From the Farm Desk

STATE HIGHWAYS AND INTERSTATES NOT MOWED? HERE’S WHY (IlCorn ) - The Illinois Department of Transportation has undertaken a committed and purposed effort to alter mowing policies with the desired outcome being improved habitat for the Monarch butterfly, which is being considered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for listing as an Endangered Species. IDOT’s plan is worth recognizing and considering as an example for other mowing situations. IDOT’s request to other landowners is to try not to “help” mow. If it isn’t mowed, it’s likely because it’s being left on purpose.

FARMLAND VALUES STABILIZE; FUTURE DEPENDENT ON FARM ECONOMY (FarmWeekNow.com)– Farmland values during the first quarter were unchanged in the Chicago Federal Reserve District, snapping a strong of five consecutive quarters of declines. The two key drivers of farmland values are net farm income and interest rates. Farmland values and some cash-rental rates previously responded to declining farm income and heavier farm debt loads.

IF WE DON’T COUNT HORSES, DO HORSES COUNT? - The American Horse Council has taken a national survey of the economic impact of United States horses in which Illinois participated as a focus state.  Why a survey? It is easy to overlook horses in the agricultural landscape now that we do not depend on them for power. Horses are unique among large farm animals and that they routinely reside in the suburbs and even cities. A horse can be a large economic investment. They need to be fed, as well as housed and cared for which supports employees as well as other industries including feed manufacturing, pharmaceutical, medical services, construction and farriers. We look forward to seeing the economic impact that this industry has in Cook County.

CHICAGO OFFICE BRINGING SOYBEANS TO CONSUMERS - The Illinois Soybean Association is taking steps to have greater access to markets and customers to help Illinois soybean farmers ultimately sell more soybeans. In late June, the Illinois Soybean Association opened an office in downtown Chicago, just down the street from the Chicago Board of Trade within a cab ride of many key soybean users and industry contacts. Why Chicago? Chicago is booming in all phases of the food production business with the focus on accelerating local food company growth at Chicago’s Tech Center and more. Chicago is also a premier location for corporate headquarters for food companies. The city also serves as an international meeting spot for soy buyers, features two international airports, rail capacity and inland waterway access including Lake Michigan and the Illinois River branch of the Mississippi River which makes the Chicagoland area key in national and global trade.

IEPA URGES ‘EXPEDITIOUS’ RULEMAKING PROCESS FOR WATERS OF THE UNITED STATES (FarmWeek) – The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) director, Alec Messina, is urging the US EPA to provide regulatory certainty regarding the definition of Waters of the United States (WOTUS) in the most expeditious timeframe possible following a directive to repeal and replace the rules proposed by the Obama administration (currently tied up in court). He urged federal agencies to develop their own interpretation of the definition of WOTUS by reviewing congressional intent and judicial interpretations.