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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 declinin ...

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IDOA Cost Share Funding Available

The Will-South Cook Soil & Water Conservation District (SWCD) has announced the availability of funding to support agricultural and urban landowners interested in participating in the Illinois Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy (NLRS). 

Practices include cover crops, grassed waterways, grade stabilization structures and rain gardens among others.   

Funds are being targeted to specific townships and will be based upon a 60 percent cost share program.  

Interested individuals should contact the SWCD at (815) 462-3106 x3 or info@will-scooksecd.org for additional information.   

Downwind by Bob Rohrer, CAE, FBCM, Manager

My First “Ride”  Most Americans hold great nostalgia about the first car they owned.  Your first “ride” usually wasn’t the best, flashiest, nicest, or coolest. Many times, it reflected a piece of one’s personality: “how fast it would go, how cheap it was, how great it cornered, how practical it was, how ugly it was, how many times it broke down, how many people could fit in it, etc.” Perhaps it was a true “classic”…a Gremlin, A big boat, a Ford Pinto, a Chevy Chevette, a VW bug, a station wagon, or the a perfect color for a rattletrap.  That first ride provided a great feeling of independence; you didn’t have to ask your parents to borrow the car any longer! Prior to my “first ride”, I was fortunate to have access to farm vehicles of various types and sizes. I remember the Farmer’s (my father) 1976 F 100 Ford pickup truck that my brothers and I borrowed for several years. This truck was really attractiv ...

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Manifolds, Manolos & Manure...by Bona Heinsohn

Earlier this year, my blue-eyed girl learned about our local food pantry.  Along with 20 of her closest friends, they learned about how they and their families can help families in need in our community.  They learned about collecting, dividing, and repacking food.  They learned about their community and the families in that community.  Volunteering is not something new to her.  She travels with me to various activities and gives freely of her time.  Last year, she gave a Saturday to help raise money for her traveling softball team.  This year, she spent a Saturday helping to raise money for scholarships and her Sunday helping with an event to raise money for our conservation projects throughout the county. However, the food pantry was the first time she’s picked a cause to volunteer with.  As a parent, her excitement in choosing a cause simply made my heart swell.  No longer does she have to be prodded along, instead she’s the one prodding me along ...

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Ag Lit Bit ... By Brittany Nash

SAI Reflections There was a lot for me to do over the course of this month, but prepping for Summer Ag Institute was the most important. When I would tell people that I was an intern at the Cook County Farm Bureau, everyone would always ask me what that meant. The typical response that I would get was, “So you make copies of farm articles?” I would have to hold back my laughter because for some time, the preparation did consist of me doing that! The joke is surely on them because I have learned so much; not only how many pieces of paper come in each ream, but I had the time to read all of the information I was putting together for the teachers who signed up to take this course. Once the “dirty work” of prepping for SAI was done, it was time for me to take a seat among the rest of the teachers. Since being an alumna of the Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences, I had some background knowledge in agriculture. I have never lived on a farm and I don’t know anyone who live ...

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Expanded Menu: New Sectors Adding Fresh Produce Choices

Three new ways for consumers to buy fresh foods highlighted at Chicago food show. By Kay Shipman, FarmWeek Legislative Affairs Editor Consumers buying fresh produce and other healthy foods from more businesses will continue finding new options, according to an industry panel at the United Fresh Market Expo in Chicago’s McCormick Place. The panelists, representing convenience stores, drug stores and a meal kit delivery service, discussed consumers’ desire for convenient fresh foods. Convenience stores Jeff Lenard, a vice president with the National Association of Convenience Stores, noted his members’ 154,000 stores conduct 160 million transactions daily. Fresh foods, only 21 percent of in-store sales, accounted more than one third of the profits, according to Lenard. “Fresh is where the action is happening inside our stores,” he said. “There is demand for healthy.” His association and the United Fresh Produce Association are working to increase fresh produc ...

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More to Monarch Situation Than Milkweeds...by Kay Shipman

Other factors also contribute to population declines of the important pollinator.  By Kay Shipman, FarmWeek   The nutrition needs of a monarch butterfly are different from those of a caterpillar. Monarchs lay their eggs exclusively on milkweed plants that serve as a larvae food source. (Photo courtesy of USDA) Monarch butterflies need milkweeds, but other plants also play important roles in the insects’ complex life cycle, said an Illinois Natural History Survey (INHS) scientist. Plant ecologist Greg Spyreas, along with fellow INHS plant ecologist David Zaya, studies vegetation changes and potential impacts. While decreased milkweeds, especially those in farm fields, contributed to monarch losses, “I don’t think that is the complete picture,” Spyreas told FarmWeek.     Illinois is developing two monarch strategies. One will become part of a multistate monarch flyway plan, which will be submitted to U.S. Fish and Wildlife; the other will be an Illinois pl ...

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**New App/Web Platform Expands Member Benefits - Save even more!**

More than 300,000 discounts for hotels, restaurants, theme parks, movie theaters, prescriptions and more await Farm Bureau members.  Thanks to a new membership benefit web platform, there’s something for every member to enjoy! This new benefit platform provides access to member discounts while on the go. To access the new web platform, visit https://ilfb.abenity.com. Members must create an account and provide their three digit county code (Cook’s is 016) and dash followed by their membership ID number. Members can also go to the iPhone App Store, search ‘IL Farm Bureau Membership Benefits’ and download the app on their iPhone or iPad. Once downloaded, members may customize the app to include frequently used offers; search offers by business name, location and category; and provide instant in-store discounts at nearby restaurants and retailers. Members who have questions about the app or additional member benefits may contact the Cook County Farm Bureau at 708-354-3276 or the IF ...

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Downwind by Bob Rohrer, CAE, FBCM, Manager

DIY a Farm Attitude  “Do It Yourself” (DIY) TV shows flood the cable networks. My father, The Farmer, would probably say that farming is just one huge, never-ending DIY project.  Building, repairing, fixing, constructing, and creating is every day on the farm. Being part of the unpaid labor (I was worth it) on the farm, I was fortunate to be involved with many DIY projects during the years. A special thank you goes to the sharing nature of the Farmer. Here are a few quick DIY examples that I still carry skills (scars) from today… ·        We took a massive section of roof off of a confinement chicken grower building, hauled it 5 miles using a tractor and to jack it up 14 feet to set it on top of telephone poles that we had stuck in the ground. A DIY machine shed! ·        We tore down a barn and saved the wood and the roofing tin to construct a new shop (to complete DIY projects in comfort and s ...

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Manifolds, Manolos & Manure...by Bona Heinsohn

Five short years ago, I sat before a county committee to plead my case.  In 15 short minutes, I explained why I wanted to serve as a trustee for my local conservation district.  I didn’t want to become a trustee for the glamour or the pay (it’s a volunteer position after all) but because one of my earliest memories is of my mom chaperoning a school field trip to the Festival of the Sugar Maples, a site famous for its maple trees and delicious maple syrup.  I want my children to have those memories-of their grandma chaperoning school field trips-and the opportunity to explore the trails, fens, groves, savannahs, and bogs.  I want them to embrace open space and treasure the sacrifices that past generations have made to ensure that public open space is preserved into perpetuity.     Over the past five years, I’ve had the opportunity to work with a highly skilled, professional, and innovative staff.  From the individuals who maintain the sites to the ecol ...

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