Family Farm and Food Byte
OCTOBER AREA CROP UPDATE It was a difficult growing season for most farmers this year. It is going to be a late harvest season for Cook area farmers (and most farmers in general, for that matter). The “summer” weather that was present for most of September may have been helpful for corn and soybeans to gain greater maturity and potential yields. There were good yields of straw bales from the wheat harvest this year. Hay harvest has been more difficult due to the late season start and the frequent rains. Industrial hemp, an “old” new crop, is maturing and farmers are hopeful to have access to processing the product for CBD oils or fiber. The pumpkin crop seems to be spotty with some area producers indicating a good yield while others are hit and miss. However, with Illinois being the number one pumpkin producing state in the United States, there will still be plenty of pumpkins out there for fall fun.
IDOA - INDUSTRIAL HEMP INSPECTIONS (FarmWeekNow) Illinois Department of Agriculture (IDOA) inspectors are preparing for inspections as the state’s first industrial hemp crop prepares to be harvested. Inspectors will take plant samples from randomly selected licensed growers to test tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) levels, said Jeff Cox, head of IDOA’s medicinal plant bureau. By federal and state law, industrial hemp cannot contain more than 0.3% THC on a dry weight basis. Licensed growers must report to IDOA at least 30 days before harvest. Cox noted IDOA is allowing growers a five-day window on either side of their projected harvest date.
Industrial hemp plants being grown on the southwest side of Cook County
AG CENSUS SHOW FAMILY FARMS STILL DOMINATE IN ILLINOIS (Illinois Farmer Today) The 2017 Census of Agriculture confirms and contradicts some perceptions in Illinois. The percentage of livestock vs. crop sales has not changed in the five-year period from 2012 to 2017. Numbers show a slowdown in the growth of mega-farms, which drew attention in the 2012 census. In the 2017 report the number of large farms grew by only 190 to total 2,660. In contrast, the number of the smallest farms (between 1 and 9 acres) grew by 2,120 to almost 8,000. The 2017 ag census shows family farms still dominate the state. In McLean and Bureau counties, for example, 94 percent of the farms are family farms.
WASHING RAW POULTRY IS FOOD SAFETY RISK (USDA) A study from the USDA reveals that individuals are putting themselves at risk of illness when they wash or rinse raw poultry. The results of the observational study showed how easy bacteria can be spread when surfaces are not effectively cleaned and sanitized. The majority of the bacteria spreads from rinsing raw poultry in dirty sinks, cutting poultry with utensils leading to cross contamination, and touching meat with unclean hands. The study did not include popular poultry cleaning methods such as using lemon, lime, or vinegar which does not pose as a risk.
WHOLE MILK YOGURT ADDED/COTTAGE CHEESE CHAMP (FarmWeek) Look for Prairie Farms Dairy whole milk yogurt in grocery store dairy cases. Whole milk yogurt gained the most market share in 2019, a whopping 7.9% increase. Prairie Farms Dairy also nabbed a grand championship with its 2% low-fat cottage cheese at a dairy product contest during the World Dairy Expo.
DECLINING FARM INCOME COULD PROMPT CASH RENT ADJUSTMENTS (FarmWeek) Lower commodity prices coupled with high input costs and smaller crops this season could set the stage for downward pressure on the farmland rental market. However, that does not guarantee lower rental rates from landowners who face rising property taxes.
US ORGANIC SALES HIT NEARLY 50 BILLION (FarmWeek) US sales of organic food last year reached nearly 50 billion, a 5.9% increase, for the first time according to the Organic Trade Association. Sales of organic fruits and vegetables grew 5.6% with 17.4 billion in sales. In comparison, total fruit and vegetable sales increased 1.7% during the same period. US sales of organic dairy slowed for the 2nd consecutive year, up .8%. However, organic dairy and eggs proved the 2nd largest organic sector with 6.5 billion in sales.
IDOA FINDS DEADLY OAK PATHOGEN (FarmWeek) The Illinois Department of Agriculture found a pathogen that causes a fatal oak disease, Sudden Oak Death. The diseases killed large tracts of oaks and native plant species in California and Oregon and spreads by plant to plant contact. The pathogen travels in soil and water (it’s not transmitted by bugs or wildlife). The disease pathogen has been found in ornamental plants (rhododendrons) at 10 Illinois Walmart locations in Cook, Jackson, Jefferson, Lee, Macon, Monroe, St Clair, Stephenson and Will counties and a Hy-Vee store in McDonough County. Contact Illinois Department of Agriculture or the local University of Illinois Extension office for guidance.
Photo credit: Morton Arboretum
FEDERAL COURT SENDS ILLEGAL WATER RULE BACK TO EPA (Farm Bureau) The court for the Southern District of Georgia says the 2015 Waters of the United States rule is unlawful under the Clean Water Act because of its “vast expansion of jurisdiction over waters and land traditionally within the states’ regulatory authority.” The federal court kept in place a preliminary injunction preventing the rule from becoming effective in the 11 states involved with the lawsuit while the EPA finalizes its own repeal and replacement of the 2015 rule.
INDUSTRIAL HEMP ACREAGE TOPS 128,000 (Farm Bureau) Cropland planted to industrial hemp acreage grew to more than 128,000 in 2019, according to acreage data reported by the Agriculture Department’s Farm Service Agency. The top states for production are Montana (39,000 acres), Colorado (19,000 acres) and Kentucky (15,000 acres). Illinois approved over 10,000 acres to be grown in 2019.
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.