Illinois Field & Bean - October 2023

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Journey to the Netherlands




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6 Journey to the Netherlands

Illinois Field & Bean Magazine sits down with members of the ISA Board and Staff who recently embarked on a fact-finding mission trip to the Netherlands.

10 A Harvest Story

Get an in-depth look at the big picture of this year’s soybean harvest, the unique challenges and opportunities in 2023, and what this year’s growing conditions mean for next year.

20 Creating a Caucus

Through the creation of the Sustainable Fuels Caucus, ISA is casting Illinois farmers in a leading role for improved air and environmental quality in communities across Illinois.

22 96% Family-Owned, 100% Committed

The "We Are the 96%" campaign has become a widely-visible, consumer-facing effort, designed to increase awareness of the fact that 96% of farms in Illinois are owned and operated by families.

25 What to Expect from the Next Legislative Session

Scheduled to commence in January 2024 and extend into the late spring, the next legislative session holds critical importance for the agricultural community. Read more about what ISA is doing to ensure Illinois farmers are prepared and ready to make their voices heard.

COVER: Recently, members of the Illinois Soybean Association (ISA) board and staff visited Amsterdam, Netherlands to explore increased market opportunities for Illinois soybeans, and to grow the team’s awareness on global sustainability practices. Follow along as Field & Bean sets out to better understand the research, regulations and resources behind the country's rich agricultural traditions.

OCTOBER 2023 Volume 3 Issue 12


Ron Kindred, Atlanta District 9


Brad Daugherty, West Union

District 14


Tim Scates, Carmi



Bryan Severs, Potomac

District 7


Dwayne Anderson, Lynn Center

District 3



Steve Pitstick, Maple Park

District 2



Brian Atteberry, Carmi

District 16



Brady Holst, Plymouth



Ryan Frieders, Waterman | District 1

Buck Hill, Grand Ridge | District 4

Mark Read, Putnam | District 5

Jim Martin, Pontiac | District 6


David Niekamp, Coatsburg |

District 8

Elliott Uphoff, Shelbyville | District 10

Matt Murray, Paxton | District 11

Brock Willard, Pittsfield | District 12

Heath Houck, Nokomis | District 13

Jeff Parker, Belleville | District 15

Nick Harre, Nashville | District 17

Rick Rubenacker, McLeansboro | District 18


Betsey Emerick, Vandalia

Jeff O'Connor, Kankakee

David Wessel, Chandlerville


Dwayne Anderson, Lynn Center

Gary Berg, St. Elmo

Lynn Rohrscheib, Fairmount

David Wessel, Chandlerville


Stan Born, Mahomet

Daryl Cates, Columbia,

ASA President

Jered Hooker, Clinton

Jim Martin, Pontiac

Bill Raben, Ridgway

Rob Shaffer, El Paso

Roberta Simpson-Dolbeare, Nebo

Bill Wykes, Yorkville

4,229 Miles to New Insight

While there is always a wealth of knowledge to be gained in our own backyard, sometimes it’s important to look beyond our native state or country and see how things are done in other places. This past July, I was able to be part of a group of Illinois Soybean Association staff and board directors that traveled to the Netherlands to see firsthand the agriculture industry and lessons that can be applied in ISA’s three main focus areas: soybean production, government relations, and market development.

Editor | Claire Weinzierl, Illinois Soybean Association

Assistant Editor | Betsy Osman, Illinois Soybean Association

Staff Writer | Brynna Sentel, Illinois Soybean Association

Staff Writer | Lexi Hoffman, Illinois Soybean Association

Staff Writer & Photographer | Stephen Sostaric, Illinois Soybean Association

Staff Writer | Olivia Key, Illinois Soybean Association

Editorial Intern | Anita Sharkey, Illinois Soybean Association


Chief Executive Officer | John Lumpe

Director of Operations | Dustin Scott

Director of Market Development | Todd Main

Director of Finance | Kati Owen

Director of Government Relations & Strategy | Andrew Larson

Director of Agronomy | Abigail Peterson

Director of Marketing Communications | Michael Whitmer

The Illinois Soybean Growers is owner of Illinois Field & Bean, a publication for Illinois soybean farmers, designed and written to provide timely and useful industry information. Illinois Field & Bean is published by the Illinois Soybean Association, 1108 Trinity Lane, Bloomington, IL, 61704. For address corrections, contact Illinois Field & Bean at 1108 Trinity Lane, Bloomington, IL, 61704. Phone 309-663-7692. Web address: Email:

Comments and statewide news articles should be sent to the above address. Advertising space reservations must be made by the first of the month preceding publication. In consideration of the acceptance of advertisement, the agency and the advertiser must, in respect of the contents of the advertisement, indemnify and save the publisher harmless against any expense arising from claims or actions against the publisher because of the publication of the content of the advertisement.


Claire Weinzierl

Communications Manager

Phone: (309) 663-7692


On the soybean production side, the ISA group got a taste of what Dutch agriculture looks like. The Netherlands has a long and famous history of reclaiming land from the sea, with about 17 percent of the country’s land being reclaimed. This makes for interesting and relatively “young” soil profiles being studied at the World Soils Museum and Netherlands Institute of Ecology.

On the farm, the delegation saw how different the scale and type of farming can be there. On only a couple hundred acres you could see five different crops growing in a space that might only have one or two in the United States. Crops often included vegetables, especially potatoes. Of course, the size of the equipment matched the relatively smaller scale of the farming operations. A common thread between Dutch and American farmers is the use of cover crops as a weed control strategy.

A tour of the Port of Rotterdam gave a great perspective on the trade side of things. As the largest port in Europe, Rotterdam is the gateway port for the transshipment of American agricultural goods into Europe. This, of course, includes soybeans. With U.S. soybean exports to the European Union on the upswing in recent years, the Port of Rotterdam plays a vital role in getting U.S. soybeans into the European marketplace.

Finally, the importance of the public policy work the Illinois Soybean Government Relations team engages in was made apparent while visiting the Dutch farming operations. The group learned about the higher levels of environmental regulation in the Netherlands, impacting the use of fertilizers and pesticides by putting limits on how much can be used and when. This highlighted the importance of continuing to educate legislators on how policy decisions impact Illinois farm families, as well as finding policy solutions that encourage voluntary conservation while also ensuring that Illinois farmers are able to continue to grow their crops and keep food prices reasonable for the consumer.

The experiences from this trip gave great insight on how things are done abroad as well as the journey U.S. soybeans can take once they leave our shores. While there were differences, we also saw common threads. No matter where in the world you may farm, there is still the shared bond of growing crops to feed the planet. These opportunities help ISA staff, as well as myself and my fellow board members, to make the most informed decisions on behalf of Illinois soybean farmers. To take an even deeper dive into what was seen and learned, be sure to read the feature article in this issue.


Creating Higher Standards in FY24

October means harvest season for Illinois soybean farmers, and a fresh fiscal year for the Illinois Soybean Association. As we transition over the work, impacts, and successes from the previous year into the new year, and prepare ourselves for the opportunities ahead, we’re creating higher standards for ourselves, for our industry, and for our global value chain.

Like the many Illinois farmers who have been engaged in pre-harvest maintenance, your dedicated ISA team is developing the new skills necessary to drive progress and healthy returns for Illinois growers. We are “building our bench” of highly-qualified, career-oriented professionals who are passionate about their work and see themselves as part of the bigger picture here at ISA.

In terms of programming, performance and scale, creating new standards presents our team with new challenges. Driven by the valuable input and leadership of our Illinois soybean farmer board, ISA is strategically expanding our services and support. This strategic shift will enhance our performance and bolster the competencies we undertake on behalf of our members.

This renewed mindset is guided by three key objectives: fostering sustainability, enhancing farmer profitability, and reshaping future demand for Illinois-grown soybeans. The ISA Departments are poised to achieve significant milestones through innovation, education, and strengthened relationships.

Government Relations: Championing Change

Our Government Relations team is gearing up for action, recognizing the urban profile of the majority of elected officials, which was the catalyst behind our strategic decision to open an office location in Lombard. We are launching a new engagement campaign aimed at not only educating Illinois State legislators about the essential role farmers play as environmental stewards, but also highlighting the remarkable efforts made by our agricultural community to reduce inputs and enhance sustainability. Our goal is to share compelling stories from agriculture, shedding light on the opportunities and challenges associated with adopting new practices.

Market Development: Expanding Horizons

Through our Market Development Committee, we are setting new standards for Illinois soybeans. With exciting projects like the Soy Innovation Center, designed to promote, attract, select, and launch significant projects that lead to innovative soybean uses, we are ready to grow both economic supply and demand. We’re excited to attend the Southeast Asia U.S. Soy Business Development Conference developed to connect U.S. soy suppliers, exporters, and producers with in-country end-users. We will

showcase the advantages of infrastructure innovation, and the ways Illinois soy is transforming markets in food, feed, fuel, and industry sectors.

Soybean Production: Cultivating Excellence

ISA's Soybean Production Committee is instrumental in our efforts to raise industry standards. Our outreach will continue to include field days, Soybean Summit and Better Beans events, providing direct engagement opportunities with our farmers. In the new fiscal year we will fund 16 research projects which will address relevant soybean-related topics, bringing valuable insights to Illinois farmers. Through field trials and demonstration fields, we will offer practical applications that empower farmers to make informed decisions aimed at cultivating the best soybeans possible.

Marketing Communications: Spreading the Good Word

With the addition of Michael Whitmer as ISA's Director of Marketing Communications, our focus is now on effectively communicating our initiatives and measuring our progress. The voice of Illinois soybean farmers is powerful, and your story is unique. People want to hear from you. We are determined to amplify your voices across multiple channels. From this magazine to programs like "Illinois 20 Under 40" and the "We Are the 96%" Illinois Farm Families campaign, we are committed to sharing your story across Illinois and beyond.

It's shaping up to be an impressive lineup. But it will not be our extraordinary projects that will move our industry forward. It will be the extraordinary people who are working behind the scenes to ensure the successes our farmers are experiencing today will be sustained well into the future.

Our mission, “To uphold the interests of Illinois soybean producers through promotion, advocacy, research and education,” is more than the work that we do. It’s who we are here at ISA.

6 October 2023
The Illinois explorers noted that the Dutch approach to agriculture was very much like the conservation ethic held by farmers in the U.S., with an emphasis on nurturing the land.

Funded by the Illinois Soybean Checkoff

Journey to the Netherlands

Illinois Field & Bean Maga-

zine sat down with members of the ISA Board and Staff who recently embarked on an agricultural fact-finding research tour of the Netherlands.

This was the group’s first glimpse of the Netherlands, a nation that promised not just picture-perfect views but also invaluable insights into global agriculture. During their journey, ISA Chairman Ron Kindred, and Board Directors Nick Harre, Bryan Severs, Steve Pitstick, Betsey Emerick, Jim Martin and Brady Holst discovered a number of potential opportunities to bring new value to Illinois’ soybean industry, and challenges that have become part of Europe’s agricultural production system.

The first goal of the research mission, organized by the ISA Agronomy Team, was to explore increased market opportunities for Illinois soybeans and grow the teams’ levels of awareness on global sustainability practices.

As the group embarked on their exploration of the Dutch countryside, with farm fields punctuated by centuries-old homes, the scene was a living testament to generational sustainability and the nation's deep-rooted connection to the land.

“I was very impressed with the agriculture here,” remarked Steve Pitstick, an ISA board member. “The new land put into production

in the last 30-40 years was created by draining inland seas, bringing extra land to feed the population. That’s not something we see much in the Midwest because most of our land was homesteaded in the 1860s.”

For the explorers, the complexities of the local farms, such as strip-cropping systems, were an eye-opening

experience. “At the Farm of the Future, it was interesting to see the two-meter strips of different crops and how they plan their rotation and try to place one commodity beside another to benefit the other commodity,” said Ron Kindred. “Whether it works or not, I don't know. But if it does, I could see where you could scale that up and implement

that on your farm if you had markets for all those different products.”

The mixture of crops grown and the equipment used for production also astonished ISA Board Member Bryan Severs. “The diversity of the farmers in the Netherlands just blows

(See Journey to the Netherlands, page 8)

According to ISA Board Chairman, Ron Kindred, (pictured left), many of the farming practices the Dutch farmers have adopted are the same ones U.S. farmers are beginning to introduce as mainstream innovations.

Funded by the Illinois Soybean Checkoff

Journey to the Netherlands

(continued from page 7)

my mind how they can plant potatoes, carrots, onions, barley, rye, wheat,” he said. “We do two things and try to do them well. I don't see how they can do all the different things and do them as well as they do. I'm impressed with the farms we've been to, just from an equipment standpoint. Their equipment is specialized in small meters where ours is large and 80-feet wide.”

The Illinois delegation wanted a deeper understanding of the rigid regulations Dutch farmers

face, such as the mandated reduction of pesticide use by 50 percent and fertilizer by 80 percent by 2030. They also wanted a better understanding of other government mandates enforced through fines, such as the imposition of a 5,000-Euro fine if their summer-seeded crops were not harvested by a set date in the fall. Such mandates, in addition to those presented by weather and market challenges, test the Dutch farmers on a seasonal and annual basis.

“Dutch farmers to me seemed very resilient, because I know they are under environmental pressure,” said ISA Director Nick Harre. “How they've been able to adapt and overcome and deal with public

pressure on things is one thing I've found impressive.”

The Illinois explorers noted that the Dutch approach to agriculture was very much like the conservation ethic held by farmers in the U.S., with an emphasis on nurturing the land. In the Netherlands, the focus is on generations-old sustainable practices centered on soil health. And while soil health is rapidly rising on the ladder of importance in the United States, there remains a focus on maximizing yields.

While Dutch farmers may be applying farming practices from past generations, Harre also commented that he was impressed by the role research plays on modern farms.

At Wageningen University,

the delegation engaged with experts at the forefront of agricultural research. Dutch scientists talked about the use of natural pest control, cover crops, compost, and reduced tillage to enhance soils through a sustainable mindset.

“Wageningen University and the research done there were impressive,” Harre said. “I was blown away seeing what Wageningen University and Research had at their disposal, the facilities, the lab space, greenhouse space, how good research can get performed at an institution like that.”

Kindred said many of the farming practices the Dutch farmers have adopted are the same ones U.S. farmers are beginning to introduce as

8 October 2023
Back Row: Dustin Scott, Jim Martin, Madeline Lily, Brady Holst, Corey Lacey, Ben Forsythe, Bryan Severs, Thiery Stokkerman Front Row: Betsy Emerick, Steve Pitstick, Eileen Urish, Megan Miller, Ron Kindred, Nick Harre, Abigail Peterson, Pieter van Leeuwen Boomkamp

mainstream innovations.

“We’re growing commodities right now—soybeans and corn,” he said. “And we're trying to produce them at as high a level as we can. But we're also trying to introduce cover crops on some of our farms and in our rotation.”

In addition to viewing field crops, the farmers visited Rotterdam, where they viewed the innovative Floating Farm Rotterdam. The futuristic dairy operation houses cows on a self-sufficient platform floating in the city’s port. The farm represents a localized, sustainable approach to food production and security.

Megan Miller, ISA Agronomy Programs Manager, was amazed by the forwardthinking technology and design supporting self-sufficiency. “Visiting the Floating Farm was interesting from an ag tech perspective. While this isn’t a business model that will become the norm in dairy production, this was a great opportunity to introduce folks from outside of agriculture to the importance of maintaining a resilient food chain.”

Steve Pitstick saw the farm as an example of what becomes possible when you bring together necessity, inventiveness, and a commitment to community. The unique operation exemplified how Dutch resourcefulness and pragmatism could converge to create local resilience.

Additional tour stops included the global headquarters of Danone, the multinational food company, where they met with managers leading efforts to implement regenerative agriculture by partnering directly with dairy and crop growers. They also visited the national Soils Museum, which featured soil samples from around the world and emphasized the point that vibrant soil is the essential foundation for agriculture.

The Illinois delegation also had the opportunity to visit farms that had deployed the latest in digital intelligence and robotic innovation.

Returning home, the delegation carried heaps of inspiration along with open questions. Could lessons from the Netherlands take root locally? What policies or partnerships would enable Illinois’ journey to a higher level of sustainable farming, both economically for the farmer and for the environment? How could they balance productivity and stewardship?

“Maybe we should look at diversifying just a little bit more, you know, adding wheat into our rotations in central Illinois,” Kindred said. “I think that would be a possibility. And maybe there's even another crop we could add to spread our risk out a little more. In the end, maybe our soil health improves, and we become more productive. That's what we want to do.

“We come over here, and we see the pressure that the farmers are under to meet sustainability standards. We're encountering the same thing back in the States. We're trying to handle that on a volunteer basis right now to address some of the issues. Nutrient loss is a big issue that we're attacking with a strategy where we’re trying to apply things at the right time, in the right place, using the right amount, and using the right product.”

As the group reflects on their research trip to the Netherlands, and the perspectives gained on futuristic innovation born from old-world wisdom, perhaps most important is a newfound appreciation for the freedoms found in our own backyard.

Laughs Pitstick, “Sometimes you have to travel to other corners of the world to be reminded just how good we have it back at home.”

Funded by the Illinois Soybean Checkoff

Sustainable solutions for sustainable profits.

Green initiatives should not add red to the balance sheet. At ADS, better for the environment means better for business. That’s why we‘ve worked diligently to engineer recycled products and innovative water management solutions to improve yields and keep families farming for generations.

SEE WHY our commitment to sustainability is always worth the work.
Higher Yields • Increased Farmable Acres

Funded by the Illinois Soybean Checkoff

A Harvest Story

Amidst the sprawling landscape of millions of acres that stretch across Illinois' plains, a tapestry of soybean fields unfolds, each acre bearing the promise of sustenance and livelihood. In this vast canvas, 43,000 devoted soybean farmers are gearing up for a journey that's far more than routine; it's a testament to their unwavering bond with the land they nurture.

As the relentless sun scorched through the sweltering summer days and the parched earth thirsted for raindrops, the hearts of these farmers were entwined with hope and worry. The absence of rain posed a formidable challenge, casting a cloud of uncertainty over the upcoming season. For those safeguarding their crops from disease and drought, the lack of rain demanded a delicate balancing act. On the horizon, the glimmer of irrigation systems symbolized their determination to keep their fields alive amid the arid spell.

To complicate matters further, a haze from distant Canadian wildfires descended upon the crops, almost symbolizing the gloominess that had crept into the farmers' prospects. It mirrored their struggle – battling both nature's whims and external challenges. The persistent absence of rain painted a somber reality that refused to yield to their efforts.

But then, as if whispered from the heavens, the rain returned, rekindling not just the land but the farmers' spirits. However, the story doesn't end there. Amid these challenges, the farmers faced another adversary: rising expenses sweeping through Illinois like an unexpected storm. These aren't just numbers; they are stories

of hard work and dedication. The cost projections, each dollar reflecting their sweat and determination, revealed a steep increase in cost per acre. Factors beyond their control – inflation, soaring energy costs, higher wage rates, and intricate supply chain issues –converged to create financial uncertainty.

Yet, these farmers stand strong. They are not just statistics but individuals who have embraced a calling that demands their all. Their stories, etched into the soybean rows stretching across Illinois, testify to the unbreakable bond between the human spirit and

(See A Harvest Story, page 12)


Funded by the Illinois Soybean Checkoff

A Harvest Story

(continued from page 11)

the land, and its capacity to face the seasons' challenges.

Harvesting ushers in a cycle of endings and fresh beginnings, a rhythm that never ceases. It's a moment of reckoning, where we determine if the year's goals have been achieved or slipped away. Sometimes, all it takes is a drive past the fields to understand the tale. This

year, the soybeans stand as a testament – shorter than usual due to the early-season dryness, resulting in fewer nodes and pods gracing the Illinois fields. Consequently, we witness lower yields, meaning less income for our hardworking farmers as the year unfolds. With each passing day, the prospect of the next year draws nearer. Time never pauses, much like the indomitable spirit of a farmer. This unwavering dedication ensures that the rhythm of agriculture remains constant.

Within this rich narrative lies a vital resource for expert agronomic and management advice tailored to Illinois soybean production, courtesy of the ISA checkoff program: ILSoyAdvisor. It offers access to the latest education, resources, webinars, success stories, and more, all aimed at maximizing farm operations. The Soy Envoy program, active from March to October, is a highlight of ILSoyAdvisor, with Soy Envoys offering actionable insights, advice, and in-season agronomy updates through the blog

and crop report tool. These dedicated individuals are ready to support Illinois soybean farmers in their pursuit of higher yields, increased profits, and a reduced environmental footprint.

Covering Northern Illinois – Steve Pitstick, an ISA AtLarge Director, shares his perspective: "After 45 years in this profession, this year is just as unique as any other. We experienced early-season dryness, followed by muchneeded midseason rains, and dryness once again as we near the end of the

12 October 2023

season. It's not unfolding exactly as I had dreamed due to accelerated aging in our crops. But our commitment to improvement remains unwavering. Every year, I strive to enhance our farming operations for the future. It's an ongoing pursuit of perfection. This summer, despite the unexpected appearance of diseases following the rainfall – a surprise given the prior dryness – we've learned valuable lessons. The stress on the plants during the dry spells brought out diseases we wouldn't typically encounter. It's yet another year of learning and growth."

Covering Eastern Illinois

– Kris Ehler CCA, shares his thoughts: "Is it too early to start planning for next year?" His response, “It’s really never too early to start planning for the next growing season,” resonates deeply. Kris understands the significance of harvesting and taking note

of any weed pressures to inform pre-emergence and post-emergence programs for the subsequent year.

Kris's motto, "Surprise is the mother of panic," is a poignant representation of the challenges faced in 2023, with their echoes set to reverberate into 2024. Yet, he offers the reassurance that addressing these challenges head-on is a choice we can make today.

Covering Southern Illinois – Abigail Peterson, the ISA Director of Agronomy and CCA, reflects on the challenges and prospects this year: "This season brought one of the earliest pre-season droughts we've witnessed. The struggle with crop emergence in dry conditions, notably in some no-till cover systems that were terminated late, were concerning. Watching the slow development of the soybean canopy, even in 15-inch rows, was disheartening. Now, as we approach mid-season and

Funded by the Illinois Soybean Checkoff

the end, soybean development is reaching a crucial phase, with hopes for optimism if rains arrive in some regions. Rainfall has been sporadic, causing regional disparities. Late-season drought stress is becoming evident, but surprisingly, many farmers hold an optimistic outlook, aiming for soybean yields around or slightly below average. One exciting aspect is the adaptation of some farmers who experimented with strip-till beans, expediting emergence. It's remarkable how the season's challenges have led to inventive approaches. Overall, the resilience and adaptability of Illinois farmers are remarkable, given the season's challenging start."

Covering Western Illinois – Brady Holst, Chair of the Soybean Production Committee, shares his thoughts: "Farming is never the same from one year to the

next, and 2023 is no exception. This year's harvest will truly test the durability of soybean plants due to the wild weather in my area. We experienced weeks of extremely dry conditions, something we haven't seen in a long time. Despite this, soybean plants showed their strength by producing good yields when conditions improved. On the flip side, the excessive rain we had this year will affect our yields because it brought along disease issues. Even though every year is unique, there are always valuable lessons to learn. This year, we've seen the importance of closely monitoring how our crops handle wet conditions because yield potential can increase every day. Staying optimistic is crucial, as soybeans are tough plants, and conditions can get better in the future. So, the key takeaway from this year is to stay positive because next year could be our best yet.”


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14 October 2023
World Food Day and every day, WISHH’S strategic partners take local action. WISHH is a program of the American Soybean Association and is funded in part by the United Soybean Board and state soybean board checkoff programs. Connect with WISHH

Funded by the Illinois Soybean Checkoff


Statewide campaign featuring farm families is seen 30+ million times.

Step onto almost any Illinois farm and you’ll find a common scene — family, often generations deep, working together to grow and raise food destined for Illinois communities and beyond. It’s an impressive statistic — 96% of the state’s farms are family-owned and operated — yet, it’s one most Illinois consumers don’t know.

In 2023, Illinois Farm Families® (IFF) set out to create more awareness of locally-owned farms and build consumer trust by showing Illinoisans exactly who’s behind their food: families, just like theirs.

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Funded by the Illinois Soybean Checkoff

Behind the scenes of We Are The 96

See how this campaign came together and hear from farmers why they value connecting with consumers to build trust in our farms and food.



Research shows 53% of consumers think Illinois farms are run by corporations. Through this campaign, IFF reinforces 96% of farms in Illinois are still family-owned.

We Are The 96 commercials and campaign assets cleverly use common “corporate” terms and scenes but show what they actually look like on Illinois farms today, like team meetings on a gravel road between pickups, and helping dad in the “corner office” of the shed.


More than 25 families throughout the state were featured in the We Are The 96 campaign, representing the thousands of farm families that make up Illinois agriculture:

“The more non-farm consumers know about our farms being locally owned, the greater their trust is in the farmers making the decisions, and that’s good for our farms and Illinois agriculture.”

Brock Willard



• A five-part video series shows the wide variety of farmers who grow and raise food in Illinois.

• Profiles on feature what farmers grow and raise, their farm family stories, behindthe-scenes footage, and even a submission box for consumers to reach out with specific questions and positive comments for the family.


The main We Are The 96 webpage was the most visited on the IFF site with 66.8% of all views.

16 October 2023 ONLINE A DVE Q U INC Y
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Funded by the Illinois Soybean Checkoff


The campaign kicks off in a big way, with the first of five videos — “The Corporation” — airing during the 2023 Super Bowl via broadcast, streaming platforms, and circulation on TVs and phones across the state. Since launching in February, the We Are The 96 campaign has been promoted statewide with traditional and digital media tactics seen more than 30 million times by consumers.


YouTube ads featuring the five campaign videos earned 4.46M impressions

News Media

Social Media

We Are The 96 posts were seen 6.13M times on Facebook and Instagram.

Television & Radio

TV and radio advertising delivered more than 4.40M impressions

To date, the campaign has been featured in 184 news stories for an added value of more than $250K

Digital Ads

Spotify, CTV (streaming TV), and other video and display ads were seen 10.3M times.

Farmer Support

Illinois farmers proudly rallied around the campaign launch during the 2023 Super Bowl, posting photos by their TVs during the commercial, and sharing the video and webpage on social media throughout the campaign.

All metrics from Feb. 12, 2023-Aug. 25, 2023.


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Funded by the Illinois Soybean Checkoff


IFF is amplifying farm family stories throughout the state.

Chicago Bears 2023 Program


Mercer County farmer Chad Bell is featured in a full-page ad in the Chicago Bears official 2023 program.

Chicago transit ads

Chicago and northwest suburbs

Families and commuters traveling in and out of downtown Chicago saw family-farm messages on transit station video screens.


Casey’s Statewide

500+ Casey’s stores are partners in amplifying the family-farm message this harvest season with messages on pizza boxes, social media, and online advertising.

ESPN Greater Chicago area

A unique way to target young parents, ESPN online advertising on multiple digital formats – including mobile – built awareness of the campaign and drove website traffic.

Illinois State Fair


Several signs were displayed throughout the Illinois State Fair, reminding visitors just how important farm families are to Illinois agriculture.

CornBelters Stadium


Baseball fans saw We Are The 96 campaign messages in multiple places throughout the stadium, from oversized billboard signage to video ads along the highway.

The more consumers understand who is behind their food, the more trust is built. We encourage you to share your own farm family story — with friends, on social media, and beyond. Thank you to the families who “opened their farm gates” to IFF for this campaign and other consumer outreach efforts, and thank you to all our state’s farmers. The contributions you make to Illinois are so important, and we’re honored to help tell your story.

18 October 2023
This harvest season, Casey’s is proud to partner with Illinois Farm Families to share the message that 96% of family farms in Illinois are still family-owned So, as you grab your go-topizza(we’veheardthebreakfastoneisafarmerfavorite),you’llseelocalfamilies and their farm stories featured right on the box. SCAN TO LEARN MORE
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Whether shipping by river, road or rail, the soy checkoff is committed to ensuring America’s infrastructure is a significant advantage for U.S. soybean farmers. We’re looking inside the bean, beyond the bushel and around the world to keep preference for U.S. soy strong. And it’s helping make a valuable impact for soybean farmers like you.

See more ways the soy checkoff is maximizing profit opportunities for soybean farmers at Brought to you by the soy checkoff. ©2018 United Soybean Board. Our Soy Checkoff and the Our Soy Checkoff mark are trademarks of United Soybean Board. All other trademarks are property of their respective owners. IL AD_8.25 x 10.75_3-25-19.indd 2 3/25/19 1:52 PM

Creating a Caucus

In 2022, the Illinois Soybean Association (ISA) celebrated a momentous victory at the state level, having passed its groundbreaking B20 legislation which transitioned the sales

tax incentive from B11 blends to B20, strengthening the demand for home-grown, renewable fuel. This commitment to using biofuels has created 7,500 clean energy jobs in Illinois and has generated $1.6 billion in household income for families across the state. Biodiesel also offers immense health and environ-

mental benefits, such as reducing lifecycle greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by up to 86 percent. Once the B20 legislation is fully implemented by 2030, the expanded biodiesel use is expected to reduce GHG emissions by nearly 200 thousand tons.

The 2022 B20 victory created waves state-wide among the

legislature, prompting elected officials to consider the future of renewable fuels and the next steps for Illinois’ energy policy.

Those next steps started this summer, with the creation of the Sustainable Fuels Caucus, spearheaded by ISA. Chaired by Representative Eva Dina Delgado (D – Chicago) and Senator

20 October 2023
Through the creation of the Sustainable Fuels Caucus, ISA is casting Illinois farmers in a leading role for improved air and environmental quality in communities across Illinois.

Patrick Joyce (D – Kankakee), alongside Representatives Dave Vella (D – Rockford), Ann Williams (D – Chicago), Dagmara Avelar (D – Bolingbrook), and Terra Costa Howard (D – Lombard), the Caucus is designed to tackle the health and environment problems facing communities across the state with actionable policy changes today.

The purpose of the caucus is twofold: First, to address the growing economic needs of the state regarding domestic energy supply, whether it be ethanol, biobased products from soy, or other green, alternative energies. Second, said Representative Ann Williams, “[The] caucus intends to be a real-time solution-oriented group, offering up policy solutions that supplement a growing movement to improve the air and environmental quality of Illinois communities.”

The caucus was prompted, created and is fueled by the ISA, who reached out to elected

officials state-wide, creating a legislative network of support for state officials who have a strong desire to continue Illinois’ positive momentum in the domestic energy sector. The caucus will have a busy fall ahead, with an upcoming veto session that gives a few weeks of respite before a new session. The inaugural group of legislators intend to reach out to their colleagues across the state and bring a diversity of voices to the table, with ISA leading the helm. “I see this caucus as a working group where legislators from all parts of the state are welcomed to bring their ideas, constituents’ stories, and partners to the table,” said Representative Vella.

Why did ISA start a caucus in the first place? Director of Government Relations & Strategy at ISA, Andrew Larson, stated “Coalition brings opportunity, opportunity we will need as the state continues to move forward with green energy initiatives. Biofuels are a part of the solution, not just for

Envision a Better Harvest

our domestic energy needs, but to the market needs our farmers are relying on us to create. Every time there is a conversation at the state or federal level where domestic energy is discussed, we want to be there. We look forward to this coalition serving as a vehicle of development for our farmers and the state’s energy future.”

That future is quickly approaching, with veto session upon us and a new legislative session happening in just a few months. Issues involving carbon capture, low carbon fuel standards, and the next wave of green energy regulation, are sure to enter the scene; the ISA is prepared for this challenge. This preparation is already underway, with the creation of the Caucus and its growing membership. ISA staff plan to provide updates to our farmers throughout the year, including growth updates in caucus membership, legislative updates, and calls to action for our Illinois Soybean Growers (ISG) members.

This caucus isn’t just about biodiesel though – it is about promoting all forms of sustainable fuels. Last January, Governor JB Pritzker signed into law the $1.50 per gallon SAF purchasers’ credit, and it will help drive demand for both corn and soybeans in Illinois. Because of this first and only in the nation incentive, industries are looking to expand SAF production in our state, which will benefit our environment, economy, and growers. The Sustainable Fuels Caucus will work to build on all of these successes, because it is going to take an all-of-the-above approach to energy transformation, giving us a more sustainable future.

Just over a year ago, we celebrated a momentous victory, but we know we can’t just rest on last year’s yields. Farmers deserve an Association that is proactively planning and engaging with stakeholders to ensure agriculture is at the table. We see the creation of this Caucus as just the first step of many to ensure your beans are valued and your voice is heard.

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96% Family-Owned, 100% Committed Cultivating Community, Tradition, and Trust with the We Are the 96% Campaign.

In the state of Illinois, close to 70,000 families are the proud owners and operators of their family farms. These farms are known for cultivating

various crops, including staples like corn, soybeans and wheat, essential sources of protein and nutrients such as pork, beef and dairy, and specialty crops like pumpkins, peaches and horseradish.

Throughout the years, family-owned farms have remained central to our state's economy. Illinois consistently ranks among the top agricultural producers in the nation, and family farms have

been essential in upholding this status as they continue to contribute to both local and global food supply chains.

While the specific crops and farming practices may vary from one farm to another,

22 October 2023
The 'We are the 96%' campaign showcased more than 25 families, including the Noland family, who are the 8th generation on their family-owned farm.

a common thread unites them all: the strong bond of family. The ‘We Are the 96%’ campaign's goal is to increase awareness of the fact that 96% of farms in Illinois are owned and operated by families. The campaign is an effort of the Illinois Farm Families (IFF) coalition, which is comprised of the Illinois Beef Association, IL Corn Marketing Board, Illinois Farm Bureau, Illinois Pork Producers Association, Illinois Soybean Association and Midwest Dairy.

“We've learned through Illinois Farm Families research of Illinois consumers that people trust farmers, right? People trust farmers who they know own a family business, and it goes to the effect of people trust people,” said Gracie Pierson, Consumer Engagement Manager at the Illinois Farm Bureau.

However, according to the Illinois Farm Bureau’s research, most Illinois consumers believe

that less than half of farms in Illinois are family owned and operated. “When consumers hear things like LLC, it can get confusing. So, we're hoping that through this campaign, we can take advantage of both of those statistics. We trust farmers, we're good there. We really trust family farmers, but there's a discrepancy between who we perceive to be the family farmer. So hopefully, by knowing that it's actually 96% instead of 47%, we can really take advantage of that and go on to have better conversations about the tougher topics,” continued Pierson.

To kick off the campaign, the IFF coalition funded a Super Bowl LVII commercial that showcased six familyowned farms in Illinois. This provided viewers from across Illinois with insight into who is responsible for producing their food and served as a token of appreciation to all Illinois farmers.

Funded by the Illinois Soybean Checkoff

“The best part about being a part of the ‘We Are the 96%’ campaign was the response from the community,” said Blake Noland, a ‘We Are the 96%’ farmer. “My family’s part of the campaign was kind of unique because we had a rainstorm coming in that night and we were cutting soybeans. So, pulling the older generation out of the combine to stop to do a photo shoot was not on the table, but they were happy to be in the background. Luckily, we have a neighbor who lives a mile over who helps us with everything on the farm, so we got to bring him into the photo shoot. He knows all my kids by name, their birthdays, and being able to document the community aspect of farming and that the family farm isn’t just our family, it’s our community, is huge,” said Noland.

“We’ve also gotten responses from people saying saying, 'I walked beans for your

grandpa,' or 'I worked with your dad whenever he was growing up.' Those are the type of things that I really enjoy,” Noland adds.

As many of our Illinois Field & Bean readers know, farming goes beyond being just a job; it embodies a lifestyle rooted in the land, the seasons, and the communities that surround you. Beyond the fields, the crops and the livestock, it’s the connections and support found in both your families and communities that continue to sustain Illinois farms.

The ‘We Are the 96%’ Campaign is not just about numbers; it's about the faces, stories, and communities behind Illinois family-owned farms, which represent the backbone of our state's agricultural legacy. To learn more about the families and faces behind the ‘We Are the 96%’ campaign, visit farmers/.

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24 October 2023

What to Expect from the Next Legislative Session

It's time for Illinois farmers to ensure their voices are heard as they prepare for the upcoming 2024 legislative session in Illinois. Scheduled to commence in January 2024 and extend into the late spring, this legislative session holds critical importance for the agricultural community.

“The important thing to note is that legislators are going to be very cautious until they know how the primary election will shake out, which will be held on March 19, 2024,” says

The primary election's outcome will significantly influence the beginning of the session's direction, prompting legislators to either rush the passage of bills they believe will pass from current legislators or exercise restraint to avoid taking overly strong positions before the election.

“Republicans will not want to venture out and take too strong of a position on anything before the primaries,” says Cox. “Democrats should be the same way, and how the primary shakes out could determine how the session goes.”

ISA has already taken proactive steps by hosting five ag legislative breakfasts in August, engaging with and learning from farmers from various regions, including West Frankfort, Effingham, Springfield, Bloomington, and Maple Park. These sessions were dedicated to understanding farmers' priorities regarding the impact of agricultural policies at both the state and federal levels.

In the upcoming legislative session, Illinois Soybean Growers (ISG) plans to advocate for increasing funding for cover cropping, a critical concern given the anticipated tight budgetary constraints.

The current Fall Covers for Spring Savings Cover Crop Premium Discount Program by the Illinois Department of Agriculture allocates $660,000. Eligible applicants receive a $5/acre insurance premium discount for each acre of cover crop enrolled and verified in the program.

Expanding this funding will enable more farmers to benefit from cover cropping.

“The State Legislature is looking for policies to enable and encourage the entire economy to be greener and more environ-

(See What to Expect from the Next Legislative Session, page 26)


What to Expect from the Next Legislative Session

(continued from page 25)

mentally friendly,” says ISA’s Public Policy Manager David Kubik. “Expanding this funding is a no-brainer because it normally runs out of money within the first hours of posting.”

Another significant agenda for ISA is the threshold for the Illinois Estate Tax.

“So next budget cycle, they're going to be extremely cautious with state revenues,” says Cox. “One area that we care about greatly is our desire to change the state's estate tax. We want to change the estate tax to eliminate or increase the threshold; we could do different things with it.”

Currently, estates valued over $4 million are subject to estate taxes. ISA aims to either eliminate this tax or raise the threshold, alleviating the burden on farmers with valuable land that might be subject to taxation.

Illinois used to be coupled with the Federal Estate Tax. In 2003, Illinois decoupled from the federal government because it would negatively impact several Illinois landowners.

Because of the tight state budget, it could be challenging to change that tax, which would mean less revenue to the state.

“Many farmers in Illinois have land handed down to them from their family,” says Cox. “Their estate may be worth over $4 million, but that's only a liquid asset if they sell it. You can't spend an acre of ground unless you sell it. So now our farmers will have no choice but to sell the farm to pay the taxes. You can't put people in that position.”

ISG advocates for a higher threshold for paying estate taxes or totally eliminating the tax.

While advocating for these priorities, ISA is also closely monitoring energy-related issues.

“Something I am going to protect for all I'm worth is our biodiesel tax credit,” says Cox. “I am afraid that people will try to change that before it goes into effect, and that is my top priority, quite honestly.”

The biodiesel tax credit is set to increase from 10% to 13% in March, eventually reaching 20% in 2026. This credit benefits retailers and consumers by lowering diesel prices at the pump, as the sales tax on fuel is waived for those using the right amount of biodiesel.

“The biodiesel sales tax incentive will be a vital tool in expanding markets for soybased biodiesel in the private sector,” says Kubik. “While there is an environmental incentive, there is currently no monetary incentive for local governments to utilize biodiesel and expand to higher blends. ISG is beginning to look at legislation to incentivize public sector biodiesel use.”

Additionally, carbon capture is emerging as a prominent issue, with some companies seeking to reduce their carbon footprint by storing carbon dioxide underground.

“We are still monitoring carbon capture legislation,” says Cox. “We are kind of walking the line. All farmers do not agree on this, and we want to protect all their interests.”

ISA is cautious about taking a stance on this matter, as farmers have differing opinions on carbon capture. The organization is monitoring carbon capture legislation to safeguard agricultural interests, especially concerning landowner rights and the potential impact of pipelines on farmland.

On one hand, storing CO2 underground is better for our atmosphere as those greenhouse gases are eliminated from the environment. On the other hand, this is a costly process, and long-term effects have yet to be calculated.

This also opens several questions that still need answers about landowner rights and the overall safety of storing carbon underground.

ISG closely monitors carbon capture legislation to ensure no agricultural interests get hurt.

“Our farmers are split on this,” says Cox. “It doesn’t make sense for us to jump in the middle and say, this is how it should be. It's best to see what people will present and protect our interest.”

Some groups want to pass legislation to make carbon capture easier, but ISG is cautious because when you do that, you drag the environmental laws in. You can end up losing forward momentum.

To learn more about ISG's efforts in advocating for farmer interests or to become a member today, visit

26 October 2023

GROWTH BY ASSOCIATION | Funded by the Illinois Soybean Checkoff

28 October 2023

Notes on the 2023 Season

From getting calls at the beginning of the year asking questions to predict soybean yields, I would not have been as optimistic as I am now. The start of the year showed an extremely early drought where fields were sitting yet to emerge for weeks. Crop canopy was delayed and by mid-season, weed escapes from failed residual herbicide control became evident. Right until flowering it was tough to watch how fields were progressing. Once we hit late June, rains started coming sporadically across the state. ISA Outreach Agronomist Stephanie Porter, Illinois Extension Specialists and our Soy Envoys started recording ILSoyAdvisor Crop Reports of soybeans suffering from spider mites, cercospora leaf blight, and sudden death syndrome. The Crop Report has been a new addition to the ILSoyAdvisor page this year and has led to great insights across the state of what crop conditions at the agronomic level are occurring in real-time. Submitted by the state's leading field experts, regional reports relay the current conditions of corn, soybean, and wheat growth and development.

An example synopsis from Region 5, which includes Montgomery County, was documented on August 9: “Corn and soybeans are approaching the R5 growth stage. As I type this, we are finally getting a significant amount of rain. Dryer weather, hybrid resistance, and fungicide have kept diseases like gray leaf spot and tar spot at bay in corn. But Goss’ wilt and Northern Corn Leaf blight have just start-

ed to show up. Soybeans are loving the rain and could have potential to yield if diseases stay away. One plant was found that had stem canker.” Other metrics within the report include weather, insect pressure, and weeds present. Crop reporting is one of our greatest ways to better understand what IPM (integrated pest management) needs are happening regionally, at what time, and at what thresholds.

Throughout the summer up until harvest, the team has hosted and partnered on countless field days talking with farmers about what we are seeing in the field. During those events the agronomy team is sharing what research is currently taking place at the university level and with our partners to study the current challenges we face in soybean production and projects to advance management systems on the farm. This fall after harvest we will be looking forward to learning from the results of those projects like Extension Educator Nathan Johanning’s project, understanding the importance of cover crop planting date in Illinois row crop production. From soil health to SCN (and many more), studies can be found on ILSoyAdvisor on our research page.

Moving into a new fiscal year, we are excited to be doubling the number of soybean production research projects that will enable Illinois soybean farmers to be the most knowledgeable and profitable soybean producers in the world.

At the time I’m writing this, most farmers we have talked to are considering getting into the field in late September starting with corn and soybeans soon to follow. Walking fields in the north-

ern part of the state, fields look average, only seeing some affected with white mold at the tail end of reproductive stages. Follow our ISA agronomy team in the field as well as our partners across the state for field updates and harvest tips. We will be making posts and updates to ILSoyAdvisor and our socials; we'd love to see what your crops are looking like this harvest season as well!

Our next growing season starts early his fall, learning from cover crop studies that will be planted and tracked for additional insights on how to manage cover crop systems in Illinois.

Coming this winter, we hope to see you at events including

the Soybean Summit and Better Beans event series which will highlight speakers and topics all relevant to soybean management, what we saw in the field, and how the lessons from this growing season will inform next year’s choices. We hope you’ll join us at these events, which provide a great opportunity to meet the ISA Agronomy Team, our state research partners, and your fellow Illinois soybean farmers. Stay up-to-date on these events at ILSoyAdvisor’s events page.

Please have a safe harvest and stay in touch with your ISA Agronomy Team. We are here to support you in the field.


Farm Bill Fears and Facts

Every year, a new Halloween thriller comes out and movie theatres fill up with patrons ready to experience a new, frightful story. There is something about the days getting shorter and the weather getting colder that gets people in the mood to tap into their “spooky” side. Many times, these experiences are fun, fascinating, and exhilarating; other times, when people try and scare us, it’s to push their own narrative or project fears.

Think of the Farm Bill, for example. We’ve been hearing concerns about government funding, farm bill extensions, and members not voting for months. It seems like every day, the media is trying to tell farmers that their failure is eminent, dependent on the single stroke of a pen by one entity. This is an important year for our farmers and we never want to minimize the importance of a Farm Bill; however, the Voice for Soy is also the voice of reason and a source of fact-based, not fear-based information. So, let’s look at some facts and fears surrounding the Farm Bill and what you can expect in the coming months.

Fact: The Farm Bill is important

The Farm Bill IS important. It holds statutory power over both farm programs and nutrition programs. Whether you farm or you eat, this bill will affect you.

Fear: If the Farm Bill doesn’t pass, farmers everywhere will be unable to farm

You will still have crop insurance. You will still have access to funding under current conservation programs. SNAP will go on. Farm commodity programs will continue to be funded. Under a worst-case scenario, lawmakers revert to a previous law if the new Farm Bill does not pass. This is not ideal for farmers as “permanent law” is enacted and would have major impacts on dairy producers in particular. This would drive Congress to enact a new Farm Bill.

Fact: It will take 218 votes in the House and 60 votes in the Senate to pass the bill

Through the legislative process, it will take a simple majority of votes (218 out of 435) to pass the Farm Bill out of the House. Generally, it takes a simple majority of votes in the Senate (51 out of 100) to pass

a bill, but due to Senate rules, legislation generally needs 60 votes to proceed over any objections through a process called “invoking cloture”. Invoking cloture essentially means that Senators need to stop debating the bill, a procedural move they will use to hold up the actual vote. Currently, there is interest on both sides of the House and Senate to pass a bipartisan Farm Bill, which is good news, considering the party margins in both chambers are very, very slim.

Fear: This Farm Bill will drastically alter the way you farm

This Farm Bill is not looking to be particularly radical or life-altering. Due to thin majorities in the House and Senate between Democratic and Republican strongholds, as well as a looming Presidential election, and the natural cycle of this legislation, this bill appears to resemble (with minor tweaks) bills of the past. The staff at ISA is heavily monitoring the language of this bill and will immediately alert members if any of this changes, and the best way to stay informed is to sign up to be an ISG member.

Please visit to get access to our email updates about all-things Farm Bill.

30 October 2023

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