R.F.D. NEWS & VIEWS: Turkey harvest down in 2021

By Tim Alexander for Chronicle Media

Despite an increase in hunting permits sold, the fall Illinois wild turkey harvest was well below the previous year’s count and slightly below the historical average.

In this week’s news digest for Illinois farmers and rural dwellers, the Illinois corn checkoff rate may be increasing. We’ve also got a broadband update and news from the Illinois Fertilizer and Chemical Association annual conference. Additionally, where did all the wild turkeys go in Illinois? We’ve got the surprisingly low numbers from the fall harvest. Please read on …


Corn checkoff pay-in to increase?

SPRINGFIELD — Illinois’ corn checkoff program assesses farmers a five-eighths-cent voluntary fee for each bushel sold at market. In 2021, corn checkoff dollars in Illinois went towards increasing demand for beef exports to widen the market for feed, investing in lock and dam upgrades, ethanol exports, consumer education, biofuels infrastructure and expanding the state’s Precision Conservation Management program.

Now, corn growers are being asked to increase their voluntary checkoff rate to seven-eighths cent per bushel (growers would continue to have a right to refund). Illinois Department of Agriculture Director Jerry Costello II announced last week that a public hearing has been scheduled to allow farmers to offer input on the proposal.

The hearing is scheduled for 10 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 10 in the IDOA auditorium, located on the Illinois State Fairgrounds in the John R. Block Building. Following the hearing, the Illinois Corn Marketing Board will meet to review the comments. If the ICMB approves the proposed amendment, IDOA will schedule a referendum in accordance with the Illinois Corn Marketing Act.

Farmers who are unable to attend the hearing may submit written comments by Feb. 9, 2022. Comments should be addressed to the Director of the Illinois Department of Agriculture (Costello), P.O. Box 19281, Springfield, Ill., 62794-9281 or emailed to agr.marketnews@illinois.gov. Comments must include full name, address, and telephone number.

“(Through the corn checkoff) We’ve grown markets, we’ve increased profitability, we’ve grown opportunities for young farmers, and we’ve even grown community and state involvement,” noted Mark Wilson, ICMB chairman, in December. “I’m proud of the work our Illinois corn checkoff has completed, and I know Illinois farmers have benefited from the investments. I’m also proud to steward these funds with a board of 14 other Illinois farmers, each aware of our collective sacrifice and investment in the greater good.”


IFCA elects KJ Johnson to lead

PEORIA — The board of directors of the Illinois Fertilizer and Chemical Association voted to remove the “interim” tag from the title of president for Kevin “KJ” Johnson during the recent IFCA annual convention at the Peoria Civic Center. “The board actually voted in January, and at the annual meeting they announced they were taking the interim tag off,” KJ told “R.F.D. News & Views”. “I’ve gotta give credit to the board for having the confidence in me to take the reins after such an accomplished leader as Jean (Payne, who retired last year). I appreciate their confidence in me.”

After canceling their annual, three-day get-together in winter 2021 due to Covid, IFCA members, including fertilizer retailers and equipment dealers were anxious to meet. Though trade show and session attendance fell short of an average year, Johnson was not discouraged by the disparity.

“We had about 80 percent, which is average for a trade show right now,” he said. “It’s less than our last three year’s average, but we anticipated that going in. But I thought it went well; I talked to a lot of exhibitors and people who thought it went well. Hopefully next year this time we are not in the middle of Covid, and we can have everyone back.”

Johnson, who along with his family was profiled in the January 2022 edition of Illinois Field & Bean, worked in the past as an aide to Illinois Congressman Tim Johnson before becoming a lobbyist for IFCA. He farms in Vermillion County.


$47 million designated for rural broadband

BLOOMINGTON — The Illinois Soybean Association is lauding Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s Connect Illinois program, a part of Pritzker’s bipartisan $45 billion Rebuild Illinois capital plan that seeks to bring high speed broadband to unserviced and rural areas of the state. The governor’s office and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity Office of Broadband announced last week that $47 million in funding will be available for 22 projects in every region of the state through the second round of Connect Illinois. In addition, the Illinois Office of Broadband is making $350 million in funding available through a third round of grants to promote broadband connection, which will be accepted and awarded on a rolling basis through 2024, or until funds are depleted.

According to ISA Director and Illinois farmer, Scott Gaffner, “Studies have shown that farm families increase profitability on their farms when high-speed broadband is available. The recent commitment by Governor Pritzker, to provide the largest broadband capital investment to date, will substantially help soybean farmers to become more successful with their business operations and will greatly assist in providing broadband to Illinois’ rural residents.”


Turkey harvest down in 2021

SPRINGFIELD — Despite an increase in hunting permits sold, the fall Illinois wild turkey harvest was well below the previous year’s count and slightly below the historical average. The Illinois Department of Agriculture announced that hunters in Illinois harvested a statewide total of 683 wild turkeys during the 2021-22 fall archery turkey season.

The total comes in 100 birds less than the statewide turkey harvest of 783 in 2020-21 and slightly less than the five-year average of 688 turkeys harvested. This despite selling 24,768 permits (excluding landowner permits) to hunters compared to 24,187 for the 2020-21 season. The season dates were Oct. 1, 2021, through Jan. 16, 2022, and all 102 counties were open for hunting.

The fall harvest consisted of 51 percent toms and 49 percent hens. The top five counties for fall archery wild turkey harvest this season were Madison (19), Jefferson (18), Schuyler (18), Franklin (16), and St. Clair (15), according to an Illinois e-News release.


Illinois Farm Fact:

Round two funding for Connect Illinois will expand broadband access to approximately 13,000 homes, businesses, farms, and community institutions across Illinois through 22 new projects, with at least one in every region of the state. (Illinois Soybean Association)


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