R.F.D. NEWS & VIEWS: State rural vaccine availability expanded

By Tim Alexander for Chronicle Media

The State of Illinois has launched a rural vaccination pilot program. The program was launched with vaccination events in Fayette and Shelby counties, where a combined 2,600 doses were to be administered before expanding the program to additional sites in Moultrie and Clay County.

This week’s farm and rural news report includes info on the state’s rural COVID-19 vaccination program, an important cutoff date for CSP applications and the return of youth livestock exhibitions at the State Fairgrounds. For more, please read on …


State rural vaccine availability expanded

SPRINGFIELD — To further expand vaccine accessibility in rural communities, the State of Illinois has launched a rural vaccination pilot program. Beginning last week, additional National Guard mobile operations began visiting rural communities with the capability to deliver upwards of 1,000 doses of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine per day. The program was launched with vaccination events in Fayette and Shelby counties, where a combined 2,600 doses were to be administered before expanding the program to additional sites in Moultrie and Clay County.

As the spring planting season approaches, these rural vaccination clinics serve as an opportunity for farmers, according to Illinois Lt. Governor Juliana Stratton, who is also chair of the governor’s Rural Affairs Council. “Before the busy planting season gets underway, we urge eligible farmers and producers to find a vaccination center near them. In many cases, farmers are self-employed. As a reminder, there is no charge to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Insurance is not required, and the vaccine will be administered regardless of your immigration status,” she said.

Moving forward with the rural vaccination program, mobile vaccination teams will be operated by members of the Illinois National Guard in partnership with local health departments, with appointments limited to county residents only. Rural residents and others who do not have access to online services or are unable to navigate various registration websites may call and speak to a state-appointed appointment agent at 833-621-1284. For more information on how to make an appointment to receive the vaccine, updates on the state’s plan and eligibility — and answers to frequently asked questions about the COVID-19 vaccine — go to coronavirus.illinois.gov. (Illinois e-News)


Bill adds ag science to admission standard

SPRINGFIELD — A bill that would add agricultural sciences as a type of course that may be counted towards the requirement for three years of sciences in order to gain admission to an Illinois public university passed the Senate Higher Education Committee Tuesday.

“The study of agriculture is vitally important, and our curricula should reflect that,” said State Sen. Doris Turner, D-Springfield, the bill’s sponsor. “The current exclusion as an option for a science course for admission is a huge disservice to students who plan to one day study and/or work in the field.”

Current minimum requirements to gain admission to state universities include the completion of at least 15 units of high school coursework in the following subjects: English, social studies, mathematics, (laboratory) sciences and electives in either foreign language, music, vocational education, or art. Though certain colleges may currently accept agricultural science under the auspices of a “science course,” this bill allows all public universities to adopt the standard, adding some conformity to available options. The measure passed out of the Senate Higher Education Committee and is now in front of the full state Senate for further consideration. (Ill. Senate Dems news release)


CSP application date set for May 7

CHAMPAIGN — Illinois State Conservationist Ivan Dozier has announced the submission deadline for 2021 Conservation Stewardship Program applications. In order to be considered for funding in fiscal year 2021 the application cutoff is May 7. USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) plans to invest up to $7.85 million for new CSP contracts in fiscal year 2021 in Illinois, the NRCS announced in a March 17 news release.

“CSP continues to be a very effective tool for producers working to achieve their conservation and management goals,” said Dozier. While applications are accepted throughout the year, interested producers should submit applications to their local NRCS office by May 7, to ensure their applications are considered for 2021 funding, he added.

According to Illinois NRCS, CSP provides benefits including increased crop yields, decreased input costs, wildlife habitat improvements and increased resilience to weather extremes. CSP can be applied to working lands including cropland, pastureland and nonindustrial private forest land. The program assists agricultural and forestland producers in building on existing conservation efforts while strengthening their entire operation.

Producers interested in CSP should submit an application (NRCS-CPA-1200 form) to the local NRCS field office or through the Farmers.gov website using their account. A blank NRCS-CPA-1200 application form may be obtained from the local office or on the Illinois NRCS website. Producers wishing to use Farmers.gov, can sign in or create an account by clicking on “Sign up” in the upper right of the website. For additional information about CSP, contact your local USDA service center or visit www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/il/programs/financial/csp/.


Illinois youth livestock event announced

URBANA — Illinois beef youth will gather to gain hands-on experience in the livestock field during the 2021 Illinois 4-H Junior Livestock Conference, to be held April 24 and 25. The theme of this year’s conference is “Making Your Mark,” highlighting the roles and skills that youth can take in shaping the future of the livestock industry.

“There are so many ways teens can make their mark on the livestock industry, from learning how to identify disease to branding a steer to developing a new feed ration,” said Dan Jennings, University of Illinois Extension 4-H animal systems youth development educator. “Our goal with this conference and all of our programming is to help shape the next generation of leaders.”

Participants will attend Glove-Up sessions throughout the conference that will allow them to work hands-on in a variety of skills, including milking a mechanical cow, practicing wound care on live animals and creating feed formulations.

“Glove-Up sessions are hands-on workshops that allow youth to actually put on gloves and gain experience right there in the conference,” Jennings says. “Providing the information is great, but there’s no substitute for practicing the skill in a guided setting right there in the moment.”

Hands-on workshop sessions include poultry, egg judging and breed identification, mastitis testing and milking a cow, making rope halters, saddle fitting and livestock knots, and more.

The event will be held in the Illinois Building on the Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield. All Illinois Department of Public Health COVID-19 protocols will be enforced. (Ill. Farm Bureau news)


Illinois Farm Fact:

Illinois is the first state to require everyone who handles ammonia to receive training, growers included. (Illinois Fertilizer & Chemical Association)