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agmag

DeKalb County

Winter 2017

Soggy Harvest Season Local farmers expect average yields after wet conditions lead to emergency declaration

See Page 6 A Publication of


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agmag

Winter 2017| DeKalb County AG Mag | 3

DeKalb County

Table of Contents

4

Soggy Harvest Season: Local farmers expect average yields after wet conditions lead to emergency declaration

6

Monsanto Employees: Increase Cancer Fundraiser’s Yield

8

Future ag leaders: Bring FFA lessons back to DeKalb County

10 Corn Price Prospects

agmag

DeKalb County

Published by Shaw Media Publisher: Karen Pletsch Project Manager: Lisa Angel Design & Layout: Allison LaPorta

Articles and advertisements are property of Shaw Media. No portion of DeKalb County Ag Mag may be produced without written consent of the publisher.

11

Keeping AG Connections: Local 4-H clubs offer activities for youth who don’t live on farms

14

Are we at a tipping point with weed control?

16

Trump’s budget blueprint includes deep ag cuts


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Soggy harvest season

Local farmers expect average yields after wet conditions lead to emergency declaration

There’s a lot to look forward to in 2018, especially after what seems to have been a very typical harvest this year. Spring temperatures appeared hopeful to start out the year, but planting early is always a gamble. Usually, the weather around April 20 gives way to prime planting weather, but those who took the risk of planting early were subject to heavy rains and some even experienced frosts in the days to come. Grain farmer Kevin Drake of Clare said he planted early, then got rained out for three weeks. Although his planting season was delayed a bit due to the weather, he does not regret the decision. When the rains finally stopped, he finished planting the rest of his corn and then moved onto the soybeans. “The early-planted stuff is better, a lot better than the laterplanted stuff,” he said. “It could have been better but also could have been a whole lot worse. Some guys got hit worse than other people.” The weather definitely affected Drake’s harvest.

“We had the heat a little later in the year,” he said. “We could have had a little more heat, but thank God we didn’t have the heat when it was really dry, that could have made things a whole lot worse.” Like farmers around Illinois, Drake said his harvest season was prolonged due to a very wet October. He said he is noticing some new ponding, which he is keeping an eye on, but it has been a pretty typical yield thus far and expects to be finished by the end of November. Farmers who saw their work delayed by wet weather got some help from Springfield, too, when Gov. Bruce Rauner declared a harvest emergency in early November. The declaration allowed trucks hauling agriculture-related products to exceed posted weight limits on roads. Drake has kept track of this year’s growth progress throughout the year, hiring an outside company to scout the field to study the progression of his crop. There are many variables to a farmer’s success, and by hiring a company to scout, he was able to make adjustments as needed. The company provided weekly reports that detailed his crop’s height, frequency of weeds, the amount of stress the plants


Winter 2017| DeKalb County AG Mag | 5

growing season, such as delays due to wet conditions, but the USDA estimates potential yields to be at or below 170.7 bushels per acre. Area farmers also are making adjustments to adapt to the trend of low to stagnant prices. The price of corn has fallen or been relatively stagnant since 2013, when the market year average was $6.89 per bushel. That figure dropped to $4.46 in 2014, $3.70 in 2015 and $3.61 last year. The USDA estimates the current marketing year to range from $3.25 to $3.45 per bushel.

were under, any yellowing of his corn, and its overall health. Some of those factors can be fixed by being proactive in the crop’s progression, such as by spraying insecticide when needed or adding nitrogen to the soil. “The best yield is before you put it in the ground,” he said with a chuckle. “When you put it in the ground, then you’re open to all the things that can go wrong. Weather, mechanical issues, all the variables. Once you plant your crop, you hope for the possibility of a great yield, then you get all the variabilities with the weather and stress all the other things that can happen.” Mark Tuttle makes his living growing and harvesting corn and soybeans in Somonauk. He also got started planting late due to the weather.

Gary Schnitkey, an agriculture economist at the University of Illinois, said the midpoint of that range is often used as a price forecast, in this case being $3.35. The USDA projects the market year average to stay at a steady $3.35 through 2019. “A relatively large change in supply/demand or structural change likely is needed to get corn prices above $4 per bushel,” Schnitkey said. The average for soybean prices is expected to grow from $8.95 to $9.40 and stay flat for the next 2 years as well. Illinois farmers are shifting more land to soybean crops, converting an estimated 200,000 acres from corn to soybeans this year, the USDA reports. “You don’t live on a farm for nothing,” Drake said. “You gotta make a profit, you know,”

“We didn’t get planted as timely as we’d like,” he said. “We had a very cool summer and a dry August. “Moisture was a concern, then we got lambasted with water here in October. The overall yields are trend-line average. There’s either been too much water or not enough water.” “We’ve had wet falls before, but this is a very wet fall. It’s really hard to get the beans,” he said. Though the frequency of the late rains is an issue, Tuttle also noted that Illinois has really good drainage due to the ground’s tile systems, which helps keep the soil nutrient rich. He also noticed that insects did not seem to be a major factor in his crop production this year, crediting new GMOs that have been “wonderful for crop users.”

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Since Tuttle’s yield is very similar to the production levels from last year, he’s looking to the bright side, and hoping for a great 2018 harvest season. The United States Department of Agriculture reports that corn and soybean production trailed behind last year’s levels in the Northwestern Illinois region. By July 9, corn silking was at 11 percent, down from 37 percent during the same time last year, and soybeans blooming was at 32 percent, down from 42 percent. Statewide, corn silking jumped from 12 percent to 33 percent between July 2 and July 9; the 5-year average was 45 percent, according to USDA weekly crop progress reports. Soybeans blooming reached 31 percent, compared with 36 percent last year. Corn yields are difficult to predict given complications during the

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6 | DeKalb County AG Mag |Winter 2017

Winter 2017| DeKalb County AG Mag | 6

Monsanto employees

increase cancer fundraiser’s yield Sale of clothing featuring iconic ‘Flying Ear’ raises more than $20k for KishHealth Foundation By MATTHEW APGAR For DeKalb County Ag Mag

The shirts were produced in Waukegan, and all of the overhead associated with their production was covered by Monsanto, allowing all of the proceeds to be donated.

WATERMAN – Over the past five years, employees at Monsanto Co. have raised $48,877 for Northwestern Medicine Kishwaukee Hospital in DeKalb, but this year’s fundraiser went above and beyond expectations, collecting over $20,000 for the KishHealth Foundation.

Last year, Monsanto employees began their sale right before the harvest season and raised about $1,700, but they started earlier this year, helping to account for the eruption in sales.

The idea to start a cancer fundraiser began at another Monsanto site, but word of mouth and social media brought the idea to Waterman. Local employees started with selling breast cancer clothing, but moved on to include all forms of cancer. The inclusive approach is evident in the design for this year’s clothing, which includes the iconic DeKalb “flying ear” with many colorful awareness ribbons in place of corn kernels.

Angie Dickmann, a quality management systems technician, took the fundraising campaign online and promoted it on the company’s social media, on various Facebook pages, and in emails to friends and family. Employees also had a presence at multiple local festivals and parades, and have sold about 1,100 t-shirts at $10 each, 150 crew neck sweatshirts at $15 each, and 400 hoodies at $20 each. Much like the seed corn they produce, the explosive growth in the fundraising has been appreciated by local doctors.


7 | DeKalb County AG Mag |Winter 2017

“We are so grateful for the ongoing support from the generous employees at Monsanto Company,” said Kim Aldis, director of oncology services at the Kishwaukee Hospital Cancer Center. “Not only are they raising funds to support community members with cancer, but their efforts also raise awareness which can help save lives.” Although this year’s campaign is over, sales are still coming in. Proceeds acquired after the donation will be included with next year’s donation, Dickmann said. Orders can be made by calling Monsanto’s Waterman Production Facility at 815-264-3285. “Monsanto is really big with community outreach,” Dickmann said. The company has nine major production plants within the corn belt, which encompasses Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, and Nebraska. Of the seven corn-producing and non-corn-producing facilities located in Illinois, three of them are in Waterman, employing 83 people. Employees often participate in food drives, angel tags, the Feed My Starving Children mobile pack event at Suter Company in Sycamore, and this year, they joined in a suicide awareness walk.

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DeKalb County

Don’t Miss Out on the Spring Edition Deadline Date: February 1st Mail Date: March 15th

Winter 2017| DeKalb County AG Mag | 7

Monsanto noticed a need for corn production and entered the market with DeKalb corn being very employee-oriented, according to Production Manager Seth Arnold. “We try to become as efficient as we can while treating people the way and above what they deserve to be treated right,” Arnold said. “We’re here today to make sure people are happy with the job they have and are engaged and want to be here to be valuable to the company.” Of the roughly 90 million acres of corn planted across the country each year, DeKalb corn is a desired seed. Monsanto genetically breeds the corn with itself over multiple generations to modify it for explosive yields for farmers. “We grow what farmers are going to grow next year,” Arnold said. “It’s a pretty steady market. We need to continue to push not just genetics and trade but technology.” The company hopes to continue its success and local focus in 2018, after Monsanto is taken over by German pharmaceutical and chemical company Bayer, which purchased the company for $66 billion in an all-cash deal back in 2016.

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8 | DeKalb County AG Mag |Winter 2017

Future

ag leaders b r i ng F F A l e ss o ns b ack t o DeKalb County

MATTHEW APGAR For DeKalb County AgMag

We need leaders now, more than ever.

Those words were part of the opening keynote speech given by Laila Ali before a record crowd of over 67,000 at the 90th annual National FFA Convention & Expo in Indianapolis on Oct. 26. Among those in attendance were a few dozen future agriculture leaders, businessmen and women from DeKalb County. It took about four and a half hours and two charter busses to drive students from DeKalb, Sycamore, Indian Creek, Hiawatha, Kaneland, and Central Burlington to the event, which ran from Wednesday, Oct. 25 through Saturday, Oct. 28. Upon arrival, students were immediately taken aback by the sheer amount of their peers. “There were a lot more people there than I thought. It was pretty much breathtaking,” said DeKalb High School junior Trevor Yaeger, 16. He lives on a horticulture farm in Cortland, Yaeger’s Farm, where his family raises livestock and produces grain. It was interesting for him to meet people from varying states, learning about the different challenges farmers from other states face. “Land soil is different and it made me think how we take our land for granted,” Yaeger said, citing that an Ag advisor from Minnesota told him that they produce approximately 50 buschels less per acre of corn that Illinois farmers do, due to a different soil composition. Jade Ansteth, a sophomore at DeKalb High School, and Jack Marbutt, a DeKalb senior, echoed Yaeger’s remarks about the sheer amount of people. “It was kind of overwhelming,” Ansteth, 16, said. However, what stuck out more for her was not the crowd, but Ali’s speech. “You first have to find out what your passions are and what you want to do in life and set your goals, right? And you have to fulfill those,” Ali said as she closed out her speech. “They’re going to grow and they’re going to change, because you’re young, just like mine did, but when you learn at a young age about setting goals and reaching them, then that’s very, very powerful. You have to think about what you want your contribution to be.” Ansteth said it was great advice to take in, noting that Ali’s theme of never giving up was something she found particularly relatable. Although she comes from a family of former FFA members, Ansteth said she was on the fence about joining.


Winter 2017| DeKalb County AG Mag | 9

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“FFA brought out the social aspect in me,” she said, adding that Ali’s speech has helped motivate her to meet new people.

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Sycamore High School FFA reporter Mindy Smits got a chance to get to know other local students who made the trip. “I made a lot of friends within our own section. I got to meet a lot of people in FFA that live really close, that I never knew before, bonding on the fact that we live really close and share a common interest in agriculture and other things,” she said. “It’s such a friendly vibe there at the national convention. People just walk up to you and start a conversation with you. Everyone’s like one big group of friends there.” Dayton Ward, FFA secretary at Sycamore High School, brought back some valuable leadership lessons that he’s trying to incorporate into his chapter’s meetings. “We went to a seminar about parliamentary procedure, part of our CDE (career development event), on basically how to run a meeting,” Ward said. “We tried to incorporate everyone in the meetings, make everyone active so they like it and come back again. The meeting is not about us, it’s about everyone.”

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Of the nine students from Sycamore who went to the national convention, it was a second trip for chapter President Megan Fidler, Vice President Hanna Diehl, Plot Manager Matthew Drake, and Treasurer Jarrod Pritchett, who said it won’t be last for him. “This year was a better year for me,” said Pritchett. “I can’t wait to go back next year.”

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10 | DeKalb County AG Mag |Winter | Spring2017 2017

Corn Price Prospects

By: University of Illinois Extension

December corn futures closed the week ending Oct. 27 at $3.48 a bushel, continuing a pattern of small deviations within a range between $3.45 and $3.55. Additionally, the monthly average price of corn received by U.S. producers has been less than $3.50 per bushel since August 2016 and has been below $4 for 37 consecutive months. According to University of Illinois agricultural economist Todd Hubbs, an extended rally in corn prices during the next marketing year requires reduced corn supplies, increased consumption, or some combination of both factors. “On the consumption side, feed and residual use of corn is currently projected to increase approximately 6 percent this marketing year,” Hubbs said. “Additional increases to feed use could occur based on current livestock prices and inventories. At this point, a significant change in the USDA feed and residual use projection seems unlikely. “Corn used for ethanol production is forecast to increase by a mere 37 million bushels during this marketing year,” Hubbs added. “An increase might be generated by a continued expansion in gasoline consumption or a continuation of the ethanol export levels witnessed in the 2016-17 marketing year. “Ethanol production is up about 3 percent through Oct. 20 of the 2017-18 marketing year. Corn used for ethanol production in September will be released in the USDA’s Grain Crushings and Co-Products Production report on Nov. 1. It seems unlikely that corn used for ethanol production this year would exceed the current USDA projection by more than 100 million bushels.” At 1,850 million bushels, U.S. corn exports are forecast at 443 million bushels lower than exports of a year earlier. Hubbs said the decrease primarily reflects the larger corn harvest in South America during 2017. Export inspections through the first eight weeks of the current marketing year were 45 percent lower than inspections of a year earlier. Current export inspections equal almost 11 percent of the USDA export projection compared to a 5-year average of 13.8 percent. Outstanding sales as of Oct. 19 were approximately 11 percent smaller than outstanding sales of a year earlier. “Caution should be used when measuring the export potential for the current year based on the level of export sales relative to the prior year,” Hubbs said. “U.S. exports may begin slowly and build throughout the marketing year due to the South American production shortfalls or other consumption factors.

However, the current pace of exports does not show any sign of exceeding the current projection by a substantial margin.” According to Hubbs, a price rally for corn in the short run may come from the supply side. During the previous 30 years, there were nine years when the average yield forecast increased each month from August through October. The November forecast was below the October forecast in two of those years. “The current slow pace of harvest, especially in northern states, is generating mixed expectations about the potential change in the forecast this year,” Hubbs said. “An adjustment in the 2017 production forecast this month is not expected to be large enough to provide a substantial change to the current corn price scenario.” Hubbs said the corn supply for this marketing year will be influenced by global production and the potential size of the South American crops merits special consideration. Brazilian corn production increased approximately 1.2 billion bushels last year to 3.88 billion bushels after recovering from the previous year’s drought. Early season USDA projections are for a production decrease in 2018 to 3.7 billion bushels. Early scouting reports out of Brazil place corn production in 2018 at around 3.5 billion bushels, which is significantly lower than current USDA forecasts. Also, Argentina is expected to expand corn production in 2018 by approximately 39 million bushels. “It is too early in the growing season to assess yield potential, but production below these early projections may hold potential for stronger U.S. export levels in 2018,” Hubbs said. Hubbs said in 2018, a reduction in corn acreage in the U.S would hold the most likely scenario for increased corn prices. However, current projections for 2018 place planted acreage near or slightly above the 2017 level of 90.4 million acres. Corn prices would be expected to get a boost if acreage was reduced enough to result in smaller stocks at the end of the 2018-‘19 marketing year. Without a reduction in harvested acres, Hubbs said the prospect for lower ending stocks relies on low U.S. yields and a significant increase in consumption. “The prospect of higher corn prices due to a reduction in the estimated size of the 2017 U.S. crop or stronger-than-projected demand for corn appears unlikely at this time,” Hubbs said. “Therefore, a smaller-than-expected South American crop or a much smaller U.S. crop in 2018 remain as potential sources for higher prices. In the near term, the continuation of corn price in the current range is likely with a low potential for a break out anytime soon.”


Winter 2017| DeKalb County AG Mag | 11

Keeping aG connections Although fewer children are growing up on farms, 4-H clubs are working to show young people they have lots to offer for people of any background.

Local 4-H clubs offer activities for youth who don’t live on farms

A common misconception is that 4-H is only for farmers, or those with a background in agriculture. With programs revolving around shopping, journalism, rocketry, electricity, cooking, and much more, the organization devoted to Head, Heart, Hands and Health focuses on the skills and passions of today’s youth along with the livestock-raising skills commonly associated with what you see at the Sandwich Fair. “It’s definitely a program that has something for everyone, even if you’re not into livestock or crafts and arts, there’s something for absolutely everyone in the program,” said Justene Jennings, 19, of DeKalb. “If you have an interest and we don’t have anything at the moment, if you talk to your county director, they can make that happen for you.If you have a passion for something, they’re definitely ready to develop it with you.” Jennings does not live on a farm, but that never stopped her passion for agriculture. After spending much of the past 11 years being highly active in the Green Meadows 4-H chapter in Cortland, she recently aged out of the program. The organization accepts people from 5 to 18 years old. “Both my parents met in a pig barn. They’re both from ag backgrounds,” she said. In Jennings’s case, her interest in swine came at an early age. Living in a small, ranch-style home in the outskirts of DeKalb, there was no room to raise the yorkshire, hampsire, chester, and spotted pigs she


12 | DeKalb County AG Mag |Winter 2017 wanted. Over her first few years in the program, she was active in learning about the animals and worked on projects and presentations. Later, she turned to friends who had a barn and let her raise her animals there. “There are definitely ways to get involved in the livestock without being directly involved in it,” Jennings said, “and even if you don’t have the space for, like, a steer in downtown DeKalb, we have projects where you can do presentations about them.” Her interests do not only revolve around pigs, however. Through 4-H, Jennings developed an interest in stained glass, even turning her passion for it into a small business. She’s made a lot of friends by being a 4-H member, too. “When I was in middle school (at Huntley Middle School), I met a girl from Clinton Rosette, and talked her into going to Science Siesta (a sleepover event for girls interested in science),” Jennings said. “She ended up going that year, enjoyed it, loved it, and came back the next 3-4 years after that and was really into what 4-H had to offer. You can come in completely clueless about what the program even is. We will take absolutely anyone. The program’s just there to help people develop a passion for something in life and help them carry that throughout the rest of their life.” Throughout DeKalb County, 348 children were enrolled in programs for the 2016-2017 year. The organization accepts children from ages 5-7 for their Cloverbuds group and offers programs through age 18. “You do not need to have any prior knowledge or background in order to join 4-H,” said 4-H Youth Development Program Coordinator Nicole Groezinger. “You do not need to have an interest in agriculture to join. 4-H is all about making learning fun by offering hands-on opportunities to learn new skills and to develop new friendships with youth and adults.” According to last year’s numbers, only 32 percent of members live on a farm, 32 percent live in a small town with a population under 10,000, and 37 percent live in a town with 10,000 to 50,000 people, a category that includes cities such as Sycamore and DeKalb. Most youth join the clubs closest to them, and there are clubs in DeKalb, Sycamore, Genoa, Cortland, Kirkland, Malta, Waterman, Shabbona, Creston, Hinckley, Somonauk, Sandwich, and Esmond. Most youth in 4-H spend a few hours each month involved in the various groups. For the Sell family, it’s part of their everyday lives. The Sells moved in 2013 from a home near downtown Sycamore to a 22-acre farm after patriarch Brian Sell decided to make his dream of living on a farm a reality. There, he and wife Kathi raise children McKenna, 17, Caden, 15, Kaylie, 14, Cody, 12, Colleen, 8, and Kara Bree, 5. They home-school all of their children and rely heavily on 4-H programs to teach them valuable life skills. Moving to a farm was a big transition for their oldest daughter, McKenna. “There were new aspects to get used to,” she said. “There’s always something to do on a farm.” She’d always wanted to have horses, even when they lived in town. “I had to figure out how to do without the animals,” she said. For her first three years in 4-H, McKenna made posters and did projects to learn more about them, but when they moved onto the farm, she got to have her own horses. “I was pretty excited about that,” she said. Caden had a similar experience with his interest in beef cattle. Since he could not raise them in town, he developed a website as a project to learn about them. The Sell children are all part of the Malta Mustangs chapter of the 4-H, which has about 20 members and meets monthly at the Malta United Methodist Church. Leading the group is a family affair, with McKenna as chapter president, Cody the treasurer, and Kaylie the club secretary. Their days start early with farm-related chores and transition into the learning portion of their day. “You don’t always get to stop in the middle of school and put cows back in the pasture,” Cody said with a laugh. For Kaylie, her favorite part of the 4-H is raising and showing her goats Shyla, Teagan, Crystal, and Mr. Binks.


Winter 2017| DeKalb County AG Mag | 13

21 YEARS OF SUCCESS

“They’re naturally friendly. They jump and hop all over,” she said, adding that “The 4-H is not all about livestock,” and the many groups they’re involved in show it. Caden is very involved in leather working, textiles, welding, and rocketry, and Cody is very interested in the theater group. The skills they learn in each group are things they can use throughout their lives. “We encorporate 4-H into our daily activities,” Brian said. “There’s always something to learn with all the new activities. It really helps kids divine what they want to do.” TFH2017

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14 | DeKalb County AG Mag |Winter 2017

Are we at a tipping point with

weed control? LAUREN QUINN University of Illinois Extension If you’re like most American consumers, weeds probably aren’t at the forefront of your mind when buying food. But if farmers could no longer control weeds with existing herbicides, Americans would take notice pretty quickly.

Imagine you’re walking the cereal aisle at your favorite grocery store. Are you reading labels? Scanning prices? Thinking about weeds?

“I think the future of cheap food is strongly related to the availability and effectiveness of existing herbicides,” said Adam Davis, ecologist in the Department of Crop Sciences at the University of Illinois and USDA Agricultural Research Service. That is, without working herbicides, food could get a lot more expensive. Davis and George Frisvold, an economist at the University of Arizona, recently teamed up to consider the possibility that we’ve reached a critical tipping point in our ability to control agricultural weeds with the herbicides currently on the market. They published their analysis in the journal Pest Management Science. “I believe if we fully lost chemical control of certain weeds, and if farmers continued with the corn-soybean rotation, they’d be forced to reduce their acreages as they spend more time and money managing weeds,”Davis said. “And the cost of the end product, our food, would go up as well,” Davis says.  If you’re not in the farming industry, you might not be aware that weeds like common waterhemp and Palmer amaranth can reduce corn and soybean yields anywhere from 30 to 80 percent, and that those weeds are developing resistance to available herbicides. Like antibiotic-resistant “superbugs,” resistant weeds simply can’t be killed by herbicides. There are lots of herbicides on the market, but they all fall into one of 16 categories describing their mode of action (MOA), or specific target in the plant that the chemical attacks. Because of various regulations and biological


Winter 2017| DeKalb County AG Mag | 15 realities, a smaller number of herbicide MOAs can be used on any given crop and the suite of weeds that goes along with it. At this point, many weeds are now resistant to multiple MOAs. “In some areas, we’re one or two MOAs away from completely losing chemical control for certain weeds. For example, in east central Illinois, we have common waterhemp that is resistant to five out of the six relevant MOAs in a corn-soybean rotation,” he says. “And there are no new herbicide MOAs coming out. There haven’t been for 30 years.” The lack of new herbicides is only one factor that led us where we are today. Davis and Frisvold suggest that herbicide susceptibility in weeds should have been viewed as a finite resource all along, like the global oil supply. As resources start to dwindle, prices should theoretically go up as a way to prevent overuse and total resource exhaustion. But unlike oil, herbicide prices have actually decreased over the past 30 to 40 years. “The assumption is that, in a rational market, people will use less of a dwindling resource because it gets more expensive or they notice a problem,” Davis said. “It’s not happening for herbicides.” The rollout of crops engineered to tolerate herbicides like glyphosate (RoundUp) may have added to the problem. Davis believes their availability led to greater reliance on chemical solutions to weed control, rather than the diverse mix of weed management practices that used to be the norm. And that meant farmers were spraying herbicide more frequently. But weeds are wily. Like all organisms, they evolve in response to their environment. With more exposure to a certain environmental pressure (in this case, the herbicide), the more opportunity there is for adaptation. Over time, random genetic mutations allowed some weeds to withstand herbicides. Offspring from those plants grew, survived, and reproduced. And so on, until the majority of plants were left with the mutation. It sounds dire, but Davis remains optimistic. “I believe there’s hope,” he said, “but it requires that we take action to diversify weed management now.” Just what would it take to bring us back from the brink of total weed domination? Davis has a lot of ideas, but one of the big ones is something he calls the “middle way,” which bridges the gap between the traditional corn-soy rotation with its heavy herbicide inputs and a diversified organic system. “Right now we have a dominant system where we have two summer annuals following each other,” he said. “Because we don’t have any change of phenology (timing of development) of the main crop, we have the same weed spectrum in both crops. We never destabilize it. “But if you introduce a small winter grain or a forage legume into that system, you begin to make it difficult for summer annual weeds like waterhemp to become dominant. So you can get about 90 percent there just with a good crop rotation.” “Then you build in things like weed suppressive cultivars, banded herbicides, row spacing, cultivation, harvest weed seed control, and all these tactics together can add up to really effective weed management systems. “We’ve shown you can reduce herbicide use by 90 percent in diversified systems and get the same amount of weed control. Same profit, same productivity, but two orders of magnitude reduction in environmental pollution, and a 90 percent reduction in fertilizer use. It’s not hard to do for the grower,” he said. The hard part, Davis noted, is thinking about economic and regulatory incentives that will help growers diversify their management practices. But he hopes the new article will generate discussion, bring awareness to the issue, and facilitate the stewardship of existing herbicides into the future. The article, “Are herbicides a once-in-a-century method of weed control?” is published in Pest Management Science and is freely available to the public. Support for the work was provided by the USDA-ARS Area-Wide Pest Management Program.


16 | DeKalb County AG Mag |Winter 2017

Tru m p’s budget blueprint includes deep ag cuts Insiders confident Congress will come to farmers’ rescue

By PAM EGGEMEIER For DeKalb County Ag Mag The staunch support of agriculture last November helped put Donald Trump in the White House, but the president’s first proposed budget could have farmers rethinking their decision. The president says he can balance the federal budget in 10 years, and his proposed 2018 budget would hit agriculture hard. The proposed cuts include 21 percent to the Department of Agriculture, 36 percent to crop insurance, and $50 billion to ag subsidies in the next decade. The USDA’s Rural Development programs would stand to lose $477 million in the Trump budget. Those programs bring funds to rural America for everything from infrastructure and technology upgrades to grants and loans for economic development and home purchases. The technology program has brought broadband services to an estimated 6 million Americans in rural areas. While the proposed ag cuts are severe, most of the responsibility for drawing up federal budgets falls to Congress. Early in the process, it appears farmers can again count on lawmakers to protect their interests. The House Appropriations Agriculture Subcommittee met in late June, producing a bill that basically ignored all of the proposed ag cuts. “The presidents’ budgets are just a blueprint that says here are the administration’s policy priorities,” said Adam Nielsen, director of national legislation and policy development at the Illinois Farm Bureau. “Congress will do what it wants based on what it hears from its constituents.”


Winter 2017| DeKalb County AG Mag | 17 Nielsen said the overriding message in the Trump budget is that enough domestic cuts must be made to carry out the president’s promise to build up the military. Although Trump has proposed a $54 billion increase to the defense budget, it falls short of expectations. The House and Senate Armed Services committees want an additional $37 billion designated for the military. Nielsen said many cuts, including to commodities programs, can be made only in the next farm bill. Hearings for reauthorizing the new bill have started in the ag committees of both chambers. The current version expires in September 2018. In the 2014 farm bill, $23 billion was cut from the Ag Department over a 10-year period. “Spending for subsidies is mandatory, but with the next farm bill there will be some pressure to keep what we have,” Nielsen said. While Nielsen said he is encouraged by what he’s hearing about ag spending in Congress, the fact remains that the Trump budget has pared more than 4 times the amount the farm lobby expected from ag. The deep cuts aren’t the best way of thanking farmers for their votes. “The president had a lot of support from farmers, and I think this proposed budget and some other actions have taken them by surprise,” Nielsen said. “The trade policy has left many in ag scratching their heads.” Somonauk soybean and corn farmer Mark Tuttle thinks that the Trump budget is difficult to achieve, but a good goal to have. He also thinks there may be some room to bend a little in agriculture budget cuts. “It [the budget] has never been balanced before. I have trouble believing it will,” Tuttle said. “Crop insurance is very important to farmers. The bank requires it and the farmer will have to pay for it out of his own pocket. With less and less farmers, the price of food will go up with less production. Crop insurance is imporant to keep money in rural areas. We need to be able to sell our products. We really need to have open markets, and use renewable fuel. Right now, the healthcare situation is the major priority. It affects farmers right now.” Rep. Adam Kinzinger, a Republican from Channahon whose 16th District includes most of DeKalb County, said he is confident that farmers have a steady base of support in Congress. “There are some haircuts in this budget to deal with a national debt that is out of control,” Kinzinger said. “This is just a blueprint that has to go through Congress though, and I don’t think what the president put out will ever be reality.”

crop insurance proposals • The Trump proposal would cut crop insurance by $28 billion, a 36 percent reduction. • Crop insurance payments would be capped at $40,000 per farmer, saving an estimated $16.2 billion over 10 years. • Removing farmers from the insurance pool would increase premiums for those remaining. • Nearly $12 billion would be cut from the harvest price option, an indemnity that locks in replacement prices for lost crops. • Subsidies revenue ceiling would drop from $900,000 to $500,000 a year – projected savings of $653 million over 10 years.


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While he didn’t see cause for alarm within the ag industry, the congressman said the proposed budget does send a foreboding message. “The proposed budget would cut the State Department in half, and that’s not going to happen, but we do need to understand that tough decisions must be made in the future.” Kinzinger said Congress understands that farmers have already made budget sacrifices. While more could be coming, he thinks crop insurance should be safe. In the last farm bill, a fundamental shift was made from subsidies to insurance as the industry’s safety net. Despite disappointments with trade policy, immigration and the budget, Kinzinger said ag is still excited about the new administration. “Farmers feel less threatened by regulations and bureaucracy,” Kinzinger said. “Business is breathing a little easier for the same reasons.” While the GOP is downplaying any political implications, lawmakers on the other side of the aisle are concerned about the messages the administration is sending to America’s heartland. “President Trump’s budget is the latest example of him turning his back on rural America,” U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos, a Moline Democrat, said. “He won our 17th Congressional District and the rural states, and now he’s treating us as a flyover country.” Bustos, said looking out for agriculture interests is a personal fight. She is the granddaughter of a hog farmer, the niece of dairy farmers, and a cousin to Angus beef producers. “It’s hard to see a 21 percent cut to USDA proposed at a time when the farm economy is struggling,” Bustos said. “The president also has proposed deep cuts to crop insurance, and there are families who are relying on that in bad times so they don’t go bankrupt.” Agriculture is the number one economic driver in the 17th District, but commodities prices are in a deep down cycle. USDA projects that net farm income will fall again in 2017, the fourth consecutive year it has dropped. Income has dropped by about 50 percent since 2014. Bustos said she hopes the president comes around and realizes that America’s heartland has the best farmers in the world, and they are counted on to produce food for the world. While Trump said some of the right things during the campaign, Bustos questions whether the president understands the importance of rural America in the nation’s economy. “He said during the campaign that he would end the war on the American farmer – his quote – but we’ve learned that it’s not what he does, it’s what he says,” Bustos said.

Bustos is encouraged by what she’s seeing from her seats on the House Agriculture and Transportation and Infrastructure committees, which also bodes well for negotiating a new farm bill. “Both committees work very well across the aisle, and there’s been a real attempt to get the nation’s work done,” Bustos said. Both committees are advocating for the Rural Development programs. Downsizing them would impact everything from rural business services to badly needed water system projects. The programs have helped an estimated 112,000 small businesses and created about 450,000 jobs in rural areas. Bustos said funding must be protected for agricultural research and development. Trump’s proposed budget called for closure of The National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research in Peoria. Nielsen said he thinks funding will hold up well for Rural Development and the Peoria ag lab, based on his conversations with the committees. Bustos said if the president is the businessman he claims to be, he would understand that there is a $10 return on every dollar that goes into the her district’s storied ag center. “There are 85 Ph.Ds and another 115 scientists who walk through the door of that lab every day,” Bustos said. “It’s where they figured out how to mass-produce penicillin.” Crop insurance trade organizations and other ag advocacy groups are hopeful that lawmakers will have a better understanding of the challenging economic environment farmers are facing. In years past, Congress has shot down proposed budgetary cuts to agriculture’s safety net, including a $3 billion reduction to crop insurance 2 years ago. Illinois Farm Bureau projects that up to half of the state’s farmers will file insurance claims this season in accordance with flooding, replanting or abandoned acreage provisions. Farmers are also anxious about the president’s talk on health care, trade and immigration policies. Trump has made no secret of his disdain for the TransPacific Partnership and North American Free Trade Agreement. Farmers heard the talk during the campaign, but hoped much of it was just rhetoric and the U.S. wouldn’t walk away from the pacts. One-third of the nation’s farm income is generated by exports. Trump has started negotiations with Mexico, but has threatened to leave NAFTA if the U.S. doesn’t get what it wants. In the last 15 years, Mexico’s imports of U.S. commodities have increased by 50 percent. Japan recently vaulted past Mexico to become the biggest buyer of U.S. corn, but Mexico’s imports of American corn still totaled $2.6 billion last year.


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NEW FOR 2018

Senior Scholarship Available to children of members!

To download the application form, visit www.dekalbfarmbureau.org. Due by Friday April 20, 2018.

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ince 2015 the Dekalb County Corn & Soybean Growers have been a sponsor of and had a booth at DeKalb Corn Fest. Our focus is to help educate the non-farm public on the connection between farms and the food we all are consuming. There are a lot of misconceptions in the media about where our food is coming from and we are trying to provide clarity at this event in a fun family environment. To become a commodity sponsor of the DeKalb County Corn & Soybean Growers and receive recognition at this event and our other activities throughout the year contact the DeKalb County Farm Bureau. Remember that it is our job to tell our story and get the facts out there about farming and how safe and caring we all are.

FOR NEW MEMBERSHIP & MEMBERSHIP RENEWAL CONTACT THE DEKALB COUNTY FARM BUREAU


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DDC AgMag - Winter 2017-18