agriculture

Douglas rattles around a collection of glass jars in the storage closet of his Denver apartment. They’re filled with a small grain, like barley, and covered in a soft white fungus — a mushroom spawn. Soon, he’ll transplant it in large plastic bins filled nutrients like dried manure and coconut fiber.

Over the course of two weeks, mushrooms that naturally contain psilocybin, a psychoactive ingredient, will sprout.

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WSIU/Kevin Boucher

The Director of the Illinois Department of Agriculture had some good news for State Fair Goers on Wednesday, June 12th, 2019. Standing in front of the DuQuoin State Fair Grandstand, Director John Sullivan said, thanks to the passage of the recent Capital Spending plan, work is being done right now to re–surface main street and the loop on the fairgrounds.  Sullivan said the work is being done by the Illinois Department of Transportation, and IDOT hopes to have the project done by June 21st.

Perry County resident, and Fair Manager,  Josh Gross  says the investment in the Fair amounts to just over 350– Thousand Dollars.  Gross also added that, starting this year, there will be NO admission fee to attend the DuQuoin State Fair.  Gross also said that this year's Grandstand Lineup will be announced this Monday, June 17th.

Farmers have been using the weed killer glyphosate – a key ingredient of the product Roundup – at soaring levels even as glyphosate has become increasingly less effective and as health concerns and lawsuits mount.

Nationwide, the use of glyphosate on crops increased from 13.9 million pounds in 1992 to 287 million pounds in 2016, according to estimates by the U.S. Geological Survey.

By The Numbers: Glyphosate Use In The Midwest For Corn, Soybeans

Jun 12, 2019

Glyphosate is the most-used pesticide on U.S. crops, an estimated 287 million pounds in 2016, according to an analysis by the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting.

The Midwest saw 65 percent of the nation’s total agriculture glyphosate use on crops, a 12-state territory that includes Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and North Dakota.

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Courtesy of Illinois Farm Week

On this edition of WSIU InFocus, WSIU's Kevin Boucher visits with U of I Extension Educator in Local Foods and Small Farms, Nathan Johanning.

As grassland and prairies gave way to farmland in the Midwest, habitats for some native birds disappeared. There’s a relatively new program in central Illinois looking to restore wetlands for migrating birds and help farmers at the same time.

The program to help them is limited but is secure for now. However, the future for both the bird and the program could be on shakier ground in just a few years.

Northwestern Illinois’ Stephenson County is one area where changes in the status of cannabis are being embraced. The people doing it are not necessarily the ones you’d expect.

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Jackson County State's Attorney

A professor in SIU-Carbondale's College of Agricultural Sciences has pleaded not guilty to the charge of Theft of Governmental Property.

The Jackson County State's Attorney says 39-year-old Jeremy Davis of Carterville is accused of stealing a polymerase chain reaction machine and a Nano Drop machine.

A group of 16 Illinois organizations and agencies have teamed up to help the monarch butterfly survive. 

Andrew Joyce won’t be growing any tomatoes this summer. His three-acre produce farm in Malden, Missouri, will lie fallow. The cause: damage from the weed killer dicamba.

It’s been five years since the last ag census. Since 2012, the U.S. has lost about 70,000 farms, saw the average age of farmers go up and prices for certain commodities go down.

A company that makes dicamba-resistant soybeans and cotton wants to expand use of the controversial weed killer to corn. But critics and experts questioning the logic of the petition.

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Stock Image

On Thursday, April 11th, 2019, the non-profit Keep Carbondale Beautiful is teaming up with the College Of Agricultural Student Advisory Council to remove harmful Wintercreeper vines in some properties in Carbondale.

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U.S. Dept. of Agriculture

Illinois grants of more than $700,000 will be available over three years to specialty-crop growers to encourage fresh, locally grown produce.

The Illinois Department of Agriculture announced the program Wednesday. The money is allocated in the federal Farm Bill's Specialty Crop Grant Program.

The Illinois Department of Agriculture has submitted their final draft of rules for the industrial hemp program. There were a few noteworthy changes made from the initial draft that was posted back in late Dec. 2018. 

At Hummel’s Nissan in Des Moines, Kevin Caldwell sells the all-electric Leaf. Driving one is basically the same as driving a typical gasoline or gas-electric hybrid car, he said, except for a few new features like the semi-autonomous hands-free option. And the fact that you plug it in rather than pumping gas into it.

About a quarter to a third of Caldwell’s Leaf customers are farmers, some of whom grow corn for ethanol.

Slow internet service can slow a business down, adding up to lost time and money. And often the problem is worse in rural areas.

That’s one reason John Sullivan, acting director of the Illinois Department of Agriculture, said improving internet access is a top priority for him.

“If there isn’t adequate access to high-speed internet, it really drags and holds back the possibility for jobs and opportunities in those areas,” he said.

In theory, closing off China’s soybean market due to the trade dispute with the U.S. on top of generally low prices for the commodity should affect all industry players, big to small. Agriculture economist Pat Westhoff begged to differ.

The U.S. trade war with China has created a financial burden for farmers and companies that import Chinese goods. Consumers, on the other hand, have mostly been spared from the conflict.

That could all change if this month’s negotiations between the U.S. and China don’t go well.

The U.S. trade war with China, now approaching a year, is often framed as hurting manufacturing and agriculture the most. But that’s mainly collateral damage in an international struggle over power and technology that has its roots in the Cold War, when China was still considered a largely undeveloped country.

  The Illinois Department of Agriculture heard from the public on Tuesday regarding proposed rules for the state's industrial hemp program

At her desk in Greeley, Colorado, Shelly Woods pulls out three thick stacks of manila folders. These files represent dozens of local farmers who’ve applied for safety-net programs, including tariff relief through the Farm Service Agency. While Woods and about 800,000 federal colleagues were furloughed for 35 days, the work piled up.

John Sullivan was chosen by Gov. J.B. Pritzker to head the Illinois Department of Agriculture, succeeding former director Raymond Poe. 

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Congressman Mike Bost's office

Murphysboro republican Congressman Mike Bost and Florida democrat Al Lawson introduced bipartisan legislation Tuesday to try to help America's agriculture industry.

Government Shutdown Stalls Farm Programs

Jan 8, 2019

The partial government shutdown could affect farmers as they plan for the next growing season. DeKalb County Farm Bureau manager Greg Millburg says the shutdown mostly affects farmers interacting with the U.S.

Dicamba, the controversial herbicide used on soybeans and cotton, is responsible for thousands of acres of damaged crops in recent years.

Experts say that despite new federal rules that go into effect in 2019, the drift will continue but the victims will be different.

This week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture determined that only foods containing detectable genetic material should be considered as bioengineered or genetically modified (GMO).

The USDA was tasked with deciding if refined products, like soybean oil and corn sweeteners, should be considered a GMO food. It said they are not, which is a victory for sugar beet farmers.

Small internet service providers in Illinois are optimistic after the farm bill – which President Trump recently signed – included more money for expanding high-speed internet access in sparsely populated areas.

The law earmarks $350 million annually for loans and grants for broadband projects. That’s on top of $600 million set aside earlier this year for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Re-Connect program.

Amid talk of possibly legalizing marijuana in Illinois in the near future, farmers will soon be able to grow another type of cannabis plant thanks to a new state law.

Back in 2010, there were high hopes in Colorado that locally grown hops, the plant that gives beer a bitter or citrusy flavor, would help feed the then booming craft beer market. In just six years, the industry sprouted from almost nothing to 200 acres, according to the trade association Hop Growers of America.

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