back from the challenges or the hard issues,” Leman said in his acceptance speech.

IPPA delegates also voted on the following officer team for the 2023 year:

  • President-Elect: Cheryl Walsh, Princeville
  • Vice President-Treasurer: Josh Maschhoff, Nashville
  • Secretary: Thomas Titus, Elkhart

(IPPA news)


Analyst: Record beef prices in 2023?

URBANA — Beef and cattle producers could be on pace to experiencing record prices in 2023, according to a university analyst. While that may be music to producers’ ears, it’s not exactly what consumers were hoping to hear.

Jason Franken, agricultural economist at Western Illinois University and contributor to the U of I farmdoc team, noted that USDA’s Jan. 1 cattle inventory report places the total number of cattle and calves at 89.3 million head, consistent with trade expectations for a 3 percent decline from a year ago, as the industry continues into a fourth consecutive year of contraction within the cattle cycle. This rivals inventory lows last seen in 2014 and 2015 at the start of the current cycle, when producers began rebuilding following the drought in 2012.

“The report mostly confirms anticipated effects of current drought conditions, and with limited availability of pasture and hay, further contraction seems likely. As expected, all cows and heifers that have calved total 38.3 million head. This is also nearly 3 percent below last year, reflecting 4 percent fewer beef cows at 28.9 million head and just a slight uptick in milk cows at 9.4 million head. That’s the smallest beef cow inventory since 1962,” Franken said.

Further, beef replacement heifers are down about 6 percent from a year ago, compared to an average pre-report estimate of 3 percent lower, while dairy replacement heifers and other heifers are down 2 percent and percent, confirming the recent contraction within the industry.

“All things considered, prices in 2023 are likely to exceed those of the last couple of years. In fact, current conditions are even bringing about speculation on the possibility of exceeding record prices last set in the fourth quarter of 2014. That seems feasible for fat cattle, which are already trading around $156/cwt or about $9/cwt more than in the first quarter of 2014,” Franken reported. (U of I College of ACES news)


Extension introduces new farm business educator

SPRINGFIELD — The University of Illinois Extension office has announced the hiring of Kevin Brooks as their new Farm Business Management and Marketing Educator. Brooks will be contributing educational articles for farmers and rural landowners via Extension throughout the year. Folks with questions about crop insurance and other farm business management topics can contact Brooks, who serves Fulton, Mason, Peoria, and Tazewell counties, at (309) 543-3308 or kwbrooks@illinois.edu.

Brooks devoted his first article to the topic of crop insurance, addressing the merits of subsidized and unsubsidized policies, replant costs and risk management. He also spent time addressing the high cost of crop insurance premiums for farmers.

“I do hear some producers talking about the high cost of crop insurance. Current yield and price environments put more revenue at risk and thus the cost of crop insurance is increased. Farmers are producing bigger yields and are receiving higher grain prices. Being able to cover input costs might not be enough to help farmers remain competitive in the bidding for land, so guaranteeing more revenue with more coverage may become a higher priority,” Brooks stated.

You can read Brooks’ complete article, “Crop Insurance Perspectives for Farmers and Landowners,” at  https://extension.illinois.edu/fmpt/news-media.


Illinois farmers featured in Big Game

BLOOMINGTON — Some familiar faces in Illinois agriculture were featured in a Super Bowl advertisement on Sunday. The commercial, produced by the Illinois Farm Families coalition, kicked off the group’s “We are the 96%” campaign  featuring more than 25 farm families across the state. The goal behind the ad was to make Illinoisans aware that 96 percent of farms in the state are operated by families.

In addition to the Chad Bell family of Mercer County, the advertisement featured the Gould family, of Kane County; the Heap family, of Kendall County; the Noland family, of Macon County; the Sanderson family, of Dekalb County; the Marr family, of Morgan County; and the Kleinschmidt family, of Logan and Tazewell County. The commercial aired during the first half of Super Bowl LVII in the Champaign, Peoria-Bloomington, Rockford, Springfield, St. Louis and the Quad Cities markets.

“There’s a big misconception in agriculture that the family farm is gone and everything now is corporate farming and things aren’t the way it used to be,” said Bell. “Yes, farming has changed. Farms have gotten larger and there are fewer farmers, but in the end, the vast majority of farms are still made up of families, even if they look a little different today.” (IFF news)


Illinois Farm Fact:

The full Illinois Farm Families Super Bowl commercial can be viewed on IFF’s Facebook page and Wearethe96.org.