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January 14, 2018

County Treasurer Responds To “Nasty Joe” Land Case In Urbana

​In 2017, residents of the Timberline Valley South subdivision in northwest Champaign subdivision were surprised to find out their common drainage ponds had been bought up at a tax auction by a Chicago-area firm that threatened them with trespassing. Now, the same firm, Nasty Joe’s LLC, has acquired land in Urbana, and is threatening residents there.


Soybean harvest continues just north of Mansfield, ILL on Wednesday, October 9, 2013.
Darrell Hoemann/Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting
December 22, 2017

How Did The Soybean Become Such A Common Crop In The U.S.?

This story was inspired by a question submitted at a Listening Post the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting held in August. Stuart Levy in Urbana, Illinois, asked us what would be needed for row crop farmers to switch from corn and soybeans to “something more sustainable.” We dug into that question, which starts with the unlikely circumstances that turned the soybean into a multi-billion dollar industry, and what this history might reveal about the future of U.S. agriculture. 


In this June, 28, 2012 photo, hog farmer Robert Young, 68, walks past his hog barn while tending to his livestock on his family farm in Buckhart, Ill.
M. Spencer Green/AP
November 16, 2017

CAFO Reporting Rule May Take Effect

Large livestock farms may have to start reporting high levels of two types of emissions as of Wednesday. But the Environmental Protection Agency wanted a last-minute delay of a federal rule it’s been trying to modify for years.


The Bailey House in Champaign.
Jim Meadows/Illinois Public Media
October 28, 2017

Champaign Planning Staff Supports Effort To Save Historic Sites

A Champaign preservation group won round one in an effort to prevent Unit 4 schools from tearing down several historic properties. The district plans to demolish the sites as part of the Champaign Central High school expansion.


A barn with an American flag painted on the side sits on High Cross Road east of Urbana, Ill., in Champaign County.
Darrell Hoemann/Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting
June 25, 2017

Foreign Investment In U.S. Farmland On The Rise

In 2013, the Chinese firm Shuanghui acquired more than 146,000 acres of farmland across the United States, worth more than $500 million, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture data. The deal made Shuanghui, now the WH Group Limited, into one of the biggest foreign owners of U.S. agricultural land, according to an analysis of that same data.


The Sangamon River at Allerton Park.
Flick/Vince Smith/ (CC BY 2.0)
May 19, 2017

Prairie Rivers Network Ready To Mark 50 Years, Sees Its Role As Important As Ever

On Sunday (May 21), the Champaign-based Prairie Rivers Network will mark its 50th anniversary, with an afternoon of events at Allerton Park, near Monticello.

Spokesman Jeff Kohmstedt said the Champaign-based environmental group believes its work is increasingly important, as President Donald Trump’s administration promises to cut back Environmental Protection Agency oversight.


The proposed Cronus site on the north side of the highway on March 21, 2016
Darrell Hoemann/Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting
March 15, 2017

Delays At Proposed Illinois Fertilizer Plant Put Tax Breaks At Risk

Cronus Chemicals will start losing part of its nearly $40 million in state tax incentives if its proposed $1.9 billion ammonia fertilizer plant in Tuscola, Ill., is not operating by July 2, according to tax credit agreements.


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