Family Food Bytes
PRITZKER SIGNS BILL REDEFINING ‘LOCAL FOODS’ IN ILLINOIS (WTTW) – A new law signed by Gov. J.B. Pritzker redefines what is considered local food in Illinois. Previously, foods were considered local only if every ingredient was sourced from within the state. That made it difficult for some local food producers to sell their products. That definition also “excluded many of our favorite truly local products, like fruit jams grown, made and packaged” in Illinois, said state Rep. Maurice West, D-Rockford. “We owed it to our constituents to fix that problem.” Under the new law, foods will be classified as local if they are processed or packaged in Illinois and contain at least one ingredient grown in the state.
US RESTAURANT CHAINS LOOK TO CHINA FOR SALES GROWTH (CNBC) – Amid the ongoing trade war, large restaurant chains in the U.S. are ramping up development in China. Fast-food chains tend to benefit from economic downturns because consumers look for cheaper options. However, as multinational restaurant companies typically source some of food from their home markets and some from local markets, restaurant chains could feel a pinch from the trade war.
CREATING THE 2050 FOOD SYSTEMS FOR FUTURE GENERATIONS (USFRA) – USFRA short film ’30 Harvests’ made its debut last month across digital platforms. The docudrama illustrates challenges farmers face while embracing agriculture’s opportunity to create sustainable food systems over the next 30 harvests. It is inspired by true events in the lives of Texan farmer Jay Hill and Missourian soil scientist Meagan Kaiser.
FIRST FREEZE COULD CATCH CROPS BEFORE THEY MATURE – September weather will be the key for late planted crop development. With late planting comes late maturing crops and an early hard freeze will likely greatly reduce crop yields or end crop hopes for many farm producers in 2019.
PEORIA AG LAB DISCOVERS NEW USES, PROCESS FOR CORNSTARCH MATERIAL (FarmWeekNow) - The Peoria Ag Lab has discovered new uses for a longtime cornstarch material and a low-cost, convenient way to process it, poising this corn-supporting discovery for commercialization. A team of six scientists, including one who founded the life-changing absorbent starch material in diapers, made the award-winning discovery. The team identified a low-cost technique, commonly used by the paper industry, to produce corn-based amylose inclusion complexes (AIC), of which amylose is the starch material. Their research also found the resulting AIC has a variety of food and nonfood uses as emulsifiers, polymer films and antimicrobials.
Emulsifiers keep foods like mayonnaise and peanut butter and products like paints and cleaners in one phase, rather than separating like oil and vinegar. As a polymer film or coating, corn-based AIC retards water and possesses antibacterial traits, offering improvements for food applications like butcher paper and desirable attributes for bandages. In nonfood applications, the product can also kill some pesticidal insects.
FIELD OF DREAMS 30 YEARS LATER (FarmWeek) - Thirty years after the movie debuted, Field of Dreams, is still all about the corn. Kevin Costner and James Earl Jones spent around 15 weeks in Iowa filming of the movie, released in 1989. Hundreds of thousands of people have since made the journey to Dyersville.
The Field of Dreams movie site is open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. during the summer months. There is no admission fee to play catch or run the bases on the field. (Photo by Jim Taylor)
AG SECRETARY PERDUE DECLARES ILLINOIS AGRICULTURAL DISASTER (FarmWeekNow).
U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue on Thursday, August 7th declared an agricultural disaster in every Illinois county, immediately triggering availability of low-interest Farm Service Agency (FSA) emergency loans to eligible farmers. Emergency FSA loans help farmers who suffer qualifying farm-related losses directly caused by the disaster.
Before the state was declared an agricultural disaster, multiple steps were needed.
Eligible Illinois farmers may use low-interest FSA emergency loans to rebuild or replace essential property, cover production costs, pay essential family living expenses, reorganize the family farm or refinance certain nonreal estate operating debts. To qualify, the farmer must show a production loss of 30% or more in 2019 caused by the disaster.
FARMERS ARE PLANNING FOR ILLINOIS RIVER SHUTDOWN NEXT YEAR (NPR Illinois) – It’s not uncommon for many Illinois farmers to ship much, or even all, of their commodities along the Illinois River. “They’re going to need to re-route, predetermine and plan to not be able to use the river for up to 4 months,” said Illinois Farm Bureau’s Kirby Wagner. The Illinois Army Corps of Engineers has released a schedule that has closures of six locks next year. Wagner added that the work will be done during lower shipping times, starting after what is traditionally flood season and ending before post-harvest shipping.
SWARM FARMING COULD BE COMING TO A FIELD NEAR YOU (FarmWeekNow) – The idea of row crop operations in a field conducted by a pack of five to 10 autonomous, robotic vehicles rather than a farmer in a tractor probably sounds more like the script of a science fiction movie than reality. But that’s the concept some innovators, such as Zack James, founder of Rabbit Tractors, envision for the future of farming. He discussed his new company, which currently develops and tests compact, autonomous farm vehicles, with a goal of making “swarm farming” a viable option for farmers in 10 to 15 years.
AHP NOT AN OPTION, BUT IFB CONTINUES TO ADDRESS HEALTH COST CONCERNS - Illinois Farm Bureau and COUNTRY encourage members to see if they qualify for a subsidy. Illinois Farm Bureau continues to keep one goal in mind for members – help them build for the future. That goal applies to a growing concern on farmers’ minds – the cost of health insurance.
The IFB’s Health Care Working Group met with multiple providers to look into an Association Health Plan (AHP) with hopes of lowering the cost of health care for Farm Bureau members. Unfortunately, none of the three major health care providers contacted were able to work with IFB on any savings through AHPs.
The Health Care Working Group also made recommendations addressing overall wellness, including mental health awareness, and potential ways to increase education and reduce costs without an AHP. To better serve its members, IFB approved increasing funding to support nurse practitioner scholarships through the Rural Illinois Medical Student Assistance Program (RIMSAP). The IFB Board will also consider financial support for recruitment of health care professionals into rural areas through programs like the Rural Medical Education Program (RMED).
Members may also use the COUNTRY Green Road tool. It’s an interactive map on COUNTRY’s website that will help members navigate a path to health care options.
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.