agriculture

October and November Means Garlic.

Oct 9, 2018
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Provided

Even though most gardens are winding down this time of year, Garlic can be planted now for harvest later this summer.

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Abby Wendle / Harvest Public Media

Gov. Bruce Rauner has declared a “harvest emergency” across Illinois.

That means farmers can exceed vehicle weight limits when trucking their crops to market.

The details of the federal government’s $12 billion aid package for farmers affected by trade disputes are out — and soybean farmers are the major beneficiaries.

Back in 2012, one of the major employers in Montrose, Colorado, a sawmill, was in receivership and on the brink of collapse. At the time, local media reported that the cost of logging timber had become prohibitively expensive, and the log yard was nearly empty.  

These days, logs are stacked high next to a humming mill. Production is up 20 percent from even just 2016.

Harvest season isn’t far away for corn and soybean farmers, whose crops are worth less now than when they planted in the spring due to the United States’ trade war.

“We don't know what to think from one day to the next. It's hard to plan,” said Duane Hund, a farmer in Kansas’ Flint Hills.

Forty percent of farmers polled this summer by Farm Futures said President Donald Trump’s trade policy is permanently damaging U.S. agriculture. The scrambling of global markets is just beginning, Hund said, and pointed to the 1980 Russian grain embargo as an example.

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State of Illinois

Governor Bruce Rauner signed agriculture bills over the weekend at the DuQuoin State Fair.

One increases truck haul weights for farmers.

Pesticides are all over, from backyard gardens to cornfields. While their use doesn’t appear to be slowing, concern over drift and the resulting effects on health is driving research — and more worries.

Those concerns are bringing pesticides to a different venue: courtrooms. 

There could soon be a different kind of fuel going into trucks and planes, one that could help farmers and create rural jobs.

It’d come from sorghum: a grass grown around the world, but increasingly so in states like Kansas, Colorado and Nebraska. 

Esperanza Yanez can spot a sick cow just by looking at it.

“The head hangs down and they don’t eat,” said Yanez, who immigrated from Mexico two decades ago and has been caring for cattle ever since.

Illinois’ agriculture sector has been through trade disruptions in the past …  but what they’re dealing with right NOW ... is different.  

Mark Gebhards is Executive Director of Government Affairs & Commodities with the Illinois Farm Bureau … he says corn and soybean farmers have weathered other trade disagreements … like the tariffs they’re currently facing from China. 

Bruce Carney raises cattle, poultry and a few sheep on his 300-acre farm in Maxwell, Iowa. He no longer grows any grain, but is preparing for new crops of a different kind.

Orange flags dot what was previously a cattle lot, with a ridge (or swale) built around it to manage water flow. The fruit trees Carney will be planting at each of the flags later this year will also help.

Shortage Of Rural Veterinarians Puts Farmers, Food Supply At Risk

Jul 16, 2018

Thirty-eight calves, between two and four months old, moo and kick at the dirt floor in a steel barn in Brush, Colorado. One by one, a handler leads them from the pen to a narrow chute, where their legs are restrained and they’re lifted onto a hydraulic table.  

Farmers are entering their 5th year of low crop prices ... and now soybeans have reached a 10-year low, in part due to Chinese tariffs.

Economists say this could be a pivotal year for Illinois farmers.

The corn and soybeans growing in Glenn Brunkow’s fields in the rolling Flint Hills north of Wamego, Kansas, got some much needed rain recently and look healthy.

Brunkow has reason to expect a good harvest, but the way things are looking globally, he’ll lose money on the crop. Trade disputes with China, Mexico and Canada threaten to slash U.S. food exports by billions. About half the soybean crop goes overseas, most of that to China — and since mid-April, soybean prices have plunged about 20 percent and corn about 15 percent.

WSIU InFocus: Southern Illinois Peach Crop

Jun 28, 2018
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WSIU

Rendleman Orchards has been around almost as long as the State of Illinois. WSIU's Amelia Blakely talks with Wayne Sirles about the business and how the 2018 peach crop is looking so far.

Two counties in southwestern Illinois grow the majority of the nation’s — possibly the world’s — horseradish. The city of Collinsville, population 25,000, straddles both Madison and St. Clair, and celebrates the root annually, hosting the International Horseradish Festival.

Harvest Public Media decided it was time to check out the entertainment, games and horseradish-based dishes and drinks. Here’s a bite of the zesty gathering.

LEAF Online Farmers Market Starts Second Season

Apr 20, 2018
LEAF Food Hub
Benjy Jeffords / WSIU

Last year, we introduced you to Little Egypt Alliance of Farmers – or LEAF – and their online farmers market.

Spring is here, the grass is growing, trees are starting to show their leaves, and flowers are starting to bloom.

Some people are planning to start a garden while others plan on going to the farmers market.

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File

A southern Illinois lawmaker is trying to lower costs on downstate truck drivers.

State Representative Natalie Phelps Finnie says she has successfully passed legislation out of a House committee to increase truck hall weights for farmers.

The U.S., Canada and Mexico wrapped up the latest round of negotiations earlier this month over NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement.

President Donald Trump has threatened to terminate the trade pact, which he continues to call a bad deal for the U.S. But NAFTA has helped grow the beef industry beyond the U.S. borders, so while some worry about the Trump administration’s wavering commitment to NAFTA, others want more protections.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture tossed out a set of proposed changes this week that would have redefined living conditions for dairy and beef cattle, sheep, lamb, poultry and egg-laying chickens on certified organic farms.

Widespread Drought Across US Stoking Fears That 2012's Devastation Will Repeat

Feb 28, 2018

Western Illinois might be close to the Mississippi and Illinois rivers, but it’s the driest part of the state this year.

“We really haven’t really had any measurable rain since the middle of October,” says Ken Schafer, who farms winter wheat, corn and soybeans in Jerseyville, north of St. Louis. “I dug some post-holes this winter, and it's just dust.”

In Organic Labels Consumers Trust, But Fraud Threatens The Industry

Feb 22, 2018

Peyton Manning, the NFL quarterback-turned-pitchman, apparently has another side hustle: Certifying shipments of grain as organic for a Nebraska-based agency called OneCert.

Problem is, OneCert president Sam Welsch doesn’t remember hiring Manning for his business, which is accredited by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to inspect everything from small vegetable farms to processing plants and international grain operations.

Partisan politics may meet its match in the 2018 farm bill.

The massive legislation, versions of which will be introduced this spring in the U.S. House and Senate, is shaping up to be less about political affiliations and more about finding common ground.

Rural America was an important demographic in the last election cycle, helping Donald Trump advance to the White House over Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. Even though Illinois was an electoral victory for Clinton, only twelve of Illinois’ 102 counties went blue, and more than half of those were located in Chicagoland

After reports last year that the popular weed–killer Dicamba had damaged  soybeans in Missouri and other states, its manufacturer, Monsanto, revised their use guidelines. 

Farm, Food, Forestry And More On The Table In The Next Federal Farm Bill

Jan 16, 2018

In the coming months, Congress will map out how it’ll spend upwards of $500 billion on food and farm programs over the next five years.

The massive piece of legislation known as the farm bill affects all taxpayers — whether they know it or not — and runs the gamut from farm safety net and conservation programs to food stamps and loan guarantees for rural hospitals. Since the bill hasn’t been introduced yet, now is the time when interest groups, farmers and others clamor to ensure their desires will be heard.

A few years ago, Kansas City restaurateur Anton Kotar surveyed the local and national restaurant scenes and concluded his town’s reputation as a steakhouse paradise had slipped.

The problem, he says, is the way conventional beef is raised – bulked up with grain on feedlots, making it cheap and plentiful and changing what Americans expect to taste.

Egg Prices Expected To Rise In First Months Of 2018

Jan 2, 2018

The U.S. Department of Agriculture predicts consumers will be paying less for beef, pork, lamb, chicken and turkey in early 2018 than at the start of 2017. Not so for eggs.

Farmers Explore Cover Crops to Aid Winter Losses

Dec 5, 2017
Agriculture
Illinois Public Radio/WILL

Farmers in Central Illinois are experimenting with cover crops to stop soil erosion. Cover crops can also help stop an environmental threat hundreds of miles away. But, do cover crops cut into a farmer’s finances—or even solvency?

Agriculture
submitted / Blue River Technology

Cameras and machine learning may eventually save farmers a lot of money on chemicals. They may even help prevent water pollution and reduce the need for genetically-modified seeds. That's according to the CEO of Blue River Technology, a company based in California's Silicon Valley that John Deere just bought for $305 million.

WVIK's Michelle O'Neill reports the acquisition may have wide-ranging effects on agriculture and other industries.

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