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CCFB News» May 2019

Family Food Bytes

05/02/2019 @ 11:45 am

LLAMA, LLAMA, WHERE’D YOU GO? (NBC News) – The release of last week’s Ag Census not only showed farmers are aging and farm numbers are decreasing – it also showed the nation’s llamas are disappearing. In 2002, there were nearly 145,000 llamas in the U.S.; by 2017, however, there were fewer than 40,000. “Once the industry got beyond the novelty and breeding aspects, the question became: what do you do with them?” said Robert Van Saun, a professor of veterinary science at Penn State University.


CHUCK KNOWS BEEF (Associations Now) – “Chuck” is the new virtual assistant released by the National Cattlemen’s Association designed to bring beef knowledge to your nearest smart speaker or phone. On April 1, the NCBA released “Chuck Knows Beef” to offer beef – cooking tips to users exactly when they need him. Chuck works with Amazon Echo and Google Assistant by providing recipe ideas, information about different types of beef, safe cooking tips, and details on standard practices in the industry. For those who do not have a smart speaker handy, a text-based version of Chuck is available on the Chuck Knows Beef website.


NEW ONLINE FARM GAMES (FarmWeek) - the American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture has launched updates to four of its My American Farm online games including:

  • Where in the World – students in grades 3 through 5 explore world geography through agricultural facts
  • Wild Water Adventures – 4th grade students strengthen English language arts comprehension through stories and questions on water usage
  • Equipment Engineer – 4th grade students strengthen English language arts, writing and spelling skills by correcting sentences related to 3 aspects of agriculture
  • Farmer’s Market Challenge – students in kindergarten through 2nd grade and 3rd through 5th grade increase math skills by working through questions and scenarios at a farmer’s market

Visit for these and other resources.


NORTH AMERICAN CONSUMERS WILLING TO SPEND MORE ON GROCIERIES (FarmWeek) - According to data from Nielsen, Americans are willing to pay a premium for meat, seafood, coffee, tea and dairy. Specialty Food News reported 33 percent of North American consumers increased grocery spending during the past five years, based on Nielsen data. Consumers are often cost-conscious and look for bargains but are willing to pay a premium for certain categories. Thirty percent of North American consumers are willing to pay a premium for meat and seafood, 25 percent for coffee and tea and 22 percent for dairy.


ORGANIC PRODUCE SALES HIT $5.6 BILLION IN 2018 (FarmWeek) - In 2018, fresh produce represented 26 percent of total store organic sales and a growth rate of 8.6 percent equal to total store organic sales. Blueberries increased the most, followed by prepackaged salads. Organic bananas, apples and grapes all exceeded $20 million in growth. However, organic produce wasn’t a guaranteed success. Conventionally grown strawberries and tomatoes experienced far greater sales growth. Prices played an important factor. On average, prices were much higher for organic tomatoes and strawberries compared to conventional: $3.38 compared to $1.97 to per pound for tomatoes, and $4.26 compared to $2.26 per pound for strawberries. More organic strawberries are anticipated. California organic strawberry acreage has increased to more than 13 percent of total strawberry acreage during the last two years, even as the total organic acreage remained fairly constant.


BEESCAPE HELPS ASSESS HIVE LOCATIONS (FarmWeek) - Identifying ideal locations for beehives can be difficult since scientists are still learning about factors that affect populations and because bees travel so far from a colony or a nesting site to collect food. At, beekeepers select a possible apiary location on an online map. The Beescape model then provides a score based on information about pollinator forage quality, nesting habitat quality and insecticide load for a 3-mile range. This online tool provides apiary site scores based on pollinator forage quality, nesting habitat quality and insecticide load. Anyone who provides pollinator forage or refuge is encouraged to use the website. Users may also share data on the health of their bees to improve the model used to calculate the landscape scores. Beescape was developed by entomologists from Penn State University in partnership with the University of Illinois, Purdue University, the University of Minnesota and Dickinson College.


Beescape online tool will allow beekeepers and anyone who provides pollinator refuge and forage to assess the safety and suitability of an apiary’s location. (Purdue College of Agriculture photo)










ILLINOIS HIGH SCHOOL GRADS LEAVING (FarmWeek) - Nearly half of Illinois high school graduates pursuing 4-year degrees enrolled in other state colleges in 2017, the Illinois Board of Higher Education reported recently. 48.4% of public high school graduates enrolled in 4-year out-of-state institutions in 2017, up from 46.6% in 2016. Illinois community college enrollment proved to be a bright spot enrollment growth of 2477 students in 2017 over the previous year.


STATE HAS SOME SUCCESS STORIES WITH ENDANGERED BUMBLEBEES (FarmWeekNow) - Despite flourishing population in some areas, the rusty patched bumblebee is absent from other areas where it used to be, according to Scientist Jason Robinson, entomologist with the Illinois Natural History Survey (IHNS). Robinson is surveying the state for populations of rusty patched bumblebees, listed as an endangered species by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). Broadscale landscape changes, including conversion of Illinois prairies, resulted in the rusty patched bumblebee losing about 90 percent of its geographic area, according to Robinson. Robinson pointed to ground disturbance, especially in the winter, as a possible contributing factor to declines of rusty patched bumblebees.


The rusty patched bumblebee, listed as an endangered species by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, is thriving in parts of Illinois, especially northern Illinois. A University of Illinois scientist is surveying the state for populations. (Photo by Maria Repiscak,U of I)










MORE, PLEASE (State Journal-Register) – The IDOA is asking for a $9.3 million budget increase, most of which would be used to pay for regulating recreational marijuana programs if Illinois lawmakers approve them. IDOA Acting Director John Sullivan told lawmakers he doesn’t know what the agency’s role will be when it comes to recreational use of marijuana, but he thinks it will be significant. Illinois Farm Bureau policy opposes legalization of recreational marijuana.


BIPARTISAN BILLS COULD EASE IL’s ESTATE TAX ( – A pair of bills introduced in the Illinois General Assembly could ease Illinois farmers’ tax burden when a family member dies. The bills would tie the state’s estate tax level to the federal estate tax level which is currently set at $11.4 million. Illinois currently taxes estates valued at $4 million or more, roughly the value of 500 acres of farmland. Illinois is one of 17 states, plus Washington, D.C., that still collects an estate tax.


USDA INCREASES EFFORTS TO KEEP ASF FROM U.S. (FarmWeek) - the USDA has added steps towards keeping African Swine Fever (ASF) from entering the United States. Steps taken include including working with customs and border patrols to train and add 60 Beagle teams working at key US commercial, sea and airports. Also, Customs will further expand cargo checks for illegal pork/pork products and inspect travelers who pose an agricultural ASF safety risk. ASF is a highly contagious and deadly viral disease affecting domestic and feral pigs of all ages. It does not affect people nor is it a food safety issue.


About Family Farm and Food Bytes: This is a collection of articles gathered from both mainstream and agriculture media and is designed to keep you informed as a member and leader within the Cook County Farm Bureau organization. The articles summarized above are not intended to represent Cook County Farm Bureau policy or positions, but rather to provide members an idea of what is being reported regionally, nationally, and globally.

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