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Downwind by Bob Rohrer, CAE, FBCM, Manager

March Madness In the farm circles, the preparation for the planting season can be described as “March Madness”. Think of it as a giant collaborative project with many moving parts… making sure farm equipment is repaired, greased, and ready to roll, suppliers in tune with the supply orders, seed in stock, deliveries of products received, advisory services in place, hired help on the payroll, weather cooperating, time available, and so much more. When I was growing up, I did not fully comprehend that these many moving parts were being managed by my father as he prepared to move into planting season.  I was in the mindset of “Just tell me where and when to drive the tractor, Dad”.  I guess I thought planting season just happened magically, with the turn of the calendar.  Admittedly, I was more concerned about that other March Madness: high school and college basketball. While I enjoy the spring planting season, basketball’s March Madness has always been a m ...

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Chicago Northeast Financial Representatives Capture 'Tipping the Scales'

Congratulations to financial representatives from the Chicago Northeast Country Financial Agency!  This agency won their first ‘Tipping the Scales’ victory by contributing food and cash donations to this year’s Food Checkout Day.  Pictured left to right is: Cook County Farm Bureau® President James Gutzmer, Country Financial representative Mike Salerno, Country Financial Agency Manager Assistant Abra Keup, Country Financial representative Yanni Zavakos, Cook County Farm Bureau Public Relations Team Chairwoman Janet McCabe, and Ronald McDonald House Charities® of Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana representative Kelly Evans.

Senator Cunningham Tours Local Farms

Senate Agriculture Committee member Senator Bill Cunningham visited local farms this spring to discuss spring planting and the issues impacting Illinois farmers.  Pictured left to right is Board member Janet McCabe and Senator Bill Cunningham.

Board of Directors Approves New Membership Classification

The Cook County Farm Bureau® (CCFB) Board of Directors, during the April meeting, took action to approve a bylaw change that provides for a new classification of member, the Professional Member (PM). The PM classification is for individuals who are employed in farm and agricultural related occupations but do not directly earn their income from farming. The PM will have voting rights as a member, is eligible to serve on the local Board of Directors and as an officer of the CCFB, and can represent CCFB as a delegate at the state annual meeting. The PM should have a passion for agriculture and farming and be seeking a strong industry in the Cook County area. With the adoption of this new membership classification, the CCFB features three main membership classifications: ·        MM (Farmer Member) - for individuals that are farming and earned $2500 or more annually ·        PM (Professional Member) - for individuals that ...

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Downwind by Bob Rohrer, CAE, FBCM, Manager

“Give me the boot” When I was in high school, many years ago, hog prices were ridiculously low. For every hog we sold, we lost money on it. The price of hogs had a direct and lasting impact on my family’s standard of living during that period.  There was no money floating around for new clothes (my Mom actually made my prom suit for me), trinkets, frills and trappings. I can recall my work boots were so beat up, with ripped seams, that my most of my foot was exposed. The Farmer (Dad) handed me a roll of duct tape. Every few weeks, I would re-wrap my boots with a fresh layer duct of tape to keep my foot in and the mud out. Which boot does not fit? Bonus: I did not realize at the time that duct tape footwear was quite stylish and becoming! It was on the farm that I learned about boots. Boots are made of leather with lots of eyelets and steel toes. They are scuffed, stained, used and sometimes abused. They’re made of cowhide or, on those special occasions, ostrich or gator. In ...

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Ag Lit Bit by Diane Merrion

Cardoon Have you ever heard of cardoon?  Perhaps carduna rings a bell?  In this growing era of eating fresh from the farm and locally grown, cardoon caused quite the stir at the Country Financial Garden during the Flower and Garden Show in March.  Ag Literacy Committee Member Greg Stack was the key designer in creating a garden complete with herbs, vegetables and flowers that could be grown in anyone’s backyard.  Of most interest to many visitors, however, was his planter full of cardoon.  It was a vegetable I hadn’t thought about for perhaps 40 years in that I didn’t think anyone had ever eaten them or even heard of them.  As a young child of Italian heritage we anticipated carduna season at home every May, although we didn’t grow them in our garden.  I’ll always recall when we’d be driving somewhere as a family and my Dad would stop along some railroad tracks or fields and we’d start pulling “weeds” that looked like ...

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Manifolds, Manolos & Manure...by Bona Heinsohn

Several years ago, my family and I expanded the number of cows we milked.  By doing so, we expanded beyond the time capacity of just family members.  Quite frankly it was one of the best and worst things we did.  The increase in cows forced us to hire non-family employees, which forced us to manage employees’ schedules, invest in human resource services, and mediate workplace conflicts.  It also allowed us the opportunity to take vacations and to have evenings off.  In spite of non-family employees, and with few exceptions, there’s always at least one Heinsohn at the farm or available at all times of the day.  In the early phases of our expansion, our non-family labor was Caucasian and from the nearby towns.  Several were high school students or recent high school graduates.  Despite good wages and being located near four towns, it became nearly impossible to find labor.  Dairy cattle need to be milked twice a day regardless of the day of week, weathe ...

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American Farm Bureau Federation: Proteins Lead the Way on Lower Food Prices

Americans should be paying less for groceries, according to survey, but other figures show a rise. Hard-boiling Easter eggs and grilling a cheeseburger should be a little cheaper this spring, according to American Farm Bureau Federation’s Spring Picnic Marketbasket Survey results released Tuesday. Lower retail prices for meat, eggs and cheese continue to push down overall food costs, the informal survey shows. In fact, the total cost of 16 foods that can be used to prepare a variety of meals dropped to just over $50. That’s approximately $3.25, or 6 percent, lower than last year.  AFBF’s most recent Thanksgiving Dinner Price Survey, conducted in November, also found a drop in food prices from the previous year.  USDA forecast a 1 percent to 2 percent increase in prices for food for this year. And, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, grocery bills have already increased by 2.7 percent, slightly higher than the average rate of inflation over the past 10 years.  AFB ...

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Grocery Shopping Trends Will Have Big Impacts on Agriculture

By Robert Giblin Grocery shopping is changing dramatically, to meet the needs of consumers whose demographics, lifestyles, desires and consumption trends are radically different than those of the 20th century “golden age” of supermarkets. Busy working parents are too pressed for time to shop or cook from scratch. Households are smaller. Many urban consumers lack access to both stores and transportation to carry groceries. Some just hate grocery shopping, especially waiting in checkout lines. Increasingly, consumers want to know more about their food and how it is produced. The focus of grocery shopping is shifting from products to services, solutions and entertainment. An increasing number of supermarkets, dubbed “grocerants” — grocery restaurants — are stocking shelves with prepared foods and offering up-scale in-store dining, including entertainment. Meal kits are growing tremendously. The meal kit business is now worth about $5 billion, and could grow to more ...

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U of I Among World's Top Ag Universities

The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign rates among the world’s top 15 universities for agriculture and forestry, according to the 2017 QS World University Rankings.

Compiled by Britain-based Quacquarelli Symonds (QS), the annual report ranks 300 of the world’s top universities in 46 subjects, including agriculture.

In 14th place, the U of I joined several Midwestern universities: University of Wisconsin-Madison, No. 6; Michigan State University, 7; Purdue University, 8; and Iowa State University, 11. Wageningen University of the Netherlands repeated as No. 1 in the world.  

QS surveys academics and employers to assess institutions’ international reputations and evaluates an institution’s research impact based on research citations and researchers’ productivity and impact.