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Dairy Farms in Central Illinois
Farm News

Dairy Farms in Central Illinois

All dairy products like milk and cheese start by the production and care of dairy cows on a dairy farm. Dairy farming is when farmers raise mother animals and use their milk to feed humans. Other dairy products than milk and cheese include butter, yogurt, ice cream and more. Byproducts from dairy farms are even used for nonfood purposes. Byproducts allow for an operation to produce more goods and be useful for as much as they possibly can.   READ MORE...

Farm News  |  June 19, 2022
Standards Apply for Organic Farming

Standards Apply for Organic Farming

When you look through a produce section at the grocery store, you will likely find both organic and nonorganic items for sale. To be labeled organic, foods must meet United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) standards. Companies or farmers can not just label something “organic” without meeting these standards. The USDA sets organic standards for crops and livestock, as well as the handling process. 
Farm News  |  June 12, 2022
June Agriculture Happenings

June Agriculture Happenings

It is summer time now and planted crops are showing throughout our area. When you look into the fields, you can find small corn and soybeans plants. Farmers that grow hay are looking to cut and bale their crop, then it will go through the growing cycle again. Now that crops are in the ground, farmers will monitor them for weed control, any fertilizer needs, or other pest management practices. On the livestock side, chores to care for the animals likely stay the same. However, during the hot summer months farmers will ensure that their animals are being checked frequently for signs of overheating and put preventative measures into place. Farmers with livestock also may be preparing their animals for fair season and livestock competitions. 
Farm News  |  June 5, 2022
Vilsack Announces Transformation of Food System

Vilsack Announces Transformation of Food System

On Wednesday, June 1st, the United States Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, announced during a speech at Georgetown University that the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has a framework set in place to transform the food system. Vilsack stated that, “The pandemic exposed the weaknesses of a food system built around large-volume production and national supply chains,” according to Successful Farming. The framework that is in place will benefit consumers, producers, and rural communities. It will accomplish this through providing more options, increasing access, and creating improved markets for small and mid-size producers. 
Farm News  |  May 29, 2022
Agriculture Activities for the Summer

Agriculture Activities for the Summer

The school year is over, which means that summer is here! Summer is a great time to do activities that you may not have the time for during the busy hours of the school year. This summer, consider taking some time to do activities that help teach you or your children about agriculture! These activities are fun and great for learning. Let’s dive into some ideas of what agriculture activities you may be able to do this summer.
Farm News  |  May 22, 2022
Wine Country in Your Own Backyard

Wine Country in Your Own Backyard

Last week we discussed what agritourism is and some of the agritourism that our area has to offer. Mackinaw Valley Winery is located on Route 9 just a few miles outside of Mackinaw, IL between the towns of Mackinaw and Danvers. 2022 is the 19th Anniversary of the winery being open for business and the 25th year that the vineyards have been in operation. Paul Hahn is the founder of the winery and his wife, Diane Hahn, is the manager. Diane explained, “My husband Paul founded the winery and vineyards. He started growing in 1997 and in 2003 we opened to the public with the winery tasting room.” 
Farm News  |  May 15, 2022
Agritourism in Central Illinois

Agritourism in Central Illinois

The University of Illinois Extension defines Agritourism as “any business activity that brings the public to a farm or rural setting in an effort to market farm raised or produced products or for the enjoyment of related outdoor activities”. Oftentimes you will find agritourism as small, local businesses on the main streets of local communities or locations just outside of rural communities. Popular examples of agritourism in Illinois include pumpkin patches, berry farms, orchards, wineries, corn mazes, farmers markets, bed and breakfasts, and more! The diversity of these businesses offers a wide variety of products and services to their visitors, who are typically consumers who enjoy the experience of visiting the location as much as what they may purchase from there.    Agritourism helps rural communities grow economically. The United States Travel Association states that travel and tourism is an over one-billion-dollar industry for the U.S. and generates more than 9 million jobs. The last Census of Agriculture was taken in 2017 and said that 28,575 farms offered agritourism and recreational services that year. Those 28,575 farms generated 949 million dollars in sales. The next Census of Agriculture is to be performed this year, where the number of farms that offer agritourism is expected to increase. Between 2007 and 2017 alone, agritourism grew by 67% and the growth has not been on the decline since then. Some reasons why agritourism is a developing business is because of the opportunity to increase revenue through diversification and the opportunity to make use of underutilized farm resources. In addition, adding agritourism to your operation can offset the costs of rural property ownership and possibly allow for early retirement. It is also a chance to make a business out of a hobby. This may be for wine making, baking, crafting, gardening, hunting, and more. 
Farm News  |  May 8, 2022
Ukrainian Agriculture Update

Ukrainian Agriculture Update

The Russian war against Ukraine continues overseas, affecting so many lives tragically. When the conflict first arose, we discussed what it may mean for agriculture if the conflict continued into war. To recap, in the February 27th edition of this newspaper we discussed how important Ukraine is to agriculture globally. 70 percent of the country is covered in agricultural land. Franco Ordoñez from The National Public Radio (npr.org) explains, “Ukraine is one of the biggest producers of wheat, corn and sunflower oil, and the war has wreaked havoc on the so-called ‘breadbasket of Europe’.” Looking back at our February 27th edition, it was stated that if the Ukraine-Russia tensions turn for the worse, it will likely cause a spike up in agricultural commodity prices because of how large of a wheat producer that Ukraine is. Also that the length of the spike would most likely be determined by how long the potential conflict would last. Unfortunately, over two months later, the conflict is still going on. Grain prices have risen and will likely continue to rise. In today’s edition we look at the update on how the war has affected the agriculture industry. 
Farm News  |  May 1, 2022
Hydroponics: Growing Without Soil

Hydroponics: Growing Without Soil

When most people think of growing plants, they think of something growing out of the ground in a garden, field, planting pot, etc. However, there are other ways to grow plants besides just planting into soil. Hydroponics is a way to grow plants without using soil. It can be done outdoors or indoors, and is a great option if you have little gardening space. Hydroponics takes less water than gardening in soil. There are also no issues with weeds because you are growing in water rather than soil. 
Farm News  |  April 24, 2022
Starting Your Own Composting System

Starting Your Own Composting System

Composting is something that you can do to benefit your garden and lawn care. It is free to do, easy to make, and is good for the environment! The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) defines compost as “organic material that can be added to soil to help plants grow”. Starting your own composting pile can help reduce your food waste. More than 30% of what Americans throw away is food scraps and yard waste, two things that can be reused for composting instead!  The EPA lists multiple benefits of composting. First, it enriches your soil by helping to retain moisture and suppress plant diseases and pests. Second, it reduces the need for added chemical fertilizers. Third, composting encourages the production of beneficial bacteria and fungi that break down organic matter. This creates “humus”, which is a rich nutrient-filled material that benefits your plants. The last benefit that the EPA lists is that composting reduces methane emissions from landfills and lowers your carbon footprint. 
Farm News  |  April 17, 2022
Dates to Know for Gardeners in Planting Season

Dates to Know for Gardeners in Planting Season

As we start to see more and more farmers out in the field, the excitement of the growing season ahead grows more and more. It is not only planting season for the corn and soybean farmers, but planting season for gardening is right around the corner. How early you can plant depends on the hardiness of the vegetables you are planting and the exact climate of your area. The University of Illinois provides information on what their recommendations for the planting period of vegetables are for Central Illinois. They choose their recommendation by the average last 32℉ freeze of the winter and the hardiness of each vegetable. The following is the information that they provide for many common vegetables. 
Farm News  |  April 10, 2022
Invasive Plant Pest and Disease Awareness Month

Invasive Plant Pest and Disease Awareness Month

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) declared April 2022 Invasive Plant Pest and Disease Awareness Month (IPPDAM). This month is dedicated to “highlighting the impact invasive plant pests and diseases have on plant health nationwide”, according to Suzanne Bond and Cecilia Sequeira of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, which is part of the USDA. Bond and Sequeira also highlighted that another purpose of the month is to educate Americans about the simple actions they can take to help reduce their spread (of invasive plant pests and diseases). Invasive Plant and Pest Disease Awareness Month (IPPDAM) was established with the purpose to raise public awareness about the threat. Invasive plant and pest diseases can devastate livelihoods, food security, and forests. 
Farm News  |  April 10, 2022
Illinois Takes an Additional Step to Protect Poultry Flocks

Illinois Takes an Additional Step to Protect Poultry Flocks

SPRINGFIELD - The Illinois Department of Agriculture (IDOA) announced today that it has filed emergency rules prohibiting the sale or exhibiting of poultry and poultry products at swap meets, exhibitions, flea markets, and auction markets in Illinois to prevent the spread of avian influenza.
Farm News  |  April 3, 2022
Transportation of Agricultural Goods

Transportation of Agricultural Goods

In the United States, there are three main transportation types for agricultural goods: trucks, trains, and barges. Airplanes are also used, but the other three options are the most common. 
Farm News  |  April 3, 2022
Olympia FFA Places 2nd at Dairy Cattle and Horticulture CDE

Olympia FFA Places 2nd at Dairy Cattle and Horticulture CDE

On Wednesday, March 30, 2022, thirteen Olympia FFA members competed at the Section 9 FFA Dairy Cattle Judging Career Development Event (CDE) at two farms near Flanagan and Pontiac, IL.  The team placed 2nd out of 7.  Junior Isabelle Forrest led the team by placing 3rd overall individual.  Other Olympia FFA members in the top 10 included:  Paige Finchum (5th), Libby Shaffer (9th) and Tarah Hilt (10th).  Other team members included Rylee Robb, Anna Sanders, Brooke Rogers, Kendall Leimbach, Shelby Lynch, Blake Buatte, McKenna Lally, Nick Siebert, and Anna Kindred.  FFA members judged six classes, three of which were cow classes.  The other three classes were judging heifers.  “I’m really proud of how all of our FFA members competed.  They did a really good job and didn’t let the poor weather conditions affect them,” stated Mr. Hoffman.   
Farm News  |  March 27, 2022
2022 USDA Farm Acreage Estimates

2022 USDA Farm Acreage Estimates

Spring planting is almost here and our farmers continue to work hard to be ready when their opportunity to get in the field comes. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has released their 2022 Ag Outlook, which reports what they expect the upcoming planting season to look like. They stated that it is expected to see more soybean acres and slightly less corn this year. According to Jenna Hoffman from AgWeb Farm Journal, the USDA predicts farmers will plant 92 million acres of corn and 88 million acres of soybeans. Corn acreage planted for the 2021 growing season was 93.4 million acres, which was an increase by 2.7 million acres from the 2020 growing season. Soybean acreage planted for the 2021 growing season was 87.2 million acres, which was an increase by 3.8 million acres from 2020. Wheat is also projected to increase for this 2022 growing season at 48 million acres planted. In 2021, there were 46.7 million acres of the crop and in 2020 there was 44.5 million acres. 
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