From the monthly archives:

May, 2016

The Farmer is In: Farm Bureau Members Talk Food and Farming

Cook County Farm Bureau members talk food and farming at State Fair Family Days at Arlington Racetrack.  Families enjoyed educational activities and crafts.

Program Offered for Legislative Staff

Explore Cook County’s premier agri-businesses during this year’s Staff Exchange Program. On June 14, participants will visit OSI Group, a concept-to-table, full-service, global supply chain.  The bus will depart from the Cook County Building (Clark Street side) at 8:30 a.m.  The group will return prior to 1:00 p.m. On July 19, Staff Exchange participants will have the opportunity to visit the Westside Bee Boyz, LLC and Koval Distillery.  Koval produces organic whiskey, liqueurs and specialty spirits in Chicago's first distillery since the mid-1800s.  The Westside Bee Boyz has grown from managing local hives to owning their own apiary in Chicago’s southwest suburbs. The bus will depart from the Cook County Building (Clark Street side) at 8:30 a.m.  Participants will return prior to 1:00 p.m. The Staff Exchange Program is designed to connect legislators and staff to Cook County farmers and agri-businesses while expanding each group’s knowledge and understan ...

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Join Farm Bureau for State Fair Days

Join Cook County Farm Bureau for State Fair Day at Arlington Racetrack on Sunday, May 29.  The Junior Jockey Zone, an area packed with entertainment for the whole family will feature state fair themed activities, including educational activities sponsored by Cook County Farm Bureau!

Activities include: pony rides, a petting zoo, bounce house, face painting, magician, caricaturist, and a juggler.  Farm Bureau will offer hands on activities and fun, educational activities focused on farming, family, and food.

State Fair Day is scheduled from noon till 4 p.m. on Sunday, May 29.

Additional information is available at

Member Appreciation Day-this Saturday, May 21st!

Member Appreciation Day this Saturday...forget, Home Depot, Lowes and Menards this Saturday....Go visit select CCFB member farm stands, greenhouses, garden centers to purchase your flowers and plantings this weekend and received a discount for being a fellow member.  The quality, selection and customer service will be worth your drive!  Participating member business are listed below (subject to exclusion, restrictions and cancellations).

Farmers Markets Directory | Chicago & Suburban Market Schedules

Many Chicago and Suburban farmers markets are open.  Check out our link to locate farmers markets and opening dates near you HERE and support our  Cook County Farm Bureau Farmers.

Historic Wagner Farm to Host Dairy Breakfast and Stock Show

Join Cook County Farm Bureau® at this year’s Dairy Breakfast and Stock Show at Wagner Farm in Glenview.  The delicious, farm-style breakfast begins at 8 a.m. on June 11.  After enjoying homemade pancakes and freshly grilled sausage, enjoy live music, dairy demonstrations, and hands-on activities at the Farm Bureau booth.

After the breakfast, view the first annual Stock Show.  This drop-in show will feature lambs, pigs, dairy heifers and cows, and beef steers and heifers. Professional judges will evaluate the stock and select a top showman in each species. Exhibitors will be Lake, McHenry, Cook County 4-H and FFA members. This is a great opportunity to see and watch the youth of our counties showcase their hard work and dedication.  Be sure to visit the Farm Bureau’s “Ask a Farmer” booth to learn more about the different animals and animal care.  The show will begin at 9 a.m.

Master Gardener Resource Center is Open through November 17th!

The Cook County Farm Bureau and the University of Illinois Extension continue to partner on a project that benefits local Farm Bureau members and the general public.  The master gardeners have been back in the Farm Bureau office since April to answer questions from members and the general public related to gardening and horticulture. Master Gardener office hours are Mondays and Thursdays from 9 AM to 1:00 PM. This service is expected to continue through November 17th. The master gardeners are accessible by contacting the Cook County Farm Bureau at (708)354-3276 or by emailing  Master Gardeners are available in the Cook County Farm Bureau suite located at 6438 Joliet Rd. in Countryside. General topic areas that can be addressed include soil test recommendations, plant disease issues and treatments, horticulture related questions, pest identification and treatment, and more. Commercial related questions will be forwarded to the University of Illinois Extension Professiona ...

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Southwest School in Evergreen Park Receives a Visit From Ronald McDonald

Southwest School in Evergreen Park received a visit from Ronald McDonald on April 6 as a thank you from the Cook County Farm Bureau for their food drive donations in February. 14 schools donated over 9,000 pounds of food and tabs!

Farmland Market values fairly resistant despite economic uncertainty

Farmland values slipped a bit for the second year in a row in 2015, attributed to several years of a steep drop in farm income. However, there has not been any perceived “burst to the bubble” anticipated similar to what happened in the housing market nearly a decade ago. The return on investment for farmland in the past year dipped from its traditional range of 3 to 4% but its current return of 2.5% still remains solid compared to the volatility in stock market and bearish fundamentals and other economies around the world.  Some farmland experts are seeing a softening of cash rental rates for farmland properties to correspond with the recent farmland value decreases. The average statewide cash rental rate increased for five consecutive years before decreasing last year.

Source: FarmWeek, IFB

Farming Assistance from State/Federal Agencies

Value Added Producer Grant (VAPG) program:  USDA published a Notice in the 4/8/16 Federal Register inviting VAPG applications for fiscal year 2016.  Approximately $44 million is available for this nationally competitive program.   The deadline for submitting VAPG applications is July 1st, 2016 for paper applications or June 24th, 2016 for applications submitted via  To assist in preparing an application, the National Office has developed application packages for planning and working capital grants that can be downloaded from the main VAPG website shown below.  These “application toolkits” have been revised since last year… be sure to use the 2016 versions.  Please note the use of this application package/template is not required, but is highly recommended.  This website also has general VAPG program information sheets available as well as information sheets for specific types of projects. If you have questions, contact Matt Harris, Rural De ...

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