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CCFB News» February 2023

Family Farm and Food Bytes

02/10/2023 @ 2:55 pm

AFBF AND JOHN DEERE PEN DEAL OVER RIGHT TO REPAIR (Timothy Eggert, FarmWeek) - Farmers who use John Deere equipment now have the freedom to choose who uses wrenches on it after company officials and American Farm Bureau Federation reached a deal over the "right to repair." The result of multi-year negotiations between Deere and an AFBF advisory group featuring staff and state Farm Bureau presidents, the 6-page Memorandum of Understanding is effective immediately. It contains a provision requiring both sides to meet twice a year to evaluate the MOU. The agreement stems from a 2019 policy adopted by AFBF delegates on the topic, directing the organization to engage with major ag equipment manufacturers about the issue.


The full text of the MOU can be read at



 Sam Acho, former Chicago Bears linebacker and ESPN college football analyst, shared how professional athletes on different Chicago teams helped create a source of healthy food on Chicago’s West Side. He delivered the keynote address for the conference sponsored by the Illinois Farm Bureau, Illinois Specialty Growers Association and Illinois Farmers Market Association in the Crowne Plaza in January.


During the racial strife in 2020, Acho and nine professional Chicago athletes “pulled up chairs and sat in a circle and listened” to 10 police officers and 30 teens in the Austin neighborhood. While touring the neighborhood, Acho remembered he and one of the other athletes noticed only one grocery store, but 10 liquor stores. The athletes wondered if they could do something about that problem. The athletes proposed buying one of the liquor stores and turning it into a food market where the teens would work.


In August 2020, the Austin Harvest food mart pop-up opened with eight student entrepreneurs working after school three days a week. They sold fresh produce and flowers. When the open-air market had to close for the season, a radiothon helped raise money for a permanent building and ground was broken in May 2022.


“My thought is to challenge you,” Acho told his audience. “What if we come together? We saw athletes come together, Cubs, the Bulls, the Bears, the Blackhawks, the White Sox, the Chicago Sky — one Chicago. “We (at the conference) could come together — suppliers, distributors, growers, community members, the government and be one Illinois. You’re all here. We’re all here now. Talk to people around the table.”


Former Chicago Bears linebacker Sam Acho shares a laugh during his address at the Everything Local Conference Wednesday in Springfield. (Photo by Kay Shipman)



USDA AWARDS U OF I GRANT FOR BIOPRODUCT DEVELOPMENT PROJECT - The University of Illinois was awarded a $2.5 million USDA grant for a project that proposes to convert swine manure and other organic feedstocks into biobinders for asphalt that increase the quality of recycled asphalt pavements. The grant is part of $9.5 million in federal funding that supports the scale-up of sustainable bioproduct manufacturing in the United States. Three successful projects are funded through USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s (NIFA) Bioproduct Pilot Program, which funds research and development of value-added products from agricultural commodities. If the U of I project is commercialized, benefits include reduced landfill waste, reduced disposal costs for asphalt and food waste and low-cost products.


SURVEY – ILLINOIS GRAPE GROWERS AND VINTNERS - The Illinois Grape Growers and Vintners Alliance (IGGVA) is conducting two surveys to assess the growth of the state’s grape and wine industry. Find the online surveys at One survey will collect information about vineyard acres. The other will collect information from all entities producing wine in the state. All wine-production information will be kept anonymous.


As a growing tourism attraction in Illinois communities from Chicago to Carbondale, the Illinois wine industry has grown with award-winning wines. The IGGVA survey will help capture the industry’s role in generating tourism, creating jobs and contributing to local economies.


SORCE FRESHWATER SEES COPI CATCHING ON WITH CONSUMERS (Daniel Grant, FarmWeek) - An East Peoria company believes it found a way to tame the exploding population of Asian carp in the Illinois River by getting consumers hooked on new food products made from the prolific fish species. Sorce Enterprises, a food distribution and trucking company for quick service restaurants the past 50-plus years, changed its business model two years ago and now focuses on the Asian carp business.


The East Peoria-based business, currently known as Sorce Freshwater Co. located along the east bank of the Illinois River, teams up with local fishermen and nets about 150,000 pounds of Asian carp per week. It processes about 4,000 pounds of the catch weekly into finished goods for human consumption from the fish, renamed Copi as part of a rebranding effort unveiled by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources last June.


PARTNERSHIP AIMS TO PROVIDE FARMER VETERANS GREATER MARKET ACCESS - While the Homegrown By Heroes label continues to gain attention, a partnership with Food MarketMaker is helping increase market access for farmer veterans.


As the official farmer veteran branding program of America, the Homegrown By Heroes (HBH) label is administered nationally by the Farmer Veteran Coalition (FVC). It certifies ranchers, farmers and fisherman of all military eras to sell their product as veteran owned and produced.


About 2,900 farmer veterans are certified Homegrown by Heroes throughout the country. For the past year, FVC has been introducing its certified HBH growers to the MarketMaker platform to increase their farm sales. MarketMaker users can search for and identify the HBH growers in the interactive database of farmer sellers, food business and consumer buyers. For more information, visit or





Homegrown By Heroes — Illinois Products was added to MarketMaker in 2019 and has continued to expand. Food and farm businesses in Illinois can participate in the national HBH, FVC, and the HBH Illinois affiliation.


For more information on Illinois’ HBH program, go online,





About Family Farm and Food Bytes: This is a collection of articles gathered from Illinois Farm Bureau FarmWeek, FarmWeekNow and other media sources and is designed to keep you informed as a member and leader within the Cook County Farm Bureau® organization. We thank the FarmWeek staff for their reporting skills and talents. 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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