This week’s report looks at challenges associated with solar farms and grazing animals, along with news about a bill in Congress that would allow for year-round sales of E15 corn ethanol. Also, this week, we’ll tell you which Illinois soybean and dairy producers were recently recognized for their outstanding work by their industry associations. Please read on …
Study examines agrivoltaic hurdles, solutions
URBANA — As solar “farms” continue to emerge as a part of the rural, agricultural landscape, hurdles that can prevent, delay or increase the cost of such projects arise. A new study from the University of Illinois College of ACES looks at agrivoltaics, a way of creating dual land usage by combining solar panels with crops or grazing animals in the same field. The emerging technology often faces regulatory pushback because the land will no longer be classified as agricultural.
“Even if states are promoting policies supportive of the nexus of agriculture and renewable energy, there will often be local pushback,” said Jessica Guarino, a postdoctoral research associate in ACE, who co-authored the study identifying zoning and taxation regulations across the United States. “Especially in rural areas, there can be a lot of opposition to bringing in new technology on agricultural land, which is highly valued. For the farmers working that land, it’s usually a generational thing, so they are emotionally invested as well. That kind of social tension evolves into legal challenges for agrivoltaics.”
Guarino hopes the team’s work will encourage a shift to policies that incentivize agrivoltaics production and provide tax incentives — rather than fines and penalties — for dual land usage, such as animal agriculture mixed with solar power generation. “Growing fruit and grazing sheep beneath vast solar arrays represent some of the most promising combinations of land uses in
recent times,” according to the study’s introductory paragraph.
Illinois legislators praised for E15 support
BLOOMINGTON — The Consumer and Fuel Retailer Choice Act, currently before Congress, would ensure permanent, full market access for E15, which is also marketed as Unleaded 88. While the bipartisan legislation is enjoying support from both sides of the political aisle, it has been met with crickets from GOP members of the Illinois delegation. However, Illinois Democratic Senators Tammy Duckworth and Dick Durbin are co-sponsors of the bill, which earned the lawmakers praise from the Illinois Corn Growers Association.
“We’re proud to have senators in Illinois who understand and recognize the importance of ethanol blends to consumers and farmers. Having the E15 option at the pump is a no-brainer for Illinoisans, helping relieve economical stress, lessening pollution and making us more energy independent,” says Matt Rush, ICGA president and farmer from Fairfield.
ICGA supports the bill because “ensuring continued E15 sales year-round keeps a lower-emission fuel choice in the marketplace that costs less,” according to a news release. “E15 cuts evaporative, carbon and tailpipe emissions compared to standard 10 percent ethanol blended fuels. Blending more ethanol to make E15 displaces more toxic components in gasoline, reducing exhaust emissions for cleaner air.”
The bill has also garnered the support of the National Corn Growers Association and several Midwest governors who have already taken measures within their states to ensure year-round access to E15 for motorists.
ISA holds first Impact Awards banquet
BLOOMINGTON — The Illinois Soybean Association hosted its first ever Impact Awards banquet November 29th at the Bloomington-Normal Marriott. The banquet, held in conjunction with ISA’s winter board meeting, served to acknowledge individuals who have made an impact on the state’s soybean industry. The evening’s emcee, Tyne Morgan, kicked off the evening by recognizing the 2022 ISA Achievement Award winners. They included Ken Dalenberg (Chairman’s Award), Stu Ellis (Excellence in Media Award), the Hulsizer family (Farm Family of the Year), Dr. Emerson Nafziger (Friend of Illinois Soybean Farmers Award) and Representatives Cheri Bustos and Rodney Davis (Legislator of the Year).
The winners of ISA’s first 20 Under 40 Awards Program were also recognized, as were 2022 ILSoyAdvisor Award winners. The ILSoyAdvisor Awards went to John Pike (Master Adviser Award) and Janette Porter (Dave Rahe Excellence in Soils Consulting Award). The event was keynoted by Jerry Costello, Illinois Department of Agriculture director.
“Each individual recognized has made quite the impact on Illinois agriculture and we’re proud to work with them. ISA would like to thank everyone who attended the evening of celebration and we look forward to another successful year!” noted an ISA LinkedIn post about the event.
Ruppert wins Dairy Industry Service Award
BLOOMINGTON — The Illinois Milk Producers Association recognized two farmers who showcased leadership, stewardship and excellence in the dairy industry during their annual awards ceremony.
David Ruppert, of Montgomery County, was the recipient of the 2022 Dairy Industry Service Award. This award recognizes an Illinois individual who has shown exemplary service and benefit to the state’s dairy industry. In addition to serving on the Prairie Farms Board of Directors for 20 years, Ruppert held a 16-year tenure on the Illinois Board of Livestock Commissions, a governor appointed position. Additionally, Ruppert served on the Lincolnland Holstein Club Board of Directors and as president of the Illinois State Holstein Association, among other dairy industry leadership roles.
In addition, the Scheider Dairy Farm in Stephenson County was recognized with the ILMPA’s 2022 Dairy Sustainability Award. The dairy operation is managed by Doug and Trish Scheider, fourth generation farmers, and Dan and Sarah Scheider, fifth generation farmers, who milk approximately 650 Holstein cows.
The Freeport dairy farm has a long history of farm partnerships. It is recognized as a progressive and environmentally conscientious farm that utilizes cover-crop best practices in addition to investing in their cow’s comfort. Their herd is consistently rated in the top 100 for energy corrected milk according to the Central Star Dairy Herd Information Association Cooperative, which serves Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois and Indiana. (ILMPA news release)
Illinois Farm Fact:
Nearby futures prices at the close of trade on Nov. 28 were $6.69/bushel for corn and $14.57/bushel for soybeans. (U of I farmdoc team)