R.F.D. NEWS & VIEWS: Illinois soy leaders gain national appointments

By Tim Alexander for Chronicle Media

Tractor spraying pesticides on soybean field with sprayer at spring

The state’s top rural news item from the past week was the tornadoes and high winds that crossed southern and central Illinois, leaving behind death and destruction. We have a report from the Illinois Farm Bureau and State Climatologist Trent Ford. For this and other top farm and rural news reports, please read on …


Illinois twisters: Lives lost eclipse property damage

BLOOMINGTON — In Illinois, at least six people lost their lives when a suspected EF-3 grade tornado destroyed part of an Amazon distribution warehouse in Madison County near Edwardsville in the late-night hours of Dec. 10. While this sad news far eclipses property damage reports, there was plenty of devastation experienced by the rural sector in southern Illinois, particularly along Route 16 in Moultrie County. There, an FS bulk fuel plant was totally flattened, the Illinois farm Bureau reported.

Speaking on RFD Radio (not affiliated with this column), Illinois State Climatologist Trent Ford said tornado damage affected 29 counties in Illinois that were later declared state and federal disaster areas. “The weekend weather office for central Illinois had surveyed four tornadoes, all of which were EF-2 except for one that was an EF-3. They ranged from Pike County in western Illinois through Shelby, Moultrie and Coles counties with destruction of buildings in areas of Coles County, especially, including northeast of Mattoon,” Ford reported. “The big one was the EF-3 tornado that set down right outside the St. Louis metro area and moved across the river into the Edwardsville area.

“There were 20 to 30 severe wind reports from that night, everything from trees to semis blown over, and roofs off of farm buildings. One big one was an 85 mph wind gust that was recorded in Tazewell County, and destroyed their salt dome there. An overall really intense night that followed a really mild November.”

Our thoughts and prayers are with those readers and families affected by these storms.


Illinois farmer to lead FSA

BLOOMINGTON — President Joe Biden has appointed Illinois farmer Scott Halpin to lead the U.S. Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency as state executive director for Illinois. Illinois Farm Bureau President Richard Guebert was among the first to congratulate the Grundy County farmer on his appointment.

“Illinois Farm Bureau congratulates Scott Halpin on being named USDA Farm Service Agency state executive director. Having served with him in his roles as president of Kendall-Grundy Farm Bureau and as an Illinois Farm Bureau director, I can say that Scott is an excellent, thoughtful leader who is the right person to lead the state FSA,” said Guebert, who was recently elected to a fifth and final term as IFB president.

According to a USDA news release, Halpin is owner and operator of Halpin Farms and Halpin Farms Cattle, along with his parents and brother. The family plants a corn and soybean rotation and also produces hay and silage. Halpin has adapted conservation management practices on his farm to allow milkweed to grow in non-crop areas, which supports the monarch butterfly population and improves conservation efforts for on farm pollinator habitats. In addition to his farm work, Halpin has served in several key roles within the Illinois Farm Bureau.

Recently, Halpin traveled internationally to learn first-hand about international trade issues as a member of the Illinois Agricultural Leadership Program. Halpin, a graduate of Joliet Junior College with a degree in agriculture production, lives in South Wilmington with his wife, Sarah, and their three children.


Illinois soy leaders gain national appointments

BLOOMINTON — The Illinois Soybean Association announced last week that the United Soybean Board and American Soybean Association Board have elected Illinois representatives to executive committee positions. Daryl Cates of Columbia, Illinois was elected as ASA Vice President, which offers him a leading role in driving policy initiatives forward for soybean growers. Stan Born of Mahomet, Illinois, was elected as an at-large member of the ASA executive committee. In addition, the USB Board elected Gary Berg of St. Elmo, Illinois, to their executive committee. Congratulations to all of the advancing Illinois leaders in agriculture!


IDOA: Dicamba usage will continue with restrictions

SPRINGFIELD — Though usage of the controversial herbicide dicamba will continue to be restricted in Illinois in 2022, no new regulations will be placed on applicators. This was announced by Jerry Costello II, director of the Illinois Department of Agriculture on Dec. 17.

“The number of off-target complaints received over the past two growing seasons has declined dramatically since implementing changes to label restrictions,” Costello said in an Illinois e-News release. “The decision to keep these rules in place was made after evaluating several factors, including the reduction of pesticide misuse cases involving the use of dicamba on soybeans from 2019 to 2020.”

However, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is still reviewing the dicamba federal label for 2022, according to a Dec. 16 update from the Illinois Fertilizer and Chemical Association. “We hope to see a decision made very soon. It is important to make clear that the federal label supersedes any requirements set forth by IDOA. Despite IDOA indicating that there will be no changes from what was required in 2021 for dicamba application OTT of soybean, any changes made to the federal label requiring additional requirements or prohibitions will then need to be observed within Illinois as well,” the IFCA stated.

As of Dec. 6, EPA has not yet made any decision regarding altering the 2020 dicamba registrations, according to Meg Hathaway, a senior regulatory specialist from the EPA Office of Pesticide Programs. While the agency is “sensitive” to the urgent need for states and farmers to know what dicamba use will look like in 2022, but there are “too many variables” at play for the agency to commit to the timing of a decision, the IFCA reported. The EPA is in active conversations with the registrants, with at least one already submitting potential “mitigation measures” that could be added to current dicamba labels, Hathaway told sources.


Illinois Farm Fact:

Considering $3.52 per bushel corn, beef and pork exports account for $1.87 billion per year in market value to the corn industry. (Illinois Corn Marketing Board)