Agriculture

Illinois is still two centuries away from hitting towards its goal of planting enough cover crops to make a significant dent in its nutrient pollution problem in waterways. 

Jim Meadows / Illinois Public Media

U.S. Senator Dick Durbin wants the federal government to increase funding for scientific research by five percent each year.

The early snowfall this year is another frustration for farmers who have faced down difficult weather all year. 

Charlie Riedel / AP

Farmers across Illinois are still feeling the effects of historic spring rains that caused severe delays in planting.

This is the second in a four-part series about how the USDA’s trade relief payments are playing out in Central Illinois. It was produced by WCBU and WGLT.

Illinois corn farmers are on track to see their worst yields in more than 20 years. 

Creative Commons

Illinois farmers have planted less than half of their corn crop this year because of frequent spring rain. Usually they are done by now.

Quinn Dombrowski / CC by-SA 2.0 / Flickr

Gov. Bruce Rauner's administration is set to release $5 million to fund the state's soil and water conservation districts for the fiscal year that ends June 30.

 

The money is much less than the $13.5 million which lawmakers appropriated for the 96 county-based offices. But Rauner spokeswoman Rachel Bold said the Republican governor is trying to manage spending because the budget the Legislature adopted has a deficit.

Sen. Duckworth: Keep Crop Insurance at Current Levels

Feb 20, 2018
Sen. Tammy Duckworth / Facebook

President Donald Trump has proposed a 33 percent cut to the crop insurance program. That has left area farmers concerned about their ability to weather any storms that could damage their crops. A group of farmers gathered at the Peoria County Farm Bureau Monday and told U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth crop insurance not only should be kept at current levels, it should be expanded to dairy farmers.

IL Treasurer Announces New Rural Investment Program

Feb 7, 2018

Illinois Treasurer Mike Frerichs has announced a new $500-million program that will help farmers, homeowners and employees in rural parts of the state get access to low-interest loans. Speaking on Illinois Public Media’s daily news talk show The 21st on Tuesday, Frerichs said predatory lending is not just a problem in urban areas.

Cover Crops Help Preserve Ecosystem

Nov 27, 2017
CAFNR / Flickr

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 solvency? Illinois Public Radio's Mark Schultz has our story.

Daimon Eklund / Facebook

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

The designation means trucks carrying grain can exceed weight limits by 10 percent. State Agriculture Director Raymond Poe says it should help farmers get their product to market more efficiently.

Poe says it could help farmers move as much as 70 more acres per day.
Wet weather earlier this year delayed planting in parts of the state, which in turn delays the harvest. That’s led to congestion at grain elevators.

Ten agriculture-related projects that are looking for way to expand the availability of fresh, locally-grown produce in Illinois will be sharing $550,000.

Ghoulish Gourds on Display in Northern Illinois

Oct 23, 2017
Gourdheadz.com

It’s not unusual for complete strangers to stop by Joe Adkins front yard in Wheaton at this time of year. You could say he encourages it. He has several giant pumpkins on display. Two of them totalling nearly three thousand pounds. Illinois Public Radio’s Brian O’Keefe stopped at Joe’s house, and has this audio postcard. 

     

Gov. Bruce Rauner's administration has outlined more than $200 million in cuts it wants to make to Illinois' new budget, including to human services, agriculture programs and transportation.

Agriculture experts say pumpkin crops in central Illinois are still recovering, but improving two years after heavy rain decimated area yields.

New Legislation Removes Barriers At Farmers Markets

Oct 2, 2017
The Land Connection

 

As the number of farmers markets grow across the state, inconsistencies in regulation for the farmers who travel from county to county has become apparent, but new legislation intends to remove some of the barriers. 

The goal is to make it easier for farmers to sell locally grown and homemade food products. One of the new laws known as The Local Food Business Opportunities Act, creates statewide rules.

U of I College of ACES and College of LAS at IL / Twitter

Researchers with the University of Illinois’ crop research project - Realizing Increased Photosynthetic Efficiency, or RIPE for short – recently invited the media and the public to a field day. They showed off some of their research on increasing photosynthesis in plants, which they believe will in turn increase plant bio-mass, and crop yields. Don Ort is the associate director of the RIPE project and a crop science professor at the U of I.

Officials say they're changing mowing routes along interstates to help protect dwindling populations of the monarch butterfly and other pollinators.  Illinois Transportation Secretary Randy Blankenhorn says the agency is one of the state's biggest landowners and has a responsibility to "act as steward of the environment."

Industrial Hemp Bill Headed to Illinois House

May 16, 2017
Cass Herrington / Peoria Public Radio

There’s one piece of legislation that seems to be getting broad bipartisan support in Springfield.

Flickr Creative Commons/U.S. Department of Agriculture

Two Illinois lawmakers have proposed a plan to offer tax credits to biotechnology businesses in hopes of boosting agricultural jobs in central Illinois.  The legislation, introduced by Republican state Sen. Chapin Rose of Mahomet and Democratic state Sen. Andy Manar of Bunker Hill, would provide incentives to produce and sell new renewable products made from biomass and other renewable sources.

Illinois Corn Yield Booming

Jan 12, 2017

U.S. Department of Agriculture's Crop Production Report is out. The President of the Illinois Corn Growers Association says it’s worth farmers excitement to see the considerable increases in exports coupled with increases in feed and ethanol uses.

Researchers Boost Soybean Crop Yield By Removing Leaves

Nov 23, 2016
United Soybean Board / Flickr

Researchers at the University of Illinois have found that reducing the number of leaves on soybean plants can increase crop yield by eight percent.  In replicated trials on the Urbana campus, researchers removed up to one third of the emerging leaves on soybeans to boost yield.

Project lead Praveen Kumar, professor of civil and environmental engineering at the U of I,  says producing more food without using more land is vital.

“We are probably maxed out in terms of available arable lands, so we really need a different strategy to increase productivity.”

2016 Pumpkin Crop "Well Above Average"

Oct 10, 2016
Cass Herrington / Peoria Public Radio

The city of Morton is touted as the “pumpkin capital of the world” because Libby’s is based there. Libby’s holds the title because it dominates the U.S. production of canned pumpkin. But last year’s crop was devastated by heavy summer rains, too early in the growing season. Farmers reported yield losses as high as 90%. Peoria Public Radio’s Cass Herrington visited a 100-year-old family farm to see how it’s faring this year:

 

United Soybean Board / Flickr/Creative Commons

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Dozens of international buyers are in Illinois this week as the state tries to increase export sales for the grain industry.

Billtacular / Flickr

A Davenport church will soon start growing fruit and vegetables, thanks to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The Third Missionary Baptist Church kicked off the project as part of a deal between the National Baptist Convention and the USDA. 

Flickr

The debate over Genetically Modified Organisms, or GMOs, can get pretty heated.  But a long-time seller of non-GMO grain says he won’t get worked up over the issue. Illinois Public Radio's Rich Egger reports.

67th HOI Fair Highlights Agribusiness

Jul 8, 2016
Tanya Koonce / Peoria Public Radio

The 67th annual HOI Fair starts up this evening.

Roxy Baker helps plan the fair. She says this year’s schedule of events focuses on agribusiness.

“We want the urban setting that we’ve become, we want those people to come in and see what it is, what agribusiness is.”

CSIRO / Wikimedia Commons

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Federal officials say cooler temperatures sometimes dipping below freezing have prohibited Illinois agricultural producers from planting until they find warmer soil.  

The U.S. Department of Agriculture says in its weekly crop report for Illinois that fieldwork continues and the spring calving season has begun. 

Pollinator Event Returns to Peoria Riverfront Museum

Mar 31, 2016
earl258 / Flickr/Creative Commons

Organizers of an event at the Peoria Riverfront Museum are hoping to bring attention to what they’re calling a “crisis” facing the world’s food supply.

The third annual “Pollinator Day” is co- hosted by the museum and the Heart of Illinois Sierra Club. The event will bring together beekeepers, gardeners, environmentalists and farmers to talk about the role that bees, butterflies and other pollinators play in food production.

Museum Planetarium Curator Renae Kerrigan says the decline in honeybee populations is worrisome.   

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