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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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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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If we don't count horses, do horses count?

It is easy to overlook horses in the agricultural landscape now that we don't depend on them for power, but their importance remains. The American Horse Council (AHC) is taking a national survey of the economic impact of U.S. horses in which Illinois will participate as a focus state. Horse owners have until July 17 to participate. Why is it important to participate? Horses are big creatures – it’s hard to hide a horse. Yet as an agriculturally important economic entity, horses are essentially hidden. It is easy to overlook horses in the agricultural landscape now that we don’t depend on them for power. Horses are unique among large farm animals in that they routinely reside in the suburbs and even in cities. Horses may be the only large farm animal an average American ever encounters, thus horses act to bridge a widening gap between the nonfarm life and agriculture. But since they are not used for food or fiber, horses do not funnel through a common marketplace where they can be ...

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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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Ag Lit Bit By Brittany Nash (Ag In the Classroom Intern)

Ag is in Session! For the past few weeks I have been part of the Cook County Farm Bureau® Ag in the Classroom as Diane Merrion’s intern. Despite school being out for summer, agriculture never takes a break and is always in session! I was able to accompany Diane to various programs that voice the importance of agriculture to the younger population that is engaging and eye-opening to our food’s future. My favorite part of teaching these lessons to our students is describing the process of how a bag of chips started on the farm and ends in our hands. This discussion leads to the realization of how many jobs agriculture can provide and emphasizes the types of careers that can be filled in between the farm and consumers! The kids are not the only ones asking the questions. The other adults in the room are equally as interested in what the Farm Bureau has to offer and the new knowledge we bring to them. It is important that we keep informing one another about agriculture so that we can be more co ...

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Immigration Attorney to Farmers: Be Prepared

Immigration Attorney to Farmers: Be Prepared By Deana Stroisch, FarmWeek Lawyer offers nine recommendations for if the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement visits your farm. Farmers should be prepared for increased immigration enforcement and worksite audits, an immigration attorney with Fragomen Worldwide (provides immigration services globally in coordination with its affiliates around the world) advises. “Developing that company action plan and having a discussion with your management and with your employees on the ground as to what they should do if the government comes knocking on your door is important,” said Anna Morzy, a partner with Fragomen Worldwide. Does your staff know how to reach you in case of emergency? Do you have an attorney? Morzy spoke during an hourlong webinar sponsored by Illinois Farm Bureau, Illinois Business Immigration Coalition and Fragomen. Within his first 100 days in office, President Donald Trump issued a number of executive orders centered on immigratio ...

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IAA Credit Union is Growing!

IAA Credit Union is Growing, By: Sean Wells, CEO of IAA Credit Union  IAA Credit Union is growing! Ten years ago, we closed-out our first-quarter financials with $116 million in managed assets and 12,829 members. This was soon after I had started and just before the “Great Recession” which officially started in December of that year. As we close the first quarter of 2017, I’m happy to report that we have grown to $237 million in managed assets and 16,214 members. We’ve more than doubled in assets and increased members by more than 25%!  This is significant because Credit Unions need to grow to best serve our members. Because returning value to our members is our highest priority, we put a great deal of effort into increasing memberships. As a financial cooperative we must strive to serve our members with the most convenient, cost effective tools and best rates possible while generating revenue to cover the cost of doing business. Membership and asset growth keep ...

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Congratulations - 2017 Cookfresh Community Garden Grant Recipients!

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: https://www.agr.state.il.us/speciality-crop-grants/ or by calling (217)524-9129.

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

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