R.F.D. NEWS & VIEWS: Illinois gears up for Farmer’s Market Week

By Tim Alexander for Chronicle Media

A young man purchases sweet corn from a local grower at Peoria’s Metro Center farmers’ market on Wednesday, July 21. Next week is Farmers’ Market Week in Illinois. (Photo by Tim Alexander)

Next week is Farmers’ Market Week in Illinois, meaning it’s time to go get those fresh ears of sweet corn, ripe watermelons and other tasty Illinois-grown food products from your local producers. In addition, we have more news on the recent court decision to derail year-round E85 fuel sales and a farm dog contest sponsored by New Holland. Please read on for more …


Guebert fighting for year-round E-85

BLOOMINGTON — As president of the Illinois Farm Bureau, Richard Guebert Jr. attended the American Farm Bureau Federation’s annual legislative meeting last week in Washington, D.C. Among Guebert’s concerns going into the meeting was the recent decision by the D.C. Court of Appeals to reverse a rule that allowed for year-round sales of corn-based E-85 ethanol fuel blends. While the meetings were going on, legislation was introduced in both chambers to allow for E15 and higher blend fuels to be sold at retailers year-round, reported IFB’s Ashely Rice.

The House bill, called Year-Round Fuel Choice Act of 2021, is supported by Illinois Reps. Cheri Bustos, D-East Moline; Mike Bost, R-Murphysboro; and Darin LaHood, R-Peoria, while the Consumer and Fuel Retailer Choice Act, reintroduced in the Senate, is cosponsored by Sens. Tammy Duckworth, D-Hoffman Estates; and Dick Durbin, D-Springfield.

During the trip Guebert had an opportunity to meet with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan to discuss the future of ethanol and renewable fuels. “(Regan) is a supporter and promoter of biofuels so that was good to hear,” Guebert said. “He was disappointed in the court ruling that took out the year-round E-15. So, I think there is some opportunity there for us going forward.”


Illinois gears up for Farmer’s Market Week

BLOOMINGTON — Farmers’ markets are in full bloom throughout Illinois, and might be serving more customers than ever before. This is according to Janie Maxwell, executive director of the Illinois Farmers’ Market Association, who said that farmers’ markets have emerged from COVID-19 restrictions as reliable and trusted sources for fresh and, in many cases, organically produced food products.

“I think people get the idea this food is special. My hope is that consumers continue to see the value of local farms,” Maxwell told the Illinois Farm Bureau’s news service, just after the Madison County farmers’ market experienced record attendance on July 18.  Maxwell added that consumers and vendors are now more acclimated with using some of the technology and practices adopted during the pandemic, including touchless transactions and advance sales.

Maxwell credits the addition of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program incentives for purchases made by consumers at farmers’ markets as a catalyst for new growth in the industry. She stated that individual farmers and ranchers who sell at farmers’ markets may contact her to learn how to accept SNAP and LINK payments at their booths if their farmers market doesn’t currently offer the purchasing option. Maxwell can be contacted by emailing info@ilfma.org.

(The Illinois Department of Agriculture website provides a link for locations, dates and times for the state’s growing number of farmers’ markets. In addition, a link is provided to connect consumers with farmers’ markets that accept SNAP and LINK payments.)  


Senior coupons valid at Ill. Product Market

SPRINGFIELD — Also in time for Farmers’ Market Week, the Illinois Department of Agriculture has announced that senior coupons would be offered for the Illinois Products Farmers’ Market, located on the Illinois State Fairgrounds, through its closing on Oct. 14. Applications, along with information on how to receive coupons, can be picked up at the IDOA market information desk at “The Shed” on the Illinois State Fairgrounds during the Illinois Products Farmers’ Market. Seniors can also call the Illinois Department on Aging Senior Helpline at 1-800-252-8966 for more information on how to apply.

In addition, an AARP Illinois Products Basket Drawing promotion will allow seniors a chance to win every week through Oct 14.  Each basket, valued at more than $100, is full of Illinois Products sold at the Illinois Products Farmers’ Market. To enter, follow the Illinois Product Facebook and Instagram page (or enter at the Market).

The Market runs  on Thursdays through Oct. 14 (excluding the two Thursdays during the Illinois State Fair), according to an IDOA news release.


New Holland, Farm Journal sponsoring farm dog contest

LENEXA, Kan. — It’s time to celebrate a farmer’s best friend — those cattle-herding, chicken-guarding, vermin-controlling canine companions. New Holland, manufacturer of tractors and other farm and yard implements, is offering an opportunity for farmers to enter their cattle-herding or chicken-guarding dog in the company’s America’s Best Farm Dog Contest.

Farmers and ranchers are encouraged to share photos of their special canine and tell judges what makes their pup “top dog” prior to Aug. 10. The winner will receive a $400 Visa gift card and a custom painted canvas of their dog. The contest is open to legal U.S. residents who are 18 or older, excluding sponsor’s employees, family and household members. Enter by completing and submitting a nomination form available at https://www.agweb.com/americas-best-farm-dog . The nomination should include name, address, phone, email, dog name, short description and a photograph or video of your dog.

Voting for the top 10 finalists will begin Aug. 11. The prize-winning pup will be announced Aug. 26 during Farm Journal’s annual Field Days. (Farm Journal)


Illinois Farm Fact:

Illinois is home to the third-highest number of farmers’ markets in all 50 states. (Illinois Department of Agriculture)