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Manifolds, Manolos & Manure...by Bona Heinsohn

I grew up in a healthcare family. I could explain COBRA and DNRs before I could complete a multiplication table.  I also grew up in a farming family. Ultimately, I grew up trusting nurses, doctors, farmers, research and science. I grew up running between my mom’s and aunt’s offices after school while skirting between nurses, doctors, and patients.  Or running through my grandparents’ fields in search of my next great treasure or stray animal.  My farmer and I actually married next to one of those fields.   Between my upbringing and being married to a farmer, I’ve always had the luxury of knowing where my food came from and knowing the farmers who grow and raise my food because I was one of those farmers. I also remember raising crops before genetically engineered seeds were commercially available. Years ago, before GPS, my farmer’s “foamer” stopped working so he asked his then-girlfriend to hop in and out of the tractor, count rows, and then poi ...

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Ag Lit Bit by Diane Merrion

If I mention the name Sarah Hale, what comes to mind?  I’m guessing not much as it was a name I was not familiar with until several years ago.  When doing teacher workshops at this time of the year I always like to bring in some information beyond turkeys and feasting which is how I ran across Sarah Hale and the book by Laurie Halse Anderson, Thank You Sarah: the Woman who Saved Thanksgiving. The book relates how Sarah, a magazine editor and author, persuaded President Lincoln to transform Thanksgiving Day into a national holiday. As the story goes, she wrote thousands of letters asking politicians to make Thanksgiving a national holiday.  Hale often wrote editorials and articles about the holiday and she lobbied state and federal officials to pass legislation creating a fixed, national day of thanks on the last Thursday of November—a unifying measure, she believed that could help ease growing tensions and divisions between the northern and southern parts of the country. When Zach ...

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U of I Extension planning for 21st century

By Kay Shipman, Farm Week With tighter finances, Extension forced to get more creative in distributing information. University of Illinois Extension is looking to the future with an Extension 3.0 Task Force, comprised of Extension staff, researchers and stakeholders. College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES) Dean Kim Kidwell described the effort as “an action plan for Extension in the 21st century,” during her U of I Agronomy Day remarks. Kidwell noted she was continuing her goal to personally visit all the Extension centers from around the state. “Not a lot of people know what we (Extension) do matters,” Kidwell said. Extension changed along with farmers and agriculture, and no longer offers an Extension adviser to each farm, she explained. “We can’t afford to do it that way. We have to be creative on how we get information to you,” Kidwell said. The task force, which met recently, includes four ACES scientists, four off-campus Extensi ...

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Will-South Cook SWCD Conservation Education Scholarships

In the spring of 2018, the Will-South Cook Soil and Water Conservation District will award four $1,000.00 scholarships. In addition to the Allen May and Dick McHugh Memorial Scholarships, scholarships honoring the memory of Everett Moeller of Peotone and Harold Liberman of Green Garden Township will be awarded. Everett Moeller served as Associate Director of the Will/South Cook SWCD from 1994 until 2008 when he became a board member, serving as Chairman from 2013 until 2017. Everett was a kind and fair leader, was instrumental in the success of the SWCD’s Annual Meeting and Pork Chop Dinner and most of all was a loyal advocate for the conservation of soil and water resources. Harold Liberman served as Associate Director from 2004 until 2017.  Harold was a strong proponent of planting trees and deep-rooted grasses to protect our soil resources.  He worked tirelessly to encourage the adoption of Will County’s Conservation Subdivision Ordinance (2009) and in 2008 organized the district& ...

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NRCS Help For Cook County Urban Farms

Champaign, IL October 10, 2017— Urban agriculture is growing and the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) can help Cook County farmers conserve and improve natural resources on their farm.  Ivan Dozier, Illinois NRCS State Conservationist explains, “Urban farms are valuable resources for neighborhoods and the people who live in them. NRCS can assist these producers with conservation solutions and offer financial assistance to install conservation practices such as hoop houses, or what NRCS calls a high tunnel, or to plant pollinator species or cover crops.”  The urban landscape has many challenges for growing healthy food.  NRCS can help with financial and technical assistance to manage natural resources like soil, water, and plants that can improve the crops urban farms grow. Financial assistance from NRCS is provided through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).  Individual growers or groups can apply to receive EQIP financial assistance ...

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Illinois Agricultural Leadership Foundation selects new CEO

The board of directors of the Illinois Agricultural Leadership Foundation (IALF) is pleased to announce that Leland Strom of Elgin, Illinois has been selected to lead the organization as its Chief Executive Officer and President, effective November 1, 2017.  In this capacity, Strom will be responsible for providing overall supervision of the IALF and its leadership program.  The program is developed and executed by a staff of four, including the CEO, who are responsible for development, education, alumni and external relations.  Thirty individuals, including producers and agribusiness associates, participate in a 19-month leadership development program funded by the foundation and its investors. Strom brings a wealth of experience in the agriculture industry to his new position with the foundation and the leadership program.  He was involved with various aspects of the nation’s Farm Credit System before being nominated by President George W. Bush to become Chairman and CEO of the ...

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From the Farm Editor's Desk by Bob Rohrer

NAME CHANGE SOUGHT FOR CORN GLUTEN MEAL (FarmWeekNow) - Contrary to the name, the product contains no gluten, confusing consumers. Corn gluten meal represents one coproduct from wet milling corn that provides a high-protein ingredient used in many pet foods and livestock feed. By the name of the coproduct, one would think corn gluten meal contains gluten. In fact, it contains 60 to 70 percent protein and is 100 percent gluten-free. It’s a misnomer. University of Illinois food engineer, Kent Rausch, said, “Wheat contains gluten. Corn does not. There has never been any reason why corn gluten meal and another wet milling coproduct, corn gluten feed, should contain the word gluten. Gluten is found in wheat, barley and rye – not in corn or corn coproducts.” So, how did the word creep in? Rausch said the story goes that one of the early corn processors hired someone from a wheat gluten processing facility. “He just called everything that had protein in it ‘gluten.’ But I& ...

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Illinois Specialty Grower Survey Under Way

University of Illinois Extension is surveying Illinois fruit and vegetable growers to assess research needs for vegetable, high tunnel and fruit production. The survey will remain open through the end of October.

The survey was compiled by U of I Extension specialists Elizabeth Wahle, Nathan Johanning and Bronwyn Aly. By prioritizing and focusing on specific areas identified by specialty growers and industry professionals, the U of I can work with the industry to target research needs.

To provide input, click here.

Illinois Agriculture in the Classroom Announces Grants to Counties

The Illinois Agriculture in the Classroom (AITC) program is proud to announce the Cook County Farm Bureau Ag in the Classroom Program received funding of $8800 for the 2017-2018 School Year.   Illinois Agriculture in the Classroom based these grants to counties off of the 2016-2017 year-end reports.  Kevin Daugherty, Education Director for the Illinois Agriculture in the Classroom program said, “County level programs are the biggest strength of our IAITC efforts.  The county programs work to integrate agriculture into existing classroom curriculum.” In 2016-2017, the Illinois AITC program reached 661,797 students with a message about agriculture.  Additionally, 40,634 teachers and 1,144 pre-service teachers learned how to incorporate agriculture into their existing curriculum while meeting state learning standards. “Cook County is privileged to have such a wonderful teaching community who is committed to including agriculture into their lessons from Grades pre-K t ...

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Solar Farm Lease Considerations and Questions

In recent months, Northern Illinois farmers and landowners have been receiving contacts from various solar farm companies inquiring about leasing property to create solar energy systems. Mr.Garrett Thalgott, Office of the General Counsel for the Illinois Farm Bureau, has spoken to farmers and landowners regarding solar farm proposals and the contracts that are being proposed.  From these presentations, he has put together a summary listing of items that should be considered and questions that should be asked before a landowner enters into an agreement with a solar company.  Garrett emphasized that not all solar farm contracts are the same, and these considerations are not intended to be exhaustive. There is no substitute for careful and exhaustive review of every term with trusted advisors. 1. Solar energy leases/easements a. Legally binding agreements b. Should be carefully reviewed c. Recommend consulting with an attorney experienced in long-term lease and easement contracts 2. Conside ...

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