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.

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.

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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Manifolds, Manolos & Bona Heinsohn

In March, Farm Bureau leaders from throughout Illinois traveled to the nation’s capital.  Leaders spent the week meeting with U.S. Congressmen, agency staff, and trade groups in an effort to learn more about issues impacting agriculture and to lobby for priority issues. During conversations with the Canadian embassy, leaders learned that under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), U.S. agricultural and food exports to Canada and Mexico have more than quadrupled.  The trading partnership has created between five and six million American jobs.  Locally, the food grown on two out of every ten acres on Illinois farms is used to feed livestock in Canada and Mexico.  Farmers remain concerned about the future of NAFTA after President Trump pulled the U.S. from the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP).  Leaders also traversed “Embassy row” in route to the Embassy of Ireland in Washington D.C.  Like Canada, Ireland is a trading partner of the U.S.  ...

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Ag Lit Bit by Diane Merrion

Spring Sounds After spending time at the Chicago Flower and Garden Show last month, my mind is exploding with the possibilities that exist to fill my garden this summer.  It was a wonderful departure from our snowy and rather cool March and great preparation for the sights, smells and sounds of spring.  Using bushel baskets for pots, cinder blocks for benches and large rocks for garden accents, the sights at the show makes me think outside of the box and realize the creativity involved in the horticulture industry. The smell of the tulips, roses and herbs in full bloom made me anxious for July and August when we will experience the same explosion of smells in our own backyards.  The only thing missing from the show was a sound I so enjoy, those of the returning birds to our area.  I recently was introduced to Paula Levy and Alyse Burman, co-owners of The Wildbird Shack, Ltd. located in Mt. Prospect.  The store sells feed/seed and a host of bird-related items and also has programs ...

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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: or by calling (217)524-9129.

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

On-the-Road Seminar: Motor Vehicle Regulations for Illinois Farmers

Trucking regulations are complicated, and farm exemptions compound that complexity.  Seems everyone has a different answer to your question.  We have worked with our friends at Will County Farm Bureau for members to attend a session to sort truth from conjecture and fact from rumor. Come join us at 6:00 pm at Will County Farm Bureau, 100 Manhatten Road in Joliet on March 30, 2017. The program is a two-hour seminar that focuses on trucking laws—both new and well-worn—specifically for farmers.  We’ll take a special look at the latest rules and you'll have the chance to ask those farm trucking questions for which for which answers are so elusive. Laws have been reshaped in the past 24 months with more changes scheduled for 2017!  Rules recently affected include:  the medical card, equipment inspection requirements, out-of-state CDL use, the USDOT Number, post-trip inspections, and something called the URS.  New for 2017 is the MSCR‑1, Process Agents and Electroni ...

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Farm Tours - Summer Teacher PD Conferences

The Cook County Farm Bureau Foundation will host two programs this summer, June 26-30, 2017 and July 11-14. 2017 for teachers.  Earning PDCH credit or Graduate Credit, educators will have the opportunity to explore the farm to table process through farm and agri-business tours.  Industry experts will round out this hands-on professional development experience which is meant to provide the educational tools to incorporate the topic of agriculture into existing curriculum.  To learn more or to register ($125), contact the Ag Literacy Coordinator at or by calling 708-354-3276.  Programs limited to 20 teachers.


Spring Planter/Container Workshop Series continues...3 new member greenhouse locations!