An older blue car.
Rich Berning
October 13, 2015

Trade Mission: Cuba

Agricultural products have for years been exempt from the U.S. embargo put in place in the '60s, but records show in 2008, Illinois exported $66 million in corn and soy to Cuba.

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Bees on Phil Crandall Farms in Coal Valley, Illinois.
September 30, 2014

Problems For Honeybees And Beekeepers

Honeybees in the U.S. are in trouble. Their populations have been declining for years, but a long, cold winter put a huge dent in the number of hives in northwestern Illinois and eastern Iowa.

In the first of a two-part series, Michelle O'Neill talks with three beekeepers, including Phil Crandall at Crandall Farms in Coal Valley, Illinois.

If you love apples, cashews, or string beans, you should love honeybees, too. Those are just three of the many foods that require bees for pollination.

Wild honeybees have almost disappeared in the US, and the number of commercial honeybees has also been dropping. 

In the second of this 2-part series, Michelle has more behind the decline in the bee population in Illinois and Iowa.


Congressman John Shimkus holds his ACTIVATOR Friend of Agriculture Award.
(Jim Meadows/Illinois Public Media)
September 26, 2014

Shimkus Picks Up Endorsement Award From Ag Group

U-S Rep. John Shimkus (R-Collinsville) visited local Farm Bureau offices in four cities on Friday, to meet with officials and pick up an endorsement.

The endorsement was represented by a miniature red tractor. It's the Friend of Agriculture award, given to Shimkus by the Illinois Farm Bureau’s political affiliate, ACTIVATOR, the Illinois Agricultural Association Political Involvement Fund.

The farm group is praising Shimkus for his work in areas such as crop insurance provisions in the recent farm bill, and for his support of a bill passed in the House earlier this month to block the federal EPA from implementing proposed rules revising the definition of waterways covered by the Clean Air Act (H.R. 5078).

At the Champaign County Farm Bureau office in Champaign, Shimkus said the EPA’s proposal goes beyond the intentions of the Clean Air Act, and expands the agency’s reach into farmers’ personal property.

"The federal government has the right to be involved in our waterways where there is navigation", said Shimkus. "And it does not have the right to be in our ditches and our streams and our ponds."

Shimkus was also scheduled to visit Farm Bureau offices in Charleston, Effingham and Harrisburg on Friday.

Shimkus is running for re-election against Eric Thorsland (D-rural Mahomet). Thorsland says he also would have supported the bill blocking the EPA’s proposed waterways rules --- although he says Senate passage is unlikely. Thorsland says congressional blockage of the proposed rules "would then facilitate both sides of the issue to work to better refine the rules so we can protect water quality without detrimental effects that may come from misinterpretation of the act."

Thorsland says the EPA should be a partner, not an enemy of agriculture and commerce. He supports refining the waterway rules in a way that protects water quality without hurting farmers.

September 19, 2014

Fatal Farm Accidents Increase In Illinois Over Past Year

Farming claimed the lives of 21 people in Illinois from July 2013 through June, nearly double the number of deaths during the same period a year earlier, according to Bloomington-based Country Financial.

The (Peoria) Journal Star reports the statistics have some calling for more efforts to reduce the injury and fatality rates.
"We need to continue to promote and evaluate effective means to reduce the injury rate,'' said Bob Aherin, professor and program leader at the University of Illinois.
There were only 12 farming-related deaths from July 2012 through June 2013.
The highest farm death toll in recent years was in 2000, when 39 people died, Country Financial spokesman Chris Stroisch said.

More than 200 Illinois farmers are injured in accidents that result in physical disabilities each year. 

Nine of the state's 21 farm-related deaths over the past year were due to tractor accidents. Roadway collisions and grain bin accidents are also major causes of death.

Aherin said older farmers should be encouraged to use tractors with rollover protection when working on areas with significant slopes. Fifty-seven percent of farm death victims in Illinois were 65 or older.
For the past decade, agriculture has been the deadliest industry in the country, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, beating out mining and construction in deaths per 100,000 workers.

It's the same on a global scale, according to the International Labour Organization, with more than half of the 335,000 workplace fatalities worldwide occurring in agriculture.

August 05, 2014

USDA: Illinois Corn, Soybean Crops Excelling

The U.S. Department of Agriculture says Illinois' corn and soybean crops are faring well, and 81 and 77 percent respectively.

The USDA says in its weekly crop-status update that 81 percent of the state's corn is rated as either good or excellent. Ninety-four percent of the crop is silking, mirroring the average over the previous five years.
Roughly 77 percent of Illinois' soybean crop is considered good or excellent. Seventy-nine percent of the soybeans in the field are now blooming, 5 percent points below the five-year average.
The USDA says that's all despite the fact that rainfall statewide last week was a half inch below normal.
The department says 65 percent of Illinois pastures were considered good or excellent

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