agriculture

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.

image
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.

Images
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. 

Images
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.

Fields, crops and farm animals are part of the agriculture-industry landscape, but an increasingly small one.

The number of farm and ranch managers shrunk by about 20 percent between 1996 and 2016, according to the Bureau of Labor statistics. At the same time, there are more students graduating from ag colleges, and, in many parts of the country, 80 percent to 90 percent of them find a job (or go for an advanced degree) within a few months of graduating.

InFocus: Pecan Harvesting in Southern Illinois

Nov 20, 2018

WSIU's Will Pankey reports on a local pecan grower, and how the team works to bring the nuts to the table.

The expiration of the Farm Bill is putting the brakes on conservation programs important for many Illinois farmers and ranchers.

While the legislation largely stalled over the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the people who grow food and livestock also were impacted.

President Donald Trump’s administration will “unleash the power of E15,” allowing the 15 percent gasoline-ethanol blend to be sold year-round.

The announcement, made public this week at a rally in Council Bluffs, Iowa, is being welcomed by corn growers and biofuel groups. But it may take longer for farmers like Kelly Nieuwenhuis of Primghar, Iowa, to feel the positive impact of E15 than they would like.

October and November Means Garlic.

Oct 9, 2018
image
Provided

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

Images
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.

Images
State of Illinois

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

One increases truck haul weights for farmers.

Pages