RFD: Milkweed seed available to farmers, gardeners

By Tim Alexander for Chronicle Media

Kay MacNeil, the Frankfort, Illinois woman behind Milkweed for Monarchs, is offering free samples and large, bulk mailings of milkweed seed to Illinois farmers and residents. (Photo courtesy of Kay MacNeil)

This week in Illinois agriculture and rural life, we have more info on proposed CO2 pipelines in Illinois, along with farmers’ 2023 planting intentions and grain stocks report highlights. Please plow ahead …


Illinois planting intentions, grain stocks reports

SPRINGFIELD — The United States Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) has issued 2023 Prospective Planting reports, including projections for Illinois farmers. According to the report, Illinois corn growers intend to plant 11 million acres in 2023, up two percent from 2022. Soybean planted area is expected to total 10.8 million acres, unchanged from the previous year.

The report also estimated winter wheat area seeded last fall at 880,000 acres, up 35 percent from the previous year. Area planted to oats is expected to total 45,000 acres, down 25 percent from 2022. Producers intend to harvest 345,000 acres of all hay in 2023, down 30 percent from last year, according to the March 31 report.

Also issued March 31, USDA-NASS’ Winter Grain Stocks report showed Illinois corn stocks in all positions totaled 1.34 billion bushels, up 6 percent from March 1, 2022. On-farm stocks totaled 620 million bushels, while off-farm stocks totaled 716 million bushels. Indicated disappearance from December 2022 — February 2023 is 643 million bushels.

Illinois soybean stocks in all positions on March 1, 2023 totaled 270 million bushels, down 20 percent from March 1, 2022. On-farm stocks totaled 125 million bushels, while off-farm stocks totaled 145 million bushels. The December 2022 — February 2023 indicated disappearance is 276 million bushels. Illinois wheat stocks in all positions on March 1, 2023 totaled 19.4 million bushels, down 15 percent from a year prior. On-farm wheat stocks totaled 1.25 million bushels in Illinois, while off-farm stocks totaled 18.1 million bushels. The December 2022 — February 2023 indicated disappearance is 10.6 million bushels. (USDA-NASS Illinois)


Local food support up for debate

SPRINGFIELD — Illinois’ new Local Food Infrastructure Grant Act (SB2432), sponsored by Senator Dave Koehler, creates a state-funded grant program for local food infrastructure projects and appropriates $2 million to the Illinois Department of Agriculture to fund and administer the program. Koehler’s legislation opens the door for farms to purchase critical infrastructure and for new processing facilities like mills and canneries to get a jump start while giving Illinoisans greater access to local food, according to proponents.

“The LFI grant program would give us the opportunity to make the most out of our harvestable yields and provide locally grown food to our customers year-round,” said Monee farmer Morgan Snedden of Fox at the Fork Farm, who serves as a member of Illinois Stewardship Alliance’s Local Food Farmer Caucus, a group of farmers statewide that work to identify barriers to growing the local food economy.

According to the Alliance, nearly every neighboring state around Illinois has a comparable grant program administered through their department of agriculture to support local food infrastructure projects. This legislation would come just after Illinois was awarded over $21 million in cooperative agreement grants from the USDA to purchase food from socially disadvantaged farmers to distribute in underserved communities. Illinois would join Iowa, Wisconsin, Missouri, Michigan, Minnesota and Kentucky in allocating state funds to support local food infrastructure. (ISA news release)


Milkweed seed available to farmers, gardeners

FRANKFORT — Monarch butterfly numbers have decreased by 90 percent, according to Kay MacNeil, a northern Illinois woman who has led the nonprofit “Milkweed for Monarchs” campaign for several years and offers free milkweed seed to Illinoisans. “This is the state insect of Illinois. This is the beloved icon of the Midwest. We need milkweed in every garden and along the roadsides of America,” said McNeil, who issued a news release last week offering free milkweed seed to those willing to pay the postage fee for delivery.

For samples of three kinds of milkweed (varieties vary as to what is available) and instructional literature, send $3 cash and a stamped, self addressed business sized envelope to Milkweed For Monarchs Director Kay MacNeil, 689 Golf Club Ln., Frankfort, Ill., 60423.

To receive 100 packets of milkweed seed and copies of all milkweed literature, send a check made out to Kay MacNeil for $55. To receive bulk common (asclepias syriaca) milkweed in pods for big acreage projects, call Milkweed for Monarchs Director Kay MacNeil, (815-469-1294), describe your big acreage project and promise not to mow till October and she will ship you free milkweed seed pods. You only send her a check for the metered postage on the top of the box.

MacNeil noted that milkweed plants are among the only plants Monarch butterflies will lay their seeds on, and that there are around ten species of milkweed that can be grown in Illinois.

More info: www.milkweedformonarchs.info. MacNeil may also be reached at  kaymac60423@yahoo.com.


Interested in CO2 pipeline updates?

CHAMPAIGN — Illinois’ EcoJustice Collaborative sends out weekly updates about the status of Navigator and Wolf ADM CO2 pipelines currently proposed for Illinois. The organization’s emails also include invitations to their weekly, online Thursday night informational meetings.

Recently, the EJC obtained documents under the Freedom of Information Act showing Navigator’s 1350-mile CO2 pipeline project would cross over a total of 1,800 waters of the U.S. and impact over 150 acres of wetland. The project also includes horizontal directional drilling under major rivers, such as the Illinois and the Mississippi, according to the EJC.

“As incredible as it may seem, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is ready to permit the project, not as a one complete pipeline, but as 1800 separate projects, under its expedited Nationwide permitting program. This will allow the pipeline to proceed without a full environmental review or any public comment,” the EJC commented in a recent email. “We think that this is outrageous and an abuse of the permitting system.”

For more information on proposed CO2 pipelines in Illinois or to subscribe to ECJ emails, drop a note to Pam Richart at prichart@ecojusticecollaborative.org.



Illinois Farm Fact:

Currently, 95 percent of the food consumed in Illinois is purchased from outside our borders, which means an estimated $46 billion flows to other states and nations instead of building the local and state economy. (Illinois Stewardship Alliance)