R.F.D. NEWS & VIEWS: More Kentucky relief volunteers needed

By Tim Alexander for Chronicle Media

Volunteers with Illinois-based Fellowship of Christian Farmers are pictured stringing farm fencing in western Kentucky, where crews have been assisting residents in recovery efforts since a Dec. 10 tornado ravaged the area. Volunteers are still needed in Kentucky and southern Louisiana, where residents are still recovering from hurricanes. (FCFI photo)

In this week’s report, we have results from Illinois’ yearly crop production and grain stocks reports, along with news about ongoing farmer-led volunteer relief efforts in tornado-ravaged western Kentucky. For this and more, please read on …


2021 crop production shows corn, soybean gains

SPRINGFIELD — USDA’s Illinois Crop Production 2021 Summary, issued Jan. 12, reflects gains in corn and soybean production over the prior year. Illinois’ 2021 corn yield was estimated at 202 bushels per acre, an 11 bu./acre increase over 2020 yield. Corn production in Illinois, at 2.19 billion bushels, rose by 3 percent.

Illinois soybean yield was estimated at 64 bu./acre, representing a four-bushel increase. Soybean production showed a 9 percent increase, to 672.6 million bushels, in 2021. In addition, winter wheat, oats and hay showed comparative gains in both yield and production, according to the report.

Also issued on Jan. 12, USDA’s Illinois Grain Stocks report showed that corn stocks on Dec. 1  totaled 1.87 billion bushels, up 1 percent from a year before. Disappearance was estimated at 450 million bushels. Soybean stocks, at 579 million bushels, were up 8 percent from Dec. 1. Disappearance over the year was placed at 130 million bushels. (USDA-National Agricultural Statistics Service)


Dairy producers announce hybrid conference

BLOOMINGTON — As the number of dairy producers in Illinois and the U.S. continues to dwindle, surviving farm operators are cautiously optimistic for a profitable 2022. This is due in part to new and improved Supplemental Dairy Margin Coverage, a safety net which will provide $580 million to assist small and mid-sized dairy operations. USDA’s Farm Service Agency updated how feed costs are calculated, which will make the program more reflective of actual dairy producer expenses.

Many small producers were hit especially hard during the early months of the COVID-19 lockdown due to supply chain issues. Presented by the Illinois Milk Producers Association and University of Illinois Dairy Extension, the 2022 Illinois Dairy Summit will be held on Wednesday, Feb. 2 in a hybrid format from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The 12th annual conference will cover impacts, strategies and opportunities for Illinois dairy producers as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The dairy industry continues to overcome challenges. Our members are looking forward to gathering in-person and virtually to talk about the effects COVID-19 has had on the dairy industry and our Illinois dairy farmers,” said Tasha Bunting, IMPA manager. “Throughout every uncertainty, our members have adjusted their business strategies and looked for new opportunities to ensure the same quality and nutritious dairy products remain available to Illinois consumers. This year’s event includes research presentations as well as a panel of producers to share what they’ve learned and experienced in the ‘new normal.’”

In-person registration will be limited to 60 people, and masks are required to attend the event at Highland Community College in Freeport. Additional information and registration are available online at http://www.illinoismilk.org/DairySummit2022.


USDA updates key conservation programs

CHAMPAIGN — Illinois State Conservationist Ivan Dozier wants Illinois farmers and rural landowners to be aware of the expansion of key conservation programs overseen by the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service. The updates, made with climate-smart agriculture in mind, include the elimination of a policy that made it more difficult for some farmers to re-enroll in the Conservation Stewardship Program.

Specifically, the update to CSP allows a producer to immediately re-enroll in the program following an unfunded application to renew an existing contract. In the past, if a CSP participant did not re-enroll the year their contract expired, they were barred from the program for two years. This ineligibility was imposed on CSP participants even if their failure to sign a renewal contract was due to issues beyond their control, but USDA is now waiving this two-year ineligibility restriction for everyone enrolled in CSP. In addition, the Environmental Quality Incentives Program incentive contracts option was updated to offer enrollment in all U.S. states.

“Climate and weather issues are real, and America’s agricultural communities are on the frontlines,” NRCS State Conservationist Ivan Dozier said, in a news release. “We have to continue to support and expand the adoption of conservation approaches to support producers in their work to address the extreme weather conditions and build more resilient operations. We are continuously working to improve our programs to ensure we’re giving Illinois farmers the best tools to conserve natural resources.”


FCFI continues to seek Kentucky relief volunteers

LEXINGTON — Illinois-based Fellowship of Christian Farmers International has resumed its tornado disaster relief efforts in western Kentucky following the holidays, and is still actively recruiting volunteers to assist with the recovery. Relief efforts are now being coordinated out of the Dexter-Hardin United Methodist Church, where volunteers are busy repairing livestock fences and clearing debris from rural properties.

“We had four crews working various jobs and meeting interesting people,” reported FCFI chaplain the Rev. Kevin Cernek, in one of his daily updates. “It’s been pretty wonderful being able to help and encourage people facing devastating losses in their lives. We’ve been clearing up mangled trees, building fences and outbuildings, meeting people and even praying with them. We’ve had time to build relationships during the day and reminisce in the evenings.”

To volunteer for a work team, call FCFI executive director Dennis Schlagel at (309) 530-7004, or email dennis@fcfi.org.


Illinois Farm Fact:

More than 16 years after Hurricane Rita hit southern Louisiana in September 2005, Lexington, Illinois-based Fellowship of Christian Farmers International continues to provide disaster relief in the region through fence building, flood restoration and general cleanup and repair work. (FCFI)

R.F.D. NEWS & VIEWS: Deere to roll out autonomous tractor