IDOA Now Accepting Specialty Crop Grant Proposals

Grant Application - Deadline April 28th

The Illinois Department of Agriculture has been allocated funds next federal fiscal year from the U.S. Department of Agriculture through the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program.  These funds will support projects that are intended to expand the availability of fresh, locally-grown produce and strengthen the competitiveness of the state’s specialty crop industry. Applications for funds are due April 28, 2017.  Program details and application available online at: or by calling (217)524-9129.

The USDA defines specialty crops as "fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruit, horticulture and nursery crops (including floricuture)."

On-the-Road Seminar: Motor Vehicle Regulations for Illinois Farmers

Trucking regulations are complicated, and farm exemptions compound that complexity.  Seems everyone has a different answer to your question.  We have worked with our friends at Will County Farm Bureau for members to attend a session to sort truth from conjecture and fact from rumor. Come join us at 6:00 pm at Will County Farm Bureau, 100 Manhatten Road in Joliet on March 30, 2017. The program is a two-hour seminar that focuses on trucking laws—both new and well-worn—specifically for farmers.  We’ll take a special look at the latest rules and you'll have the chance to ask those farm trucking questions for which for which answers are so elusive. Laws have been reshaped in the past 24 months with more changes scheduled for 2017!  Rules recently affected include:  the medical card, equipment inspection requirements, out-of-state CDL use, the USDOT Number, post-trip inspections, and something called the URS.  New for 2017 is the MSCR‑1, Process Agents and Electroni ...

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Farm Tours - Summer Teacher PD Conferences

The Cook County Farm Bureau Foundation will host two programs this summer, June 26-30, 2017 and July 11-14. 2017 for teachers.  Earning PDCH credit or Graduate Credit, educators will have the opportunity to explore the farm to table process through farm and agri-business tours.  Industry experts will round out this hands-on professional development experience which is meant to provide the educational tools to incorporate the topic of agriculture into existing curriculum.  To learn more or to register ($125), contact the Ag Literacy Coordinator at or by calling 708-354-3276.  Programs limited to 20 teachers.  

Spring Planter/Container Workshop Series continues...3 new member greenhouse locations!

Downwind by Bob Rohrer, CAE, FBCM, Manager

“Sticks for Dinner? No. Thank you.” Today (2/16/17), as I write this month’s column, the local and national news is abuzz with the “Day without Immigrants” protests in which a number of restaurants and businesses across the country closed to demonstrate the importance of immigrant labor and immigrant people in the United States. Farming and agriculture in the United States depends on labor in order to provide food for this nation’s people…immigrant labor is an important part, especially in certain types of farms. What would happen if farmers decided to hold a similar event… a Day without Agriculture? What would that day look like? Would anyone care? Would anyone know? Would there be marches on Washington DC? Would there be Riots on the street? I don’t think so. Our food, fiber, and fuel system (fortunately) comes with plenty of bulk handling, warehouse storage, and freezer space…one day of “no farming/no agriculture” may have litt ...

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Manifolds, Manolos & Bona Heinsohn

Growing up, I was what you would call the misguided teen.  I wore my hair in my face.  Maybe I had one too many ear piercings.  And let’s not forget the attitude and the eye rolling!  As a teen looking to the future, I career jumped (in my head) a lot. My family was (and still is) in health care so obviously, I was going to be a doctor.  But I'm horrible at math. I loved books, so clearly, I'd be a writer.  But I had a deep-rooted love affair with commas.  To the point that no editor would ever think it’s cute or clever. Maybe I'd be a cop and investigate the crimes committed against in my community. But I'm afraid of the dark (just ask the corgi mix puppy we just house trained).  I was yearbook editor my senior year (despite my affinity for commas) so clearly, I'd go into the newspaper business. But despite my curiosity the newspaper business just wasn’t for me. I interned in radio, so I'd be a drive time host. But I hate mornings and I&rsquo ...

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Ag Lit Bit by Diane Merrion

For Sale I bet you have had occasion to spend some time on Craigslist or perusing your local Classified Ads to find a deal on a new table, chair, car or collectible.  If you’re like me you start with the Chicago listings and then fine tune it down to your local suburb or area.  If there is one couch, there are hundreds.  Same for most things I’ve searched.  We recently moved and experienced the mad rush when you list something for “FREE”.  Interesting experience and great way to reinforce the concept that one man’s junk is another man’s treasure.  There are other classifieds to explore such as the ones in this monthly Cooperator, the classifieds in FarmWeek and hundreds of online forums.  I recently pulled out the FarmWeek classifieds and realized how stark the difference is between the ag-related “For Sale” listings and those in my local ads.  Angus crossbred heifers, hog feeders, bales of hay, wheat straw, used John D ...

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State and Local Legislative Briefing Scheduled for March 27

Join renowned speakers and the Cook County Farm Bureau® for a candid discussion about state and local issues.  Topics include current legislative issues and Farm Bureau’s 2017 legislative priorities.  Ample discussion time is scheduled.

 March 27, 2017

Ronald McDonald House near Lurie (Community Room, 5th Floor)

211 E. Grand Street, Chicago

11:30 a.m. (Lunch)

Discussion begins at 12:00 p.m.

This discussion is open to legislators and their legislative staff only.  For additional information or to register for the event please contact Bona Heinsohn at (708) 354-3276.

Members are Encouraged to Discuss Policy Issues Without Leaving Home

Cook County Farm Bureau® will host a policy discussion on Thursday, February 23, 2017 at 7 p.m.  This discussion will take place via conference call and all farmer members are invited to join in.  The discussion will primarily focus on private property rights, including the acquisition of land by the government or public utilities.  This remains a timely and pertinent issue given the Great Lakes Basin Railroad and the Rock Island Clean Line energy project.  Both projects will involve the acquisition, likely through eminent domain of private property. Farmer members participating on the call will have ample opportunity to ask questions and discuss issues of concern to them, not related to the topic. To participate in the discussion: Farmer members will receive an automated call just prior to 7 p.m. asking if they want to participate in the discussion.  Once on the call, members will be able to hear the discussion, ask questions, and discuss topics of interest to them. Mark y ...

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Farm Bureau partners with local charity to celebrate Food Checkout Day

Since 2001 the Cook County farmers and the Cook County Farm Bureau® have been celebrating Food Checkout Day.  Food Checkout Day highlights the safe and nutritious food grown by local farmers grow while also drawing attention to those families who struggle to find solutions to feeding their families healthy food on a tight budget.  Through Farm Bureau’s partnership with Ronald McDonald House Charities® of Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana Farm Bureau members are able to assist families during the most difficult time of their lives, when their child is ill. Cook County Farm Bureau® members celebrate Food Checkout Day by collecting food items, hosting a scavenger hunt and shopping spree to benefit local Ronald McDonald Houses and by encouraging farmers, sponsors, Country Financial Agencies, 4-H members, and students to participate in a food drive.  “Cook County and Illinois farmers are committed to growing safe and nutritious food for our families and for o ...

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