Farm and Food Bytes

Soy-based tires hit the road (FarmWeekNow). Tires made of rubber containing soybean oil will be available from Goodyear. Through the support of the Soybean Checkoff, Goodyear unveiled its new Assurance WeatherReady tires for passenger vehicles at the Farm Progress Show in Decatur. The new soy-based tires, offered in a wide range of sizes that fit more than three-quarters of cars, minivans and sports utility vehicles, hit the road this month. Goodyear researchers found that soy oil keeps rubber more viable at lower temperatures.

Governor signs law addressing ag teacher shortage (Kay Shipman, FarmWeek). A newly created state task force soon will study the challenges that have Illinois high schools scrambling to find and retain agriculture teachers. Gov. Bruce Rauner signed SB 1991, sponsored by Rep. Jerry Costello II, D-Smithton, and Sen. Scott Bennett, D-Champaign. Illinois Farm Bureau® supported the legislation. The state agriculture education task force will recommend ways to recruit and retain ag teachers and possible reforms of teacher licensure and testing requirements. Costello, chairman of the House Agriculture and Conservation Committee, recalled learning there were roughly 20 ag education graduates last year available to fill more than 80 open ag teacher positions Illinois. “If we do not have an adequate number of agriculture education teachers, we will not be able to properly train future industry leaders here at home in Illinois,” Costello told FarmWeek.

COUNTRY, Illinois Corn continue ag literacy support (FarmWeekNow). Two long-standing contributors to agriculture literacy continued that support with contributions to the Illinois Agriculture in the Classroom (IAITC) program. COUNTRY Financial gave IAITC $100,000, while the Illinois Corn Checkoff program donated $90,000. The funds support the distribution of free resources to urban and rural schools throughout Illinois. Last year, the program reached almost 650,000 students and 37,500 teachers. “Each year IAITC looks for new ways to connect students to topics that are meaningful to their education, and relevant to agriculture,” said Kevin Daugherty, IAITC education director. “AITC helps provide local connections to not only food and fiber but also career links in traditional and emerging career areas of agriculture.”

Bayer, 4-H collaborating for future scientists. Bayer and National 4-H Council launched a new nationwide science effort this week at the Farm Progress Show in Decatur. Science Matters, a company and youth organization, will address the need for an enhanced science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) workforce through scientific exploration by thousands of rural and urban youth. Bayer will sponsor the 4-H Agri-Science Summit in Washington, D.C., where students will learn about modern agriculture and careers and gain more than 30 hours of hands-on learning and problem-solving experience.

Soy in Chicago. As part of its Soy in the City initiative, the Illinois Soybean Association (ISA) contributed about 400 pounds of ground pork to the Thornton Township Food and General Assistance Center and provided soil health information and materials to the Thornton Township High School Urban Farm. The ISA checkoff program partnered with Sen. Napoleon Harris, D-Harvey, to share this message with suburban Chicagoans.

Sweet Quest: 1 million bucks to replace Sugar (The Salt)  – Coca-Cola is offering $1 million to anyone who can provide a sugar substitute that is natural, low- or no-calorie, and mimics the taste sensation of sugar in beverages. The challenge comes as consumers drink less soda to cut back on sugar.