R.F.D. NEWS & VIEWS: Pig farmer donates stimulus to Pork Power

By Tim Alexander for Chronicle Media

Dale Weitekamp donated his stimulus money to the Pork Power Donation Program, providing ground pork for nine food pantries. Here is Weitkamp donating pork to the Bond County Food Pantry with pantry director Melissa Martin. (IPPA photo)

In this week’s peek between the rows we have more about the expected spike in fertilizer prices, along with info on what one Illinois pig farmer did with his stimulus money to benefit his local community. Please read on …


Schnitkey: Expect near-record fertilizer prices

URBANA — Every farmer knows that with higher commodity prices comes higher input prices. According to University of Illinois agricultural economist Gary W. Schnitkey, 2022 will illustrate that adage to the extreme in the form of (possible) record high prices for fertilizers.

“Higher commodity prices, labor shortages, the COVID situation and overall strong demand for corn and soybeans right now are leading to where we are currently,” Schnitkey stated, referring to today’s prices for various fertilizers, in an interview with Brownfield. “$746 per ton for anhydrous ammonia, up 53 percent from last year. DAP is $717 per ton, which is a $327 increase and potash is at $600 per ton.”

Schnitkey added that farmer behavior and how fertilizer prices change over the coming weeks will determine whether they approach the record-high levels of 2008. He noted that history suggests fertilizer prices can change rapidly, and that several periods of sharp declines have occurred in history.

Skyrocketing input costs have some analysts questioning whether it is actually more profitable for farmers when commodity prices are low.

“Profit margins are getting crushed in row crops right now for the 2022 crop,” said Joe Sinclair, president of Quality Ag Service, a national ag chemical wholesaler based in Albia, Iowa, in an interview with DTN. “You’re losing money if you’re buying fertilizer now. My advice is to check fertilizer prices before making 2022 cropping plans. There will be some sticker shock for producers. Nitrogen and potassium prices are almost double a year ago prices. Phosphorus doubled last year, so the increase is not as much compared to last year.”


Pig farmer donates stimulus to Pork Power

SPRINGFIELD — Past Illinois Pork Producers Association President Dale Weitekamp is a man of character. His recent decision to turn over his federal COVID-19 stimulus checks, along with funds he earned as leader of the pork producers, to charity is earning the Raymond, Illinois producer accolades from across farm country and beyond. In partnership with the Illinois Pork Producers Association Pork Power program, Weitekamp used the funds to donate 742 pounds of ground pork across nine local food pantries.

“I felt it in my heart to turn my stimulus checks into pork to provide to my local community,” said Weitekamp. “On top of that, I also converted the stipend I received from serving as the IPPA President in 2020 into pork. It will go to better use as food.”

Weitekamp’s donation provided ground pork for the Bond County Senior Center Food Pantry in Greenville, as well as CEFS Montgomery County in Taylor Springs, Coffeen Food Pantry, Harvest of Hope Food Pantry in Hillsboro, Litchfield Food Pantry, Morrisonville/Palmer Food Pantry, Nokomis Food Pantry, Open Arms Fellowship Church Food Pantry in Irving, and Panhandle Food Pantry in Raymond. All of the donated pork was processed locally at Paris Frozen Foods in Hillsboro. (IPPA news)


Illinois State Fair phone app unveiled

SPRINGFIELD — As an agricultural news reporter who covers the Illinois State Fair, I have often felt pressured trying to attend all of the livestock events, commodity group tents and Illinois-produced food booths I had planned for the day. I always seem to forget something, or time gets away from me. I am hopeful that a new state fair phone app unveiled by the Illinois Department of Agriculture last week will help keep me on course when I visit for Agriculture Day, Aug. 17.

“The mobile app adds another level of convenience for fairgoers,” said State Fair Manager Kevin Gordon, in a news release. “Even before you arrive on the fairgrounds you can begin customizing your Illinois State Fair experience. It’s a great resource to ensure you don’t miss out on your favorite fair attractions or favorite fair food.”

The Illinois State Fair mobile app will allow users to browse the fairgrounds with an interactive map, powered by Google Earth, and filter results to find exactly what they seek: restrooms, cooling centers, storm shelters and more. It will also assist fairgoers on a self-guided tour of the various agriculture destinations on the fairgrounds.

The app, available for both android and Apple devices, also offers information from Grandstand concerts to maps that assist users in everything from parking to bathrooms and barns. The app also contains other helpful tools such as a food finder, daily schedule of events, and a list of free musical acts in the Illinois State Fair beer tents, according to the IDOA news release.

Now, if I could just remember where I left my golf cart …


Wheat Forum set for Aug. 25

BLOOMINGTON — The Illinois Farm Bureau is inviting Illinois wheat producers, agribusinesses, consultants and processors to attend the Illinois Wheat Association’s annual Illinois Wheat Forum on Aug. 25, at the Okawville Community Center in Okawville.

Attendees will have the opportunity to learn about wheat agronomic issues, wheat benefits for double cropping, fall cash market outlooks, USDA Agency updates, carbon markets, regional weather outlook, wheat breeding breakthroughs and the Wheat Yield Winners panel, according to an IFB news release announcing the event.

Participants also will have the chance to visit exhibits featuring seed companies, millers, elevators, crop protection services and other service industries.

“The Illinois Wheat Forum offers producers a chance to learn more about a range of production and market issues,” said Mike Doherty, interim executive director, Illinois Wheat Association. “From crop insurance updates to new research from SIU-C and University of Illinois, producers will take home a wealth of information that will help them increase the productivity and profitability of their farms.”

For more information and an agenda, please visit the Illinois Wheat Association website at

illinoiswheat.org, or call Mike Doherty at 309-557-3268.


Illinois Farm Fact:

Since its inception in 2008, the Pork Power program has generated more than 922,000 pounds of pork — enough for nearly 3 million meals — for families throughout Illinois. (IPPA)