Solar Companies Seeking Land in Illinois

Farmers continue to receive offers; IFB lawyer advises them to examine fine print closely.  

Farmers throughout Illinois continue to receive letters from solar companies offering cash in exchange for use of their land. And the interest continues to grow.
Garrett Thalgott, an Illinois Farm Bureau attorney, said the number of solar companies looking for land in Illinois has increased in the last year. The number of farmers receiving offer letters has also increased. 

Thalgott suggests landowners be cautious and consult a lawyer before signing anything. He encourages farmers to weigh any offers against what the farmer could be giving up. 

Illinois Farm Bureau offers the following tips when considering a solar lease agreement: - Research the company.
- Seek the advice of an attorney.
- Know that there is bargaining power in numbers.
- Contact the Farm Services Agency if the land is included in a government farm program.

By Deana Stroisch, FarmWeek

Distracted Driving Law Applies to Tractors on Public Roads

State hands-free calling rules also apply to farm equipment on roads. Talking or texting with a hand-held device is illegal while operating any motor vehicle, including farm equipment, on a public road.  The Illinois Distracted Driving Awareness Week was held April 24-28, 2017.  This week was dedicated to raising awareness of the law regarding handheld phone use for talking or texting which is prohibited by all motor vehicle operators when on a public road. It is important to note that this ban applies to operators of implements of husbandry such as tractors and self-propelled farm equipment. In addition, all cell phone use including hands-free devices is prohibited: while driving in a school zone while driving in a highway construction zone if you are a novice driver Texting while driving is prohibited for all Illinois drivers. As farmers move from field to field this spring, the Cook County Farm ...

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Join the Conversation & Win Free Groceries

Our 3rd giveaway of the summer is: a $150 grocery store/farmstand gift card AND a $100 food pantry donation to the food pantry of the winner's choice.  The only thing you have to do is LIKE OUR FACEBOOK PAGE and COMMENT ON or SHARE the post below to enter to win.  The winner will be chosen on July 11!  Official contest rules are available by clicking here.

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.

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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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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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 & 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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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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