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Adjacent and Neighboring: How Far is That with DIcamba?

An article posted to the Bulletin last November outlined several changes made by the United States Environmental Protection Agency to the labels of XtendiMax, Engenia, and FeXapan.  The intent of these label amendments is to reduce sensitive plant species exposure to dicamba primarily through physical movement (i.e., drift during the application or particle movement during temperature inversions) and via dicamba residues dislodged from application equipment.  Those in Illinois who have completed the required dicamba training being conducted by registrant personnel likely heard repeatedly that preventing off-target movement during the application is solely and completely the responsibility of ...

Trump ups ante on China, threatens duties on nearly all its imports

U.S. President Donald Trump warned on Friday he was ready to slap tariffs on virtually all Chinese imports into the United States, threatening duties on another $267 billion of goods on top of $200 billion in imports primed for levies in coming days.   The moves would sharply escalate Trump's trade war with Beijing over his demands for major changes in economic, trade and technology policy. China has threatened retaliation, which could include action against U.S. companies operating there.   Hours after a public comment period closed on his $200 billion China tariff list, Trump told reporters aboard Air Force ...

Video gambling sees significant growth in Illinois

Video gambling has seen significant growth in Illinois, with revenues increasing by more than 75 percent in just the last three years, a new state report concludes.   The report released last month by the state’s Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability found that video gambling racked up a net income of $1.4 billion in the fiscal year that ended on June 30, generating about $70 million in tax revenue for local governments.   Video gambling is the driving force behind overall gambling revenues that reached a record high last year in Illinois, The Chicago Tribune reported.   Chicago has banned video ...

Voluntary compliance needed to avoid nutrient mandates

No matter where the heaviest nutrient loss contributors may be located, all farmers statewide are encouraged to meet the voluntary goals in the Illinois Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy.   Otherwise, all farmers regardless of their contributions to the state’s nutrient losses, may be confronted with mandatory rules, said Lauren Lurkins, Illinois Farm Bureau director of natural and environmental resources.   “Where we tend to have (field) tile is where we tend to see the most nitrogen losses,” Lurkins said. “The phosphorous tends to move with the soil.”   These nutrient losses are draining into ...

$1.4 Billion Fertilizer Plant Picks Tuscola

Economic incentives potentially worth more than $14 million in taxpayer dollars played a key role in helping Illinois land a $1.4 billion fertilizer plant, says a state lawmaker who help shepherd the package through the General Assembly.   State Rep. Adam Brown, R-Champaign, said the state aid was a critical factor in convincing Cronus Chemical to build the facility in the Douglas County community of Tuscola.   Click Here to read more.

15 Factors for 2019 Dicamba Applications

Wondering how to manage dicamba in dicamba-tolerant soybeans in 2019? Here’s what four Extension and university weed specialists – Aaron Hager with the University of Illinois, Bill Johnson and Joe Ikley with Purdue University, and Mark Loux at Ohio State University – are recommending regarding dicamba in 2019. Click Here to read more.

15 State Attorneys General Press EPA on Interpretive Rule of WOTUS

Fifteen state attorneys general have asked EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy to withdraw a rule that even agency have said created confusion in the agriculture community.   The so-called interpretive rule identified 56 conservation practices that are expempt from the Clean Water Act regulations, so long as they meet Natural Resources Conservation Services specifications.  Many agriculture interest groups and farmers have expressed concern that the interpretive rule would turn the NRCS into an enforcer of the Clean Water Act.   Click Here to read more.

15% of the U.S. Corn Crop Is Seeded, USDA Says

U.S. farmers have fallen about halfway behind their average corn planting pace at this time of the year.   In its Crop Progress Report on Monday, the USDA pegged U.S. corn planting at 15% complete, behind the 27% five-year average.   As of Sunday, Iowa farmers have 21% of that state’s corn crop planted vs. a 26% five-year average. Illinois farmers have 9% of their corn seeded, behind a 43% five-year average. Indiana farmers are now 2% complete, while Nebraska has 16% of its corn in the ground.   Click Here to read more.

17 new Illinois laws for 2017

Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and the Democratic-controlled General Assembly may not have approved a full year’s budget in 2016, but they did manage to agree on nearly 200 laws that go into effect when the new year begins.   Here’s a look at 17 new Illinois laws for 2017: 1. Battling opioid and heroin addiction Following up on landmark legislation from 2015, lawmakers passed two measures aimed addressing the state’s opioid and heroin addiction crisis. One allows drug court participants to use medication-based addiction treatments. The other requires licensed substance abuse programs to provide educational information on medication-based treatments and ...

2015 Planting Intentions: Fertilizer, Seed, Pesticide Manufacturers Dodge a Bullet

Fertilizer, seed and pesticide manufacturers likely took comfort in the acreage numbers contained in USDA's 2015 Prospective Planting report). Farmers reported intentions to plant 89.2 million acres of corn, 1.4 million less than in 2014, but about 470,000 more than the average trade guess (farmdoc daily March 31, 2015). Farmers reported intentions to plant 84.6 million acres of soybeans in 2015, 834,000 more than in 2014, but nearly 1.3 million less than the trade guess (farmdoc daily March 31, 2015). Overall, projected switches from corn to soybeans indicated in the Prospective Plantings report were less than what many had anticipated. Input costs are higher for corn than for soybeans. In central Illinois on ...

2018 Illinois State Fair attendance down 8% from 2017

The Illinois State Fair in Springfield saw 369,144 people walk or drive through its gates last month, an 8 percent drop compared to last year’s fair, state officials reported Friday.   Officials noted, however, that fairgoers this year appeared to spend more money than in 2017, according to an early look at vendors’ sales receipts.   This year’s attendance total was lower than the 401,648 who attended the 2017 fair but higher than the 347,855 who passed through the gates during the 2016 event that was plagued by flooding rains, extreme heat and power outages. The 2015 state fair, the first to be ...

2019 Policy Outlook: Trade, Trade and Trade

The most significant policy issue of 2018 looms large over the outlook for the new year. Ag leaders of both parties say actions on trade in the first half of 2019 will decide agriculture’s fate for years to come.   It’s not just the on-again, off-again haggling with China that dragged soybean markets up and down at breakneck speed, but also the lingering issues of the U.S. Mexico Canada Agreement (USMCA) that still must pass Congressional muster.   “I just think it’s hard for Democrats to vote yes on trade agreements,” said former ...

4 Court Cases Agriculture Needs to Watch

It appears that 2017 could be an important year for a number of agricultural law issues. From the Clean Water Act, to “Ag Gag” legislation, to the Endangered Species Act, there are a number of pending cases that could have major impacts on the agricultural industry in the coming year. Here is a brief look at four of the biggest cases to watch this year.   Click Here to read more.

4 small words may hamstring Trump team's WOTUS overhaul

The Trump administration might have unwittingly cleared a path for a legal assault in its proposal for delaying the effective date of the contentious 2015 Clean Water Rule, experts in administrative law say.   At issue are four words in the proposal released last month by U.S. EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers aimed at delaying by two years the Obama rule defining which wetlands and waterways get protection under the Clean Water Act.   The administration said it intended to "provide clarity and consistency" to the rule, also known as Waters of the U.S., or ...

4 winners and 2 losers in the Illinois primary election

Illinois primary voters went to the polls for the 2018 midterms Tuesday night, where Chicago-style machine politics showed it’s still got what it takes to win.   For Republicans, that means Gov. Bruce Rauner hung on, beating back a far-right challenger who ran ads that even the state GOP rejected. Rauner already has a target on his back since Donald Trump lost the state by 20 points in November. Plus, Rauner has been in charge through multiple financial crises, including higher education and state employee pensions.   For Democrat J.B. Pritzker, the fall is shaping up to be high-stakes. ...

4R Nutrient Stewardship Research Funding to Double

The Fertilizer Institute’s (TFI) President Chris Jahn announced that TFI and more than 100 partners will more than double existing investment in nutrient stewardship research, outreach and implementation.  The announcement was made at Michigan State University during a panel led by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “4R Nutrient Stewardship – or in the words of Secretary Vilsack, the use of the right source, rate, timing and placement of fertilizer, is the framework that helps growers boost the performance of inputs, leading to a reduction in air emissions from fertilizer application and improved water quality,” said Jahn. Click ...

5 Fertilizer Trends To Watch

It’s elemental—N, P, K, secondary nutrients and micronutrients. But with annual fertilizer sales totaling $180 billion—that’s three times more than crop protection sales, three times more than seed sales and more than two times ag machinery sales—the fertilizer industry is also quite complex.   Those stats are courtesy of Charlotte Hebebrand, director general of the International Fertilizer Association (IFA). Hebebrand notes the area for growth in the fertilizer industry isn’t necessarily in the massive totals of products used but rather how products are used.   “The average uptake ...

5 things to know about Election Day in Illinois

Temperatures are dropping, leaves are falling and your chance to play a role in democracy is fast approaching.   President Donald Trump is halfway through his four-year term. And the chance to push his agenda forward — or stop it in its tracks — has arrived. In Illinois, citizens can vote in U.S. House races to help determine if Congress switches to Democratic control and for governor and other state races to determine the balance of power in Springfield.   On the eve of the 2018 midterm elections, whether you’re politically apathetic or ready to tackle your ballot ...

6 Fertilizer Facts For World Fertilizer Day—Oct. 13

The U.S. fertilizer industry employs 89,000 people and contributes $155 billion to the U.S. economy. Additionally, the industry supplies the crop nutrients needed for food production to feed a hungry world. In celebration of the role fertilizer has in our everyday life, one day—Oct. 13—is set aside to celebrate the impact fertilizer has had.   As part of marking the special day, The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) released this new video, “You Taught Me Hope”   Here are some fertilizer facts from TFI: U.S. farmers have more than doubled corn production using just 6.9% more fertilizer ...

8 Ag Statistics to Know in 2018

USDA looked into its crystal ball this week and released its first round of numbers for many key forecasts for agriculture in 2018.   “There are a lot of factors that could shift farm income higher or lower than our current forecast,” says USDA Chief Economist Robert Johansson. “Prices may be higher due to growing global economic growth driving demand for agricultural commodities.”   Johansson speaking at USDA’s 2018 Agricultural Outlook Forum in Arlington, Va., shared these facts and figures, which are good to keep in mind as you finalize your plans for 2018.   Click Here ...

8 Things To Know About Dicamba Application In 2018

In Illinois, for example, more than 11,000 applicators have attended a classroom training for dicamba application in 2018.   1.This year is the final year for a two-year EPA registration of the three new dicamba formulations: Xtendimax with VaporGrip Technology; Engenia Herbicide; DuPont FeXapan Herbicide.   “If EPA amends the registration (beyond 2018), we will not amend it with an expiration date later than 2021,” says Reuben Baris, with the EPA office of pesticide programs. He explains this time frame allows the agency to monitor any potential increase or change in weed resistance patterns linked to dicamba-tolerant crop applications.   Click Here ...

A $3 billion construction boom swept through these small Iowa towns. Here's what it left behind.

A lone fifth-wheel camper surrounded by a sea of gravel and grass stands as one of the few remnants of the construction frenzy that descended upon this corner of Iowa to build the $3 billion Iowa Fertilizer Co. factory.   Thousands of construction workers swarmed here after the 2012 groundbreaking ceremony, filling this RV park and nearby hotels. They engulfed bars and restaurants across the region.   The influx couldn't be missed in tiny, unincorporated Wever, which isn't home to a single stoplight.   Click Here to read more.

A $3 billion construction boom swept through these small Iowa towns. Here's what it left behind.

In an effort to promote workforce development, Ivanka Trump visited the welding program Wednesday at Lewis & Clark Community College in Godfrey.   The visit by Trump, presidential adviser and daughter of the president, was part of an effort to promote the president’s Council for the American Worker. The visit came shortly before fall classes were scheduled to begin at the education center.   Accompanying Trump was U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Taylorville. Godfrey is in Davis’ district.   Trump toured the welding facilities at the education center, even took a turn with some of the equipment, ...

A better bean or Frankenfood: First gene-edited crop harvested

For Pete Zimmerman, a Minnesota farmer, the age of gene-edited foods has arrived. While he couldn’t be happier, the hi-tech soybeans he’s now harvesting are at the crux of a long-running debate about a frankenfood future.   Zimmerman is among farmers in three states now harvesting 16,000 acres of DNA-altered soybeans destined to be used in salad dressings, granola bars and fry oil, and sold to consumers early next year. It’s the first commercialized crop created with a technique some say could revolutionize agriculture, and others fear could carry as-yet unknown peril.   In March, ...

A controversial technology could save us from starvation — if we let it

Maybe it was a mistake to pack the bag of fried kale chips in his suitcase, Stefan Jansson thought as he hoisted his luggage onto the airport security scanner for a flight from Sweden to Norway.   The last time he'd taken the leafy greens across borders he was nearly detained. The kale, which had been modified using a powerful gene-editing technology called CRISPR, was not allowed in the country. But Jansson, a Swedish plant researcher who studies how to make healthier and more efficient crops, decided it was worth the risk.   In the US, foods made this ...

A CRISPR Future: Five Ways Gene Editing Will Transform Our World

A CRISPR Future   Over the past few years, CRISPR has been making headlines. Experts predict that this gene editing technology will transform our planet, revolutionizing the societies we live in and the organisms we live alongside. Compared to other tools used for genetic engineering, CRISPR (also known by its more technical name, CRISPR-Cas9) is precise, cheap, easy to use, and remarkably powerful.   Discovered in the early 1990s, and first used in biochemical experiments seven years later, CRISPR has rapidly become the most popular gene editing tool among researchers in fields such as human biology, agriculture, and ...

A Koch Company in Fertilizer Patent Dispute

A small North Carolina agriculture business is accusing a fertilizer company owned by the billionaire Koch brothers of trying to drive it out of business.   The claim by Eco Agro Resource came in a court filing in U.S. District Court in North Carolina in early September in response to an August patent infringement lawsuit against it by Koch Agronomic Services.   Click Here to read more.

A look at the political gridlock over state school funding

Illinois may have ended its historic budget impasse, but the Capitol finds itself stuck in political gridlock again, this time over school funding.   The Democratic-led Legislature and Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner are at odds over a proposal that would alter how Illinois distributes school money.   Legislators approved a required plan that re-writes the funding formula, but Rauner opposes it and says he’ll send it back with changes. Democrats are unsure if they have the votes to override him and are using a procedural hold to keep it off Rauner’s desk, but that hold is ...

A new gene-editing toolbox will revolutionize farming and food production.

Whether you know it specifically as CRISPR or “gene editing 2.0,” this technology has already descended upon agriculture and will continue to disrupt plant breeding for years.   These new breeding techniques are distinct from GMOs because they represent a much less invasive process. It’s not unlike the copy-and-paste function on a computer — plant breeders can highlight desirable crop traits, expressed as snippets of genetic code, clip out that code and reinsert it into other breeding lines.   “To describe it in three words: genetic molecular scissors,” says Kan Wang, Iowa State University global ...

A New Stream of Clean Water Act Litigation in Iowa

The Des Moines Water Works has opened a new stream of litigation in the Clean Water Act as the board voted Thursday to sue three northern counties in Iowa over agricultural runoff.   The board voted to sue Buena Vista, Calhoun and Sac counties in federal court.  Each of the counties is a minimum of 125 miles from Des Moines, but water work officials claim those three counties are the major driving force behind high nitrates that are found in the Des Moines River.   Click Here to read more.

A sad day for our society when salt is labeled non-GMO

There it was on the salt container label, the proud proclamation that the product inside was "non-GMO."   I looked at the label a second time and then a third time, not quite trusting my eyes, before telling myself, "But salt doesn't have genes. Of course it's not genetically modified. Why bother labeling it non-GMO?"   Then I realized why: some consumers will pay extra for anything labeled non-GMO — and some food companies are happy to sell it to them at the higher price. Salt, though an extreme example, reflects this powerful and ...

A year after tax increase, Illinois is still in the red

Last July, lawmakers overrode Gov. Bruce Rauner’s veto, passing a $36.5 billion budget that took an additional $5 billion from taxpayers and ended a more than two-year standoff between the freshman governor demanding pro-business reforms and Democrats in the General Assembly, who passed a budget with the help of a handful of defecting Republicans.   The final vote tallies were slim, but Democrats passed the budget Rauner said in his veto message included “no changes to create jobs and grow our economy. It will push more families and businesses out of our state.”   On the House Floor, ...

AASA: Answering Pesticide Questions

The American Agronomic Stewardship Alliance (AASA) has completed its 12th year of inspecting bulk agricultural retail facilities. This program helps ensure compliance and stewardship of pesticide handling and storage.   The AASA is a not-for-profit organization governed by a board that includes pesticide manufacturers, distributors, retailers and a state ag department advisor. AASA conducts a national stewardship inspection program for ag retail facilities that store bulk pesticides, portable refillable containers, and packaged products.   Once every three years, your bulk ag retail facility will receive an AASA inspection. The inspection is no cost to you, and the inspection report is ...

Activists on both sides pushing hard as marijuana legalization bill looms in Illinois

When a new study reported that legal marijuana could have dire circumstances for the Midwest, it marked the latest in an onslaught of public relations attempts to affect the outcome of the legalization debate in Illinois.   On one side, the cannabis industry, investors, social justice advocates, and mostly Democratic lawmakers are calling for an end to what they consider a destructive war against a relatively harmless and sometimes beneficial drug.   On the other side, law enforcement, addiction counselors, preachers, and most Republican lawmakers warn about the dangers of legalizing another mind-altering addictive substance.   While each side has ...

Additional Dicamba Herbicide Approved for Over-the-Top Use

The company says Engenia reduces drift by 70% compared to Clarity—with a greater reduction when compared to Banvel. It’s still important to read and follow label directions to reduce risk of off-target movement.   “Soybean and cotton growers now have a new tool at their disposal to manage glyphosate-resistant weeds,” said Neil Bentley, director of marketing, U.S. Crop, BASF. The new tool uses a BAPMA salt.   BASF offers the following recommendations for ground sprayers: •Nozzle Size: TTI11004 •Spray Volume: greater than 10 GPA •Boom Height: less than 24" above target •Equipment ...

Adjacent and Neighboring Dicamba Applications: How Far is That?

An article posted last November outlined several changes made by the Environmental Protection Agency to XtendiMax, Engenia, and FeXapan labels. The intent of these label amendments is to reduce sensitive plant species exposure to dicamba primarily through physical movement (i.e., drift during the application or particle movement during temperature inversions) and via dicamba residues dislodged from application equipment.    Illinois applicators who have completed the required dicamba training being conducted by registrant personnel likely heard repeatedly that preventing off-target movement during the application is solely and completely the responsibility of the applicator.   Click Here to read more. &...

Administration Asked to Suspend WOTUS Enforcement Nationwide

Some producer groups are asking the Obama administration to suspend enforcement of its new Clean Water Act rule until a court case is resolved.   The administration considers implementation of the rule blocked in only 13 states as a result of last week's decision by a North Dakota federal judge. In a letter to the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers on Monday, the National Milk Producers Federation said that because of the ruling, dairy farmers will be treated differently nationwide depending on where they live.   “Therefore, we ask that EPA and the Corp of Engineers use ...

Aerial Application By The Numbers

Every six to eight years, the National Agricultural Aviation Association (NAAA) conducts its Aerial Application Industry Survey of operators and pilots. "With our growing numbers, embrace of environmental protection technologies and techniques and an infusion of younger operators and pilots, NAAA's 2019 industry 'census' demonstrates the industry is well-positioned to work hand in hand with ag retailers in support of farmers," says NAAA executive director Andrew Moore. Here are the key takeaways for ag retailers.   Click Here to read more.

After credit downgrades, Rauner defends Illinois bond sale

Gov. Bruce Rauner says many bond buyers support the pro-business changes he’s pushing and want to invest in Illinois despite its worst-in-the-nation credit rating.   The Republican said Tuesday that taking on more debt is appropriate because the money is for improvements to roads and bridges, not daily operating expenses.   Illinois will go to market Thursday to sell $550 million in bonds.   Click Here to read more.    

After GMO resistance, gene-editing technology is the next new thing

A lack of science in public decision making, punctuated by a misunderstanding and dislike of GMOs, are hurdles the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development face, Director Jamie Clover Adams said.   Public pushes against GMOs and for animal welfare improvements such as “cage-free” eggs hurt food producers financially because the efforts needed to adjust to public opinion cost more than people are willing to pay for the final product, Clover Adams said.   “There is not one lick of science out there that’s peer reviewed that says that genetically modified organisms are not safe,&...

After House Rejection, Farm Bill Timeline May Stretch Into 2019

In the last farm bill, conservative Republicans demanded the biggest cuts in food stamps in a generation, leading the House to defeat the bill in June 2013. It then took Congress more than six months to put the pieces together. The same outcome is possible now after a revolt by Republican conservatives defeated a new farm bill calling for stricter work requirements for food stamp recipients and looser payment limit rules for farmers. Once again, the delay may stretch into the new year.   House Speaker Paul Ryan preserved a last chance to revive the farm bill this week by requesting ...

After nearly two-year merger process, Bayer finally owns Monsanto

Nearly two years after Bayer’s acquisition of Monsanto was first announced, the financial part of the $63 billion merger was finally completed Thursday.     “Today’s closing represents an important milestone toward the vision of creating a leading agricultural company, supporting growers in their efforts to be more productive and sustainable for the benefit of our planet and consumers,” said Hugh Grant, outgoing chairman and CEO of Monsanto.     But amid a still-ongoing marathon to secure regulatory approval of the deal, Thursday’s closing simply marks Bayer’s purchase of the Creve ...

After Two Decades, Scientists Find GMOs in Corn Are Good for You. Seriously.

Genetically modified organisms have garnered an abundance of skepticism and misinformation in the public eye. One new analysis uses over two decades of research to put some rumors about GMOs to rest   Click Here to read more.

After years-long debate, water quality legislation is headed to the Iowa Governor

A bill committing $282 million to water quality initiatives will head to the governor's desk, the culmination of a debate that spanned three legislative sessions and two governors.   The Iowa House of Representatives, which had dug in its heels to oppose a Senate-backed water quality plan in favor of its own, surprised onlookers by bringing up the Senate's plan for a quick vote Tuesday morning. House lawmakers debated the issue for less than an hour, abruptly putting an end to legislative gridlock that has pitted the two chambers against each other.   Click Here to read more.

Ag Bracing for Railroad Delays as Record Harvest Looms

At Dakota Mill & Grain, a grain and agriculture nutrient company based in Rapid City that depends heavily on trains to move crops and fertilizer, officials' had no reason to think the 2013 harvest would be different than any other.   But a few months after the fields were harvested, the Corn Belt was pummeled by brutal winter, and competing demands among coal, oil, grain and other commodities for space on the country's clogged rail network left railroads such as Canadian Pacific Railway and BNSF Railway struggling to ferry cars around the region.   Click Here to read more.

Ag Coalition Issues Reports Documenting the Benefits of Neonics

A series of reports released today by a coalition of agricultural companies shows, in part, that without the use of widely used and controversial insecticide, North American farmers would need to to resort to using more and older chemicals.   Bayer CropSciencs, Syngenta, and Valent U.S.A. Corporation formed the Growing Matters coalition and commissioned the study from AgInformatics to evaluate the economic and societal benefits of neonicotinoids, which are the largest selling insecticide class in the world.   Click Here to read more.

Ag groups optimistic for Endangered Species Act reform despite election year politics(AUDIO)

Reform of the Endangered Species Act has long been a goal of many ag groups, and there’s hope something can happen this year.   Click Here to listen.

Ag Groups Take Action in WOTUS Case

While EPA continues to draft a new waters of the United States rule, the wheels of justice keep turning, as a coalition of agriculture groups took federal court action in North Dakota on Friday to try to stop the 2015 WOTUS rule from ever becoming law.   Though EPA took action in recent months to delay the implementation of the 2015 rule by two years to allow for a rewrite, a case filed in U.S. District Court for the District of North Dakota continues.   Click Here to read more.

Ag Industry at Odds Over Pesticide Studied In Bee Deaths

A class of pesticide commonly used on Midwest farm fields that have been linked to destruction of bee colonies may not be as effective against corn and soybean pests as many once thought, according to a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency report.   Initially, the pesticide, called neonicotinoids or "neonics" were developed in the early 1990's to fight wireworm and bean leaf beetles. Many corn and Soybean seeds are treated with the pesticides to keep these bugs away in the spring while the seed sprouts.   Click Here to read more.

Ag Industry Pleased with CHS Fertilizer Plant Approval

North Dakota farmer-leaders say they're happy CHS Inc. has decided to re-engage in a proposed $3 billion fertilizer project in Spiritwood, N.D. near Jamestown, N.D.   It is the single largest private investment project in North Dakota history, and the largest for CHS.   CHS, the nation's largest farmer-owned cooperative, announced September 5 that the board approved the plant, which will convert natural gas into nitrogen fertilizers.  In April, CHS had announced it was delaying what was then projected as a $2 billion plant because of increased construction costs.   Click Here to read more.

AG LOOKS TO APPROPS TO HALT FERTILIZER STORAGE CRACKDOWN

Labor Secretary Tom Perez can expect to face some heat over the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s decision to apply strict chemical management and storage rules to fertilizer retailers when he testifies this morning at a hearing of the House Appropriations labor subcommittee. Agricultural groups are pressing lawmakers to use OSHA’s budget to block the agency from enforcing the new standards, which they say are unnecessary and should be made through the proper rulemaking process.   Click Here to read more.  

Ag Retail Earns Policy Victories, Prepares for Next Challenges

The legislative, regulatory and judicial landscape is vastly different from what the agricultural retail industry experienced decades ago. In the past eight years, federal regulators completed hundreds of major rules that impacted many sectors, including agriculture. Each of these rules imposes new costs greater than $100 million.   In the past year, the worst offenders of excessive, unlawful regulations were the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Congressional partisan gridlock leads to more stalemates than accomplishments. This legislative dysfunction led to federal agencies like EPA and OSHA filling in the policy ...

Ag Retailers Report Progress on Products and Services that Improve Water Quality

Ag retail-serviced acres of variable rate technology (VRT), cover crops, rotational soil testing, and other phosphorus-saving strategies continue to grow in the Sandusky River Watershed and the Great Lakes Basin. Sixty-two Great Lakes Basin ag retailers participating in the Partnership for Ag Resource Management (PARM) reported 2016 sales of products and services that help keep phosphorus fertilizer on cropland, and out of waterways.   In the Sandusky River Watershed, where the project began, variable rate phosphorus application increased 19% last year, from 51% to 70% of acreage serviced by participating ag retailers. Based on published study results in scientific journals, the project partners estimate ...

Ag Secretary Perdue Comments on Dicamba Issue

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue indicated to reporters this week that he would like to see the industry work out a fix on dicamba issues.   “I would much prefer that method rather than a prescriptive, top-down regulation,” he said, adding that he is “hoping that the industry itself and the producers themselves are working toward a resolution.”   Click here to read more.

Ag Secretary: Smartphones Could Tell Buyers What's in Food(GMO)

In the ever-complicated debate over labeling of genetically modified foods, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack offers this idea: Use your smartphone. Vilsack told members of Congress on Wednesday that consumers could just use their phones to scan special bar codes or other symbols on food packages in the grocery store. All sorts of information could pop up, such as whether the food's ingredients include genetically modified organisms, or GMOs. "Industry could solve that issue in a heartbeat," Vilsack said during a House hearing on agriculture spending. Click Here to read more.  

AGCO to Acquire Precision Planting from The Climate Corporation

AGCO and The Climate Corporation, a subsidiary of Monsanto Company, announced today that a definitive agreement has been signed for AGCO to acquire the Precision Planting LLC equipment business.   “Precision Planting is a strong business that plays an essential role in the growth and adoption of innovative precision ag practices that help farmers enhance their productivity,” says Mike Stern, chief executive officer for The Climate Corporation. “As a leading global equipment manufacturer, AGCO is uniquely positioned to enable broader distribution of Precision Planting technology and will continue the development of innovative products that improve the efficiency ...

Agriculture department receives 369 hemp applications in two days

The Illinois Department of Agriculture received more than 360 applications to grow and process industrial hemp in the first two days applications were accepted.   Ag director John Sullivan said in a news release Wednesday afternoon that he was “pleased” with the outcome, but not surprised, since there had been an “incredible amount” of interest from potential hemp growers and processors during the last several months.   The department received 295 grower applications and 74 processor applications. Of the grower applications, 97 licenses and registrations have been issued, and 29 licenses to process hemp were given out.   The applications have ...

Agriculture Drone Market May Exceed $4 billion

According to an August study by Esticast Research & Consulting Market Research, the global commercial drone market may reach $3.6 billion by 2024. However, a new study forecasts an even larger bumper crop for just one of the many sub-sectors — agriculture.   The study, released this week by MarketInsightsReports, predicts the ag drone market will exceed the entire drone market value referenced in the Esticast report and do so two years earlier.   The report foresees a $4.2 billion value for the agricultural drone market by 2022 — representing a growth rate of 30 percent and beating Esticast’s overall prediction for the ...

Agriculture Nominee Perdue Will Get Hearing Next Week

The Senate Agriculture Committee will hold a hearing next week to consider Sonny Perdue's nomination to be agriculture secretary.     President Donald Trump announced in January that he would nominate Perdue. After a seven-week delay, Perdue submitted the necessary ethics paperwork last week and said he would step down from several companies bearing his name.     Perdue, 70, is a farmer's son who would be the first Southerner in the post in more than two decades.   Click Here to read more.

Agriculture secretary says he’s telling Trump to consider rejoining TPP

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue told senators Tuesday that he’s encouraging President Trump to consider rejoining the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the 11-nation trade deal the president pulled out of days after taking office.   Perdue’s comment is the latest mixed signal from the Trump administration over the TPP, which Trump recently told senators he’s open to rejoining, only to subsequently suggest over Twitter that he’s not.   The agriculture secretary’s statement came at a Senate Agriculture Committee hearing in response to a question from Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.).   Click Here to ...

Alliance Shows Fertilizer, Ag Retail Industries Are Serious About Safety

The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) President & CEO Chris Jahn and Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA) President & CEO Daren Coppock today highlighted ongoing efforts by the fertilizer and ag retail industries to enhance workplace and community safety while formalizing an alliance between TFI, ARA, and the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The alliance will build upon the stewardship efforts associated with the ResponsibleAg program, a voluntary initiative created in 2014 by TFI and ARA to enhance health, safety, and security performance at agricultural retail facilities.   “Safety is a key priority for the ...

Annual training required for dicamba use

Whether you’re a farmer, commercial operator or someone mixing or loading dicamba for soybean application, you are required to undergo certification once again this year.   “I’m running in to a lot of growers who think that because they went last year, they don’t have to go to training again, and that is not the case,” said Jean Payne, Illinois Fertilizer and Chemical Association president.   Pesticide applicators who desire to use dicamba herbicides that are labeled for use in soybeans must participate in special dicamba training prior to using these herbicides ...

Another Dicamba Registered

Growers of dicamba-tolerant crops now have three registered dicamba herbicides for use in-crop over soybeans and cotton for the coming season. The latest in the lineup is DuPont's FeXapan herbicide plus VaporGrip Technology.   FeXapan is a single active ingredient product that contains only dicamba as a diglycolamine (DGA) salt. VaporGrip is an additive designed to keep the dicamba in a less volatile state compared to older DGA formulations, such as Clarity.   Click Here to read more.

Appeals court smacks OSHA on anhydrous regulations

A Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C. recently ruled the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) violated federal law when it issued an enforcement memorandum last summer pushing more regulation on some ag retailers regarding handling and storage of anhydrous ammonia.   The Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA) and The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) said the court’s action saves anhydrous providers – and perhaps you, if you farm, since that’s where the costs will be likely be passed on – more than $100 million.   "This administration has broadly and unjustly avoided proper procedure to construct and ...

Applicator Training Still Open For February 2019

For experienced applicators looking for a refresher course, AGCO Corporation and Asmark Institute have partnered to offer a training program. The next offering of this training is Feb. 12 to 13 at the Applicator Training Center in Bloomington, Ill., and registration is still open.   The comprehensive, two-day course will cover these eight topics: •reducing or eliminating off-target applications due to spray drift •the differences in tank additives •proper cleanout techniques •the importance of recordkeeping •reading and understanding product labels •self-protection in emergencies •how to safely travel on roads •how to assess and choose ...

ARA and IFCA Seeks Clarification On Dicamba Label

The Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA) and Illinois Fertilizer & Chemical Association (IFCA) has been in support of extending the registration of dicamba and applauded the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) action to extend the registration through 2020. ARA supports the continued use of this new technology and supports label restrictions to ensure the best possible stewardship and use of the product. Following the announcement, ARA received several questions from members and is seeking clarification from EPA on two elements of the new registration guidelines.   The first question is on the scope of the term “certified applicator.” The ...

ARA Fly-In: Ag Retail Descends on Capitol Hill, Lawmakers

More than 100 agricultural retailers, distributors and suppliers headed to Capitol Hill Tuesday morning for the Agribusiness Congressional Fly-in, according to a ARA news release.   Hosted by the Agricultural Retailers Association, the fly-in garnered participation from ARA members from across the country and several national and state agribusiness groups.   “Grassroots advocacy matters,” said ARA President and CEO Daren Coppock. “This is an important opportunity for our members and stakeholders to put agricultural policy issues in front of their federal legislators.”   Delegations of retailers and suppliers visited with more than 160 members of Congress and/or ...

ARA: 2018 Farm Bill Represents ‘Missed Opportunity’

Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA) President and CEO Daren Coppock released the following statement on the conference report on the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (Farm Bill):   “ARA is happy to see a Farm Bill move forward, however this bill represents a missed opportunity to correct some straightforward regulatory problems that would have had no budgetary impact.   “We are disappointed to see language to fix the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) regulatory overlap once again dropped from the conference report. The association strongly supported language to fix the long-standing duplicative permitting requirement for pesticide applications that are ...

Are GMO critics more open to gene editing that targets plant and human diseases?

The early generations of transgenic plants focused primarily on increasing productivity, either by reducing pest damage or increasing yields by minimizing the impact of weeds. These have met with fierce opposition from anti-GMO groups and some government quarters (such as Green Party members in European parliaments). But transgenics and other modifications in medicines (ranging from monoclonal antibodies against melanoma and lung cancer to gene therapies against inherited rare disorders and RNA interference in molecular diagnostics) have not seen the same kind of resistance.  Is it possible that transgenics (or even more modern techniques like CRISPR that don’t ...

Are We On The Edge Of An Agricultural Recession?

It’s no secret that farm country is suffering from retaliatory tariffs that are the result of President Donald Trump’s trade negotiating tactics, but could the trade war push U.S. agriculture into a recession? One Wall Street analyst thinks they could.   “From an investor's standpoint, what we're seeing on Wall Street is perhaps a little naivety and a little complacency around the impact of tariffs on the ag economy,” Ann Duignan of JP Morgan told Chip Flory on AgriTalk earlier this week. “I think from Wall Street's perspective, the ...

Are you anti-GMO? Then you’re anti-science, too.

In keeping with our era of ideological boycotts, I will no longer be purchasing Kind bars. Or Barilla pasta. Or Triscuit crackers. Or Del Monte diced tomatoes. Or Nutro dog food.   A one-person boycott, of course, is really just a change in your shopping list. But the companies that produce these brands are guilty of crimes against rationality. All advertise on their packaging, in one way or another, that they don’t contain GMOs — genetically modified organisms. Walking down the aisle of my supermarket, I could have picked many other examples. Some food companies seem to be ...

Arkansas Farmers Sue Monsanto, BASF, DuPont Over Dicamba Damage

Monsanto Co., BASF Corp., and DuPont face a class-action lawsuit from farmers who claim their crops were damaged by the herbicide dicamba, a new legal front against producers of soybeans and cotton resistant to the weed killer.   The lawsuit stems from a wave of complaints from farmers in Arkansas, Missouri, Tennessee and elsewhere who say that their crops were damaged by dicamba being sprayed on nearby fields planted with dicamba-tolerant corn and soybeans that were developed primarily by Monsanto (  Smokey Alley Farm P’ship v. Monsanto Co. , E.D. Mo., No. 4:17-cv-02031, 7/19/17 ).   The Monsanto seeds—...

Arkansas Governor’s Task Force sets April 15 cut off for Dicamba.

A quick rundown: as of September 13, harvest season is underway in earnest, the Arkansas Governor’s Dicamba Task Force report has been released, a spraying cutoff date (proposed by the task force and approved by the Plant Board’s Pesticide Committee) of April 15 has been proposed for 2018, Monsanto has filed a petition with the Plant Board asking the task force’s recommendations be ignored and, most importantly, there are 966 dicamba drift complaints in the state.   On Tuesday (September 12), the Pesticide Committee unanimously agreed to accept the task force recommendation of an April 15 cutoff for spraying dicamba. ...

Arkansas House, Senate OK bills to stiffen fines for herbicide abuse

The House and Senate passed similar bills Monday that would allow the State Plant Board to levy greater civil penalties in egregious cases of herbicide misapplication.   The House voted 68-12 to pass House Bill 1692 by Rep. David Hillman, R-Almyra. The Senate voted 32-1 to approve Senate Bill 501 by Sen. Blake Johnson, R-Corning. Both bills would allow the plant board to assess a civil penalty greater than $1,000 but not more than $25,000, but only if the board finds the violation is egregious.   A violation would be egregious only if "significant off-target crop damage occurred as a result of the ...

Arkansas judge freezes herbicide ban for about 85 farmers

An Arkansas judge has issued a temporary restraining order on an herbicide ban.   The state Plant Board’s dicamba ban takes effect Monday and will run through October 31. The ban was issued after the board received nearly 1,000 complaints last summer that the herbicide drifted onto crops and caused damage.   The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports that Judge Tonya Alexander issued the ruling Thursday after a motion was filed on behalf of about 85 farmers. Alexander says the farmers faced harm to their crops without the order.   Click Here to read more.

Arkansas judge throws out Monsanto dicamba lawsuit

The Arkansas ban on dicamba continues after a judge threw out Monsanto’s lawsuit to stop the state from blocking sale of the product. On Friday the Pulaski County Circuit Court Judge Chris Piazza cited a recent Arkansas Supreme Court decision that the state cannot be made a defendant in court.   In June, the Arkansas State Plant Board bowed to the pressure of more than 240 complaints connected to alleged drifting of the chemical dicamba and passed a vote 9-5 to ban the sale and use of the product.   Click Here to read more.

Arkansas lawmakers approve ban on disputed herbicide

Arkansas lawmakers on Friday approved banning an herbicide that farmers say has drifted onto crops where it wasn't applied and caused damage, but the prohibition still faces a legal challenge from a maker of the weed killer.   The Legislative Council, without discussion, approved the Plant Board's plan to ban dicamba from April 16 through Oct. 31. A subcommittee earlier this week recommended that the council — the Legislature's main governing body when lawmakers aren't in session — approve the proposal.   Dicamba has been around for decades, but problems arose over the past couple of years as ...

Arkansas lawmakers put efforts to ban herbicide on hold

Arkansas lawmakers have put on hold a plan to ban an herbicide that farmers in several states say has drifted on to their crops and caused damage, agreeing with a panel’s recommendation to call on regulators to revise restrictions proposed on the weed killer.   The Arkansas Legislative Council approved a recommendation Friday to delay considering the state Plant Board’s proposal to ban dicamba’s use from April 16 through October 31 next year. The council is the Legislature’s main governing body when lawmakers aren’t in session.   A subcommittee earlier this week ...

Arkansas panel backs ban of herbicide dicamba

An Arkansas regulatory panel voted Wednesday to ban the use of an herbicide for part of next year after the weed killer drew complaints from farmers across several states who say it has drifted onto their crops and caused widespread damage.   The Arkansas Plant Board on Wednesday approved prohibiting the use of dicamba in the state between April 16 and Oct. 31. The ban includes several exemptions, including for pastures and home use, and now heads to a legislative panel.   Dicamba has been around for decades, but problems arose over the past couple of years as farmers began to use ...

Arkansas Plant Board Backs Stiff Dicamba Fines

The state Plant Board on Wednesday approved the framework for allowing fines of up to $25,000 for the most serious cases of illegal spraying of dicamba and other herbicides.   State lawmakers approved the stiffer fines in March during their regular legislative session, but state law that governs boards and commissions requires the Plant Board, a part of the state Department of Agriculture, and its civil-penalties committee to revise a penalty matrix.   The Plant Board, with little discussion, unanimously approved the committee's work. The new penalty matrix now goes to Gov. Asa Hutchinson for review. If approved by the ...

Arkansas Plant Board Moves to Approve Dicamba Use in 2019

The Arkansas State Plant Board on Wednesday adopted a plan to allow restricted use of dicamba in 2019 through May 25.   The proposed new rule is applicable to all current (Engenia,  Fexapan, and Xtendimax) and future dicamba products registered for in-crop use in Arkansas.  According to a statement from the State Plant Board, changes regarding dicamba use in the proposed rule include: •Restrictions on in-crop applications of dicamba from May 26 to October 31. •A half-mile buffer zone required around all non-dicamba crops when dicamba is applied. •A one-mile buffer zone for university and USDA research stations, certified ...

Arkansas Plant Board Votes to Ban Dicamba — Now What?

The Arkansas State Plant Board has voted to pass a proposed emergency rule to ban the use of in-crop dicamba, with an exemption for pastureland, and to expedite the rule increasing civil penalties for dicamba misuse.   The proposed rule is the first step in the process of establishing an emergency rule. The next step includes a review of the proposed rule by the governor before being submitted to the Executive Subcommittee of the Arkansas Legislative Council for approval.   “Governor (Asa) Hutchinson has followed this issue closely and previously tasked Secretary (Wes) Ward and ASPB Director (Terry) Walker ...

Arkansas Plant Board votes to curb weedkiller

The state Plant Board on Friday voted to restrict the use of certain herbicides in the state after some farmers this summer illegally sprayed the weedkiller dicamba and damaged their neighbors' crops.   The issue now goes up for a 30-day public comment period and then to a public hearing, which the board set for 1:30 p.m. Nov. 21. The governor and the state Legislature will have final say on whether the restrictions are put in place.   Except for one member who abstained because of a conflict of interest, the vote on each of the recommendations, listed below, was unanimous. &...

Arkansas Supreme Court stays judges' orders on dicamba ban, again halting use of herbicide

The AP reports that the Arkansas Supreme Court on Wednesday stayed temporary restraining orders from two circuit court judges in East Arkansas that would have allowed a group of farmers to use the banned herbicide dicamba.    The orders — from Judge Tonya Alexander in Mississippi County and Judge Christopher Morledge in Phillips County — prevented the state from enforcing a ban on the controversial herbicide which was put in place by the State Plant Board, as we reported last week. With the Supreme Court's latest action, the ban remains firmly in effect.    The court's ...

As harvest season begins, farmers worry how dicamba herbicide could affect next year’s crop

In front of several greenhouse scaffolds, Steve Hamra gestured to a metal cart containing trays of seedlings for bell peppers, tomatoes and romaine lettuce. About 150 miles south of St. Louis on a 10-acre site, Hamra is growing produce hydroponically, or in water instead of soil, for about 400 schools, in Missouri and other states.   Hamra, president and founder of Amanzi Farms, hopes to expand its operations to Kansas City and Springfield. But he’s worried that his vegetables could be damaged by the herbicide dicamba, which some neighboring farms are using.   The chemical is sold under brand names, ...

As latest round of U.S.-China talks end, 'significant work' remains

U.S. and Chinese negotiators wrapped up their latest round of trade talks on Friday and were scheduled to resume discussions next week to try to secure a pact that would end a tit-for-tat tariff battle that has roiled global markets.   The two sides offered few details of the progress as Chinese Vice Premier Liu He concluded three days of meetings with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in Washington. U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday said a deal could be announced in the next four weeks.   Last year Washington and Beijing ...

As Palmer spreads, researchers eye sources, genetic changes

The spread of Palmer amaranth in the Midwest may be partly the result of good intentions gone bad.   Escapes from seed bags used in conservation programs are one component in the increasing presence of the troublesome weed, Southern Illinois University weed scientist Karla Gage told growers at a field day here.   “It’s a seed contamination issue, and it is happening throughout the country,” Gage said. “Iowa is particularly hard hit. It is now in areas there that did not have Palmer amaranth.”   The weed seeds are included in collections of grass ...

As Syngenta deal closes, ChemChina and Sinochem press $120 billion deal: sources

Chinese state-owned Sinochem and ChemChina are in merger talks to create the world's biggest industrial chemicals firm, to be headed by Sinochem chief Ning Gaoning, four people with knowledge of the negotiations said.   A deal could be announced by the end of the year, the people said, potentially just months after ChemChina completes its own $43 billion purchase of Switzerland's Syngenta (SYNN.S), China's biggest overseas deal to date.   A consolidation of Sinochem and ChemChina would be worth around $120 billion, one of the people said, topping companies like industrial chemicals giant BASF (BASFn.DE).   Talks ...

As the seed treatment market grows, so do pesticide concerns

Many of the seeds being planted around Minnesota today are treated with chemicals to protect them as they grow.   Syngenta, one of the top pesticide companies in the world and the global leader in the treated seed market, has a seed research facility about an hour south of the Twin Cities near the tiny community of Stanton.   Ravi Ramachandran, who heads the Syngenta Seedcare Institute, says about 75 scientists work there developing and testing seeds and seed coatings.   "And in fact this institute is probably the most sophisticated research center for seed treatment technology in the industry ...

Ask Your Farmer-Customers to Talk with Neighbors about Herbicide Drift

Retailers and farmers need to plan ahead and communicate to avoid damaging crops, especially when using dicamba herbicides. Before spraying know the area, communicate with neighbors and take advantage of online resources to ensure you’re taking appropriate precautions for downwind sensitive areas.   “If you damage your neighbor’s field, you can’t take it back, so it’s vital you understand the area where you are applying, identify the sensitive areas and sensitive crops and adhere to the downwind buffer as the label requires,” says Jean Payne, president of the Illinois Fertilizer ...

Asked about gas tax, Chao says ‘nothing is off the table’

Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said Wednesday that the administration “has learned from the past” that it should consult with Congress before proposing an infrastructure plan, but stopped short of saying when consultations would start.   Appearing before the Senate’s Transportation-HUD appropriations subcommittee, Chao indicated there could be support from the White House for higher gas taxes and fees on airplane tickets, but she also renewed the administration’s call to cut red tape in project approvals and find ways to attract private-sector funding from pension funds and endowments.   Democratic Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware ...

Asmark, AGCO open facility for applicators

The nation’s first all-inclusive training facility for beginning crop protection applicators opened June 12.   The Applicator Training Center, created through a collaboration between the Asmark Institute and AGCO Corp., is the home of the new four-day course dedicated to educating individuals with little or no background in the application of crop protection products and plant nutrients.   The facility and training grounds are adjacent to the Asmark Institute Agricenter that was built in 2012 and houses the anhydrous ammonia safety training course and grain safety training courses.   Course curriculum was built with extensive input from ag retailers and ...

At Ag Retail stop, Perdue says priority is next Farm Bill

It was USDA Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue who was asking the questions Monday afternoon, as he met several Central Illinois farmers on a five-state tour of the Midwest.   During a stop at the Evergreen FS Plant, Perdue was introduced to Stanley Weeks, a 90-year-old farmer from the Chenoa area.   “How long have you been digging in the dirt with your hands?” Perdue asked.   Weeks answered that he remembers farming back in the days where horses did most of the work and not tractors. Still, it was Weeks who walked away impressed.   Click here to ...

At EPA, a fight over numbers in water protection rule reveals a shift in ideology

A new paper by three economists, published Thursday in the journal Science, challenges how the Environmental Protection Agency has justified repealing a 2015 water protection rule and contends that the Trump administration ignored hundreds of millions of dollars in benefits the regulation would have produced each year.   But EPA officials, including a career official overseeing the agency’s National Center for Environmental Economics, counter that Obama administration officials ignored warnings that they had used unreliable and outdated studies when calculating the regulation.   The dueling analyses of the rule, known as Waters of the United States, underscore how fraught ...

August USDA Reports Confirm Too Much of Everything

There’s a saying that big crops get bigger. According to USDA’s August Crop Production and World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates, the 2018 corn and soybean crops continue to grow.   Here are the key numbers:   Corn: Production forecast at 14.6 billion bushels, down less than 1% from last year. Based on conditions as of Aug. 1, yields are expected to average 178.4 bushels per acre, up 1.8 bushels from 2017. If realized, this will be the highest yield on record. Area harvested for grain is forecast at 81.8 million acres, which is down 1% from 2017.   Soybeans: Production forecast at 4.59 billion bushels, up 4% ...

BASF Closes on Bayer Assets, Launches Agricultural Solutions Division

BASF hosted a conference call for global ag media this afternoon to announce the official close of its “acquisition of a range of businesses and assets” from fellow German multinational Bayer.   BASF signed agreements in October 2017 and April 2018 to acquire the businesses and assets Bayer offered to divest in the context of its acquisition of Monsanto, for an all-cash purchase price of €7.6 billion, subject to certain adjustments at closing.   Click Here to read more.

Bayer asks California appeals court to throw out $78 million Roundup verdict

Bayer AG on Wednesday asked a California appellate court to throw out a $78 million judgment it was ordered to pay to a school groundskeeper who claimed the company’s weed killers gave him cancer.   In a filing in California’s Court of Appeal, First Appellate District, the company said that there was “no evidence” that glyphosate, a chemical found in the company’s Roundup and Ranger Pro products, could cause cancer.   “Bayer stands behind these products and will continue to vigorously defend them,” the company said in a news release.   ...

Bayer asks California appeals court to throw out $78 million Roundup verdict

Bayer AG on Wednesday asked a California appellate court to throw out a $78 million judgment it was ordered to pay to a school groundskeeper who claimed the company’s weed killers gave him cancer.   In a filing in California’s Court of Appeal, First Appellate District, the company said that there was “no evidence” that glyphosate, a chemical found in the company’s Roundup and Ranger Pro products, could cause cancer.   “Bayer stands behind these products and will continue to vigorously defend them,” the company said in a news release.   ...

Bayer Braces for Third Roundup Verdict

The jury in Bayer AG’s third Roundup weedkiller trial was urged by a plaintiffs’ lawyer to consider socking the company with $1 billion in damages as punishment for covering up the health risks of the herbicide for decades.   The aggressive demand on behalf an elderly couple who claim they got cancer from exposure to Roundup shows that plaintiffs are becoming bolder after winning the first two trials against Bayer, which together yielded $159 million in damages.   The couple’s attorney said the billion-dollar request is roughly based on the gross profit of $892 million recorded in 2017 by ...

Bayer faces billion-dollar losses related to legal claims of deadly Roundup herbicide

Pharmaceutical and chemical giant Bayer has shed some $20 billion in market value in the weeks since a California court ordered it to pay $289 million in damages to plaintiff Dewayne Lee Johnson, related to his use of the herbicide Roundup.   Jurors found that Monsanto, now owned by Bayer in a $66 billion merger, had acted with malice and negligence in failing to warn Johnson, a former school groundskeeper, about the cancer risks associated with Roundup and its key ingredient, glyphosate. Johnson is now suffering from late-stage non-Hodgkins lymphoma.   The German-based company Bayer merged with Monsanto in June 2018, just two months ...

Bayer Says More Americans Are Alleging Monsanto Weedkillers Cause Cancer

Bayer  AG  said the number of American plaintiffs alleging its recently acquired weedkillers cause cancer has risen sharply, adding to concerns about potentially lengthy and costly litigation stemming from its acquisition of Monsanto.   The German chemicals company on Wednesday also lowered its full-year earnings outlook because of delays in closing its $63 billion purchase of Monsanto, which included a portfolio of herbicides that contain glyphosate, notably flagship product Roundup.   Bayer said it faced some 8,700 plaintiffs across the U.S. as of late August—mainly cancer patients who claim to have fallen ill after being exposed to ...

Bayer says to comply with court mediation order in glyphosate case

Bayer said on Friday it would comply with a U.S. federal judge's order to enter mediation with a plaintiff who claims the company failed to warn against an alleged cancer risk from its Roundup weedkiller.   Bayer has seen billions wiped off its market value since August, when a first U.S. jury found Bayer liable because Monsanto, acquired by Bayer for $63 billion last year, had not warned of the alleged risk from Roundup, which is based on active ingredient glyphosate.   It suffered a similar courtroom defeat last month and more than 10,000 cases are pending.   U....

Bayer to appeal EU ruling on neonicotinoids

Bayer will appeal the ruling of the General Court of the European Union in Case T-429/13. The company is concerned that the verdict, announced in May, could have far-reaching consequences for the certainty and predictability of active substance approvals in the European Union. By appealing the verdict, Bayer aims to ensure that some general interpretations of the crop protection law established by the court are re-considered. These interpretations may have importance beyond this particular case, and Bayer believes they are not legally founded.   Bayer wishes to underline that it respects the European legislative process and accepts the recent decision ...

Bayer to fund projects to increase pollinator forage

Bayer and its partners in a new Feed a Bee steering committee are making available $500,000 over the next two years to fund projects that will increase forage and plantings for honey bees, monarch butterflies and other pollinators in every state in the U.S.   The initiative aims to build on Bayer’s Feed a Bee program, now in its third year, which the company says has rallied more than 900,000 individuals and 117 organizations to plant more than 2 billion wildflowers across the U.S., creating and expanding forage areas for pollinators.   "We convened the (Feed a Bee) steering ...

Bayer to sell Liberty crop protection brands to get Monsanto merger nod

Bayer has agreed to sell its Liberty herbicide and LibertyLink-branded seeds businesses to win antitrust approval for its acquisition of Monsanto, it said on Monday.   The divestment of the two global brands, a requirement imposed by South Africa's Competition Commission on Sunday, will account for the bulk of asset sales worth about $2.5 billion which need to be made to satisfy competition regulators looking at the $66 million Monsanto deal, sources close to the matter have said.   "Bayer has agreed to these conditions and is evaluating how best to execute the imposed divestiture," the German group said ...

Bayer's Monsanto faces 8,000 lawsuits on glyphosate

The number of U.S. lawsuits brought against Bayer’s (BAYGn.DE) newly acquired Monsanto has jumped to about 8,000, as the German drugmaker braces for years of legal wrangling over alleged cancer risks of glyphosate-based weedkillers.   Bayer had previously disclosed 5,200 such lawsuits against Monsanto, which it acquired in a $63 billion deal completed in June.   “The number of plaintiffs in both state and federal litigation is approximately 8,000 as of end-July. These numbers may rise or fall over time but our view is that the number is not indicative of the merits of the plaintiffs’ cases,” ...

Bayer, Syngenta Clash With EU Over Bees Amid M&A Charm Offensive

Bayer AG and Syngenta AG, two of the agrichemical giants trying to win the European Commission’s blessing for deals reshaping the global industry, clashed with the EU over bans on insecticides that regulators blame for killing honeybees.   The EU action not only damages farmers, the agricultural industry and the environment, but throws companies into legal uncertainty, Bayer said on the first day of hearings at the EU’s General Court in Luxembourg. BASF SE is also lining up to attack 2013 bans of previously approved pesticides, based on new studies the EU said showed “unacceptable” ...

Bayer’s Glyphosate Lawsuit Headaches Promise to Linger

You’ll have to forgive the executives at Bayer if they have something of a headache these days. While the German-based company is well-known for its brand of pain reliver to the general public, in agriculture, the crop protection/seed giant is primarily known for the No. 1 selling herbicide in the world, glyphosate – thanks to its 2018 acquisition of Monsanto. This combination made the company the largest such business entity in the world, with annual sales in the $22 billion range.   But along with acquiring brand glyphosate, Bayer also acquired a host of lawsuits across America related to it, ...

Be proactive to prevent dicamba drift issues

Grapes, snap beans, tomatoes and watermelons are among some of the most sensitive crops to dicamba, warns University of Illinois Commercial Agriculture Educator Elizabeth Wahle.   But so are peppers, cantaloupes, cucumbers, peaches, apples, squash, broccoli, cut flowers, cabbage, kale, pecans and turnips.   In short, all specialty crops are susceptible to dicamba and other pesticide drift, Wahle recently explained to a group of apple and peach growers in Calhoun County, one of Illinois’ biggest fruit tree districts   Click Here to read more.

Bee Pesticide Ban Debate Could Arise in Next Farm Bill

Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) wants to include a ban on pesticides linked to declining bee health in next year’s farm bill, one of several initiatives he is pushing in the legislation to reauthorize agriculture and nutrition programs.   Thirty-one Democrats are backing a bill—the Saving America’s Pollinators Act of 2017 ( H.R. 3040)—that would suspend the approval of neonicotinoid pesticides, common insect-killers that are said to harm honeybees, aquatic insects, birds, and other insects and animals. H.R. 3040 would ban imidacloprid, clothianidin, thiamethoxam, dinotefuran, and any other neonicotinoids until the Environmental Protection Agency can ...

BeeCheck maps hives and protects pollinators

Recent reports of mosquito spraying for Zika virus and other mosquito-borne diseases in other states have led to many N.C. residents asking what can they do to protect commercial and hobby beehives across the state. The N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services encourages bee owners to use the BeeCheck mapping software to alert farmers and pesticide applicators to the location of their hives.   “We have spent the past several months educating beekeepers and pesticide applicators about the program,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “Since the program launched five months ago, 533 producers and more ...

Beekeeper calls pollinator protection bill an overreaction

One of Washington state’s largest beekeepers says the reintroduction of a bill to ban certain pesticides to protect honeybees is an overreaction.   “Neonics are insecticides, and bees are insects, so sloppy or careless application kills bees. But the majority of applicators use caution and don’t cause major acute kills,” says Tim Hiatt, co-owner of Hiatt Honey Co., in Ephrata.   U.S. Reps. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., and Jim McGovern, D-Mass., reintroduced the Saving America’s Pollinators Act in the House on Feb. 14. The bill would suspend the registration of certain neonicotinoid insecticides ...

Believe it or not, the bees are doing just fine

You've probably heard the bad news by now that bees were recently added to the endangered species list for the first time. But if you're part of the 60 percent of people who share stories without actually reading them, you might have missed an important detail: namely, that the newly endangered bees are a handful of relatively obscure species who live only in Hawaii.   The bees you're more familiar with — the ones that buzz around your yard dipping into flowers, making honey, pollinating crops and generally keeping the world's food supply from collapsing? Those bees ...

Bernie Sanders rolls out "Roosevelt style trust-busting" agriculture plan

2020 Democrat Bernie Sanders unveiled a multifaceted, comprehensive plan to help revitalize rural farming communities and break up big agriculture corporations like Bayer-Monsanto and John Deere by enacting "Roosevelt style trust-busting laws."   "Agriculture today is not working for the majority of Americans. It is not working economically for farmers, it is not working for rural communities, and it is not working for the environment. But it is working for big agribusiness corporations that are extracting our rural resources for profit."   "For far too long, government farm policies have incentivized a 'get big or get ...

Big Reach for Autonomous Farming

For anyone interested in autonomous farming, the next week or two will be an interesting time for the evolution of the science and the technology. This spring, Craig Rupp and Kyler Laird are beginning their audacious journey to plant 10,000 acres of soybeans with a single, autonomous tractor and 18-row planter.   Rupp is CEO of Sabanto Ag, the company formed in October 2018 to test the notions of new production efficiency through autonomous farming. Sabanto is a "Farming-as-a-Service company performing row-crop operations using advanced autonomous equipment," according to the company's website, www.sabantoag.com. Laird is the co-founder ...

Bill Aiming to Curb Toxic Algae in Lake Erie Passes Ohio Houe

The Ohio House unanimously passed a bill yesterday designed to help reduce farmland manure runoff into Lake Erie, while the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency has responded to 10 reported manure spills discovered in the last nine days. House Bill 61 would prohibit farmers in northwestern Ohio from spreading manure and fertilizer on their fields if the ground is frozen or saturated with water, or if the forecast calls for a greater than 50 percent chance of precipitation exceeding 1 inch in a 12-hour period. Click Here to read more.

Bill Aiming to Curb Toxic Algae in Lake Erie Passes Ohio House

The Ohio House unanimously passed a bill yesterday designed to help reduce farmland manure runoff into Lake Erie, while the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency has responded to 10 reported manure spills discovered in the last nine days. House Bill 61 would prohibit farmers in northwestern Ohio from spreading manure and fertilizer on their fields if the ground is frozen or saturated with water, or if the forecast calls for a greater than 50 percent chance of precipitation exceeding 1 inch in a 12-hour period. Click Here to read more.

Bill Banning EPA's Proposed Attack on Property Rights Expected to Be Considered By House

The House is expected to vote on legislation as soon as today that would prohibit the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers from moving forward with their proposed "waters of the U.S." rule.   In April, the EPA and Corps proposed regulation that would define what waters that they can regulate under the Clean Water Act.  For decades, they have tried to expand their jurisdiction.  The proposed rule is no exception, acting as both a water and land power grab.  It has little to do with actually improving the environment.   Click Here to read ...

Bill Gates Discusses GMO Controversy - Video

The Gates Foundation co-chair responds to criticism by some environmentalists and other against the use of genetically modified seeds.   Click Here to watch the video.

Bill Gates Discusses GMO Controversy - Video

The Gates Foundation co-chair responds to criticism by some environmentalists and other against the use of genetically modified seeds.   Click Here to watch the video.

Bill Gates Discusses GMO Controversy - Video

The Gates Foundation co-chair responds to criticism by some environmentalists and other against the use of genetically modified seeds.   Click Here to watch the video.

Bill on Gov Quinn's desk would allow voters to register on Election Day

Illinois Democrats pushed election day voting registration bill last month on the second-to-last day of spring session with the idea that it would boost voter turnout.  Many Republicans claim it is part of a larger effort to increase Democrats' numbers at the polls in a competitve election, namley Gov Quinn's bid for a second full term againist Repulican businessman Bruce Rauner.   Click here to read more about the bill.

Bill would limit terms of Illinois legislative leaders

A bill has been proposed at the Illinois General Assembly that would put term limits on four legislative positions.   The State Journal-Register reports that Republican Rep. Thomas M. Bennett of Gibson City has proposed the bill. It would limit the House speaker, Senate president and the minority leader in each chamber to 10 consecutive years in their roles.   Bennett submitted a similar bill in March, but it never left the committee. But last year, the chamber approved a resolution that limits the tenure of the Senate president and the minority leader to 10 years.   Click Here to read more.

Billionaire J.B. Pritzker announces run for Illinois governor

Billionaire businessman J.B. Pritzker announced Thursday that he is launching a campaign to try to unseat Illinois Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner, setting the stage for what could be one of the most expensive races of the 2018 election cycle.   Pritzker, an heir to his family's Hyatt Hotel chain and investor who Forbes estimates is worth $3.4 billion, has the ability to self-finance a campaign that is expected to shatter the more than $100 million spent by the wealthy venture capitalist Rauner and former Democratic governor Pat Quinn in the 2014 race.   Pritzker, who served as co-chairman of Hillary Clinton’...

Biotech Crop Surge Reaches All-Time High

In the past 21 years, commercialized biotech crops have increased 110-fold to an estimated 185.1 million hectares (about 457 million acres) in 2016, according to the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA).   “Biotech crops have become a vital agricultural resource for farmers around the world because of the immense benefits for improved productivity and profitability,” according to ISAAA chair of the board, Paul S. Teng. “With the commercial approvals and plantings of new varieties of biotech potatoes and apples, consumers will begin to enjoy direct benefits of biotechnology with produce that is not likely to spoil or ...

Bleak Outlook Sparks Frenzied Dealmaking in Nitrogen Fertilizer Market

Sinking crop prices and frenzied output growth by nitrogen fertilizer producers have sparked nearly $10 billion worth of deals in the fragmented sector and signal more consolidation may be ahead in the largest of three crop nutrient markets.   Illinois-based CF Industries Holdings Inc., the world's third-largest nitrogen fertilizer producer, was involved in three of four deals in the past month, taking out two potential competitors in its backyard and locking up sales volumes in the United States, the world's No. 1 corn-producing country.   "What CF is doing is classic corporate self-preservation in a world where there are well-financed ...

Boston Globe---GMO Labeling Bill Lacks a Scientific Justification

Advances in crop biotechnology over the past 20 years have multiplied the range of so-called genetically engineered foods in the average citizen's diet.  Despite reassurances from the international and US scientific community about the safety of genetically modified organisms(GMO), the anti-GMO movement continues to gain ground, and has arrived at the state legislature in the form of a proposal that would create new food labeling regulations.  But until there is a solid scientific reason to believe that genetically modified crops are unhealthy, a labeling requirement would only serve to confuse consumers.   Click Here to read more.

Both local parties see state, national issues as leverage

As local parties gear up for the fall campaign season, Sangamon County Democrats are hoping to use state and national politics -- specifically, Gov. Bruce Rauner and President Donald Trump -- to motivate their supporters in the coming months.   In Sangamon County, which has historically been a Republican stronghold, GOP leaders say those same forces work in their favor, because of support for both men. And when it comes to several measures, such as fundraising and office holders, the Republicans still hold the edge.   That played out recently, for instance, when Democrats were unable to find a candidate ...

Brandt Hosts Illinois' National AG Day Event

The Illinois agriculture community gathered at BRANDT global headquarters to celebrate National Ag Day behind this year's theme Sustaining Future Generations. An estimated 200 Ag professionals, FFA members and distinguished guests joined Governor Bruce Rauner and Director Philip Nelson in honoring the agriculture industry and celebrating the abundance provided by American farmers. "I want to thank BRANDT for hosting us today," said Governor Rauner. "And I want you to know that I'm all in for the agriculture industry." In addition to Governor Rauner and Director Nelson, speakers included David Erickson, VP of the Illinois Farm Bureau; Marty Marr, Board ...

Brazil court overturns ban on weed-killer glyphosate

A Brazilian court on Monday overturned an injunction banning products containing the popular weed-killer glyphosate, knocking down a previous ruling that had been set to disrupt the soy planting season set to begin this month.   A Brazilian judge ruled last month to halt the registration of new glyphosate-based products in the country and to suspend existing registrations after 30 days, until health agency Anvisa issues a pending ruling on its safety.   That 30-day deadline had been due to pass on Monday, just as the first month of soy planting gets under way. The injunction and the subsequent reversal also ...

Brazil regulator approves Mosaic purchase of Vale fertilizer unit

A Brazilian regulator has approved the acquisition of miner Vale's (VALE5.SA) fertilizer unit by U.S.-based Mosaic (MOS.N) without restrictions, according to a notice in the official government newspaper published Tuesday.   Mosaic agreed to buy Vale Fertilizantes in December for $2.5 billion in a deal that makes Vale the largest shareholder in the U.S. company while raising money to help the Brazilian miner to achieve its debt reduction goals.   "This acquisition gives Mosaic the opportunity to benefit from the growing Brazilian agriculture market. ... For Vale, the deal guarantees an important capital injection and ...

Brazil soy exporters to police Monsanto Biotech Seeds - for a Fee

At least one soybean exporter in Brazil has agreed with Monsanto to collect royalties, in exchange for a fee, from farmers who planted genetically engineered seeds marketed by the company, according to industry sources.   The landmark deal, already finalized by a firm that declined to be identified, highlights an increasingly complex relationship between global grain merchants and biotech firms.   Click Here to read more.

Bringing economic development and water quality in Iowa. (Audio)

A new alliance is focusing on the dollars and cents of water quality for Iowa agriculture. Click Here to hear more.  

Bringing economic development and water quality in Iowa. (Audio)

A new alliance is focusing on the dollars and cents of water quality for Iowa agriculture. Click Here to hear more.  

Broad coalition in Iowa to push for sales tax hike targeted at water quality

Iowans would pay higher state sales taxes to finance improvements in water quality and other natural resources programs under a new lobbying initiative endorsed Monday by a group of Iowa business and conservation leaders.   Organizers said they are launching a larger and stronger Iowa’s Water and Land Legacy Coalition that will propose raising the state sales tax by three-eighths of 1 cent in the 2017 session of the Iowa Legislature, which convenes in January. The additional $180 million in state revenue would support initiatives that would include cleaning up the state's dirty rivers and streams, upgrading soil conservation, and ...

Bruce Rauner, Rahm Emanuel and Michael Madigan butt heads over the Illinois budget

Gov. Bruce Rauner made some news the other day when he went on Dan Proft's WIND-AM/560 radio show and whacked Mayor Rahm Emanuel but good.   “It's so unfortunate the way the mayor is failing the people of Chicago and he's looking to blame other people for it,” Rauner told Proft. The mayor has done “virtually nothing” to reform the city's government and its schools, he added.   Rauner wasn't totally wrong on either point.   As a buddy of mine says, Emanuel is a better mayor than Richard M. Daley ...

Buda man killed in tractor, train crash

The 25-year-old man killed when an Amtrak train collided with his tractor Thursday morning southwest of Wyanet was identified Friday morning as Andrew "Drew" Frese, of Buda.   Frese, who was struck around 9:35 a.m. at the Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad crossing, was pronounced dead at the scene at 10:30 a.m. by Coroner Janice Wamhoff.   Frese was southbound, crossing from one field to another when he was struck by the westbound passenger train, Sheriff James Reed said in a news release. He was pulling an anhydrous ammonia applicator behind the John Deere tractor.   The locomotive ...

Budget Battle Agitating Ag

President Donald Trump has made waves with many groups when it comes to health care reform, immigration policy, and proposed tax cuts. However, when the administration announced its proposed federal budget, it displeased several members of the agricultural community.   At issue are the President’s call to make significant cuts to the 2018 Farm Bill and risk management programs many grower-customers have relied on to stay in business during the commodity price down cycle the marketplace currently finds itself in.   Click Here to read more.

Budget highlighted eventful, mostly peaceful session

For the first time in a while, Illinois lawmakers aren’t facing overtime duty in Springfield this summer.   With a budget passed and a commitment from Gov. Bruce Rauner to sign it, Illinois should peacefully start its new fiscal year July 1.   “I’d like to really thank the Republicans for their support and cooperation this year,” said Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago, on the last day of the session. “I think a lot of that started last year when we started with our Grand Bargain and started working together. I think we carried ...

Budget includes $80M for Capitol fixes, $30M for fairgrounds

Repairing buildings at the state fairgrounds, replacing some plumbing in the Capitol and making long-awaited improvements to the Lincoln-Herndon law office are among the public works projects that will be financed under the budget signed into law Monday.   “The things moving to the head of the line in this budget would be (road projects), also several hundred million dollars for improvements and repairs at facilities like colleges, universities, prisons, the Capitol Complex,” said Rep. Greg Harris, D-Chicago, the House Democrats’ point person on the budget. “The deferred maintenance kind of repairs that have built up ...

Budget mess implicates safety with armored-pickup halt

After four months hauling cash from Illinois driver's facilities without payment from the state, an armored-truck company walked last fall, leaving the job to police officers who work for the secretary of state.   Montreal-based GardaWorld's trucks started rolling again after the state paid the overdue $79,000 amid a record budget standoff. But that only covered work through last Friday, so almost as quickly as the mess was resolved, the state could find itself in the same predicament again.   While the state's 10-month deadlock has forced deep spending cuts on human services and education programs, the armored ...

Budget Roadshow: Senate Panel Talks Cuts in Southern Illinois

Gov. Bruce Rauner isn't the only state official hitting the road during the Legislature's spring recess. With the Republican chief executive making a 17-stop swing through western and central Illinois this week in support of a series of business reforms, members of a Senate budget panel are heading to Carbondale on Wednesday to discuss the governor's controversial spending proposal. The Democrat who heads the committee said the southern Illinois stop is just one in a series of local hearings designed to take testimony from organizations and individuals who will be affected by Rauner's plan to slash ...

Buffer Regulations, Benefits, and Challenges

Buffer is not a four-letter word, but in Minnesota, it might as well be one. Governor Mark Dayton’s campaign last winter and spring for mandatory 50-foot buffers along streams, lakes, and ditches brought a lot of heat to this northern state. Dayton even suggested that farm practices are turning the state’s 10,000 lakes into cesspools.   "There were a lot of lightning rods to this,” recalls Kevin Paap, who farms near Mankato and who is president of Minnesota Farm Bureau. “One week I had over 60 calls from people wondering what was going on.”   ...

Bush Attacks Regulations as He Seeks Iowa Breakout

Jeb Bush is attacking the Obama administration's regulatory agenda, including its new Clean Water Act rule, as he struggles to find a message to shore up his lagging race in Iowa.   The former Florida governor, who spent four hours at the Iowa State Fair on Friday, opened a speech by charging that the economy was being held back by the “most convoluted regulatory system.”   “I don't need to tell Iowans about the EPA rules as it relates to water and now the rules as it relates to air that will stifle the ability ...

California Environmental Protection Agency Acts to Ban Chlorpyrifos

In a move to protect workers, public health and the environment, the California Environmental Protection Agency (CalEPA) announced today that the Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) is acting to ban the use of the pesticide and toxic air contaminant chlorpyrifos in California by initiating cancellation of the pesticide.   CalEPA and the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) also announced that the Governor will propose $5.7 million in new funding in the May Revision budget proposal to support the transition to safer, more sustainable alternatives, and plans to convene a working group to identify, evaluate and recommend alternative pest management ...

California Growers to Lose Controversial Pesticide

While California growers have been expecting this moment for a while, the California Environmental Protection Agency has officially (CalEPA) announced the Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) the sunset of chlorpyrifos in the state.   This announcement follows restricted use by California Department of Pesticide Regulation last fall.   Chlorpyrifos is used on more than 800,000 acres and 60 crops including tree nuts, vegetables, grapes, citrus, cotton, and alfalfa in California alone. Collectively, these crops amount to $23 billion in value for the state. Chlorpyrifos has been a key tool in Asian citrus psyllid control in Florida.   Gov. Gavin Newson also will propose $5.7 ...

California May have to Restrict Common Pesticide

California farmers who spray a widely used insecticide on some of the state's most abundant crops may soon have to overcome the nation's steepest restrictions of find another pest killer, officials said Thursday.   Regulators are proposing heavy restrictions - but not an all out ban - on chlorpyrifos, used to treat crops like grapes and almonds.  The pesticide, in use since 1965, has sickened dozens of farmworks in recent years.  Traces have been found in waterways, threating fish, and regulators say overuse coud make targeted insects immune to the pesticide.   Click Here to read more.

Calling GMO's "Unnatural" Suggests They are Unhealthy

The push to define natural food has involved lawsuits about many different aspects of what's in our food, including high-fructose corn, syrup, additives, chemicals and GMO's.  But these issues are not equal, and categorizing GMO's in particular as unnatural would wrongly suggest that they are unhealthy.   Nearly every respected scientific association - including the American Association for the Advancement of Science, American Medical Association, and American Society of Plant Biologist- has attested to the safety of GMO crops for one simple reason: scientific evidence indicates that the consumption of genetically modified crops is not ...

Campbell GMO labeling announcement could spur federal action

Campbell Soup Company's decision to support mandatory GMO labeling received plaudits from labeling advocates, jeers from an anti-labeling industry coalition, and a more subdued response from the Grocery Manufacturers Association.   It also may have greased the skids for federal legislation, a task that could be made easier if all sides in the debate could agree on what Congress should do.   Negotiations over a resolution to the issue could heat up next week. A source told Agri-Pulse that USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack is inviting representatives from both sides to a meeting Wednesday in an attempt to forge a ...

Can EPA ‘restore science and common sense’ to neonicotinoid insecticide regulations?

A federal district court judge has ruled that the Environmental Protection Agency failed to consult with the FWS before approving 59 products containing neonicotinoid pesticides that are used primarily as seed coatings for corn, canola, cotton, potato, sugar beet and other crops.   Extensive studies have concluded that the actual cause of bee die-offs and “colony collapse disorders” has been a toxic mix of tiny pests (parasitic Varroa destructor mites, phorid flies, Nosema ceranae gut fungus, tobacco ringspot virus and deformed wing virus) – as well as chemicals used by beekeepers trying to control these beehive infestations.   Field ...

Can legislation be passed in lame duck session, but held for the new governor?

The question of whether it's possible for one class of state lawmakers to pass a bill but hold it for a future governor could be tested when lawmakers come back for lame duck session, but the answer if it’s legal might have to wait on the courts.   What could happen when lawmakers return Monday for the final two days of the 100th General Assembly? That’s anyone’s guess. And there is lots of speculation.   State Rep. Jaime Andrade, D-Chicago, asked out loud an interesting procedural question.   Click Here to read more.

Can the Illinois GOP still be effective as a superminority?

Illinois Republicans seem in an unenviable position today.   The party controls no constitutional offices in state government. Democrats have more members in the Legislature than at any time since it took on its modern size, with supermajorities in both chambers.   But that doesn’t mean local GOP lawmakers are disconsolate. They’re not thrilled at the position their party is in. But each says he sees opportunities to be effective even from a position in which Republicans alone can’t deliver the votes to pass a bill or override a gubernatorial veto.   Right now, ...

Canada’s suspect move to phase out neonicotinoids to ‘protect bees’ sets stage for US regulatory battle

Canada’s PMRA—its environmental regulatory agency, part of HealthCanada—rolled out for public comment its tentative decision to phase out almost all outdoor uses of neonicotinoid pesticides over the next 3-5 years. Neonicotiniods, or neonics, are crop protection products that have become the world’s most widely used pesticide class thanks to their ability to selectively control pests that destroy crops, while also being human- and animal-safe.   However, neonics have become embroiled in a multi-year controversy in Europe and North America over whether they hurt beneficial species, specifically honeybees and wild bees. For years, ...

Canadian Farmers Store Fertilizer to Fight Dealer' Pricing Power

Canadian farmers are plowing profits from bumper crops into fertilizer storage facilities to mitigate the pricing power held by major retailers and producers. Having their own storage lets farmers buy nutrients more cheaply during the off-season and creates fewer transport bottlenecks in the spring planting season. Over time, the practice might erode the steep premiums farmers pay in the spring to retail businesses owned by Agrium Inc, Richardson International and Cargill Ltd , while shifting distribution patterns of producers Potash Corp of Saskatchewan, Mosaic Co and CF Industries. The trend is part of a wider shift by North American farmers to ...

Canadian Fertilizer Companies Brace for Fall in U.S. Crop Prices

Canadian fertilizer companies Potash Corp of Saskatchewan and Agrium Inc are bracing for a pullback in demand from U.S. farmers due to sliding crop prices, but say any slump is unlikely to be severe.   The prospect for a record-large U.S. corn crop has dragged Chicago nearby corn futures to a four-year low.  Lower prices of corn, wheat and soybeans reduce farmers' margins, althought big crops offset some of the impact.   Corn is one of the biggest users of fertilizer - which boosts crop yields - and the United States pays a premium for potash over ...

Cancer agency left in the dark over glyphosate evidence

When Aaron Blair sat down to chair a week-long meeting of 17 specialists at the International Agency for Research on Cancer in France in March 2015, there was something he wasn’t telling them.   The epidemiologist from the U.S. National Cancer Institute had seen important unpublished scientific data relating directly to a key question the IARC specialists were about to consider: Whether research shows that the weedkiller glyphosate, a key ingredient in Monsanto’s best-selling RoundUp brand, causes cancer.   Previously unreported court documents reviewed by Reuters from an ongoing U.S. legal case against Monsanto show that ...

Candidate guide for March 20 Primary Election

Political parties will be selecting their nominees for federal and state offices in Illinois during the March 20 primary. Here’s a look at the races important to Springfield-area residents. Scroll down for a list of candidates, links to profile articles about them, extended audio interviews with The State Journal-Register Editorial Board and unedited written questionnaires.   Click Here to read more.

Candidates begin filing petitions for 2018 Illinois primary

Hundreds of candidates were in line Monday enjoying moderate temperatures in the 40s and sunshine outside the State Board of Elections as an every-two-year event was repeated with the 8 a.m. start of filing for next year’s elections.   The filings mark a formal beginning to a 2018 election season in Illinois that could see record spending in the race for governor. Filing for offices -- including members of Congress, state constitutional officers and legislators, as well as judges -- runs through next Monday.   Leading the line Monday was a group from the Democratic Party of Illinois with ...

Candidates for governor offer different economic visions

In late 2017, Gov. Bruce Rauner’s reelection campaign debuted an ad featuring three Republican governors from surrounding states sarcastically saying “thank you” to House Speaker Michael Madigan for “raising Illinois taxes” and “helping create new jobs” in their states.   The ad was an opening salvo in a campaign that has seen Rauner and his Democratic critics blame one another over who is more responsible for economic growth that lags behind most other states.   The state added slightly more than 50,000 jobs between September 2017 and last month, representing a year-to-year increase of just 0.8 ...

Candidates for Illinois governor spend $65.7 million on TV ads –– just for the primaries

Like Chicago’s downtown on St. Patrick’s Day weekend, a river of green has flowed through TV sets ahead of Tuesday’s primary vote, as governor candidates have spent tens of millions of dollars on advertising during the long campaign.   The frenzied final weekend of in-person campaigning supplements the nearly $65.7 million spent by governor candidates and interest groups on TV commercials so far. The contest could become the most expensive race to be Illinois’ chief executive in state history.   That TV spending total -- in just the primary -- is more than the ...

Capital plan debate: Lots of money needed to build, fix things in Illinois

As about 20 senators from a couple of Senate committees looked on recently, Matt Magalis, acting secretary of the Illinois Department of Transportation, tried to lay out some of the state’s backlogged transportation needs.   The state needs $13 billion to $15 billion over 10 years just for maintenance of existing roads. That doesn’t include additional roads or traffic lanes needed to move additional traffic, especially in the Chicago metropolitan area.   Nor did it include an estimated $250 million needed for airport improvements exclusive of O’Hare and Midway, $19.1 billion for mass transit, $800 million for passenger rail and $4 billion ...

Cash Strapped Illinois: Can't do the "Impossible" on Paying

The state of Illinois asked a federal judge Friday not to hold it in contempt for missing a recent court-ordered deadline to pay services providers for the disabled, saying compliance should “not mean doing the impossible” amid one of the nation’s worst budgetary crises.   That plea came in a U.S. court filing in Chicago days after Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman told officials to explain why they hadn’t met a deadline she set for last week for some payments. She could rule next week on holding Illinois in contempt based on the explanation. &...

Caution Lights Ahead For Dicamba Use

It’s early March, and Security Seed and Chemical applicators are busy prepping equipment for the upcoming spray season. In a few days, they’ll make burndown treatments in sun-warmed Tennessee river-bottom fields, where green weeds are just starting to poke through the ground.   The company annually custom sprays about 1 million acres of corn, soybean and wheat ground across parts of Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky and its home state of Tennessee. This year, many of those acres will be treated with one of the new dicamba formulations that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has approved for use in ...

CCAs Help Reduce Nitrogen Losses in Illinois

Certified Crop Advisors (CCAs) across the country routinely address pests, diseases, weeds and other agronomic issues with their farmer-customers. In Illinois, CCAs are also working closely with industry stakeholders to address and reduce the amount of nitrogen and phosphorus the state contributes annually to the Gulf of Mexico.   “CCAs are instrumental in providing guidance to farmers on the 4R practices--right rate and right source of nutrients, at the right time and in the right place--that improve nutrient utilization and reduce nutrient losses,” says Lisa Martin, coordinator for the Illinois CCA program.   Click Here to read more.

Central Illinois farmers face tough decisions due to heavy rainfall

After last week's rains and a forecast showing more this week, farmers in parts of Illinois are being forced to make some tough decisions on the timing of their planting – or in some cases, replanting.   National Weather Service maps show most of central and southern Illinois have received more than 10 inches of rain in the past 30 days. Some counties are between 14 and 16 inches. This leaves some farmers with corn crops yet to be replanted and farmers with acreage to be replanted looking at the radar and wondering when to get back out there.   Click Here to ...

Century-old locks and dams require urgent upgrades

When we talk about fixing the crumbling infrastructure in our country, many think about our roads and bridges, which absolutely need our attention and investment. But one of the lesser-known issues with our nation’s infrastructure involves our vast network of rivers and waterways used to transport commodities across the country.   Locks and dams on our inland waterways play an essential role in moving products produced in my district. The 13th Congressional District of Illinois is settled in the west, central part of the state, nestled up against where the Illinois River flows into the mighty Mississippi River. &...

CFATS: What It and Its Renewal Means to Ag Retail

In 2006, the regulatory program Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) was established. CFATS is overseen by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) aiming to prevent chemicals from being stolen, sabotaged or deliberately released by any bad actor, including terrorists.   CFATS is back in the news because the Congressional authorization for the program is set to expire in January 2019.   “We had annual reauthorization for CFATS until 2014, and then Congress passed a statute that granted a four-year authorization,” explains Amy Graydon, Acting Director of the Infrastructure Security Compliance Division which administers the CFATS program. Graydon says the four-year authorization ...

Changes are likely coming to the Illinois pot legalization bill.

Some provisions that advocates for recreational marijuana legalization have said are the most important facets of their bill faced the stiffest questions at a legislative hearing Wednesday.   “Throughout all of the work we’ve been doing, there’s been three real themes that have arisen on why we should be doing this,” said state Sen. Heather Steans, Senate Bill 7’s sponsor. “We want public safety, particularly for our kids; we want social justice; and we want, by getting our policy right, additional revenue for the state.”   But, at an Illinois Senate ...

Check new nature preserve map before dicamba application

As farmers approach spring planting season, they have a new resource to help with compliance of dicamba label requirements that stipulate a downwind buffer adjacent to nature preserves.   The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) has added a section to their Natural Resources Awareness Tool for Applicators map for nature preserves. Visit bit.ly/ChemicalDriftAwareness and click on “INPC Sites Illinois Nature Preserve Commission Sites.”   Click Here to read more.

ChemChina Gets EU Nod for Syngenta Deal One Day After U.S.

China National Chemical Corp. won European Union antitrust approval for its $43 billion takeover of Swiss pesticide maker Syngenta AG, a day after the U.S. gave its blessing, bringing China’s largest foreign acquisition closer to the finish line.   ChemChina’s offer to divest some pesticides and other agricultural products will remove "problematic overlaps" and allow the EU to clear the deal, the European Commission said in an emailed statement. EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager praised the companies for being "prepared to address our concerns" with the concessions, she said at a news ...

China approves two new GMO crops for import

China has approved two more genetically modified (GMO) crops for import, the Ministry of Agriculture said, the second such move in the past month to expand access to biotech seeds as part of Beijing’s 100-day trade talks with Washington.   The two new crops, approved from July 16 for a period of three years, are Syngenta’s 5307 insect-resistant corn sold under the Agrisure Duracade brand and Monsanto’s 87427 glyphosate-resistant corn, sold under the Roundup Ready brand, the ministry said on its website Monday.   Click Here to read more.

China buys U.S. soybeans a day after trade talks

Chinese state-owned firms bought at least 1 million tonnes of U.S. soybeans on Friday, a day after high-level bilateral talks yielded progress toward a trade deal and a Chinese commitment to buy more U.S. soybeans.   The purchases are slated for shipment between April and July, with a large share expected from U.S. Gulf Coast export terminals, three traders with knowledge of the deals said.   One trader with direct knowledge of the deals said total purchases were around 2.2 million tonnes. The other two traders said the sales were similar to three recent waves of buying in which ...

China gives long-awaited GM crop approvals amid U.S. Trade Talks

China approved five genetically modified (GM) crops for import on Tuesday, the first in about 18 months in a move that could boost its overseas grains purchases and ease pressure from the United States to open its markets to more farm goods. The United States is the world’s biggest producer of GM crops, while China is the top importer of GM soybeans and canola.   U.S. farmers and global seed companies have long complained about Beijing’s slow and unpredictable process for appro...ving GM crops for import, stoking trade tensions between the world’s two ...

China GMO crop panel meeting raises approval hopes: sources

An influential Chinese scientific advisory board on genetically modified crops met last week for the first time in a year, two sources said, in a sign that Beijing may be preparing to approve new biotech crops for import.   The meeting, which took place from June 20 to June 22, according to one of the sources, comes amid escalating trade tension with the United States, the world's top producer of GMO crops.   "The meeting happened last week," said a second source with a Chinese seed company, who closely follows Beijing's seed approval process.   Click Here to ...

China Looking to Curb Fertilizer, Pesticide Use

China, the world's top producer of rice and wheat, is seeking to cap the use of chemical fertilizer and pesticides that have helped to contaminate large swathes of its arable land and threaten its ability to keep up with domestic food demand.   More than 19 percent of soil samples taken from Chinese farmland have been found to contain excessive levels of heavy metals or chemicals waste.  In central Hunan province, more than three quarters of the rice fields have been contaminated, government research has shown.   Click Here to read more.

China makes first big U.S. soybean purchase since Trump-Xi truce

China on Wednesday made its first major purchases of U.S. soybeans since President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping struck a trade war truce earlier this month, providing some relief to U.S. farmers who have struggled to find buyers for their record-large harvest.   Trump told Reuters in an interview on Tuesday the Chinese were already buying a "tremendous amount" of U.S. soybeans and would also soon cut tariffs on U.S. autos.   The purchase of over 1.5 million tonnes of beans is the most concrete evidence yet that China is making good ...

China may soon regret slapping tariffs on US soybeans

One of China's major moves in the trade war with the United States is in danger of backfiring on its own farmers.   They're facing a potential shortage of soybeans, one of China's biggest imports from the United States, after Beijing slapped a 25% tariff on them last month in retaliation for US tariffs on a swath of Chinese goods.   American farmers, who sold more than $12 billion worth of soybeans to China last year, have spoken out repeatedly about the threat to their livelihood. But the new tariff is causing problems in China, too.   The country ...

China Pushes Public to Accept GMO as Syngenta Takeover Nears

China will carry out a nationwide poll next month to test the public’s acceptance of genetically-modified food, a technology the government says would boost yields and sustainable agriculture in a country that’s seen consumption soar.   Beijing’s prestigious Tsinghua University and two other Chinese colleges will carry out the survey, said Jin Jianbin, a professor at Tsinghua’s School of Journalism and Communication. The poll, sponsored by the government, will be carried out in tandem with a campaign on social media to broadcast basic knowledge on GMO technology, which is widely misunderstood in ...

China shuns U.S. soybeans amid trade war, turns to Brazil

China’s soybean processors are snapping up record volumes of Brazilian cargoes for shipment in the fourth quarter, curbing purchases of U.S. crops in North America’s peak marketing season as the trade war between Washington and Beijing intensifies.   That shift away from U.S. beans by China, which takes more than 60 percent of the commodity traded worldwide, will pile further pressure on benchmark Chicago Board of Trade prices Sv1 after they plumbed 10-year lows last week.   China in July imposed a retaliatory 25-percent import duty on U.S. soybeans as part of the tit-for-tat ...

China still considering curbs on U.S. soybean imports

China is still considering import curbs on U.S. soybeans in retaliation for moves by Washington to impose trade tariffs, U.S. Soybean Export Council Asia director Paul Burke said on Thursday, following a meeting with the Ministry of Agriculture.   The ministry requested an informal meeting in Beijing with the council, Burke told Reuters by phone. The meeting, which took place on Monday, was attended by the U.S. trade group's China director, Xiaoping Zhang, along with officials from the ministry's department of international relations.   Click Here to read more.  

China threatens new tariffs on $60 billion of U.S. goods

China threatened Friday to tax an additional $60 billion a year worth of U.S. imports if the Trump administration imposes its own new levies on Chinese goods.   The threat comes two days after President Donald Trump ordered his administration to consider increasing the rate of tariffs it has already proposed on $200 billion a year of Chinese goods — everything from chemicals to handbags — to 25 percent from 10 percent.   The United States and China, the world’s two biggest economies, have for months been engaged in an escalating trade dispute. While they have targeted each other’...

China to impose tariffs on U.S. goods despite Trump warning

China said on Monday it would impose higher tariffs on a range of U.S. goods, striking back in its trade war with Washington shortly after U.S. President Donald Trump warned it not to retaliate.   China’s finance ministry said it plans to set import tariffs ranging from 5 percent to 25 percent on 5,140 U.S. products on a target list worth about $60 billion. It said the tariffs will take effect on June 1.   The announcement came less than two hours after Trump warned Beijing not to retaliate after China said it “will never surrender to external pressure.&...

China will cut, remove export tariffs on some steel, fertilizer

China will cut export taxes on some steel products and fertilisers and ditch those for sales abroad of steel wire, rod and bars from Jan. 1, the Ministry of Finance said on Friday, in a series of measures that could boost shipments.   The move is likely to stir concerns among foreign competitors in the United States and Europe that China, the world’s top steel producer, may be looking to sell its excess product abroad.   It follows a ministerial level G20 meeting in Berlin last month, where China and the United States remained at odds over how to ...

China's war on smog hits fertilizer, pesticide output in December

China’s fertilizer and pesticide output fell in December to their lowest on records going back to February 2015, data showed on Monday, as Beijing’s war on smog and efforts to ensure winter heating forced producers to suspend operations.   Fertilizer output dropped 7 percent from a year ago to 4.75 million tonnes, data from the National Bureau of Statistics showed on Monday. The volume was also down 9.3 percent from the previous month’s 5.24 million tonnes, the data also showed.   The drop came after natural gas shortages this winter forced many gas-based fertilizer plants to shut, tightening supplies ...

China-U.S. Trade Tariffs May Cut U.S. Farm Exports by 40%

Bilateral tariffs may reduce the value of U.S. farm exports to China by about 40 percent, according to a report published by the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, a government think tank.   U.S. soybean, cotton, beef and cereal shipments to China may each drop by 50 percent in value, it said in a report published on its official WeChat account on Tuesday, citing results of a simulation. The price of imported soybeans may rise 5.9 percent and imported cotton prices may increase 7.5 percent, with minor impacts predicted for other farm goods, it said.   China could take measures including sourcing ...

China’s New Fertilizer Tariffs Are No Big Deal for U.S. Industry

China intends to slap duties on U.S. shipments of some fertilizers as part of a $60 billion ramp up in a trade war between the two nations. The good news for U.S. producers is the move is unlikely to have any significant impact on their business.   It’s “no concern,” RBC Capital Markets analyst Andrew Wong said in an email. “China mostly only imports potash for fertilizer use, and that comes from Canada.”   The U.S. is a very small fertilizer exporter and very few, if any, American shipments go to China, ...

Chipotle Sued for Using GMO's After Declaring Its Food GMO Free

opular burrito chain Chipotle, which proudly declared it is completely GMO-free in April, is being sued over alleged use of GMOs. According to CBS, a class action lawsuit has been filed in San Francisco against the Colorado-based company claiming that Chipotle has been using GMOs — or genetically modified organisms — in its food "despite advertising that it is GMO-free." The lawsuit — which has been filed on behalf of all California consumers who purchased Chipotle after April 27, 2015 — further alleges that Chipotle's menu has never been completely GMO-free. The lawsuit says that the restaurants serve popular ...

Chris Novak Named CEO/President of CropLife America

CropLife America (CLA), the leading association for the U.S. crop protection industry, has selected Chris Novak as its next president and CEO.     “I’m pleased to announce that Mr. Chris Novak has been selected by our Board’s search committee to become just the fifth staff leader of our association in its 85-year history. Chris brings a wealth of agriculture trade association and industry experience to CLA, in particular his recent roles as CEO of the National Corn Growers Association and National Pork Board,” noted CLA Board Chairman and Bayer North America President ...

CHS Pulls Plug on Planned $3 Billion Fertilizer Plant

Minnesota-based CHS Inc. says it will not move forward with a planned $3 billion fertilizer plant in southeastern North Dakota.   The farmer-owned cooperative instead is buying a minority interest in CF Industries Nitrogen LLC for $2.8 billion. The deal includes a supply agreement under which CHS can buy up to 1.7 million tons of fertilizer annually.   Plans for the fertilizer plant near Spiritwood had been in the works more than three years. CHS Inc. announced about a year ago that it was moving forward with the factory, with plans to use natural gas from North Dakota's oil patch as a ...

City of West receives $10.4 million in lawsuit settlement

The city of West will receive $10.44 million in its settlement with defendants in the massive litigation spawned by the April 2013 fire and explosion at West Fertilizer Co.   The West City Council approved the settlement amount this week, which includes funds for damages not covered by insurance or grants from state or federal agencies, said Waco attorney Steve Harrison, who was among a group of attorneys representing the city of West and chairman of the plaintiffs’ executive committee.   “The resolution brings to a conclusion more than 4 1/2 years of litigation by the city against the fertilizer manufacturers,” ...

City officials push for local control over pesticide use

City Council passed a resolution last week calling on state legislators to repeal or amend a state law that prevents municipalities from regulating the use of pesticides themselves.   The state statute, called the Illinois Pesticide Act, puts all control of pesticide regulation in the hand of the General Assembly. Leslie Shad, board member of Citizens’ Greener Evanston, said Evanston’s resolution was put forward after the village of Oak Park passed a similar measure. Shad — who worked with Oak Park officials on the issue and pushed for the resolution in Evanston — said the use of ...

Clinton in Favor of WOTUS, Trump Against

CLINTON BACKS WOTUS: Hillary Clinton has made it crystal clear that she backs the EPA’s waters of the U.S. rule, which attempts to clarify the types of water the agency can regulate under the Clean Water Act. The Democratic presidential nominee made what appears to be her first public endorsement of the controversial rule in a written statement to Farm Futures published this week. Clinton said she supports the rule and would work with all affected parties to ensure “common sense implementation.” She also said she was pleased that EPA maintained in WOTUS the “...

Clock is ticking on GMO labeling (AUDIO)

With a Vermont GMO labeling bill set to go into effect at the beginning of July, negotiators in the Senate have yet to pass a bill that would create a national standard.    Click Here to read more.

Closer Look: Lawmaker Pay, A Firestorm for Years, Lit Again

Illinois government by the numbers: 27 days into a new fiscal year, the state has no budget, a deficit of up to $4 billion and Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner insisting that Democrats in the Legislature embrace his five pro-business and anti-corruption initiatives.   And in the face of those recalcitrant lawmakers, Rauner has brought some new figures into the equation: A 2 percent automatic cost-of-living increase, set to take effect this month to boost the $68,000 base legislative salary by nearly $1,400. “They’ve taken a pay hike for themselves without any budget and without any real reforms,” Rauner said last week. &...

Collection of gun control bills passes out of Illinois House

Invigorated by gun control advocates who flooded the Capitol Wednesday, the Illinois House passed a series of gun control measures that included a ban the sale of bump stocks and a requirement for gun dealers to be licensed.   The measures come just two weeks after tragedies involving firearms, including the death of Chicago police Cmdr. Paul Bauer and the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, caught the nation’s attention and sparked widespread outcry over the previous lack of action on the issue.   Adding to the pomp and circumstance were protesters from gun control advocacy group Moms Demand ...

Collin Peterson Elected House Ag Chairman in US House

House Democrats on Friday elected Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., as chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, a position Peterson held from 2007 to 2011 when his party last was in the majority in the House.   Since 2011 Peterson has been the committee’s ranking member. Rep. Michael Conaway, R-Texas, who served as chairman from 2015 through 2019, is now the ranking member.   “I am honored to receive the support of my colleagues to serve as chairman of the Agriculture Committee in the 116th Congress,” Peterson said in a statement.   “I look forward to continuing the important work of ...

Come ready to bid at AG-SOLVE PAC Live and Silent Auction next week.

  This year at the convention, we will have our first annual live and silent auction to support AG-SOLVE PAC, IFCA's political action fund.  The donation of items has been terrific!  To prepare for what you will want to bid on, see below the list of auction items and the companies who have contributed to the auction. We can’t thank them enough for the donations! The silent auction will start outside the CCA session on Jan 19, will move to the trade show floor on the 20th, and will conclude the morning of the 21st. The ...

Come Ready to Bid at the IFCA AG-SOLVE Auctoin on January 29th.

Once again IFCA and AG-SOLVE will be having an annual auction at the convention on January 29th at 3:30 pm on the trade show floor.  IFCA is very excited about the list of items that we will be auctioning.  To see the list of auction items click here. We want to thank all the companies who donated auction items. We couldn't do it without all their help. If you have any questions on any of the auction items please don't hesitate to call KJ at the office at 309-827-2774.   Also it'...

Coming Up In The Veto Session

When Illinois lawmakers return for their fall session next month, they, and by extension, taxpayers, will face tantalizing questions.   Should legislators and Gov. Bruce Rauner craft a massive public works program to begin tackling a backlog of needed improvements to state roads, bridges and other capital projects?     If the answer is “yes,” how will the improvements be financed, or in simpler terms, what taxes and fees will need to be raised/imposed to pay for everything, or at least to underwrite the yearly costs of repaying billions of borrowed dollars?   Click Here to ...

Commerce Secretary to Farmers: Plant as Much as Possible

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross sounded a little like now-deceased former Agriculture Secretary Earl Butz in a press call Friday about scrutinizing trade agreements.   A reporter asked Ross about the business uncertainty created due to so much conflict over the White House efforts to renegotiate nearly every U.S. trade agreement. The reporter's question itself was a little curious as he suggested farmers don't know how much crop to plant because of uncertainty over trade agreements.   Ross responded that American farmers should plant as much as possible. "If I were a farmer, I would plant as ...

Compromise Near on Ohio Fertilizer Law

The chairman of a House committee said Wednesday that lawmakers are “virtually there” on a compromise on legislation to reduce agricultural fertilizer runoff into northern Ohio waters. But talks continue behind closed doors on how to enforce new restrictions on the application of manure and other fertilizers containing phosphorous and nitrogen and how quickly farmers must comply before facing fines. “We have to understand these things don’t happen overnight,” said Rep. Brian Hill (R., Zanesville), a farmer and chairman of the House Agriculture and Rural Development Committee. Click Here to read more.  

Comptroller Susana Mendoza and Governor Bruce Rauner continue battle over finances.

Comptroller Susana Mendoza and Governor Bruce Rauner continue their battle over finances   Illinois comptroller Susana Mendoza and Illinois governor Bruce Rauner are exchanging harsh words in their ongoing battle over the state's finances. Mendoza blasted Rauner in a speech to the City Club of Chicago Monday, claiming that the governor is "prepared for the state to collapse financially if he doesn't get his way on the budget and has begun squirreling away hundreds of millions of dollars in 'special funds' to protect his political back," according to Crain's Chicago Business. Rauner's office says ...

Confession of an Anti-GMO Activist

In a now-famous segment of his talk show, Jimmy Kimmel sent a reporter out to a West Coast farmers market in 2014 to ask food-conscious shoppers what they thought of GMOs. All the interviewees declared their horrified avoidance of GMOs—and then, predictably, failed to come up with an explanation for what the letters “G.M.O.” stand for.   The answer, of course, is “genetically modified organism.” First launched commercially on a wide scale in U.S. agriculture in 1996, GMOs are typically plants or animals whose genomes have been modified by the addition of one ...

Conflict Over Soil and Water Quality Puts "Iowa Nice" to a Test

The flat, endless acres of black dirt here in northern Iowa will soon be filled with corn and soybean seeds. But as farmers tuned up their tractors and waited for the perfect moment to plant, another topic weighed on their minds: a lawsuit filed in federal court by the state’s largest water utility. After years of mounting frustration, the utility, Des Moines Water Works, sued the leaders of three rural Iowa counties last month. Too little has been done, the lawsuit says, to prevent nitrates from flowing out of farm fields into the Raccoon River and, eventually, into ...

Cong Mike Conaway helps friends in chase for AG Committee Chair.

Cong Mike Conaway has quietly emerged as a Republican rainmaker, building some major political capitol in advance of his likely run for chairman of the House Agriculture Committee in the next Congress.   The Texas Republican helped bring in more than $800,000 for other House GOP lawmakers in the second quarter of 2014 alone, according to a preview for fundraising numbers shared with POLITICO and confirmed by sources in the Republican fundraising world.   Click Here to read more.

Cong Mike Conaway Named House Ag Committee Chair

An anticipated, Rep. Michael Conaway, R-Texas has been selected Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee.    Conaway issued the following statement after the House Republican Steering Committee selected him as the 50th chairman of the House Committee of Agriculture.   Click Here to read more.

Cong. Conaway bill would streamline endangered species review process for pesticides

Federal wildlife agencies would consult with the Environmental Protection Agency on the effect of pesticides on endangered species in a much different way, if the farm bill introduced by House Agriculture Chairman Mike Conaway, R-Texas, becomes law.   The language had been sought by the crop protection industry, which applauded its inclusion.   CropLife America said the new provision is much needed. Beau Greenwood, the group’s executive vice president, said the language fixes what he called a “regulatory glitch” that has extended the registration review process by years.   Greenwood also said that the bill’...

Cong. Davis Calls for National Standard of GMO Labeling

Differences of opinion continue on whether or not food with genetically-modified organisms despite Congressional approval of a voluntary national labeling standard.   Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Taylorville) said he doesn’t get why GMOs are such a major issue because they can cover a lot of agricultural ground.   “Science shows that genetically-modified feeds are completely safe,” said Davis.  “Three trillion meals have been served with absolutely no evidence of any impact on anyone.  The fact that GMO labels are such a major issues, I don’t know.”   But, Davis said because ...

Cong. Shimkus vows to use subcommittee chairmanship to work for WOTUS repeal (AUDIO)

Illinois Republican John Shimkus will once again chair the House Environment Subcommittee, and he says he'll use all options to kill the Waters of the U.S. rule. Click Here to listen

Congress allows farm bill to lapse before reauthorization deadline

Congress quietly allowed the farm bill to expire over the weekend despite House Republicans’ hopes they would come to a consensus and pass a reauthorization ahead of the Sept. 30 deadline.   The expiration was blamed on discrepancies between the House and the Senate, as well as the parties, over key provisions, including most prominently over a House provision to attach work requirements to the food stamp benefits in the current Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).   Democrats blasted the welfare reform language, arguing the Senate-passed version did not include the changes, while saying the requirements could be detrimental to ...

Congress to consider GMO labeling, TPP approval in new year

Lawmakers are back in Washington, D.C. after the holiday break.   According to POLITICO, GMO labeling, child nutrition authorization, approval of the Trans-Pacific Partnership and other pending legislation is expected to be tackled in the new year.   Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) talks concluded in late October. The deal between the U.S. and 11 other Pacific Rim countries is said to be the largest free trade agreement involving the U.S.   If approved by Congress, TPP will eliminate more than 18,000 taxes other countries place on U.S. goods in the form of tariffs.   Click Here to read more. &...

Congresswoman Cheri Bustos talks Farm Bill and Trade Tariffs. (AUDIO)

This week’s guest on Open Mic is Illinois Congresswoman Cheri Bustos. The Illinois Democrat will serve on the 2018 Farm Bill Conference Committee and discusses the many challenges of resolving differences in the respective proposals including SNAP work requirements, conservation programs and farm support payment limits. Bustos agrees the U.S. should work toward free and fair trade, but disagrees with the Trump administration’s tariff policy. Bustos supports comprehensive immigration reform and is counting on a leadership change in the mid-term elections to bring better policy and a different result.   Click Here to Listen.

Conservative GOP support for pot legalization could tip scale

The legalization of marijuana in Illinois has begun to take on an air of inevitability — this week’s decision by the Cook County Board to hold a non-binding referendum in March providing just the latest evidence.   But it wasn’t the high-profile decision by our left-leaning county commissioners that convinced me nearly as much as a relatively obscure pronouncement a week earlier by a downstate Republican legislator.   Sen. Jason Barickman, a decidedly conservative lawmaker from Bloomington, announced on Facebook he is willing to support legalized cannabis “if it is done correctly.”   Doing ...

Considerations for Dicamba Application Restrictions

On March 1, 2019 the Illinois Department of Agriculture (IDOA) announced it will require Special Local Needs labels (referred to as 24(c) labels) during the 2019 growing season for the four commercial dicamba-containing products labeled for use in dicamba-resistant soybean varieties.  The Special Local Needs labels include five elements, one of which is a June 30 application deadline.  IDOA recognizes the importance of this technology to Illinois soybean growers and is taking this proactive step to reduce the instances of damage to dicot plant species (including sensitive soybean, many specialty crops and native plants such as trees) in order to preserve the ...

Considerations for Dicamba Application Restrictions

On March 1, 2019 the Illinois Department of Agriculture (IDOA) announced it will require Special Local Needs labels (referred to as 24(c) labels) during the 2019 growing season for the four commercial dicamba-containing products labeled for use in dicamba-resistant soybean varieties.  The Special Local Needs labels include five elements, one of which is a June 30 application deadline.  IDOA recognizes the importance of this technology to Illinois soybean growers and is taking this proactive step to reduce the instances of damage to dicot plant species (including sensitive soybean, many specialty crops and native plants such as trees) in order to preserve the ...

Controlled Release Fertilizers: Fertilizer Placement Optimize Nutrient Leaching

Controlled-release fertilizers are a widely used method of delivering nutrients to nursery container crops.  Controlled release is just like it sounds, the fertilizers contain encapsulated solid mineral nutrients that dissolve slowly in water which are released over an extended period of time.   Controlled-release fertilizers (CRFs) are quite popular, but growers and researchers want ways to decrease fertilizer and irrigation expenses and reduce the impact of nutrient leaching into the environment, so a new study compares CRF placement strategies.   Click Here to read more.  

Core Truths: 10 Common GMO Claims Debunked.

Last week Popular Science Magazine put out a story about the 10 most commonly asked questions regarding GMO crops.  Popular Science does a great job of debunking many falsehoods about GMO crops.   Click Here to read more.

Corn and Nitrogen As Rains Continue

Some rain has fallen somewhere in Illinois nearly every day for the past 3 weeks, and rainfall totals for this period exceed 7 inches – two to three times normal – over more than half of the state (Figure 1). This has a lot of people wondering if enough nitrogen remains in the soil to supply the corn crops   Daily high temperatures have averaged close to normal over the past three weeks, while night temperatures have been 3 to 4 degrees above normal, so growing degree accumulation rates remain high. Sunshine amounts have been marginal, but growing conditions have been good enough to keep ...

Corn may become Illinois’ official state grain as bill passes House

A bill that recognizes corn as the official state grain passed the Illinois House Friday.   Rep. C.D. Davidsmeyer, R-Jacksonville, is sponsoring the bill that he said was inspired by the Pittsfield High School agriculture development class.   “They did a lot of research on the impact that corn has on the state of Illinois,” Davidsmeyer said. “They didn’t want to necessarily compete with soybeans, which are another huge product for the state of Illinois, so they wanted to make corn the state grain.”   Additionally, Davidsmeyer said this was a great opportunity ...

Costs and benefits need to be assessed in weighing bans on glyphosate and neonicotinoids

The continuing debates over whether the herbicide glyphosate or the insecticide class of neonicotinoids (neonics) could—or should—remain available for farmers and other users has been met with simplistic arguments both pro and con:   Pro ban: These chemicals are dangerous, they may kill bees and other life and shouldn’t be allowed near our food. Anti ban: These chemicals have been widely tested and proved safe, they are absolutely necessary and if removed from the market will force farmers to use more ineffective and dangerous chemicals.   Which answer is more accurate? Neither, because farmers ...

Cotton, soy plantings to rise; corn, wheat to fall, USDA forecasts

U.S. cotton farmers are planning to sow 12.2 million acres this year, up 21 percent from last year, driven by expectations of higher prices in 2017, USDA said today in a report based on a survey of growers. The estimate is also up from the 11.5 million planted acres the department predicted at its annual Outlook Forum in late February.   Projections for most other major crops, including corn, soybeans and wheat, hewed closely to the February estimates.   The estimate for corn plantings, for example, is 90 million acres, the same as predicted in February. That would be down 4 percent, or about 4 million ...

Court Accuses EPA of "Filibustering" on Pesticide Safety

A federal court scolded the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for continually delaying a formal response to a request that it restrict a pesticide’s use.   The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ordered the EPA late Monday to either issue a new regulation concerning the use of the pesticide chlorpyrifos or issue some other complete, formal response to the request by the end of October, more than eight years after conservation groups first filed the petition.   “Although filibustering may be a venerable tradition in the United States Senate, it is frowned upon in administrative agencies tasked with ...

Court Action Ahead of New WOTUS Rule

Though EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers may soon release a new proposed clean water rule, two separate lawsuits in New York are seeking to derail the agencies' move.   Last week EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt told a House committee the agency is nearing completion of a new rule to replace the 2015 waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule.   Attorneys general in 10 states and the District of Columbia are asking the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York to issue a summary judgement in a lawsuit they filed on Feb. 6 of this ...

Court Blocks EPA Water Rule. (Video)

A federal court blocked an Environmental Protection Agency rule on Thursday that would give the federal government jurisdiction over ditches, tributaries and other waterways normally under the control of states.   U.S. District Court of North Dakota Chief Judge Ralph Erickson placed a temporary injunction against the agency, which would delay the regulation from taking effect Friday.   "The risk of irreparable harm to the states is both imminent and likely," Erickson said in his decision favoring the 13 states that sued the EPA over its Clean Water Rule, formerly the Waters of the U.S. rule. The rule has ...

Court Blocks Overtime Rule

In a stunning blow to the Obama administration's economic legacy, a federal judge in Texas granted a preliminary injunction Tuesday delaying implementation of a regulation that would extend overtime eligibility to an estimated 4.2 million workers.   The ruling puts in serious jeopardy the most significant wage intervention by President Barack Obama, who has been unable to persuade Congress to increase the minimum wage from $7.25 per hour. The Labor Department regulation, previously set to take effect Dec. 1, effectively restored overtime pay to the middle class after decades of erosion had reduced it to a benefit available only to low-wage workers. &...

Court gives EPA firm deadline on chlorpyrifos

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has given the Environmental Protection Agency an additional three months to decide whether to allow continued use of chlorpyrifos.   In a decision issued Friday, Aug. 12, a three-judge panel ordered EPA to make a final decision by March 31, 2017. The court added that it “will not grant any further extensions.” EPA had asked for six more months, and pesticide manufacturers and commodity groups had sought an extra year. Pesticide Action Network North America and the Natural Resources Defense Council said EPA should comply with the Dec. 30 deadline imposed by the court last year. &...

Court Orders Chlorpyrifos Use Canceled

EPA has been ordered to cancel chlorpyrifos registrations within 60 days, after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco ruled on Thursday the agency was not justified in maintaining the insecticide's registration "in the face of scientific evidence that its residue on food causes neurodevelopmental damage to children."   The EPA denied a petition filed by environmental groups on March 30, 2017, to ban the pesticide outright. The agency said in a statement at the time that farmers need chlorpyrifos and an agency that relies on "sound science" when making decisions.   ...

Court rejects greens’ appeal of EPA decision not to ban pesticide

A federal appeals court rejected a request from environmental groups to overturn the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) decision not to restrict the controversial pesticide chlorpyrifos.   The San Francisco-based Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit made its decision on procedural grounds, writing Tuesday that the green groups, led by the Pesticide Action Network North America (PANNA), need to first file a challenge with the EPA before they can go to court.   “PANNA’s complaints arrive at our doorstep too soon,” the three-judge panel of the appeals court wrote.   Click Here to read ...

Court rules OSHA must go through rulemaking on PSM change

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration acted illegally when it imposed new safety requirements on fertilizer dealers without giving them a chance to comment, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Friday.   In its decision, the court ruled that OSHA acted outside the bounds of the Occupational Safety and Health Act when it redefined “retail facility” exemptions to the Process Safety Management Standard.   OSHA tightened the standard following the West Fertilizer facility explosion in 2013, caused by a fire that detonated between 40 and 60 tons of fertilizer grade ammonium nitrate. The explosion at the plant in West, ...

Court To Decide Who Should Pay For Nitrate Cleanup In Iowa

A water provider escalated its fight against farmers last week, taking the battle over who should shoulder the costs of pollution before the highest court in Iowa, where nitrates from crop fertilizers have pitted the agriculture industry against water suppliers in a protracted water-quality battle.   The case brought by Des Moines Water Works asked the Iowa Supreme Court to decide ”whether agriculture drainage districts have immunity from lawsuits and whether the water utility can seek monetary damages,” the Associated Press reported. “Water Works says it spent $1.5 million last year alone to remove nitrate from water to ...

Crispr Can Speed Up Nature—and Change How We Grow Food

Like any self-respecting farmer, Zachary Lippman was grumbling about the weather. Stout, with close-cropped hair and beard, Lippman was standing in a greenhouse in the middle of Long Island, surrounded by a profusion of rambunctiously bushy plants. “Don’t get me started,” he said, referring to the late and inclement spring. It was a Tuesday in mid-April, but a chance of snow had been in the forecast, and a chilly wind blew across the island. Not the sort of weather that conjures thoughts of summer tomatoes. But Lippman was thinking ahead to sometime around Memorial Day, when ...

CRISPR gene editing could boost crop yields and nutrition, but public acceptance remains wild card

The process of producing better food, protecting the environment and improving animal health is advancing at a seemingly breakneck pace.   These advancements are driven in part by new scientific discoveries, genetic research, data science, enhanced computational power and the availability of new systems for precision breeding like CRISPR....   The science is moving so rapidly that some are wondering if producers, consumers and regulators will ultimately be able to understand and embrace the changes.   Click Here to read more.

CRISPR is Coming to Our Plates

A new technique is sneaking in our lives, potentially changing the foods we eat every day. From growing resilient crops, to boosting flavor to tackling allergens like gluten, gene-edited food brings to the table a new opportunity to improve health and pleasure, as well as fight climate change. And, most importantly, many scientists say they’re working only with nature’s own tools. Given the impressive change this could potentially bring to our farms, supermarkets and tables, let’s explore how gene-editing could change the world, and the challenging questions we should be asking.    On ...

CRISPR Will Make GMOs Ubiquitous

Broad access to these technologies is changing the world of research in ways that we can’t even begin to grasp.   Labels multiply in supermarkets faster than salmonella at a convenience-store sushi bar. It’s important to keep up; we should all be well-informed eaters. But the onslaught of clean food, natural products, sustainably produced, gluten free, butterflies everywhere, and GMO-free sea salt are just too much. The average consumer is overwhelmed by all the words and symbols.   It’s about to get worse, because the National Organic Standards Board, the group responsible for the ...

CRISPR's Future In Food Depends On Consumers

“This is a critical year for CRISPR,” says Rodolphe Barrangou, a “CRISPR pioneer” and one of the scientists who first identified the bacteria in yogurt as a researcher for Danisco in 2007. He now leads the CRISPR lab at North Carolina State University in Raleigh. “We know it works. We know it’s real.” Now, says Barrangou, the technology’s success depends on whether consumers will accept it.   CRISPR stands for “Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeat,” a set of repeating DNA segments found in bacteria. These bacteria contain a ...

Cronus Fertilizers Sign EPC Contract with Maire Tecnimont for Illinois Fertilizer Plant

Cronus Fertilizers announced today that it has executed an Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) contract with Tecnimont - Illinois, a subsidiary of Tecnimont S.p.A., for the Cronus Fertilizers plant in Tuscola, Illinois. The Lump Sum Turnkey (LSTK) EPC contract is valued at approximately $1.5 billion and is pursuant to the Memorandum of Understanding signed by Cronus and Tecnimont S.p.A. (Italy) in Nomember 2014. Tecnimont S.p.A is the main subsidiary of Maire Tecnimont S.p.A. Construction is expected to begin in the summer of 2015 following financial closing and will be completed in approximately three years.  ...

CropLife America Applauds EPA's Glyphosate Findings

In a memorandum released in June, the Environmental Protection Agency’s Endocrine Disruptor Screening Program (EDSP) found that the herbicide glyphosate, found in Roundup, posed no risk to the human endocrine system.    Glyphosate was developed to target broadleaf annual weeds that compete with commercial crops. It is also commonly used by home gardeners and in industrial areas or along railway lines as a form of weed control.   “The EPA’s rigorous testing and science-based regulations ensure that growers have access to increasingly precise crop protection products, including glyphosate-based herbicides,” said Janet E. Collins, ...

CropLife Magazine Talks with Allen Summers about NAEHSS Saftery School and 2018 MAGIE Show

CropLife Editor Eric Sfiligoj and special guest Allen Summers discuss The Asmark Institute and the upcoming Safety School at 2018 MAGIE Show.   Click Here to read more.

CropLife Retail Week: Reports from Illinois Fertilizer and Chemical Association Convention and Trade Show

Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj give a shout-out to birthday boy Dick Meister and review their times at the North Dakota Precision Ag Summit and the Illinois Fertilizer & Chemical Association annual meeting.   Click Here to read more.

Cullerton to Rauner: Take the deal, save the state before it’s too late

As you read this, it’s May 15, which leaves 16 days until the General Assembly’s constitutional deadline for action.   Illinois hasn’t had a comprehensive budget in two years. It hasn’t spent or invested a penny in higher education since Dec. 31. It no longer funds Catholic Charities, Lutheran Social Services and other charitable organizations that, on behalf of the state, assist the disabled, elderly and downtrodden.   This has gone on too long. It’s time for action.   The calendar continues to count down, even though people routinely are told the governor ...

Curbing Fertilizer Runoff a Challenge

While many farmers employ what are thought to be best practices keep fertilizers from running off their fields and feeding huge algae blooms in lakes including Erie, scientists are working on novel ways to curb the problem.   New ideas include spreading gypsum to better hold phosphorus in fields and creating farm-area flood plains with plants that gobble up the fertilizer before they reach waterways.   Click Here to read more.

Cutting Through the Bee Buzz: Pollinator Numbers are Up. / Commentary

Last week Cong. Tom Rooney of Florida and Cong. David Valadao from California wrote a commentary article in Roll Call Newspaper on pollinator numbers in the U.S. and what activists groups are trying to do about it in Washington DC. They go on and talk about the pollinator numbers across the U.S. and why activists want to ban some pesticides first and ask questions later.   Click Here to read more.

CVR Parters to Buy Rentech Nitrogen for $533 Million

Nitrogen fertilizer producer CVR Partners LP said it would buy Rentech Nitrogen Partners LP for about $533 million, excluding debt, as global fertilizer makers aim to scale up at a time when increased supplies weigh on nitrogen prices.   The deal comes less than a week after CF Industries Holdings Inc said it would buy OCI NV's North American and European plants for $6 billion, making CF the world's largest publicly traded nitrogen company.   Potash Corp of Saskatchewan, the world's second-largest potash miner, has been proposing to acquire German salt and fertilizer company K+S AG.   Click ...

Damages Not Allowed in Iowa Runoff Case

Des Moines Water Works will not be allowed to collect damages in a lawsuit aimed at forcing the state to regulate nutrients runoff in Iowa, according to a 104-page ruling from the Iowa Supreme Court on Friday.   DMWW filed a federal lawsuit in January 2015 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Iowa in Sioux City against drainage districts in Buena Vista, Calhoun and Sac counties. The counties northwest of Des Moines are part of the Raccoon River watershed. The lawsuit also names county supervisors.   One of the legal questions raised was whether DMWW could ...

Darren Soto, Mike Bost Team Up on Soil Quality Bill

U.S. Rep. Darren Soto, D-Fla., is teaming up with U.S. Rep. Mike Bost, R-Ill., to allow more experts, including Certified Crop Advisors and Certified Agronomists, to act as Technical Service Providers for nutrient management.   Bost and Soto introduced the “Nutrient Management Technical Service Provider Certification Act” which gives more options for agriculture producers to access nutrient management technical assistance on Thursday.   “Our bipartisan bill cuts red tape and gives our farmers more resources to improve soil quality,” Bost said. “The Department of Agriculture has said that it lacks the manpower to ...

Davis, Londrigan spar on agriculture, trade at Decatur debate

U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Taylorville, and his Democratic challenger, Betsy Dirksen Londrigan, trod new turf in their third debate Monday night at Millikin University, setting themselves apart not only on health care and tax reform but also on trade issues.   It was only appropriate that trade and soybean tariffs would be a major topic since Decatur once called itself "The Soybean Capital of the World" and is the home of Archer Daniels Midland Co., an international food-processing company.   About 250 people attended the debate, which had to be closed after the venue reached capacity.   Davis, ...

Decision Time for Dicamba

There is no easy button for dicamba applications.   Not only was training made mandatory for use of new dicamba formulations in 2018, but the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) also severely tightened spray requirements in an attempt to avoid the off-target movement experienced last spray season.   While controversy has swirled around whether these label requirements are adequate, or even logistically possible, some fundamental facts exist:   Farmers will have access to in-season use of dicamba in soybeans and cotton. Some states have set specific calendar and/or temperature cutoffs.   Click here to read more.

Delays at proposed Tuscola fertilizer plant put tax breaks at risk

Cronus Chemicals will start losing part of its nearly $40 million in state tax incentives if its proposed $1.9 billion ammonia fertilizer plant in Tuscola is not operating by July 2, according to tax credit agreements.   A review of company filings with the state of Illinois shows the project must be “in service” within 24 months of July 2, 2015.  According to the documents, “in service” means “the state or condition of readiness and availability for specifically assigned functions.”   And if the plant is not complete and operating within five years of July 2, 2015, the company will lose ...

Dem lawmakers: Graduated income tax needed to avoid big cuts

Democratic lawmakers said Thursday the only alternatives to a graduated income tax the state has are to make cuts across the board, including to schools and social services, or raise the income tax by 20 percent on everyone.   Sen. Don Harmon, an Oak Park Democrat, said over the next several weeks, lawmakers will begin moving a resolution through the House and Senate to put a referendum on the ballot in 2020 so voters can choose whether to change the Illinois Constitution to allow for a graduated income tax.   “I am confident as I was two years ago and four ...

Democrats start moving stopgap state budget despite clear hurdles

Illinois House Democrats on Wednesday advanced a plan to rush more than $815 million to state universities and social service providers, but that money might not arrive anytime soon because Gov. Bruce Rauner criticized the proposal and Senate Democrats still are working on their own plan.   Despite the political hurdles, supporters said they wanted to press ahead, contending that colleges and groups who care for the state's most vulnerable people are in desperate need of a "lifeline." A previous stopgap state budget expired at the beginning of the year as Illinois gets closer to going two years ...

Democrats weigh 2018 challenge to Rauner; GOP on the attack

Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner sent two clear signals when he dumped $50 million into his campaign fund: The 2018 race for Illinois governor will be a rough one, and the contest starts now.   What's still unknown is which Democrats will try to unseat the multimillionaire former businessman. Among those contemplating a bid are U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos, businessman Chris Kennedy, state Sen. Andy Manar and billionaire investor J.B. Pritzker, according to potential candidates and aides.   In a glimpse of what's to come, the Democratic Governors Association said Rauner is "more focused on getting elected than passing ...

Dems block committee vote on EPA nominee Pruitt

Democrats slowed down the confirmation of Scott Pruitt to be EPA administrator by boycotting a scheduled vote by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.   Committee Democrats said Pruitt had not fully answered their questions about potential conflicts of interest and his plans to recuse himself from participation in lawsuits he brought against EPA while Oklahoma attorney general.   Committee rules require a quorum of seven members, including two members of the minority, to be present in order to hold a vote. But they also include an exception allowing measures to be reported to the Senate if  “...

Dems Give Mandatory GMO Labeling Bill a Second Try

Democratic Sens. Barbara Boxer of California and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut along with Rep. Pete DeFazio, D-Ore., held a press conference today to reintroduce a mandatory GMO labeling bill that will face stiff opposition in a Congress controlled by Republicans. Boxer said the more than 30 other Democrats in the House and Senate who are sponsoring the legislation are up to the challenge. “A lot of things don't have a chance around this joint, but that doesn't mean we're not going to push it,” Boxer said. “Ninety percent of the people want this ...

Des Moine Water Works shifts how it disposes of excess nitrates

Darrell Shook is not the first to ask what Des Moines Water Works does with the nitrates it filters from drinking water.   “I've heard that they put the nitrates back in the river at the allowable rate. If this is true, are they not causing a problem for water users downstream?” the retired farmer writes. “If this is not true, I think your readers would be interested in knowing what is done with the removed nitrates.”   When it comes to water quality, answers can get muddy fast. So let’s review some ...

Des Moines council supports bill dismantling water utilities

The Des Moines City Council voted to continue its support of controversial legislation that would dismantle Des Moines Water Works Monday night despite a room full of angry citizens who spoke against it.   The vote was four against, two in favor and one abstaining on Councilman Skip Moore's motion that the city oppose bills in the Statehouse that would place water utilities and its assets under the control of local city councils. Both bills have passed Iowa House and Senate committees and are eligible for floor debate.   The City of Des Moines directed its lobbyists to register ...

Des Moines Water Works plans $15 million for expanded nitrate facility

Des Moines Water Works expects to spend $15 million to double the size of its nitrate removal facility to handle growing levels of the compound from the Raccoon and Des Moines rivers.   Utility officials say the new equipment and the cost to operate it will mean bigger rate increases for customers in coming years.   The Water Works board this week approved an $800,000 contract with CH2M, an engineering consultant based in West Des Moines, to design the facility expansion.   The utility's growth plan follow its failed lawsuit against three northern Iowa counties. Water Works sued 10 northern Iowa ...

DETERMINING ‘OFF-TARGET DICAMBA’ YIELD LOSS IS A CHALLENGE

In addition to the normal challenges associated with harvest, some Midwestern growers are also trying to evaluate yield loss in soybeans due to off-target movement of dicamba.   Stephanie Porter, a sales agronomist with Burrus Seed, says she’s seen and heard reports of yield losses ranging from zero to 40 bushels per acre. But Porter says linking those losses directly to dicamba damage could prove difficult.   “I don’t think there is a good way to evaluate it,” Porter says. “It’s really hard to do comparisons ...

Dicamba Buffers, Training and Licensing: What to Know for 2019

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) renewed the labels of three dicamba-containing products used in dicamba-resistant soybean varieties on October 31, 2018.  These renewed labels also contain new restrictions and requirements that did not appear on the original labels.  Each application must completely satisfy all label requirements and restrictions, but the following three new requirements might necessitate additional forethought and planning.   Additional in-field buffers   Fields that exist in counties that might harbor endangered terrestrial dicot plant species must have an in-field, 57-foot omnidirectional buffer. The new 57-foot buffer will occur on three sides of the field and ...

Dicamba damage complaints spike early

The 2018 growing season feels like déjà vu, says Jean Payne, Illinois Chemical and Fertilizer Association president, as farmers and applicators watch soybeans cup and pesticide misuse claims multiply from off-target dicamba movement.   University of Illinois weed scientist Aaron Hager says he walked an off-target dicamba soybean field on June 6, about two weeks earlier than in 2017, and estimates 150,000 impacted acres as of the third week in June.   According to Payne, the Illinois Department of Agriculture has received 66 formal complaints related to dicamba. “Most are generated from central Illinois at this time,” she says, adding ...

Dicamba debate spreading

A time-worn and dependable weed killer used by millions of farmers for over 40 years has become the bane of rural America that threatens to tear apart family friendships and the social order of a struggling, but peaceful, Corn Belt at light speed.   Dicamba has not only become the story of the year in just a few months, but has the potential to rearrange long-term trends in farm management and even ownership.   For the agriculturally unwashed, dicamba for years has been used as an early season broadleaf herbicide designed to clear a field and then be retired for the ...

Dicamba decision looms for governor; limit herbicide’s use, Arkansas panel urges

Gov. Asa Hutchinson will soon have to choose between the recommendations of his own Plant Board or the wishes of Monsanto, the St. Louis-based seed giant.   The issue is dicamba -- or, rather, the misuse of it.   Some farmers illegally sprayed the herbicide this summer, damaging thousands of acres of cotton, soybeans, fruits and vegetables in Arkansas and neighboring states. The federal Environmental Protection Agency served search warrants in Missouri. That state's largest peach farm has sued Monsanto. The mess hit rock bottom Oct. 27 with the fatal shooting of an Arkansas farmer.   Monsanto has a new ...

Dicamba Discussion Dominates IFCA

As one of the first state association meetings held each year, the annual Illinois Fertilizer & Chemical Association (IFCA) event in Peoria, IL, is a good gauge as to what ag retailers will spend their upcoming growing season focusing on (view slideshow above). Not surprisingly, this year looks to be a follow-up of sorts to one of the major issues of 2017 – dicamba and off-target movement. During the three-day IFCA meeting, no less than half-a-dozen speakers looked at the dicamba question in one fashion or another.   “I hope, as an industry, we are not taking our eye off ...

Dicamba drift problems not an aberration

Dicamba drift across the landscape was the dominant call again this June and July.   Once again, Palmer amaranth control with dicamba was very good in many fields. This is the third year where there have been major issues keeping dicamba in the field, but Palmer amaranth control was good in fields where it was applied. It really dawned on me that this is not so much new, but after three consecutive years is, in fact, the “new normal.”   For three decades, I have had the privilege to make thousands of field visits to help growers troubleshoot ...

Dicamba in 2018: What’s at Stake?

Manufacturers have weighed in. Farmers and retailers have stated their cases and shared their experiences. Labels have been tweaked. University extension specialists and county educators have taught until there is no more to teach. State agriculture officials and pesticide regulators have inspected, pored over data, and made decisions about the regulations and restrictions to impose for this season. Now, as is so often the case, it’s incumbent on the agricultural retailers to execute the application, and advise farmers on how to properly follow all the requirements for implementing a dicamba-tolerant cropping system.   Click Here to read more.

Dicamba injury complaints originating far from Missouri Bootheel

A Missouri Department of Agriculture official says dicamba injury complaints have spread from the state’s Bootheel region and now total about 120.  Plant Industries Division Director Judy Grundler says reports of crops injured by the herbicide now originate from parts of the state hundreds of miles to the northwest.   DSCN4816“Complaints are primarily coming from a four country area in the Bootheel region,” Grundler told the Missouri House Committee on Appropriations – Agriculture, Conservation, and Natural Resources Thursday.  “We now have had a complaint that has come in from Butler County and a ...

Dicamba Injury Is Back in 2018

Dicamba is once again injuring non-dicamba-tolerant soybeans in 2018. As of June 15, university weed scientists estimate that approximately 383,000 acres of soybeans have been injured by dicamba so far, according to Kevin Bradley, University of Missouri Extension weeds specialist.   That’s out of an estimated 89 million acres of soybeans planted, according to USDA. Last year, dicamba damaged an estimated 3.6 million acres out of 89.5 million acres. That concerns Bradley, particularly if Xtend technology adoption increases in 2018 and beyond. Monsanto estimated 2018 Xtend acres to double from 2017 to 50 million acres in 2018.   Of the 15 state departments of agriculture that responded to this request ...

Dicamba Lawsuit Setback

The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed a lawsuit against dicamba last week, but left open a door for the plaintiffs to expedite a new lawsuit in 2019.   The original lawsuit, which was filed by four farm and environmental groups in 2017, argued that the EPA's 2016 registration of XtendiMax for over-the-top use on soybean and cotton fields was unlawful. When that registration ended and EPA renewed the dicamba registration in 2018, Monsanto (now Bayer) and EPA argued that the court should dismiss the lawsuit as moot.   The court agreed, but the panel of judges also ruled that the ...

Dicamba Rules Vary by State. Another Patchwork of State Dicamba Rules Emerging for 2019

Pick a state, any state, and chances are the rules for dicamba use there could differ from its neighbors next year.   EPA released federal labels for XtendiMax, Engenia and FeXapan on October 31, and already, a patchwork of additional state restrictions is developing.   Arkansas is weighing a May 20 cutoff date, with large protective buffers for certain sensitive crops. Indiana and Minnesota have both submitted 24(c) special local needs labels to EPA with proposed June 20 cutoff dates. South Dakota has submitted a 24(c) for a June 30 cutoff date, which North Dakota is also considering, and a handful of other states ...

Dicamba So Far in 2018: Tough to Tell

It’s still too early tell exactly how dicamba injury-related issues on U.S. cropland will compare to last year, but as of late July, a major improvement is not in the cards. It’s disappointing, given the unprecedented training that went on in the off-season.   In his closely watched dicamba report, Dr. Kevin Bradley, Professor in the Division of Plant Sciences at the University of Missouri, recalled that last year on July 25, there were 1,411 dicamba-related injury investigations being conducted by the various state Departments of Agriculture while university weed scientists estimated approximately 2.5 million acres of soybean ...

Dicamba training became monumental task in Illinois

Arkansas, Missouri and West Tennessee attracted most of the media coverage on off-target applications of dicamba last year. But the misapplications were also a problem in Midwest soybean states like Illinois. The Illinois Fertilizer and Chemical Association’s Jean Payne discussed Illinois’ efforts to address the issue in a presentation at The Pesticide Stewardship Alliance Conference in Memphis, Tenn., earlier this year.   Click Here to read more.

Dicamba training emphasizes how to 'use it the right way'

Pittsfield farmer John Thomas didn't think he had a weed resistance problem -- until last year.   When several applications of Roundup didn't touch the waterhemp growing in a field, Thomas tried dicamba to control the pesky weed.   Dicamba "worked just like it was supposed to" and cleaned up the field, Thomas said, so making sure the product remains available is a top priority for him and other farmers.   "We're just going to have to follow the rules and use it the right way so we don't run into any of ...

Dicamba training to be required before 2018 use

Illinois Dicamba Training will roll out this winter, with sessions beginning Nov. 27 and continuing until April 1, just prior to spring planting.   Illinois is following the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) parameters as it relates to dicamba use in 2018.   “We are now moving forward with one of the new requirements on this label for 2018, which is that this is a restricted-use pesticide,” Illinois Fertilizer and Chemical Association (IFCA) President Jean Payne recently told the RFD Radio Network.  “So you already have to be a certified applicator to apply it.”   Click Here to ...

Dicamba: What is Success or Failure in 2018?

It’s difficult to recall the debut of a weed management technology that generated more divisiveness than the 2017 introduction of dicamba-resistant soybean varieties and the accompanying use of dicamba.  Damage to off-target vegetation from myriad sources of exposure resulted in not only monetary losses, but also untold costs to professional and personal relationships.  Trust that took years to build was damaged or lost in the span of one growing season.  This includes the public trust in pesticide use.   The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in response to the unprecedented number of complaints, issued several ...

Dicamba: Who's Liable?

There was no question what was to blame for the curled soybeans on the central Illinois farm in late June. The farmer, the neighbor who made the application, even the investigator from the neighbor's insurance company, all agreed. Off-target dicamba movement was the culprit.   Yet the letter the injured farmer received months later from the insurance company was quite clear: "We do not find any negligence on the part of our insured and are respectfully denying your claim." The company concluded that the dicamba damage had occurred from volatility -- a factor beyond the applicator's ...

Dick Durbin: Time to Raise Gas Tax

As Congress stares down another looming highway cliff and old idea is getting some new attention: Raising the gas tax.   Congress has avoided confronting the politically nettlesome issue for more than 20 years; the federal taxes last increased in 1993.  In the meantime cars have become more fuel efficient, the 18.4 cents per-gallon tax has lost buying power and Congress has repeatedly kicked the can, choosing tens billions in general fund bailouts over raising a tax that would hit the vast majority of Americans right in the pocket.   Click Here to read more.

Did Bill Gates Just Change the GMO Debate

I'm always amazed at the new research that floats across my desk on nearly a daily basis. This week, a new international study revealed scientists have found a way to make crops use 25% less water without compromising yield.   The key is altering the expression of one gene-- the gene that controls the protein responsible for opening and closing the microscopic pores on the plants leaves that let water escape. The scientists say that gene is found in all plants.   This study was funded in part by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.  During an "...

Did you get a drone for Christmas? Know the law before you take to the skies

Whether a beginner, a serious aviation enthusiast, or just a fan of gadgets, many of you will have received drones as Christmas gifts.   Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) have surged in popularity and affordability in recent years, and there's no doubt that recreational drone use is on the rise as a result.   But not all recreational drone users know the law — or if they do, they don't appear to be following it.   There has been a string of near misses between drones and other aircraft, and other cases of irresponsible use.   Only last month, ...

Digging into a gene-editing deal

The tools of biotechnology have been used in crop development for more than three decades. And while transgenic crops may have gotten the public's attention in the beginning, plant breeders saw other benefits — including marker-assisted breeding. But the latest tool that will allow plant breeders to reach new crop production is gene editing, and Syngenta is incorporating that new tech into its development programs.   Recently, the company announced it has signed a nonexclusive intellectual property license with the Broad Institute of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University to use a key tool for gene editing &...

Do you understand the new overtime rules?

Farming is the kind of job that happens 24 hours a day and seven days a week, year-round. Time on the clock adds up quickly, which is why producers need to educate themselves on the new final rule on overtime pay within the federal Fair Labor Standards Act.   Agriculture workers are exempt, but some people on your payroll might be subject to the rules that go into effect Dec. 1—particularly if you operate a seed business, a custom farming enterprise, a creamery or a farm stand.   Who Qualifies? Across all industries, 4.2 million workers will be affected by the ...

Don't Hold Your Breath, Springfield Stoppage Could Last Until 2016

The Illinois General Assembly is moving into its eighth week without a budget. And Illinoisans are left wondering how much longer lawmakers can keep up the staring contest. But with nothing in Illinois law requiring lawmakers to settle on a budget within a specific period of time – and a lack of political pressure points to spur action – the will to come to a compromise is waning.   In fact, the budget impasse could technically last until January 2016, when a new legislative session begins.   Gov. Bruce Rauner’s veto of the Democrats’ budget proposal on account ...

Don't have breakfast plans on Wednesday morning.........Come to AG-SOLVE Policy Outlook Breakfast.

If you don't have breakfast plans already on Wednesday morning, please join us at the Policy Outlook breakfast.  AG-SOLVE will be giving it's  "Friend of AG" award to two retiring state representative, Rep Don Moffitt and Rep Pat Verschoore. They've been great friends to IFCA and to the industry. CEO of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce Todd Masisch will be giving us a outlook on the business climate in Springfield and Washington DC. The cost of the breakfast is $25 and you can pay at the door.&...

Donald Trump asks China to lift all US agricultural tariffs

US President Donald Trump has asked China to "immediately" lift all tariffs on US agricultural products.   In a tweet, the president said he made the request because "we are moving along nicely with Trade discussions".   Mr Trump has delayed tariffs scheduled for 1 March on Chinese goods due to progress in talks.   He has long complained about the country's trading practices, and has imposed tariffs totalling more than $250bn (£189bn) on Chinese goods.   China has responded in kind, placing tariffs on $110bn of US products and accusing the US of starting &...

Donald Trump asks China to lift all US agricultural tariffs

US President Donald Trump has asked China to "immediately" lift all tariffs on US agricultural products.   In a tweet, the president said he made the request because "we are moving along nicely with Trade discussions".   Mr Trump has delayed tariffs scheduled for 1 March on Chinese goods due to progress in talks.   He has long complained about the country's trading practices, and has imposed tariffs totalling more than $250bn on Chinese goods.   Click Here to read more.

Dow, DuPont merger wins U.S. antitrust approval with conditions

DuPont (DD.N) and Dow Chemical Co (DOW.N) have won U.S. antitrust approval to merge on condition that the companies sell certain crop protection products and other assets, according to a court filing on Thursday.   The asset sales required by U.S. antitrust enforcers were similar to what the companies had agreed to give up in a deal they struck with European regulators in March. The deal is one of several big mergers by farm suppliers, and the antitrust approval was quickly denounced by the head of the National Farmers Union, saying that farmers would face higher ...

Drainage districts could be part of Iowa's nitrate solution, report says

Drainage districts, once the target of a Des Moines Water Works lawsuit, could be part of the solution to cut high nitrate levels in Iowa's lakes, rivers and streams, according to a new report.   Iowa's 3,700 drainage districts already have power under state law to "mitigate pollution discharge" since they're "presumed to be a public benefit" that contribute to "public health, convenience and welfare," according to the Iowa Policy Project, an Iowa City research group.   “Public health and welfare can and should be interpreted to mean keeping ...

Drift complaints storm ag department

Since joining the Illinois Department of Agriculture in 1989, Deputy Director Warren Goetsch watched the number of annual pesticide drift complaints jump from an average 125 to 430 in 2017.   The cause? Dicamba.   “The addition of dicamba for use on soybeans and cotton has provided for some major challenges. I think Illinois was either third or fourth in the number of complaints from the previous year,” Goetsch said.   Click Here to read more.

Drift driving you nuts or just the clamor surrounding it?

Some Illinois farmers participating on social media have been active over the last week with reports of alleged herbicide drift damage to crops – specifically, damage from dicamba.   First, if you think you might be the victim of spray drift and you have crop insurance, take some action.   “On the federal crop program through the Risk Management Agency, that is not a covered loss,” said Brad Clow, COUNTRY Financial crops claims manager. “How that can impact our customers is on the APH (Actual Production History).”   Click Here to read more.

Drifting pesticides put neighboring farms at risk

Iowa’s organic farms, vineyards, apiaries and other non-conventional farms surrounded by row crops treated with pesticides are at risk of being hit with drifting spray that can hurt their farms.   The drift comes from misuse on neighboring farms, mostly the result of someone not following the label instructions on a pesticide, including requirements that a product not be used if wind speeds are too high.   Gretchen Paluch, bureau chief of the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship’s pesticide bureau, said the state averages a little more than 100 incidents of pesticides misuse a year, ...

Drone operators seek permission to fly out of direct sight

As thousands of commercial drones take to the skies under new Federal Aviation Administration rules, some small operators are pursuing a coveted exemption that would allow them to fly their drones where they can't be seen by the pilot.   The companies who want them say the so-called line-of-sight exemptions are essential to someday use drones for such tasks as cleanup and repair after storm damage and monitoring widespread crop conditions.   But thus far, the FAA has only given exemptions to three companies that participated in a year-long FAA pilot program: CNN, BNSF Railway and the drone data ...

Drones in Agriculture: How UAVs Make Farming More Efficient

Dronefly just released a new infographic consolidating the most interesting contemporary uses of unmanned aerial vehicles in the field of agriculture.   If you’re not familiar with these, have a look at one or two of the previous pieces we reported on. Drones are a tool like any other. They can be dismissed or misappropriated or used to one’s advantage. These days, people are finding all sorts of ingenious methods to increase efficiency and maximize profits using modern drone tech. Today, the subject of discussion is agriculture: How, when and where are drones used in this ...

Duckworth says She's Considering Senate Bid Against Kirk

Rep. Tammy Duckworth ended a political guessing game Monday by making it official that she is exploring a challenge to Sen. Mark Kirk in 2016.   Duckworth, a Democrat from Hoffman Estates, told the Tribune she is considering a bid against the Highland Park, Republican, raising the potential of a high-dollar campaign between two military veterans known for their comebacks.   Click Here to read more.

Dueling Biotech Labeling Efforts in Congress

Rep. Mike Pompeo, a Republican from Kansas, lashed out Thursday at three Democrats in Congress for introducing a bill that would require labeling foods that have ingredients from biotech crops. The congressmen said lawmakers should "stop listening to celebrity chefs and well-heeled 'activists,' and start really caring about those less fortunate." Sens. Barbara Boxer of California and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut introduced a bill in the Senate and Rep. Peter DeFazio of Oregon introduce a bill in the House. The bills are called the Genetically Engineered Food Right-to-Know Act. The bills would require labeling for foods that contained ingredients from ...

Durkin appoints people to work with Democrats on non-budget issues

Illinois House Republican Leader Jim Durkin said Thursday that he is appointing GOP members to work with Democrats on non-budget legislation being sought by Gov. Bruce Rauner.   The move comes four days after House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, appointed four of his top lieutenants to negotiate with the Republican governor over issues like workers’ compensation changes and a property tax freeze that Rauner insists must be part of a budget solution.   At the time, Durkin, of Western Springs, said Madigan’s move should be viewed with caution because the Democrats “have a history of creating ...

ELD Extension Not Applied to Farm Supply Retailers

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration new Electronic Logging Device requirements go into effect December 18. However, the agency provided a 90-day waiver for agricultural commodity and livestock transporters. But that 90-day waiver will not include transporters of farm supplies.   ELD systems synchronize with a vehicle's engine to more easily and accurately record driving time for hours of service requirements. The ELD rule applies to most motor carriers and drivers currently required to maintain records of duty status (RODS) per Part 395, 49 CFR 395.8(a). To ease the transition to ELDs, FMCSA has announced that any violations cited during the time ...

ELD mandate hard enforcement is here

For many truck drivers in the United States, the world changed on April 1.   “After April Fools Day, our world does really change when it comes to ELDs,” said Matt Wells, associate director of the Midwest Truckers Association.   On April 1, truck enforcement officers began placing truck drivers out of service for failure to comply with the federal mandate to use electronic logging devices, unless they have an exemption.   Click Here to read more.

Electric cars, better fuel efficiency spell doom for Illinois gas tax

As roads and bridges in Illinois crumble, so too does the primary source of revenue the state relies on to fix them — the gas tax.   Illinois adds 19 cents to the pump price of each gallon of gas to underwrite road work, a fee that hasn’t changed in 27 years even though inflation has cut the purchasing power by half. And with cars getting ever better gas mileage, the so-called Motor Fuel Tax reaps less today to fund repairs than it did a decade ago: $1.38 billion in 2007, $1.28 billion last year, state data show.   Experts warn that the ...

Eleventh Hour District Court Ruling Delays Waters of the U.S. Rule in 13 States

On Thursday, Judge Ralph Erickson of the U.S. District Court for the District of North Dakota granted a motion by 13 states(Illinois was not part of the lawsuit) to prevent the EPA and Army Corps "Clean Water Rule" to take effect August 28. Two other District Courts had earlier dismissed similar cases due to lack of jurisdiction, however Judge Erickson found that not only did the District Court have jurisdiction, but also that the rule would cause "irreparable harm" if it took effect. EPA and Army Corps have said that the injunction will only apply to the 13 states who brought ...

Embattled EPA head Pruitt resigns

Scott Pruitt will resign from his position leading the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Friday, following months of high-profile controversies regarding his spending, ethics and management at the agency.   In a tweet Thursday, President Trump confirmed Pruitt's departure, saying he's accepted the administrator's resignation.   “I have accepted the resignation of Scott Pruitt as the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. Within the Agency Scott has done an outstanding job, and I will always be thankful to him for this,” Trump tweeted.   Trump said Pruitt will be replaced on Monday by EPA Deputy ...

Endangered Species Act needs fixing, not scrapping

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee heard from a variety of witnesses on Wednesday that the Endangered Species Act, now more than 40 years old, still provides an important function, but agreed it needs to be modernized.   The initial witness, David Freudenthal, governor of Wyoming from 2003-2011 and a U.S. attorney under President Bill Clinton, told lawmakers that the “original groundbreaking legislation” signed into law by Richard Nixon, granted broad authority to the executive branch. But over time, he said in prepared testimony, “the mix of regulations, court decisions, policy guidance and individual agency actions ...

Enlist Duo OK'd for use on three crops in 34 states

Corn, soybean and cotton growers in 34 states will be allowed to use Enlist Duo under a new decision issued by EPA.   The agency had to reconsider its 2014 decision to approve use of the herbicide because of questions about the synergistic effects of 2,4-D and glyphosate, the two active ingredients in the product.   EPA initially allowed use of Enlist Duo on corn and soybeans in six states and then expanded that number to 15. Now, based on new data submitted by manufacturer Dow AgroSciences, EPA has reaffirmed its original decision on the safety of the product and added approval for ...

Enrollment picks up in mandatory dicamba classes in Illinois

About one-third of the 18,000 licensed private and commercial applicators have completed the mandatory annual dicamba training so far.   The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency approved late last year the continued use of dicamba on soybeans for 2019 and 2020 with the annual applicators’ training requirement in place. Applicators using dicamba were also required to enroll in the training last year.   Jean Payne, Illinois Fertilizer and Chemical Association president, said at the organization’s annual conference Jan. 29 that enrollment has picked up from about 30 enrolled in classes in December to 100 to 150 in January, and more classes are being added. &...

Environment Expected to get Bigger Stage at Iowa Caucuses

Hot-button issues such as clean power, water quality regulations and renewable fuels are expected to get a bigger stage in the 2016 Iowa Caucuses, as environmental activists put more pressure on presidential contenders to address controversial issues such as climate change. But experts still expect that concerns about saving the planet likely will play second, third and possibly even fourth fiddle to issues such as jobs and the economy, heath care and national security. The key, they say, may be to link the environment to popular measures such as wind and solar energy that can create jobs while also reducing America'...

Environmentalists say they'll try to sue German, EU authorities over glyphosate

Environmentalist groups said on Monday that Germany and the European Union had broken the rules when assessing the safety of the weed-killer glyphosate and that they would try to bring legal actions against the institutes involved.   Global 2000 and the Pesticide Action Network (PAN) said they had registered legal complaints with prosecutors in Vienna and Berlin, with lawsuits in France and Italy to follow. It was not clear how long it would take for the complaints to proceed, particularly as one body is pan-European and the other domestic, meaning they would potentially go through different courts.   The European Food ...

Environmentalists seek to force endangered species listings

An environmental group is seeking to force the Fish and Wildlife Service to act on petitions to protect 417 animals and plants under the Endangered Species Act.   “These 417 species and hundreds of others are being dangerously neglected for no other reasons than bureaucratic inefficiency and lack of political will,” said Noah Greenwald, endangered species director at the Center for Biological Diversity, which has filed notice to sue the agency.   According to the notice, the petitions have been filed over the last eight years. The agency has issued initial findings determining that ESA listings may be warranted for ...

Enzymes influence bee sensitivity to neonicotinoids

A new study finds that enzymes in honey bees and bumble bees determine how sensitive they are to different neonicotinoid insecticides.   The joint study by Exeter University, Rothamsted Research and Bayer found that certain neonicotinoids are more toxic to bees than others.   As in other organisms, toxins in bees can be broken down by enzymes called cytochrome P450s. The researchers carried out the most comprehensive analysis of bee P450 detoxification enzymes ever conducted. The study identified one subfamily of these enzymes in bees - CYP9Q - and found it was responsible for the rapid breakdown of ...

EPA Administrator Thinks Dicamba Will Remain in Farmers’ Toolbox

The head of the US Environmental Protection Agency says he is hopeful new oversight put in place regarding dicamba herbicides will keep dicamba in the farmer’s tool box.   Last October, as several states were investigating spray drift complaints, the EPA decided to classify dicamba as a “restricted use” pesticide, among other new oversight requirements for record keeping, and application weather conditions.   EPA administrator Scott Pruitt says the future of dicamba looks encouraging.   Click Here to read more.

EPA Administrator: WOTUS Rule May Be Completed in 2018

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency continues to look at whether it can approve the use of E15 year-round, EPA's Administrator Scott Pruitt said on Tuesday during his first appearance before the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.   As members of Congress continue to explore possible reform to the Renewable Fuel Standard and amid pressure from petroleum refiners to waive RFS requirements, the expansion of the E15 market continues to be a top priority for the ethanol industry.   Allowing year-round E15 sales would bolster demand for corn, and as a result, would boost markets for ...

EPA Announces Changes to Dicamba Registration

On October 31, the EPA announced that it is extending the registration of dicamba for two years for over-the-top use (application to growing plants) to control weeds in fields for cotton and soybean plants genetically engineered to resist dicamba.   This action was informed by input from and extensive collaboration between EPA, state regulators, farmers, academic researchers, pesticide manufacturers, and other stakeholders, according to an EPA news release.    “EPA understands that dicamba is a valuable pest-control tool for America’s farmers,” said EPA Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler in an EPA news release. “By extending the ...

EPA Announces Voluntary Program Aimed at Curbing Pesticide Drift

The EPA today announced a voluntary program aimed at showing applicators which products should be used to promote drift reduction during pesticide application.   The Drift Reduction Technology(DRT) program will recognize products that can reduce drift by at least 25 percent.  An EPA assigned star-rating system will recognize the degree to which these products can reduce pesticide drift, up to four stars.    Click Here to read more.

EPA appeals board upholds cancellation of Bayer's Belt

EPA's Environmental Appeals Board has upheld the cancellation of flubendiamide, a Bayer CropScience insecticide sold under the trade name Belt, but will allow existing stocks to be sold by retailers.   The EAB decision, issued late this afternoon, upheld an earlier ruling by an administrative law judge who said Bayer and fellow registrant Nichino America willingly agreed with the terms of conditional registrations they received in 2008: that if EPA determined flubendiamide caused “unreasonable adverse effects” on the environment, then the companies would have to voluntarily cancel their registrations. When EPA made the “unreasonable adverse effects” ...

EPA Blasts "Myths" on Water Jurisdictions Rule

The EPA hit back Thursday after a top Republican accused it of trying to take over large pieces of private land and water.   Tom Reynolds, the agency's top spokesman, wrote a blog post to respond to what he said were "myths and misunderstandings" about the Waters of the United States rule.   Click Here to read more.

EPA Chief Discusses Clean Water Rule

The head of the Environmental Protection Agency has discussed a federal water rule with Indiana officials, but environmental groups say they weren't included in the conversation.     Scott Pruitt met with Gov. Eric Holcomb, Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch and other state officials this week to discuss the federal Clean Water Rule, The Indianapolis Star reported . Pruitt also met with agriculture and business leaders at Mike Starkey Farms and Liberty Mine in Boonville.     Officials from the Hoosier Environmental Council, the Nature Conservancy's Indiana Chapter, the Sierra Club's Hoosier Chapter, Citizens Action Coalition, Conservation Law Center ...

EPA Chief Promises Clarifications in Waters of the U.S. Rule

Obama administration officials rejected Republican claims that they're seeking free rein to expand the reach of the Clean Water Act, but admitted a proposed rule had led to widespread confusion about what streams, ditches and other features could be regulated.   During the three and half hours of testimony Wednesday before a joint House-Senate hearing, the officials described aspects of the rule that they'll clarify before making it final but didn't specify the changes that will be made.   Click Here to read more.

EPA chief Pruitt pushing end to clean air and water rules

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt was in Little Rock today and touted his effort to loosen clean air and water rules at a meeting at the Don and Randal Tyson Conference Center at the Arkansas Poultry Federation.   Click Here to read more.    

EPA Chief Won't Ditch the Waters Rule, But She is Digging for Answers

Is it worth the effort for an Environmental Protection Agency administrator in a Democratic administration to meet with her farm, ranch, and Republican critics?  Or should she stay safely among her environmental and conservation supporters in Washington and the coastal cities and just push ahead?   Click Here to read more.

EPA Considering Limits for Widely used Insecticide

Pressure is mounting on the Environmental Protection Agency to ban or further curb the use of chlorpyrifos, an insecticide widely used to protect crops such as soybeans, wheat, alfalfa, citrus and peanuts.   EPA is reviewing a court order requiring the agency to decide whether it will suggest a ban on the commonly used insecticide known as chlorpyrifos by Oct. 31.   Chlorpyrifos-used in commercial products for 40 years-already has limits set on its use by the EPA, but the agency has now recognized concerns about its presence in drinking water. For example, the chemical has been detected with increasing frequency in ...

EPA Decision on Dicamba Expected Late in 2016

The Environmental Protection Agency set a goal of issuing a decision on Monsanto’s new dicamba products by the end of this year. The products are designed to be used with the Roundup Ready Xtend crops. However, the approval process has been bogged down by reports of farmers using an older version of the herbicide and have done some damage in nearby crops that aren’t resistant to the weed killer. In April, the EPA proposed allowing the use of the herbicide designed to be used with the Monsanto Xtend crops, but it hasn’t actually approved ...

EPA declines to revoke Iowa water quality enforcement powers

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has rejected a petition filed by environmental groups that asked the agency to withdraw the Iowa Department of Natural Resources' authority to manage a program designed to limit water pollution.   Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, the Iowa Chapter of the Sierra Club and the Environmental Integrity Project filed a petition in 2007 asking for tougher fines, penalties and inspections and Clean Water Act permits for large animal confinement operations.   The EPA found some of the complaints valid and in 2013 entered into a five-year work plan with the Iowa DNR to bring its oversight ...

EPA Declines to Study Restricting Roundup Pesticide's Use

The Environmental Protection Agency declined to study restricting the use of a pesticide believed to harm the monarch butterfly’s habitat.   The EPA told the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) it rejected the green group’s petition regarding glyphosate, a pesticide marketed by Monsanto Co. as Roundup.   “The agency at this time has not determined that glyphosate causes unreasonable adverse effects to the monarch butterfly,” the EPA told the green group.   The NRDC and other green groups have long argued that Roundup is responsible for killing large swathes of milkweed, a plant that ...

EPA Declines to Study Restricting Roundup Pesticide's Use

The Environmental Protection Agency declined to study restricting the use of a pesticide believed to harm the monarch butterfly’s habitat.   The EPA told the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) it rejected the green group’s petition regarding glyphosate, a pesticide marketed by Monsanto Co. as Roundup.   “The agency at this time has not determined that glyphosate causes unreasonable adverse effects to the monarch butterfly,” the EPA told the green group.   The NRDC and other green groups have long argued that Roundup is responsible for killing large swathes of milkweed, a plant that ...

EPA Denies Texas Emergency Weedkiller Request

Federal regulators denied Texas farmers' push to use a powerful herbicide against an invasive "super weed" threating to strangle cotton crops.   The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency cited risks to drinking water and other hazards in its refusal of state officials' emergency request to allow the farmers to use Milo-Pro.  The herbicide includes the propazine, a restricted product that requires a license to purchase and use.   Click Here to read more.

EPA doesn’t have to set water limits for 2 fertilizers

A federal judge has given the Environmental Protection Agency more time to work with states on limiting their runoff of chemicals blamed for oxygen-depleted “dead zones” in the Gulf of Mexico and elsewhere.   Scientists say nitrogen and phosphorus carried down the Mississippi River stimulate plankton blooms that decompose on the sea floor each summer, using up so much oxygen that life cannot be supported in vast stretches of the Gulf of Mexico.   Farm runoff is the biggest source of these chemicals in the Mississippi watershed, according to the EPA. Other sources include storm runoff from cities ...

EPA eyes limits for agricultural chemical linked to crop damage

The U.S. environmental agency is considering banning sprayings of the agricultural herbicide dicamba after a set deadline next year, according to state officials advising the agency on its response to crop damage linked to the weed killer.   Setting a cut-off date, possibly sometime in the first half of 2018, would aim to protect plants vulnerable to dicamba, after growers across the U.S. farm belt reported the chemical drifted from where it was sprayed this summer, damaging millions of acres of soybeans and other crops.   A ban could hurt sales by Monsanto Co (MON.N) and DuPont which ...

EPA Eyes Spring for Clean Water Rule,

Despite stiff opposition from congressional Republicans, EPA is moving ahead with plans to finalize its proposed Clean Water Act rule by this spring, Administator Gina McCarthy said today.   "We want to be informed by what said to us during the comment process as well as what we heard in our 100-plus meetings with different stakeholders," she told reporters.  "So, we have a lot of work to do, but we're certain that we can get that done in a timely way."   Click Here to read more.

EPA forms posse to fix 'broken' endangered species regulations to speed up pesticide approval

The Environmental Protection Agency is looking to fix what it calls the "broken" process of balancing pesticide approvals with endangered species protections, which conservationists have warned could be the start of eroding key protections under the Endangered Species Act.   “The current Endangered Species Act pesticide consultation process is broken,” said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt in announcing a new interagency working group with Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross. Their goal is to fix the system which ensures endangered species aren't harmed when approving the use of new pesticides.   Click Here ...

EPA Full Stream with "Waters" Protection Rule, but Trouble Ahead.

The Obama administration on Wednesday launched a sweeping measure to protect the nation’s waterways and wetlands — an initiative that faces a fierce counterattack from powerhouse industries like agriculture, oil and home-building.   On its face, the final “Waters of the United States” rule is largely a technical document, defining which rivers, streams, lakes and marshes fall under the jurisdiction of the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers. But the industries and their allies in Congress condemn it as a massive power grab by Washington, saying it will give bureaucrats carte blanche to swoop in ...

EPA Gets Vote of Confidence as Pesticide Fee Bill Approved

The House’s swift approval of a bill to allow the EPA to levy fees to support its pesticide licensing work is a rare vote of confidence in the often-maligned agency from the GOP-controlled Congress.   Backers of the measure are now hoping congressional appropriators will provide the agency with enough in the next fiscal year to properly operate the Office of Pesticide Programs—funding which is linked to the fee program.   The House on March 20 passed the Pesticide Registration Enhancement Act (PREA) of 2017 (H.R. 1029) by voice vote after 10 minutes of debate.   The bill is ...

EPA has 90 days to decide on chlorpyrifos ban

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ordered the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to decide by mid-July whether to ban chlorpyrifos, a widely used pesticide for corn, soybeans, fruit and nut trees, Brussels sprouts, cranberries, broccoli and cauliflower as well as other row crops.   In March 2017, EPA denied a petition that asked it to revoke all pesticide tolerances (maximum residue levels in food) for chlorpyrifos and cancel all chlorpyrifos registrations. The agency concluded that, despite several years of study, the science addressing neurodevelopmental effects remains unresolved and that further evaluation of the science during the remaining time for completion ...

EPA has Plan to Reduce Nutrients in Waterways

The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency plans to release a "document of strategic actions" in November designed to reduce the amount of nitrogen and phosphorous in the state's rivers and lakes.   The document is the result of months of talks between environmentalists, agriculture interests, municipal wastewater agencies, academics and others to develop the plan.   Click Here to read more.

EPA Imposes New Requirements for Dicamba

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reached an agreement with dicamba manufacturers to minimize the potential for drift damage from use in soybeans and cotton.   “Today's actions are the result of intensive, collaborative efforts, working side by side with the states and university scientists from across the nation who have first-hand knowledge of the problem and workable solutions," said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. "Our collective efforts with our state partners ensure we are relying on the best, on-the-ground, information."   Click Here to read more.

EPA May Limit State Restrictions on Pesticide Use, Such as Dicamba

After months of denials and vague language, EPA has confirmed it is considering limiting the ability of states to restrict pesticide use beyond the federal label.   State regulators are expressing alarm at this development, particularly those dealing with widespread dicamba injury, which appears to be the catalyst for EPA's announcement.   At issue is Section 24(c) of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), which allows states to grant "special local needs" (SLN) labels that supplement federal pesticide labels. Several states in the Midwest and South have used 24(c) labels to limit use of new ...

EPA mulls delay of risk management program changes

Planned changes to the U.S Environmental Protection Agency’s Risk Management Program would not prevent tragic incidents such as the West, Texas, fertilizer disaster, which was ultimately ruled an act of arson, according to supporters of a proposed implementation delay.   “The current risk management program regulations are working well,” said Richard Gupton, vice president for public policy and counsel with the Agricultural Retailers Association in Washington. “The new regulations will impose additional compliance costs on industry, potentially make sensitive security information available to the public and not provide, in our opinion, any significant safety ...

EPA Names 40 Chemicals to be Evaluated for Risk

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is publishing a list of 40 chemicals to begin the prioritization process - the initial step in reviewing chemicals in commerce under the amended Toxic Substances Control Act.   "EPA continues to demonstrate its commitment to the successful and timely implementation of the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act," said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. "We are delivering on the promise of Lautenberg to better assess and manage existing chemicals in commerce and provide greater certainty and transparency to the American public."    "Initiating a chemical ...

EPA Pesticide Rules Delayed Amid Farm Bill Wrangling

The Trump administration is postponing the release of two farmworker protection proposals that would roll back changes made under former President Barack Obama.   The Environmental Protection Agency will propose changes to the Worker Protection Standard (RIN:2070-AK43) and Certification of Pesticide Applicators Rule (RIN:2070-AK37) in January, according to the White House Office of Management and Budget’s regulatory agenda released Oct. 17. The regulatory agenda previously set the changes for September.   They would include lowering the minimum age for pesticide applicators and farmworkers from the current 18 and revising a provision that allowed farmworkers to pick a “...

EPA plan seeks cuts in phosphorus pollution that causes algae masses in Lake Erie

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency called for stepped-up efforts Wednesday to reduce nutrient pollution that contributes to algae blooms in Lake Erie but recommended no new federal regulations to accomplish the task.   A plan released by EPA's Chicago-based Region 5 office sets targets for reducing phosphorus that feeds giant algae masses that in the past decade have caused fish kills and beach closures on the shallowest of the Great Lakes, harming tourism and threatening drinking water. A 2014 bloom settled over the drinking water intake pipe for Toledo, Ohio, contaminating the municipal supply for more than 400,000 people.   But ...

EPA plan seeks cuts in pollution that causes Lake Erie algae

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency called for stepped-up efforts Wednesday to reduce nutrient pollution that contributes to algae blooms in Lake Erie but recommended no new federal regulations to accomplish the task.   A plan released by EPA's Chicago-based Region 5 office sets targets for reducing phosphorus that feeds giant algae masses that in the past decade have caused fish kills and beach closures on the shallowest of the Great Lakes, harming tourism and threatening drinking water. A 2014 bloom settled over the drinking water intake pipe for Toledo, Ohio, contaminating the municipal supply for more than 400,000 people.   But ...

EPA Plans Temporary Pesticide Restrictions While Bees Feed

If honeybees are busy pollinating large, blooming croplands, farmers wanting to spray toxic pesticides will soon have to buzz off, the Environmental Protection Agency is proposing. A federal rule proposed Thursday would create temporary pesticide-free zones when certain plants are in bloom around bees that are trucked from farm to farm by professional beekeepers, which are the majority of honeybees in the U.S. The pesticide halt would only happen during the time the flower is in bloom and the bees are there, and only on the property where the bees are working, not neighboring land Click Here to read ...

EPA plans to buy out more than 1,200 employees this summer

The Environmental Protection Agency plans on shedding more than 1,200 employees by early September through buyouts and early retirements, as part of a broader push by the Trump administration to shrink a government entity the president once promised to eliminate “in almost every form.”   The departures would amount to about 8 percent of the current 15,000-person workforce of the EPA, where a hiring freeze also remains in effect. The Trump administration has proposed a 31 percent cut to its budget, the largest percentage reduction of any agency and one that could mean several thousand job losses.   Click Here to ...

EPA Proposes Dicamba for GE Cotton, Soybeans

Cotton and soybean growers will have a new herbicide at their disposal if an EPA proposal to approve dicamba on the genetically engineered versions of those crops is approved.   With weeds “becoming increasingly resistant to glyphosate-based herbicides,” the availability of dicamba “will provide an additional tool to reduce the spread of glyphosate-resistant weeds,” EPA said. Better Food Better World The comment period on the proposal ends April 30.   CropLife America called the proposed decision “another critical milestone toward farmers gaining access to new dicamba weed-management tools.”   Click Here to read more.  

EPA Proposes New Corn Rootworm Management Plan

The Environmental Protection Agency is proposing new measures to delay the corn rootworm pest becoming resistant to corn genetically engineered to produce certain pesticides.     The EPA Federal Register Notice published January 28, 2015, "EPA Proposal To Improve Corn Rootworm Resistance Management; Notice of Availability," proposes some requirements for the manufacturers of Bt corn, which is engineered to include a gene from Bacillus thuringeiensis, a bacterium that lives in the soil and naturally produces a toxin that functions as a pesticide.   Click Here to read more.

EPA Pulls Glyphosate Report Back, House Committee Ask "Why?"

EPA posted the final report of the agency’s Cancer Assessment Review Committee at the end of last week but pulled it from the agency’s website May 2, saying a full review would not be completed until the end of the year.     That report, dated October 2015, concludes glyphosate likely is not carcinogenic to humans. It was signed by 13 scientists and titled “Final Report.”   In a letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy on Wednesday, committee chairman Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, announced his committee is launching an investigation into the matter.   “…EPA&...

EPA Quietly Extends WOTUS Comment Period Past Election Day

Landowners will have more time to comment on the proposed "Waters of the US" federal rule.  The proposed rule was an attempted by EPA and US Army Corps of Engineers to provide more clarity over the term navigable waters.  On Monday the EPA extended the comment period from October 20th to November 14, 2014.   Click Here to read more.

EPA rejects petition to revoke chlorpyrifos tolerances

The agency announced the decision late today, two days ahead of a court-ordered deadline. The Natural Resources Defense Council and Pesticide Action Network had petitioned the agency 10 years ago to ban Dow AgroSciences’ organophosphate insecticide (tradename: Lorsban), which is used to control a variety of crop pests, including corn rootworm and soybean aphid.   The groups have argued that food residue levels are high enough to pose a risk to the developing brain and nervous system   But EPA said in its news release that its October 2015 proposal to revoke food tolerances “largely relied on certain epidemiological study ...

EPA rejects request to delay pesticide safety rule

EPA's farmworker protection rule will go into effect Jan. 2 as scheduled, the agency said today.   The National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) and American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) petitioned EPA last week to delay implementation by a year. EPA said it would respond officially to the petition in the new year.   The groups said EPA had failed to provide state lead agencies, or SLA's, with needed training materials and guidance, and had not properly alerted Congress to the presence of the “designated representative” provision in the rule.   That provision allows farmworkers ...

EPA Releases RFS Proposals for 2014-2016

The EPA on Friday released proposed Renewable Volume Obligations(RVOs) for biofuels under the Renewable Fuel Standard for 2014, 2015 and 2016 that show an increase in required blending, but still below statutory levels sought by the renewable fuels industry.   EPA's proposal reflects actual usage for 2014, but calls for increase in subsequent years.  Janet McCabe, EPA's acting assistant administrator of the Office of Air, said the proposed volume requirements "will provide a strong incentive for continued investment and growth in biofuels".   Click Here to read more.

EPA remains top target with Trump administration proposing 31 percent budget cut

Candidate Donald Trump vowed to get rid of the Environmental Protection Agency “in almost every form,” leaving only “little tidbits” intact. President Trump is making good on his promise to take a sledgehammer to the agency.   Under the White House’s latest budget proposal, released Tuesday, the EPA would fare worse than any other federal agency. The proposal would reduce the agency’s current funding by more than 31 percent, to $5.65 billion.   Click Here to read more.

EPA reviews its directions on dicamba after widespread damage reports

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is reviewing its directions on how to use the latest versions of the weed killer dicamba, following hundreds of reports about crop damage when traces of it drift away from application sites, an agency spokeswoman said on Tuesday.   "We are reviewing the current use restrictions on the labels for these dicamba formulations in light of the incidents that have been reported this year," EPA spokeswoman Amy Graham said in an email to Reuters.   The EPA approved new formulations of the pesticide, a weed killer sold by Monsanto Co., BASF and ...

EPA Reviews Put Popular Pesticides Under The Magnifying Glass

Every year, dozens of active ingredients in fungicides, herbicides and insecticides undergo regulatory review and are at risk of being pulled off the market. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reviews each registered pesticide at least every 15 years to ensure it still meets the most up-to-date science available. Three common active ingredients planted on millions of acres—pyrethroids, chlorpyrifos and atrazine—are currently under, have recently emerged from review or will be entering the process soon.   Click Here to read more.

EPA Says Neonicotinoid Seed Treatments on Soybeans are of Little Benefit

EPA finds that neonicotinoid seed treatments provide no increase in yeild on soybeans when compared to no pest control.   An EPA analysis of neonicotinoid seed treatments has conclued that there is "little or no increase in soybean yields using most neonicotinoid seed treatment when compared to using no pest control at all," that agency said Thursday.   Click Here to read more.

EPA says no health risk from trace amounts of herbicide in breakfast cereals

An environmental advocacy group reports it has found small amounts of a herbicide in consumer foods including breakfast cereals, saying there is cause for concern even though the amount is within limits allowed by the Environmental Protection Agency.   Just how much, if any, of the herbicide can be considered safe is a matter of long-running scientific and legal debate. The Environmental Working Group's standard for what's acceptable is, by far, the most conservative, beyond even that of California, which has the tightest regulation in the country.   The Environmental Working Group commissioned tests of popular breakfast products, ...

EPA Science Panel Considering Guidelines That Upend Basic Air Pollution Science

Several members of a powerful science panel for the Environmental Protection Agency expressed doubt at a hearing Thursday about the long-established scientific consensus that air pollution can cause premature death.   The panel was meeting to consider recommendations that would fundamentally change how the agency analyzes the public health dangers posed by air pollution and could lead to weaker regulation of soot.   The recommendations concern how the EPA regulates microscopic soot known as particulate matter, which causes and exacerbates respiratory diseases such as asthma. Determining exactly how much particulate matter is safe to breathe requires complex analysis of an ...

EPA Sends 2014 Biofuel Targets to White House

The U.S. Enviromental Protection Agency on Friday sent its final targets for 2014 biofuel use to the White House as the long delayed rule enters its last round of review before public release.   The Obama administration will now face a last-ditch round of lobbying from biofuel producers seeking changes to the rule and opponents of the renewable fuels mandate who hope regulators will stand firm on proposed cuts to the targets.   Click Here to read more.

EPA should revoke Monsanto weed killer approval, Enviromental groups tell U.S. court

Environmental groups argued in federal appeals court on Wednesday the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency failed to analyze the risks Bayer AG (BAYGn.DE) Monsanto’s dicamba-based weed killer posed to nearby crops before approving it in 2016.   The groups, which filed a lawsuit in February, want the court to force the EPA to vacate its approval of XtendiMax, arguing it not only harms nearby crops and plants but wildlife as well. It is not clear whether the court has the authority to revoke an EPA approval.   The United States has faced a weed-killer crisis caused by the ...

EPA Study Finds That Neonics NOT Causing Colony Collapse Disorder in Bees

A few years ago, bees suddenly had a sharp decline in numbers. This "Colony Collapse Disorder" as it is called, is a disorder in the sense that it is a recurring phenomenon, detailed for the last 1,000 years even when record-keeping just consisted of sporadic anecdotes. It was noted more frequently as record-keeping became more thorough. so it appeared far more often by the 1800s. By the 1900s, record-keeping had improved enough that there were seven recorded instances of this CCD phenomenon just in the United States. But the cultural landscape was much different by the end of the 20th century, ...

EPA Wants to Remove 72 Approved Pesticide List

The EPA Thursday requested public comment on the agency's proposal to remove 72 chemicals from the Approved Pesticide Inert Ingredient List.  Assistant Administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, Jim Jones, stated "This is the first major step in our strategy to reduce risks from pesticides containing potentially hazardous inert ingredients."  The action is in response to petitions by the Center for Environmental Health, Beyond Pesticides, Physicians for Social Responsibility and others.  There groups asked the agency to issue a rule requiring disclosure of 371 inert ingredients found in pesticide products.   ...

EPA watchdog questions safety of sewage used as fertilizer

The Environmental Protection Agency doesn't know if the treated sewage sludge that farmers use as fertilizer is safe, according to a report from its internal watchdog. The treated sewage known as biosolids is chock full of nutrients, which is what makes it so good at enriching soil. But it also can be chock full of pollutants, from heavy metals such as mercury and arsenic to pharmaceutical compounds, flame retardants and disease-carrying organisms. And the EPA doesn't know enough about hundreds of pollutants found in the material, the agency's inspector general said in a report Thursday. The EPA'...

EPA Water Proposal Rattles Ag Industry.

For years, farmers and ranchers have cast a wary eye toward new laws and regulations from Washington that they fear will be costly burdensome.   Agricultural producers argue they know the best way to take care of their land, not only to maximize production but to preserve the acreage they depend upon to survive.   Now, a rule being proposed by the EPA outlining which bodies of waters the agency would oversee under the Clean Water Act has again rattled the agriculture industry.  The EPA says it is necessary after recent court rulings to clarify the 1972 law.  Many ...

EPA Water Rule Starts in the Ephemeral Streams

EPA finds itself fighting a losing public-relations war against not just farm groups but also vocal Republican officials.   Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman on Monday called EPA "the enemy of agriculture."   At issue remains the proposed rule by EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to redefine what "waters of the United States" mean in the Clean Water Act.   Click Here to read more.

EPA Weighs In On Glyphosate, Says It Likely Doesn't Cause Cancer

No chemical used by farmers, it seems, gets more attention than glyphosate, also known by its trade name, Roundup. That's mainly because it is a cornerstone of the shift to genetically modified crops, many of which have been modified to tolerate glyphosate. This, in turn, persuaded farmers to rely on this chemical for easy control of their weeds. (Easy, at least, until weeds evolved to become immune to glyphosate, but that's a different story.)   Glyphosate had been considered among the safest of herbicides. So it was a shock to many, last year, when the International Agency for ...

EPA wins new chance to argue against pesticide ban

The Trump administration has persuaded a U.S. appeals court to reconsider its recent decision ordering the Environmental Protection Agency to ban the widely-used pesticide chlorpyrifos, which critics say can harm children and farmers.   In an order on Wednesday, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said it will again review former EPA administrator Scott Pruitt’s March 2017 refusal to ban chlorpyrifos for use on food crops such as fruits, vegetables and nuts.   Pruitt’s ruling reversed a 2015 Obama administration plan to extend a 2000 ban on the pesticide that had covered most household settings.   ...

EPA's first neonicotinoid assessment finds risk to honey bees

A widely used neonicotinoid insecticide poses a risk to honey bees, EPA said in an analysis released today that drew criticism from a leading manufacturer of the product as well as environmental groups.   The neonic is imidacloprid, and EPA said that it “potentially poses risk to hives” when used on crops that attract pollinators. Citrus and cotton, in particular, appear to present a risk to honey bee hives and other pollinators, the agency said.   “Other crops such as corn and leafy vegetables either do not produce nectar or have residues below the EPA identified level&...

EPA's New Clean Water Rule Will Make WOTUS A Rallying Cry Againist POTUS

On Friday, barring a last-minute judicial intervention, hundreds of millions of acres of land across the country will fall under Obama administration’s broad new Clean Water Rule, which defines “waters of the U.S.” to include virtually any wet area — even a rain-fed temporary pool — that is close to any other body of water with a physical connection to a navigable waterway. Waters of the U.S., or WOTUS, is likely to become a rallying cry for landowners who resent the administration’s attempts to steadily expand the limits of federal jurisdiction.   ...

EPA, Army propose two-year delay of WOTUS

The U.S. EPA and the U.S. Department of the Army are proposing to delay the effective date of the Waters of the U.S. rule by two years.   “Today’s proposal shows our commitment to our state and tribal partners and to providing regulatory certainty to our nation’s farmers, ranchers and businesses,” said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. “This step will allow us to minimize confusion as we continue to receive input from across the country on how we should revise the definition of the ‘waters of the United States.’&...

EPA, Spingfield's CWLP encouraging farmers to keep soil out of lake

At the edge of corn and soybean fields that Lee Curby farms in Glenarm, a pipe empties water into a creek that cuts between some trees.   When Curby’s grandfather farmed the land in the 1960s, there was a pond where the trees and plants grow now, he said. A couple feet of red clay that used to form the bottom of the pond rise up from the creek bed, and another few feet of rich, black dirt sit on top.   Heavy spring rain and farming techniques such as tilling over the last few decades have washed ...

Estate tax repeal bills introduced.(AUDIO)

A pair of South Dakota Republicans and a Georgia Democrat are giving new life to a longstanding effort to reshape the tax code. Click Here to read more.

EU approves three biotech soybean traits

After a long delay, the European Union has approved three biotech soybean traits for import and processing, according to the U.S. Soybean Export Council.   The stacked even ts are:   • Monsanto's Roundup Ready 2 Xtend (MON87708 x MON89788, with dicamba and glyphosate tolerance. It is approved in China and is being planted by U.S. farmers.)  • Monsanto's Vistive Gold (MON87705 x MON89788, the product is high-oleic with glyphosate tolerance and is being grown by U.S. farmers to provide trans-fat free soybean oil for the food industry. • Bayer CropScience's Balance GT (FG72, ...

EU Banned Pesticides to Help Bees. Now Other Bugs Are Invading

The European Union has a bug problem.   After regulators in late 2013 banned pesticide called neonicotinoids, link in some studies to the unintended deaths of bees, farmers across the continent applied older chemicals to which many pests had developed a resistance, allowing them to survive.  Now, infestations may lead to a 15 percent drop in year's European harvest of rapeseed, the region's primary source of vegetable oil used to make food ingredients and biodiesel, according to researcher Oil World.   Click Here to read more.

EU Court rejects industry evidence on neonicotinoids

The European General Court has rejected industry evidence that the European Commission decision to restrict certain uses of three neonicotinoid insecticides – clothianidin, thiamethoxam and imidacloprid in 2013 did not have a legal basis.   The Agricultural Industries Confederation (AIC) expressed disappointment at the ruling. AIC said it supported the action brought by Bayer Crop Science and Syngenta as it ‘firmly believes in an approval system that is based on scientific evidence, independent review and an assessment of impacts, rather than politics’.   Hazel Doonan, head of AIC’s crop protection sector said: “Effective modern crop protection ...

EU delays decision on herbicide glyphosate

EU countries failed on Wednesday to vote on a license extension for weedkiller glyphosate, delaying again a decision on the widely used herbicide that critics say could cause cancer.   The European Commission said in a statement the relevant committee did not hold a vote at a meeting and that it would announce the date of the next meeting shortly.   Click Here to read more.

EU fires warning shot over agrichemical mega-mergers

Brussels has issued a stark warning to the world’s leading agrichemical companies that they will need to make significant concessions in the coming months if they want to complete a wave of mega-mergers.   Margrethe Vestager, the EU’s competition commissioner, on Thursday opened an in-depth investigation into the proposed $130 billion tie-up between Dow and DuPont. The deal between the two U.S. chemical giants would create the world’s largest crop protection and seed company.   The unusual breadth of Vestager’s probe into Dow/DuPont is a signal that the Commission is also ...

EU Issues Near-Complete Ban on Neonicotinoid Pesticides

Neonicotinoid pesticides—these include imidacloprid, thiamethoxam, and clothianidin, and are sold under various brand names—have long been pegged, albeit not without controversy, as dangerous to long-term bee health. In 2013, the EU issued a set of restrictions on their use, but last week, after a vote, the Union enacted a broad ban on all outdoor use of the three major varieties.   This category of pesticides is one of the suspected culprits of colony collapse disorder, and research has indicated that it reduces the bee’s ability to lay eggs and is also harmful to non-bee beneficial ...

EU Nations Could Get Power to Block GMO Crops

European lawmakers have voted to give EU member states the power to ban cultivation of genetically modified crops on their territory even if they have been approved by the 28-nation bloc.   Tuesday's vote on genetically modified organisms, or GMO, must still be converted into EU-wide law by the bloc's executive, the European Commission and national governments.   Click Here to read more.

EuroChem takes on US fertilizer assets from Trammo

EuroChem Group AG, a leading global fertilizer company, announces the expansion of its North American distribution network via the assumption of dry and liquid fertilizer transport and storage assets from international merchandising and trading firm Trammo, Inc.   The move substantially expands EuroChem’s fertilizer storage capacity in the US, and will enable the Group to strengthen its presence into Western Canada as well as on the East Coast. EuroChem now operates 25 warehouses in the US, with a current storage capacity of about 500 000 t.   The US market accounted for about 11% of Group sales in 2017. EuroChem expanded its presence ...

Europe still can’t decide whether to approve glyphosate

The European Union has once again declined to renew its authorization of glyphosate, which likely will leave the decision in the hands of the European Commission, the EU’s executive arm.   On Thursday, ministers representing the EU member states voted 14-9, with five abstentions, in favor of extending the authorization to use glyphosate for five years. But under EU rules, a “qualified majority” representing 55 percent of the member states and 65 percent of the EU’s population is needed for approval.   Click Here to read more.

European farm groups defend neonicotinoids as environmental NGOs calls for total ban to protect bees

EU farming lobby Copa-Cogeca said [the European Food Safety Authority's] report confirmed there was no justification for a total ban on the use of neonicotinoid seed treatments on all crops.   The [UK's National Farmers' Union] said Efsa’s assessment “failed to take proper account of what is happening to bees in real field situations”.   “The reality is that there is a balance between environmental protection and food production that has to be considered and the impacts of a ‘no neonicotinoid’ scenario on pollinators also need to be ...

Even Republicans and GMO Friendly Executives are Caving to Insane Anti-GMO Demands

Instead of fretting over Sony's sheepish release of a movie depicting the assassination of Kim Jong-un consider how your grocery bill will look in 2015 if we accede to the anti-scientific demands of Europe, China, Russia and Japan.   Long before every American household had a car, most American farmers owned tractors.  The radio, GPS, and handheld computers: farmers embrace new technology because they work harder and possess a profound appreciation for risk.  This is why American, Canadian, Australian and Indian farmers have all embraced genetically-modified organisms(GMOs), crops that address these risks, while using less fossil fuel. &...

Even with a budget, eliminating bill backlog will take time

Along with the state’s first full budget in three years, Illinois lawmakers this month approved plans to pay down the enormous bill backlog that was a byproduct of the financial stalemate.   But the person who will ultimately write the checks to pay down that backlog is warning that the end of the stalemate – and the higher taxes that were approved as part of that deal – aren’t a quick fix for eliminating the stack of bills that total nearly $14.5 billion.   “I need to do a good job of tempering people’s ...

Everybody wants fair maps. Right?

The people of Illinois want fair legislative maps.   They want maps that are drawn by an independent body working on behalf of voters, not by politicians looking after themselves. They want maps that promote competitive elections instead of protecting incumbents.   They’ve said so, over and over again, in polls going back decades. They’ve collected hundreds of thousands of signatures — three times — and raised millions of dollars, trying to get a constitutional amendment on the ballot.   Click Here to read more.

Evidence too thin to support chlorpyrifos regulation, panel concludes

A Scientific Advisory Panel convened by EPA said the agency should not rely on a Columbia University epidemiological study to determine safe levels of exposure to chlorpyrifos, a widely used insecticide.   The SAP's concerns, expressed in a report submitted to EPA, echoed those expressed by pesticide manufacturers and commodity groups who said there were too many unanswered questions about the study, which used umbilical cord blood data from pregnant women to extrapolate exposure levels for children.   They also said using the epidemiological study would upend decades of regulatory practice that relied on animal studies to set safe ...

Ex-Gov. Quinn unveils redistricting reform plan

Former Gov. Pat Quinn is pitching a legislative redistricting plan he says will meet constitutional muster because it's simpler than previous plans.     The Democrat said at a press conference Tuesday that an 11-member commission appointed by the Illinois Supreme Court should draw political boundaries. He said there should be no more than six members from any one political party on the commission, and that at least seven must sign off on any new map.   He presented the plan days after the high court rejected a petition-driven ballot measure that would've also allowed a commission to ...

Ex-Rep. Don Moffitt appointed to state Agriculture Department post

Don Moffitt didn't stay retired for long.   The longtime legislator, who stepped down from his post Wednesday as the second-longest-serving Republican in the state House, was tapped by Gov. Bruce Rauner on Friday as the assistant director of the Illinois Department of Agriculture.   Moffitt, of Gilson, is a lifelong farmer and served in the House starting in 1993 with a stint as the top GOP member of the body's agriculture committee. Early in his career he also served as a high school agriculture teacher.   The appointment had long been rumored. Moffitt declined to answer a question ...

Expect WOTUS proposal by end of month

The head of the EPA tells Brownfield they intend to have their Waters of the U.S. proposed regulation by the end of November, “And I think that’s going to be good news for farmers across the country. Our goal is to allow the property owner to be able to stand on his or her property and determine for themselves whether or not their property falls under the federal definition,” Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler tells Brownfield Ag New it’s another example of the Trump administration providing certainty to American farmers, “They should ...

Experts Doubt Arson Finding in Deadly TX Fertilizer Blast

The fertilizer plant explosion that killed 15 people and injured more than 160 in the town of West may not have been sparked by a deliberately set fire as federal investigators claimed, according to attorneys, arson experts and a former top workplace safety official under President Barack Obama.   The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has been largely silent on the 2013 West Fertilizer explosion since it announced last year that an arsonist was responsible for the initial blaze and offered a $50,000 reward for information. No arrests have been made, and the ATF won't discuss the case beyond repeating a ...

Experts Estimate 1.1 Million Acres of Dicamba Damage

As of July 15, farmers, homeowners and others filed 605 official complaints of suspected dicamba damage with state departments of agriculture across soybean growing states. That number reflects soybeans and all other specialty crops including vegetable plants, fruit trees, ornamentals, trees, etc.   However, university Extension experts estimate that not all cases of off-target movement have been reported. They estimate 1.1 million total acres of soybeans alone have received damage this season. This includes Arkansas, which has an in-season dicamba ban, at 400,000 estimated acres of damage with 155 official complaints.   “I can’t really say this year is an improvement over ...

FAA Issues Permits for Agriculture, Real Estate Drones

The Federal Aviation Administration on Tuesday issued permits to use drones to monitor crops and photograph properties for sale, marking the first time permission has been granted to companies involved in agriculture and real estate.   The exemptions to the current ban on commercial drone flights were granted to Advanced Aviation Solutions in State, Idaho, for "crop scouting" and to Douglas Trudeau of Tierra Antigua Realty in Tucson, Arizona.   Click Here to read more.

FAA Struggling to Deal with Drones

The FAA issued guidelines last week, saying the use of model aircraft (drones) by farmers is unlawful.  If a farmer flies a model aircraft over his cornfield doing rolls and loops, that's legal.  But if he uses the same model airplane to determine how to conserve water or use less fertilizer that's illegal.   The FAA says their decision is all about safety.   Click Here to read more.

Fall Fertilizer Looking ‘More Positive’

According to most market watchers, the Great Recession ended for much of the world approximately five years ago. For the fertilizer marketplace, however, the Great Recession is still ongoing, at least in financial terms.   During 2017 economists estimate that U.S. grower income dropped to $58 billion. Not too many years ago, this figure topped $100 billion. Likewise, commodity prices have remained very low vs. where they stood at the beginning of the 2010s. Not surprisingly, this income pressure has directly impacted ag retailers and their fertilizer sales the past few years.   According to data collected in the 2017 CropLife 100 survey of ...

Fall looking quiet for ag on Capitol Hill. (Audio)

Congress returns to Washington this week after seven weeks back home. Avoiding a government shutdown is sure to take up a good deal of time before the fiscal year comes to a close at the end of the month.    Click Here to hear more.

Fallout of Illinois budget feud grows

The consequences of Illinois lawmakers' epic failure to approve a state budget continue to pile up, with new warnings about unfunded 911 call centers and schools, thousands of road construction jobs in jeopardy and the long-term cost to taxpayers growing by the billions.     Yet, the political sniping between Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and Democrats who run the Legislature hasn't changed: Each side blames the other, and neither appears willing to budge. The only state without a budget for the fiscal year that ends this month, Illinois is on the brink of entering a record second year without a ...

Farm and Bee Groups Send Letter Supporting Increase in Pollinator Research Levels

A group of more than 40 farm groups and companies sent a letter to House and Senate agricultural appropriations leaders supporting increase in the President Barack Obama's fiscal 2016 budget for honey bee research activities.  The House will begin consideration of appropriations bills next week.   Click Here to read more.

Farm Bill Reduces Endangered Species Protections

Well, it seems the current House farm bill draft is getting more controversial day by day. For example, in addition to proposed changes to the nutrition programs, the draft bill includes a provision that would allow EPA to approve pesticides without undertaking reviews now required to protect endangered species.   As expected, environmental groups are up in arms and argue that the provision is an “unprecedented” attack that could have lasting ramifications for ecosystems across the nation   Click Here to read more.

Farm Groups Want New Immigration Laws, Not an Executive Order

President Barack Obama's executive order regarding undocumented immigrants does little for the agricultural industry, according to several farm group representatives, who say legislative reform through Congress is the way to solve farm labor problems.   Obama's executive action, which he announced Thursday night in a televised address from the White House, will protect up to 5 million immigrants living in the U.S. illegally from deportation.  Obama said the directive was a "commonsense" plan consistent with what previous presidents of both parties had done for the past 50 years.   Click Here to read more.

Farmer, trucker groups take aim at length limit

Current truck regulation makes it difficult to haul agricultural and other products on local roads without breaking the law.   Trucks up to 65 feet long can use interstate and state highways, but the limit drops to 55 feet on county and township roads. The shorter limit makes it virtually impossible to use the longest available trailers to transport grain, oilseeds, livestock or other agricultural products from a farm to market without violating the law.   Click Here to read more.

Farmers Are Concerned about Pesticide Resistance

Many Iowa farmers believe they have identified pesticide resistance on the land they farm, and most are concerned that herbicide-resistant weeds and pesticide resistant insects will become a problem, according to a new report from the Iowa Farm and Rural Life Poll.   Click Here to read more.

Farmers are striving for cleaner water with a new water system

People gathered around to watch the first woodchip bioreactor become installed in Henry County.   “It’s definitely been a learning process it’s kind of exciting. It was something I figured would be good for the environment,” according to farmer Todd VerHeecke.   VerHeecke said he hopes that by keeping the soil clean, it will help future generations of farmers.   “It’s something we're trying to be more cognizant of with our Illinois nutrient loss reduction strategy, to try to help produce that so that we don't have as many ...

Farmers are working to reduce nitrate levels, but some factors are out of their control

Five years ago, our Department of Agriculture partnered with Iowa State University, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and others to develop the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy as a science-based model to guide our water quality efforts. Since that time, we have regularly reviewed the progress we’re making and identified ways to do even more to protect our natural resources.   Accurately measuring what’s happening in Iowa’s watersheds is complicated. We know – and numerous studies have shown – that many factors, such as soil type, landscape and weather can have a significant impact ...

Farmers Around the World Should be Watching the Roundup Cancer Case

The San Fransisco Superior Court will soon hear testimony from a man dying of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma who claims Roundup (glyphosate) caused his cancer. This trial is the first of many against Monsanto under claims its widely-used herbicide lead to cancer.   Dewayne Johnson worked for a public-school system in California for two years when he was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. During his tenure with the school he used Roundup and other herbicides extensively for landscaping.   Right now, plaintiff and defense attorneys are covering legal requirements are in jury selection and will begin opening statements as ...

Farmers Do Their Part to Keep Toxic Algae Out

Lake Erie should be a source of pride for all Ohio residents. It hosts one of the world’s largest freshwater commercial industries. It is a tourist hot spot. The lake generates billions of dollars in revenue for our region.   But Lake Erie is afflicted each year by harmful algae blooms caused by an abundance of phosphorus in rivers, tributaries, and groundwater. Phosphorus occurs naturally and is essential for all life. But as is often the case, too much of a good thing is not good.   Causes of excess phosphorus include wastewater treatment, animal manure, and industrial ...

Farmers Keeping Nutrients on the Field, Out of Streams

Clean water is a priority for all of us. When farmers manage nutrients, they are also helping to minimize the runoff of nutrients into local streams and rivers.   Farmers rely on two major nutrients in fertilizer — nitrogen and phosphorus — to help crops grow. When excess fertilizer leaves the field and enters local waterways in surface water runoff, those nutrients cause algae in the water to bloom much faster than it would under normal conditions. The algae eventually breaks down, and the bacteria involved in decomposition deplete oxygen in the water to unhealthily low levels. Ultimately, fish and ...

Farmers Move Away from Fall-Applied Anhydrous

Farmers’ shift away from fall application of nitrogen for crops such as corn and sorghum is being reflected in changing retail practices, says Farm Journal Field Agronomist Ken Ferrie. “In my area of central Illinois, I know two fertilizer plants that have completely dropped anhydrous ammonia,” he says. “Their sales had shifted to spring application of nitrogen solution. While ammonia can be applied in the spring, farmers found it took up too much of their time when they needed to concentrate on planting, compared to nitrogen solution that can be applied as they plant or with ...

Farmers Offer Strategy to Lessen Herbicide Damage Issues

As Arkansas pesticide regulators debated the fate of dicamba herbicides, farmer Perry Galloway sat quietly in the audience gallery through most of the day-long board meeting.   It wasn't his plan to be so quiet. Galloway, of Gregory, Arkansas, and attorney Grant Ballard had prepared earlier in the week to present the Arkansas State Plant Board with a grass-roots plan to allow farmers access to postemergence dicamba applications.   The plant board's agenda did not include time for public comments. While several board members referred to the farmers' effort during breaks from the meeting, there was no official ...

Farmers Proactive in Cutting Nitrate Losses

The Illinois Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy will be finalized this summer, but farmers already have got a jump on it with changes in their fertilizer management efforts.   The strategy will direct efforts to reduce nutrients from point and non-point sources in a coordinated, primarily voluntary and cost-effective manner with a goal to reduce the state’s phosphorus load by 25 percent and its nitrate-nitrogen load by 15 percent by 2025. The eventual target is a 45 percent reduction in the loss of these nutrients to the Mississippi River.   There has been a large increase in spring nitrogen sales in the state ...

Farmers Saving Nutrients to Help Mother Nature.

A couple of rural Chapin farmers are doing their part to reduce nutrient loss from their fields and help the environment.   John Werries and his son, Dean, started planting cover crops in the fall of 2012 as a way to stop soil erosion.   “The more we learned about it, the more benefits we realized,” John Werries said.   Cover crops’ benefits include sequestering nutrients, helping break up soil compaction and adding organic matter to the soil.   “We were urged to start experimenting on a small scale for several years before adopting it on a ...

Farmers suing Monsanto, BASF over dicamba urge judge to keep litigation alive

Farmers suing over crop damage allegedly caused by Bayer AG unit Monsanto Co and BASF Corp’s dicamba-based seeds and weedkillers urged a federal judge on Monday to reject the companies’ motions to dismiss the cases.   In filings opposing the requests for dismissal, lawyers representing the roughly 20 farms told U.S. District Judge Stephen Limbaugh in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, that the companies had ignored facts in an attempt to avoid responsibility for the alleged “ecological disaster” they created.   Click Here to read more.

Farmers to Trump: No trade war, please

President Donald Trump has promised to shield farmers from the sting of China’s trade retaliation, but that embattled portion of Trump’s rural base says they just want to sell on the open market, without tariffs slapped on their products amid escalating tensions.   In interviews with POLITICO this week, several farmers across the country said they don’t want a trade war and they want to avoid having their income tied to government support to make up for losses created by one.   “We want our living to come from the marketplace,” said ...

Farmers turn to crop dusters as Southern Rust impacts corn

The fungus known as Southern Corn Rust is becoming an annual problem for farmers in southern Illinois.   Farmers like Randy Anderson have begun taking steps to protect their crops.   Southern Corn Rust has made its way to seven southern Illinois counties so far this year.   "With some of your later planted corn. When I say that, we're talking about corn planted in late May and early June. It really shows a devastating effect on that plant itself," explained Anderson.   The fungus originates in the southern United States and Mexico. In the last few ...

Farmers, Arkansas battle over dicamba ban

Farmers in Arkansas are fighting the state for the right to use dicamba this growing season, challenging a seasonal ban that began April 16 and runs through Oct. 31.   So far the results have been mixed, with about 200 farmers authorized to use the herbicide. But whether that permission will last until planting of soybeans and cotton begins in earnest is an open question. The issues raised, such as whether the Arkansas State Plant Board (ASPB) can claim sovereign immunity from lawsuits, will ultimately have to be resolved by the state Supreme Court. But in the meantime, the publicity has spawned more ...

FDA Official: GMO Foods "As Safe As" Other Foods

A top official at the Food and Drug Administration assured lawmakers Wednesday the agency has no safety concerns about the increasingly controversial production of genetically engineered foods.   Genetically modified organisms, better known as GMO, are used by farmers to increase their crop yields.  But many concerns have been raised by food safety groups about the dangers of eating foods that were scientifically altered.   Michael Landa, director of the Center for Foods Safety and Applied Nutrition at the FDA, dismissed those claims Wednesday.   Click Here to read more.

February Edition of IFCA's News Under The Dome

Click Here to read February edition of IFCA's "News Under the Dome".  In this month's edition, IFCA gives an update on winter fly-in to DC, Gov. Pritzer signs $15 minimum wage increase,  

Feds considering repeal of EPA emissions rule for trucks

The Trump administration is considering repealing an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rule limiting emissions from truck components.   According to an Office of Management and Budget notice, the EPA is formally proposing to repeal the rule, something EPA Administrator Scott Pruittsaid in August he would do.   The regulation, an Obama administration effort to cut climate change-causing emissions from the transportation sector, aims to limit pollution from trucks.   The rule applies to gliders, which are medium- and heavy-duty trucks assembled using refurbished powertrains and new truck parts called “glider kits,” which are also subject to the regulation. ...

Feds Tell Farmers to Buzz Off on Pesticide When Bees are Busy on Big Croplands

 If honeybees are busy pollinating large, blooming croplands, farmers wanting to spray toxic pesticides will soon have to buzz off, the Environmental Protection Agency is proposing. A federal rule to be proposed Thursday would create temporary pesticide-free zones when certain plants are in bloom around bees that are trucked from farm to farm by professional beekeepers, which are the majority of honeybees in the U.S. The pesticide halt would only happen during the time the flower is in bloom and the bees are there, and only on the property where the bees are working, not neighboring land. The ...

Feds Unveil Commercial Drone Rules

The Federal Aviation Administration is moving to allow commercial drones that weigh less than 55 pounds to be flown in the U.S. under new regulations that were released on Sunday morning. The proposal, which has been highly anticipated, would greatly increase the domestic use of drones in a long-sought victory for advocates of the technology.   Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said the FAA’s rules will strike a balance the desire for increased drone use and concerns that have arisen about potential privacy violations from the unmanned flights.   Click Here to read more.

Fertilizer Application Regulations Aimed to Stem Runoff. (Video)

Senate Bill 1 was signed by Governor John Kasich on April 2, 2015, designed to protect Lake Erie from toxic algal blooms and improve overall water quality around the state.  The new rules will take effect on July 3.   New regulations will require northwestern Ohio farmers to limit spreading fertilizer and manure on flooded or sodden fields. based on specific precipitation criteria.  The new law prohibits application of nutrients following 1 inch of rain or more falling in 24 hours, or for manure, 0.5 inch of precipitation in the previous 12 hours.   Last August harmful algal blooms contaminated the water supply for more than 400,000 ...

Fertilizer company moves forward with $2.8B project in Indiana

A fertilizer company in southwest Indiana is moving forward with a $2.8 billion project with the help of state incentives.   Midwest Fertilizer Co. will begin construction on its Posey County manufacturing facility next year, the Evansville Courier & Press reported. Construction is projected to support more than 2,500 jobs.   The state Economic Development Corp. has offered the company up to $2.9 million in conditional tax credits, up to $400,000 in training grants and up to $300,000 in conditional incentives. The performance-based incentives require the company to create jobs and invest in the state.   Pakistan-based Fatima Group is one of the company's ...

Fertilizer decisions: targeted nutrient applications find popularity

Fertilizer applicators are becoming a more common sight in Illinois in growing cornfields.   That is one trend in nutrient delivery on farms Dan Schaefer has seen. It follows decreasing frozen-ground fall applications.   “I don’t have any real hard figures, but less and less of replacement P and K is put on when it’s frozen or snow covered,” said Schaefer, director of nutrient stewardship with the Illinois Fertilizer and Chemical Association.   “Guys are starting to understand that application on top of snow — especially phosphorus — is not the best time.&...

Fertilizer for Food and Fuel

The agricultural industry not only provides the nutrients and food needed to feed the populations of the United States but also provides tens of thousands of American jobs. From rural Iowa to the orange groves in Florida, America’s economic livelihood depends in part upon the determination and technological advancements of an ever-changing agriculture industry.  National Agriculture Week serves as a reminder of the tremendous impact agriculture makes on our lives and the environment in which we live, work, and raise a family. This industry continues to see dramatic advances in technology, genetics, crop protection, and the application ...

Fertilizer Makers Yara and CF Industries Discussing "Merger of Equals:

Two of the biggest fertilizer producers in the world are in talks about what could be the next inversion deal to be announced.   CF Industries, based in Deerfield, Illinois, near Chicago and Yara International of Norway both confirmed on Tuesday that they were in discussions about a deal that would essentially be a merger of equals.   Click Here to read more.

Fertilizer Safety Bill Prompted by West Blast Advances in Texas

Two years after 15 people died in the West fertilizer plant explosion, the full House on Friday gave tentative approval to a bill that would tighten the state’s regulation of ammonium nitrate storage and add safeguards for dealing with the dangerous chemical. But the measure, which is the first West-related bill since the blast to advance out of committee, wouldn’t require sprinkler systems or other chemical safety measures that could help prevent future explosions. And a number of other bills aimed at addressing some of the problems uncovered in the aftermath of the explosion have gained little ...

Fertilizer use accounts for soils, farm’s strengths

Targeting fertilizer applications to optimize rates can pay off with higher yields and efficient use of inputs.   Joe Sperfslage, who farms near Coggon, Iowa, has taken his fertilizer program to the next level — combining grid-based soil sampling with variable rate planting and a split-season nitrogen (N) fertilizer program.   “We’re really happy with it,” Sperfslage said.   He uses River Valley Cooperative's YieldVantage precision ag system to calculate prescription fertilizer rates based on a number of factors, including soil test results and weather.   “We put on 15 gallons of 32 percent (urea-ammonium nitrate) ...

Fertilizer Use to Surpass 200 Million Tonnes in 2018

Global fertilizer use is likely to rise above 200.5 million tonnes in 2018, 25 percent higher than recorded in 2008. World fertilizer consumption will grow by 1.8 percent a year through 2018, according to FAO's new report "World fertilizer trends and outlook to 2018." At the same time "the global capacity of fertilizer products, intermediates and raw materials will increase further," the report said. Click Here to read more  

Field trials look for nitrogen answers

Nitrogen rates, forms and application timings are the focus of multi-year trials funded by the Illinois Nutrient Research and Education Council.   Emerson Nafziger, University of Illinois Crop Sciences professor emeritus and primary investigator of the on-farm trials, provided his observations from the research findings in an Illinois Fertilizer and Chemical Association-hosted webinar Oct. 19.   A primary objective of the work is to gather data on the response of corn grain to nitrogen fertilizer rates with replicated, field-scale trials at numerous on-farm locations.   Trails include comparing fall- and spring-applied or early spring and sidedressed nitrogen rates. The trials also ...

FieldWatch Launches Two Apps, Celebrates 10-Year Anniversary

In April 2018, FieldWatch launched two free mobile apps (both Android and iOS), one to complement each of its sites, with the goal of making access and input easier. ( FieldWatch )   In its 10th year since being started at Purdue University, FieldWatch has grown to be in 19 states and one Canadian province with more than 17,000 users. The non-profit has created two mapping tools—DriftWatch and BeeCheck. Both are voluntary and free, and the sites are built with a Google Maps interactive interface to show pesticide applicators the locations of registered sites—sensitive crops or beehives. More than 20,000 sites representing ...

FieldWatch – Before You Spray

Before making pesticide applications this year check the FieldWatch online registry so you are aware of sensitive crops and beehives in the area. In 2017 the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship Pesticide Bureau received a record number of complaints regarding pesticide applications. Taking the time to review what is near a field prior to applications can help mitigate future problems.   FieldWatch features a voluntary mapping tool through Google Maps™ that shows pesticide applicators the locations of registered sensitive crops and beehives so they can make informed decisions regarding potential pesticide applications. FieldWatch replaced the Iowa Department of ...

FIFRA science panel divided on EPA glyphosate cancer study

EPA’s conclusion that glyphosate is “not likely” to cause cancer in humans has received a mixed review from a scientific review panel.   The Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act Scientific Advisory Panel (SAP) “was split,” according to the report issued today. Some panelists agreed with the EPA issue paper, prepared by the Office of Pesticide Programs (OPP) and released last year. Other members felt the “not likely” characterization should be replaced by “suggestive evidence of carcinogenic potential.” And still other members were not comfortable with either description, preferring instead &...

Finish line near for corn and soybeans planting

Corn planting nears the finish line and farmers are not far behind in soybean planting.   The June 5 USDA Crop Progress shows farmers have planted 96% of the corn acres, down a mere 1% from the four year average of 97%.   All but one state (Pennsylvania at 82%) has planted more than 90% of their acres. Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin came in at 91% -- lagging behind the majority of states in the 95-99% completion range.   Click Here to read more.

First U.S. bumble bee added to endangered species list

The rusty patched bumble bee became the first wild bee in the continental United States to gain federal protection on Tuesday when it was added to the government's list of endangered and threatened species.   The bee, once widely found in the upper Midwest and Northeastern United States, was listed after U.S. President Donald Trump's administration lifted a hold it had placed on a plan for federal protections proposed last fall by the administration of former President Barack Obama.   Click Here to read more.  

Flooding on the Mississippi Affecting Shipping of Ag Product

The Mississippi River at the Quad Cities in Iowa and Illinois reached a new record high and it's disrupting efforts to move ag product on the river.   The situation is so bad the CME says it is affecting corn and soybean shipping stations. You can read the release from CME Goup here. It says the shipping stations are unable to load due to high water levels and flooding.  The National Weather Service website showed the Mississippi River level last Thursday at 22.64 ft.  That's just above the 22.63 ft mark reached on July 9th, 1993.   Click Here ...

Florida confirms toxic red tide spreading along Atlantic coast

Dozens of dead fish littered a Palm Beach County beach Wednesday as a toxic red tide appeared to spread along Florida’s Atlantic coast.   Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officials confirmed Wednesday that low to moderate amounts of the algae that cause red tide have now turned up off three counties along the state’s more densely populated east coast. Blooms were confirmed in Palm Beach, Martin and St. Lucie counties, marking the first appearance of red tide along Atlantic shores in more than a decade.   Wildlife officials are also testing Miami-Dade and Broward counties. ...

FMC buys DuPont crop protection assets, sells health and nutrition

DuPont is selling part of its crop protection business to FMC Corp. and acquiring that company’s health and nutrition business to satisfy conditions imposed by the European Commission when it approved DuPont’s merger with Dow Chemical on Monday.   The DuPont-FMC transactions should go a long way toward satisfying concerns by regulators in the U.S. and other countries such as Australia and Brazil that are reviewing the $130 billion union between Dow and DuPont. The companies said they now expect the merger to close sometime in August.   “The remedy we’ve entered into ... ...

FMC to Acquire Danish Insecticide Maker for $1.4 Billion

Auriga Industries of Denmark said on Monday that it had agreed to sell  its insecticide maker, Cheminova, to the FMC Corporation for about $1.4 billion in cash, plus the assumption of debt.   The deal is expected to bolster operations at FMC, which supplies insecticides, fungicides and other chemicals to the agriculture industry.   Click Here to read more.

FMC To Introduce Two New Herbicide Modes Of Action In Next Decade

In a world where resistant weeds run rampant, one chemical company is bringing relief to corn, soybean and rice farmers. FMC will introduce a novel rice herbicide and a corn and soybean herbicide in the next five to ten years.    “When we say new mode of action, it means there’s not a product on the market today for that crop or that use,” says Kathy Shelton, FMC vice president and chief technology officer. “We have one molecule in our pipeline today that doesn’t have a name yet that focuses on rice, ...

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Forget GMOs. The next big battle is over genetically ‘edited’ foods

Green stalks have only just begun to sprout in the test fields where biotech giant DuPont Pioneer is planting rows of a new genetically edited corn. But across the street, in the company’s sprawling research campus, executives are already fretting about how to sell it to the world.   On one hand, this corn is a revolution: It will probably be the first plant to market developed through the cutting-edge genome-editing technique called CRISPR-Cas.   On the other, the industry’s last big breakthrough of this kind — genetically modified organisms, or GMOs — was an unqualified ...

Former Georgia governor expected to get USDA nomination

Former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue is emerging as President-elect Donald Trump's selection for agriculture secretary even though the search had focused in recent weeks on a woman or Hispanic and no official announcement has yet been issued.   Experience a renewed commitment to crop insurance. A source close to the transition team confirmed media reports Monday that Trump had settled on Perdue, whom the president-elect had interviewed in November.   Perdue, 70, served two terms as Georgia governor, from 2003 to 2011. He has a doctorate in veterinary medicine although he spent much of his career in business in rural Georgia, running ...

Four versions of legal sports betting bill filed by state rep

In an effort to kick-start discussions on legal sports betting in Illinois, state Rep. Mike Zalewski has filed four different proposals.   The Riverside Democrat said the proposals will be discussed at a hearing of the House Revenue Committee next week. “What we have learned the last few months is there is great interest and agreement in the gaming industry to bring sports betting and its economic benefits to Illinois and little agreement yet on now to best do it,” Zalewski said in a statement.   Zalewski said the proposals that will be discussed were modeled on sports ...

Four-State Study Tests Nitrate-Reduction Technology

Approxmately 265 square miles drain into the Lake Springfield watershed from an area covering portions of three counties.     Researchers are tracking technology at two test sites in Auburn intended to keep the nitrate byproducts from 300 farms within the watershed out of streams, rivers and ultimately the lake.  The sites -- known as "saturated buffer zones" -- are among 15 in Illinois, Iowa, Indiana and Minnesota in a larger study on reducing nitrates that threaten water quality and aquatic life.   Click Here to read more.

Franklin Park, Illinois to seek ability to regulate pesticide use

Franklin Park officials want to be able to regulate pesticides at the village level, and they have plans to ask the state to allow them to do so.   The village board may vote as soon as its next meeting on a resolution requesting that the Illinois General Assembly remove the clause from the Illinois Pesticide Act that prevents municipalities from controlling pesticide use.     “It’s the reason I got involved in public office — sustainability,” Mayor Barrett Pedersen said of the proposed resolution.   Oak Park and Evanston have approved similar motions, according to ...

Freight rail reform can’t come soon enough

Forest and paper product manufacturers rely on America’s railroads to move raw materials to mills and finished products to customers. Nearly 60 million tons of wood, pulp and paper products made that journey in 2015, according to the American Association of Railroads. The U.S. Surface Transportation Board (STB), which has regulatory oversight of rail rates and service, has initiated proceedings to revise outdated regulatory exemptions, enhance rail competition through reciprocal switching agreements and improve its procedures used to challenge unreasonably high rail rates. Implementing those reforms will go a long way toward supporting our industry’s needs for ...

Future Cronus Plant Site Sees Planting of Last Crop

Crops are being planted for one last time on the 240 acres of rural Tuscola farmland slated to be site of the new Cronus fertilizer plant. Come spring 2016, all of that corn and soybeans will be replaced by a beehive of activity, with construction workers transforming the farmland into a $1.4 billion plant. "We are absolutely excited about coming to Tuscola," Cronus spokesman Dave Lundy said. "We chose Douglas County because it is so well positioned for us. Our customers are there, our resources are there, and the area will provide us with a great workforce." Click Here to read more.  

FWS proposes listing bumble bee as endangered

The rusty patched bumble bee is one step closer to becoming the first bee in the continental United States to be protected under the Endangered Species Act.   Its range has shrunk by 92 percent since the 1990s, a major reason that the Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing to list it as endangered. The service's proposed listing rule was issued today and will be published in the Federal Register tomorrow.   The Xerces Society, which petitioned FWS to list the species in 2013, said the bee “is not only an important pollinator of prairie wildflowers, but also of cranberries, ...

G.M.O. Foods Will Soon Require Labels. What Will the Labels Say?

The United States Department of Agriculture has proposed new guidelines for labeling foods that contain genetically modified ingredients. Food makers will be required by federal law to use the labels, starting in 2020.   The safety of genetically modified ingredients, widely known as G.M.O.s, remains a source of anxiety for some Americans despite the scientific studies that say they pose no health threat. Many food makers now voluntarily place “No G.M.O.’’ labels on their products as a marketing tactic.   Clarifying how genes are altered in the plants and animals we eat, and ...

Gambling bill could move with or without Senate’s ‘grand bargain’

A state senator said he’s willing to move forward with a bill that would create six new casinos in Illinois if the “grand bargain” budget resolution stalls.   Senate Bill 7, which is part of the Senate’s legislative bargain aimed at ending the state’s nearly two-year budget impasse, seeks to expand gambling in the hope of generating substantial revenue. Additionally, the legislation would allow existing Illinois casinos to expand and permit Chicago airports to install slot machines in terminals and at four horse racing tracks.   One of the sponsors of the bill, ...

Gambling expansion revived in Illinois House but stalls in committee

A massive gambling expansion bill stalled in a House committee Monday further clouding chances the bill can win approval before Thursday’s scheduled adjournment.   The lead sponsor of Senate Bill 7, Rep. Robert Rita, D-Blue Island, said he’ll keep working on the bill despite time running out on the session.   “I want to analyze it and figure out where we can massage something, in terms of the testimony today,” Rita said. “I’m going to continue to work on this. I’m not going to close the door now.”   ...

Gambling expansion, sports betting on collision course as end of Illinois' legislative session nears

The smart money says that if Illinois lawmakers are going to legalize sports betting this spring, it’s going to be part of a larger gambling expansion deal that also includes new casino licenses and expanded betting options at horse tracks.   Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker did not want to squander the opportunity to bring in new state revenue through legalized sports betting, made possible by a U.S. Supreme Court ruling last year, by tying the issue to the parochial gambling debates that have failed to produce an agreement for the better part of a decade. The ...

Gas taxes and driver's license fees would go up dramatically under Illinois Senate proposal

The cost of owning and operating a vehicle in Illinois would increase dramatically under a proposal in the state Senate aimed at paying for repairs to crumbling roads and bridges.   The legislation, introduced this week by Democratic Sen. Martin Sandoval of Chicago, would more than double the state’s gas tax to 44 cents a gallon, double the driver’s license fee to $60 and raise the vehicle registration fee to $148. The driver’s license fee is now $30; the vehicle registration fee is $98.   It also would significantly hike the registration fee for electric vehicles, from $17.50 to $1,000. Greater ...

Gavilon Expands Fertilizer Operations in Minnesota and Illinois

Omaha-based commodities commodities company the Gavilon Group is expanding fertilizer operations in Minnesota and Illinois.   MicroSource, a micronutrient division of Gavilon Fertilizer LLC, will expand its capacity and research and development capabilities in Shakopee, Minnesota.  The company also recently purchased about 7 acres of land in Marseilles, Illinois, which it has leased since 1995 as part of its fertilizer operations, said Patrick Burke, a Gavilion spokesman.   Click Here to read more.

GE Crop History Revisited: Researchers Talk About Food Safety, Regulations, Markets and Growing Weed Resistance

John Linder, a grain farmer from Edison, Ohio, offered the closing public comments Monday in the opening discussion by scientists and laypeople on the past experience and potential future of agricultural of agricultural biotechnology in the U.S.   "As farmers, we are looking for the new innovation if we are really going to have the population growth going to have the population growth going forward that has been spoken about so many times," Linder said.  "We need the next products to get us there and actually achieve what needs to be done for the world.  I think ...

Gene-edited plants aid food security, researchers say

With renewed attention to implementation and regulation, new plant breeding technologies such as gene editing could make an important contribution to global food security, say a group of plant geneticists and economists.   The authors, from several institutions including the University of Liege, Belgium, and the National Institute for Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering, Pakistan, catalogue several new technologies to edit genes of plant crops that they suggest “may allay fears associated with GM crops”.   Because direct gene editing doesn’t involve transferring DNA across species – which creates transgenic crops – the paper, published in the ...

Gene-Edited Plants and Animals: Can They Bridge the Divide in the GMO Debate?

The debate surrounding genetically engineered (“GE” or “GMO”) plants and animals has historically been, and still is, extremely divisive. Anti-GMO activists raise many objections, including two that often resonate with a segment of the public: (1) control of the food supply by a few multinational corporations, and (2) reliance on pesticides.   To exemplify these controversies, take Bt corn and cotton, wherein scientists have introduced bacterial genes[1] that produce insecticidal toxins. When insects eat portions of these plants where the toxin is produced—such as in the root, as is the case for the corn rootworm—...

General Assembly debating bills on bag taxes

Before the spring legislative session is over, Illinois residents might find it pays -- literally -- to hang onto those bags you get in the store.   That’s because the General Assembly is debating bills that would put a tax on the bags that stores put your groceries and other merchandise in as you check out.   The proposals vary. Gov. J.B. Pritzker called for a 5-cents per bag tax, but only on plastic bags. A bill favored by environmentalists would put a 10-cents a bag tax on all types of single-use bags, whether plastic, paper or ...

General Assembly returns with little time left for budget

  Time may be running out for the Democratic-controlled House and Senate and Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner to end the standoff, now in its 10th month, before it claims its highest-profile victim to date. Chicago State University officials have said the predominantly black South Side school only has enough money to make payroll through month’s end.     Like every other public university and community college across Illinois, Chicago State hasn’t received any state funding for the fiscal year that began July 1. Eastern Illinois University has laid off hundreds of employees, and faculty members have agreed ...

General Mills Shareholders Reject Proposal to Dump GMO's

General Mills Inc. has made strong commitments this year to natural and organic foods.  It took genetically modified ingredients out of its signature cereal brand Cheerios and then doubled down on its organic lineup by striking and $820 million deal for Anne's, a stalwart of the the organic and natural foods industry.   But when the industrial food behemoth's shareholders were presented with a proposal to dump all genetically modified ingredients from the company's vast lineup of brands, they responed with a resounding "NO."   Click Here to read more.

Genetic Labeling: Take #2

The State of Vermont has passed a statute mandating the labeling of genetically engineered foods as of July 1, 2016. Other states have considered and are considering similar legislation. The U.S. House of Representatives has passed legislation to preempt all state legislation on the labeling of genetic engineering. The Senate failed by a vote of 48-49 to preempt the states, falling well short of the 60 votes needed in the Senate.   Several major companies have now made independent decisions to label their products as made with genetic engineering given the vacuum left by the Senate. They are making the best of ...

Genetically Boosting the Nutritional Value of Corn Could Benefit Millions

Rutgers scientists have found an efficient way to enhance the nutritional value of corn – the world’s largest commodity crop – by inserting a bacterial gene that causes it to produce a key nutrient called methionine, according to a new study.   The Rutgers University-New Brunswick discovery could benefit millions of people in developing countries, such as in South America and Africa, who depend on corn as a staple. It could also significantly reduce worldwide animal feed costs.   “We improved the nutritional value of corn, the largest commodity crop grown on Earth,” said&...

Getting out: Many students leaving Illinois to attend college

Illinois has the second-highest rate nationally of college freshmen choosing to leave the state to pursue higher education — a mark it hit even before the state’s two-year budget impasse — and preliminary figures this fall suggest the numbers continue to look grim.   Between 2000 and 2014, when the out-migration hit an all-time high, the number of freshmen leaving Illinois to attend college shot up by about 64 percent, according to a study earlier this year by the Illinois Board of Higher Education. Only New Jersey, which also has had state budget woes, exceeded Illinois in loss of students to ...

Global Fertilizer Supplies to Outweigh Demand, Rabobank Says

While global fertilizer supplies appear set to outweigh demand, the forecast for pricing for the first quarter of 2015 "looks rather cloudy" according to a new report on the global fertilizer industry by Rabobank's Food & Agribusiness Research and Advisory group.   The report, which looks at issues of price, supply and demand in key agricultural markets, says that lower farmer margins will prompt farmers to be more prudent in fertilizer applications, but "strong demand destruction" is unlikely.  Spring demand in the Northern Hemisphere will prevent prices from slipping significantly, the bank said.   Click Here to read more.

Glyphosate panel split on chemical's carcinogenicity

Environmental Protection Agency officials received a mixed message from scientists assembled to review evidence of whether glyphosate is a human carcinogen.   The members of a Scientific Advisory Panel concluded their four-day meeting in Arlington, Virginia, by offering opinions on EPA's conclusion that the active ingredient in Roundup, the world's most widely used herbicide, is “not likely to be carcinogenic to humans.”   The result: The panel was split on the issue. Some members backed EPA's finding and others said that the evidence was “suggestive” of carcinogenic potential for the chemical.   Some ...

Glyphosate, Top-Selling Weed Killer, Wins E.U. Approval for 5 Years

The European Union voted on Monday to extend its authorization for the world’s best-selling herbicide for an abbreviated period of five years, with France and Germany splitting over the move.   President Emmanuel Macron of France said after the decision was announced that he had asked government officials to draw up a plan for banning the herbicide, glyphosate, in his country within three years. He also posted a message on Twitter with the hashtag #MakeOurPlanetGreatAgain. France led the opposition to allowing the use of glyphosate, the main ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup and in weed killers made ...

GM crops take the line of least resistance in their global spread

Genetically modified crops are continuing to spread across the world’s agricultural land. Last year they covered a record 185m hectares, 3 per cent up on 2015.   Experts are anticipating another small increase this year, though the authoritative annual GM survey by the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA) will not appear until next spring.   These modified crops are still distributed very unevenly. They are found predominantly in the western hemisphere. The US and Canada are the heartland of biotech crops, while South American countries are adopting them rapidly — especially Brazil, where the GM area ...

GMO Food Fight Hits House Floor This Week

In an interview with The Hill, Pompeo said a bill on the Senate side is likely to come in September when lawmakers return from summer recess, but whether the President will sign it if it makes it to his desk remains to be seen.   “I’m always concerned when you are trying to pass legislation that you think is right for the American people that lots of things could prevent it from happening,” he said. “That would certainly include that the White House might not sign this bill.”   But Pompeo said every indication ...

GMO Food Labeling Law Pressure Mounts.

Congress could face pressure to establish a uniform, nationwide law on the labeling of foods made with genetically modified ingredients as early as next year, as more states regulate the technology found in much of the U.S. food supply.   The debate over weather to label salad dressings, soups, cereals, and other grocery store staples made with GMO gained momentum in May after Vermont became the first state to require labeling of foods made from those ingredients.   Click Here to read more.

GMO Labeling Efforts Fail in Colorado, Oregon, Succeed in Maui

Maui County, Hawaii approved a temporary ban on GMO crop cultivation but efforts to label genetically-modified foods at the polls in Colorado and Oregon failed.  Millions of dollars were spent backing and opposing the measures.   Click Here to read more.

GMO Labeling Trails by Six Points in Oregon Measure 92 Poll

Oregon's Measure 92 to require labeling of GMO foods is behind by six points, according to a new poll released Tuesday, just a week before election day.   The measure has already made history, becoming the costliest ballot measure fight in Oregon history.  Opponents have raised just over $16 million -- also a record for one side -- and backers have raised nearly $7 million.   Click Here to read more.

GMO labelling law in U.S. receives mixed reviews

Farm groups and food companies are pleased with a new United States labelling law governing genetically modified organisms, but non-GMO certification bodies and consumer groups call it a farce.   The National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard came into effect Feb. 19, but won’t be in full force until Jan. 1, 2022.   The national, mandatory labelling law regulates 12 GM crops and fruits ranging from alfalfa to suga r beets. The only animal covered is salmon.   Click Here to read more.

GMO labels feed fears: Our view USA TODAY

Forcing companies to label genetically modified foods sounds simple enough. Don’t consumers have a right to know what they're eating?   Like a lot of seemingly straightforward ideas these days, though, this one is anything but. Mandatory labeling — set to go into effect in Vermont on July 1 unless Congress overrides state laws — has risks and consequences its backers rarely acknowledge. On balance it’s a bad idea. A key reason is that it validates the notion that genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are dangerous, which is simply not true.   Using science to make crops ...

GMO Scientists Could Save the World From Hunger, If We Let Them

A Nebraska Cornhusker frets as he surveys his drought-stunted crop. A Nigerian yam farmer digs up shrunken tubers. A Costa Rican coffee baron lays off hundreds of workers because a fungus has spoiled his harvest. I planted cherry trees in upstate New York last spring. One summer morning, they were denuded by Japanese beetles. Such disasters are increasingly common on a planet buffeted by climate change and worldwide commerce, where heat burns crops, soil has been ruined by over-farming and drought, and bugs ride across oceans to feast on defenseless plants. Agronomists have been working on these problems for years, ...

GMOs are better for the environment than you’d think

Crops are engineered in a number of ways. Often, they are made resistant to an herbicide, so a farmer can spray one on their fields and keep their plots free from weeds without killing the crop itself. Or they can be innately poisonous to its predators, like milkweed is, which reduces the amount of pesticides needed to keep a crop safe.   But do these things harm the environment? According to the data: not really. GM crops appear to be just as sustainable and productive as non-GM crops, if not more so.   “Sustainability,” in addition to being ...

GMOs Are Not Agriculture's Future--Biotech Is

As a scientist who has spent his career in agricultural biotech, I’ve watched with some sympathy as the public struggles to sort out whether to embrace innovation in agriculture or continue a wariness that originated nearly 40 years ago with the introduction of genetically modified crops.   Very recently the agricultural world watched with interest as the European Union’s highest court upheld a decade-old policy that hinders innovation in farming. I have listened carefully to the concerns and understand a certain degree of trepidation about introducing new technologies to farming practices that are thousands of years old. ...

GOP Chairman: EPA Maps Out Power Grab

The Republican chairman of the House Science Committee pounced Wednesday on a series of Environmental Protection Agency(EPA) maps he says reveal a plot to "control a huge amount of private property across the country."   The EPA, however, says the maps released by Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) show nothing more than the location of U.S. water resources and are in no way connected to the agency's plan to clarify what bodies of water come under its regulatory authority.   Click Here to read more.

GOP Lawmaker Blasts Scientist Who Hid Evidence Showing Weed Killer Does Not Cause Cancer

House Republican Trey Gowdy wants to know why a scientist with the National Cancer Institute withheld evidence from a government agency showing that a widely used herbicide does not cause cancer.   Gowdy, a South Carolina congressman who chairs the House Oversight Committee, noted in a letter Tuesday to the National Institute of Health (NIH) that NCI scientist Aaron Blair was the researcher who reviewed a separate study showing no evidence glyphosate causes cancer.   “The committee is concerned about these new revelations, especially given Dr. Blair’s apparent admission that the AHS study was ‘powerful,’ ...

GOP Looks to Extend tax Breaks During Lame Duck

Republican leaders hope that they can extend dozens of expiring tax provisions worth in the hundreds of billions of dollars even before they take control of the Senate in January, clearing the way for other work and gaining and early victory on tax policy.   Soon-to-be Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell listed passing the provisions, known as "extenders," just behind a government funding bill as a priority for when the Senate reconvenes for the first time since the midterm elections this week.   Click Here to read more.

GOP under pressure to deliver health care reform, crowded agenda

President Donald Trump has set a high bar for Congress when it comes to health care: “insurance for everybody,” including people with pre-existing conditions, at “much lower” cost. And he wants Congress to act fast, at the same time that lawmakers repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), as Obamacare is formally known. “We have to take care of the American people immediately, so we can’t wait,” he told Republican lawmakers at their retreat last week in Philadelphia.   Donald TrumpRepublicans say they plan to have legislation on the House floor before April. ...

GOP's LaHood remains front-runner in race to replace Schock

The son of longtime congressman Ray LaHood remained the overwhelming favorite Monday as the field took shape for the special election to replace disgraced former U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock in a heavily Republican central Illinois district that includes part of Springfield. Darin LaHood, 46, of Peoria is a former state and federal prosecutor known in Illinois for his fiscally conservative views and focus on ethics reform. Ideologically, he's considered more conservative than his father, who held the seat before Schock and was transportation secretary for Democratic President Barack Obama. Click Here to read more.  

Gov Rauner: Tariffs ‘can cause massive unemployment’

Gov. Bruce Rauner discussed the threat posed by escalating trade disputes with the the Japanese ambassador to the United States on Tuesday at a machine tools facility in Schaumburg.   “We … talked about tariffs, and the importance of making sure we don’t break out in a full trade war, how tariffs can cause massive unemployment, job losses, around the world and here in Illinois,” Rauner said.   Rauner said he told Ambassador Shinsuke J. Sugiyama in a private meeting that he had cautioned Trump administration officials to avoid a “tariff war” during a ...

Gov-Elect Rauner Says Some Agency Directors May Stay

Current state of Illinois department heads may not necessarily be on their way out after Gov-elect Bruce Rauner is inaugurated Jan. 12.   Rauner, speaking in Springfield Tuesday at a Better Government Association luncheon, said he was meeting with his budget team and state legislators about Illinois' deep fiscal hole later in the day, as well as meeting with candidates for key positions in the government.   Click Here to read more.

Gov. Bruce Rauner, J.B. Pritzker clash at agriculture forum over Trump policies

Gov. Bruce Rauner praised President Donald Trump’s economic and trade policies at an agricultural candidate forum Wednesday and said they should be replicated in Illinois.   But Democratic contender J.B. Pritzker, appearing later, chastised Rauner for not utilizing the state’s congressional leadership to get more aid from Washington and not standing up against Trump tariffs impacting the agriculture industry.   The two men spoke at a forum hosted by the Illinois Farm Bureau at a family farm in Normal. Like the political days at the state fair, the quadrennial forums provide candidates a chance to ...

Gov. Bruce Rauner, J.B. Pritzker say economic growth vital to budget, but differ on tax strategy to achieve it

Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and Democratic challenger J.B. Pritzker said Sunday that growing Illinois’ business economy is vital to their budget plans but differed vastly on the role of tax policy to help achieve it.   Rauner said his agenda for incremental lowering of the state’s income tax, along with proposals to diminish union bargaining rights, also would lower property taxes, attracting business and allowing for a state budget that would not require cuts to social services.   Pritzker said his plans for a graduated income tax to replace the state’s currently mandated flat ...

Gov. J.B. Pritzker says 'All the rules were followed' in wake of report that feds are looking into removal of toilets in Gold Coast mansion for property tax break

Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s removal of toilets from an Astor Street mansion to gain a property tax break, a move that gained notoriety during his recent election campaign, is under review by federal prosecutors, WBEZ-FM 91.5 reported Wednesday.   The report, attributed to an unnamed “law enforcement source,” said Pritzker, his wife, M.K., and his brother-in-law, Thomas Muenster, were part of the federal review. The station reported that the review began last October and said there were no signs that any charges were imminent.   A spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office ...

Gov. Quinn approves minimum wage ballot question.

Gov. Quinn approved a November ballot measure asking if Illinois should boost its minimum wage to $10 an hour by 2015.  The question is non-binding, but Democrats and Gov. Quinn say it will provide support to move the idea through the Illinois General Assembly.  This has been one of Gov. Quinn's top re-election priorities.   Click Here to read more.

Gov. Quinn Signs $1Billion Plan for Road Repair

Gov. Pat Quinn signed an approximately $1 billion capital spending plan last week intended to create jobs and help repair Illinois roads and bridges after a harsh winter.   Click Here to read more.

Gov. Rauner administration says no plans for mass privatization of state jobs

In yet another email to state workers in the process of voting on whether to authorize a first-ever strike, the Rauner administration said it has no plans for mass privatization of state jobs.   John Terranova, deputy director of labor relations for the Department of Central Management Services, said he continues to receive many questions from workers about the administration's last, best and final offer to the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees that includes a process to privatize state jobs.   "Let me begin by saying that the state has no plans to engage in ...

Gov. Rauner cuts Chicago money from school funding bill

Gov. Bruce Rauner followed through on his threat Tuesday and used his amendatory veto power to rewrite a school funding bill, something Democratic lawmakers said will set back funding reform by decades and could jeopardize the school year in many districts.   Rauner made multiple changes to Senate Bill 1, including how it deals with Chicago teacher pensions. Sen. Andy Manar, D-Bunker Hill, said other changes Rauner made could harm some of the most financially vulnerable school districts throughout the state.   At a Statehouse news conference to announce his changes, though, Rauner focused on his belief that SB 1 gives an ...

Gov. Rauner Hits Road to Promote Agenda

Gov. Bruce Rauner told more than 400 people gathered Friday that his gauge of how well he has done in office will be the state of the economy in central Illinois. "I will judge my success as governor by how much the economy is booming here in Peoria and in central Illinois," he told a highly receptive crowd at the Gateway Building on Peoria's riverfront. "You reflect Illinois very well. We have the hardest working people in America. They deserve and need opportunity." The speech, sponsored by several area chambers of commerce, had little in the way of new ...

Gov. Rauner lays out ambitious goals for budget

Gov. Bruce Rauner will deliver the final budget speech of his current term Wednesday, laying out his spending priorities as he heads into his bid for another four years. To that end, the governor has set himself a formidable set of objectives that he said will be addressed in his budget plan for the fiscal year that starts July 1. This is what Rauner said during his State of the State speech two weeks ago:  “The surest road to economic vitality and job growth is a collaborative effort to regain our financial integrity,” Rauner said. “To that ...

Gov. Rauner Plans to Restore about $26 Million in Grant Cuts

Gov. Bruce Rauner plans to restore approximately $26 million in grant cuts for services ranging from autism treatment to burial services for the poor after a new revenue forecast estimates the state is expected to bring in more money this year than initially anticipated. The move comes after weeks of hearings by Democratic lawmakers to put a continued public focus on the cuts, which the Rauner administration made quietly on Good Friday ahead of the Easter holiday weekend. Democrats contended the $26 million in trims went above and beyond an earlier agreement to cut $300 million and sweep special funds in an effort ...

Gov. Rauner Rallies GOP Supporters During Governor's Day at Illinois State Fair

Gov. Bruce Rauner used his platform at Governor's Day at the Illinois State Fair on Wednesday to advocate for "turnaround agenda" reforms he wants enacted and to hammer away at House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago.   State government has gone seven weeks into the fiscal year that began July 1 with no budget agreement, and several busloads of people protesting cuts to programs including home and child care chanted across the street from the Director's Lawn at the fair as Rauner and others spoke at the Republican Party rally.   Rauner arrived riding his motorcycle and spoke to the ...

Gov. Rauner Signs Bill Forbidding Illinois Lawmakers from Creating New Local Governments

A new law signed by Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner will ban state lawmakers for the next four years from approving any legislation creating a new level of local government.   House Bill 228, filed by Rep. Jack Franks, D-Marengo, forbids the General Assembly from enacting any bill that either creates a new type of local government or allows an existing government to split into two.   Franks said it is a small but important step in reining in out-of-control property taxes and improving accountability to voters. He estimated at least 50 to 60 bills have been filed in recent years to create new ...

Gov. Rauner Signs Education Funding Bill to Keep Schools Open

Gov. Bruce Rauner has signed an education funding bill that should ensure that schools can open on time even if the current budget impasse extends into August.   Rauner signed House Bill 3763, which provides state spending authority for general state aid to public school districts, the backbone of state financial support for public schools.   The bill also contains funding for early childhood education programs, bilingual education and required payments to the downstate teacher pension system.   Click Here to read more.

Gov. Rauner Vetoes State Budget, Cites $4 Billion Deficit

Gov. Bruce Rauner vetoed the remainder of the state's operations budget Thursday, saying it was out of balance and unconstitutional.   Rauner took the action a day after approving a bill that provides funding for elementary and secondary education and will allow the state's public schools to open on schedule this fall.   The Republican governor previously threatened to veto the spending plan the legislature's Democrats sent to him because it is up to $4 billion out of balance.   In an op-ed piece published Thursday by the Chicago Tribune, Rauner wrote that he was sent to Springfield ...

Gov. Rauner: Length of the Legislative Session Entirely Up to Lawmakers

I'm the new guy in Springfield.  I'm proud of that.   Although being new means I'm not as familiar with how things historically have been done in state government, it keeps me idealistic and hopeful.  I'm not jaded or cynical about what we can accomplish to make Illinois great again.   Click Here to read more.

Government consolidation efforts gain traction in General Assembly

Before his election to the Illinois House in 2012, state Rep. Sam Yingling was the supervisor of his local township in central Lake County, a job with few responsibilities beyond presiding over monthly meetings and administering town funds.   Yingling decided to run for that office after an informal fact-finding investigation on behalf of his fellow business owners, who were fed up with the area’s high property taxes. Yingling found that the township represented a “bastion of waste,” one of many units of local government that need not exist.   “After being there for about six ...

Governor Branstad, U.S. Ag Secretary Vilsack tout water quality initiative

Republican Governor Terry Branstad and former Democratic Governor Tom Vilsack — the U.S. Ag Secretary — joined forces today to tout a plan that would extend the one-cent sales tax that’s currently spent on school infrastructure projects and use most of the inflationary growth to finance water quality projects.   “This is the biggest and boldest initiative that I’ve probably put together in all my years as governor,” Branstad said late this morning.   The one-cent sales tax for schools is set to expire in 2029. Branstad’s plan would extend it to 2049. ...

Governor calls for second budget meeting with leaders

Gov. Bruce Rauner has planned another round of talks on state budget with legislative leaders in Chicago.   Rauner spokeswoman Catherine Kelly says the meeting is Tuesday afternoon at The James R. Thompson Center.   The Republican met last week with leaders for first time in months, including Democrats, House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton. The leaders have not been able to agree on a spending plan for the fiscal year that began on July 1.   Click Here to read more.  

Governor Hopefuls Offer Differing Economic Plans

Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn and Republican businessman Bruce Rauner pitched vastly different strategies Thursday for improving Illinois' economy, with the incumbent pushing for an extension of the income increase and asking the wealthy to pay more and his rival saying the state can't keep taxing its way out of its problems.   With less than four weeks before the Nov. 4 election, the candidates for Illinois governor met in Peoria for their first true, televised debate.   Click Here to read more.

Governor JB Pritzker releases graduated income tax plan, reaction mixed

Illinois taxpayers are reacting to Governor JB Pritzker's graduated income tax plan, which would raise taxes on the rich to fix the state's budget problems.    As the corned beef is dished up at Manny's Deli Friday, customers are dishing out their opinions about Pritzker's state income tax plan. Two men had a friendly argument over whether the proposed graduated income tax is better than the current flat tax.    "I'm for it, I think it is a long time coming, there has been less asked of people on the top", ...

Governor Rauner signs agriculture bills at Du Quoin State Fair

Governor Rauner signed the Industrial Hemp Act, Senate Bill 2298 on Saturday, Aug. 25 at the Du Quoin State Fair.   The bill adds Illinois to a growing number of states that permit growth of cannabis cultivated for non-drug uses such as paper- and fabric-making, biodegradable plastics, construction materials and health food.   The governor also signed House Bill 5749 which will ease weight-limit restrictions on state highways during harvest time, improve the competitive outlook for Illinois farmers and agricultural commodities haulers.   Both bills will enhance one of the state’s leading industries: farming.   Click Here to read more.

Governor Rauner signs agriculture bills at Du Quoin State Fair

Governor Rauner signed the Industrial Hemp Act, Senate Bill 2298 on Saturday, Aug. 25 at the Du Quoin State Fair.   The bill adds Illinois to a growing number of states that permit growth of cannabis cultivated for non-drug uses such as paper- and fabric-making, biodegradable plastics, construction materials and health food.   The governor also signed House Bill 5749 which will ease weight-limit restrictions on state highways during harvest time, improve the competitive outlook for Illinois farmers and agricultural commodities haulers.   Both bills will enhance one of the state's leading industries: farming.   Click Here to read more.

Governor's Race a Tale of Business Climates

The business climate in Illinois is either on a steady and dependable rebound or still beset by storms on multiple fronts.   More than just a glass half-empty or half full conundrum, the issue of how attractive it is to set up shop in the Land of Lincoln has been a driving force in the gubernatorial race between Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn and Republican businessman Bruce Rauner, alongside the lingering question of weather the state is losing businesses to its neighbors.   Click Here to read more.

Governor's ag transition team gets to work

Chicago was the place to be for members of Illinois’ agriculture community Monday. In addition to the Illinois Farm Bureau Annual Meeting, Gov.-elect J.B. Pritzker’s newly formed agriculture transition committee also met in the Windy City to begin discussions about the needs of the state’s No. 1 industry.   The first meeting of the Growing Our Agricultural Economy Committee was a great success, according to the committee co-chair Colleen Callahan.   “The Pritzker transition team has assembled a very broad group with expertise that spans so many different areas,” she told the ...

Grain and Fertilizer Shipments on Mississippi River Could Reach a Standstill

Grain and fertilizer shipments on the Mississippi River could come to a standstill in the thick of harvest after rainfall in the upper Midwest flows south.   According to the Army Corps of Engineers, four locks may close temporarily on the river, preventing grain shipments from moving south.   The locks are 16 in Muscatine, Ia.; 17 in New Boston, Ill.; 18 in Burlington, Ia.; and 20 in Canton, Mo.   The Corps anticipates shutting down traffic on Saturday or Sunday, depending on the flooding crest. The locks would be out of operation for “a coupe days.”   Click Here to read ...

Grand bargain not dead, Republicans push for more modifications

Despite falling flat this week, there’s still talk at the statehouse about the so-called grand bargain, but there’s also still some skepticism.   State Sen. Karen McConnaughay, R-St. Charles, said any income tax increase should have a sunset because taxpayers need assurances any increase won’t be wasted.   “They need to know that we’re not going to squander the hard earned dollars that they send to Springfield,” McConnaughay said.   State Sen. Dave Syverson, R-Rockford, echoed McConnaughay’s comments, but state Sen. Tim Bivins, R-Dixon, said Wednesday the state ...

Grassley, Judiciary Committee hold ag merger hearing(AUDIO)

Ag executives were called before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, and they did their best to sell the benefits of their respective proposed mergers.   Click Here to hear more.

Greenfield California takes first step to become a ‘pesticide-free’ city with a ban on Roundup.

In 2012, Carlos Alvarez woke up in his Greenfield home in the middle of the night with no feeling in his legs. He cried out for his mom, who for a moment thought her son was just joking. “She looked at me after a while and was like, ‘This isn’t a joke.’” After several blood tests, Alvarez found out that the seizing response in his legs was due to cancer.   He was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia at age 15. As he went through treatment, Alvarez met other kids from his town with cancer. “...

Groundskeeper Accepts Reduced $78 Million Award In Monsanto Cancer Suit

The groundskeeper who won a massive civil suit against Bayer's Monsanto claiming that the weedkiller Roundup caused his cancer has agreed to accept $78 million, after a judge substantially reduced the jury's original $289 million award.   Dewayne "Lee" Johnson, a Northern Californian groundskeeper and pest-control manager, was 42 when he developed a strange rash that would lead to a diagnosis of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in August 2014.   His groundskeeper duties included mixing and spraying hundreds of gallons of Roundup, the company's glyphosate-containing weedkiller product, court records say.   Johnson — now near death according to his doctors &...

Group Sues to Block Fracking Rules From Being Published

A group of residents from southern Illinois is suing the governor and the director of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources in an attempt to block the publication of rules governing horizontal hydraulic fracturing.   The lawsuit, filed Monday in Madison County, says the state agency didn't give the public ample notice during the rule-making process, failed to use scientific studies in crafting its draft of the rules and "left members of the public scrambling" to review and comment on the rules before they were published.   The rules, based on a law passed in June 2013, are expected to ...

Group turns in more than 550K signatures for redistricting ballot question

A group that wants an independent commission to draw legislative districts in Illinois on Friday delivered more than 550,000 signatures backing its request to put the measure on the ballot in November for a constitutional change.     Leaders of the group Independent Maps delivered the signatures to the Illinois State Board of Elections, more than double the amount needed to get the amendment on the Nov. 8 ballot. The minimum number of signatures needed is 290,216, but the signatures still need to be verified by the state's election board.   Ballot initiatives to change the redistricting process have failed in the ...

Groups ask EPA to delay farmworker safety rule

A farmworker safety rule scheduled to go into effect Jan. 1 needs to be delayed a year because EPA has not told states how to implement it, the American Farm Bureau Federation and National Association of State Departments of Agriculture said today.   In a petition filed with the agency, AFBF and NASDA claim EPA violated the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) by failing to deliver “enforcement guidance, educational materials, and training resources necessary to effectively implement the rule changes and assist the regulated community with compliance activities.” They asked the agency to push the effective date ...

Groups seek permanent action on OSHA anhydrous retailer rule

A provision in the recent year-end funding bill passed by Congress has temporarily suspended an Occupational Safety and Health Administration policy change on anhydrous ammonia facilities, but groups are continuing to seek permanent action.   The OSHA rule, issued in a memorandum in July, changes the definition of what constitutes a retail facility under the Process Safety Management program.   Previous policy was that a facility is exempt from PSM coverage, and regulated under a separate program, if it "derived more than 50% of its income from direct sales of highly hazardous chemicals to the end user."   Click Here to ...

Groups sue Iowa, claim farm fertilizer runoff hurting Raccoon River, Des Moines drinking water

“Our lawsuit is holding the state to a higher standard — for us, for our kids and our grandkids,” he said.   Kirk Leeds, CEO of the Iowa Soybean Association, said his group is disappointed "another potentially divisive lawsuit is being filed by those opposed to agriculture in Iowa."   "Lawsuits do absolutely nothing to improve water quality in this state," Leeds said Wednesday. "All it does is divide rural and urban and causes everyone to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on lawyer fees."   "It's a diversion from ...

Groups urge Sessions to reject ag-chem consolidation

More than 300 groups are asking newly confirmed Attorney General Jeff Sessions to thoroughly investigate – and then stop – the proposed mergers involving six major ag chemical companies.    “The proposed mergers – of Dow Chemical with DuPont, Monsanto with Bayer AG, and Syngenta with ChemChina – are each problematic on their own, with many likely negative impacts on farmers, businesses, workers, and consumers,” the groups said in a letter transmitted to Sessions today. “When taken together, they pose the threat of major oligopolistic outcomes in the industries of farming inputs, research, development, and technology.” &...

Groups Want Injunction Against WOTUS Rule

The Clean Water Act regulation issued in 2015 by the EPA gave the agency broad jurisdiction over U.S. waters to include, among other water bodies, upstream waters and intermittent and ephemeral streams such as the kind farmers use for drainage and irrigation. It also covered lands adjacent to such waters.   A U.S. Court of Appeals in October 2015 blocked the rule’s implementation, but a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision that lawsuits against the WOTUS Rule should be heard at the federal District Court level technically lifted that stay. (In 2015, NPPC, other agriculture and business groups and ...

Guardians of the Drift, More States Turn to FieldWatch as Spray Season 2019 Approaches

Worried about spraying dicamba too close to specialty crops or bees in 2019?   Well, there's an app for that. Actually, there's an entire company for it.   FieldWatch is a non-profit that allows farmers and beekeepers to register and map the boundaries of their specialty crops and beehives for pesticide applicators to avoid. Although the company was established well before dicamba-tolerant crops were commercialized, it has spent the past two years growing rapidly and adding features and tools to protect dicamba-sensitive sites.   Now that federal dicamba labels require applicators to check a sensitive crop registry before spraying, ...

Harvest emergency declared as Illinois farmers begin gathering crops

The harvest emergency announced by Gov. Bruce Rauner on Friday is only the second one ever enacted, but its practical effects will repeat annually without such a declaration beginning next year.   The emergency status enables the Illinois Department of Transportation to issue free permits to farmers and crop haulers allowing them to surpass gross vehicle and gross axle weight limits during the harvest season. A bill signed into law Aug. 25 will automatically enact the measures each harvest season beginning in 2019.   Rauner declared the first harvest emergency in 2017 and said the declarations and new law will allow Illinois farmers ...

Has Speaker Madigan Given Up on Economic and Responsible Government

Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan’s decadeslong reign has culminated in recent years with a steep decline in economic opportunity for working-class Illinoisans and a cratering of the state’s financial position. Despite this track record, Madigan describes himself as the defender of the middle class against tax and regulatory reforms because he claims, without citing any evidence, that reforms would reduce the wages and standard of living for the middle class. Meanwhile, Madigan champions an income tax hike, which would reduce the take-home wages and standard of living of Illinoisans. This curious mix of political positions offers ...

Health Canada still on track for phasing out imidacloprid

It’s still too early tell exactly how dicamba injury-related issues on U.S. cropland will compare to last year, but as of late July, a major improvement is not in the cards. It’s disappointing, given the unprecedented training that went on in the off-season.   In his closely watched dicamba report, Dr. Kevin Bradley, Professor in the Division of Plant Sciences at the University of Missouri, recalled that last year on July 25, there were 1,411 dicamba-related injury investigations being conducted by the various state Departments of Agriculture while university weed scientists estimated approximately 2.5 million acres of soybean ...

Help Ditch the Waters of the US (WOTUS) Rule! Please write comments today!

Puddles, ponds, ditches, ephemerals (land that looks like a small stream during heavy rain but isn’t wet most of the time) and isolated wetlands appear throughout Illinois farmland. The Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issued a proposed rule that would expand their regulatory authority under the Clean Water Act (CWA) to these types of land features and waters, giving the agencies the power to dictate land-use decisions and farming practices on or near these “waters of the US.” In short, EPA has moved ahead with a proposal that Congress and ...

Hemp concerns and trade jitters top US agriculture appropriations hearing

Senate appropriators had trade woes and the promise of industrial hemp on their minds Thursday as they sought assurances from Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue of better times for farmers in their states.   Perdue testified before the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee on the president’s $15.7 billion request for discretionary funding for the Agriculture Department. The request is more than $4.2 billion lower than the enacted level for fiscal 2019 and includes cuts to research, rural housing, international humanitarian food programs and other areas popular with lawmakers.   Subcommittee members asked about the proposed reductions, but indicated they are likely to ignore ...

Herbicide drift in 2018: How are we doing?

Off-target injury associated with dicamba application in dicamba-resistant soybean was a significant problem in the Cornbelt during 2017 (A final report on dicamba-injured soybean acres).  The increase in off-target problems associated with dicamba led to a record number of pesticide misuse investigations by the Iowa Department of Agriculture (IDALS) in 2017.    So how do things look at this point of the growing season in terms of herbicide drift?  IDALS recently released data on pesticide misuse investigations for 2018.  While these investigations involve a wide range of ‘misuses’, the majority of complaints are due to herbicide drift.&...

Herbicide resistances create challenges

“Six Weed Management Predictions to Keep You Up at Night” was among the topics featured at the recent University of Illinois Agronomy Day.   Patrick Tranel, Department of Crop Sciences professor, delivered the bad news of what has happened and most likely will be happening in farmers’ battle with weeds.   “The problem with weeds is that they’re always changing, and the challenges that you’re going to be facing five years from now are probably going to be a little different than the challenges you’re facing right now,” Tranel ...

Here's crazy talk, even by Springfield standards

It has looked to me for a very long time that House Speaker Michael Madigan has been waiting for an existential state crisis to force Gov. Bruce Rauner to back completely away from his anti-union, pro-business Turnaround Agenda so that they can pass a "clean" state budget.   As you surely know by now, the governor won't agree to a budget deal until he gets things like changes to workers' compensation insurance laws and reductions of collective bargaining rights for government union members.   Whether that crisis comes after the Illinois Supreme Court rules that state workers cannot be ...

Here's what J.B. Pritzker's election means for Illinois' taxes, minimum wage, health care and more

For the second election in a row, Illinois voters have handed the governor’s office to an ultrawealthy but politically inexperienced businessman who promises to jump-start the state’s economy. But Democratic Gov.-elect J.B. Pritzker, a billionaire heir to the Hyatt Hotel fortune and a former venture capitalist, offers a vastly different approach to boosting investment and job growth than his predecessor, Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner, a multimillionaire former private equity investor. Rauner, whose agenda ran into strong opposition from the Democratic-controlled legislature, focused on issues like freezing property taxes and curtailing the power of organized ...

High court to decide where WOTUS case should be heard

The Supreme Court will decide whether the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals was right to assert jurisdiction over legal challenges to the “waters of the U.S.” rule.   The court decided today to grant a petition seeking review of the 6th Circuit's fractured decision, in which that court narrowly determined that it should adjudicate the numerous WOTUS challenges.   The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) filed the petition in September challenging that decision, noting that even Circuit Judge David McKeague, who agreed with the federal government, expressed serious doubts about the government's reasoning.   The ...

Hillary Clinton: We Can't Afford to Lose Biotechs.

The former First Lady made remarks during the keynote presentation last week at the 2014 BIO International Convention in San Diego.   "I stand in favor of using seeds and products that have a proven track record, you say, and are scientifically provable to continue to try to make the case to those who are skeptical," Clinton said when asked about her stance on GMOs.   Click Here to read more.

Honeybee colonies increase after years of decline

The number of U.S. honeybee colonies rose in 2017 from a year earlier, according to a U.S. Department of Agriculture survey released Tuesday.   The number of commercial U.S. honeybee colonies rose 3 percent to 2.89 million as of April 1, compared with 2.8 million a year earlier, the department reported. It said the increase was caused by beekeepers adding more bees to make up for previous years’ rapid losses.   Parasites and disease have accounted for the majority of the decline in honeybee population. But another cause of this drop is colony collapse disorder, which has raised concerns among farmers ...

Honeybee population isn't ‘crashing’ and seed pesticides are not driving health problems—and here’s why

In recent years, articles on honeybees have often started with a sentence like this: “Populations of honeybees have crashed in recent years, and many researchers have pointed the blame at a class of widely used insecticides called neonicotinoids.”   In fact, that’s how an otherwise excellent article in The Scientist summarizing a recent USDA study on honeybees’ molecular responses to neonicotinoids began. The narrative that honeybees, which are not originally native to North America, face mortal danger––has been advanced by environmental groups for years and echoed in the media, in casual blogs ...

Honeybees May Be Dying in Larger Numbers Due to Climate Change

Beekeepers in the U.S. reported an increase in honeybee deaths over the last year, possibly the result of erratic weather patterns brought on by a changing climate, according to the scientist leading an annual survey on the insects.   U.S. beekeepers said 40 percent of their hives, also called colonies, died unexpectedly during the year that ended March 31, according to a survey released Wednesday by researchers from Auburn University and the University of Maryland. That’s up from 33 percent a year earlier.   Elevated bee-loss rates have been an agricultural concern for the past decade, since a mysterious ...

Hopes Dim for Iowa Water Quality Compromise

The likelihood of Iowa lawmakers agreeing this session on a major plan to finance water quality improvement projects appears to be dimming.   However, House Republicans introduced new legislation Tuesday to pay for programs to curb water pollution even as Senate Democratic Leader Michael Gronstal was expressing strong doubts about GOP proposals. This year's session is tentatively scheduled to adjourn around April 19, which means time is running short to reach a compromise.   House Study Bill 654, sponsored by House Republicans, would convert an existing 6 percent sales tax Iowans pay on their water bill for metered water into a 6 percent ...

House Ag Committee Approves Bill to Limit Pesticide Permitting

The House Ag Committee on Thursday approved a bill, the Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act of 2015, to remove pesticide application permitting processes the bill's sponsors say are duplicative. The committee said the bill clarifies Congressional intent regarding pesticide regulation in or near waters of the United States. The Committee on Agriculture and the full House passed this bill during the two previous Congresses, but the Senate did not act on it. Click Here to read more.  

House Ag Committee Challenge EPA Water Rule.

Last week, the House Ag Subcommittee on Conservation, Energy and Forestry held a hearing on the controversial EPA water rule.  EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers proposed the new rule in March to change the way the U.S. is regulating water under the Clean Water Act.  The hearing came as legislation was introduced by 30 Republican Senators last week to specifically block EPA and Army Corps from finalizing the water of the U.S. rule.   Click Here to read more.

House Ag Leaders: GMO Labeling Bill Does Not Preempt Cultivation Bans

Proponents of a bill that would bar states from requiring the labeling of food made with genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are attempting to clear away confusion about the intent of the legislation, which is expected on the House floor next week.   The Safe and Affordable Food Labeling Act (HR 1599), first introduced by Reps. Mike Pompeo, R-Kan., and G.K. Butterfield, D-N.C., was approved Tuesday by the House Agriculture Committee on a voice vote during a 15-minute meeting.    Supporters are pushing back against a claim made by advocates for mandatory GMO labeling who say the bill would ...

House Ag Members Consider USDA-Run Non-GMO Certification Program

The chairman of the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Biotechnology, Horticulture, and Research, says that the success of USDA's marketing programs indicate a proposed non-GMO certification program could be a viable solution for consumers wanting to avoid genetically engineered food products.   “We just heard from USDA that they have the capability and resources to provide valuable oversight of these voluntary marketing claims,” Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Ill., said at a hearing today, adding that the Agriculture Committee is considering proposed legislation “that seeks to put in place a policy to make this work.”   Click Here ...

House and Senate negotiators reach agreement on water infrastructure bill

Senate and House lawmakers on Monday night reached an agreement on a bipartisan water infrastructure bill that will reauthorize billions of dollars in federal spending on ports, harbors, and waterways as well as deauthorize inefficient spending on water projects.   Chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) and committee ranking member Sen. Tom Carper(D-Del.), along with House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Rep. Bill Shuster(R-Pa.) and Ranking Member Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), on Monday announced agreement on America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018.   The water infrastructure bill is one of ...

House Dems Push for Mandatory GMO Labeling

Backed by food companies like Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream, House Democrats renewed their push on Capitol Hill Wednesday for the mandatory labeling of foods that contain  genetically modified organisms or GMOs.   In March, Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) introduced the Genetically Engineered Food Right-to-Know Act, but to move the bill through Congress, DeFazio said there needs to be a grassroots movement to gain Republican support. Rep. Don Young (Alaska) is the bill's sole Republican co-sponsor now.   Click Here to read more.  

House GOP moves to block overtime rule

House Republicans are looking to shut down an effort by the Obama administration to raise overtime pay for millions of workers.   Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.) on Thursday filled a motion of disapproval under the Congressional Review Act in an effort to repeal the Labor Department’s new overtime rule.   “Our nation’s overtime rules need to be modernized, but the Department of Labor’s extreme and partisan approach will lead to damaging consequences that the American people simply cannot afford,” Foxx said. “This resolution will protect workers, students, small business owners, ...

House GOP Tax Bill Keeps 39.6% Rate for High Earners, Cuts Corporate Rate to 20%

House Republicans’ long-awaited tax overhaul bill will keep the top individual rate at 39.6 percent for high-income earners and will immediately and permanently cut the corporate rate to 20 percent.   The legislation seeks to revamp the tax code in a major way for the first time since 1986, incorporating long-sought goals of congressional Republicans to keep more money in the pockets of individuals and families and boost incentives for businesses by closing loopholes.   The bill would collapse seven tax brackets for individuals to four brackets with rates of 12, 25, 35 and 39.6 percent.    Click Here to read more. 

House GOP voices opposition to progressive income tax

With Democrat J.B. Pritzker saying a progressive state income tax is his top priority, House Republicans are uniting behind yet another resolution pledging their opposition to the idea.   House Republican Leader Jim Durkin of Western Springs and all but one of the other 50 House Republicans signed onto the resolution pledging to oppose a graduated state income tax.   Rep. David Harris of Arlington Heights was the only House Republican not to sign the resolution. Harris could not be reached for comment. He was one of 10 House Republicans to split with Durkin and vote for last summer’s ...

House Moves to Halt WOTUS

On a 262-152 vote, the U.S. House yesterday has passed a bill to prevent the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers from implementing the proposed Waters of the U.S. rules.  H.R. 5078, the Waters of the United States Regulatory Overreach Protection Act would prohibit the EPA and the Army Corps Engineers from redefining "waters of the United States" under the Clean Water Act.   Click Here to read more.

House names 47 to farm bill conference committee

Illinois Reps. Cheri Bustos, Rodney Davis and John Shimkus will help sort out the differences between the House and Senate farm bills.   Bustos, D-East Moline; Davis, R-Taylorville; and Shimkus, R-Collinsville, were among 29 Republican and 18 Democratic conferees announced this week by House leadership. The conferees were named after the House voted to go to conference. The Senate has yet to act.   Click Here to read more.

House Passes Bill to Fight Algae Blooms Blamed partly on Farm Runoff

With strong bipartisan support, the House has passed legislation that would give the EPA 90 days to prepare an assessment and purpose a managment plan for cyanotoxins - the toxic byproducts of algae blooms - found in drinking water.     The Drinking Water Protection Act will be the first step in preventing another Lake Erie water emergency, like the one that left 400,000 residents in and around Toledo, Ohio, without clean drinking water for days last summer, said Rep. Bob Latta, R-Ohio, who sponsored the legislation.  The bill is a revised version of legislation originally offered by Ohio Democrat Marcy ...

House Passes Extension of Small-Business Tax Credits (Sec 179).

The House on Friday passed legislation to renew tax credits for small businesses indefinitely. Approved 272-142, the bill would extend three tax breaks, including one known as the Section 179 credit that allows businesses to write off certain expenses. Thirty-three Democrats joined all but one Republican in support. Democrats largely support renewing the tax breaks, often called "extenders" because of the need to renew them regularly. But Democrats objected the GOP proposal of doing away with the expiration dates without offsetting the cost. The Joint Committee on Taxation estimates that the bill would cost $79 billion over 10 years.   Click Here to ...

House Passes GMO Legislation. 275 to 150. Battle Goes to the Senate.

The food industry's campaign to stop states from requiring labels on genetically engineered products faces an uncertain future in the Senate following a landmark, bipartisan victory in the House.   With support from 45 Democrats, the House voted 275-150 on Thursday to approve the  Safe and Affordable Food Labeling Act (HR 1599), which in addition to preempting state GMO labeling requirements would set up a process for labeling foods as non-biotech. Twelve Republicans opposed the bill.   “We managed to get nearly every Republican and a significant number of Democrats. It puts us on pretty good footing to go ...

House Passes Pesticide Regulations Bill

The House on Thursday passed legislation to eliminate a permit requirement for pesticides already subject to federal regulations.   Passage of the bill,267-161, comes three days after it failed to win approval under suspension of the rules.   Click Here to read more.

House to vote to kill WOTUS rule

The House will vote next week on whether to kill the Obama administration's “waters of the United States” rule, as GOP leaders seek to make a case to voters for electing a Republican president.    The disapproval resolution passed the Senate in November, 53-44, well short of the two-thirds majority necessary to overturn a certain presidential veto.   “I'm expecting a veto. That doesn't mean we shouldn't do our business in the legislative branch,” said Rep. Adrian Smith, a Nebraska Republican who introduced the House version of the resolution.   Despite ...

House Votes to Block EPA Water Rules

The Republican controlled House on Tuesday approved a bill to block the Obama administration from implementing a rule that asserts regulatory authority over many of the nation's streams and wetlands - an action that critics call classic Washington overreach.   The EPA has proposed a rule that its says will clarify which streams and waterways are shields from development under the Clean Water Act, an issue that remains in dispute even after two U.S. Supreme Court rulings.   Click Here to read more.

How 5G will change the future of farming

5G has the potential to disrupt a huge number of industries, including one of the world's oldest: Farming.   Next-generation 5G networks can be 100 times faster than 4G, making communication between devices and servers much quicker. 5G can also carry much more data than other networks.   That makes the technology ideal for transmitting information from remote sensors and drones, key tools that are being tested by farmers. 5G is also helping to automate farming processes.   Drones that use 5G are helping to improve potato production in the Netherlands. And in Japan, 5G sensors are used to monitor ...

How China is working hard to be less reliant on US farmers

China is looking to boost its domestic production of soybeans, potentially becoming less reliant on U.S. farmers amid a tit-for-tat trade war between the world's largest economies.   China included lifting soybean production in a five-year plan issued in 2016, but in early April it announced that soybean farmers in China's northeastern provinces would be getting higher subsidies than its corn producers this year. This notably came amid a fierce war of words between Beijing and Washington and just a day before China said it was going to slap a 25 percent levy on U.S. imports which included ...

How Gene Editing Will Boost Crop Yields

On the surface, a light switch and gene editing have as much in common as a linebacker does with a ballerina.    Dig a bit deeper, though. “In a very simple way, the main application of gene editing is like flipping a light switch on and off,” says Federico Tripodi, chief executive officer of Calyxt, a New Brighton, Minnesota, agricultural technology firm.   Gene editing is a group of technologies used to turn on or off or alter material at specific locations in a crop’s genome (an organism’s genetic material). Want to rid ...

How GMOs Help Us Reduce Food Waste & Its Environmental Impact

Producing enough food to meet the needs of a growing global population, while limiting our impact on the environment is undoubtedly one of the biggest challenges of our time. Reducing food loss and waste is and will continue to be a critical part of the solution.   Today, we produce more than enough food to feed everyone on the planet, but nearly 800 million people around the world still suffer from hunger. Why? One of the reasons, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), is that one third of food produced for human consumption globally – approximately 2.9 trillion ...

How The Non-GMO Project Is Adapting To A Gene-Edited World

Food technology is booming these days. Consumers can go to the grocery store and find apples that don’t brown. In 2019, they’ll be able to shop for plant-based burgers genetically engineered to taste like beef. It wasn’t too long ago that high tech foods were perceived as frightening, but now the public is captivated by the possibility of meatless meat grown in a lab and grapes that taste like cotton candy. At the same time, they’re also buying lots of non-GMO labeled foods and it’s not entirely clear why. If a ...

How the U.S.-China Trade War Has Reached a Turning Point

Brown Farms planted signs in their Decatur, Illinois, fields last spring. The wooden markers identifying the soybean field as non-GMO or LibertyLink were visual reminders that the crop within was sensitive to certain herbicides.   This year the farm has the option of calling on the power of digital signs, as well, said David Brown, who farms with his brother, Joe, and son, Chase.   They plan to map their sensitive fields in FieldWatch, the largest national, map-based registry of specialty crops (DriftWatch), beehives (BeeCheck), and row crops (CropCheck). The non-profit company allows farmers and beekeepers to log their property ...

How things have changed in the world of RMP Risks... Anhydrous Ammonia

There are 631 fewer RMP covered processes with Anhydrous Ammonia since 2011.  This translates to a reduction of right at 78 million pounds in anhydrous ammonia in reported RMP covered processes. This took anhydrous ammonia from a clear #1 in pounds in RMP covered processes in 2011 down to #3 in 2017 (see tables below).  What drove such a reduction?  Could it be that OSHA and EPA's process safety standards are actually having the impact they had hoped for... reducing inventories and thus reducing the severity of a catastrophic release.  It would be interesting to dig deeper and determine what drove such ...

How to rebuild the public's trust in, and connections to, modern agriculture

October conjures images of bountiful harvests here in the U.S. Heartland, where it was my privilege to participate in the 2017 World Food Prize events.    As a panelist on the topic of agricultural innovation, I discussed the challenges testing agriculture like never before: a growing population, evolving pest pressures, shifting consumer preferences and a changing climate. Fortunately, there are potential game-changing advances in digital farming, plant breeding, soil health, robotics, and satellite imagery that will help us overcome these challenges.   But innovation doesn’t do us any good if society isn’t buying what we&...

How will governor candidates tackle Illinois’ big pension problem?

What may be Illinois’ most intractable problem also happens to be its most expensive.   It’s how the state will cope with the $130 billion debt owed to the five state-funded pension systems.   The single biggest component of that debt stems from decades of underfunding the pension systems. Governors of both parties and lawmakers from both parties approved budgets that did not include enough money to cover all the required payments to the systems.   The problem is exacerbated by state Supreme Court rulings that limit what a governor and General Assembly can do to deal with ...

Hundreds of millions of dollars from legal weed will help balance budget, Pritzker says

Illinois may be able to bring in $350 million to $700 million a year in new state revenue if marijuana is legalized, says the next governor of the state.   When Governor-elect J.B. Pritzker takes office in January, the Chicago Democrat will have Democratic super-majorities in the House and Senate.   So what does that mean?   Could there be legal marijuana for recreational use? Pritzker said on the campaign trail he is for it and in an interview said it could be a revenue source to help balance the state’s budget. Speaker Mike Madigan has recently given his ...

IDNR launches sensitive site map

Dicamba product labels require applicators to check for nearby sensitive crops and sensitive areas and follow label precautions.  To help accomplish this, IFCA is recommending using Driftwatch/Fieldwatch website for the location of specialty crops and go the IDNR website to see areas designated for threatened and endangered species and other protected areas of the State.    The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) this week rolled out a new initiative involving state natural areas, threatened and endangered species and agricultural pesticides.   Just ahead of spring fieldwork, IDNR posted an interactive state map that outlines areas with ...

IDOA Announces State-Specific Restrictions on Use of Herbicide Dicamba on Soybeans for 2019

The Illinois Department of Agriculture (IDOA) announced today it will require Special Local Needs labels, including new restrictions, for the use of the herbicide dicamba on soybeans in Illinois for the 2019 growing season. Dicamba is primarily used on soybeans to control post-emergence broadleaf weeds.   On February 15, IDOA notified the manufacturers of the three dicamba-containing products approved for over-the-top application to dicamba-tolerant (DT) soybeans that additional application restrictions will be required for the 2019 growing season. The affected formulations of dicamba are Engenia by BASF, XtendiMax with Vapor Grip Technology by Bayer, and FeXapan plus Vapor Grip Technology by DuPont/Corteva. ...

IDOA ready to field dicamba complaints

Here’s how the Illinois Department of Ag will handle misuse complaints this year, plus a look at managing planting delays with a June 30 cutoff for dicamba.   The Illinois Department of Agriculture is heading into the 2019 growing season ready to field complaints about off-target drift and damage from dicamba.   While not many complaints have been received so far in 2019, Doug Owens, chief of the Bureau of Environmental Programs, says he has a good idea where a majority of the complaints will come from this year as his bureau continues to wrap up complaints from 2018. IDOA is still ...

IDOT director calls for more reliable infrastructure funding

Gambling revenues that have failed to meet expectation show the need for a more reliable, long-term source of transportation funding, the head of the Illinois Department of Transportation said Tuesday. Acting Secretary Randy Blankenhorn was not yet prepared to say what that source might be. "At some point in the near future, something has to happen," Blankenhorn said in a phone interview with The State Journal-Register. "There's a structural issue with the way we have in the past funded infrastructure." Click Here to read more.  

IEMA director leaving for job in federal government

The director of the Illinois Emergency Management Agency has stepped down to take a job at the federal level, Gov. Bruce Rauner announced Monday.   James Joseph, who has led IEMA since early 2015, will be replaced by Joseph Klinger of Springfield, who will serve as acting director.   Joseph has been appointed by President Donald Trump’s administration as regional administrator for the Federal Emergency Management Agency Region V office in Chicago. He will oversee a six-state region that includes Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin.   Click Here to read more.

If GMO's are not the Answer, Then What it?

We live on a finite planet with a human population of 7.2 billion, a number that is increasing by almost 100,000 per day. Given that the world population is expected to increase by another 2 billion people over the next 50 years (in addition to the 1 billion who are currently undernourished), and that food will have to be produced on fewer acres of land with less water, there is a fundamental question that must be asked and answered: If agricultural technology and scientific advances including genetically engineered crops — often referred to as genetically modified organisms (GMOs) — are not the answer, then what ...

IFB urges farmers to be aware of sensitive natural areas

Illinois Farm Bureau last week provided members information about a new Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) map denoting sensitive sites and encouraged farmers to meticulously read and follow pesticide labels.   During a webinar, Lyndsey Ramsey, IFB associate director of natural and environmental resources, warned pesticide applications will be under “a magnifying glass” after the Illinois Department of Agriculture received more than 400 pesticide misuse complaints last year.   IDNR posted an interactive map that outlines areas with unspecified threatened and endangered species, Illinois Nature Preserve Commission sites, state natural area inventory sites and IDNR owned and managed ...

IFCA & IDOA Fall Anhydrous Ammonia Safety Schools Starts Next Week.......Register Today!

With summer almost over, IFCA has posted the dates and locations for the IFCA/IDOA fall anhydrous ammonia safety classes.  This fall IFCA will host six classes, beginning on September 14.  To see the dates and locations and to register on-line, click here or visit the ammonia training icon on IFCA's hompage at www.ifca.com.  John Rebholz, IFCA's Director of Safety & Education, is always available to answer any ammonia and compliance related so don't hesitate to call us for assistance, especially as you are working to upgrade your facilities to meet the Year 2020 ...

IFCA Emphasizes 6 Tips For Anhydrous Transport Safety

IFCA has provided the following bulletin late last week:   With the 2019 spring season just beginning, seven ammonia releases have already occurred in the state of Illinois. The latest incident took place yesterday in Beach Park, IL. Beach Park is roughly 50 miles north of Chicago, just near the Wisconsin border. A grower was transporting two side-by-side ammonia nurse tanks behind an ammonia tool-bar with his tractor at 4:30 in the morning when the incident occurred. It was reported that 37 people were transported to the hospital, with up to 7 people listed as being in critical condition.   If the grower is in ...

IFCA Gives Fall Ammonia Safety and 4R Stewardship Tips

The fall ammonia season is fast approaching. John Rebholz, IFCA's Director of Safety & Education, prepared the following points regarding safety and compliance as you prepare nurse tanks for transportation and application:   1. If you still need anhydrous ammonia safety training for new or part-time employees, IFCA offers an online NH3 training certificate that is good for 90 days. Go to http://nh3.ifca.com/form/    2. When going from field to field, liquid transfer hose(s) cannot be joined between any nurse tank and any toolbar during transport upon a public right-of-way.   Click Here to read more. &...

IFCA Releases Suggestions To EPA On Dicamba Applications On Soybeans

The IFCA Board and staff has been very engaged all year on the dicamba issue. We talk with the IDA every week regarding the misuse complaints and the IDA investigations, and we recently met with all the pesticide manufacturers to discuss the best path forward given the high number of complaints that farmers have filed with the IDA, the clear majority of which are dicamba symptoms on sensitive soybeans.   As of today, IDA has received 319 misuse complaints attributed to dicamba symptoms and the total number of pesticide misuse complaints is now at 500---a historic high and something that demands ...

IFCA stresses dicamba stewardship

Now that a formulation of dicamba herbicide has been approved for use in Illinois this year, Illinois Fertilizer and Chemical Association (IFCA) President Jean Payne says the next step is education on proper stewardship of the technology.   “We’re going to have to do an incredible amount of training with our members and with private applicators, which would be farmers, on the proper stewardship of this, because we don’t want to lose this technology if we don’t handle it correctly,” Payne said. “It’s a huge issue and we’...

IFCA wants June 30th cutoff and other dicamba restrictions

The Illinois Fertilizer and Chemical Association wants the EPA to set a cut-off for dicamba application next year. Association president Jean Payne tells Brownfield Ag News their suggestion of June 30th is based on feedback from professional applicators, “That would still give us flexibility in replant. But, in reality, even when we have to replant soybeans, by June 30th your soybeans are up, in the post-emerge condition. And so we threw that date out for Illinois but recognize other states might have other cut-off dates.”   Payne says complaints of damage to non-tolerant soybeans in the two years ...

IFCA's "News Under the Dome" for December

Clich Here to find IFCA's “News Under the Dome” for December.  Included in this month's article is an update on 2018 Farm Bill, the fall veto session in Springfield, funding for the LaGrange lock, a list of live auction items for the AG-SOLVE PAC auction and Former Secretary of Ag John Block speaking at the AG-SOLVE breakfast in January at the IFCA Convention and Trade Show.      

IFCA's "News Under the Dome" for December

Clich Here to find IFCA's “News Under the Dome” for December.  Included in this month's article is an update on 2018 Farm Bill, the fall veto session in Springfield, funding for the LaGrange lock, a list of live auction items for the AG-SOLVE PAC auction and Former Secretary of Ag John Block speaking at the AG-SOLVE breakfast in January at the IFCA Convention and Trade Show.  

IFCA's "News Under the Dome" for March

Click Here to read IFCA's "News Under the Dome" for March.  Stories in this month's newsletter: -IFCA Heads to the Hill. -Key State Legislative Issues IFCA is Watching this Spring Session. -Illinois Department of Ag Announces Special Local Needs Dicamba Labels. -Rep. Hammond and Rep. Costello Recieve IFCA/AG-SOLVE "Friend of Agrculture" Award. -Illinois Gov. Sigs Bill Raising Minimum Wage to $15 Hour. -Pritzker Unveils "Bridge Budget" that Relies on New Revenue, Calls for Graduated Income Tax. -Former U.S. Secetary of Ag John Block Speaks at AG-SOLVE PAC Breakfast. -Pesticide Registration (...

IFCA's "News Under the Dome" Newsletter for April

Click Here to read IFCA's "News Under the Dome" for April.  Stories in this month's newsletter include:   -Updated Key State Legislative Issues IFCA is Watching This Spring Session   -Removal of Registration and License Plates on Anhydrous  Nurse Wagons & Floaters One Step Closer to Becoming Law   -IFCA Members Educate Lawmakers on Ag Input Industry at Agribusiness Legislative Breakfast    -Measure Allowing Local Gas Tax on Top of State Gas Tax Approved in Committee   -Senate Ag Committee Members Tour Ag Retail Locations   -Share Your Position on Gov. Pritzker's ...

IFCA's "News Under the Dome" Newsletter for April

Click Here to read IFCA's "News Under the Dome" for April.  Stories in this month's newsletter include:   -Updated Key State Legislative Issues IFCA is Watching This Spring Session   -Removal of Registration and License Plates on Anhydrous  Nurse Wagons & Floaters One Step Closer to Becoming Law   -IFCA Members Educate Lawmakers on Ag Input Industry at Agribusiness Legislative Breakfast   -Measure Allowing Local Gas Tax on Top of State Gas Tax Approved in Committee   -Senate Ag Committee Members Tour Ag Retail Locations   -Share Your Position on Gov. Pritzker's Proposed ...

IFCA's "News Under the Dome" Newsletter for March

Click Here to read IFCA's "News Under the Dome" for March.  Stories in this month's newsletter: -IFCA Heads to the Hill. -Key State Legislative Issues IFCA is Watching this Spring Session. -Illinois Department of Ag Announces Special Local Needs Dicamba Labels. -Rep. Hammond and Rep. Costello Recieve IFCA/AG-SOLVE "Friend of Agrculture" Award. -Illinois Gov. Sigs Bill Raising Minimum Wage to $15 Hour. -Pritzker Unveils "Bridge Budget" that Relies on New Revenue, Calls for Graduated Income Tax. -Former U.S. Secetary of Ag John Block Speaks at AG-SOLVE PAC Breakfast. -Pesticide Registration (...

IFCA's "News Under the Dome" Newsletter for November

Click Here to read this month IFCA's "News Under the Dome".  It covers Illinois election results, IFCA working Capitol Hill to pass a Farm Bill in lame duck session, and the upcoming AG-SOLVE PAC live auction at the IFCA convention.   

IFCA's End of Session Report for Spring 2018

The Illinois General Assembly adjourned last week after passing a $38.5 billion budget.  Also last week Gov. Rauner signed the FY19 budget into law.    The Senate and House will not be coming back to Springfield until after the November elections for fall veto session on November 13.   Click Here to read IFCA's End of Spring Session Report for 2018.   As always if you have any questions regarding national or state legislation, please don't hesitate to email or call KJ Johnson at KJ@IFCA.COM or 309-827-2774  

IFCA's Legislative Breakfast is this Thursday at the Sangamo Club in Springfield.

If the weather keeps you out of the field this Thursday, please feel free to join us for the IFCA Legislative Breakfast at the Sangamo Club in downtown Springfield.  This event is always well attended by legislators and we partner with the Grain & Feed Association and the Seed Trade Association to share agribusiness priorities with our legislators and regulatory officials.  The breakfast begins at 7:15 am.  If you would like to attend, please send KJ Johnson an email at kj@ifca.com. All IFCA members are welcome to come.  

IFCA's Legislative Breakfast Rescheduled To April 19th.

If the weather keeps you out of the field on April 19, please feel free to join us for the IFCA Legislative Breakfast at the Sangamo Club in downtown Springfield.  This event is always well attended by legislators and we partner with the Grain & Feed Association and the Seed Trade Association to share agribusiness priorities with our legislators and regulatory officials.  The breakfast begins at 7:30 am.  If you would like to attend, please send KJ Johnson an email at kj@ifca.com.  

IFCA's Payne Issues Dicamba Reminders

There is now a June 30 cutoff date for the herbicide which cannot be sprayed if there is a residential area immediately adjacent to the field or neighboring and it is down wind on the day you want to spray. The crop also cannot be sprayed if there is a sensitive soybean crop down wind.     “The cutoff date is just meant to bring closure to a season,” Jean Payne explains. “That herbicide performs better the earlier you can apply it on soybeans so I think we really want to promote early application and use of residual ...

IFCA's Springfield Legislative Update

For an overview of the Springfield legislative session this year, the good and the bad, click here.  

IFCA, GFAI and ISTA Annual "Agribusiness Breakfast and Legislative Update" is next Thursday at the Sangamo Club in Springfield.

Please join the Illinois Fertilizer and Chemical Association, Grain and Feed Association of Illinois, and the Illinois Seed Trade Association for it's annual "Illinois Agribusiness Breakfast and Legislative Update" at the Sangamo Club on Thursday March 21 at 7:30am, with a short discussion at 7:45am.  There is still a handful of seats still available.  If you would like to attend, please RSVP to Leslie at Leslief@ifca.com or call 309-827-2774.  If you will be at the breakfast, we encourage you to call your State Representative and Senator and let them know you will ...

IFCA, GFAI and ISTA Annual "Agribusiness Breakfast and Legislative Update" is this Thursday at the Sangamo Club in Springfield.

Please join the Illinois Fertilizer and Chemical Association, Grain and Feed Association of Illinois, and the Illinois Seed Trade Association for its annual "Illinois Agribusiness Breakfast and Legislative Update" at the Sangamo Club on Thursday March 21 at 7:30am, with a short discussion at 7:45am.  There are still a handful of seats still available.  If you would like to attend, please RSVP to Leslie at Leslief@ifca.com or call 309-827-2774.  If you will be at the breakfast, we encourage you to call your State Representative and Senator and let them know you will ...

IFCA, GFAI and ISTA Legislative Breakfast Next Thursday at the Sangamo Club in Springfield

Please join the Illinois Fertilizer and Chemical Association, Grain and Feed Association of Illinois, and the Illinois Seed Trade Association for it's annual "Illinois Agribusiness Breakfast and Lesislative Update" at the Sangamo Club on Thursday March 21th at 7:30am, with a short discussion at 7:45am.  All IFCA members are welcome to join.  If you would like to attend, please RSVP to Leslie at Leslief@ifca.com or call 309-827-2774.  If you will be at the breakfast, we encourage you to call your State Representative and Senator and let them know you will be ...

IL Governor candidate Bob Daiber calls for dicamba herbicide ban

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Bob Daiber called Thursday for Illinois to join Missouri and Arkansas in imposing a ban on the herbicide dicamba.   “I do not believe there are safeguards in place as of this day to safely use the herbicide in its current state,” said Daiber, who is himself a farmer planting corn and soybeans.   He noted bans on the herbicide’s use in Missouri and Arkansas and said he was concerned about the fact that of 430 pesticide-related complaints filed with the state Department of Agriculture last year, 246 were related to dicamba.   Daiber said ...

Ill. House deals Rauner setbacks, but he wins on 'right-to-work'

The Illinois House dealt Gov. Bruce Rauner a series of setbacks Wednesday by overriding vetoes of measures that represented the Republican's political, as well as policy, disputes with Democrats.   Rauner lauded one victory, a failed override of his veto of legislation banning anti-union "right-to-work" zones.   The lowest point for the governor came when the House voted 112-0 to overturn his veto of a financial reporting measure that had devolved into a political spat with Democratic state Comptroller Susana Mendoza.   The legislation would require state agencies to report to the comptroller monthly on bills they'...

Illinois Ag Contributes $120.9 Billion to the State Economy

A new study of agriculture in Illinois shows agriculture is a critical component of Illinois' overall economic well-being, contributing about $120.9 billion of total economic output — more than several other Illinois industries, including the financial, transportation and construction industries.   Click Here to read more.

Illinois Ag Retailers Discuss Dicamba

Illinois has been a hot spot for the dicamba debate in 2018. Injury complaints to the Illinois Department of Agriculture are running 20% higher than during the same period in 2017.   With re-registration of the herbicides approved for use with the Xtend technology pending and off-target movement still being reported, the Illinois Fertilizer and Chemical Association (IFCA) felt a survey of custom applicators might provide some helpful clues to assess experiences with post application of dicamba on soybean.   The intent was to give feedback to registrants and other stakeholders on how this technology might be better managed, said IFCA President Jean ...

Illinois at heart of U.S. Interstate System

Its neighbor to the east may claim “The Crossroads of America” title, but by nearly any measure, Illinois is the heart of the U.S. Interstate System.   Illinois has the third highest total of interstate routes and mileage. Only New York and California have more I-designated roadways, with 7 million and 25 million more residents, respectively. Only Texas and California routes cover more mileage, though those states are five and three times larger by territory.   And the importance of the routes — many of which were designed to pass through or near Chicago, with its access to the ...

Illinois at the Bottom in Taxpayer Study

No one likes paying taxes but finances tend to be a particularly touchy subject in Illinois. We have a gargantuan budget deficit and a governor intent on various spending cuts to ameliorate that deficit. Unfunded pension obligations mass on our horizon, not to mention a whole mess of Chicago bond debt. But on April 15, National Tax Day, Illinois has yet another reason to be fiscally glum: A new study has name the Land of Lincoln the worst place in America to be a taxpayer. Click Here to read more.  

Illinois avoids credit ‘junk’ heap — for now

Illinois has escaped the immediate pressure of its credit rating being downgraded to “junk” bond status — for now— Moody’s Investors said on Thursday.   Moody’s said the passage of a state budget for the first time in two years “alleviated liquidity pressure and moved the state closer to fiscal balance.”   Lawmakers overrode Gov. Bruce Rauner’s vetoes of a budget package earlier this month — marking the end to a historic impasse that decimated the state’s social service network and public universities. The threat of a &...

Illinois Bill Backlog Keeps Growing

Though the state of Illinois finally got a budget this summer, it still has billions of dollars in unpaid bills, and the amount keeps changing.   According to a review by the Associated Press, Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza’s office has been working to pay down the IOUs, but more of them piled up in the last three months. And an additional $9 billion worth of checks are being withheld because the state doesn’t have the money to pay them.   Mendoza’s office says the state could end up paying about $900 million in late payment fees. &...

Illinois bonds fall as budget impasse pushes rating toward junk

Illinois bond prices have dropped as Gov. Bruce Rauner and lawmakers remain locked in two-year stalemate over the government's budget, increasing the chance that it may become the first U.S. state ever cut to junk.   Illinois's 10-year bond yields, which move in the opposite direction as price, have soared to about 5.2 percent, or 3.36 percentage points more than top-rated municipal debt, according to Bloomberg's indexes. Securities due in 2023, the most actively traded Friday, sold for an average yield of 4.3 percent, a nearly half percentage point jump since May 31, the day before S&P Global Ratings ...

Illinois borrows millions for building despite budget mess

Illinois borrowed $550 million Thursday for construction projects, taking advantage of historically low interest rates as the state approaches one full year with a budget.   Gov. Bruce Rauner's office announced the bond sale to Bank of America Merrill Lynch in a bidding process that offered Illinois a 3.74 percent interest rate — the lowest in Illinois history for similarly situated general obligation bonds, a spokeswoman said.   A bond expert noted the entire market is operating amid all-time low interest rates and Illinois could have done better were it in better fiscal shape.   What's worse, much of the ...

Illinois Business Pushes Back on Public Right to Sue Bills

The Illinois General Assembly is considering whether people should be allowed to sue to block regulatory decisions of state government. The state’s business community says that’s dangerous for the economy.   The legislation would change the rules surrounding decisions on things like construction permits. Typically, input on those decisions are limited to a state agency and a business applying for a permit. Anyone who proves they would be “adversely affected” by a project could sue to get its permit revoked.   A number of business groups argue that’ll lead to unnecessary lawsuits. ...

Illinois can follow other states’ lead to $15 minimum hourly wage

As it considers raising its minimum wage to $15 an hour, Illinois has a few examples to follow.   Last Wednesday, the Illinois Senate Labor Committee had a hearing on raising Illinois’ minimum wage from $8.25 to $15. There is no agreement on how long the transition would take, or if it should be done uniformly statewide.   Legislation could be sent to the Senate floor as early as Wednesday.   Raising the minimum   This year began with 18 states having new, higher minimum wages.   Of those, eight wage increases were automatic cost-of-living adjustments. The other 10 were the result of specific ...

Illinois casinos, horse racetracks wager their financial futures on sports betting

While the grandstands are still empty at Fairmount Park, horses, with riders mounted, gallop around the dirt track, which is muddy from the previous night’s rain.   There are about 475 horses that train at any one time at the racetrack as they get ready for the 2019 season that starts on April 16. By opening day, 600 to 700 horses will be registered at the racetrack before reaching the 900-horse capacity, said Brian Zander, president of Fairmount Park.   “We should have a total of about 41 racing days, and those should be enough horses for that and we’re actually ...

Illinois considers applying sales taxes to more services

If you get your nails done at a salon or have your lawn mulched next spring, the service could be taxed under a plan Illinois lawmakers are considering to help fill a multibillion-dollar hole in the state budget.   The idea comes as part of a proposal to increase state revenue tied to a Senate compromise intended to break the state’s two-year stalemate over an annual spending plan. The “grand bargain” stalled last month before the revenue measure came to a vote.   But lawmakers say they’ll keep working on the plan.   Click ...

Illinois considers legalizing marijuana for a fiscal boost

Marijuana advocates are trying to lay the groundwork for Illinois to become the first state in the Midwest and the ninth nationwide to legalize recreational pot, arguing the move will help solve the state's notorious budget crisis.   Two Illinois state lawmakers introduced legislation last week that would allow residents 21 and older to possess, grow or buy up to an ounce (28 grams) of marijuana and license businesses to sell marijuana products subject to regulation. They say it would help fill Illinois' multibillion-dollar budget hole with $350 million to $700 million in new tax revenue   A national advocacy group, the Marijuana ...

Illinois Corn Crop Forecast 14% Lower Than 2014 Harvest

Illinois’s corn crop is forecast to come in more than 14% lower than last year, in line with the most recent federal projections, according to an average of survey results collected by scouts on a closely watched crop tour.   In Illinois, corn yields were estimated Wednesday at 171.64 bushels an acre, down from the 200 bushels an acre produced for last year, as reported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The projection for this year is above the state’s three-year average of 163.01, and roughly equal to the USDA’s Aug. 1 forecast for the state, which estimated ...

Illinois Corn Crop Forecast 14% Lower Than 2014 Harvest

Illinois’s corn crop is forecast to come in more than 14% lower than last year, in line with the most recent federal projections, according to an average of survey results collected by scouts on a closely watched crop tour.   In Illinois, corn yields were estimated Wednesday at 171.64 bushels an acre, down from the 200 bushels an acre produced for last year, as reported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The projection for this year is above the state’s three-year average of 163.01, and roughly equal to the USDA’s Aug. 1 forecast for the state, which estimated ...

Illinois could lose extra congressional seat, billions of dollars if residents dodge census

The loss of two congressional seats and billions of dollars in federal funding are only two of the problems facing Illinois if it cannot get all of its residents to respond to the 2020 census.   Although the official count does not start for another year, the federal government and state and local governments are ramping up their efforts to make the next census as accurate as possible.   Activists, lawmakers and community leaders around the state, meanwhile, are fighting to address all the factors that might contribute to an undercount.   Click Here to read more.

Illinois Democrats have control, but can they get work done?

The Illinois General Assembly convenes this week, ushering in the Prairie State’s third century with historic numbers of Democrats running the show and pent-up demand for action.   Can they get any work done?   Democrats have not surrendered control of either chamber of the legislature for more than 15 years, but progress has been overshadowed by scandals that sent two successive governors to federal prison, backed-up bills and a long-overdue pension debt coming home to roost, and, in the past four years, ideological stalemate with Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner, which stalled even a basic annual spending plan for ...

Illinois Democrats push back on Trump immigration hard line

Democrats who control the Illinois General Assembly pushed back last spring against Republican President Donald Trump's hardline stance on immigration, aiming to protect Illinois residents regardless of their residency status and, in some cases, firing off direct repudiation of the nation's top executive.   Illinois is not alone. State-level legislation related to immigration increased 110 percent during Trump's first year in office, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures . Many directly dealt with immigrant and refugee rights as well as with compliance with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.   Here's a look at policies Illinois ...

Illinois Department of Agriculture seeks $8 million to regulate recreational marijuana, if lawmakers approve it

While members of the General Assembly debate allowing recreational marijuana in Illinois, the state’s Department of Agriculture is preparing for legalization.   The department has asked for $8 million for the costs of regulating the cannabis industry, should lawmakers move ahead with to make drug legal for adults.   “We don’t know what the final bill would look like,” said John Sullivan, director of the Department of Agriculture.   Click Here to read more.

Illinois Department of Agriculture to Offer Free Recycling Program for Agrichemical Containers

The Illinois Department of Agriculture is encouraging farmers and agrichemical facilities to save their empty agrichemical containers.  The department announced today it has arranged to recycle them.     Beginning at the end of July and continuing in August, sites throughout the state will collect containers.  The containers will be recycled to make shipping pallets, fence posts, drainage tubing, plastic lumber and other useful products.   Click Here to read more.  

Illinois DNR Issues Long-Awaited Fracking Rules

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources released on Friday a long-awaited plan to regulate high-volume oil and gas drilling that supporters hope could bring an economic boost to Southern Illinois but environmentalists fear may be too lenient.   Click Here to read more.

Illinois Drone Law Extended to Private Operators

Late last week Gov Pat Quinn signed legislation to extended state drone regulations to private craft.   Click Here to read more.

Illinois drought could impact winter wheat crop

Illinois is facing a drought in some parts of the state that could impact its winter wheat crop.   Mark Schleusener, statistician for the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Illinois, said as of Thursday, 55 percent of the state was abnormally dry or worse.   The southern and western parts of the state have been most affected.   “The southern part of the state is where our winter wheat is grown for the most part,” Schleusener said.   The recent cold snap in the state and much of the country could potentially kill the wheat.   Click Here ...

Illinois election board to consider remapping ballot item

State election officials are expected to consider certification of a proposed ballot measure that would ask Illinois voters if an independent commission should draw Illinois' political boundaries.   The Illinois State Board of Elections is scheduled to take up the proposal Monday. Last month election officials said a group called Independent Map Amendment had enough valid signatures to be listed on November's general election ballot.   However, the proposed ballot question still faces a lawsuit in Cook County that could keep it off the ballot. Oral arguments are expected June 30.   In 2014, a judge ruled a similar effort couldn'...

Illinois Election Day Roundup

Illinois State Wide Races Democrats dominated in Illinois on Tuesday night, winning all statewide offices. J.B. Pritzker defeated Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner (by 14.5 points). Nearly 700,000 more ballots were cast in the 2018 Illinois elections compared with 2014 and J.B. Pritzker may have received nearly all of those votes. Pritzker won the 2018 Illinois governor’s race earning 675,000 more votes statewide than Gov. Pat Quinn did in his failed re-election bid in 2014.   Democratic state Sen. Kwame Raoul topped Republican attorney Erika Harold for the open attorney general seat. Other Democrats who won re-election statewide: Comptroller Susana ...

Illinois election results offer more evidence of urban-rural divide

Democrats did what was once unthinkable when they flipped two suburban Chicago congressional districts that had been held by Republicans pretty much since World War II. It was territory that produced GOP stalwarts such as Henry Hyde and Dennis Hastert and where, until Tuesday, incumbents had regularly won re-election by 20 percentage points or more. But the Democratic successes didn’t extend south to the farms and small towns of central and southern Illinois, where GOP congressmen held on to two other seats Democrats had targeted, including one in a blue-collar district that was reliably Democratic until just a few ...

Illinois end-of-year budget deficit to top $6B

The state’s budget deficit will top $6.2 billion for the fiscal year through June 30, forecasters for the Illinois General Assembly estimated Wednesday.   In a review requested by Rep. David McSweeney, the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability said if Illinois goes a third full year without a budget agreement, the state’s leviathan of past-due bills will hit $22.7 billion. It sat at $14.9 billion Wednesday.   McSweeney, who said, “Illinois is imploding,” released the results to The Associated Press.   “The governor needs to call the General Assembly into special session every day until we ...

Illinois enters 2017 with no state budget

Illinoisans can be forgiven for having a sense of dÃjà vu. The six-month spending plan passed by the General Assembly at the end of June expired at midnight Saturday.   As of now, state lawmakers aren't due to return to Springfield until Jan. 9 for what would be a very abbreviated lame-duck session where outgoing lawmakers could still vote on a new state spending plan and elements of Gov. Bruce Rauner's pro-business "turnaround agenda" if they chose.   The 100th edition of the General Assembly will get started Jan. 11 when inauguration ceremonies are held for ...

Illinois Environmental groups push for lead testing of water in schools

A group of environmental organizations is pushing for a law that requires elementary schools in Illinois to test for high levels of lead in drinking fountains, sinks and other water sources because they say school districts aren’t likely to test without prodding.   Lead, which is particularly dangerous for young children, can cause behavioral problems, learning disabilities and other health issues.   “There’s no safe level of lead that we can give to children,” said Jennifer Walling, executive director of the umbrella organization Illinois Environmental Council and a backer of the bill. “In ...

Illinois EPA plan for $109M haul from Volkswagen emissions scandal draws fire

Rauner administration plans to divvy up a nearly $109 million anti-pollution windfall from a legal settlement with Volkswagen are taking fire from an array of critics who fear the process has been commandeered by business interests.   Environmentalists, public health groups and some state lawmakers claim the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency has shut the public out of talks on how to spend the money while drafting a plan largely based on input from big industry.   Click Here to read more.

Illinois Farmer Touts Advantages of 4R Nutrient Strategy

The three Rs have long been seen as the foundation of a well-rounded education. Now some farmers are touting the four Rs as a way to achieve a well-rounded nutrient strategy.   Illinois farmer Grant Strom discussed farmer innovation in adopting the 4R nutrient strategy in a presentation during the 2017 Fertilizer Outlook and Technology Conference held last week in New Orleans, Louisiana. The Dahinda, Illinois, farmer is co-owner/operator of Strom Farms, a corn and soybean operation.   Strom was invited to speak as the 2017 The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) 4R Advocate award winner. The 4R nutrient strategy is the right ...

Illinois farmers still holding out for U.S.-Canada trade deal

There’s still no deal between the U.S. and Illinois’ largest trading partner Canada, but a deal inked with Mexico has farmers in the Land of Lincoln feeling more optimistic.   After months of trade uncertainty following the administration’s scrapping of the North American Free Trade Agreement, President Donald Trump announced late last month a deal with Mexico.   Trump said last week in Montana that he’s winning on trade.   “We have a deal we just made with Mexico that’s a fair deal,” Trump said. “It’...

Illinois FFA fights for funding

The removal of one relatively small line item in the state's proposed fiscal 2017 budget has caused members of the Illinois General Assembly to be visited by one of the most effective lobbying organizations in the state – high school students wearing blue and gold.   “They really love to see our blue-and-gold jackets, and they know, 'Oh, those are FFA members coming through,' said Illinois FFA (which stands for Future Farmers of America) secretary Susie Thompson of Burlington. “It's really cool that we're known for that. But a lot of times all it takes is ...

Illinois General Assembly reconvenes for veto session

A busy second day of the Illinois legislature’s veto session, as the chambers voted to override a number of outgoing Governor Bruce Rauner’s vetoes, while dealing with an evacuation at the Capitol Complex due to a bomb threat. Among bills overridden in the Senate, one that adds additional regulations on ride-sharing companies and one that that would raise the age to buy tobacco from 18 to 21. Those bills now await overrides in the House. But though there’s been a lot of activity so far, experts don’t think it will keep up. Click Here ...

Illinois Gov. Pritzker under federal investigation for tax break on mansion: report

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, along with his wife and brother-in-law, reportedly is under federal criminal investigation for a questionable property tax appeal that has hung over him since last year’s gubernatorial race.   Pritzker – a Democrat who took office earlier this year – has been the subject of an ongoing criminal investigation since last October, although no criminal charges have been brought against him, a law enforcement source told Chicago radio station WBEZ.   "I'm very confident that any review of this matter will show that all the rules were followed," Pritzker said ...

Illinois Gov. signs bill raising minimum wage to $15

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) signed a bill into law Tuesday to raise the state's minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2025.   Pritzker ousted former Gov. Bruce Rauner (R) in November and campaigned on raising the minimum wage.   The state's minimum wage is currently $8.25 an hour. It will rise to $9.25 an hour on Jan. 1, 2020, then to $10 an hour that July. After that the minimum wage will increase by $1 each year until 2025.   Pritzker indicated he would sign the bill in a statement Thursday, saying “After nearly a decade of delay, I applaud the House and ...

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner declares harvest emergency

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner declared a statewide harvest emergency Sunday to help farmers. At Stewart Farms in Yorkville, Illinois, the governor signed a proclamation to allow farmers to get a free permit to put 10 percent more weight onto the truck when shipping the crops.   Rauner said spring planting was delayed by wet weather and rains continue to fall at the worst time during the harvest season.    "We have a significant crisis, we are way behind where we should be in terms of getting the crops into storage and to the market," Rauner said. "We ...

Illinois Governor’s race could be costliest in U.S. history

The 2018 governor’s race is on pace to be the most expensive in U.S. history, propelled by a wealthy Republican incumbent and a billionaire Democrat who are airing TV ads and hopping private planes to campaign events more than a year before Election Day.   J.B. Pritzker, an heir to the Hyatt hotel fortune and one of the world’s richest people, is among several Democrats trying to defeat multimillionaire businessman-turned-governor Bruce Rauner. Also running is Democrat Chris Kennedy, nephew of the late President John F. Kennedy, who in a typical race might easily be the ...

Illinois Had Prime Pollination; Potential for Record Yields

It’s been hot and steamy across the Corn Belt the past couple weeks. With talk of elevated overnight temperatures, there was an assumption that it could hinder pollination. As you drive down the I-55 corridor, that’s not the case, as uniform fields show promise for a record corn crop in 2018.   “We like our ear to pollinate - it's going to start at the butt of the ear move to the tip - and we like that to happen within five days,” said Isaac Ferrie, Crop-Tech Consulting. “This year, we're probably ...

Illinois has budget but no school funding plan

Illinois has its belated state budget, but the state Capitol’s next flashpoint in the political struggle over finances is about how to fund public education with just weeks before the first day of school.   The spending plan lawmakers enacted this month over Gov. Bruce Rauner’s vetoes ended a two-year state-budget stalemate, the nation’s longest since at least the Great Depression. It includes a $350 million boost for schools.   But it also includes a provision aimed at forcing Rauner’s approval of an altered funding formula that he contends unfairly pushes extra money ...

Illinois horse tracks say more gambling can stop ‘downward spiral’

With a red pen in hand, Chrissy Bialek flips through the program on opening weekend of the thoroughbred racing season at Hawthorne Race Course in Cicero.   Her horseshoe-shaped ring catches the light from the televisions above the bar as their screens show clips from races across the country. Bialek, of Chicago, has been coming to Hawthorne for as long as she can remember.   “My dad would bring me out here when I was just in diapers,” said Bialek, who could spout off information on horses, trainers and jockeys by age 9. She started betting the day she ...

Illinois House again trying to create taxpayer funded workers’ comp company

After failing to override the governor’s veto of a similar bill last year, Illinois House Democrats are again trying to create a state-funded workers’ compensation company, but businesses most impacted by the state’s high costs say the plan is not what they’re looking for.   Earlier this month, the House Labor and Commerce Committee passed state Rep. Laura Fine’s bill that would create a workers compensation insurance company using $10 million from a state fund.   Fine, D-Glenview, argued the measure will help bring rates down by having a competing entity that&...

Illinois House Comes Up 3 Votes Shy of Overriding Union Arbitration Bill

Gov. Bruce Rauner won a major victory Wednesday when the Democratic-controlled Illinois House failed to override his veto of a union-backed bill that could have sent labor talks to binding arbitration.   The override effort got 68 "yes" votes in the House, three short of what was needed.   No Republicans broke rank to support the override effort. Springfield-area Republicans, who represent large numbers of state workers, all voted "present."   Click Here to read more.  

Illinois House committee advances $15 minimum wage proposal

An Illinois House committee on Wednesday advanced a bill that would gradually raise the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2022.   Even though tax credits would be available to small businesses to help cover the costs, opponents say it would still have a negative effect on the business community.   Rep. Will Guzzardi, D-Chicago, the main sponsor of the bill, said the increase is necessary because corporate profits are going up but workers’ pay isn’t.   “In 2014, corporate profits are at their highest levels in at least 85 years. Employee compensation is at the ...

Illinois House full of action but no budget debate

Illinois House Democrats tried to digest some unpalatable budget choices Monday, chewing on a Senate proposal with $5 billion in new taxes and some questionable savings that some members think the taxes won’t cover.   Leading Democrats wouldn’t commit to a 32 percent personal income-tax rate increase, but they voiced doubts about some of the savings from spending reductions that are part of the $37.3 billion measure the Senate endorsed last week.   “We’re looking at whether there are alternative revenues but also whether there are additional cuts,” said Assistant Democratic Leader Jay Hoffman of ...

Illinois House passes property tax freeze

The Illinois House Wednesday approved yet another version of property tax relief, but it is unclear if the Senate plans to take up the bill.   The House voted 75-32 on the bill that also provides increases homestead and senior citizen exemptions to help control property tax costs.   “For many of you and in my own district, the heavy weight of property taxes is the biggest concern I hear about, house to house to house,” said Rep. Michelle Mussman, D-Schaumburg, sponsor of Senate Bill 851.   Clck Here to read more.

Illinois Issues: The Experts' Take On The Budget

The most important aspect of the state having a budget for the first time in two years is that it puts parameters or some limitations on the obligations that the state of Illinois is going to incur in the coming fiscal year.   For two years, the state has operated without a budget, which is not the same thing as operating with a limitation on expenses. We’re still spending money. It’s not the same thing as being fiscally conservative, not paying your bills. Not paying your bills on time is driving an extremely large amount of ...

Illinois lawmakers able to come together to unanimously pass sexual harassment legislation

The final half of veto session is underway.   The main topic of the day was sexual harassment after an open letter alleged lawmakers have a long history of sexually harassing women under the dome.     "There are a lot of people in this building who are very nervous and they should be," Sen. Karen McConnaughay, R-St. Charles, said.   Change: Something all lawmakers who spoke Tuesday agree needs to happen when it comes to the way sexual harassment is addressed at Illinois’ Capitol.   Click Here to read more.

Illinois lawmakers return for last half of spring session

Illinois lawmakers return to Springfield this week from a lengthy spring break, facing a to-do list that covers everything from gun control and sexual harassment, as well as trying to approve a new spending plan for the second straight year.   They return after a primary election that did not produce any upsets that might have changed the atmosphere in the Capitol for the last scheduled eight weeks of the spring session. The General Assembly is scheduled to finish its work by May 31.   Kent Redfield, retired political science professor at the University of Illinois Springfield, said the fact Gov. ...

Illinois lawmakers return to work amid sex-harassment mess

The Illinois General Assembly returns to Springfield on Tuesday for the final days of its fall session after spending last week wrestling a sexual-harassment quandary.    The House could take up action on legislation by House Speaker Michael Madigan to prohibit sexual harassment in the ethics law, require awareness training and put the legislative inspector general in charge of enforcement.   Focus shifted when critics pointed out that the inspector general’s office was vacant for two years.   Click Here to read more. 

Illinois leads nation in certified nutrient management specialists

There is a concerted effort underway in Illinois agriculture to reduce nutrient losses and meet the goals of the Illinois Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy, and Illinois Certified Crop Advisers are committed to playing in integral role in this effort.   There now are 64 CCAs in Illinois who have prepared for, and passed, the certification exam to become certified as a 4R Nutrient Management Specialist. This is double the number of 4R NMS in any other state.   Click Here to read more.

Illinois Legislators Consider Allowing Rauner Greater Budget Cutting Authority

Illinois lawmakers are considering a proposal that would allow the governor to make unilateral budget cuts. But it could also impact the state's access to health care.   For residents living in Macomb, a small city in Central Illinois, the wait to see a therapist is about of three months.   Kenny Boyd, president of the McDonough District Hospital in Macomb said his hospital has seen a 70 percent increase in patients seeking mental health treatment in the area. Thanks to the state budget stalemate, another provider closed one of its locations in the area.   Click Here to read ...

Illinois Legislature Winds Down

KJ Johnson has been actively representing IFCA at the state capitol this spring.  As the session winds down with possible adjournment this weekend, most of the discussion has been centered around the state budget and the debate over making the temporary income and corporate tax increase permanent.  At this point, it appears that a vote on the tax issue will be delayed until the fall Veto session.  The state budget includes $1 billion in spending for roads and bridges.     With regard to issues that directly impact IFCA members, IFCA had a successful year at the Captiol. &...

Illinois Program Promotes Good Fertilizer Practices

Illinois has created a new program to encourage farmers to adopt best practices for nutrient use.   The Illinois Nutrient Research and Education Council (NREC) was established by the Illinois General Assembly and signed into law in 2012.   Dr. Robert Hoeft, an emeritus professor of soil fertility with the University of Illinois spoke at the third annual winter conference put on by Wisconsin's Discovery Farms program and mentioned the program, which is supported by the fertilizer industry, commodity groups, environmental groups and government agencies.   Click Here to read more.

Illinois redistricting referendum won't appear on ballot

A divided Illinois Supreme Court narrowly ruled Thursday that a voter referendum seeking to change how Illinois draws political boundaries is unconstitutional, making it ineligible to appear on the Nov. 8 ballot.     The high court, in a 4-3 decision, affirmed the ruling by a Cook County judge who determined the ballot initiative seeking to give legislative mapmaking power to an independent commission instead of lawmakers didn't meet constitutional muster. It's the second failed attempt to overhaul redistricting by petition in two years.   The ruling in the high-stakes case — falling the day before an election deadline ...

Illinois Releases Strategy to Reduce Nutrient Pollution in the Gulf

Illinois may be hundreds of miles from the Gulf of Mexico, but it’s a key contributor to the “dead zone,” a section of water the size of Connecticut devoid of oxygen that forms every summer. The culprit is millions of pounds of nutrients from farm fields, city streets and wastewater treatment plants entering the Gulf each year through the Mississippi River system.   Now the state of Illinois has just released a plan—the Illinois Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy—to keep those nutrients out of the water.   The collaborative effort began almost two ...

Illinois residents fleeing state for financial reasons

33,703.   That’s how many residents left Illinois last year.   People leave the state for a variety of reasons from weather to career opportunities.   But experts say Illinois’ population loss bucks national trends and is the opposite of what surrounding states are seeing.   Click Here to read more.

Illinois residents pay more taxes than any other state

Harry Canterbury is a native Peorian who’s not happy with what he’s seen happen to the city.   Canterbury, the former owner of Adventure Sports Outdoors, the fishing-hunting publication, recently purchased a home in Port Charlotte, Fla.   “This was a great community. Now it’s overtaxed, suffers from high crime and there’s no place to work. It breaks my heart,” he said.   Canterbury sees taxes as a growing problem here. “They’ve got a hotel tax, sales tax, flush tax and now a rain tax,” he ...

Illinois River closures: Painful and necessary

What happens when you shut down parts of a major navigable waterway for nearly four months? Illinois farmers are about to find out.   The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has announced that in 2020, it will close or restrict six of the eight lock and dam sites on the Illinois River to make necessary repairs, including the LaGrange Lock and Dam, Versailles; Peoria Lock and Dam, Creve Coeur; Starved Rock Lock and Dam, Ottawa; Marseilles Lock and Dam, Marseilles; Dresden Island Lock and Dam, Morris; and Brandon Road Lock and Dam, Joliet. Each of the eight lock and dam ...

Illinois Senate approves minimum wage increase

On a party line vote, the Illinois Senate Thursday approved raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2025.   The bill now goes to the House, where the lead sponsor said he thinks the wage increase can pass without further changes.   “I have spoken with colleagues on both sides of the aisle. I feel very confident we will pass (the bill) as the Senate passed it,” said Rep. Will Guzzardi, D-Chicago. “I don’t see the need for us to make any further changes to the legislation.”   If that is the case, a ...

Illinois Senate Democrats decry lack of help on budget cuts

Illinois Senate Democrats are critiquing the budget-cutting prowess of Gov. Bruce Rauner's cabinet.   Committee chairmen decried Thursday the performance of agency heads who declined to specify in committee hearings this week where they could cut spending to balance the budget.   In a state Capitol news conference, the Democrats flashed a board entitled: "Budget Cuts Offered by Bruce Rauner's Agency Bosses: $0.00."   They grilled the agency chiefs after Republican Rauner announced opposition to the Senate's "grand bargain" budget compromise last week. Democrats canceled votes on key pieces like an income-tax increase and ...

Illinois Senate Democrats say tax hikes still needed for budget

Two Democratic state senators Thursday pushed back at the notion the state can forgo revenue increases because tax collections are higher than expected.   Sens. Toi Hutchinson of Olympia Fields and Don Harmon of Oak Park said the state still needs additional revenue from things like a tobacco tax increase and a new tax on plastic bags to finally eliminate the state's budget deficit.   Harmon called it a "wonderful" development that the state pulled in $1.5 billion more in income tax revenue in April than was anticipated, which Gov. J.B. Pritzker's administration announced this week. ...

Illinois Senate leaders push budget plan, won’t cap income tax hike

Illinois Senate leaders will have to persuade House Speaker Michael Madigan to put a stamp on a “grand bargain” budget package of reforms and revenue in his chamber — even if it includes a term limits constitutional amendment targeting “long term leadership.”   In other words, him.   They also face opposition from unions in their budget package concerning pension reform and workers’ compensation changes, and a number of House members are opposed to an income tax hike and a penny-per-ounce tax on sugar-sweetened beverages. And the leaders are playing coy about saying the income ...

Illinois Senate OKs graduated tax rates

The Senate has approved a graduated income-tax structure that charges a rate of 7.99 percent for the most affluent residents.   The fair tax plan would replace the current flat income tax system in place. The proposed amendment would need voter approval to move forward. If passed in the Senate and House it would appear on the 2020 ballot, according to the Illinois Policy Institute.   The plan was approved 36-22.   If passed, it would tax individuals on their income levels. Those making less would pay lower tax rates and those with higher incomes would pay more. The amendment would take ...

Illinois Senate Passes Bill to put in Place Obama Administration Environmental and Labor Standards

A bill moving through the Illinois legislature would prevent state and local agencies from weakening federal environmental and labor safeguards that were in place as of Jan. 1, 2017 – about three weeks before President Donald Trump took office.   Passed Wednesday in the Illinois Senate, the 32-21 vote in favor of the Illinois Baseline Protection Act was almost entirely along party lines: No Republicans voted in favor of the bill, while one Democrat – William Haine of Alton – voted against it.   The Trump administration has taken aim at a number of key laws related to the environment, public health ...

Illinois sports gambling bill probably won’t come until next year

Illinois lawmakers will move ahead with the idea of bringing legal sports gambling to the state, but it apparently will not be soon.   Rep. Lou Lang, D-Skokie, told a pair of House subcommittees Wednesday that he is working on a bill to bring sports betting to Illinois.   After the hearing, though, Lang said it will be after a new General Assembly is seated in January before he anticipates lawmakers will take up the idea in earnest.   “I may have a draft before the next General Assembly, but I won’t be introducing anything in this ...

Illinois State Fair names new manager

A 25-year-old southern Illinois native who has worked for the state Department of Agriculture for three years has been named the new manager of the Illinois State Fair.   Luke Sailer, who lives in Chatham, was appointed the Ag department’s Division Manager of Fair and Promotional Services, which oversees the state fairs in Springfield and Du Quoin; business services; and county fairs and horse racing. He replaces Kevin Gordon who retired at the end of last year after leading the fair in 2016 and 2017.   Click Here to read more.

Illinois State Fairgrounds on endangered sites list

The Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield is one of more than a dozen structures named the state’s most endangered historic structures in 2018.   The non-profit group Landmarks Illinois released this year’s list on Wednesday, saying numerous buildings at both the Springfield and Du Quoin state fairgrounds are suffering due to lack of maintenance because of Illinois’ financial problems.   “Now today more than 400,000 people attend Illinois’ two state fairs annually,” said Bonnie McDonald, president and CEO of Landmarks Illinois “But lack of funding for capital projects has really created a substantial ...

Illinois State lawmakers again eye gambling expansion

Illinois lawmakers are once again looking at a big expansion of gambling as a way to prop up the state’s ailing finances.   A joint hearing of House and Senate committees last week took more testimony on an expansion bill that would add six new casinos, additional gaming positions at existing casinos and slot machines at horse racing tracks.   That part passed the Senate in 2017 but has never come to a vote in the House.   Last spring, the House added an amendment that adds even more to the mix. It allows racetracks to have table games ...

Illinois State Police's Steak Dinner Hints at Dead Culture

That steak has turned green.  Maybe Illinois State Police Trooper Greg Miller merely hoped to boost morale last week by offering a steak dinner to District 22 Squad A, which performed the most big rig inspections in recent months. Maybe the district's safety officer simply adopted a widely employed private sector strategy to nudge officers toward doing a less than joyous part of their job. But, against the backdrop of recent history, the incentive program has more than a whiff of rotten meat. For years, the elected class saw police as a quick and easy way to ...

Illinois state senator files “sugar-sweetened beverage tax” act

If you live in Illinois and like sodas, you could soon be paying more for your beverage of choice.  This will also be the case if you like juices and sports drinks.   That’s because they all contain sugar, and a bill in the Illinois General Assembly would tax any drink that contains more than five grams of sugar.   Senator Toi Hutchinson (D – Chicago) filed the bill on January 11th, and it was assigned the the senate’s revenue committee. Senate Bill 9 would require distributors to pass along a “penny-per-ounce” tax on ...

Illinois still has no budget, but lawmakers approved almost 500 other bills

Bickering between Democrats and Republicans that dominated state politics has again left Illinois without a budget, but lawmakers still managed to approve about 500 pieces of legislation in their spring session.   That means Gov. Bruce Rauner's desk is set to be cluttered with bills this summer, leaving him with lots of decisions to make even as he continues to tangle with lawmakers over big budget questions like whether schools will open in the fall.   Several of those proposals were pushed through by Democrats who control the General Assembly in an effort to put the Republican governor in a ...

Illinois Studies Nitrate and Phosphorus Loss from Tile Lines

A partnership of non-profits and retailers joined together for the second year in Illinois to determine just how much nutrients are lost through tile drains. The group tested in 37 sites across a nine county geography.   “The data we collected helped growers make decisions pertaining to the Illinois Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy [a voluntary program],” says Mike Wilson, with Wabash Valley FS, a partner in the study. “We [Illinois] didn’t want to be mandated and we’re planning to decrease loss of nitrates and phosphorus from our soil by 45% by 2025.”   Click Here ...

Illinois Supreme Court to consider remap ballot measure

The Illinois Supreme Court agreed Friday to quickly take up a case challenging the constitutionality of a ballot measure that could alter the way Illinois draws its political maps.   Just two days after a Cook County judge ruled the redistricting question was unconstitutional for November's ballot, the state's high court granted an emergency motion for direct appeal and set a briefing schedule, bypassing the appellate court.   A group called the Independent Map Amendment cited an Aug. 26 State Board of Elections deadline to get on the ballot in their request to the court. They've proposed an 11...

Illinois Supreme Court won't reconsider redistricting ruling

The Illinois Supreme Court said Tuesday it will not reconsider its ruling earlier this month to keep a proposed remap amendment to the Illinois Constitution off the Nov. 8 ballot.   The state’s high court rejected a request from Independent Maps that it reconsider its decision – on a 4-3 party-line vote – that the remap amendment did not meet the narrow criteria of the state’s Constitution to put the issue on the ballot.   The Supreme Court said that the proposal improperly added duties to the state’s auditor general.   Tuesday's decision ends ...

Illinois to update EPA on fertilizer loss reduction progress.

This summer, Illinois EPA will release a draft of the Illinois Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy for public comment.  The Illinois EPA must provide a finalized strategy to U.S. EPA outling various strategies to reduce nutrient losses to Illinois rivers, lakes and streams as well as reduce Illinois' contribution to the Gulf of Mexico Hypoxia zone.   IFCA, along with many ag groups and other stakeholders, has been participating in the development of this document for the past 18 months.   Click Here to read more.

Illinois Treasurer Race Still to Close to Call

Days after Illinois voters went to the polls, the race for state treasurer is still to close to call, and camps for both sides differed Thursday on the number of votes still waiting to be counted and who might benefit from them.   When The Associated Press ended its vote tabulation early Wednesday evening, Republican Tom Cross held a 21,000 vote lead over Democrat Mike Frerichs out of more than 3.4 million votes cast.   Click Here to read more.

Illinois turns to private donors to fix fairgrounds

Gov. Bruce Rauner put together a foundation last month to tap outside contributors for badly needed repairs to the state's fairgrounds, marking another instance in which the Republican former venture capitalist says the private sector can help the financially strapped state.   But an Associated Press review of similar efforts shows that it will be far from a quick fix. Private foundations in other states consider themselves successful in raising at most around $4 million per year, while Illinois' backlog of maintenance and repairs stands at nearly $200 million, according to the Rauner administration.   Even in Iowa, where 1 million regularly ...

Illinois voters to see roads 'lockbox amendment' on November ballot

When Illinois voters head to the polls in November, their first ballot question won't involve U.S. presidential candidates, but a measure aimed at preventing transportation-related funding in the state from being used for other purposes.   Here's a look at the proposed constitutional amendment:   WHAT'S THE QUESTION?   Transportation-related funds — generated in part by tolls, license fees and the gas tax — have been targeted by state government for unrelated spending over the years. The Transportation for Illinois Coalition, made up of business groups and unions, estimates that since fiscal year 2003 over $6.8 billion set ...

Illinois Water Quality And Agriculture: Taking A Proactive Approach

When you consider the question of water stewardship for agriculture, it’s incredibly impressive that the state of Illinois — with perhaps the largest concentration of growers in the entire U.S. — has been largely missing from the national debate on this topic. Whereas neighboring states such as Iowa are engaged in legal battles regarding water use or Ohio, where restrictions on agricultural practices are being proposed due to algae blooms in the state’s watershed some critics have linked back to farming, the water issue in Illinois has generated much fewer headlines across the national media ...

Illinois Water Use Issues Exacerbated by Irrigation

The demand for water in Illinois is likely to increase up to 50 percent in the coming decades, according to the State Water Survey.   While Illinois is not currently facing a water crisis, highly populated areas with high growth – namely Chicagoland and Champaign County – are starting to see some levels of water conflict.   In the past decade, communities across the state have spent hundreds of millions of dollars on potential solutions to projected water shortages and water quality issues.   During the 2012 drought, crop yields fell, the Sangamon River ran dry, power plants had to reduce their ...

Illinois will have same-day voter registration this election

Same-day voter registration will be allowed in Illinois in the general election because an appeals court ruled Friday that a challenge to the law won't be resolved until after Nov. 8.   The decision from the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals not to expedite the case means the legal wrangling between a conservative group and the state won't impact this election, but the question of whether the law is constitutional remains unresolved.   This week, the appeals court issued a ruling temporarily canceling a federal judge's decision that the Election Day voter registration law, as drafted ...

Illinois will wake up New Year's Day to over 250 new laws

Illinois lawmakers completed the state’s 100th General Assembly in its bicentennial year, and will ring in 2019 with 253 new laws on the books .   The youngest children in cars will be required to ride in rear-facing seats, blaze pink will be acceptable for hunters’ wardrobes, opioid abuse and school safety take center stage and a Route 66 centennial planning commission will convene.   Click Here to read more.

Illinois' 100th General Assembly sworn in

Illinois' new General Assembly was sworn in Wednesday. Legislators face another year of budget problems as the state remains billions of dollars in debt.   From the State Capitol to the University of Illinois at Springfield, both chambers of the Illinois General Assembly took the oath of office Wednesday amidst hopes that the body's 100th session may prove more successful than the last in finally resolving the budget impasse that has plagued the state over the last year and a half.   "I believe we can grow the economy, create jobs, without hurting families," State Rep. Mike Madigan said. &...

Illinois' Agriculture Sector Pitching In To Save The Monarch Butterfly

For Earth Day, the team unveiled additional steps to their Illinois Monarch Project (IMP) – an agriculture action plan that will enhance monarch preservation efforts.   The group spent over two years developing the plan, which includes adding 150 million more milkweed   Sixteen organizations and state agencies with ties to agriculture unveiled an action plan for monarch conservation as part of the Illinois Monarch Project. April 22, 2019.   stems in Illinois over the next 20 years and working closely with farmers, teachers and students to raise awareness.   Click Here to read more

Illinois: Is Feb. a Good Time to Apply Nitrogen?

The unseasonably warm and dry weather we have had during February this year has a lot of people applying ammonia, and others considering it. This raises the question of whether or not February is a good time to apply NH3, and also the question about whether or not a nitrification inhibitor (N-Serve) should be included in late-winter applications.   We encourage waiting until soil temperatures are below 50 degrees before making NH3 applications in the fall, and then to use N-Serve to slow conversion of ammonium to nitrate. Although it was several days into November before soil temperatures fell to 50 last ...

Illinois’ new governor touts legal marijuana, but will he remove roadblocks to expand medical pot?

With pro-marijuana J.B. Pritzker now in the Illinois governor’s mansion, all eyes are on his plan to legalize cannabis for recreational use. But even if approved by lawmakers, that could take more than a year to implement, and many voices are raising the call to take things slowly.   In the meantime, advocates say there’s a simple way the governor could greatly increase access to marijuana for those who want it for medical reasons.   At least eight lawsuits are pending to expand the conditions for which medical marijuana would be allowed under the state&...

Importance of "flag the technology" grows

“Flag the Technology” helps farmers and pesticide applicators reduce errors and limit off-target herbicide drift, says University of Missouri Extension weed scientist Kevin Bradley.   University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service developed the program in 2011. Growers in Missouri, Arkansas, Mississippi and Louisiana are adopting the technology to bring awareness to herbicide drift.   Farmers or applicators place color-coded bicycle flags or similar markers at field entrances to mark herbicide usage and type. This reminds them to check that field and nearby fields before applying herbicides.   Click Here to read more.  

In 2015, Illinois to Confront Daunting Issues, Divisions

Keeping schools and social services funded.  Making higher education more affordable.  Addressing crowded prisons.  Possibly redoing pension reform.   As it enters 2015, Illinois faces a list of daunting issues that always seems to grow longer.  The January 12 inauguration of a new governor, Republican Bruce Rauner, will bring a new approach and momentary festivity to Springfield, but whether he than can find common ground with Democrats who control the General Assembly is yet another issues to be worked out.  New leadership at the University of Illinois also holds out promise but faces serious tests.   Click ...

In Crop Protection, America First

In nominal terms, the global market for crop protection chemicals further declined to $53.1 billion in In nominal terms, the global market for crop protection chemicals further declined to $53.1 billion in harvest year 2016 as measured at the ex-company level and using average year exchange rates throughout. This represents the second year of decline in the global market. The rate of decline, however, has slowed with the big drop of some 9.8% in 2015 as compared to 2014 coming down to a more modest decline of some 2.6% in 2016 as compared to 2015. A recovery from this now low base of just over $53 billion should be more ...

In glyphosate review, WHO cancer agency edited out 'non-carcinogenic' findings

The World Health Organization’s cancer agency dismissed and edited findings from a draft of its review of the weedkiller glyphosate that were at odds with its final conclusion that the chemical probably causes cancer.   Documents seen by Reuters show how a draft of a key section of the International Agency for Research on Cancer’s (IARC) assessment of glyphosate - a report that has prompted international disputes and multi-million-dollar lawsuits - underwent significant changes and deletions before the report was finalised and made public.    Click Here to read more.

In-season dicamba: Off-target movement, violations and litigation

DOING IT RIGHT: “We’re all appreciative of the new technologies, but they have to be used properly. This is our moment in time to do it right,” says Jean Payne. “We have a strong history in Illinois of being very proactive and having respect for urban neighbors and our non-farming community. This one will test our ability to do it right.”     And those requirements were changing nearly daily in early spring, when Bob Wolf, owner of Wolf Consulting & Research, was holding training meetings across the country.  “I’ve ...

Income Tax Drop to Put More Money in Illinois Paychecks

Illinois taxpayers will have a little more spending money next year.   With a temporary income tax increase expiring Wednesday, a typical family of four with an income of $50,000 will pay $930 less in 2015, according to the Illinois Department of Revenue.   That is, if the reduction sticks.   The drop in the tax rate means a steep decline in revenue for the state.  The state faces a $2 billion deficit through the end of the fiscal year in June.  As of Jan. 1, the individual rate drops from 5 percent to 3.75 percent, while the corporate income tax declines from 7 percent to 5.25 ...

Indiana Congressman Introduces Amendment to Repeal WOTUS Rule in Farm Bill

Congressman Jim Banks (IN-03) today announced that he has introduced an amendment to the 2018 farm bill that would permanently repeal the Obama-era Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule. The House is expected to debate the farm bill next week.   “WOTUS has been a burden not only to Hoosier famers and agriculture producers but also to our state’s economy as a whole,” said Banks. “While I applaud the EPA’s efforts to delay this damaging Obama-era rule, it is time to repeal it once and for all.”   Click Here to read ...

Indiana Mulls Rule Restricting Dicamba Use

Indiana is the latest state taking steps to restrict the use of dicamba next year.    The Indiana Pesticide Review Board will be voting on a rule that would allow only certified applicators to purchase dicamba products. If this is passed, dicamba will be labeled as a restricted use pesticide.    Todd Janzen, president of Janzen Agricultural Law believes the restricted product use will be more common during 2018 based on problems dicamba has had in the past.   Click Here to read more.  

Indiana records $100M annual surplus, budget reserve nearly $1.8 billion

State government spent $100.4 million less than it took in during the 2018 budget year that ended June 30, even after Gov. Eric Holcomb funneled $327.1 million in additional funds to the Department of Child Services.   Data released Thursday by State Auditor Tera Klutz shows Indiana collected $15.8 billion in taxes and fees over the past 12 months, and spent $15.7 billion providing services to the state's 6.6 million residents.   "As the state's chief financial officer, I am pleased to report that Indiana remains financially strong," said Klutz, a Republican.   Adding in the 2018 budget surplus, Indiana now has an ongoing budget ...

Indiana restricts dicamba use

The Indiana Pesticide Review Board has restricted all pesticides containing dicamba concentrations of 6.5 percent or more that are intended for agricultural-use.   Only certified applicators can apply these products and Hoosier growers using Engenia, XtendiMax and FeXapan will be required to complete training approved by the Office of Indiana State Chemist.   Click Here to read more.

Indiana Starts Process to Classify Dicamba Products as RUPs

The formal Indiana state rulemaking process to classify dicamba agricultural use pesticides as state Restricted Use Pesticides (RUPs) is now underway, according to Dave Scott, pesticide administrator for the Office of Indiana State Chemist. Scott says the state Pesticide Review Board wants to adopt a restricted use pesticide classification rule for any product with at least 6.5% dicamba.   "We have a lot of Red Gold tomatoes, specialty crops and residential gardens and ornamentals we want to protect," Scott told AgPro editors earlier this spring   Click Here to read more.

Indiana takes steps to restrict dicamba

The Indiana Pesticide Review Board voted to propose a rule that any pesticide product in Indiana that is intended for agricultural purposes that contains dicamaba would be considered as a Restricted Use Pesticide.   Dave Scott, pesticide program administrator with the Office of the Indiana State Chemist, said that once the rule is passed, to purchase or use dicamba products in Indiana, individuals must be a certified applicator.   “Dicamba products will only be sold by restricted use pesticide dealers who are registered with our agency,” he explained.   Scott said that the urgent need for the rule ...

Industry Groups Making Case for WOTUS in Supreme Court

Industry groups in a legal battle over the Environmental Protection Agency’s Waters of the U.S. rule want the U.S. Supreme Court to hear their challenge, instead of going through district court first. The groups took issue with the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision that it should hear petitions challenging the rule. Industry groups, such as the National Association of Manufacturers, argues the Supreme Court should hear the case because the incoming Trump administration’s vows to kill the rule, according to Politico. In a court brief filed with the Supreme Court this week, ...

Inputs Not to Slash in 2015

Lower prices and smaller margins could mean cutting corners for some farmers come growing season – but is it a good idea? Planting crops and staying profitable will be task one for farmers this year and as a result, some inputs could go by the wayside. Brodbeck Seed Agronomist Rod King says while some of that is to be expected, he warns to be careful of which inputs get the ax. Click Here to read more.  

Insights Into The 199A Tax Impact on Coops And Ag Retailers

The newly passed Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 introduced substantive changes to individual and entity-level tax rates and deductions, many of them welcomed by individuals and corporations. One section of the Internal Revenue Code (IRC) in particular--IRC § 199A Deduction for Qualified Business Income of Pass-Through Entities (Sec 199A hereafter)--is getting a lot of attention, raising questions and eyebrows for its potential impacts on grain marketing decisions. In essence, language in this section of code gives producers marketing grain a significant incentive to sell to a cooperative rather than a non-cooperative firm.  The purpose of this article ...

Internal memo details Illinois GOP budget plans, Pritzker complaints

Illinois House Republican leadership will brief their members Monday on a balanced budget proposal that they say the governor’s office won’t listen to, according to an internal caucus memo obtained by Capitol News Illinois on Friday.   “While Governor Pritzker has been occupied hosting cocktail parties, the House Republican Caucus budget team has been working diligently to ensure we are on sound footing offering a budget plan that doesn’t rely on additional tax increases on Illinois families and small businesses,” Deputy Republican Leader Tom Demmer, of Dixon, said in the memo.   ...

Iowa agronomists show nitrogen fertilizer critical to soil health

Newly published research from Iowa State University agronomists shows the application of nitrogen fertilizer at optimum levels to corn and soybeans is required to maintain carbon in the soil, giving rise to a range of environmental and production benefits.   In a study published in the journal PLOS ONE, ISU agronomists showed nitrogen fertilizer can contribute to soil health and water quality by helping retain carbon.   “Our data show that nitrogen fertilizer, when applied at a level that maximizes crop production, is critical to maintain soil carbon for sustainable agricultural systems,” Michael Castellano, an associate professor of ...

Iowa Bill Would Eliminate Utility

Perhaps there's no better way to make an Iowa nutrients lawsuit against drainage districts go away than to eliminate the utility that filed the lawsuit.   That's what a Republican state lawmaker in Iowa has proposed in a bill that would essentially end Des Moines Water Works' and hand control of drinking water in three Iowa communities over to local city councils.   The bill, House File 484, introduced by Iowa House Rep. Jarad Klein, R-Keota, was voted out of the agriculture committee this week.   Des Moines Water Works filed a lawsuit against drainage districts in three counties ...

Iowa farm groups sue California after it lists Roundup ingredient as cancer-causing chemical

Monsanto Co. and nearly a dozen state and national farm groups are suing California over the state's decision to list the popular ag chemical glyphosate as a carcinogen.   "The impact on farmers could be ... very detrimental," said Kirk Leeds, CEO of the Iowa Soybean Association.   The soybean group, the Agribusiness Association of Iowa, and the National Corn Growers Association are among the groups suing California over its decision to add glyphosate to its list of cancer-causing chemicals.   Glyphosate is a key ingredient in Monsanto's top-selling weedkiller Roundup.   Click Here to read more.

Iowa Fertilizer Company nears start-up

Even before New Year’s festivities get underway, final strides in the Iowa Fertilizer Company are being made.   According to IFC Site Operations Director Darrell Allman, the plant, which is now 98 percent complete, will begin ammonia plant start-up activities this week.   Allman said this is a major step for the company, and more importantly, for the customers across the country who will be using the product. He said the start-up activities will be going on over the next few weeks. The purpose is to make sure the plant is running properly.     Allman said the activities ...

Iowa Fertilizer Plant construction enters final phase

With construction of the Iowa Fertilizer plant in Southeast Iowa reaching 97 percent this month, the company is reaching new milestones in the pre-commissioning phase of its facility.   Later this week, airblows of the pipe and other equipment are scheduled to begin at the plant.   “Air blows are used as a cleaning process for plant equipment and piping,” IFC spokesperson Jesse Harris said. “It removes dirt, debris and other materials prior to introduction of process fluids.   “As a result of the process, intermittent noise may be more noticeable around the site for several weeks.&...

Iowa Fertilizer's Lee County Plant Needs $100 million

A fertilizer plant under construction in southeast Iowa needs another $100 million, the company behind the almost $2 billion project said in a regulatory filing.   Iowa Fertilizer Co. said it is raising the budget of the project to $1.9 billion.   The increased cost is due to construction changes that the company still has the review, Iowa Fertilizer said in a recent disclosure to the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board.   Click Here to read more.

Iowa Gov. Reynolds signs water quality bill, her first as governor

Gov. Kim Reynolds signed into law a $282 million water quality bill Wednesday, calling the legislation a "monumental step forward."   "With the science-backed Nutrient Reduction Strategy as our road map ... we’re going to continue to charge forward with our water quality efforts," Reynolds said, surrounded by supporters of the effort. "Together we have the opportunity to modernize Iowa’s agricultural infrastructure, create jobs and entrepreneurship opportunities (and) promote collaboration between urban and rural communities."   Click Here to read more.

Iowa nitrogen pollution in the water is getting worse, despite hundreds of millions of dollars in spending, study shows

Nitrogen pollution flowing out of Iowa to the Gulf of Mexico has grown by close to 50 percent over nearly two decades, a new report shows, despite hundreds of millions of dollars spent to stem nutrients entering the state's waterways.   A University of Iowa study shows the state's contribution to the Gulf dead zone spiked 47 percent to 618 million pounds in 2016, based on five-year running annual averages.   "Just based on water quality data, I think we can say we’ve not made much progress over the past 20 years in terms of nitrogen," said Chris Jones, ...

Is America's most common pesticide responsible for killing our bees?

The most widely used class of insecticides in the world is facing a slow death. Called neonicotinoids, or neonics, these bug killers have long been used to coat seeds or treat millions of acres of farmland in the US. Research showing that they sicken or kill bees and other pollinators has already prompted the European Union to temporary ban several varieties of the insecticides, and now neonics could lose their grip in North America, too.   Maryland is the first state to ban the use of neonics in homes and gardens, a law that will take effect in January 2018. Minnesota ...

It's Not Been Working on the Railroads

Deregulation has been popular theme in U.S. politics for decades, but a Surface Transportation Board hearing last week railcar shortages and service delays provided an example of how dependent rural America still is on federal regulatory agency to push the railroads to provide vital services.   The BNSF Railway Company and the Canadian Pacific Railway Company move commodities from the northern tier of states stretching from Minnesota through the Dakotas and Montana to the ports in Washington state and to the processing facilities elsewhere.  But if the carriers do not provide cars to ship wheat, corn, soybeans ...

It's Official: WOTUS Rule Takes Effect Aug. 28

The Obama administration's new definition of the “waters of the United States” regulated by the Clean Water Act will be formally published on Monday and will take effect Aug. 28.   The administration publicly released the final WOTUS rule in May but waited until Friday, after Congress broke for the July 4 recess, to provide notice that the rule would be published in the Federal Register on Monday. The rule, which is expected to be challenged in court, takes effect 60 days after that.   The rule, which was developed in response to a pair of Supreme Court rulings, re-defines ...

It’s Pritzker vs. Rauner for Governor (AUDIO)

The Under the Dome Podcast crew breaks down Tuesday’s primary election, including the governor’s race, which is now a battle between J.B. Pritzker and Gov. Bruce Rauner in what’s expected to become the most expensive governor’s race in U.S. history.   Click Here to read more.

Ivanka Trump tours Godfrey college to promote workforce development

In an effort to promote workforce development, Ivanka Trump visited the welding program Wednesday at Lewis & Clark Community College in Godfrey.   The visit by Trump, presidential adviser and daughter of the president, was part of an effort to promote the president’s Council for the American Worker. The visit came shortly before fall classes were scheduled to begin at the education center.   Accompanying Trump was U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Taylorville. Godfrey is in Davis’ district.   Trump toured the welding facilities at the education center, even took a turn with some of the equipment, ...

J. R. Simplot to Build New Ammonia Plant in Rock Springs, WY

The J. R. Simplot Company is beginning construction on an ammonia plant being built adjacent to its existing phosphate fertilizer complex in Rock Springs, WY.   This new plant will supply both the Rock Springs, WY, and Pocatello, ID, phosphate fertilizer production locations while having the capacity to meet the company's next phase of anticipated phosphate expansion plans at Rock Springs.  Construction activities for the new plant have begun with mechanical completion scheduled for late 2016.   Click Here to read more.

J.B. Pritzker moves to mop up toilet mess — vows to pay back $330,000 tax break

Democratic gubernatorial nominee J.B. Pritzker has steadfastly defended the $330,000 property tax break he got in part by disabling the toilets in a Gold Coast mansion he owns — but on Tuesday the billionaire vowed to refund the money to taxpayers.   The surprise announcement comes just one day after the Chicago Sun-Times reported that the Cook County inspector general has concluded the property tax break was part of a “scheme to defraud.”   Pritzker’s use of the tax break, uncovered by the Sun-Times last year, has dogged him since he launched his run for governor. ...

Jack up property taxes for pensions, say three Chicago Fed economists

Illinois homeowners, who already pay some of the nation's highest property taxes, should pay about 40 percent more for the next three decades to wipe out the state's crippling pension debt, according to a trio of economists at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.   The economists argue that paying off the state's $129.1 billion in unfunded pension obligations cannot be done with revenue from new taxes such as a tax on marijuana sales or on financial transactions.   "In our view, Illinois' best option is to impose a statewide residential property tax," they wrote, in part ...

Jay Vroom Announces CropLife America Retirement

Jay Vroom announced today during the general session at the 2017 CLA Annual Meeting in Dana Point, CA, that he would be retiring from his position as president and CEO at the end of 2018. After nearly 30 years at the helm, Vroom reflected on his tenure and plans moving forward.   “When I stepped into this role in 1988, I don’t think I could have foreseen the challenges and triumphs the industry would encounter over the past three decades,” Vroom stated. “I’m proud to have represented the industry as we addressed important issues ranging from Farm ...

JB Pritzker takes step toward 2018 bid for Illinois governor

Billionaire businessman J.B. Pritzker has taken the first formal step toward a 2018 challenge to Illinois Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner.   The Democrat says he filed paperwork with the Illinois State Board of Elections on Tuesday to form an exploratory committee. He says he's contributing $200,000 to cover the committee's day-to-day operations.   Pritzker is an investor and philanthropist who has the personal fortune to compete with Rauner's wealth.   But if he runs he would first face a Democratic primary. Businessman Chris Kennedy and Chicago Alderman Ameya Pawar already are seeking the nomination.   Click Here to ...

JB Pritzker, Bruce Rauner get testy in ABC7 Illinois governor debate

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner and his Democratic opponent JB Pritzker faced off in a debate hosted by ABC7 and held in conjunction with the League of Women Voters Wednesday night.   There are four candidates running for governor, but only Pritzker and Rauner will be debating. The League of Women Voters' longstanding criteria for candidates to be included requires them to be polling at 10 percent within 30 days of the debate as a gauge of voter support.   Only Rauner and Pritzker were above that threshold in recent polls, including one released Tuesday.   The other two candidates are libertarian Kash ...

JB Pritzker, Bruce Rauner spending $300K a day on governor race

The two main candidates for Illinois governor, Bruce Rauner and JB Pritzker, are spending a combined $300,000 a day on their campaigns.   According to a campaign source, Pritzker promised after the primary that for every dollar Rauner spends, he would spend two, and the second quarter reports that the candidates had to file by Monday night show Pritzker did that and more.   To put that in perspective, a four-year education at the University of Illinois' flagship campus in Urbana-Champaign costs about $125,000. Pritzker and Rauner spent enough between April 1 and June 30 to cover that tuition for the entire graduating class ...

Jean Payne Talking to WAND TV Agribusiness Today on the 4R's and the Nutrient Loss Strategy

On February 10, Jean talked to David Brown with WANDTV Agribusiness Today regarding the 4R's and Illinois Nutrient Loss Strategy.  To watch the video please click here.  You must click on the 2-10-15 link to watch the video.

John Sullivan named director of IDOA

Former Illinois state senator John Sullivan will be the next director of the Illinois Department of Agriculture.  He was selected for the post by Governor-Elect J.B Pritzker.   Sullivan, a Democrat, represented the 47th District in western Illinois from 2003 to 2017 until his retirement.  While in the Senate, he served as chairman of the Agriculture and Conservation Committee.   Following his retirement from the Senate, Sullivan returned to his family’s auction and real estate business in Hamilton.   Sullivan has been serving as the co-chair of agriculture on Pritzker’s transition team. He will replace ...

Judge blocks cancer warning label on Roundup in California

A U.S. judge blocked California from requiring that the popular weed-killer Roundup carry a label stating that it is known to cause cancer, saying the warning is false and misleading because almost all regulators have concluded there is no evidence that the product's main ingredient is a carcinogen.   U.S. District Judge William Shubb in Sacramento issued a preliminary injunction on Monday in a lawsuit challenging the state's decision last year to list glyphosate as a chemical known to cause cancer.   The listing triggered the warning label requirement for Roundup that was set to go ...

Judge issues mixed ruling on state worker contract talks

An administrative law judge issued a mixed decision this week over whether contract negotiations have stalled between Gov. Bruce Rauner's administration and Illinois' largest public employees union.   Judge Sarah Kerley delivered a 400-page ruling Friday indicating that Rauner's administration should be able to implement some contract provisions but the two sides should return to the bargaining table on others.   The decision is not binding and the final word is up to the Illinois Labor Relations Board in an unusual case that has fueled the bitter relationship between Rauner and public employee unions. At issue is whether ...

Judge says jury should decide Monsanto dicamba case

The federal judge overseeing the multidistrict litigation for Monsanto Co’s dicamba-based weedkiller VaporGrip and its genetically modified herbicide-resistant Xtend seeds said a lawsuit by a Missouri farm that alleges Monsanto conspired to create an ‘ecological disaster’ should go to a jury.   U.S. District Judge Stephen Limbaugh in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, denied Monsanto’s motion for partial summary judgment. A trial in the case of Bader Farms Inc, the first dicamba case filed in the litigation in Nov. 2016, is scheduled for next year.   Click Here to read more.

Judge Says Vermont Law on GMO Food Stands

A Vermont law that could make the state the first in the country to require labeling of genetically modified food has been allowed by a federal judge to stand for now despite opposition by food industry groups. U.S. District Court Judge Christina Reiss in Burlington on Monday ruled against the Grocery Manufacturers' Association and other industry groups in their request for a preliminary order to block the law from going into effect as scheduled on July 1, 2016. The judge partially granted and partially denied the state's motion to dismiss the industry lawsuit, meaning the case is likely to go ...

Judge tosses Iowa Water Works case

A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit by the Des Moines Water Works (DMWW) against three drainage districts in Northwest Iowa, prompting a huge sigh of relief from many in the agriculture sector.   The claim, citing the federal Clean Water Act, was dismissed for lack of standing considering the drainage districts’ limited status under Iowa law. U.S. District Court Judge Leonard Strand for the Northern District of Iowa, held that the state legislature was the proper venue to address issue.   “Here, DMWW asserts that it has two property rights: (1) the right to obtain clean water ...

Judge upholds Monsanto verdict, cuts award to $78 million

A Northern California judge on Monday upheld a jury’s verdict that found Monsanto’s weed killer caused a groundskeeper’s cancer, but she slashed the amount of money to be paid from $289 million to $78 million.   In denying Monsanto’s request for a new trial, San Francisco Superior Court Judge Suzanne Bolanos cut the jury’s punitive damage award from $250 million to $39 million. The judge had earlier said she had strong doubts about the jury’s entire punitive damage award.   Bolanos gave DeWayne Johnson until Dec. 7 to accept the reduced amount or ...

Judge: State lawmakers should get paid, even if there’s no budget

State Comptroller Susana Mendoza said Thursday she will start issuing paychecks to state lawmakers, after a Cook County judge ruled that the law requires legislators get their paychecks even if there is no state budget.   Mendoza has followed her Republican predecessor by withholding paychecks for lawmakers, arguing that because approval of a state budget has been stalled for two years, she is free to decide which of the state’s bills get paid. Four Democratic lawmakers filed a lawsuit last year, contending state law passed in 2014 required them to get their annual salaries of $68,000 no matter what.   ...

Jury orders Monsanto to pay $289 million to cancer patient in Roundup lawsuit

A jury ordered chemical giant Monsanto to pay $289 million Friday to a school groundskeeper who got terminal cancer after using Roundup, one of the world's most popular weed killers.   The Superior Court jury deliberated for two and a half days before finding that Dewayne Johnson's non-Hodgkin lymphoma was at least partly due to using glyphosate, the primary ingredient in Roundup. Johnson regularly used glyphosate to spray fields while working as a groundskeeper.   Monsanto "acted with malice, oppression or fraud and should be punished for its conduct," Judge Suzanne Ramos Bolanos announced in court.   ...

Jury Rules Against Bayer in California Glyphosate and Cancer Trial

Bayer has lost another glyphosate lawsuit. Jurors in federal glyphosate multidistrict litigation in San Francisco found that use of glyphosate caused non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in the plaintiff, Edwin Hardeman. The jury will now decide liability and damages in a second trial phase.   Bayer is now 0 for 2 in glyphosate trials. Last August, San Francisco Superior Court jurors ruled in favor of Dewayne Johnson, a 42-year-old school groundskeeper suffering from non-Hodgkin lymphoma. In the verdict, jurors found Monsanto liable for $289 million. That award was later reduced to $78 million and is on appeal.   Click Here to read more.

Kauai GMO Crop Law Ruled Invalid

A federal judge ruled over the weekend that a law approved in Kauai of Hawaii regulating the use of pesticides and genetically modified crops is invalid.   U.S. Magistrate Judge Barry Kurren of the District Court of Hawaii said Kauai County Ordinance 960, which would affect the operations of Syngenta, DuPioneer, Dow AgroSciences, and BASF, is preempted by state law.   Click Here to read more.

Keep an Eye on Your Dicamba Rules

Reporting on the ongoing saga of whether Arkansas farmers get to use dicamba herbicides this season has become nearly a full-time job.   As DTN reported Thursday, a handful of farmers in that state temporarily skirted the ban through legal action. The majority of those applicator have now lost access again in the appeals process.   See that report here: https://www.dtnpf.com/…   Now, the Missouri Department of Agriculture has extended the cutoff date for southeast Missouri counties to June 10 through a 24c Special Local Needs label for Engenia, FeXapan and XtendiMax.   Click Here to read ...

Keeping a Compliant Environment EPA Region 7 Administrator Talks About Working With Agribusiness on Air and Water Laws

A year into his second stint as EPA's Region 7 administrator, Jim Gulliford said he remains committed to compliance over enforcement in working with agriculture and other industries in the four-state region, which includes Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska. Gulliford visited with DTN last week at EPA's regional office in Lenexa, just after EPA Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler had signed a proposed rule in the office seeking to amend the Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act to exempt animal livestock emissions from reporting requirements. Gulliford summed up the rationale for the proposal: "It just confuses them ...

Key lobbyist talks GMO disclosure law implementation (AUDIO)

The Department of Agriculture is working to implement the landmark biotech disclosure law passed in 2016, and a lobbyist who has followed the issue from the beginning says there are still major issues to resolve.   Click Here to listen.

Keystone XL Pipeline Bill Dies in U.S. Senate

A bill to force approval of the Keystone XL pipeline failed in the U.S. Senate on Tuesday, sparing President Barack Obama from an expected veto of legislation several fellow Democrats supported.   The measure fell just short of the 60 votes needed for passage, despite frantic last minute lobbying by supporters, especially Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, who faces a runoff election on Dec.6. She has staked her hopes of winning a fourth Senate term on the Keystone gambit.   Click Here to read more.

Labor Bill Prohibits OSHA from Imposing New Fertilizer Restrictions

The fiscal year Labor, Health and Human Services and Education appropriations bill includes a provision that would stop new restrictions on fertilizer sales.   North Dakota Republican Senator John Hoeven says the bill moved out of committee on Thursday and would also stop the Occupational Safety and Health Administration from forcing agriculture retailers to comply with the same chemical storage requirements as wholesale facilities, according to the Hagstrom Report.   Click Here to read more.  

LaHood lauds ag at former UAW hall

The last time U.S. Rep. Darin LaHood went by 10282 E. County Road 1400 North in rural Bloomington, it was a United Auto Workers building.    "They were incredibly gracious and sold us the property," said Jean Payne, president of the Illinois Fertilizer and Chemical Association, which now helps run an ag training facility there. "Their philosophy is employee health and safety, so it was really good feelings for everybody that this was going to be used as a safety and educational center."   UAW Local 2488, which represented workers at the Mitsubishi Motors North America ...

Last Day to Sign Up for the IFCA Golf Outing in Windsor.

This is just a reminder that today is the last day to sign up for the IFCA golf outing at Fox Praire in Windsor, Illinois.  The outing is this Thursday, with lunch at 11am and shotgun start at noon.  Either call the office at 309-827-2774 or email leslief@ifca.com to sign up.    Your participation and donations make it possible for IFCA to award five $1,000 scholarships annually to students studying agriculture who may become future members of our industry.  Thanks you for your support!  

Law pre-empts counties from banning aerial spraying

An Oregon circuit judge is considering a case that argues local voters have a “natural right” to ban aerial spraying in Lincoln County, despite state statutes to the contrary.   Lincoln County voters approved an ordinance earlier this year banning aerial spraying. It is being challenged in a lawsuit filed by landowners Rex Capri and Wakefield Farms, who rely on aerial spraying.   The plaintiffs say the local ban is prohibited by Oregon’s “right to farm” law, state laws regulating pesticides and the forest practice laws.   Click Here to read more 

Lawmaker Panel Delays Decision on Fracking Rules

A legislative panel said Tuesday that it wants more time decide wheather rules written by the Department of Natural Resources to govern hydraulic fracturing in Illinois can take effect.   The legislature's Joint Committee on Administrative Rules received proposed rules for high-volume oil and gas extraction from the DNR on August 29, after the agency reworded some rules based on more than 30,000 comments on it original draft.  But industry and environmental groups said they would ask JCAR to seek dozens of changes.   Click Here to read more.

Lawmaker puts the brakes on his own mileage tax proposal

A bill that would test a mileage tax for vehicles driving on state roads has been tabled, but that doesn't mean it's dead.   Chicago Democrat Marcus Evans last week filed House Bill 2864, establishing a pilot program for a 2.1-cent tax on every mile a vehicle is driven on state roads.   But Evans tabled the bill Tuesday, saying he wanted to send the message that he's not going to bring it back this session. "But if someone else wants to find a creative way to do that, then they can," Evans said.   As ...

Lawmaker unveils plan to increase Illinois minimum wage to $15

A state lawmaker from Chicago has announced a plan to raise Illinois' minimum wage to $15 by 2022.   Democratic Rep. Will Guzzardi told reporters Monday he'll file legislation within days to incrementally increase the rate over five years. The first hike would bring the $8.25 rate to $9 by 2018. Guzzardi says it'll improve Illinois' business climate and the plan will include tax help for small businesses.   But business groups remain opposed, saying raising the minimum wage increases the cost of doing business, among other things. The bill's fate is also unclear amid a two-year budget impasse that's overshadowed ...

Lawmakers authorize water infrastructure projects

Congress overwhelmingly approved water resources legislation authorizing projects to improve infrastructure at ports, inland waterways, locks, dams and flood mitigation.   America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018 authorizes more than $6 billion in spending over the next 10 years and awaits President Trump’s signature.   The legislation, approved 99-1 in the Senate Oct. 10 and by a voice vote in the House a month earlier, includes the Water Resources Development Act. The WRDA piece passed the House in June by a 408-2 vote.   Click Here to read more.

Lawmakers Clash Over "Mythical" EPA Water Rule

Members of the House and Senate clashed Wednesday over a proposed Environmental Protection Agency regulation that Republicans said would enormously expand the federal government’s jurisdiction. While the GOP sounded alarm bells over the impact on farmers and developers if they have to apply for EPA permits for digging ditches or using pesticides, Democrats maintained that their colleagues were misrepresenting the EPA’s proposal and arguing over a “mythical” rule. Click Here to read more.  

Lawmakers Divided on Investigation into Governor Quinn's Program.

A bipartisan panel of Illinois lawmakers voted last week to postpone grilling people connected with Gov Pat Quinn's anti-violence program, bowing to the wishes of the U.S. Justice Department, which has criminal investigation underway.   Though the Legislative Audit Commission bickered for hours last Wednesday over how to proceed, members voted unanimously to subpoena seven witnesses by Oct. 8, complying with the 90-day respite requeasted by U.S. Attorney James Lewis in Springfield.  Lewis feared testimony before the commission would jeopardize his probe.   Click Here to read more.

Lawmakers Fail to Override Gov. Rauner Budget Vetos

Democrats who control the General Assembly were unable to corral enough votes to completely override Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner's vetoes of a new state budget on Wednesday, leaving the state without full spending power as the political stalemate that threatens to shut down portions of state government showed no signs of dissipating.   The Senate did find enough support to send the governor a temporary, one-month budget to pay for core services in the meantime, though that effort was largely symbolic after Rauner had said he would not sign the measure.   Click Here to read more.  

Lawmakers in Oregon weighing chlorpyrifos ban

Oregon lawmakers heard testimony Tuesday on a set of bills that would restrict pesticide use in an attempt to protect both humans and the insects that pollinate our crops.   House Bill 3058 and Senate Bill 853, nearly identical, would ban all uses of the insecticide known as chlorpyrifos within Oregon. The bills also would add a commonly used group of insecticides, known as neonicotinoids, to a list of restricted pesticides that can only be applied with a state-issued license.   In December, OPB reported the widespread use of chlorpyrifos in the Pacific Northwest on crops from apples to Christmas trees, despite ...

Lawmakers Must Pass Budget By May 31st

After cancelling session and committee hearings in Springfield Thursday, the Illinois General Assembly is off for the next few weeks. When they come back, they'll have about a month's worth of working days to pass a plan to spend about $37 billion in taxes.   The House was off this week. The Senate adjourned Wednesday and canceled Thursday. Both chambers aren’t back in session until the second week of April.   When they come back, they only have about 30 business days scheduled to pass a budget before the May 31 deadline.   State Sen. Andy Manar, who chairs ...

Lawmakers Push For USMCA Passage

China isn't the only trade issue Washington D.C. is working on too.   At some point this year, Congress is expected to vote on the USMCA agreement between the United States, Mexico and Canada. The agreement still needs an up or down vote from both chambers of Congress.   “In terms of votes within the caucus, I can’t tell you,” said House Ag. Committee Chairman, Collin Peterson (D-Minnesota). “All I can tell you is I’m for it and I’m doing what I can to help get it passed.” &...

Lawmakers Question EPA's Ongoing Delays in Finalizing RFS Volumes

Though EPA announced recently it would complete Renewable Fuel Standard volumes for three years in 2015, the agency official who heads the program told a House committee Wednesday she is not willing to say when the volumes for 2014, 2015, and 2016 would be finalized.  Some members of the House Government Reform and Oversight Subcommittee on Energy Policy, Health Care and Entitlements pointed to the delays as reason for RFS reform.   Janet McCabe, EPA acting assistant administrator for air and radiation, was asked by members of the committee to account for the delays and what Congress needs to do to help improve ...

Lawmakers seek tighter regulation of large hog farms

Four new measures proposed in the Illinois legislature would tighten the state’s environmental protections on hog confinements and give local citizens more input in the permitting process as well as standing to challenge the massive facilities in court.   Critics say pork producers sometimes exploit weak laws to build and expand large hog confinements across rural Illinois, some of which hold thousands of pigs and produce millions of gallons of manure each year, the Chicago Tribune (http://trib.in/2oiD2Iz) reported.   Farmers and others who live near the massive facilities say their rights have been trampled ...

Lawmakers send Gov. J.B. Pritzker bill to raise smoking and vaping age to 21

Illinois lawmakers are sending Gov. J.B. Pritzker a bill that would raise the legal age for buying tobacco and vaping products from 18 to 21 statewide, hoping the Democrat will put his signature on legislation his predecessor vetoed last year.   The Illinois Senate on Thursday voted 39-16 to approve the measure, which also would do away with penalties for underage possession of cigarettes, cigars, chewing tobacco and e-cigarettes. The House approved the bill Tuesday by an 82-31 vote.   Passage of the bill with bipartisan support is a victory for public health advocates, who have been pushing the issue for ...

Lawmakers set to return Tuesday for veto session

Gun control, government transparency, student loan reform and more could be on the table this week as the General Assembly begins the annual ritual of the fall veto session.   Lawmakers are scheduled to return Tuesday for what is now scheduled to be three days of sessions to begin dealing with possibly overriding bills vetoed by Gov. Bruce Rauner and taking up additional issues that have arisen since lawmakers last met in Springfield in August.   Here are a few things to look for as the veto session gets underway.   Click Here to read more.

Lawmakers, Lobbyists and the Administration Join Forces to Overhaul the Endangered Species Act

The Endangered Species Act, which for 45 years has safeguarded fragile wildlife while blocking ranching, logging and oil drilling on protected habitats, is coming under attack from lawmakers, the White House and industry on a scale not seen in decades, driven partly by fears that the Republicans will lose ground in November’s midterm elections.   In the past two weeks, more than two dozen pieces of legislation, policy initiatives and amendments designed to weaken the law have been either introduced or voted on in Congress or proposed by the Trump administration.   The actions included a bill to strip ...

Lawmakers, Rauner Trying to Negotiate Fix for Budget Gaps

A day after outlining an ambitious agenda for his first year in office, Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner Thursday was confronted with a state budget that is millions of dollars short for programs such as subsidized day care that are rapidly running out of money. Lawmakers held a hearing to discuss additional funding for the state’s subsidized day care program, which needs roughly $300 million more to continue helping low-income parents through June. The Department of Corrections and Revenue Department also are running low on funds, as is the account used to pay court reporters. Click Here to read more.

Lawmakers: Budget meetings producing progress, but work remains

For days, Gov. Bruce Rauner has said he hopes the General Assembly can reach a "grand compromise" on a budget and reform measures by the end of May.   He’s pinning those hopes on groups of rank-and-file lawmakers who have been meeting to hash out details of a spending plan for the rest of this fiscal year and the new one that starts July 1, as well as trying to reach agreement on part of the Republican governor's pro-business reform agenda.   “I’m hearing favorable reports from various members of the General Assembly that there ...

Lawmakers: State can Raise $3.9 Billion Without Tax Hike for Most

Rep. Jack Franks thinks he’s found a path to lead Illinois out of its budget wasteland or least get it well along the way.   Franks, a Democrat from Marengo, says he’s working on a bill that could generate nearly $3.9 billion without raising taxes.   “I think this is the path out,” Franks said. “This will be additional revenue for the state. We’ll be closing exemptions that very few get to use, and those that are taking most of these profits are … not even paying taxes in the state of ...

Lawsuit against Arkansas panel contests curb on dicamba

Monsanto, the St. Louis-based herbicide and seed company, filed a lawsuit Friday against the state Plant Board, alleging it violated state law and damaged the company in restricting farmers' access to Monsanto's dicamba-based herbicide the past two growing seasons.   In a lawsuit filed in Pulaski County Circuit Court and assigned to Circuit Judge Mary McGowan, the company asked the judge to set aside a Plant Board regulation that prohibits the in-crop use of dicamba between April 15 and Sept. 15 of each growing season. The board, a division of the Arkansas Department of Agriculture, is considering whether to prohibit the ...

Layoffs Raise New Issues in State Hiring Dispute

Gov. Pat Quinn's unexpected move to deal with a scathing report about political hiring in his administration will not put the jobs scandal to rest as he mounts a difficult campaign for re-election.   Click Here to read more.    

Leaving the Land of Lincoln

Illinois is badly trailing the leading states in job growth and lower unemployment.   A U.S. Department of Labor report last week had modestly good news for much of the country. A handful of states saw a significant drop in their unemployment rates, while 28 states recorded sizable gains in jobs, from January 2016 to January 2017. In fact, 28 states could boast of notable employment gains, ranging from Minnesota's 1.1 percent (32,300 jobs) to Idaho's 4 percent (27,500 jobs).   Not mentioned was Illinois.   News releases rarely include less-than-mediocre results.   Click Here to read more.

Legal marijuana question a step closer to being on November ballots in Illinois

The state Senate on Thursday voted to ask on the November ballot whether recreational use of marijuana should be legalized and taxed in Illinois.   The ballot question would be only advisory, so even if voters approve, lawmakers still would have to act.   Sponsoring Sen. Bill Cunningham, D-Chicago, said it is important to poll the public because some lawmakers are already working to legalize recreational marijuana use for people over 21. He noted that in most states that allow recreational use, it was done by voters expressing support in the ballot box.   Click Here to read more.

Legal pot no pipe dream for Pritzker — hopes to pass ‘strong good bill’ in weeks

Gov. J.B. Pritzker tried marijuana himself, “a long time ago.”   But it won’t be long before Illinois residents are able to smoke it legally, if the freshman governor gets his way.   The Chicago Democrat hopes to get a recreational marijuana bill passed before the end of the spring legislative session as part of an ambitious first year plan.   “I think the bill that will get introduced and passed is going to be a very, very, strong good bill,” he said Thursday.   That leaves only about seven weeks for Pritzker ...

Legislation in Congress Would Ban Neonicotinoids Pesticides.

Legislation introduced last week in Washington by Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich and Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore, would temporarily ban four neonicotinoids pesticides.  Click Here to read more about the legislation. 

Legislation seeks to to put redistricting reform on ballot

Lawmakers want to put redistricting reform on the ballot, hoping to succeed where a popular initiative failed.   State Rep. Ryan Spain has introduced a proposed Constitutional amendment that would take lawmakers out of the political map-drawing business. Should it pass into law, the lawmakers that previously drew the legislative boundaries for not only the Illinois General Assembly but the U.S. Congressional districts would be replaced by a 16-member group of independent Illinoisans.   Spain echoed former President Barack Obama’s thoughts about whom should do the choosing come election day.   Click Here to read more.

Legislation would allow agencies, individuals who follow state rules to be taken to court

Companion bills in the Illinois General Assembly would negatively impact the state’s agriculture industry by allowing individuals to sue state agencies and individuals who follow state regulations.   SB 3005, sponsored by Sen. Kwame Raoul, D-Chicago, and HB 5119, sponsored by Rep. Steve Andersson, R-Geneva, proposes to amend the state administrative law and allow any person who feels adversely affected by a state agency decision to bring a lawsuit.   Click Here to read more.

Legislative Remap Looming in Illinois

Given the early campaigning, most Illinois voters know the state is poised for primary and general elections but may underestimate the jockeying under way for 2021 and a key 2022 election.   Think legislative map.    “This year, the driving issue behind the scene in the State Capitol is who will control the legislative redistricting process in 2021,” said Kevin Semlow, Illinois Farm Bureau director of state legislation.   A political chess game ensues preceding a national census, which will occur in 2020. Illinois will draw new legislative districts in 2021, followed by the 2022 election. And that election will be a political ...

Legislative Turnover

As the filing period that runs from Nov. 27 to Dec. 4 draws ever closer, the people of Illinois are getting an increasingly clearer look at prospective changes in the Illinois General Assembly.   It's hard to imagine the body, under its current top-down leadership, actually functioning as a legislative body dominated by independent thinkers, but addition by subtraction is a possibility that should not be dismissed out of hand.   Whatever the future holds for the Illinois House and Senate, it's clear that there will be significant shifts in personnel, even if not in party control.   The latest ...

Lengthy budget delay to dominate legislative session

Illinois has limped along without a budget since July and solving that gridlock will be lawmakers' top priority in the impending session, a time when they've traditionally turned attention to passing a fresh budget for the coming fiscal year.   The epic budget fight that's crippling many state services will overshadow other key issues lawmakers want to address in the 2016 session, which begins Wednesday, including legislation to allow recall efforts against Chicago mayors and regulating fantasy sports gambling.   Upcoming elections could weigh heavily and delay the budget deliberations. There are few session days scheduled before primaries March 15, ...

Lessons Learned in 2017: Later Application Led to Problems

In 2017, Illinois was the top producer of soybeans among all U.S. states. Unfortunately, Illinois also broke records in the number of complaints called in to the Illinois Department of Agriculture alleging dicamba misuse.   Can we learn from the experiences in 2017? “Failure to look back, as well as forward, leaves us vulnerable to repeating mistakes if we don’t acknowledge that one of the major takeaways from 2017 was that the later the application occurred, the more problems we saw,” said Jean Payne, President of the Illinois Fertilizer & Chemical Association.   Click Here to read more.

Libertyville the Latest Lake Town to Ban Phosphorus in Fertilizer

Just in time for spring, Libertyville will become the latest Lake County community to ban the use of fertilizers containing phosphorous. The new rule, which takes effect March 1, is intended to protect water quality and the environment in lakes, streams and ponds, which can become choked with algae and affect aquatic life. The change comes at the recommendation last fall of the Sustain Libertyville commission. Click Here to read more.  

Lighthizer tells Congress he's seeking separate trade deals with EU, Japan, and the UK

The Trump administration officially notified Congress Tuesday it will seek three separate trade deals with the European Union, Japan, and the United Kingdom.   U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said the announcement is an important milestone in the process, and his office is committed to concluding negotiations with, “timely and substantive results for American workers, farmers, ranchers, and businesses.”   Notifying Congress and publishing Trump’s objectives in the federal register means USTR officials can start official trade talks in 30 days.   Click Here to read more.

Lisa Madigan seeks to stop state workers' pay until budget passed

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan has filed a motion to stop the payment of state workers' salaries until legislators and Gov. Bruce Rauner approve a spending plan to end a more than 18-month budget stalemate.   The motion filed Thursday asks the St. Clair County Circuit Court to dissolve by Feb. 28 a preliminary injunction that allows for state workers to be paid during the budget impasse.   American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 31 spokesman Anders Lindall said the union was "shocked and extremely disappointed" by the filing.   "Despite all the chaos in state government in the ...

Local lawmaker's dicamba bill passes Missouri House

A bill aimed at increasing penalties for the misuse of dicamba passed the Missouri House on Thursday. The bill moves to the Senate, with its author looking to earn the governor’s signature by mid-March.   HB 662 passed by a 144-9 vote. Eight Republicans and one Democrat voted against the measure. The bill passed with an emergency clause, meaning it would take effect immediately if Gov. Eric Greitens signs it.   The bill is among three introduced by state Rep. Don Rone, R-Portageville, who’s devoted the legislative session to dicamba-related issues.   In recent years, farmers reported ...

Lock and Dam 52 failures costing millions, slowing river industry

The Ohio River is closed at Lock and Dam 52 once again. That’s something we’ve been hearing over and over again in the past few months.   The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers say the water is too high to lock vessels through “paired with the unconventional manner in which the wicket Dam now has to be operated prevented project staff from lowering wickets to control river elevations.”   Lock and Dam 52 costs $2.5 million to $3 million a year to maintain on average. In fiscal year 2017 — from October 2016 to September 2017 — ...

Look for lawsuits, not legislation

When it comes to agriculture and water quality, Howard Brown of Growmark Inc. isn’t reading the headlines from Washington, D.C., or checking to see what the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is doing.   He’s watching the suits.   “I’m not worried about regulation. I’m not worried about legislation. I’m concerned for us about civil litigation because there’s a big difference, and it’s already started in Iowa,” Brown told an audience at the Nutrient Stewardship of Northern Illinois group’s spring conference. &...

Looking More Closely at the 4Rs of Nutrient Management

Spring is just around the corner, and farmers are already preparing for the upcoming growing season. Fertilizer is probably at the top of their minds — which kind, how much, how to apply, and when and where to apply.   The fertilizer industry, especially agriculture retailers, are essential in assisting farmers with their fertilizer needs. A large percentage of the retail sector is supportive of the industry’s 4R Nutrient Stewardship efforts, and they play an important role in sharing information about the 4Rs with farmers. But according to recent research conducted by The Fertilizer Institute (TFI), more than 70% ...

Lose two U.S. House seats, gain a fairer map?

Illinois has been losing population, and most projections show the state losing a U.S. representative after the 2020 U.S. census.   But a new projection shows that we are “dangerously close” to losing two seats in the U.S. House.   “(Illinois is) within that magic five points of potentially being on the odd side of the line,” said Kimball Brace, president of Election Data Services. “Illinois is between 100,000 to 192,000 people away from losing that second seat.”   His company ran three projections using different methodologies. The one showing two seats vanishing assumes ...

Loss of Atrazine Will Cost Producers Dearly

The EPA has started the process that may lead to the banning of atrazine. Should that happen, it will be a lot harder and more expensive to raise corn and soybeans. Atrazine is currently used on about 80% of the corn in Indiana. According to Bill Johnson, weed specialist with Purdue, “Atrazine is easily the most effective broad spectrum herbicide we use that gives us control of grass and broadleaf weeds.”   Decades of research have shown atrazine is safe; and, as recently as 4 years ago, the EPA did not show atrazine as a threat to the environment. Yet ...

Lots of sound, not much light in Illiois governor debate

That first gubernatorial debate last week was quite the sight, and sound, for those who bothered to tune in.   There was a lot of sound and fury, and not so much in the way of further illuminating how anyone is really going to fix the state’s myriad problems.   And if you expect a governor to conduct him/herself with a certain deportment, you probably didn’t get any answers, either.   Democrat JB Pritzker got in his themes that Gov. Bruce Rauner is a liar and a failure. Rauner framed the campaign as being one ...

Lowe's Says it will Stop Selling Neonics

Lowe's announced it will phase out thesale of products containing neonicotinoid pesticides as part of its corporate responsibility commitments for this year.     In its 2014 Corporate Social Responsibility released Thursday, the home improvement chain said it plans to stop selling neonics-a class of pesticide used on turf and ornamental products as well as a corn and soybean seeds withen 48 months as suitable alternatives become commercially available.     Click Here to read more.  

Madigan Says Gov. Rauner Trying To Lower Wages "All Across the State"

Illinois Democratic Party Chairman and House Speaker Michael Madigan says Democrats are engaged in an "epic struggle" with Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and need to stand firm.   Madigan spoke Thursday morning at a meeting of the state's Democratic county chairmen.   Madigan says Rauner "thinks that Illinois budget-making should be used and leveraged to bring down wage rates all across the state."   Rauner has repeatedly blasted Madigan and other Democrats for being unwilling to compromise on pro-business changes he wants. Rauner says his priorities will spur economic growth and grow jobs.   Click Here to read more. &...

Madigan Says House will be in "Continuous" Summer Session

Illinois' House Speaker says his chamber plans to be in "continuous session" throughout the summer.   Chicago Democrat Michael Madigan made the announcement Sunday, the last regularly scheduled day of the spring session.   Click Here to read more.

Madigan says House will consider sale of Thompson Center

Two days after Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner delivered his budget address, House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, said he'll have the House start considering one aspect of it.   Madigan released a statement Friday saying he wants a House committee to consider legislation that would allow the state to sell the James R. Thompson Center in Chicago.   "In his recent budget address, Governor Rauner prioritized the sale of the James R. Thompson Center," Madigan said. "In keeping with my commitment to work cooperatively with the governor, I've directed the House State Government Administration Committee to ...

Madigan sets up vote on Rauner death penalty plan, creating political minefield

Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan agreed Thursday to allow a vote on Gov. Bruce Rauner’s controversial plan to reinstate the death penalty and expand the waiting period to purchase firearms, creating a political minefield Democrats contend could hurt re-election-seeking Republicans more than themselves.   Madigan said the issues the Republican governor raised “deserve a full hearing and consideration before the House.”     “We look forward to hearing from stakeholders and continuing our effort to keep our children, our schools and our communities safe from senseless gun violence,” Madigan said in a statement.   ...

Madigan, Rauner Spend Big on Illinois House Races

State Rep. Marty Moylan tells voters he's not your typical Democrat as he bikes from house to house on the campaign trail, handing out yard signs, nail files and doggie treats with his name emblazoned on the bag.   "I'm an independent running as a Democrat, that's my philosophy," said the former Des Plaines mayor, who argues his "fiscally conservative and socially compassionate" message resonates in his district in Chicago's northwest suburbs.   Click Here to read more.

Make Agriculture Responsibility Part of Your New Year's Resolutions

At the start of the new year, many of us make a resolution - usually to do something better.  My FFAA resolution for 2015 is to raise awareness of the resolutions already adopted and in place by the Flordia agchem industry regarding regulatory compliance and workplace safety.   The unsung heroes in this industry are those whose everyday commitment to safety and security means growers continue to have access to essential crop inputs, which help them grow better.  These professionals never waver in their resolution to safeguard their coworkers and communities.   Click Here to read more.

Make Your Specialty Known: FieldWatch Sensitive-Crop Registry Included in Dicamba Requirements

Brown Farms planted signs in their Decatur, Illinois, fields last spring. The wooden markers identifying the soybean field as non-GMO or LibertyLink were visual reminders that the crop within was sensitive to certain herbicides.   This year the farm has the option of calling on the power of digital signs, as well, said David Brown, who farms with his brother, Joe, and son, Chase.   They plan to map their sensitive fields in FieldWatch, the largest national, map-based registry of specialty crops (DriftWatch), beehives (BeeCheck), and row crops (CropCheck). The non-profit company allows farmers and beekeepers to log their property ...

Managing Nitrogen for Corn in 2019

The fall of 2018 and so far in 2019, there have been limited opportunities to apply nitrogen fertilizer. Average rainfall through the first 25 days of March ranged from a little less than normal in the northern half of Illinois to an inch or more above normal in south-central Illinois. But temperatures have averaged 3 to 4 degrees below normal, which slowed drying. There were several days in the first week of March when it was frozen on the surface and a considerable amount of P and K went on. This was followed by an inch or more of rain (which had been forecast) in ...

Mapping a way to term limits

Nobody has less trust in their state government than Illinoisans.   For years, Gallup polling has placed the Land of Lincoln dead last in the nation on that measure.   Who can blame us?   Illinois is one of the most corrupt states in the country, and contains the nation's most corrupt metropolis. Researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago peg the Windy City as the nation's "corruption capital."   Click Here to read more.  

March IFCA's "News Under the Dome"

Click Here to read more.

Marijuana bill likely to come up early when lawmakers return

A key supporter of an initiative to legalize adult recreational marijuana in Illinois said substantial bill language will be filed soon, and the issue could be one of the first discussed by state lawmakers when they return to the Statehouse from their two-week spring break next week.   In a recent interview for the Capitol News Illinois, state Sen. Heather Steans, a Chicago Democrat, said she hoped to file substantial adult use language “by the end of April or very early May, if not (Tuesday) April 30. ... Very soon, when we are done with the two-week break here.   Illinois ...

Mark Kirk Starts 2016 as an Underdog

Where does Illinois Republican Sen. Mark S. Kirk start in his bid for re-election? It depends on whom you ask. The Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report/Roll Call currently rates the 2016 race as a Tossup, while the Cook Political Report says it is a “Lean Republican” contest. The folks in the statistical wing of the handicapping world are invisible, because the race hasn’t formed and there are no meaningful polls. My own view is that Kirk has a significantly uphill fight for a second term. I regard him as an underdog. Kirk certainly has a ...

Mark your calendars; February 15 is IFCA, GFAI, and ISTA Annual Legislative Breakfast in Springfield.

On February 15 is Illinois Fertilizer & Chemical Association, Grain & Feed Association of Illinois, and Illinois Seed Trade Association Annual Legislative Breakfast in Springfield.  The breakfast will be at the Sangamo Club with breakfast at 7:30am and short discussion at 7:45.   Join ag leaders and state elected officials to hear about pending state legislative issues that could impact the ag community.  Click here to see the invite.  IFCA, GFAI and ISTA member are encouraged to come.  Please RSVP to KJ@IFCA or 309-827-2774 if you would like to attend.  

Mark your calendars; February 15 is IFCA, GFAI, and ISTA Annual Legislative Breakfast in Springfield.

On February 15 is Illinois Fertilizer & Chemical Association, Grain & Feed Association of Illinois, and Illinois Seed Trade Association Annual Legislative Breakfast in Springfield.  The breakfast will be at the Sangamo Club with breakfast at 7:30am and short discussion at 7:45.   Join ag leaders and state elected officials to hear about pending state legislative issues that could impact the ag community.  Click here to see the invite.  IFCA, GFAI and ISTA member are encouraged to come.  Please RSVP to KJ@IFCA or 309-827-2774 if you would like to attend.

Massachusetts Regulates Fertilizer Use to Reduce Nutrient Water Pollution

Following a developing trend around the country, the Massachusetts Department of Agriculture (DAR) recently promulgated regulations restricting how fertilizers containing phosphorous, nitrogen or potassium may be applied.  The goal of these regulations is to reduce nutrient loading to waterbodies, which can lead to eutrophication and other negative water quality impacts.   Click Here to read more.

McConnell vows vote on Green New Deal by August

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the Senate will vote before August on a Green New Deal resolution authored by progressive Democrats.   “I’ve been reading with some amusement that our friends on the other side appear reluctant to vote on the Green New Deal,” McConnell said Tuesday, referring to the resolution freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., introduced this month. “The only question I would ask is if this is such a popular thing to do and so necessary, why would one want to dodge the vote?”   ...

Measure allowing local gas tax on top of state gas tax approved in committee

It’s on to the full House for a measure that would give local governments the ability to assess their own gas tax of up to 3 cents a gallon.   House Bill 102 had already been approved by the House Revenue and Finance Committee. An amendment to allow local government to tack on up to 3 cents a gallon to the state’s current 19 cents a gallon was approved in committee Thursday.   “This bill gives an opportunity for the locals to impose a 3 cents a gallon motor fuel tax,” said state Rep. Mike Zalewski, D-Riverside. “I ...

Meet the New EPA Boss, Not the Same as the Old Boss

Along with it, the agency has received some flak from farmers about potential controversial waterway rules like Waters of the United States (WOTUS). Then, there’s an argument across farm country about the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). It’s a standard which now has oversight under the EPA when it comes to the amount of biofuels blended, Renewable Identification Numbers (RINS) and potential waivers to oil companies. In addition, the agency had its share of turnover.   Now, the EPA has a new boss, Andrew Wheeler. He was the Acting Administrator when Former Administrator Scott Pruitt resigned amid ...

Members of EPA glyphosate panel chosen

EPA has finalized the membership of the panel that will examine the carcinogenic potential of glyphosate.   The list of scientific experts was posted without fanfare on EPA's Scientific Advisory Panel website today. The agency also has posted the agenda for the meeting, which will take place Oct. 18-21 at the Office of Pesticide Programs building in Crystal City, Va.   The panel includes four members of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Scientific Advisory Panel, along with nine members appointed specifically for the glyphosate panel. Those nine people are known as the Science Review Board.   The four ...

Mendoza: By August, there won’t be enough tax money to cover expenses

As legislative leaders argued Friday about who to meet with and when, Comptroller Susana Mendoza said August will be the month when state tax collections are no longer sufficient to cover mandated expenses.   Mendoza said Friday that in a “best-case scenario,” the state will fall $185 million short of what it needs to meet payments required by various court orders, consent decrees and state laws that have been responsible for the state to continue paying some bills in the absence of a full state budget.   “We will no longer be able to fully comply with all ...

Meta-Analysis Finds Big GMO Benefits (VIDEO)

In an analysis of scientific investigation stretching over two decades, researchers at two Italian universities compiled data on genetically modified corn, soybeans, canola and cotton. This week, they released a report comparing yield, crop quality, target and non-target organisms, and biomass decomposition with non-GMO crops of the same type.   The meta-analysis was based on 72 studies from six continents, and over 11,000 field observations. The results produced distinct improvement in several categories.   Between 1996 and 2016 yield was improved by 24.5 percent while mycotoxin concentrations declined by one-third. The crop with the largest potential benefit was GMO corn, which represents only 30 percent of ...

Mexico, Canada Want NAFTA Talks Finished by Year End

The Mexican ambassador to the United States said Tuesday that Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, Mexico’s incoming president, wants the North American Free Trade Agreement negotiations to be completed before he takes office on December 1 and the Canadian deputy ambassador said Canada would welcome the agreement’s completion this year.   At the Politico Summit, Mexican Ambassador to the United States Geronimo Gutierrez Fernandez said that Lopez Obrador is working with the current Mexican administration on the issue   Click Here to read more.

Michigan Agriculture Leaders on Toledo Water Ban: We Want to be Part of the Conversation

Leaders of Michigan agricultural organizations said Thursday that the government should not a "knee-jerk reaction" based on last week's water ban in Toledo due to fertilizer run-off in Lake Erie.   "Nobody wants problems like this, nobody wants to deal witth these situations," said Jim Byrum, president of the Michigan Agri-Business Association.  "We want to be ahead of the curve and deal with the problem as best we can."   Click Here to read more.

Michigan Legislation Calls for Voluntary Fertilizer Reduction

Harrison Township Congresswoman Candice Miller and another member of the Michigan Republican delegation introduced legislation Tuesday that encourages states in the Great Lakes region to develop voluntary programs aimed at reducing farm pollution that causes harmful algae blooms.   Miller and Rep. Tim Walberg said the initiatives should be modeled after the Michigan Agricultural Environmental Assistance Program, which helps producers cut back on fertilizer and pesticide runoff.   Growers who successfully participate, using methods such as improving manure storage and planting vegetation buffer strips between crops and streams, can get official certification and financial assistance.   Under the bill, states ...

Midterm elections 2018: From climate change to conservation, environmentalists shift green battle to states

The political battle on climate change is shifting from the nation's capital to ballot boxes thousands of miles away.   Tuesday, voters in nine states – all in the South and West – will determine the fate of potentially far-reaching environmental measures, including whether to curb greenhouse gas emissions (Washington), increase the use of renewable fuels (Arizona, Nevada) or ban offshore oil drilling (Florida).   There are ballot initiatives to increase spending on land preservation (Georgia, California), protect wildlife habitats (Alaska), limit fracking (Colorado) and restrict mining (Montana).   President Donald Trump's aggressive effort to roll back the ...

Midterm elections may impact farm bill, trade

A flip in either or both chambers of Congress with next week’s midterm elections may reverberate into pig farms and soybean fields.   At issue in the Nov. 6 vote is President Donald Trump’s trade war with China as well as domestic entitlement programs.   The world’s second-largest economy slapped tariffs on U.S. agricultural products, including pork and soybeans. That prompted Trump to provide $12 billion in assistance to farmers. Domestically, farm programs began to expire Sept. 30 and Congress hasn’t passed a new bill.   Trump and the Republican-led House of Representatives have ...

Midwest Center for Investigative Partnering with Agricultural Communities in Illinois to Measure Pesticide Drift

If you live in central Illinois, you may have spotted a small, dome-like device that resembles a flying saucer along a fence or in a neighbor’s backyard. Those devices are air samplers, specifically designed to measure pesticide drift. We’ve placed four samplers in agricultural communities to learn more about what chemicals, if any, might be drifting from corn and soybean fields onto nearby backyards, school grounds and parks as spraying gets underway this spring. We have also placed a sampler near our office in Champaign to serve as a control.   Below, you will find more ...

Midwest Crops Stressed by Worsening Drought Conditions

Drought conditions are getting worse in several states, and extreme heat and weeks with little rain have begun to stress corn, soybeans, wheat and livestock in some areas.   The weekly U.S. Drought Monitor recently released by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln says nearly 11 percent of the continental United States is in moderate drought or worse.   The most severe drought area is centered on portions of Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota.   Click Here to read more.

Midwest flooding creates logistical issues

The number of people impacted by flooding across the Midwest continues to branch out as logistical issues surface.   Feed and ethanol shipments stalled in recent weeks across Iowa and Nebraska, forcing some plants to shut down or reduce output. An estimated 20 percent of the nation’s ethanol production was impacted by the flooding.   Crop shipments also slowed down the Mississippi River. USDA reported 486 barges unloaded in New Orleans the first week of March, the lowest total since June 2017.   But one of the biggest impacts to the farming community could be felt in the weeks ahead as ...

Minimum wage bill sponsor says she’ll keep pressing for deal

The principal sponsor of a bill to gradually raise the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour said the votes weren’t there to attempt an override of Gov Bruce Rauner’s veto of the bill.   Instead, Sen. Kimberly Lightford, D-Maywood, said she’ll continue to negotiate to find a compromise that will have the support of enough lawmakers to overcome a gubernatorial veto.   The first week of the veto session passed without an attempt to override Rauner’s veto of Senate Bill 81 that would have gradually increased the state’s minimum ...

Minimum Wage, Question Looms Over Lawmakers' Final Session

The biggest issue hanging over Illinois lawmakers in a final three-day veto session this week is whether they can muster the votes to approve a minimum wage hike - an uphill climb that proponents are continuing to pursue amid behind-the-scenes maneuvering in both Springfield and Chicago.   Passing the increase would be a capstone on Gov. Pat Quinn's decades long political career, and Chicago officials are expediting an attempt to raise the city's wage in anticipation of action at the Capitol.  With Quinn's political capitol waning in his final days in office, the statewide bill's ...

Minnesota Announces Restrictions on Using Herbicide Dicamba

Minnesota announced restrictions Tuesday on how farmers can use the herbicide dicamba in 2018, responding to complaints by soybean growers across the country that it harmed their crops this year.   The Minnesota Department of Agriculture set a June 20 cutoff date for applying the herbicide and prohibited applications when the temperature or forecast high for the day is above 85 degrees. The rules are meant to reduce instances of the herbicide drifting and damaging neighboring fields, which has been a problem in soybean- and cotton-growing states nationwide this year.   "We will be closely monitoring the herbicide's performance with these ...

Minnesota beekeeper sues EPA over insecticide-coated seeds

A federal lawsuit that's led by a central Minnesota beekeeper is seeking to make the Environmental Protection Agency label insecticide-coated seeds as a pesticide.   The change sought by the lawsuit would curb use of neonicotinoid pesticides that beekeepers say are inadvertently killing their colonies, Minnesota Public Radio News reported. Neonicotinoids are widely used on soybean and corn seeds, but the use isn't included in pesticide regulations.   Beekeeper Jeff Anderson is the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit filed Wednesday. He said dust that's kicked up when the seeds are planted drifts onto hives and kills bees. &...

Minnesota Governor issues bee-friendly rules limiting insecticide use

Gov. Mark Dayton issued broad new guidelines Friday designed to restrict the use of a controversial pesticide that has been implicated in the decline of honeybees and other pollinators.   Standing in the Agriculture-Horticulture building at the State Fair, next door to an exhibit hall filled with live bees and honey jars, the governor said his executive order would make Minnesota a leader in protecting pollinators.   “We can show the nation how better to both farm and enjoy nature and have great lawns and everything, but also be cognizant of the impact of neonicotinoids.”   Click Here ...

Minnesota Governor seeking to reverse bee decline, Gov. Dayton orders limits on pesticide use

Seeking to reverse a decline in bees and other pollinators, Gov. Mark Dayton issued an executive order Friday that limits the use of nicotine-based pesticides.   The governor's move won praise from environmentalists, but farm groups said it could hurt farmers financially.   Nicotine-based insecticides known as neonicotinoids are effective against a variety of pests, so they're widely used, but a growing body of research shows the insecticides harm bees.   After a two-year review of 300 scientific studies, the state Agriculture Department decided restrictions were necessary, said Agriculture Commissioner Dave Frederickson.   Click Here to read more.  

Minnesota House passes bill to control fertilizer/nitrate rules

State GOP lawmakers are pushing rules to prevent the Minnesota Department of Agriculture from adopting a new requirement without legislative approval.     A bill, which has passed the House, seeks to rein in implementation of nitrogen fertilizer regulations intended to protect drinking water quality. Critics say the Department of Agriculture's rules haven't been fully vetted by the public in recent drafts before submission to the state register.     Gov. Mark Dayton says the rules are the result of months spent speaking to farmers, including 17 public listening sessions. He said he will veto bills that attempt to ...

Minnesota Lawmakers postpone nitrogen fertilizer rule

In an effort to protect drinking water from nitrate pollution, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture’s (MDA) proposed nitrogen fertilizer rule would, for the first time ever, regulate how farmers can use nitrogen fertilizer. Earlier versions of the rule were criticized by farming organizations, and last weekend Minnesota legislators voted to block implementation of the rule until next year.   MDA’s scaled-back rule    The proposed rule would ban farmers from applying nitrogen fertilizer in the fall, and it would require farmers near cities with elevated nitrate levels in public drinking wells to follow the University ...

Minnesota legislative committees use little-known law to put brakes on fertilizer regulation rule

Minnesota legislative agriculture committees used a little-known law to put the brakes on a Dayton administration fertilizer regulation rule and gain leverage over the governor.   The message sent by two Republican-run committees was that if Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton vetoes an agricultural policy bill, his proposal to limit nitrogen fertilizer will be delayed until a year from now. If Dayton signs the bill, the agriculture chairman will allow the fertilizer rule to be implemented.   The weekend committee actions have two significant implications.   First, it is the first time the law has been used, and if it is ...

Minnesota sets public hearings on nitrogen fertilizer rule

A series of public hearings begins today on the Minnesota Department of Agriculture's proposed rule on nitrogen fertilizer use.   Nitrate contamination in groundwater is a problem in some areas of the state, and agriculture officials say they're trying to prevent it from becoming worse.   The proposed rule would restrict farmers from applying nitrogen fertilizer in the fall or on frozen soils in areas of the state that are vulnerable to nitrate contamination.   That includes places where public drinking water supplies are at risk of groundwater contamination from farm runoff.   Hearings are being held in ...

Mississippi River barge shipping resumes after floods, but rains to return

The upper Mississippi River fully reopened to boat and barge traffic this week for the first time since November as shippers scrambled to move a backlog of overdue fertilizer barges to farmers racing to sow corn before the end of the month.   Some fertilizer shipments had been parked on river banks near St. Louis and further downriver for more than two months as the worst Midwest flooding since 1993 shuttered locks and triggered shipping restrictions on the flood-swollen waterway.   The U.S. Coast Guard lifted its shipping ban in the Mississippi River’s St. Louis harbor on Wednesday ...

Mississippi River expected to crest Monday; IDOT updates road

The Mississippi River at Grafton is expected to crest at 31.8 feet at 1 p.m. Monday afternoon, according to the National Weather Service’s advanced hydrologic prediction service on Saturday.   Grafton, which is 40 miles north of St. Louis, does not have flood walls or levees and Mayor Rick Eberlin said water was beginning to encroach upon City Hall, the Associated Press reported.   “We are at our wits’ end,” Eberlin said. “We are totally unprotected.”   While spring flooding continues to impact Grafton and the region, residents, businesses and farmers in low-lying areas won&...

Mississippi River Reaches Record Level in Northern Illinois

The Mississippi River has reached record high levels in the area of Rock Island, Illinois, as melting heavy snowpack coupled with rain has caused widespread flooding, a national hydrologist said on Friday.   Heavy rain in the central United States brought the river’s level to a new peak of 22.7 feet at Rock Island, just topping the 1993 record of 22.63 feet, according to hydrologist Justin Palmer at the North Central River Forecast Center in Chanhassen, Minnesota.   “As far as Rock Island is concerned, the stars kind of aligned to where they got rain right on top of what ...

Missouri farmers battling with illegal herbicide use

Soybean farmers in parts of Missouri, Tennessee and Arkansas are experiencing crop damage as a result of what’s believed to be illegal use of dicamba.   The older herbicide has been recently used to help manage glyphosate-resistant weeds.   According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, a Missouri Department of Agriculture representative said there’s been more than 100 complaints of pesticide drift in four Missouri Bootheel counties.   “The symptoms match what we would expect coming out of dicamba,” Kevin Bradley, an associate professor with the University of Missouri’s division of plant sciences, told ...

Missouri Governor OKs Higher Fines for Illegal Herbicide Use

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens has signed a law to increase fines for illegal use of herbicides that damage other farmers' crops.   Greitens signed the bill Thursday, before a ceremonial signing during a Friday visit to southeast Missouri.   That area's been hit by crop damage after the herbicide dicamba was sprayed on crops in an unauthorized manner. The herbicide drifted to neighboring fields and harmed nonresistant crops in 2015 and 2016.   The new law allows the Department of Agriculture to fine anyone who damages another farmer's crops, land or property with an improperly used herbicide.   The agency ...

Missouri lawmakers target misuse of herbicides

A proposal designed to crack down on illegal herbicide spraying in Missouri’s Bootheel farm country is advancing in the state Legislature.   With the planting season on the horizon, legislation that would raise fines for illegal herbicide use from $1,000 per field to $10,000 per violation has been approved in the House and is now poised to move forward in the Senate.   The measure is among three being pushed by Rep. Don Rone, R-Portageville, after farmers and residents in the region complained about potentially illegal spraying of herbicides that caused crop and tree damage on other farms in the ...

Missouri Lifts Dicamba Ban, Provides New Application Restrictions

Farmers in Missouri can again purchase and use new dicamba formulations for over-the-top use in soybeans and cotton—with a few additional requirements.   The Missouri Department of Agriculture (MDA) has approved of Special Local Need label for each herbicide, Engenia, FeXapan and Xtendimax. MDA says the labels provide special provisions and safeguards including:   Click Here to read more.

Missouri limits use of weedkiller linked to crop damage

Missouri will limit the use of a weedkiller made by BASF SE after farmers complained the chemical drifted and harmed their crops, following a move by Arkansas to prohibit spray applications next year of the herbicide and rival products.   Missouri on Thursday banned sprayings of BASF's Engenia herbicide, which is based on a chemical known as dicamba, in 10 counties that had high numbers of complaints about crop damage, starting on June 1, 2018. The ban will expand statewide on July 15 and end in October.   Missouri said it expects to impose similar bans on dicamba herbicides sold by Monsanto Co. ...

Missouri moves forward with dicamba legislation

The Missouri state legislature is moving forward with a measure that would significantly increase penalties for illegal herbicide application, in the wake of widespread off-label use of dicamba herbicide last year.   As part of the battle against resistant weeds, Monsanto released its new dicamba-tolerant Xtend soybeans, but for last year’s growing season, the Environmental Protection Agency had not yet approved a corresponding herbicide label for the product.   Some producers still planted the soybeans and applied older, unlabeled and illegal herbicide formulations. Hundreds of Missouri farmers filed complaints with the Missouri Department of Agriculture about dicamba herbicide ...

Missouri takes steps to prevent misuse of herbicide

Crop damage from the last growing season is done, but Missouri and Arkansas lawmakers are taking steps that aim to prevent future devastation from dicamba, the herbicide widely blamed for a rash of illegal spraying that sowed financial pain and discord in farming communities across the region.   Arkansas’ Plant Board passed restrictions this month that would only permit the use of certain types of dicamba and would only allow one variety to be applied from April 15 through Sept. 15 — when warm temperatures make the herbicide more susceptible to forming vapor and drifting to nearby fields, where it can ...

Missouri, Arkansas take steps to prevent misuse of controversial herbicide

Crop damage from the last growing season is done, but Missouri and Arkansas lawmakers are taking steps that aim to prevent future devastation from dicamba, the herbicide widely blamed for a rash of illegal spraying that sowed financial pain and discord in farming communities across the region.   Arkansas set a bold example last week, when the state’s Plant Board passed restrictions that would only permit the use of certain types of dicamba and would only allow one variety to be applied from April 15 through Sept. 15 — when warm temperatures make the herbicide more susceptible to forming vapor ...

Monarch issues raising concerns, but Illinois ag can act

The fallout that could result from the monarch becoming a threatened or endangered species could be substantial; plans underway to guide conservation efforts.   Illinois agriculture needs to act before monarch butterflies join a national list of threatened and endangered species, according to Lyndsey Ramsey, Illinois Farm Bureau associate director of natural and environmental resources.   Illinois is developing two monarch strategies. One will become part of a multistate monarch flyway plan, which will be submitted to U.S. Fish and Wildlife; the other will be an Illinois plan to guide conservation efforts and be in place should monarchs become ...

Monsanto 'Roundup' weed killer trial begins in San Francisco

A key trial concerning the controversial weed killer Roundup — a trade name for glyphosate — begins Monday in San Francisco. At issue is whether or not Roundup and Monsanto are responsible for a Californian man's cancer.   The maker of the controversial herbicide Roundup, Bayer's Monsanto, goes on trial again on Monday in the United States, six months after a groundskeeper won the first-ever lawsuit alleging that the chemical causes cancer.   Roundup contains glyphosate, a chemical that environmentalists and other critics have long maintained leads to cancer. Roundup is a brand owned by German chemical and ...

Monsanto and DuPont Drop Patent Lawsuits Against Each Other

Monsanto and DuPont have reached a settlement over patent infringement lawsuits that will end, for now anyway, a year-long battle which saw dueling litigation between the two seed sellers.   The companies announced Tuesday they had settled and agreed to dismiss their patent infingement lawsuits against each other in U.S. District Court in St. Louis.  Upon dismissal, Monsanto and DuPont will have no other litigation pending against each other, the companies said.   Click Here to read more.

Monsanto suit against Arkansas Plant Board dismissed in full

Filed in 2017, the lawsuit brought by Monsanto against the Arkansas Plant Board has been dismissed in full by a circuit court judge in Little Rock.   The reason: in January, the Arkansas Supreme Court issued a decision that no one can sue the state under its constitution and the state can never be a defendant in its own courts. Because of that decision, there have been several Pulaski County judges who have already dismissed cases against the state. The suit brought by Monsanto — the company responsible for the dicamba-tolerant Xtend technology in soybean and cotton seed — argued against, ...

Monsanto's Role in Roundup Safety Study Is Corrected by Journal

Bayer AG’s defense of Roundup weed killer may take a hit after an academic journal said Monsanto Co. didn’t fully disclose its involvement in published research finding the herbicide safe.   A correction issued by Critical Reviews in Toxicology, a journal that analyzes health risks of chemicals, may bolster arguments that Monsanto, acquired by Bayer this year, ghost-wrote safety reviews as lawyers try to convince juries that Roundup causes cancer.   Monsanto has defended the independence of the 2016 review, and the journal isn’t changing the papers’ scientific findings. But the journal’s ...

Monsanto's Roundup weed-killer goes on trial with billions at stake

After it was introduced in the 1970s, Roundup was promoted as an "herbicide that gets to the root of the problem."   Now, four decades later, manufacturer Monsanto will face a lawsuit that seeks to get to the root of another problem: whether the active ingredient in the weed-killer is to blame for a California man's terminal cancer. If Monsanto fails to persuade the court that its product isn't to blame, the agricultural company's flagship product could take a hefty hit.   Billions in revenue could be at stake for Monsanto and its new corporate ...

Moody's says Illinois Supreme Court Ruling is "Credit Negative".

Last week's Illinois Supreme Court ruling on retiree health insurance is credit negative for the state, Moody's Investors Service said Friday. The reason, Moody's said is the decision could foreshadow how the court will rule on the broader pension reform law the state hopes will save billions of dollars in pension cost over the coming years. Click Here to read more.

Moody's warns no state budget may mean further credit downgrades

Moody’s Investors Service on Wednesday issued an ominous report about Illinois’ finances, warning that the lack of a full-year budget will more than double the state’s deficit and could lead to further credit downgrades.   Moody’s is also warning that if the state begins to borrow from debt service funds to run the state, it would “signal a deterioration in Illinois’ credit position.” The state is still reeling from its delayed November pension contribution because of insufficient cash, and its missed debt service transfer last summer to the Metropolitan Pier ...

Moody's: Illinois' Pension Debt Versus Revenue is Worst in Nation

Illinois's pension liability as a percentage of state revenue is far and away the nation's highest, a major credit ratings agency says in a new report.   Moody's Investors Service reported that the state's three year liability over revenue is 258 percent.  The next closest is Connecticut at about 200.   Click Here to read more.    

Moody’s: Illinois’ risks ‘unsustainable’ challenges without budget by May 31

A bond-rating agency said Thursday that Illinois must enact a budget by May 31 -- the scheduled end of the legislative session -- or the state will be on a path to “unsustainable fiscal challenges” and risk long-term damage to colleges and social-service providers because of unpaid bills.   The report by Moody’s Investors Service said approval of the “grand bargain” that includes tax hikes coupled with spending cuts would help the state stabilize its situation. The report noted the bargain is stalled in the legislature.   “Illinois is at a critical juncture and ...

More than 155,000 signed Oregon GMO Labeling Initiative.

A petition initiative to require labeling of GMO foods delivered 155,611 signatures to the Oregon Secretary of State late last week, nearly twice the number needed to qualify for the November ballot.   Click Here to read more.

More Than 200 New Laws Take Effect in Illinois

In a year in which much of the attention on state government was focused on an expensive and contentious race for governor, state lawmakers were nonetheless busy approving scores of changes to the Illinois statute books.   More than 200 new laws take effect when the new year begins Thursday, affecting Illinois motorists, wild animals and the state's new medical marijuana law.   Click Here to read more.

More than 650 Ag Organizations Endorse Sonny Perdue for Ag Secretary

In an unprecedented move, 669 organizations submitted a letter of endorsement for Secretary of Agriculture Nominee Sonny Perdue on Thursday to:   U.S. Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS), Chairman, Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee,   U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Ranking Member, Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee,   U.S. Representative Mike Conaway (R-TX), Chairman, House Committee on Agriculture, and   U.S. Representative Collin Peterson (D-MN), Ranking Member, House Committee on Agriculture.   The letter was written “on behalf of the farmers, ranchers, hunters, forest owners, cooperatives, businesses, trade associations, and all other segments of the ...

Mosaic Forecasts More Fertilizer Gains Despite Growing Cost Pressure on Farmers

Mosaic Co. on Thursday forecast growing demand for fertilizer next year even as U.S. farmers grapple with lower crop prices and profits.   Executives at the Plymouth-based company, one of the nations largest producers of fertilizer, used its quarterly earnings announcement to attach perceptions that the collapse or corn and soybean prices this year will lead farmers to cut back on fertilizer next year.   Click Here to read more.

Mosaic Receives Final Green Light For Florida Phosphate Mine

The final remaining permit has been received. Mosaic Company can proceed with its phosphate project in Hardee County, Fl. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers 404 permit secures 160.2 million tons of phosphate rock for future mining.   The Ona phosphate project, which the company started working on its permitting process in 2011, encompasses 22,483 acres of which 16,778 acres are permitted for mining. The company has said this project will extend the life of its Four Corners mine by 14 years as well as provide mining for future decades at its South Pasture mine.   Mosaic President and CEO, Joc O’Rourke, said ...

Most governor candidates favor new tax system

After years of deficits and a destructive state budget impasse, Illinois is facing a massive financial crisis. For most of the candidates seeking to become Illinois’ next governor, the solution is to overhaul the tax system.   Almost all of the Democrats want the state’s wealthiest people to pay more in taxes, while Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner says he’ll try to undo a recent across-the-board income tax hike and his GOP rival says he’s not to be believed.   Conservative state Rep. Jeanne Ives is challenging Rauner in the March 20 primary. Six men ...

Most in the House Want to Slow Down Recreational Marijunana

A majority of the Illinois House of Representatives has indicated its support of a resolution to slow down legalization of recreational marijuana in the state.   Sixty of the 118 members of the House have signed on as co-sponsors of a resolution to slow legalization to give more time to consider the societal impact of and data from other states.   Rep. Grant Wehrli, a Republican from Naperville, on Thursday became the 60th name on the list of sponsors.   The resolution, which still needs to be voted on, says lawmakers “should not rush irresponsible legislation for tax revenues.” &...

Mount Sterling considers turning off water to state prison

One small central Illinois community is considering shutting off water to its prison because it's owed nearly $370,000 from the state during the nearly yearlong budget stalemate between Democrats and Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner.   The Mount Sterling City Council plans to vote Monday on whether to cut off water at its medium-security prison housing 1,800 inmates. The Quincy Herald-Whig reported Sunday the city of 1,900 residents is among three west-central Illinois communities with prisons that are waiting for payments from the state.   The two other municipalities, Clayton and Pittsfield, are owed about $26,000 and $104,000 respectively but are not considering pulling the ...

Muddy waters. Trying to keep central Illinois fertilizer out of the Gulf

Last August the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced the Gulf of Mexico “dead zone” – an area of low oxygen (hypoxia) that can kill fish – is the largest ever measured. At 8,776 square miles, it is an area about the size of New Jersey. Scientists have determined that the dead zone is caused by nutrient pollution, primarily from agricultural and developed land runoff into the Mississippi River. Central Illinois contributes more than its share, with University of Illinois researchers concluding in 2015 that agriculture contributes 80 percent of the nitrate-nitrogen that flows into the Mississippi from Illinois. “The ...

NAFTA 2.0 ratification likely won’t happen until the fall: U.S. AG official

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s undersecretary for trade and foreign agricultural affairs says he wants American tariffs on Canadian exports of steel and aluminium products removed as soon as possible so that a revised North American trade deal can be ratified.   In an exclusive interview with iPolitics on Wednesday, Ted McKinney said he personally wants the tariffs removed and knows there are many in Canada who do not want the pending replacement of the North American Free Trade Agreement ratified before those tariffs are gone.   “It’s not as simple as (the tariffs) ...

NAFTA Deadline Draws Near

Paul Ryan says he needs notice of a NAFTA deal by May 17 if the current Congress is going to be able to vote on it, suggesting talks are pushing up against the constraints of American trade law.   The House Speaker, in remarks delivered Wednesday in Washington, said U.S. Trade Promotion Authority regulations mean next week is a deadline for the Trump administration if it wants to pass a new North American Free Trade Agreement before a new Congress is sworn in.   “As the author of TPA, I can tell you, we have to have the paper ...

Nafta Talks Pick Up as Decision Time Nears for U.S., Canada

The U.S. and Canada are getting ready to decide on key issues as they work to strike a deal to update the North American Free Trade Agreement, Canada’s foreign minister said.   “Our officials did some work. They prepared some issues for me and Ambassador Lighthizer to take some decisions,” Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland told reporters Thursday afternoon in Washington, as she headed to her latest meeting with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.   The tone is becoming increasingly optimistic as the two countries approach a U.S. deadline to reach a deal by ...

Nancy Pelosi: Green energy, gun safety, healthcare will dominate agenda

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday pledged to make healthcare, green energy, and gun safety reform top priorities in the 116th Congress, just moments after being elected to lead the House for the second time.   Pelosi, 78, was sworn in as speaker after promising to work across the aisle in Congress and across a divided America, and to make the House business more transparent. business more transparent.   "Now the floor of this House must be America's town hall, where people will see our debates and their voices will be heard and will affect all of our decisions,&...

Narrow Nitrogen Use, How is your operation managing nutrients and reducing losses?

Nitrogen is one of agriculture’s essential building blocks. However, N in the wrong place can wreak havoc. In the Gulf of Mexico, a large hypoxic zone has formed primarily due to excess nutrients. In that zone, the amount of dissolved oxygen is too low for many aquatic species to survive, which has led to environmental concerns. The EPA’s Mississippi River/Gulf of Mexico Task Force set goals to reduce N loss by 45% in addition to other goals by 2035. For now, participation is voluntary.    Consumers and the general public are going to start asking how ...

Natural Resource Defense Council Sues EPA to Block Enlist Duo

The Natural Resources Defense Council filed a lawsuit Wednesday against the EPA to block the use of a dual herbicide produced by Dow AgroScience  known as Enlist Duo.   The suit was filed in the D.C. Circuit court immediately after the EPA approved the use of the product, which is used to control weeds in corn and soybeans genetically (GE) to toterate, 2,4-D and glyphosate, two of the most widely used herbicides for controlling weeds.   Click Here to read more.

Nearly 11,000 trained on new dicamba regs in Illinois

Close to 11-thousand applicators have taken special training on the new requirements for dicamba herbicide use on soybeans in Illinois. There are almost 15-thousand licensed ag pesticide applicators in the state. The Illinois Ag Department says the classroom training is over but there are still online training options.   Last fall, the U.S. EPA revised the labels for Engenia, Xtendimax and FeXapan, making them restricted use pesticides which requires training and certification. A link to the online training programs in Illinois.   Click Here to read more.

Nearly 200 new Illinois laws take effect Jan. 1

Nearly 200 new Illinois laws will take effect in the new year, including first-in-the nation rules requiring hairstylists to undergo training to help domestic violence victims and others making it easier for juvenile offenders to get a fresh start.   The 192 laws taking effect Jan. 1 cover many topics, including health, law enforcement and youth. There's even one for state history buffs.   Here's a sampling:   Click Here to read more.

Nearly half of the public now believes GMO foods are bad for health

Americans are about evenly divided on whether genetically modified foods are worse for your health and about the risk of additives like food coloring, according to a new poll.   Forty-nine percent of Americans believe GMO foods are worse for your health than non-GMO foods, according to the poll released Monday by the Pew Research Center, up from 39 percent in 2016.   The findings could influence policy decisions regarding the use of additives or genetically modified organisms, which some advocacy groups have called for the U.S. government to ban.   Click Here to read more.

Nelson Tabbed as Next Illinois Ag Director

Phillip Nelson, immediate past Illinois Farm Bureau president, plans to transition toward a new job this week -- Illinois Department of Agriculture (IDOA) director.   Gov. Bruce Rauner nominated the Seneca farmer to the post to succeed Bob Flider.  Nelson said he plans to put a "new face" on the department of agriculture.   Click Here to read more.

Neonic backers, detractors express their views to EPA

The debate over neonicotinoids’ impacts on the environment continues to rage, as evidenced by comments submitted to EPA as part of the agency’s review of the most widely used insecticides on the planet.   Manufacturers, farmers, environmentalists and lawmakers all weighed in by the April 21 deadline, not just on environmental impacts, but also on the benefits of neonics in cotton and citrus. The EPA assessments are part of the agency’s registration review process for neonics, expected to be completed by the end of this year.   Not surprisingly, opinions varied. Neonic makers Bayer CropScience and ...

Neonic Makers Targeted in Planned Beekeeper Class Action

The major makers of neonicotinoid pesticides are the targets in a proposed class action suit of behalf on Canadian beekeepers and honey producers, alleging negligence and claiming over $450 million in damages.   Siskinds, a London, Ont. law firm specializing in class action, filed a statement of claims Tuesday in Ontario Superior Court in Windsor on behalf of two representative plaintiffs, Sun Parlor Honey and Munro Honey.   The suit, spearheaded by Siskinds lawyer Dimitri Lascaris, names the Canadian branches of Bayer, Bayer CropScience and Syngenta and Bayer and Syngenta's parent firms in Germany and Switzerland respectively, as defendants.   ...

Neonic-coated seeds get boost from court ruling

Seeds coated with neonicotinoid insecticides will continue to be exempt from regulation under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act, following a federal judge's ruling Monday in a lawsuit brought by beekeepers and environmental groups.   A 2013 guidance document issued to EPA staff investigating bee deaths is not subject to legal review, U.S. District Judge William Alsup found.   “The court is most sympathetic to the plight of our bee population and beekeepers,” Alsup said. “Perhaps the EPA should have done more to protect them, but such policy decisions are for the agency to make. ...

New ag machinery rule comes to light

A little-noticed rule within the MAP-21 long-term highway authorization bill, signed in 2012, is lighting up concerns within the fertilizer industry.   “I think it’s going to be a hurdle, and I think we are going to have a lot of issues,” said John Rebholz, director of safety and education for the Illinois Fertilizer and Chemical Association.   The lighting standard for implements of agriculture is a standard of the American Society of Agriculture and Biological Engineers. The standard, 279.14, was buried in the fine print of the MAP-21 bill.   Click Here to read more.

New Analysis Calling Attention to Fertilizer Input Management

A new type of analysis, conducted by Dr. Robert Mullen, director of agronomy for PotashCorp, has shown a decline in soil nutrient levels nationwide.   “I conducted an analysis of soil trends within (Ohio) using fertilizer consumption and nutrient removal as a function of crop yield,” said Mullen. “I’ve done it at the state level and now we’re doing a similar analysis across the United States and North America as a whole.”   Mullen’s analysis combines nutrient removal records with additional factors such as fertilizer consumption information and manure data ...

New dicamba herbicides require care

Dicamba tolerance is finally here, as Monsanto’s Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybeans will enter fields this spring. But with this powerful new herbicide system comes a push for additional training and careful application.   Farmers Co-op Society agronomist Ben Van Beek, a certified crop advisor based in Sanborn, Iowa, said the ability to “start clean with a good burndown” using a spray-and-plant or plant-and-spray application seems to be the most appealing aspect for farmers.   Applying dicamba herbicide at planting requires either Monsanto’s XtendiMax with Vapor Grip or BASF’s Engenia herbicides. Using older ...

New EPA administrator seeks farmer input

In Guymon, Oklahoma, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt met with farmers from Oklahoma, Texas and Kansas to discuss the repeal and clarification of the 2015 Waters of the United States rule.   With the February executive order to revise or rescind the 2015 WOTUS Rule, Pruitt is taking strides to clarify this rule by sitting down with agriculturalists across the country to hear their concerns. Pruitt has traveled to over 15 states, including appearing in Guymon at the town hall–style meeting.   More than 90 local farmers and ranchers from the surrounding area attended the meeting at the Hitch Enterprise Annex building.   ...

New FAA UAS rules take effect Monday (AUDIO)

The first rules governing use of small unmanned aircraft systems take effect on Monday, and the Federal Aviation Administration is reminding farmers and ag companies of the new requirements.   Click Here to read more.  

New FAA UAS rules take effect Monday (AUDIO)

The first rules governing use of small unmanned aircraft systems take effect on Monday, and the Federal Aviation Administration is reminding farmers and ag companies of the new requirements.   Click Here to read more.  

New farm bill would stop cities from banning glyphosate and other pesticides

House lawmakers are seeking to halt …. local ordinances to ban or restrict pesticides that opponents say conflict with state and federal laws.   Local government officials …. are passing ordinances restricting the spraying of bug- and weedkillers …. at the behest of community members …. In the past year, Austin, Texas, passed an ordinance to end spraying of the insecticides chlorpyrifos and neonicotinoids, and restrict the use of the herbicide glyphosate.   The House and Senate versions of the farm bill, which would authorize hundreds of billions of dollars for agriculture and nutrition programs, are being negotiated in a ...

New fertilizer plant planned for Tuscola

A plan to build a fertilizer plant in Tuscola is underway after a contract is signed for its construction.   Cronus Fertilizers signed a contract with Thyssenkrupp Industrial Solutions.   Thyssenkrupp is bringing the technical experience to build the plant.   The plant will produce over 2,000 metric tons of ammonia per day while bringing construction and long term jobs to the area.   Click Here to read more.

New IDOA director ready to build relations with key ag groups, players

The first week on the job can be tough and even overwhelming for anyone. That’s certainly true for Schuyler County farmer John Sullivan in his first week as Illinois agriculture director, but for someone who loves the industry as much as he does, it was a welcome opportunity to roll up his sleeves and get to work.   Sullivan has already met with several groups and attended two major ag events, the Illinois Fertilizer and Chemical Association Convention and Trade Show, the Illinois Pork Expo and Illinois Association of County Fairs Convention.   “The promises that I ...

New Illinois session will bring new efforts at pension reform

Illinois lawmakers are gearing up to start another spring session that will include more attempts to address an issue that has remained stubbornly elusive so far.   What can the state do to rein in the cost of public employee pensions and try to address the $129 billion debt faced by the five state-funded pension systems?   A number of ideas are floating around the General Assembly, from an idea to issue billions of dollars in bonds to pay off the existing debt at a lower interest rate, to an idea that would give some employees a cash incentive to accept ...

New Legislation Would Speed Up Approval of Products That Control Bee Pests

As concerns continue about the U.S. bee population, lawmakers are looking at new legislation that would expedite the registration of products intended to improve pollinator health by controlling the Varroa mite, a detrimental pest to the honey bee.   Congressman Austin Scott, R-GA, introduced H.R. 5447 last week, which would amend the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), the federal legislation regulating the crop protection industry.   Click Here to read more.

New Madrid Co. man, farm indicted for illegally applying Dicamba to crops

A Parma, Missouri man has been indicted after officials say he illegally applied Dicamba to crops.   Bobby David Lowrey, 51, and Lowrey & Lowrey Inc. were indicted on Nov. 13 according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in St. Louis.   According to the indictment, Lowrey owned and operated Lowrey Farms. In 2016, officials said Lowrey Farms engaged in the cultivation of cotton and soybean crops on about 6,700 acres over in the Eastern District of Missouri.   The indictment said the soybean and cotton crops planted on Lowrey Farms in 2016 were modified to be resistant to the pesticide dicamba, a ...

New mandates for dicamba application coming in Illinois 2018

Certified applicators now are required to complete dicamba-specific training, and more extensive recordkeeping is mandatory when using the product.   The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency moved XtendiMax, Engenia and Fexapan from non-restricted-use to restricted-use pesticides that mandate the training and expanded recordkeeping.   “At minimum, you already have to be a licensed certified either private or commercial applicator to apply these products in Illinois. That means you can’t buy them and you can’t apply them unless you already hold a license with the state,” said Jean Payne, Illinois Fertilizer and Chemical Association president. &...

New Market Planned to Pay Farmers for Soil Carbon, Water Quality

General Mills, ADM, Cargill, McDonald’s, and The Nature Conservancy are among 10 companies and nonprofit organizations that are forming a national market by 2022 to incentivize the adoption of farming practices that build soil carbon and improve water conservation.     Talks for the Ecosystem Services Market Consortium were convened two years ago by the Noble Research Institute, which has committed over $2 million to the endeavor with additional support from the General Mills Foundation, Walton Family Foundation, and McKnight Foundations. The aim of the venture is to develop protocols and a market framework to issue greenhouse gas reduction credits ...

New Ohio River locks about to open 30 years after work began

Army Corps of Engineers officials are expected this fall to partially open new lock-and-dam system on the Ohio River between Illinois and Kentucky after 30 years of work.   Plans are that ships and barges be able to start using the Olmsted Locks and Dam in October, replacing a system dating to the 1920s.   The project to update the locks began in 1988, with an original completion date of 2013 and a price tag of $775 million. Project costs later increased to more than $3 billion.   Troubles with the existing Lock and Dam 52 downriver from Paducah, Kentucky, have led to some shipping companies ...

New Program Teaches Farmers Better Fertilizer Application

Illinois farmers will be trained how to properly apply fertilizer and other chemicals as a way to help prevent agricultural runoff.   Pumping nitrogen and phosphorous on to farm fields boots crops.  But a lot of what's added winds up in the water supply.  That creates problems like algae growth that robs the water of oxygen, killing off aquatic life.  Ag groups and the Illinois EPA are working on a plan to do something about it.  Jean Payne is president of the Illinois Fertilizer and Chemical Association:   Click Here to read more.

New research: If used properly, neonics do not harm bee colonies

Neonicotinoid pesticides commonly used on flowering crops are not harmful when properly handled and applied, a recent University of Guelph study says.   Keith Solomon, a toxicologist and professor, and Gladys Stephenson, an adjunct professor, found that three widely used neonicotinoid pesticides do not pose any health risks to honeybee colonies, according to Tuesday’s university release.   “It’s not so much the individual bee that matters, it’s the colony or the hive,” Solomon said to Farms.com today.   “There is only one reproductive unit in the colony, which is the ...

New study: Glyphosate not carcinogenic

Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup weedkiller and the most widely used herbicide in the world, “is unlikely to pose a carcinogenic risk to humans,” a new study by a panel of scientists has found. Glyphosate manufacturer Monsanto commissioned the study from Intertek Scientific & Regulatory Consultancy in Canada, which assembled the 15-member panel.   Monsanto undertook the effort to respond to a 2015 report from the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) that found glyphosate probably causes cancer in humans.   IARC said it came to that conclusion based on “limited evidence ...

New WOTUS Rule Dials Back Federal Reach

EPA on Tuesday released a newly proposed waters of the United States, or WOTUS, rule that would erase many of the concerns farmers and ranchers had about the 2015 rule.   Under the proposal, there would be just six categories of jurisdictional waters. That includes traditional navigable waters, tributaries, certain ditches that are navigable or affected by tide, lakes and ponds, impoundments, and wetlands that abut or are connected to waters of the United States.   The proposal lists waters that would not be regulated. That includes certain land features where water is present only as a result of heavy rainfalls, ...

New WOTUS rule projected for September 2019

The Environmental Protection Agency says it is on track to issue a final rule replacing the Obama administration’s 2015 “waters of the United States” rule by September 2019, but don't hold your breath.   If former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt's promises had come true, there already would be a new WOTUS rule in place. Now, in the latest semiannual regulatory agenda released by the federal government, EPA estimates it will publish a proposed replacement rule by this month, which aligns with pledges made recently by Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler   Even if a proposal were published ...

Nickols-Richardson named U of I interim associate dean, Extension director

Shelly Nickols-Richardson recently was named University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES) interim associate dean and director of Extension. Nickols-Richardson will succeed George Czapar, who will retire March 1 as associate dean and Extension director.   Nickols-Richardson served as the head of the ACES Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition for the past five years and serves on the university’s Extension 3.0 Task Force.   Click Here to read more.

Nitrogen Fertilizer Market Nearing Saturation After Shale Gas Boom

The U.S. nitrogen fertilizer market will soon reach a point of saturation following the sharp increase in capacity in recent years as the cost of natural gas (used in fertilizer production) fell with the fracking boom.   That's a key finding in a report from Rabobank with the title, "A Shale Tale: the Aftermath of the U.S. Nitrogen Fertilizer Boom."  The report says further capacity in the short term is unlikely, considering market saturation and increasing fixed and variable costs for production.   Click Here to read more.

Nitrogen Fertilizer Plant Shuts Down Again

Just as growers were hoping for a seasonal break in nitrogen prices, the creaky fertilizer supply chain broke down again on the western Plains with news CF Industries complex in Woodard, Okla., could be closed for six weeks.   The company said the plant went off line due to a problem in one of its boilers, the same blamed for closing the complex in April.   Click Here to read more.

No agreement in Illinois ahead of Wednesday deadline: ‘The budget clock is ticking’

Illinois legislators are running out of time.   On Monday it's Day 699 without a budget, and the Democratic-controlled House did not bring a budget plan to the floor.   The deadline for a budget is Wednesday at midnight, and it’s anybody’s guess what House Democrats will do. They could run the Senate’s budget plan, or they could bring their own plan to the floor for a vote.   Republicans lashed out during the legislature's session on Monday.   "I’d like to see your budget bill that will be able ...

No changes anticipated for Atrazine rules this spring

Farmers should expect no new federal Atrazine restrictions this spring.  The herbicide is in a lengthy re-registration review, which the Environmental Protection Agency says happens every 15 years.   Wisconsin Ag Department spokesperson Donna Gilson tells Brownfield they’ve heard nothing new from the EPA about Atrazine. “As far as the federal, we’re waiting along with everybody else.”   Click Here to read more.  

No changes planned for anhydrous ammonia permitting

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) will maintain its permitting stance on the transportation of anhydrous ammonia domestically, according to Paul Bomgardner, chief of FMCSA’s Hazardous Materials Division.   For anhydrous ammonia in domestic transportation and described as UN1005 ammonia, anhydrous 2.2 Inhalation Hazard, a Hazardous Materials Safety Permit (HMSP) is not required.   For anhydrous ammonia described as UN1005, ammonia, anhydrous 2.3 Poison Inhalation Hazard or Toxic Inhalation Hazard, Zone D, and when transported in a packaging having a capacity greater than 3,500 gallons, an HMSP is required. In these instances, anhydrous ammonia meets the definition of a material ...

No easy fix: Illinois State fairgrounds needs $180 million in repairs

The money isn’t coming in quite like John Slayton envisioned it would for the repairs at the Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield.   “I really envisioned people calling me, but it has not happened,” said Slayton, chairman of the Illinois Fairgrounds Foundation.   As the list of repairs needed at both fairgrounds, in Springfield and in Du Quoin, grows, donations have not been as quick to come into the foundation, which was formed in August 2016.   Click Here to read more.

No objections filed to Sam McCann’s candidacy for governor

State Sen. Sam McCann, R-Plainview, who is running as a Conservative Party candidate for governor, as well as Kash Jackson, a Libertarian seeking the office, will apparently be on the Nov. 6 ballot.   Monday was the final day for objections to nominating petitions to be filed to third-party and independent candidates, but none were filed against the McCann or Libertarian paperwork.   The Republican Party of Illinois was considered an entity that could file objections, if merited, as a way to support the re-election of Gov. Bruce Rauner. But a spokesman for the party, Aaron DeGroot, said in late afternoon ...

No Section 199A Fix in Budget

As the U.S. Senate's two party leaders were on the floor early Wednesday afternoon swooning over their bipartisan budget deal, Sen. John Thune walked briskly down a hallway in one of the Senate office buildings.   As he was approached and asked whether the budget deal contained a change for the new Section 199A deduction in the tax law, Thune, a Republican from South Dakota, kept walking but said, "We're working on it."   Shortly after that, Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., another architect of the tax language that has caused problems in the grain ...

No simple solutions: Paying for infrastructure to move the nation's cargo

This article is the fourth in a seven-part series that Agri-Pulse is publishing to give readers perspective on the history and status of the many parts of America's infrastructure and improvements needed to help farmers and ranchers remain competitive and prosperous.   The next time you bite into a piece of fruit, grill a steak, or spoon into a carton of yogurt, consider how the item got from the farm to your home - and who paid for the trip. Let's take a broad look at how the country finances the highways, runways, railroads, ports and river navigation ...

North America's Lake Erie granted its own 'human rights' in groundbreaking legislation

Fearing that the government wasn’t doing enough to protect the health of Lake Erie, voters in Toledo, Ohio passed legislation that grants the lake, the 11th largest in the world, some of the same rights as a person – effectively allowing citizens to sue on behalf of the lake when it’s being polluted.   Last week, voters in Toledo approved a measure granting Lake Erie some of the same legal rights as a person. The Lake Erie Bill of Rights grants Lake Erie the legal right “to exist, flourish and naturally evolve” free from ...

North Dakota Senator, fertilizer dealers oppose anhydrous restrictions

North Dakota politicians and agriculture leaders say a "reinterpretation" of U.S. Department of Labor rules may lead to one-third of North Dakota's fertilizer retailers eliminating anhydrous ammonia sales.     U.S. Sen. John Hoeven said he is working with the state's Department of Agriculture, producer organizations and fertilizer sales dealers to kill the proposed change that would hold 275 small fertilizer retailers in the state and around 3,800 nationwide to the same standards as much larger warehouse wholesalers, thereby raising costs for the retailers and, in turn, farmers.     Hoeven said around 90 North Dakota fertilizer retailers have ...

Northern farmers face nutrient, cover crop challenges

A Jo Daviess County cover crop experiment seeks options to tackle weather pattern challenges and provide farmers with economic benefits – an interesting task with broad implications for northern Illinois, according to two agriculture specialists.   Jo Daviess County Farm Bureau Director Greg Thoren is hosting his fourth cover crop trial on his Stockton farm, and the third one partially sponsored as the county Farm Bureau’s nutrient stewardship grant project.   John Musser, a Certified Crop Adviser and nutrient management specialist with Stephenson Service Co., and Stanley “Jay” Solomon, an energy and environmental stewardship educator with ...

Notes on Fall Fertilization

With harvest winding down in most of Illinois after another year with high to very high yields, it’s time to review some basics of fall fertilization. Neither fertilizer nor grain prices are historically high, so there’s reason to be aware of costs while making sure to cover the nutrient basics.   Nitrogen   In a webinar on October 19 organized by the Illinois Fertilizer & Chemical Association, we looked at some of the nitrogen response data that have come in so far this fall and considered what this might mean in terms of fall N management. In ...

Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy Poses Challenge, Opportunity for Farmers

The cost of the effort to eventually achieve a 45 percent reduction in nitrates and phosphorus going into the Mississippi would cost $800 million. The immediate goals outlined in the NLRS are to achieve a 25 percent reduction in the phosphorus load and a 15 percent reduction in the nitrate load by 2025.   “We all know the state of Illinois does not have that money to help us with this effort,” she said.   But the practices council, a group made up of representatives from Illinois commodity and farm groups and agribusinesses, offers opportunities for farmers to undertake nutrient reduction themselves.   &...

Nutrient reduction options tested, Trials confirm strategy’s recommendations

The Illinois Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy features options for farmers to weigh as they work toward reducing nutrient loss. However, how effective are they?   Lowell Gentry, University of Illinois principal research specialist in agriculture, is in the second year of research focusing on a combination of cover crops and woodchip bioreactors, both of which are frequently mentioned in the strategy.   The findings? They work.   “In general, combining cover crops and a bioreactor can just about take care of our nitrate load,” Gentry said.   Click Here to read more.

Nutrient Stewardship: The 4Rs and the Farm Bill

After much anticipation, Congress passed and President Trump signed a new Farm Bill just before the holiday season, giving a Christmas gift to growers and the agriculture industry. While much of the news is rightfully focused on the benefits for growers, The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) is pleased the legislation also provides incentives to ag retailers and their grower-customers to implement 4R Nutrient Stewardship practices on the farm.   4R Nutrient Stewardship is a science-based framework that uses the right fertilizer source, at the right rate, at the right time, and in the right place. The 4Rs can have a significant ...

Obama signs historic GMO labeling bill

President Barack Obama quietly signed into law legislation that prevents states from requiring on-package labeling of genetically modified ingredients, capping an historic win for farm groups, food companies and the biotech industry.   The Senate gave final congressional approval to the measure on July 14 with backing from a majority of both Republicans and Democrats. Senate Agriculture Chairman Pat Roberts called the bill the most important farm legislation in 20 years. USDA has already formed a working group to write rules needed to implement the legislation.   The bill was one of 20 the president signed into law late on a Friday afternoon. ...

Obama signs short-term spending bill, averting government shutdown

President Obama on Thursday signed a short-term measure to keep the government funded through Dec. 9, ahead of the Friday deadline to prevent a government shutdown.   Mr. Obama signed the spending measure, which extends current spending levels for most of the government, before heading to Israel to attend former Israeli President Shimon Peres’s funeral.   Congress passed the bill on Wednesday and left Washington for a six-week recess through the election to campaign in their districts. The House passed the bill 342-85 Wednesday night and the Senate passed the bill earlier in the day 72-26.   The legislation ...

Obama to roll out new climate change measures

President Obama's administration has unfinished business fighting climate change, which the president called "one of the most urgent challenges for our time."   “We know that 2015 surpassed the hottest year on record – and 2016 is on pace to be even hotter,” Obama said in his weekly address. “There’s still so much more to do.   “And if we keep pushing, and leading the world in the right direction, there’s no doubt that, together, we can leave a better, cleaner, safer future for our children.”   Obama said he plans on ...

Obama-Era Waters of U.S. Rule Reinstated in 26 States

Manufacturers, farmers and other industry groups plan to appeal a federal court decision that reinstated in 26 states an Obama-era rule that defined which waterways are covered by Clean Water Act regulations.   The U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina on Aug. 16 invalidated the Trump administration’s attempt for a two-year nationwide delay of the rule.   The action means the 2015 waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule, or clean water rule, is in effect in more than half the country. In 24 other states the rule remains blocked by two other federal courts pending their review. &...

Observations from MAGIE 2018: Another Strong Year

It’s hard to believe another summer show season is already behind us. Soon, grower-customer fields will be bristling with activity as the fall harvest gets underway.   Before putting summer behind us completely, it probably is a good time to reflect back on some of the buzz and talk that came out of the this year’s crop of ag retail equipment-oriented trade shows. Although there are several events that cater to the equipment needs of both growers and retailers, most folks I know tend to gauge how the market is performing by what they heard/saw ...

Official defends Trump plan to revamp Endangered Species Act

A top Trump administration official on Monday defended a plan to revamp the Endangered Species Act, saying the proposed changes would result in more effective, quicker decisions on species protection.   Deputy Interior Secretary David Bernhardt dismissed criticism by environmental groups that the plan would “gut” crucial protections for threatened animals and plants.   “That’s laughable,” he said, adding that Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and other officials “respect the law” and know the law.     While he disagrees with critics, Bernhardt said he recognizes that any plan to change the 45-year-old ...

Official: Laws a Start, but More Needed to Stop Algae

New laws meant to stop farm runoff from feeding Lake Erie toxic algae are a start in getting rid of the green slime, a farming official said. But more work is needed, said Jerry Bambauer, chairman of the Ohio Soybean Council. That's why farming organizations are working with the Ohio State University to study how phosphorous from the fertilizer they spread on their fields is leaving the soil and getting into streams and rivers that empty into Lake Erie. Once they understand how the phosphorous is leaving, they can better figure out how to keep it on their land, ...

Officials in Columbus Discuss Midwest's Role In Gulf of Mexico Dead Zone

The farmlands of the Midwest are contributing to a dead zone the size of Connecticut in the Gulf of Mexico, where low oxygen levels have made it impossible for fish and other aquatic life to survive. On Wednesday, policymakers from across the Midwest met in Columbus to talk about ways to ease that dead zone and solve other agriculture-runoff problems, including the kind of toxic algae that plagues Lake Erie each summer. “We need to maintain our (agricultural) productivity but be mindful of the environmental impact we have,” said Greg LaBarge, a field specialist in agronomic systems for ...

Officials in Columbus Discuss Midwest's Role In Gulf of Mexico Dead Zone

The farmlands of the Midwest are contributing to a dead zone the size of Connecticut in the Gulf of Mexico, where low oxygen levels have made it impossible for fish and other aquatic life to survive. On Wednesday, policymakers from across the Midwest met in Columbus to talk about ways to ease that dead zone and solve other agriculture-runoff problems, including the kind of toxic algae that plagues Lake Erie each summer. “We need to maintain our (agricultural) productivity but be mindful of the environmental impact we have,” said Greg LaBarge, a field specialist in agronomic systems for ...

Ohio agriculture reacts to Lake Erie impairment designation

Today, Ohio EPA released the draft 2018 water quality report that outlines the general condition of Ohio’s waters and includes a list that identifies impaired waters that are not meeting their federal or state water quality goals, as well as waters that have improved to meet federal standards.   In the draft for 2018, the Agency is proposing to designate the open waters of Lake Erie’s Western Basin (from the Michigan/Ohio state line to the Marblehead Lighthouse) as impaired for recreation due to harmful algae and drinking water due to occurrences of microcystin. Previously, only the shoreline ...

Ohio Attorney General Yost Asks to join the Lake Erie Bill of Rights Lawsuit

The Ohio Attorney General filed a motion in the Drewes Farm Partnership v. City of Toledo case seeking to intervene as a plaintiff alongside the Drewes Farm Partnership. The motion argues that the state of Ohio has a significant interest in the protection of Lake Erie, along with a significant interest in supporting Ohio’s agricultural, environmental, and natural resources laws.   The motion further argues that Toledo’s LEBOR charter amendment contradicts Ohio’s “multi-faceted statutory, regulatory, and civil and criminal enforcement programs that control water pollution,” along with the Ohio Constitution’s ...

Ohio farmers making headway with fertilizer certification program

Ohio farmers still have a little more than a year before they’ll be legally required to be certified in order to apply fertilizer to more than 50 acres.   But nearly 12,000 have already taken the training, and more than 11,000 have been issued their certificates.   The progress is encouraging to Matt Beal, chief of the Ohio Department of Agriculture’s Division of Plant Health. He said it’s hard to say how many people need to be certified, because farm operations are constantly changing and not all farmers apply their own fertilizer.   Click Here to read ...

Ohio files lawsuit against Lake Erie Bill of Rights

A lawsuit has been filed against the Lake Erie Bill of Rights not even a day after it passed.   The Lake Erie Bill of Rights was approved by voters on Tuesday, giving citizens the right to sue on behalf of Lake Erie.   The Drewes Farms from Custar in Wood County filed it in federal court in Toledo on Wednesday morning.   "While this is one very brave farmer taking action, how this ultimately is decided will have implications for farmers not just in Ohio but across the nation," said Joe Cornely, Ohio Farm Bureau spokesman.   ...

Ohio Governor signs order to toughen control of fertilizer pollution

Frustrated by lawmakers’ refusal to consider a bill to get tougher on sources of agricultural pollution feeding Lake Erie’s chronic toxic algae problem, Gov. John Kasich on Wednesday took matters into his own hands with an executive order.   “This is just requiring farmers to figure out a way to manage their land in a more effective and environmentally friendly way,” the Republican governor said. “I believe that farmers want to do that.”   Under the order, his administration will ask the Ohio Soil and Water Conservation Commission at its July 19 meeting to ...

Ohio Lawmakers Propose Fighting Lake Erie Algal Blooms by Restricting Fertilizer Use, Dredging

State lawmakers have proposed significant new rules designed to reduce the phosphorus runoff that promotes toxic Lake Erie algal blooms, including restriction on when northwest Ohio farmers could use fertilizer and manure.   The proposed rules, if passed, would mark the state's strongest response yet to curb Lake Erie algal blooms, which led Toledo to ban drinking water for three days this summer.   Click Here to read more.

Ohio Regulators Aim to Help Water Problem With Fertilizer Licenses

The drinking-water crisis in one of Ohio's largest cities is drawing attention to a new requirement for farmers in the state: a license to fertilize.   The certification is the biggest step Ohio has taken to control nutrient runoff from farms, seen as a key cause of algal blooms in Lake Erie.  Those blooms are blamed for a two day "do not drink" advisory in Toledo and its suburbs that was lifted Monday.   Click Here to read more.    

Ohio Senate Approves Farm Runoff Bill

“I’m counting on this being a unanimous vote. This one should be,” said state Sen. Cliff Hite (R., Findlay) on Wednesday. He got it. The Ohio Senate voted to send a bill to the House implementing restrictions on land application of manure and other fertilizers that contribute to the nutrients feeding pea souplike algal blooms on Lake Erie. “It is time for us to act on what we know we can achieve and get done this spring on this important issue,” said Sen. Randy Gardner (R., Bowling Green), one of Senate Bill 1’s ...

OHSA Revies PSM, Restricts Retailer Exemption

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued a revised interpretation of the Process Safety Management (PSM) for highly hazardous chemicals. The PSM standard contains an exemption for retail facilities. Until this week, OSHA defined retail facility as one that derived more than 50 percent of its income from direct sales of highly hazardous chemicals to the end user, otherwise known as "the 50 percent test." OSHA has rescinded all prior interpretations, including the 50 percent test, and will now interpret the retail facility exemption in accordance with the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) Manual: Click Here to read more.  

Oil Industry vs Renewable Fuels Battle takes to the Air & gets Political

The American Petroleum Institute(API) picked 9/11 to launch the first strike.  On Thursday, API announced a TV radio, print and online advertising campaign to deliver its charge that the federal Renewable Fuel Standard(RFS) has "raised prices on food and fuel."  The API ads urge consumers to "Tell President Obama to stop playing politics and fix the RFS."   Within hours of the API's announcement, the renewable fuel industry unleashed an answering salvo and launched its own ad campaign.  Fueling America representing both corn and cellulosic ethanol producers will air ads supporting the existing ethanol industry ...

Oil Lobby Turns Focus to EPA in Ethanol Fight.

The American Petroleum Institute(API) is focusing on the Environmental Protection Agency(EPA) in its fight to reduce the ethanol blending mandate, conceding that there's little short-term hope in congressional action.   Bob Greco, API's director of downtown operations, said his group is still pushing for legislative changes to the Renewable Fuel Standard(RFS) that requires oil refiners to mix ethanol, biodiesel, and other renewables into their fuels.  But with elections approaching, it is trying instead to convince the EPA to keep the mandated volumes low.   Click Here to read more

Oklahoma Rep. introduces bill to repeal corn ethanol mandate.

Last week Rep. James Lankford from Oklahoma introduced a bill that would repeal the corn ethanol mandate under the 2007 Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS).  The bill would require the remaining mandates set by the RFS be fulfilled with domestic production.   Click Here to read more.

Online sensitive crop registry available for Illinois farmers and applicators

Illinois farmers and pesticide applicators may start using a new online sensitive crop registry the Illinois Department of Agriculture (IDOA) now requires for dicamba applications. Stephanie Regagnon, president of FieldWatch Inc., told FarmWeek the company’s CropCheck platform for Illinois is operational. This year, FieldWatch is extending its sensitive crop pilot program to Illinois, Indiana and North Carolina after a successful trial in Arkansas last year. At no cost, farmers may voluntarily register locations of sensitive crops, including organic and conventional crops, and specify the products those crops will tolerate. IDOA now requires pesticide applicators to consult FieldWatch’...

Online tool assists specialty crop growers, applicators

DriftWatch, a new online mapping tool for sensitive crops, allows herbicide or insecticide applicators to see where bees and specialty crops are being raised in their neighborhood.   The program just launched in Iowa this year, and the grapes at Cedar Ridge Winery and Distillery in Swisher are already on the map.   Owner and founder Jeff Quint said the winery is participating in the program because letting his neighbors know what they are growing is important to protect the business, which includes 10 acres of French-American grapes 12 miles south of Cedar Rapids.   The hybrid grapes at Cedar Ridge, varieties ...

Opinion: Protecting Bee Health is a Long Term Commitment

For those in agriculture, harvest season is a busy time.  Farmers nurture their fields all year, which leads to feeding our families and much of the world.  Most growers involved in horticulture production know that their long hours are matched by the non-stop effort for bees, which remain a critical component of our nation's food supply.  The harvest of fruits, nuts, vegetables, ornamentals and greenhouse crops are dependent upon the bee colonies in the United States.   Bee contribute an estimated $16 billion annually in added value to more than 30 percent of the crops we produce, and ...

Orchard growers raise dicamba red flags

“There’s something going on. I’ve never seen anything like that.”   In his 81 years, Bill Flamm has seen many changes on his family’s Flamm Orchards in the rolling hills of Union County, Ill. But until mid-July of this year, the leaf curl and tree stress on the orchard’s peach and apple trees was foreign.   Nephew Jeff Flamm says they’ve yet to get a definite answer on the cause.   When leaf curl began to appear on peach trees, the Flamms sought expert opinions: a horticulturist from Southern ...

Oregon appeals court keeps blocking county's GMO ban

The Oregon Court of Appeals has decided to keep blocking a voter-approved initiative that bans genetically engineered crops in Josephine County.   The appeals court last week affirmed a lower-court decision that said a 2013 state law forbidding local action against genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, took precedence over the county's 2014 ban.   That ruling by Circuit Court Judge Pat Wolke came in a lawsuit from Oregon farmers Robert and Shelley White, who once grew GMO sugar beets for the Swiss corporation Syngenta.   Click Here to read more.

Oregon, Washington, California sue to save WOTUS

Oregon, Washington, California and seven other states sued the Trump administration Tuesday to rescue the Obama-era Clean Water Rule.   The states, joined by the District of Columbia, claim that discarding the 2015 rule’s definition of “waters of the United States” will leave them vulnerable to pollution flowing across their borders.   “I won’t allow the Trump administration to continue to ignore the law to try to undermine important environmental rules simply because it doesn’t like them,” Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson said in a statement.   Click Here to read ...

Organic Consumer Group Wants Hillary Clinton To Support GMO Labeling

The Organic Consumers Association (OCA) is asking Hillary Clinton to support mandatory GMO labeling.   The former Secretary of State announced Sunday that she will run for president in 2016, spurring OCA to renew its call for her to support the labeling of foods made with genetically ingredients.  According to OCA, the group has gathered around 100,000 signatures so far on a MoveOn.org petition asking Hillary to become a supporter of GMO labeling laws "and the transition to sustainble, organic regenerative agriculture.   Click Here to read more.

Organic Food Is Worse for the Climate Than Non-Organic Food

Organic food has a larger impact on the climate than conventional food because of the greater area of land required to farm it.   A study published Wednesday in the journal Nature found that farming organic food can result in much higher emissions than non-organic farming. According to a press release from Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden, researchers discovered that farming organic peas resulted in a 50 percent larger climate impact than farming non-organic peas.   Additionally, some organic food has an even greater climate impact. Organic Swedish winter wheat results in a 70 percent increased impact. The reason behind this ...

OSHA Clarifies PSM Retail Exemption

OSHA issued an updated Enforcement Policy to clarify the retail exemption in its Process Safety Management standard. In light of the 2016 DC Circuit Court of Appeals decision in ARA v. Dep’t. of Labor, OSHA’s new PSM enforcement policy clearly exempts specific NAICS codes from PSM, including NAICS code 424910—Farm Supplies Merchant Wholesalers.   Despite being exempt from PSM, the policy states that businesses in the specified NAICS codes are expected to continue to comply with other applicable OSHA standards such as, storage of ammonium nitrate (29 CFR 1910.109(i)), storage and handling of anhydrous ammonia (29 CFR 1910.111), hazardous ...

OSHA Signs Alliance Focused on Fertilizer Safety

OSHA announced a new alliance with Fertilizer Safety and Health Partners and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to provide safety and health information and training resources to workers, emergency responders and communities surrounding establishments in the agricultural retail and supply industry. The alliance will focus on the safe storage and handling of fertilizers such as ammonium nitrate and anhydrous ammonia.   Click Here to read more.

Outlook remains dim for farmers as trade war and weaker growth raise risks, new report says from CoBank

A new report sees few reasons for optimism in the U.S. agricultural sector, pointing to the global slowdown impacting demand, the continued trade war with China and flooding in the nation’s farm belt.   “U.S. agriculture will face challenges in 2019 as slowing domestic and global economic growth rates, trade talks continue and weather casts uncertainty in the short- and long-term markets, ” the latest quarterly rural economic review from CoBank’s Knowledge Exchange division said.   According to CoBank, U.S. commodity markets remain focused on negotiations between U.S. and China to resolve ...

Over 80 Percent of Americans Support "Mandatory Labels on Foods Containing DNA"

A recent survey by the Oklahoma State University Department of Agricultural Economics finds that over 80 percent of Americans support "mandatory labels on foods containing DNA," about the same number as support mandatory labeling GMO foods "produced with genetic engineering." Oklahoma State economist Jayson Lusk has some additional details on the survey.     Click Here to read more.

Palmer Amaranth: Bedeviling Farmers Like No Other Weed

Whatever you call the Devil, several religions describe the Evil One as nearly indestructible as he silently swipes human hearts while spawning global mayhem.   The weed world seems eons away from the demonic one. Still, it has a similar dark prince (and princess, too) preying on your crops.   Click Here to read more.

Panel discusses GMO transparency

There is a lot to say about food from genetically modified organisms. During a recent panel discussion, a scientist, a food-company spokesman and farmers agreed they want to keep the research and the conversations going.   “We’re not ashamed we use genetically modified organisms and we think (customers) deserve to know,” said Kelly Johnston, Campbell Soup Company’s vice-president for governmental affairs.   He was recently part of a panel discussion about current food and farm issues, including genetically modified organisms, at a field day held at Dow AgriSciences headquarters in Indianapolis. He said Campbell ...

Panelists discuss controversial herbicide last growing season, share changes this year

University of Illinois weed scientist Aaron Hager said that reports of plant damage from the herbicide dicamba are something that he sees every year, but there were a few factors that made the 2017 growing season rife with complaints to agriculture officials.   “I guess in my mind, it really wasn’t a question of if we would see damage to non-dicamba soybeans," Hager said. "But how extensive and how widespread it would be.”   Aaron Hager, a professor at the University of Illinois, speaks at the Off-target: A community conversation about dicamba at the Champaign ...

Path not easy for Pritzker’s tax-the-rich plan

Democrats who soon will retake full control of Illinois government are expected to push for a sweeping overhaul of the state income tax, but if history is any guide, prospects for success range from don’t-get-your-hopes-up to fat chance.   Replacing the current single tax rate structure in Illinois with a menu of graduated rates that charge more to the wealthy would require a Constitutional amendment, which requires an extraordinary majority of voters. Similar proposals in other states have fared poorly at the ballot box.   In November, voters in Colorado defeated a referendum that would have replaced that ...

Paul Ryan extends NAFTA deadline

With about two weeks left until what may be the final deadline for a new NAFTA this year, Mexico and Canada are signaling there’s a deal to be had -- if President Donald Trump wants one.    U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, speaking in a Fox News interview on Sunday, said Trump’s priority is getting a good deal, even if it means disregarding “any deadlines” to let current lawmakers approve on it. That would leave a vote to the next Congress, which Trump’s Republican Party may no longer control after ...

Perdue clears Senate Agriculture Committee

Senate Republicans look to confirm Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court this week, with Democrats poised to force the GOP leadership to make history and invoke the “nuclear” option to break a filibuster.   The Senate Agriculture Committee on Thursday approved Sonny Perdue’s nomination for agriculture secretary by a voice vote.   Perdue’s nomination now heads to the full Senate for a final confirmation vote. It was not immediately clear when that vote would be held. Perdue, a former two-term GOP governor of Georgia, was supported by every lawmaker present for the vote, except ...

Perdue joins “Farmers Roundtable” as Trump issues ag order

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today joined President Trump for a “Farmers Roundtable” at the White House to address issues facing the American agriculture community, as the president signed an Executive Order establishing an Interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity.  The roundtable discussion allowed representatives from all corners of American agriculture to raise concerns and share ideas, just as the task force begins its mission “to promote economic development and revitalization, job growth, infrastructure, innovation, and quality of life issues for rural America,” according to the president’s order.  ...

Permanent tax cuts sought by House GOP as elections loom

House Republican leaders have unveiled their proposal to expand the massive tax law they hustled through Congress last year. They’re aiming to make permanent the individual tax cuts and small-business income deductions now set to expire in 2026.   With midterm elections barely two months away, the second crack at tax cuts outlined Monday is portrayed as championing the middle class and small businesses. Republican Rep. Kevin Brady of Texas, who heads the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee, is looking toward a vote on the legislation by the House this month. The solid Republican majority in the House ...

Pesticide ban supporters accused of caring more about buzz than science

Democrats in Springfield care more about getting undeserved praise than checking their facts when it comes to modern pesticides, opponents of a bill waiting for Senate consideration argue.   “They want Illinois to be for neonics what Vermont was for GMOs: a PR stunt,” Hank Campbell, president of the American Council on Science and Health, told the Chicago City Wire.   Senate Bill 673, introduced by Sen. Don Harmon (D-Oak Park) earlier this year, would restrict the use of neonicotinoids (aka neonics), a class of insecticides, on publicly owned lands, which some believe causes a phenomenon known as colony ...

Pesticide Bills Breeze Through U.S. Agriculture Committee

Two pesticide-related bills sailed through the House Agriculture Committee on Feb. 16 as farm-state lawmakers hailed the legislation for easing burdens on growers.   The committee passed both bills by voice vote in the first 10 minutes of the meeting, which preceded a hearing on the federal nutrition assistance program.   H.R. 1029 would reauthorize the 2003 Pesticide Registration Improvement Act, which authorizes the Environmental Protection Agency to collect fees from industry to license pesticides and review the safety of the chemicals.   “PRIA’s goal has been to create a more predictable and effective evaluation process, promote shorter review periods ...

Pesticide Residues Meet High Safety Standards

Part of the enjoyment of eating food is knowing that it’s safe. Governments and farmers around the world help ensure the safety of food crops. This includes regulating pesticides and ensuring their responsible use. Traces of pesticides that can remain on food crops at harvest time are called residues. They are strictly regulated.   Maximum Residue Limits (MRLs) are a trading standard and a measure of the highest level of a pesticide residue that is legally tolerated in or on food or feed when pesticides are applied correctly. MRLs are set well below safety margins to ascertain foods ...

Pesticide Rule Delay Unusual, But Not Necessarily Illegal

The EPA’s decision to allow a shorter-than-usual comment period on a pesticide rule delay is drawing fire from environmental groups, but legal professionals say the move is ambiguous under federal law.   EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt announced May 11 that the agency would postpone the implementation date for a pesticide certification and training rule by a year, which marked the third time the Trump administration changed the effective date of the regulation. In an unusual move, the Environmental Protection Agency published the notice in the Federal Register as a final rule, but asked that interested parties weigh in on ...

Pigweed in 60% of seed mixes checked

Missouri researchers have found more than 60% of the pollinator seed mixes they’ve screened contain pigweed seed. Kevin Bradley, University of Missouri Extension weed scientist, tells Brownfield they’ve checked 30 to 40 bags so far. He tells Brownfield Ag News, “We’re trying to expand beyond Missouri and trying to get a bigger sample size. More mixes of various kinds.”   Bradley says the bags were purchased on the internet and from various seed dealers in Missouri. Often, he says, the mixes contain seeds from a variety of states – and those from Kansas and southern ...

Plenty of Illinois Dems in the mix to challenge Rauner

Two congresswomen, two state senators, a billionaire, an heir of a political dynasty, the attorney general, the state treasurer, a former governor, the senior adviser to the president and a Chicago alderman.   These men and women are among those in the mix as possible Democratic challengers to Gov. Bruce Rauner in his 2018 re-election campaign.   The Illinois Republican Party has already put targets on J.B. Pritzker, Chris Kennedy and state Sen. Andy Manar.   Click Here to read more.

Plenty of tax reform nuggets to watch for agriculture(AUDIO)

Tax reform is said to be a goal for Capitol Hill in the 115th Congress, and how that shakes out will be important for agriculture.   Click Here to read more.

Poll finds Illinois voters support term limits, remap reform

Illinois voters overwhelmingly support both term limits and legislative redistricting reform, two of the measures Gov. Bruce Rauner wants lawmakers to approve this fall.   The results were part of a new poll of 865 likely voters conducted by the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University.   The poll asked if respondents would support or oppose a proposal to limit lawmakers to a total of eight years in office, either in the House, the Senate or a combination of both. It found an overwhelming 80.5 percent of respondents in favor of the idea, while only 17.2 percent opposed it. Another 2.3 ...

Positive Buzz About Honey Bees

USDA released a positive report on honey bee colonies this past spring. The number of commercial U.S. honey bee colonies was 2.89 million as of April 1—3% more colonies than during the same time in 2016. The total number of honey bee colonies lost was also lower in 2017. The number of colonies lost from April through June 2017 was 226,000 colonies, or 8%, compared with 330,000 colonies lost, or 12%, in 2016.   These are positive signs honey bee numbers are stabilizing, but the much-needed pollinators aren’t out of the woods yet.   Click Here to read more.    

Potential N Loss From Heavy Rains

With the heavy rains in the past few days and the rain forecasted for this week, producers are wondering how much of the applied N has been lost.   The amount of N lost will depend on several factors but the major factor is the form of N applied. Some surface applied N can be lost in the runoff water with intense rainfall, but this will generally be only a minor amount. Denitrification losses can be significant if the N is in the nitrate (NO3-) form. Fortunately, at this point of the season the majority of the applied N ...

PPO resistance confirmed in Illinois in Palmer amaranth

Illinois has become the third state behind Arkansas and Tennessee to confirm PPO inhibitor resistance in Palmer amaranth.   Southern Illinois University Carbondale, in coordination with testing by the University of Illinois, recently confirmed the protoporphyrinogen oxidase resistance after three populations showed control failure after treatment with active ingredients fomesafen or lectofen.   Test results also showed the plants still have one good, un-mutated copy of the gene conferring resistance, suggesting that the sites are still in the early stages of resistance development.   Karla Gage, SIU weed scientist and assistant professor, said the discovery of PPO-resistant Palmer amaranth in ...

Pre-Registation is Open now for the 2018 MAGIE Show!

The 2018 MAGIE Show is just around the corner.  This year’s show dates are August 22-23 in Bloomington, Illinois at the McLean County Fair grounds.  Registration is open now!  Please pre-register for the show at:  https://www.ifca.com/MAGIE/Registration  

President Forges Ahead on Immigration Order

There should be "no doubt" that the White House is willing to move forward unilaterally on immigration reform, President Obama said late last week, amid bipartisan calls for him to avoid acting alone.   "It continues to be my belief that, if I can't see the congressional action, that I need to do at least what I can in order to make the system work better," Obama told reporters at a news conference.   Click Here to read more.

President Obama Asks Congress for $3.7 Billion for Border Crisis.

President Obama is formally asking for $3.7 billion in emergency funds from Congress to address the flood of unaccompanied minor children coming illegally into the United States, more than the White House previously said it would request.    The funds include $1.1 billion for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, $433 million to Customs and Border Protection, $64 million for the Department Justice, $300 million to the State Department and $1.8 billion to the Department of Health and Human services.   Click Here to read more.

President Obama creates task force on health of honey bees.

Last week during National Pollinator Week, President Obama signed a executive order to create a task force to promote the health of honey bees and other pollinators.  In the order, the President tasked the EPA with assessing the effects of pesticides,"including neonicotinoids" on pollinator health.  The White House notes that pesticides are among the "combination of stressors that likely caused" a recent servere drop in honeybee populations.   Click Here to read more.

President Obama pledges to redirect immigration enforcement.

President Obama pledges to redirect immigration enforcement, conceding defeat on overhaul.  He acknowleged last week that there is no hope for the legislation overhauling the immigration system in Congress this year and announced he is redirecting immigration enforcement from the interior of the United States to the border.   Click Here to read more.

President Obama signs Locks and Dams bill.

Last week, President Obama signed the WRRDA bill into law.  The bill will help update the locks and dams on the Illinois and Mississppi River.  IFCA strongly supports this bill and has worked over many years to get this legislation passed and signed into law.  We would like to thank the Ilinois delgation and President Obama for passing this law.   Click Here to read more.

President Obama to Issue Executive Order on Drone Privacy

President Obama plans to issue an executive order to develop privacy guidelines for commercial drones operating in U.S. airspace.   Click Here to read more.

President Obama's Climate Push Takes Center Stage

The Obama administration and its supports fanned out around the country last week to press the case for acting on climate change, arguing on the Hill, at packed Environmental Protection Agency hearings and in a new White House report that the price for doing nothing is far too high.   Click Here to read more.

President Plans New Rule to Limit Water Pollution

The Obama administration is expected in the coming days to announce a major clean water regulation that would restore the federal government’s authority to limit pollution in the nation’s rivers, lakes, streams and wetlands. Environmentalists have praised the new rule, calling it an important step that would lead to significantly cleaner natural bodies of water and healthier drinking water. But it has attracted fierce opposition from several business interests, including farmers, property developers, fertilizer and pesticide makers, oil and gas producers and a national association of golf course owners. Opponents contend that the rule would stifle ...

President Trump Signs Pesticide Registration Improvement Act Bill

On March 8, 2019, President Trump signed S. 483, the “Pesticide Registration Improvement Extension Act of 2018,” which reauthorizes the Pesticide Registration Improvement Extension Act (PRIA 4) through fiscal year 2023, updates the fee collection provisions and authorities available under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) and addresses worker protection matters.  The text is available at Congress.gov, which has not yet been updated to confirm that the bill has been signed (but this appears to be the final amended text of the bill).   On February 14, 2019, the Senate approved S. 483 to reauthorize the Pesticide Registration Improvement Extension Act (PRIA 4) and ...

Presidential Candidates Discuss GMO Food Label Requirements

In a informal question-and-answer format, some big-name Republicans and possible 2016 presidential candidates discussed issues affecting the agriculture industry at the Iowa Ag Summit.   One of the biggest issues discussed at Sunday's summit was whether the federal government should require labeling foods that contain GMOs.   Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush said GMOs allow farmers to deal with droughts and produce higher yields.   Click Here to read more.

Pritzker banking on $200 million from legal sports betting, but efforts to expand gambling have never been easy in Illinois

Gov J.B. Pritzker is counting on $200 million in licensing fees from legalized sports wagering to help plug a $3.2 billion hole in next year’s state budget.   But years of failed efforts to expand gambling in Illinois suggest his plan is no sure thing.   In his first budget address Wednesday, the new Democratic governor acknowledged the issue’s history, calling on lawmakers to set aside the squabbles over new casinos and expanded betting options at horse tracks that have derailed previous gambling expansion measures, and pass a stand-alone bill to legalize wagering on sporting events. If ...

Pritzker defends plan that includes pension holiday

Gov. J.B. Pritzker is defending his proposal to address the state’s $134 billion unfunded pension liability.   Pritzker’s proposal for the coming budget restructures pension payments and pays less than what’s required in the coming years.   Despite critics, including some unions and Democrats, opposing the governor’s pension proposal seeing it as the state again kicking the can down the road, state Rep. Robert Markwick, D-Chicago, is on board.   “We’re going to put together a package that redefines this pension debt problem, shows a plan to pay it ...

Pritzker gives campaign another $20 million, bringing him to $146.5 million in self-funding

Billionaire Democratic governor candidate J.B. Pritzker pumped another $20 million into his campaign, extending his record-setting self-funding to more than $146.5 million, a state finance report filed minutes before midnight Saturday showed.   For the record, the latest multimillion cash infusion made last Tuesday brings Pritzker’s total to $146,550,034 since March 2017, state campaign finance records showed.   Pritzker’s campaign also put $1 million into the Democratic Party of Illinois, which is chaired by House Speaker Michael Madigan, Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner’s chief political nemesis. The contribution followed $420,000 Pritzker gave the state party a week earlier.   Click ...

Pritzker names Ag transition committee

A former state senator from the Springfield area will co-chair Gov.-elect J.B. Pritzker’s transition committee to advise him on agricultural issues.   John Sullivan, a former Democratic senator from Rushville, will co-chair the Growing Our Agricultural Economy Committee with Colleen Callahan, former state director for rural development in Illinois of the U.S. department of Agriculture. Sullivan served in the legislature from 2003 to 2017.   Lt. Gov-elect Juliana Stratton said that one in 17 jobs in Illinois is connected to agriculture.   “This committee will focus on policies that help our agriculture and rural communities thrive, from ...

Pritzker names John Kim EPA Director

Three new agency directors and another deputy governor were named by Gov. J.B. Pritzker Thursday.   Pritzker named John Kim, a 25-year veteran of the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, to head the department. He is currently chief legal counsel for the agency, but has also served as director, interim director, ethics officer and project manager for an IEPA-China pollution prevention project.   Kim, who has a law degree from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, has also been general counsel at the Department of Agriculture and an assistant attorney general.   Click Here to read more.

Pritzker opens door to services tax, campaign says no

Democrat gubernatorial candidate J.B. Pritzker said Thursday the state should consider extending the sales tax to services as part of a way to bring in more revenue.   Shortly after, his campaign said Pritzker misspoke.   Pritzker appeared before The State Journal-Register editorial board Thursday in a discussion that focused heavily on state finances and taxation.   Pritzker has endorsed a progressive income tax, although it would take several years to amend the state Constitution to bring that to reality. He was asked what steps he would take as governor to raise revenue more quickly while work on a ...

Pritzker says graduated state income tax must advance this spring

Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Thursday he will press the General Assembly to approve a graduated income tax before it adjourns in May — with both a constitutional amendment to put before voters and companion legislation setting forth the new tax rates.   Pritzker’s ambitious timetable would set the stage for an immediate political showdown in the legislature to be followed by a protracted 17-month public campaign leading up to a November 2020 referendum.   In the past, Democratic legislative leaders have insisted they would not consider constitutional amendments in odd-numbered years when no statewide election is held.   ...

Pritzker sees legalized marijuana next year, but wage hike, graduated tax could take longer

Legalizing recreational marijuana was among Gov.-elect J.B. Pritzker's election pledges, and a bill in support is likely to break in the General Assembly early in 2019, he said.   You can also expect a gambling expansion plan to surface in the coming legislative session, as the state wrestles with balancing its budget, Pritzker said Friday.   In the 32 days since his election defeat of incumbent Gov. Bruce Rauner, the Chicago Democrat has been busy, convening 10 advisory groups on issues from justice to education to transportation.   A number of suburbanites and Republicans are serving on those committees, and ...

Pritzker signs bill blocking right-to-work zones

Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Friday signed legislation barring local governments from establishing what is known as right-to-work zones.   The bill prohibits laws barring employers and labor organizations from signing contracts that require workers to join unions or pay dues.   “From the start, right-to-work was an idea cooked up to lower wages, slash benefits and hurt our working families. Right-to-work has always meant right to work for less money, and it’s wrong for Illinois,” Pritzker said during a bill-signing ceremony in his Statehouse office.   The Chicago Democrat said the legislation "makes it ...

Pritzker signs executive order joining the U.S. Climate Alliance

Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Wednesday signed an executive order for Illinois to join the U.S. Climate Alliance, meaning the state will agree to advance the goals of the Paris Agreement.   The United States signed onto the Paris Agreement, a treaty that aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, in 2016. President Donald Trump withdrew from it in June 2017, saying the pact would hurt the U.S. economy. In response, the Climate Alliance was formed so individual states and territories could sign onto the standards.   Pritzker, speaking alongside environmental advocates at a news conference at Southwind Park’s ...

Pritzker unveils $41.5 billion capital plan

After months of pondering, Gov. J.B. Pritzker today began briefing state lawmakers on his much-anticipated capital plan, and it’s both big and expensive—$41.5 billion over six years, to be financed in part by a doubling of the state's tax on gasoline.   According to background documents obtained by Crain’s, Pritzker wants to pair just under $25 billion in state spending (mostly new, but some reprogrammed) with $10 billion in expected federal funds with $6.6 billion in local and private funds, saying that work is needed because Illinois infrastructure is in “dire” shape.   Transportation ...

Pritzker's $39B budget relies on taxing marijuana, betting

New Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker proposed a budget Wednesday that relies partly on tax revenues from two industries that currently aren't even legal in the state, which is saddled with billions of dollars in pension obligations and other debts.   Pritzker's $39 billion proposal includes more than $1 billion from legalizing recreational marijuana and sports betting, while also imposing a tax on insurance companies, hiking cigarette and e-cigarette taxes and raising $20 million from a tax on plastic bags.   The Democrat, making his first major address to legislators just five weeks into the job, also wants to modify the ...

Pritzker, AFSCME hope to resolve contract talks

Illinois could finally see the resolution to one of the longest running labor disputes in the state's history.   That's the unresolved negotiations between the governor's administration and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 31, the labor union that represents by far the largest bloc of state workers.   The union and Gov. Bruce Rauner's administration have been unable to reach agreement on a new contract even though the old agreement expired at the end of June 2015, barely six months into Rauner's term.   Now Gov.-elect J.B. Pritzker has said ...

Pritzker: Illinois budget deficit higher than estimated

With Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s first budget speech less than two weeks away, the Pritzker administration said the state’s financial problems are worse than expected.   In a report released Friday, former comptroller and now deputy governor Dan Hynes said the state’s budget deficit next year will hit $3.2 billion unless steps are taken to bring it under control.   The administration said the deficit is 16 percent higher than what former Gov. Bruce Rauner’s administration projected in a report it released in November.   “We’ve had several weeks now to ...

Pritzker: Raise state tax rate, boost exemptions while working on a graduated income tax

Democratic governor candidate J.B. Pritzker said Tuesday he would seek to temporarily raise Illinois’ flat income tax rate and boost credits and deductions while lawmakers consider changing the state constitution to allow for a graduated income tax.   Pritzker, though, declined to say what that increased tax rate should be. During the primary campaign, he also didn’t say what rates should come with his favored graduated tax, which would tax people of various income levels based on how much they make. Both, he said, are subject to talks with state lawmakers.   “Just like the ...

Pro-GMO Side "Wins" Online Debate

Supporter of genetically modified crops were declared the victors over opponents in a radio program's Dec. 3 debate.   Arguing that genetically modified crops have been proven safe and are needed to feed a growing world population, advocates for the technology won over far more converts than opponents in a Dec. 3 debate hosted by a National Public Radio program.   GMO proponents included Robb Fraley, executive vice president and chief technology officer with Monsanto and one of four Monsanto scientists who pioneered GMO crops, and University of California-Davis genomics and biotechnology researcher Alison Van Eenennaam.   Click Here to ...

Producers need to speak up during EPA review of atrazine

Atrazine is the most important herbicide for grain sorghum production and the second most important herbicide for corn production. Farmers attending the No-till Field Day in McPherson County, Kansas, Aug. 16, were encouraged to show their support for atrazine while it is being reviewed by the Environmental Protection Agency.   “Atrazine is up for review again,” Ron Graber, K-State watershed specialist in central Kansas, said. “It seems like every few years it comes up for review.”   Jesse McCurry, regional director for the National Sorghum Producers in Kansas, said EPA is required to review chemicals every 15 years. ...

Products containing certain neonic insecticides should be subject to ESA analysis, judge finds

The Environmental Protection Agency may have to assess the effects on endangered species of 59 products containing clothianidin and thiamethoxam, two neonicotinoid insecticides.   A federal judge has found that the agency violated the Endangered Species Act by registering the products without complying with Endangered Species Act consultation requirements, said Center for Food Safety attorney George Kimbrell, who represents his group and other plaintiffs in the case, including four beekeepers, Beyond Pesticides, the Sierra Club and the Center for Environmental Health.   U.S. District Judge Maxine Chesney of the Northern District of California did not order EPA to consult with ...

Proposed Bills Would Restrict Illinois’ Authority to Protect Endangered Species

A pair of bills under consideration by lawmakers in Springfield would strip the state of its authority to regulate endangered species that are protected at the federal level but that might require further protections within Illinois.   Farming advocates say the legislation would eliminate unnecessary permits, allowing landowners to focus on implementing conservation measures spelled out under federal guidelines for endangered species. But environmental advocates say the proposals would hurt Illinois’ ability to protect vulnerable species as the Trump administration chips away at the Endangered Species Act.   Under state law today, landowners must obtain approval from the Illinois ...

Protecting Pollinators: States Take the Reign on Pollinator Health

Just as worker bees provide the hive with the substance it needs to thrive, states work to create pollinator habitat and increase awareness for an overall bigger impact in protecting pollinators.   When the Environmental Protection Agency called for individual states to develop pollinator protection plans and best management practices for pesticide risk management, states stepped up. Many created task forces, bringing stakeholders from all sides of the issue together.   “These groups have worked on everything from habitat creation at the state level and with private landowners to getting the word out and increasing overall pollinator awareness,” ...

Protesters Fill Capitol to Oppose Gov. Rauner's Budget Cuts

Puppets, a funeral, chants and a group of about 1,500 were on display Wednesday as protesters filled the Capitol in defiance of Gov. Bruce Rauner's proposed budget cuts.   The group known as We Rise - a coalition of organizations including the Service Employees International Union Healthcare Illinois and Action Now - packed the Capitol both outside the governor's office and in the House gallery.  Protesters also held a mock burial for the working class outside the Executive Mansion.   Click Here to read more.

Pruitt takes charge at EPA

The Senate confirmed Scott Pruitt as administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, clearing the way for him to begin working to remove or soften Obama-era regulations on the agriculture and energy sectors.   Pruitt, who as Oklahoma attorney general had sued the EPA more than a dozen times, including over its “waters of the United States” (WOTUS) rule, was sworn into ofice later Friday afternoon by Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito. President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence were both out of town.   “I look forward to working with the dedicated employees on our shared ...

Pruitt takes over authority for water protections policy

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt has signed a directive giving himself more authority to determine environmental regulations for projects near regional waterways, according to a memo released Wednesday.   The internal document obtained by the advocacy group Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) gives the EPA chief final decisionmaking authority over the protections of streams, ponds and wetlands.   The one-page March 30 memo vests Pruitt the authority to make “final determinations of geographic jurisdiction,” under the Clean Water Act, also known as the Water of the United States (WOTUS) rule.   Click Here to read more.

Pruitt’s EPA Not Putting Up Fences, WOTUS Reformation

When the waters of the United States (WOTUS) were defined in a 2015 rule under the Clean Water Act, lawsuits were everywhere, saying the definition was too broad.   When President Trump took office, he vowed to eliminate two rules or regulations for each new one. WOTUS was part of that promise.   In Washington D.C. last week, AgDay host Clinton Griffiths sat down with Scott Pruitt, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) about the rule.   According to Pruitt, a substitute or replacement definition will be issued sometime this year, a definition that will recognize private property ownership ...

Pulling no punches: Illinois awaits budget

For the third year in a row, the three men at the center of Illinois politics are circling inside the Capitol, and nobody is pulling punches.   In one corner is Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner, and in the other are Democratic leaders Michael Madigan and John Cullerton. The goal: Pass a budget before the end of session on May 31.   The past two years have seen lawmakers come up short, both sides throwing in the towel, as an untold number of Illinois residents suffer through the longest gap between budgets of any state in the country.   Lawmakers remain optimistic ...

Push on for reform to offset state tax

One of the participants in a roundtable discussion in Springfield on Aug. 1, Merrill Lynch financial adviser Gary Seitz, told the Illinois Republican to be bold, throw out the current tax code and start from scratch.   “I’m a believer that as the government grows, the economy slows,” Seitz said. “Take less money from the individual so they can use it for themselves to buy houses, buy cars, invest, buy a pizza.”   Seitz said the economy works best when people spend or save their money as they see fit.   Click Here to read ...

Putting the focus on phosphorus

With more than 700 soil types in Illinois, southern Illinois soils have different compositions and are conducive to different conservation practices than in central or northern regions, especially when it comes to fertilizer applications.   Those attending Nutrient Research and Education Council’s southern version of its field day at Southern Illinois University Farms were focused more on phosphorus conservation.   “One of the things that we’re finding is that a lot of the initial research we’ve done on nutrient loss focused on nitrates that were lost through tile. We know that’s not ...

Quebec imposes bans on five common pesticides

Government regulations in Quebec will make it more challenging for grain producers to control pests this growing season.   Farmers may only purchase and apply the pesticides atrazine, chlorpyrifos and three neonicotinoids (clothianidin, imidacloprid and thiamethoxam) if a certified agronomist deems it necessary, Isabelle Melançon, Quebec’s environment minister, announced yesterday at a honey factory in Chateau Richer, near Quebec City.   “A controlled, rigorous and responsible use of pesticides is the key to limiting the risks they entail,” Melançon said yesterday, according to CTV News.   Click Here to read more.

Quinn Calls Special Session for Election of new Comptroller

Outing Gov. Pat Quinn has called state lawmakers back to Springfield next month to consider a 2016 special election to replace the late Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka - a move he described Thursday as a "democratic right" but the Republicans attributed to partisan motives.   The legislative special session will be Jan. 8 - days before Gov-elect Bruce Rauner becomes Illinois' first GOP governor in more than a decade and would have the power to name a four-year replacement.  Topinka, a Republican, had won a second term in November but died last week.   Click Here to read more.

Quinn's IDOT Chief Resigns Amid Patronage Questions.

Secretary of the Illinois Department of Transportation Ann Schneider resigned last week.  The Better Government Association raised questions about the hiring and promotion of Schneider's stepdaughter, Ashley Carpenter.  Carpenter was hired as a staff assistant and is now a data analyst with IDOT's division of aeronautics, making just under $53,000 annually, the BGA reported.  She is now covered by anti-patronage rules, meaning she cannot be fired for political reasons.   Click Here to read more.

Race for Governor Shatters Campaign Finace Marks

The heated race for Illinois governor is shattering state records for campaign fundraising and spending, fueled by a deep-pocketed GOP candidate and intense national interest in what's expected to be one of the closest in the country.   Combined, Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn and Republican businessman Bruce Rauner have had at least $59 million to spend on the general election so far, said Kent Redfield, a professor emeritus at the University of Illinois Springfield who analyzed campaign finance filed with the state.   Click Here to read more.    

Rain puts Illinois farmers weeks behind schedule

After weeks of untimely rain stymied his plans, a window of opportunity finally opened late last week for farmer Marty Marr to resume planting.   "We're finally getting things opened up and dry a little bit," Marr said. "We just need some warm temps and sunshine to get better planting conditions to work with."   Marr, who farms corn and soybeans in Logan, Morgan and Sangamon counties, is among many farmers in Illinois and across the Midwest who have dealt with soaked-out fields that have made planting difficult to near impossible. Now, Marr and his ...

Raising state’s minimum wage to $15 now up to Rauner

The Illinois Senate late Wednesday OK’d legislation that would gradually raise the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour. Already passed by the House, the bill goes to Gov. Bruce Rauner’s desk.   The bill passed the Senate by a vote of 30-23.   Sponsored by Sen. Kimberly Lightford, D-Maywood, Senate Bill 81 would raise the state’s minimum wage from $8.25 to $15 an hour by 2022.   Businesses with 50 or fewer employees would get a tax credit to help them adapt to the higher wages.   After passing the House Tuesday, Rep. Jay Hoffman, D-Swansea, put ...

Rapid Increase in Neonicotinoid Insecticides Driven by Seed Treatments

Use of a class of insecticides, called neonicotinoids, increased dramatically in the mid-2000s and was driven almost entirely by the use of corn and soybean seeds treated with the pesticides, according to researchers at Penn State. “Previous studies suggested that the percentage of corn acres treated with insecticides decreased during the 2000s, but once we took seed treatments into account we found the opposite pattern,” said Margaret Douglas, graduate student in entomology. “Our results show that application of neonicotinoids to seed of corn and soybeans has driven a major surge in the U.S. cropland treated ...

Rauner administration to workers: You can opt out of union

Hours after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against labor unions in the Janus case, the Rauner administration sent an email to state workers setting out their options in the wake of the decision.   Sent by the Department of Central Management Services, the email noted that the court decision means state employees “are no longer required to pay ‘fair share’ fees if they choose not to be a member of the union. The court found the practice to be a violation of First Amendment free speech rights.”   “As a result, effective immediately, the ...

Rauner both signs and critiques sexual harassment legislation

Gov. Bruce Rauner on Thursday signed into law two measures targeting sexual harassment in Illinois politics, while also saying there’s far more work to do and dubbing one “hurried” and “very flawed.”   Rauner signed both a measure that will require all lawmakers, lobbyists and state employees to undergo sexual harassment training every year  beginning next year, as well as a bill that extends the statute of limitations on 27 cases pending before the Legislative Ethics Commission. The signings come about a week after legislators quickly passed both measures amid pressure over the lack ...

Rauner budget relies on pension cuts, tax hike he says he ‘was right’ to veto

Using funds from an income tax hike he vetoed, Gov. Bruce Rauner on Wednesday said he’d help balance the budget through a change in health insurance benefits for retired teachers and state employees — and a cut to Chicago Public Schools teacher pensions.   “The simple truth is this: We have to change the way we manage pension costs and group health expenses,” Rauner said. “If we don’t, our finances will continue to deteriorate, our economy will remain sluggish and our tax burdens will stay high and keep rising.”   In his ...

Rauner bypasses legislature to create Illinois State Fair fundraising foundation

A private foundation has been established to raise money for repairs and upgrades to the state fairgrounds in Springfield and Du Quoin.   Using Ag Day at the Illinois State Fair as a backdrop, Gov. Bruce Rauner announced the formation of the not-for-profit Illinois Fairgrounds Foundation.   The foundation, formed as a 501(c)(3)organization, will raise money from private contributors and use it to help pay for the estimated $180 million worth of deferred maintenance at both the Springfield and Du Quoin grounds.   “We have one of the oldest, largest, most beautiful fairs anywhere in America,” Rauner said. &...

Rauner Calls for Changes to the State's Tax Policy.

Republican governor candidate Bruce Rauner proposed phasing out the state's income tax increase, broadening the state's sales tax without voter approval as part of a strategy that he said will improve the business economy.   Click Here to read more.

Rauner eliminates 53 inactive state boards and commissions

Gov. Bruce Rauner Friday issued an executive order eliminating 53 boards and commissions that he said haven’t functioned for years.   At the same time, Rauner issued an executive order to curtail nepotism in state government. It prohibits executive agency heads from appointing, promoting or recommending a relative to any agency or department under their control.   It is the second time this year that Rauner has eliminated unnecessary boards and commissions. Earlier he put the ax to 19 others. Illinois still has over 500 authorities, boards, bureaus, commissions, councils and task forces.   “This is a matter of good ...

Rauner Further Details Legislative Agenda

Gov. Bruce Rauner has begun putting a finer point on his legislative agenda, telling voters, elected officials and newspaper editorial boards during a tour of Illinois last week that his business-friendly plan is vital to improving the state’s economy. During appearances in which he made several provocative comments, the Republican tried to build support for his proposals before legislators return to Springfield this week. Among them are a reduction in the cost of workers’ compensation insurance, tighter restrictions on eligibility for unemployment benefits and changes to the judicial system. He said he would back a modest increase ...

Rauner gets bill legalizing industrial hemp

The Illinois House has sent the governor a measure legalizing industrial hemp.   The House voted 106-3 Wednesday to allow hemp cultivation for commercial use. Hemp is a form of the cannabis plant distinct from marijuana. It does not produce any high-like effects and is often used in clothing or food.   Hemp was banned nationwide in 1937 for its relation to the marijuana plant. Former President Barack Obama opened the door for states to legalize industrial hemp in 2015. That removed opposition from Illinois Republicans who had blocked previous attempts to legalize the plant in the state.   Click Here to ...

Rauner Grapples with this Year's, Next Year's Budget Problems.

Gov. Bruce Rauner will lay out his plan on Wednesday to confront an unprecedented fiscal crisis exacerbated by the recent expiration of the state's temporary income tax increase, a multibillion-dollar revenue loss that could foreshadow big spending cuts and test his campaign pledge to not raise taxes.  By law, Rauner must develop a budget based on currently available funds. But the loss of the additional income tax revenue last month leaves a gaping hole for the remainder of this fiscal year and next year.   Click Here to read more.

Rauner lays out 2nd-term goals in Galesburg visit

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner has four main goals he would like to accomplish if re-elected in November, he told The Register-Mail Friday.   Rauner said he would like to roll back the 32 percent income tax increase that was approved by the Illinois General Assembly in the state’s budget last year, and ideally bring the income tax rate back down to 3 percent “over the next few years” instead of 4.95 percent. He also would like to see a law passed that would allow residents to control their own property tax levies through a referendum process.   “I ...

Rauner opposed to any increase in gas tax for infrastructure projects

Gov. Bruce Rauner opposes an increase in the state’s gas tax as a way to fund any infrastructure upgrades, but details on his plans for projects and how to fund them are light.   The Illinois Chamber of Commerce and national transportation research group TRIP say half the roads in Illinois are in bad shape. The groups reported this week that poor road conditions cost drivers across the state an estimated $16.4 billion a year "due to higher vehicle operating costs, traffic crashes and congestion-related delays."   “Illinois’ infrastructure is vital to propel the state ...

Rauner opposes some tax increases in 'grand bargain'

Gov. Bruce Rauner used his third budget speech Wednesday to break his silence on the Senate's "grand bargain" and say he is against raising sales taxes on food and medicine and wants a permanent property tax freeze to compensate for a permanent income tax increase.   Rauner also outlined areas where he wants to increase state spending, including K-12 education, college grants for needy students and more investigators for the Department of Children and Family Services.   However, Rauner did not mention in his speech that his budget proposal would spend about $37.3 billion while state revenues are ...

Rauner Previews 1st-Year Priorities: Cut Taxes, Medicaid

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner on Thursday began laying out priorities for his first year in office, saying property taxes and workers' compensation costs are too high, Medicaid spending is unsustainable, state workers' salaries and benefits are too generous.   In a speech he said was a preview of the State of the State address he'll give next month, the Winnetka Republican said Illinois is in a "massive deterioration mode."   Click Here to read more.

Rauner Says Budget Fix Close; Lawmakers Oppose School Cuts

Gov. Bruce Rauner said Wednesday he expects a deal to address Illinois' $1.6 billion budget deficit within days, but a spokeswoman for Senate President John Cullerton said there's still work to do. The Republican governor said legislation is being drafted after weeks of negotiations with Democratic leaders. He wouldn't discuss specifics. Cullerton spokeswoman Rikeesha Phelon said the draft plan includes an across-the-board 2.25 percent spending cut. She said many Senate Democrats have "serious concerns" because the cut includes education. She said Rauner and legislative leaders need to try again to reach a deal that can pass both chambers. Click Here ...

Rauner says He'll be "Champion" for Farmers

Republican candidate for governor Bruce Rauner said Thursday he would work to reduce taxes and regulatory burdens on famers and would travel the globe on his own dime to promote Illinois products if elected.   Click Here to read more.

Rauner Says He'll Continue to Push for Term Limits

Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner says not having term limit measures on Novermber's Ballot is a temporary setback.   He told reporters Sunday he'll "campaign very aggressively" on term limits in both his bid to unseat Gov. Pat Quinn and on behalf of state lawmakers who commit to term limits.  A new ad released Sunday focuses on term limits.   Click Here to read more.

Rauner says regulatory, tax cuts will help Illinois agriculture

The governor of Illinois says the state’s number one farm issue is to allow producers to do their work.  Brownfield’s Tom Steever talked the chief executive and a state lawmaker Wednesday in Peoria.  Governor Bruce Rauner tells Brownfield his legislative agenda for farmers is shaped by the fact that there is too much tax and too much regulation.   “The key to our success and future prosperity is growth for our farmers and our agri-business, and I’m all for that,” said Governor Rauner, in an interview with Brownfield Ag News ...

Rauner Says Slim Down Government

With nearly 7,000 units of government, Illinois is No. 1 in the nation, and that’s an honor Gov. Bruce Rauner would like some other state to enjoy. The governor on Friday signed an executive order creating a task force charged with streamlining government functions. Lt. Gov. Evelyn Sanguinetti will lead the group, which will be made up of representatives from local governments, school districts and members of the legislature from throughout the state. The governor will appoint the members and the task force will report its findings to the General Assembly no later than the last day of 2015, at which ...

Rauner signs revamp of EDGE business tax-credit

Gov. Bruce Rauner has signed legislation that re-establishes an economic-development tax incentive with greater transparency.   The Republican signed the revamped EDGE tax credit law Monday. He says it’s a “bipartisan job-creation program that is innovative and competitive for business.”   The law expires in 2022.   Rauner says key parts of the plan include incentives to encourage companies to move or expand to economically challenged parts of the state and lower thresholds to allow more small businesses to grow.   Click Here to read  more.  

Rauner Team Fluster Dems

I had heard Bruce Rauner say countless times — before and after he was elected governor — that he was going to fight special interests and labor unions and Democratic pols and anyone else who tried to thwart his "Turnaround Agenda" for Illinois. "I love taking arrows. I've got alligator skin. I can break those arrows off," Rauner told a crowd in Casey just before his inauguration. "I'm going to battle." But it wasn't until last week that I realized how much Rauner relished the fight. Click Here to read more.

Rauner to Call for Sweeping Changes

Bruce Rauner last month promised to try to bring "a big transformation" to Illinois government, but I'm not sure anyone anticipated how big.   After listening to two separate "previews" of this week's State of the State address, I counted at least 15 major, sometimes controversial, sometimes dead-on-arrival initiatives that the new Republican governor apparently wants to undertake.   Click Here to read more.

Rauner to Dems: Pass school funding bill or I’ll call special session

Gov. Bruce Rauner on Friday gave Democrats a hard deadline to send over a school funding bill — declaring he’ll call a special legislative session if it’s not on his desk by Monday.   Rauner has spent much of this week saying he plans to issue an amendatory veto of the Senate school funding formula bill, which passed with bipartisan support on May 31. He plans to take out what he’s calling a “Chicago bailout” — some $220 million to pay for Chicago teacher pensions. The measure that cleared also included about $250 million in ...

Rauner Touts Agenda in Bloomington Visit

Fixing the economy, improving education and ending corruption and conflicts of interest in government are the three most urgent items on Gov. Bruce Rauner's agenda, a crowd of about 350 people heard from him Sunday. The stop at the DoubleTree by Hilton in Bloomington was the 15th and final one of Rauner's follow-up tour for last week's State of the State address. "We are focused first and foremost on getting our economy turned around so we are pro-industry, pro-growth and pro-job creation," he said. Click Here to read more.  

Rauner touts strong agriculture, balanced budget

Gov. Bruce Rauner linked a strong Illinois economy to a healthy agriculture industry and promoted his budget plan during a visit Thursday to GROWMARK Inc.   “The farm economy drives prosperity for the state of Illinois,” Rauner told a crowd of GROWMARK employees and executives. “Your success is Illinois’ success. Thank you for all you do to make farmers successful.”   The governor highlighted several themes from his state budget message, especially the need to reduce income taxes and property taxes. “We can’t tax our way out of this problem,” Rauner ...

Rauner Wants Farmer to Run Ag Department

Gov-Elect Bruce Rauner said Monday he strongly perfers to have a farmer take over the Illinois Department of Agriculture and that he wouldn't impose sales taxes that would put Illinois farmers at a disvantage compared with those in other states.   Speaking to a meeting of the Illinois Farm Bureau in Chicago, the Winnetka Republican said farmers have helped Illinois weather tough economic times and that the state needs an agriculture sector that's "booming."   Click Here to read more.

Rauner Wants Farmer to Run Ag Department

Gov-Elect Bruce Rauner said Monday he strongly prefers to have a farmer take over the Illinois Department of Agriculture and that he wouldn't impose sales taxes that would put Illinois' farmers at a disadvantage compared with those in other states.   Speaking to a meeting of the Illinois Farm Bureau in Chicago, the Winnetka Republican said farmers have helped Illinois weather tough economic times and that the state needs an agriculture sector that's "booming."   Click Here to read more.

Rauner wants state jobs review, just not federal court's

Gov. Bruce Rauner pledged Monday to continue rooting out improper patronage hiring at the same time his lawyers were attempting to block a federal court monitor's expanded review of all state administration jobs.   The Republican again trumpeted getting rid of the clout-packed "staff assistant" position at the Illinois Department of Transportation - the remaining 29 were fired last week - as a "small step in the right direction."   Yet, Rauner says a review of all state positions by a special master - appointed in 2014 to investigate the scandal, in which the staff assistant posts were improperly handed out ...

Rauner Wins in a Walk, but Governing will be No Stroll

Defying history, critics and portions of his own party, North Shore businessman Bruce Rauner was elected governor of Illinois on Tuesday - and, in the end, his victory wasn't that close.   Mr. Rauner becomes the first Republican sent to the governor's mansion since George Ryan won in 1998.  He'll have his work waiting for him, with the state facing huge fiscal and economic problems, and Mr. Rauner confronting a Democractic-controlled state House and Senate.   Click Here to read more.

Rauner's Budget: No New Taxes, Deep Cuts - Clashes Likely

Gov. Bruce Rauner is poised to deliver his first budget address on Wednesday, a blueprint for deep spending cuts across state government that fellow Republicans say will signal “the party’s over” for Democrats’ “voracious spending habits.” But with no tax increase proposals expected, Rauner could be setting the stage for a fight with Democrats who say “tough medicine” alone won’t cure the state’s financial cancer. “I said 10 days ago that I don’t think you can cut your way out of the problem,” House ...

Rauner's deficit projection $2.4B less than lawmakers'

Gov. Bruce Rauner’s administration believes the state will end the fiscal year with a $5.4 billion deficit, which is $2.4 billion lower than an earlier estimate from the General Assembly’s financial forecasters.   But while the projected deficit is lower than the previous estimate, the Rauner administration warned that the state is still spending far more money than it is collecting in tax revenue.   “While we are facing a much smaller hole than if the super majority in control of the legislature passed its $7.5 billion unbalanced budget, it further underscores the need to pass reforms and ...

Rauner's campaign spent nearly $8 million last quarter. Pritzker's spent more than double that.

Anyone with a TV already knows that Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and Democratic challenger J.B. Pritzker are both spending a bundle of cash on their campaigns, but records show Pritzker has spent far more in the last few months.   Pritzker's campaign spent $20.1 million in the second quarter of the year, compared to $7.8 million by Rauner's campaign. And that's long before the traditional big push that begins after Labor Day.   Both candidates should have plenty of money for the final sprint later this year. At the end of June, Pritzker still had $18.3 million in the ...

Rauner, Democrats Disagree on Short-Term Budget Fix

More than a week after Gov. Bruce Rauner declared he was "literally days away" from a solution to the $1.6 billion shortfall in this year's budget, the governor insisted Friday that he and Democrats are "very close" to a deal. "We'll get it done," Rauner said after delivering a speech to business leaders in Chicago. "The critical thing … is that we don't raise taxes because of this and that we don't do borrowing because of this, we just reallocate." Click Here to read more.  

Rauner, Dems Double Down on Budget Gamble

The state fiscal crisis is only going to get worse, and the solution is becoming more difficult by the day.   As you probably know, the General Assembly and the governor have not yet agreed on a full state budget. But because of various federal judicial orders, a signed education funding bill and several ongoing statutory "continuing appropriations" (debt service, pension payments, legislative salaries, etc.), the government is on pace to spend billions of dollars more than it will bring in this fiscal year.   Guesstimates have been tossed around by various folks that the state could run out of ...

Rauner, Lawmakers Spar as Budget Impasse Continues

Another day of posturing and finger-pointing at the Capitol came with no visible progress toward ending a high-stakes stalemate that has left Illinois government without a budget.   In the statehouse Tuesday, Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner kept up his running assault on House Speaker Michael Madigan, accusing the Democrat from Chicago of causing the budget impasse in order to build pressure for a tax increase.   Democrats in the House returned the volley, holding a series of hearings designed to show the perils of adopting Rauner's pro-business agenda, which they say will hurt the poor and middle class   ...

Rauner, Pritzker trade corruption, integrity jabs at debate

Illinois’ candidates for governor again traded accusations over leadership, taxes and alleged corruption in a debate Thursday that was their final one to be televised before the Nov. 6 election.   Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and Democratic challenger J.B. Pritzker both tried to deflect attention from questions about their integrity.   The debate played out on a sensitive stage — Quincy, home of the state-run military veterans’ home beset by a deadly Legionnaires’ disease crisis. Rauner decried a criminal investigation by the Democratic attorney general into his handling of the outbreak that has led to 14 deaths since 2015, ...

Rauner: Department of Agriculture "Full of Cronyism"

The GOP candidate for Illinois governor broadened his criticism of state agriculture officials Wednesday, saying the department was "full of cronyism" and has "folks running things that generally don't have much expertise.   Click Here to read more.

Rauner’s office reports hopeful sign after meeting with Madigan

Gov. Bruce Rauner’s administration said Thursday that House Speaker Michael Madigan during a morning meeting the two had in Rauner’s office “hinted that he may be willing to enact a truly balanced budget.”   Madigan’s office had issued a statement several hours earlier that the two had met at the Chicago Democrat’s request. A Madigan spokesman said the meeting lasted about 40 minutes. It’s the first time the two have met since a series of legislative leader meetings late last year that Rauner ultimately canceled as unproductive.   “...

Redistricting advocates lobbying Illinois lawmakers

Some advocates are pushing for an Illinois constitutional amendment to change how legislative districts are created in the state.   Redistricting advocates have asked lawmakers to consider their proposed Fair Maps Amendment that would form a 16-member independent commission to draw new districts, the Daily Herald reported. The commission would consist of seven Democrats, seven Republicans and two independents chosen by the state Supreme Court.   The U.S. Constitution requires legislative and congressional boundaries to be redrawn every decade. The process in Illinois is dictated by the party in power, which some critics have said allows parties to manipulate ...

Regional nitrogen studies will complete state map

Farmers in southern Illinois are sought now to help add the region to the University of Illinois’ Maximum Return to Nitrogen map.   “We recognize now that southern Illinois was getting the short end of effort and was not represented in this effort,” Jean Payne explained at the recent Southern Illinois Fertilizer and Pesticide Conference.   Payne is president of the Illinois Fertilizer and Chemical Association, which will pay $1,000 per farmer for up to 10 locations south of Interstate 70 to participate in the nitrogen-use studies. She also named John Pike as coordinator for these trials.   Click Here&...

Regulators' Dicamba Angst Confusion, Frustration on Display as State Regulators Confront EPA Over Dicamba Rules

State pesticide regulators confronted EPA representatives over the new dicamba registrations for XtendiMax, FeXapan and Engenia in a public regulatory meeting on Monday, Dec. 3.   Officials representing states in the Midwest and South voiced concerns about a second year of overwhelming dicamba injury complaints, as well as confusing language and requirements in the new dicamba labels, during an annual meeting of the State FIFRA Research and Evaluation Group (SFIREG) in Arlington, Virginia.   "The vagueness of some of the terminology on the labels is unfortunate," said Leo Reed, pesticide licensing manager for the Office of Indiana State Chemist. ...

REMINDER!!!! IFCA's Legislative Breakfast this Thursday at the Sangmo Club

I just wanted to give everyone a reminder that IFCA's legislative breakfast is this Thursday at 7:15am at the Sangmo Club in Springfield.  Please join us if you can.  Call the IFCA office if you have questions. 

Rentech Deal to Bring $20 Million Plant, Jobs to East Dubque

An agreement between Rentech Nitrogen Partners and Tessenderlo Kerley Inc. will result in the construction of a $20 million fertilizer plant and the creation of 16 jobs in Jo Daviess County.   The two companies Thursday announced a long-term agreement through which Rentech would supply TKI with ammonia produced at its facility near East Dubuque.   Click Here to read more.

Rep. Cheri Bustos talks Farm Bill and other ag issues.

This week’s guest on Open Mic is U.S. Representative Cheri Bustos. In this interview the Springfield native expands on her role in the Democratic Party to enhance continuity with rural Midwestern voters. Her 17th district in Illinois includes major industry, agriculture and a strong labor union base making trade a difficult issue. Bustos discusses the health care debate, tax reform, the need for a transportation bill and offers her reaction to farmer responses on what’s needed in a new farm bill.   Click Here to read  more.

Rep. Hammond awarded IFCA's Friend of Ag Award

Assistant House Minority Leader Norine K. Hammond (R-Macomb) attended the Illinois Fertilizer and Chemical Association’s (IFCA) Convention in Peoria Wednesday.   Assistant House Minority Leader Norine K. Hammond (R-Macomb) attended the Illinois Fertilizer and Chemical Association’s (IFCA) Convention in Peoria Wednesday.     She spoke to members and was later recognized for her support. The Association represents the crop production supply and service industry and promotes sound stewardship and utilization of agricultural inputs.     Kevin Johnson, Director of Government and Industry Relations for IFCA, is pictured presenting Rep. Hammond with their “Friend of Agriculture&...

Replacing Pesticides with Genetics

  Every spring, a host of unwelcome visitors descends on the Hansen farm in upstate New York. Diamondback moths blown in from the South threaten rows of cabbages to be sold for slaw and sauerkraut.   The moths can’t be fought off with a single insecticide. Workers must spray a series of chemicals throughout the growing season to keep the moths’ numbers in check.   “You have to rotate what chemical you use so you don’t get a buildup in resistance,” said Ed Hansen Jr., whose family has farmed the land for nearly ...

Report Addresses The State Of The Fertilizer Industry

The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) has announced the release of its 2018 State of the Fertilizer Industry report. The report, which documents industry stewardship and sustainability quantifies fertilizer manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers’ performance record on environmental, economic and social indicators. The report also documents the fertilizer industry’s contribution to meeting the following United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals: zero hunger; clean water and sanitation; affordable and clean energy; industry innovation and infrastructure, and climate action.   “Fertilizers make a tremendous contribution to mankind and ensuring that they are produced and used with care for communities, their economies, and ...

Report: Illinois could be short on qualified workers by 2020

Illinois could be short 150,000 qualified workers by 2020, according to a report released Tuesday. The report, by the business policy group ReadyNation, says Illinois lags behind Wisconsin, Iowa and Missouri in terms of the number of qualified workers for open positions. Sean Noble, state director of ReadyNation, said Illinois is falling behind in basic skills for workers, and he called for an increase in funding for early childhood education to get more future workers off on the right foot. Click Here to read more.  

Report: State agencies holding nearly $2.5 billion in bills

State agencies were holding nearly $2.5 billion in bills at the end of last year, pushing the state’s bill backlog to more than $9.2 billion.   The numbers are part of the first report issued by Comptroller Susana Mendoza’s office under a new state law that requires state agencies to report on bills they are holding that have not been submitted for payment.   Mendoza pushed for the law last year to give her a better picture of the state’s bill backlog, particularly as she tried to prioritize bills the state didn’t have enough ...

Reports of dicamba damage to crops are back again

For some farmers and weed scientists, puckered leaves on certain crops and other plants have become a familiar summertime sight — one that can suggest vapor from the weedkiller dicamba has moved through the air.     What many now refer to as “the D-word” is once again a topic of conversation — and controversy — as a third-straight summer of widely reported crop damage could be starting to unfold across the Mid-South and in other states in the heartland.     The University of Missouri Division of Plant Sciences, which last year emerged as a national leader ...

Republicans accelerate efforts to overhaul Endangered Species Act

Republicans are moving full speed ahead with their goal of overhauling the Endangered Species Act (ESA), with legislation that would mark the biggest changes to the landmark law in decades.   GOP lawmakers on a key House committee rammed through several bills this past week that would each lower or remove protections for animals and plants listed as endangered or threatened.   Republicans argue the changes are much needed improvements to the decades-old law. Environmentalists and some Democrats counter that the GOP proposals are an assault on the landmark statute.   The House Natural Resources Committee advanced five ESA-related bills ...

Republicans Must Be Smart on How to Roll Back Federal Regulations

It seems clear that in the coming years of Republican control many federal regulatory protections will be rolled back. No doubt some Americans voted for Donald Trump because of his broad, nonspecific campaign promises to relieve companies of the burden of complying with federal regulations.   But his supporters may be in for a surprise.   Take, for example, the April 17, 2013, fire at the West Fertilizer Company’s fertilizer blending and distribution facility in West, Texas. The fire led to an enormous explosion that killed 15 people, hospitalized 260 others, destroyed the plant and destroyed or damaged 150 nearby buildings.   The ...

Republicans say iconic Endangered Species Act no longer working, call for major makeover

Conservative Republicans are targeting the iconic Endangered Species Act for a major makeover, arguing that the decades-old law is a failure.   Their primary piece of evidence: Of the 2,493 species listed as threatened or endangered, only 54 have recovered enough to be removed from the list – a delisting success rate of less than 3 percent.   “As a doctor, if I admit 100 patients to the hospital and only three recover enough under my treatment to be discharged, Governor, I would deserve to lose my medical license with numbers like that,” said Sen. John Barrasso, of Wyoming, at a recent ...

Republicans, Democrats To Reach Across The Aisle On Infrastructure

Next year Republicans will control the Senate, while Democrats the House—but will anything be accomplished? Industry experts say both parties need to find common ground to tout success, and infrastructure might be their golden ticket. “It’s really one of those rare opportunities, perhaps the best opportunity to do something in a bipartisan manner,” Mike Steenhoek, executive director of the Soy Transportation Coalition told Clinton Griffiths on AgriTalk. “We think that it’s very encouraging when you hear both leader Pelosi and McConnell (on the Senate side), both identify infrastructure as one of ...

Researchers Seek Ideal Tile, Nutrient Management Combo

Higher commodity prices and land values over the past several years sparked a rapid increase in the field tile installations.   However, with field tiles comes the chance of increased nutrient losses into streams and rivers.  Studies are underway to determine fertilizer application practices to keep those nutrients for the crops.   Click Here to read more.

Resistant Weeds Continue Their March Across the Landscape

Driving across many parts of the Midwest this past summer, crop field watchers were likely to find an unexpected sight among the tall rows of corn and soybeans — weeds. In many cases, weeds such as ragweed, marestail, and waterhemp were easily two to three times the height of the surrounding crops, especially in soybean fields across states such as Indiana and Ohio.   According to Dr. David Hillger, Enlist Field Specialist for DowDuPont, this “explosion” of tall weeds across the nation’s Corn Belt in 2017 isn’t that surprising, considering how wet parts of the ...

ResponsibleAg Highlighted in Senate Joint Committee Hearing

On Dec. 11, the U.S. Senate Committees on Enviroment and Public Works and Health, Education, Labor and Pensions held a hearing to receive an update on President Obama's Executive Order (EO) 13650 - Improving Chemical Facility Safety and to reduce the risks associated with hazardous chemicals to workers and communities.   The EO directed the EPA, the Department of Labor, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Justice, the USDA and the Department of Transportation to identify ways to:   Click Here to read more.

ResponsibleAg Marks Milestone In Certifying 1,000 Facilities

Rutherford Farmers Cooperative in Smithville, Tenn., is the the 1,000th ResponsibleAg Certified facility. This location is part of the Tennessee Farmers Cooperative system. Read more about ResponsibleAg here.   Additionally, ResponsibleAg will be hosting an upcoming auditor training.   ResponsibleAg will host auditor training June 19-22, 2018, at the Ford B. West Center for Responsible Agriculture in Owensboro, Ky.   At the heart of ResponsibleAg is the goal of providing accurate and credible audits consistently across the entire group of carefully trained ResponsibleAg credentialed auditors. Each auditor must successfully complete this training course, as well as annual refresher training to maintain ...

Retailers Prepare For 2018 Dicamba Application

Since the new labels for the new dicamba formulations were announced by the EPA in October, the Illinois Fertilizer and Chemical Association has organized more than 30 training sessions before the 2018 spray season. So far, more than 300 farmers and applicators have attended one of these trainings, which are also being organized by the Illinois Department of Ag and other ag groups.   John Deere dealer Martin Sullivan is offering dicamba application training at three locations in late January. IFCA also encourages ag retailers to consider hosting training classes for employees and/or customers.   Click Here to read more.

Revised Hazard Communication Standard

The Occupational Safety & Health Administration's (OSHA) revised Hazard Communication Standard took effect on May 25, 2012 and required mandatory training for most employers across the country on new requirements for chemical labeling and the new Safety Data Sheets by December 1, 2013.  The revision aligned OSHA's rules with the internationally accepted Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS).  Any employer that uses hazardous chemicals in the workplace is subject to the new communication and training requirements.  Training issues for employers include:   Labels--Employers must train employees on new labeling elements including product identifiers, OSHA signal ...

Road to approval for US biotech crops in China beset with massive delays, costing industry billions

China's approval process for biotech crops is beset by regulatory hurdles and delays that have cost U.S. companies billions of dollars and added to challenges for American farmers.   Industry groups and members of Congress have been urging the Trump administration to press China to make its regulatory process for approving agricultural biotech products more transparent and timely.   High-level talks earlier this month in Washington between Chinese and U.S. negotiators touched on a variety of nontariff barrier issues. A spokesman for China's Ministry of Commerce, Gao Feng, told reporters Thursday the talks achieved "new ...

Rodney Davis, other House Republicans, press GOP leader on immigration

A group of 34 House Republicans, including U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Taylorville, on Tuesday asked Speaker Paul Ryan to act this month on legislation dealing with the 800,000 young immigrants brought to the United States as children and living here illegally.   Ryan has said he does not see a need to act before March, the deadline President Donald Trump gave Congress to find a permanent solution after he suspended the temporary protections against deportation granted by the Obama administration. The GOP lawmakers, in a letter to Ryan, pressed for quick action.   Click Here to read more.

Rough week for Illinois businesses as more tariffs loom

A workweek shortened by the July Fourth holiday may seem much longer to Illinois manufacturers and farmers, as products ranging from ketchup to soybeans are hit by tariffs.   On Sunday, Canada began imposing tariffs on about $12.6 billion of U.S. goods. On Thursday, Mexico is expected to increase its tariffs on U.S. pork. And on Friday, the Trump administration is set to impose tariffs on $34 billion of Chinese imports, and the Chinese government has said it will respond in kind.   In 2016, Illinois exports to Canada, Mexico and China, the state’s top three trading partners, totaled ...

Russia Bets on Hungry China With $6 Billion Fertilizer Mines

China’s dilemma of how to feed its booming population will partially be answered by fancier fertilizers, according to one of the world’s richest billionaires.   EuroChem Group AG, owned by Russian commodities tycoon Andrey Melnichenko, is spending over $6 billion on two mines to produce potash, a reddish mineral found deep in the Earth that’s prized for its ability as a soil fertilizer.   The company is counting on Asian farmers buying more sophisticated crop nutrients aimed at soil deficiencies or different crops, rather than saturating the ground with a blanket of chemicals. China’...

Russia Launches Attack on GMOs

New research from Iowa State University has revealed that Russia is funding online articles that question the safety of GMOs.   Conducted by Shawn Dorius, ISU assistant professor of sociology, and Carolyn Lawrence-Dill, an associate professor in ISU’s departments of agronomy and genetics, development and cell biology, the research was initially designed to delve into public perception of genetically engineered food by assessing the comments section on five U.S. news sites (Huffington Post, FOX news, CNN, Breitbart News, and MSNBC).   Nearly 90% of U.S. farmers grow GMO crops, such as corn and soybeans that are genetically ...

S&P cuts Illinois' credit rating on state's 'weak' management

S&P Global Ratings dropped Illinois' credit rating one notch to BBB on Friday and warned it could fall further absent a long-term solution that deals with the state's chronic structural budget deficit and pension woes.   "The downgrade reflects our view of continued weak financial management and increased long-term and short-term pressures tied to declining pension funded levels," said S&P analyst John Sugden in a statement.   Illinois, the lowest-rated U.S. state, is in its second straight fiscal year without a complete budget due to an impasse between its Republican governor and Democrats who ...

S&P Drops Illinois' Credit Rating to "Negative"

Standard & Poor's Ratings Service has changed its outlook on Illinois' credit rating for the worse.   The agency last week revised its outlook from "developing" to "negative" on Illinois' A-minus rating.   Click Here to read more.

S&P, Moody's lower Illinois' credit rating over budget mess

A second major credit rating agency has downgraded Illinois' rating, citing financial "mismanagement" by state leaders amid a yearlong budget impasse.   S&P Global Ratings lowered the rating Thursday from BBB+ to BBB. The agency says the lack of a budget for the current fiscal year has "left Illinois with unmanaged spending" that could go on for another year.   Illinois had the worst credit rating of any state even before the current impasse between Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and majority Democrats.   Click Here to read more.  

Safety School Covers Myriad Topics for Ag Retailers

The National Agronomic Environmental Health And Safety School celebrated its 40th anniversary in style in August at The Asmark Institute Agricenter in Bloomington, IL. During the two-day event, attendees learned why safety is increasingly important to the ag retail marketplace and how to make their operations more safe.   Jay Vroom, retiring CropLife America president, gave the keynote address at the Safety School.   The school started with a keynote address from Jay Vroom, the long-time President/CEO of CropLife America now heading into retirement. “I wish we had done better at safety for the last 30 years,” Vroom ...

Safeway Shareholders Reject GMO Labeling Proposal: Board Say it Would Cost $15 Million and Provide Zero Consumer Benefits

Shareholders at Safeway have rejected a proposal from the Green Century Equity Fund calling for mandatory GMO labeling on its store brands, which company bosses claim would cost $15m+ to implement, while providing zero consumer benefits.   Click Here to read more.

Sam McCann files petitions for governor’s race

State Sen. Sam McCann, a Conservative Party candidate for governor, was joined by his running mate, Aaron Merreighn of Riverton, on Monday as they filed more than 65,000 signatures to get on the Nov. 6 ballot.   “This is about a calling,” McCann told reporters at the State Board of Elections after the petitions were filed. “This is about doing what’s right. It’s about restoring people’s faith in our state and in our nation ... that we can have servant-driven leadership and not politicians who serve themselves.”   McCann said he believes the ...

Same Day Voter Registration Could Become Permanent

The sponsor of legislation that allowed same day voter registration for Illinois' November 4 election is working to make the change permanent.   Sen Don Harmon said Wednesday he's working with House lawmakers on an election law bill that could advance early next month.   Click Here to read more.

Saving dicamba depends on improved stewardship

Some farmers and consultants wonder if the timing restrictions will limit how much dicamba will be used. In some cases, producers will have an extremely narrow window to apply the product.   Matt Griggs will not spray dicamba on his crops this year. What’s more, he will not purchase any, does not want any on his farm.   “It comes with too much liability,” Griggs said during a break at the recent University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture’s Cotton Focus in Jackson.   Griggs and his wife, Kelly, farm in Crockett County, in the ...

Scientists Discover How to Breed Non -GMO Super Wheat- but it Will Take Some Genetic Engineering to Get There

Jointed goatgrass is even worse that it sounds.  Classified as a noxious weed in Washington state, it's considered a threat to the state's wheat industry, the fourth-largest in the U.S. As the regional Noxious Weed Control Board explains, the wild grass, which is a cousin of domeesticated wheat, corn, hybridze with winter wheat, reducing yields.   But jointed goatgrass is resistant to stripe rust, a bacterial infection that's the scourge of grain growers.  In 2012, the fungus accounted for $500 million in crop loses for U.S. wheat farmers.   Click Here to read more.

Scramble begins in Illinois attorney general race

The race to become Illinois’ next chief legal officer is off to a furious start after Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s sudden announcement that she wouldn’t seek a fifth term.   A Republican former Miss America’s campaign has been reinvigorated. Two Democratic state lawmakers have stepped forward. And so many others are contemplating runs that news outlets are posting online trackers of who’s in and out. The mad dash for the only open race for statewide office next year means there could be a crowded primary ballot, at least on the Democratic ...

SDSU will lead multi-states look at whether herbicides injure trees

South Dakota State University can proceed in a lead role with the state Department of Agriculture investigating whether herbicides are injuring trees, the state Board of Regents decided Wednesday.   The agreement ends May 31, 2020. Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Missouri and Nebraska also will collect leaves. Fifty to 200 samples will be taken in each of the six states.   SDSU will lead the work with John Ball as principal investigator. The state department will provide $38,490 to SDSU. The university will cover the remaining $9,199.   The matter was part of the regents' consent agenda so there wasn't discussion.   The narrative for ...

Sec. Perdue Won’t Leak Possible Tariff Relief Plan

Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue wrote an op-ed piece for USA Today Monday focusing on trade tensions and telling farmers he’s working on tools to help ease the burden.   “The president has instructed me to craft a strategy to support our farmers in the face of retaliatory tariffs,” he wrote.   He said U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has tools at its disposal to support farmers faced with tariff and downturns in the commodities markets.   “To this point, we have not unveiled our strategy, as it is not practice to open our ...

Sec. Vilsack Wants National Debate on Climate Change, GMOs

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack won't say if he wants to be considered as a vice presidential candidate but has some clear ideas about what he thinks presidential candidates ought to be talking about. Vilsack, in a wide-ranging discussion with the Free Press, said he is hoping that presidential candidates talk about climate change and the controversies about genetically modified food during presidential debates and campaigns. Vilsack, 64, argues that politicians and interest groups from both right-wing and left-wing are taking political positions that are dangerous for the country. He also said his mission is to prompt presidential ...

Secretary of State's Office resumes mailing license plate renewal reminders

Secretary of State Jesse White announced Monday that his office has resumed using U.S. mail to remind Illinois drivers to renew their license plates.   White's office stopping sending the reminders in October amid the state budget impasse. The move led to thousands of motorists forgetting to renew their plates, which resulted in $20 fines for drivers who were caught. Through the first four months of 2016, the state collected $6.5 million in late fines, more than double what the state collected in the first four months of last year.   The stopgap budget approved earlier this summer allowed White's ...

Section 199A Fix in House Omnibus Bill

A Section 199A fix will be included in a version of a spending bill currently being drafted in the U.S. House of Representatives, a source familiar with the negotiations told DTN.   Back in February, 85 House members asked leadership to include a fix on the upcoming omnibus bill. A source who spoke to DTN on background, said the final bill is expected to include the 199A fix.   This week, a coalition of House Republicans pushed House leadership to include the 199A fix in the omnibus. That resulted in about 20 House members pressing leadership to make sure the fix ...

Seed decisions shouldn't be altered by pollinator executive order, Minnesota Ag Commissioner says(AUDIO)

Minnesota's top ag official is encouraging producers to carry on with their purchasing decisions as planned as the state works through a new executive order on pollinator health.   Click Here to read more.  

Seed Giants See Fresh Start in Gene Editing

The agriculture industry is betting that new technology for editing the genes of plants will yield enhanced crops—and potentially reset a long-running debate over genetically engineered seeds.   Seed developers including Monsanto Co. and DowDuPont Inc. have invested in gene-editing technology, which enables scientists to make precise changes to plants’ existing DNA.   Click Here to read more.

Seed Industry Introduces New Palmer Amaranth Test

Weed seed can be spread in a variety of ways-including by air, animals, rain, soil and mechanical means. In a recent survey, the Weed Science Society of America (WSSA) identified palmer amaranth (PA) as a very problematic weed in many parts of the country. To prevent PA from entering the professional seed supply, the native seed industry has been working closely with the scientific community on the development and validation of a rapid DNA test to identify PA.   “This new test will provide companies and their customers with an additional tool to ensure purity,” said ASTA President &...

Seeking Answers to Vexing Fertilizer, Water-Quality Quandary

 Science-based research to find the balance between responsible nutrient management, water quality and feeding a growing population continues this year through industry-funded support. The Nutrient Research and Education Council, now in its third year, will allocate more than $2.4 million to 20 projects in 2015 that have a high probability of identifying systems that will reduce nutrient loss and maintain water quality. The first and multi-year projects include those that will measure the impact of nitrogen management systems on nutrient loss from tiled and non-tiled fields, the efficacy of specialty buffer plantings and bioreactors and wetlands that may offer additional benefits. Click ...

Sen. Fischer introduces bill to protect farmers from harmful fertilizer standards

Bipartisan legislation recently introduced by U.S. Sen. Deb Fischer (R-NE) would rollback federal standards that could add production costs and bring uncertainty to farmers.   The Fertilizer Access and Responsible Management (FARM) Act, introduced by Fischer and U.S. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), would prevent federal standards handed down by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to regulate anhydrous ammonia, a fertilizer input.   “Farmers in Nebraska rely on fertilizer so they can provide safe food to the world,” Fischer said. “OSHA has circumvented Congress and public input by introducing new rules that will make ...

Sen. Johnson Wants EPA to Explain Why They Want Atrazine Banned

 U.S. Senator Ron Johnson is stepping into the controversial argument over the Environmental Protection Agency's efforts to ban atrazine in farming practices. The Oshkosh Republican, who's in a tough race for re-election this fall, wrote EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy about her agency's recent draft risk assessment that recommended increasing the restrictions on the commonly used herbicide.   "In its most risk recent assessment, the EPA reportedly recommended significantly reducing atrazine levels compared to what is currently deemed as acceptable," Johnson wrote in the letter. "The EPA must conduct transparent and objective scientific studies when reviewing ...

Senate adopts leadership term limits

You might call it a sign that Illinois Senate leaders from both parties are serious about an effort to finally reach a deal on the state budget.   You also might call it a shot, if an unspoken one, across the bow of House Speaker Mike Madigan.   Whatever you call it, the Senate sure raised some eyebrows late yesterday when it voted 58-0 to limit its leaders to a maximum of 10 years in those slots.   Senate President John Cullerton didn't specifically address why he and GOP Leader Christine Radogno pushed the resolution. But such limits have drawn ...

Senate Ag committee poised to push PRIA bill

The Senate Agriculture Committee plans to move a bill reauthorizing the Pesticide Registration Improvement Act “in a matter of weeks,” committee chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., said following a hearing on PRIA legislation today.   Roberts added that was his “hope,” saying he “can’t be more definitive. We have an outrage of the week around here.”   The committee heard from a variety of interested parties about the benefits of PRIA, which establishes fees for registration and re-registration of pesticides, food tolerances, and dozens of other actions authorized by the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, ...

Senate Bill Would Raise State Gas Tax by 19 per Gallon to Fund Road and Bridge Repairs

A bill introduced this week in the State Senate would double the Illinois gas tax, from 19 cents to 38 cents per gallon, and hike vehicle registration fees to pay for repairs to roads, bridges and transit systems. Senate Bill 103, proposed on Wednesday by Sen. Martin Sandoval, D-Chicago, could create almost $2 billion in additional revenue annually. The bill also proposes increasing driver’s license fees.   Illinois has not raised the gas tax since 1990, and the buying power of the tax has been eroded both by inflation and the increasing fuel efficiency of cars and trucks. There also has not ...

Senate Clears Tax Extenders Bill with Higher Section 179 Levels

2014 Section 179 depreciation restored to 2013 levels as year-end nears; bill now heads to President desk.   The Senate Tuesday evening by 76-16 vote approved a tax extenders package restoring a range of tax incentives for 2014   A similar measure was approved by the House on Dec. 4, and the bill now heads to the President desk, where approval is likely.   Click Here to read more.  

Senate Committee Approves Bill to Revise Pesticide Permitting

The Senate Environment & Public Works Committee last week approved a bill to clarify the Clean Water Act and the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act to ensure that crop protectants compliant with FIFRA do not require permits under the Clean Water Act.   The bill, the Sensible Environmental Protection Act, was introduced by Sens. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, and Claire McCaskill, D-Mo. Companion legislation in the House, H.R. 897, was passed out of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.   Click Here to read more.  

Senate confirms Wheeler as Trump’s permanent EPA chief

The Senate confirmed Andrew Wheeler as EPA’s fifteenth administrator Thursday, cementing the authority of one of President Donald Trump’s most effective and prolific de-regulators.   He was confirmed by a vote of 52-47. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Me.) was the only Republican to vote against him; no Democrats voted for him. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) did not vote.   Wheeler, a former lobbyist, was thrust into EPA’s top spot by the July resignation of Scott Pruitt, who was forced out of the agency by ethics scandals ranging from major travel and security expenses and his ...

Senate Dems approve $5.4B tax increase; budget fight continues

Opting to stop waiting for Republican support, Illinois Senate Democrats Tuesday moved ahead with a tax-hike-and-spending plan aimed at finally trying to end a stalemate that has left the state without a permanent budget for nearly two years.   The Democrats’ plan calls for about $5.4 billion in higher taxes, including raising the personal income tax rate from the current 3.75 percent to 4.95 percent. The package also includes extending the state sales tax to a number of services not now taxed, although the final list was reduced from previous versions of the bill.   The upper chamber also approved a $37.3 billion ...

Senate Dems pushing for new GMO Labeling Bill

Senate Democrats are pushing the Agriculture Department to create a labeling standard for products made with genetically modified organisms (GMO) that is consumer-friendly.   Congress passed a law in July ordering the agency to create a national labeling standard within two years.   The law allows food producers to use QR codes that can be scanned with smartphone. In a letter Tuesday led by Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), nine Democrats and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) asked Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to consider the obstacles Americans could face in gaining that information electronically.   Click Here to read more.

Senate farm bill vote sets up clash with House and Trump

The Senate is planning to vote on a farm bill that sets up a clash over food stamp reform with President Trump and House Republicans.   Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he’ll hold a vote this week on the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, a five-year authorization of farm programs and policy, as well as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) otherwise known as food stamps.   The Senate bill would also decriminalize the production of hemp — a cannabis plant that includes only a fraction the chemical THC found in marijuana.   While the House and Senate ...

Senate lawmakers nearing a deal on GMO labeling

Senate lawmakers struggling to reach a deal on how to label food containing genetically modified ingredients said Thursday they are making progress, but acknowledged time is running out before Vermont's first-in-the-nation labeling law takes effect next month.   Congress has only six working days before July 1, when Vermont begins requiring that all foods containing genetically modified products be labeled. Any bill approved by the Senate would have to clear the House, which is in recess the last week of June.   “We are still negotiating, and I think we’re getting much closer,” Senate Agriculture Committee ...

Senate overrides Rauner’s veto of school-funding bill

On a mostly party line vote, the Illinois Senate Sunday rejected changes made by Gov. Bruce Rauner to a school funding reform bill.   Only one Republican, Sen. Sam McCann of Plainview, joined with 37 Democrats in voting to override Rauner’s amendatory veto of Senate Bill 1. The vote was 38-19.   The bill now heads to the House, where it faces an uncertain future. It will take at least four Republican votes in that chamber, along with all 67 Democrats, to override Rauner’s amendatory veto.   If the House fails to override the veto, the bill will die ...

Senate oversight hearing examines atrazine, anhydrous regulations

Federal regulation of the broadleaf herbicide atrazine and safety compliance requirements for retailers of anhydrous fertilizer were among the topics discussed Aug. 17 at a Senate oversight hearing held by Sens. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and Joni Ernst of Iowa.   Jim Zimmerman, a board member of the National Corn Growers Association who farms near Rosendale, Wis., testified the EPA’s call for a reduction in the allowable environmental concentration of atrazine in its standard 15-year reevaluation of the herbicide would be “practically unachievable” and would represent a “de-facto ban” on the use of atrazine.   &...

Senate panel OKs EPA bill to block WOTUS rule, species listings

The Senate Appropriations Committee advanced a fiscal 2017 spending bill that would block the Obama administration's “Waters of the United States” rule, curb work on greenhouse gas regulations and bar some endangered species protections.    The WOTUS provision, which mirrors riders in two House spending bills, seeks to block the Obama administration from enforcing the rule in case court stays are lifted.    A senior Democrat on the committee, Minority Whip Richard Durbin of Illinois, warned that Democrats would probably block the Interior-Environment bill from moving on the Senate floor. Republicans control 54 seats in the Senate, ...

Senate President Cullerton: Be ready for 'grand bargain' vote during week of Feb. 7

Illinois senators left Springfield Thursday without voting on their grand bargain to end the state's budget stalemate.   However, Senate leaders insisted that it was not a sign that efforts to reach a compromise are failing.   "There's been a lot of anticipation this week about voting on a so-called grand bargain," said Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno of Lemont. "Unfortunately, I don't think we're to the point of being able to take a vote. That is by no means a statement that we are backing off of this effort."   Instead, Radogno said, the dozen ...

Senate unanimously approves pesticide registration bill

The Senate last Thursday unanimously passed H.R. 1029, the Pesticide Registration Enhancement Act, which would reauthorize the Pesticide Registration Improvement Act (PRIA) that gives the Environmental Protection Agency the authority to collect fees to maintain the registration of pesticides.   According to a summary of the bill from the National Sorghum Producers, the bill includes an amendment from Sen. Tom Udall (D., N.M.) that preserves the Worker Protection Standard (WPS), which has been criticized by the agricultural community. Further, a provision under the standard allows workers to designate a representative on their behalf to obtain pesticide and application information. ...

Senator Sam McCann Launches Independent Campaign For Governor

Republican Sam McCann of Plainview announced Thursday that he will challenge incumbent Gov. Bruce Rauner and Democratic hopeful J.B. Pritzker. His running mate is Riverton resident Aaron Merreighn.   The 48-year-old McCann was elected to the state Senate in 2010. He says Rauner has "abandoned" core GOP values, especially with Rauner recently signing laws to expand public funding for abortions and limit law enforcement interactions with immigrants.   Click Here to read more.

Senator to Perez: OSHA is ignoring congressional intent on process safety

Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez faced sharp scrutiny during a recent Senate subcommittee hearing over accusations that OSHA ignored “congressional intent” regarding the agency’s enforcement policy for retail establishments under the Process Safety Management Standard.   Last July, OSHA issued a memorandum revising an interpretation that had previously exempted retail facilities from certain PSM requirements. OSHA said the revised interpretation was a correction to the exemption, which was intended for establishments such as gas stations that sell small quantities of hazardous chemicals – including anhydrous ammonia – but had been applied to establishments that handle thousands ...

Senior Democrat: Stalled Farm Bill Could Move Fast After House Win

Congress may swiftly resolve a drawn-out impasse on the U.S. Farm Bill now that Democrats are poised to retake control of the legislative body, the top Democrat on the House Agriculture Committee said on Wednesday and reported by Humeyra Pamuk on Reuters.com. Collin Peterson, ranking member and presumptive new chair of committee, said passing the crucial agricultural legislation was going to be his top priority, with a deal possible as soon as next week during the lame-duck session. “That’s going to be the number one goal,” he told reporters on a conference call. “...

Sexual harassment, taxes, Rauner vs. Madigan key in legislative races

One out of every five Illinois legislators taking the oath of office next winter will be new to the General Assembly. Thirty lawmakers, many worn down by years of skirmishing between Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan over state finances — and just about everything else — have retired or will not stand for re-election in November.   Add to that the #MeToo anti-sexual harassment movement, which swept up a Democratic state senator and in recent weeks even singed Madigan; the moderate stances on abortion and immigration that Rauner the fiscal conservative has taken; and the ...

Should Illinois hike its gas tax?

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel today pushed for a hike in the state’s gas tax, calling for a 20- to 30-cent-a-gallon increase to fund a major statewide transportation bill and fix the state's infrastructure, the Chicago Tribune and ABC-7 Chicago report.    Illinois already adds 19 cents a gallon to the pump price to underwrite roadwork, a fee that hasn't changed in 28 years, according to the Better Government Association.    At a news conference at City Hall, Emanuel was joined by members of the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus, an organization that represents the Chicago region's 275 cities, ...

Sign Up Today for IFCA's 4R Field on October 23, in Auburn, Illinois

On Tuesday, October 23 IFCA is hosting a 4R Field Day in Auburn, Illinois.  The agenda includes the latest nutrient research outcomes from the 2018 season, an update from the City of Springfield on the health of Lake Springfield and water quality, and an in-field demonstration of fall fertility and tillage recommendations.  There is no cost to attend the event thanks to the sponsors, who are listed on the agenda here.  To RSVP, please email jeanp@ifca.com or call our office at 309.827.2774.  The event runs from 8:30 to 2:00 pm with lunch included, and CEU credits in nutrient management ...

Sky's the (400-foot) limit as new drone rules take effect

A new era in agriculture opened on Monday as the Federal Aviation Administration new regulations for routine non-recreational use of small unmanned aircraft, or drones, went into effect.   Companies that want to employ the devices to help farmers check out crop conditions or hunt for missing livestock can do so without going through a ton of red tape. While the regulations require operators to be certified, there is no need for them to get commercial pilot's license as had been the case.    The FAA says the interest in using the using the unmanned aircraft systems is ...

Smart Farming to Boost Yields and Cut Fertilizer Pollution

Researchers at Lancaster University are using X rays to help farmers increase yields and cut water pollution following an unexpected discovery in a bean crop.   Plant and Soil Scientists hope to combine two new technologies to provide a rapid "same day" measurement of soil phosphorus availability, enabling farmers and growers to make more informed decisions about fertilizer application.   Click Here to read more.

Smart Farming to Boost Yields and Cut Fertilizer Pollution

Researchers at Lancaster University are using X rays to help farmers increase yields and cut water pollution following an unexpected discovery in a bean crop.   Plant and Soil Scientists hope to combine two new technologies to provide a rapid "same day" measurement of soil phosphorus availability, enabling farmers and growers to make more informed decisions about fertilizer application.   Click Here to read more.

Solar energy companies flocking to Metro East, Illinois

Spurred by record-low equipment costs and state-sponsored incentives, solar installation companies are flocking to Illinois. One of the fast-growing solar markets involves partnering with farmers willing to lease some of their acreage to cultivate solar energy rather than crops.   Dozens or sometimes hundreds of solar panels are lined up in fields, angled to maximize the absorption of the sun’s rays. The energy is transmitted to the nearest power substation and mixed in with the utility’s power supply. It’s become lucrative for both landowners and the solar companies that own and maintain the equipment. &...

Sonny Perdue gets friendly reception during Agriculture secretary hearing

Former Georgia governor George “Sonny” Perdue sought to assure farm-state senators on Thursday that he understands the importance of trade for farmers and supports many of the U.S. Department of Agriculture programs targeted in last week’s proposed 21% budget cut.   President Trump’s nominee to head the department, named just the day before the president took office, said he was not consulted on the proposed $4.7 billion cut over this year’s funding level that would eliminate water and wastewater loan programs, the department’s statistical capabilities and foreign food aid.   Asked ...

Sonny Perdue nomination as ag secretary clears one more hurdle

Hopes are growing that Sonny Perdue can win confirmation as agriculture secretary this week after a Democrat removed a hold on his nomination.   New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez was concerned about Perdue’s views on policy toward Cuba but was reassured after a personal call from the nominee Tuesday afternoon, said Senate Agriculture Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan.   “Bob just told me that he was releasing his hold. We may yet seek unanimous consent to move ahead with his nomination,” Roberts said.   Click Here to read more.

Sorry, Illinois, Your Taxes Aren't Going Down Anytime Soon

Illinois residents could enjoy lower taxes if their squabbling leaders tackle the debt-riddled state’s biggest problem -- its massively underfunded pension system. But that’s a big if.   Republican Governor Bruce Rauner, who’s running for re-election this year, says he could lower taxes by as much as $1 billion. First, lawmakers must address a crisis that’s vexed the state for years, and get a plan cleared by the courts soon.   “When I sign it, we’ll get that in front of our state judiciary,” Rauner told reporters in Chicago ...

Southern Illinois’ Costello resigns from Illinois House for DNR position

A state representative from southern Illinois has resigned from the legislature to become the director of law enforcement for the state Department of Natural Resources.   Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Tuesday announced that he appointed Jerry Costello II to the post. The Smithton Democrat has served in the Illinois House since 2011. Pritzker says his experience as a police officer and in Operation Desert Storm “brings much value to an important piece of state government.”   Costello graduated from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale before joining the Army and serving in Iraq. He returned home to become a ...

Soybean CEO named No. 2 at USDA

President Trump has nominated Steve Censky, the CEO of the American Soybean Association for the past 21 years, to be deputy secretary of agriculture.   The deputy secretary traditionally manages the department’s day-to-day operations.   “Our work has only just begun in delivering results for the people of American agriculture, and the experience and leadership skills of Stephen Censky will only enhance our efforts,” said Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue.  “He will bring enthusiasm and a dedication to this country, which will be great assets to USDA’s customers.  I am extremely pleased with ...

Speaker Madigan denies retaliating against Democratic lawmaker, calls for investigation

House Speaker Michael Madigan on Tuesday denied retaliating against state Rep. Kelly Cassidy for her vocal criticism of his handling of sexual harassment allegations within his political and governmental organizations.   Madigan has also asked state legislative inspector general Julie Porter to investigate Cassidy’s claims, saying “myself and my staff will cooperate with any investigation into this matter.”   On Monday, Cassidy said she felt pressure from allies of the powerful House Speaker that led her to resign her part-time position in the Cook County Sheriff’s Office.   She said Madigan Chief of Staff ...

Speaker Madigan Forms Committee to Review Rauner Budget

After outcry over the latest budget cuts imposed by Gov. Bruce Rauner, House Speaker Michael Madigan appointed a new budget oversight panel Friday to determine what the governor views as nonessential spending. Click Here to read more.  

Speaker Madigan lays out non-budget demands

House Speaker Michael Madigan Sunday outlined his own list of non-budget demands, including that Gov. Bruce Rauner sign a school funding reform bill that the governor has said he would veto.   House Republican Leader Jim Durkin accused Madigan of moving the goal posts with just days left in the state’s fiscal year, but he also said “we’ll manage it.”   The four legislative leaders met in Madigan’s office Sunday, the first time the four have met together in months. Rauner was not part of the meeting, although Durkin and Senate Republican ...

Speaker Madigan Rejects Gov. Rauner's Approach Linking Business Changes to Budget

House Speaker Michael Madigan returned to the Capitol on Memorial Day and delivered a message to Gov. Bruce Rauner: Democrats are going to pass a budget that's at least $3 billion short, will keep working to find more money but reject attempts to link the Republican governor's legislative agenda to a new spending plan. Those comments Monday set the stage for what Rauner has pledged will be a long summer in Springfield if he doesn't get the pro-business changes he wants that also would curb the power of labor unions. Holding a rare news conference to open the ...

Speaker Madigan still deciding whether to hit or pass on marijuana legalization

Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan may now be publicly vouching support for Democrat J.B. Pritzker for governor, but his opinion isn’t fully baked on a policy the billionaire entrepreneur heavily favors: legalizing marijuana.   Speaking to reporters on Monday after being re-elected to his sixth term as chairman of the state Democratic Party, Madigan noted he expects a “very strong effort” to get marijuana legalized in the Legislature.   “I’m not quite sure when,” Madigan said. “I just think that you’ll see a growth of support.”   ...

Speaker Madigan's Chief of Staff quits after harassment complaint

The chief of staff to powerful Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan abruptly resigned Wednesday after an employee accused him of lewd comments and of mishandling complaints of sexual harassment.   Sherri Garrett, a $42,000-a-year account technician for the House, told a news conference in Chicago that Timothy Mapes brushed aside her complaints of lawmakers’ harassment of her and other women on at least two occasions.   She said he made sexually laced comments to her at least twice and joked about sexual-harassment training and women’s protests against mistreatment. The incidents occurred between the spring of 2013 and just ...

Special state funds have money in them meant for specific purposes

The Illinois House last week approved a bill that would allocate $817 million to human-services programs and higher education. Proponents said the bill will not make the state’s financial problems worse since the cash is available to cover the spending for the rest of the fiscal year that ends June 30.   The reason the money is available is the complex (some would say convoluted) way state finances operate.   Q: So where is the money coming from?   A: Essentially, it is state income tax revenue. Specifically, it is coming from two funds set up in 2011 when the temporary ...

Spending bill chides OSHA on regs for fertilizer dealers

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration should go through a public rulemaking process before imposing new Process Safety Management (PSM) regulations on fertilizer dealers who handle anhydrous ammonia, a committee report accompanying a Senate appropriations bill says.   The fight over the requirements has been going on since OSHA issued guidance last July that revoked the so-called “retailer exemption” from the PSM standards. Ag retailers, who contend that implementing PSM requirements would cost them dearly, protested and then sued. A ruling from the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals is pending. Biodiesel sweeps away carbon pollution   Meanwhile, ...

Spot temperature inversions like a pro

How do spray droplets travel 3 or more miles off-target when there’s no wind? Two words: temperature inversion. That’s why Andrew Thostenson, North Dakota State University Extension specialist, says herbicide applicators need to recognize the signs and stop spraying when temperature inversions are present or setting up.   Thostenson explains that applications during an inversion will take longer to hit the target, and the dense air will move droplets laterally. “Inversions don’t create spray drift, but they certainly exacerbate it,” he says.   Click Here to read more.

Spring break ending, legislators go to pot, gambling, Pritzker’s budget

Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s budget proposal, including his call for legalizing recreational marijuana, will be among the top issues Illinois state lawmakers will face when they return to the Capitol on Tuesday, following their two-week spring break.   Pritzker, a Democrat who was elected to his first term in November, came into office in January facing a backlog of unpaid bills totaling roughly $8 billion, not counting late-payment interest; another $134 billion in unfunded pension liabilities; and a budget situation that he described as having a $3.5 billion “structural deficit.”   His short-term plan for climbing out of that ...

Springfield Session Ends, Setting Stage for Summer Showdown

State Lawmakers went home on Sunday, putting battles of the legislative session behind them.     But Gov. Bruce Rauner is preparing to wage war.   That is likely why Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan of Chicago, told his members they should be prepared to return Thursday and Senate President John Cullerton, of Chicago, gave his members a similar speech about returning later in June.   "The House will be in continous session this summer"  Madigan said on the House floor Sunday afternoon, warning representatives that they could not seek mileage reimbursement or per diem payments and were subject ...

St. Louis has new plan to keep freight moving

While this region may be the Gateway to the West, St. Louis Regional Freightway director Mary Lamie sees it as a global transportation hub.   “Essentially, what we’re doing is building a bridge to China,” she explained to St. Louis AgriBusiness Club members.   Her organization is blazing a more efficient and less expensive trail for commodities and goods coming and going through the St. Louis area, whether by plane, train, truck, barge or pipeline.   St. Louis already is recognized by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as the most efficient inland port district ...

State Agriculture Leaders Back Return of Tax Deduction

The National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) has recommended to Congress that the Section 179 tax deduction level in the Internal Revenue Service code remain consistent with 2010-2013 limit for small businesses.   "The amount of investment required to sustain agricultural operations is only increasing," said North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring, who introduced the policy amendment.  Farmers and ranchers need an expensing limit that allows them to deduct costs on expensive assets like equipment and machinery and allows them to more effectively run their businesses."   Click Here to read more.

State Forecasters See Modest Economic Growth Next Year, but Warning Signs Ahead

The state of Illinois can expect to see moderate economic growth in the upcoming fiscal year that will lead to higher tax receipts for the state. But there are warning signs on the national horizon that could signal an economic downturn in 2021.   That was the message Thursday from Marty Johnson, the acting chief economist at the Illinois Department of Revenue, who briefed House committee members on what they can expect to see in state revenues over the next 16 months.   “We just finished up a banner year for the national economy,” Johnson said. “In 2018, (economic) output ...

State guidelines for growing hemp approved in Illinois

Guidelines for growing hemp in Illinois, which were created by the state department of ag, have been approved.   Jeff cox with the department says the rules were approved without objection by the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules during a hearing on Tuesday and they will now be filed with the Secretary of State.   He says upon acceptance the rules will take effect and the department will begin accepting license applications, he hopes by the end of the month.   Click Here to read more.

State lawmakers begin budget talks as progressive tax debate continues

Legislators from both sides of the aisle are sitting down to begin hashing out details of the state budget with less than two months before the end of spring legislative session and the May 31 deadline to pass a budget with simple majorities.   House Majority Leader Greg Harris, D-Chicago, said Monday that Democrats and Republicans would work together.   “Going through every line of the budget together in a bipartisan way to decide what we spend and where we spend it,” Harris said. “So it’s a collaborative effort.”   House Minority Leader Jim Durkin, ...

State legislators lay out plans for recreational marijuana proposal

Marijuana “bars” would be prohibited, and teenagers caught driving under the influence of marijuana would lose their licenses, a Springfield audience was told Monday night by lawmakers crafting a bill to allow recreational use of cannabis in Illinois.   Hearing those details pleased state Sen. Andy Manar, D-Bunker Hill, whose town hall-style meeting on the issue attracted close to 100 people at Lincoln Library.   Manar said he hasn’t taken a stand on a potential bill but said he was glad to provide a forum in which citizens could ask questions about the concept of marijuana legalization ...

State Legislature passes harvest truck permit

Farmers’ ability to efficiently transport crops during harvest proved key to the General Assembly’s passage of HB 5749. Illinois Farm Bureau supported the bipartisan legislation sponsored by a Senate Republican and a House Democrat.   Sen. Dale Fowler, R-Harrisburg, and Rep. Natalie Phelps Finnie, D-Elizabethtown, sponsored the bill that would allow farmers to apply for a special permit from the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT). (Farmers would be required to also apply to local jurisdictions.) The legislation heads to Gov. Bruce Rauner.   “This will really help us to get the crop out when the weather is ...

State of Illinois Seeks Public Input on Strategy to Reduce Phosphorous and Nitrogen Pollution in Mississippi River Basin

Illinois EPA Director Lisa Bonnett and Illinois Department Agriculture Director Robert Flider last week announced that the public is invited to provide comments on a new statewide effort designed to improve water quality in Illinois and Gulf of Mexico.  The public comment period for the Illinois Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy is now open, and comments must be postmarked by midnight on January 24, 2015.   The Illinois Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy relies on the latest science and best available technologies to guide statewide efforts to reduce phosphorus and nitrogen losses that end up in Illinois waterways and the Gulf of Mexico.&...

State offering ag chemical recycling

The Illinois Department of Agriculture will offer recycling of empty agri-chemical containers in July and August.   High-density polyethylene, No. 2 plastic agri-chemical containers will be accepted if clean and dry. Metal and household pesticide containers will not be accepted. All caps, labels and other items must be removed before donation.   There is a permanent collection site in Greene County at CHS Inc. in Carrollton. There will also be several single-day collections in the region:   Click Here to read more.

State officials say Russian hackers stole 76K Illinois voters’ info in 2016, not 500K

State Board of Elections officials said Wednesday that federal officials investigating Russian hacking involving the 2016 election confirmed the state’s initial assessment that 76,000 voters had their personal data compromised — despite a figure of 500,000 voters contained in a recent indictment.   State election officials and representatives from the FBI and Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office talked last week. Their discussion followed Mueller’s July 13 indictment of 13 Russian operatives for alleged hacking.   The federal indictment alleged the website of an unnamed state board of elections had been infiltrated and hackers “stole information related to approximately 500,000 ...

State Regulators Ask EPA to Allow State Pesticide Restrictions to Continue

The nation's state pesticide regulators are fighting back after EPA's recent announcement that it is considering limiting states' ability to place additional restrictions on federal pesticides.   Rose Kachadoorian, president of the Association of American Pesticide Control Officials (AAPCO) and an Oregon pesticide regulator, and Leo Reed, an Indiana pesticide regulator, penned a letter urging EPA to leave this state right untouched. Barbara Glenn, CEO of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA), also sent a letter to EPA, asking the agency to consult with state regulators before making any decision.   "AAPCO takes this ...

State Regulators Brace for Another Year of Dicamba Injury

State pesticide regulators are responsible for overseeing a lot of chemicals, but some expect to police only one this year -- dicamba.   "So many resources are dedicated to dicamba that it has made my program a one-issue program," said Tim Creger, a pesticide regulator with the Nebraska Department of Agriculture. As his agency has spent the past two years investigating roughly 200 complaints of off-target dicamba injury, they have had to delay or abandon routine pesticide inspections, Creger told regulators, scientists and agrichemical companies gathered for the annual meeting of the Association of American Pesticide Control Officers in ...

State Restrictions on Federal Pesticide Labels Under Scrutiny

EPA's announcement of new dicamba regulations comes at a time when states' ability to restrict this kind of federal pesticide label may be under threat.   In the past, states have used section 24(c) of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), to pass more restrictive state regulations on federal pesticide labels. For example, the state of Tennessee used Section 24(c) to limit the use of three dicamba herbicides to 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. in the state in 2018 -- even though the federal dicamba label only limited use from sunrise to sunset.   That practice may no ...

State Senator Sam McCann Introduces Legislation For Election of Illinois Ag. Director

State Senator Sam McCann has filed legislation that would give citizens the opportunity to make the Illinois Director of Agriculture an elected position.   The legislation, officially titled Senate Joint Resolution 14, would put a question on the ballot for voters in Illinois to decide if they would like to make the decision on who Illinois’ Director of Agriculture would be in future elections.   Currently, the Department of Agriculture is overseen by a director who is appointed by the Governor. The only elected officials in Illinois are the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Treasurer,    Comptroller, Secretary of State and ...

State's bills continue to pile up; health providers may ask state workers to pay more

The stack of bills owed by the state to Springfield hospitals, doctors and dentists for the care of state workers and retirees totals at least $160 million and sets new records with each passing month.   “This is unprecedented, without an end in sight,” said Mark Kuhn, chief administrative officer of Springfield Clinic, which is owed $60 million.   The payment backlogs to health-care providers in Springfield and other parts of the state have grown significantly since the Democratic-controlled legislature and Republican governor failed to agree on a state budget for the fiscal year that ended June 30.   Springfield Clinic ...

State's revenues will fall short of budget needs

The Illinois legislature’s financial forecasters said Tuesday they expect the state to fall about $184 million short of the revenue needed to pay for this year’s state budget.   At the same time, the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability warned the state’s economy will likely see a slowdown in 2020 which could exacerbate the state’s financial problems.   “The consensus is to not have a recession in 2020, but the consensus is for a significant slowdown through the course of the forecast period,” said Jim Muschinske, COGFA’s revenue manager.   ...

Statehouse Insider: Being correct isn't always enough

Sen. DAVE KOEHLER, D-Peoria, sort of stepped in it the other day.   Appearing on a Peoria television public affairs program, Koehler said funding for K-12 schools should be held up until there is agreement on a full state budget.   "I'm a believer this year that if we're really serious about getting the budget done, we don't separate out and fund K-12 for a whole year and then have a mess with the rest of the budget," Koehler said. "I say shut the schools down until we get a budget."   Koehler's comments apparently caught ...

Statehouse Insider: Have we hit bottom yet?

Maybe the optimistic way of looking at last week in the Senate is that things have gotten so bad, the only way to go now is up.   It started with Senate President JOHN CULLERTON’s decision to vote on the “grand bargain” bills no matter what. Republicans said the vote was premature because negotiations were getting ever-closer to producing an agreement and more time was needed. Cullerton countered that it was the same refrain that’s been heard for months with no results and time is running out. The votes were taken and provided more ...

Statehouse Insider: The ball's in your court. No, it's in your court.

Who says nothing new is coming out of those meetings between Gov. BRUCE RAUNER and the four legislative leaders?   There was a whole new twist last week. A meeting that had been scheduled was rather abruptly canceled. But this time, it wasn't House Speaker MICHAEL MADIGAN backing out because of a scheduling conflict.   No, this time it was Rauner who pulled the plug. His reason? He wants a budget outline from Madigan and Senate President JOHN CULLERTON, and one wasn't coming, so he torpedoed the meeting. As you might imagine, the Republican leaders who are loathe ...

StateHouse Insider: This could start to get confusing

A group of Democrats last week outlined what they’re calling the Comeback Agenda, a series of bills and general principles they have as goals for making Illinois a better state.   Of course, this should not be confused with Gov. Bruce Rauner’s Turnaround Agenda that he says will make the state a better place. Needless to say, there is little-to-no overlap between the two agendas.   Sen. Don Harmon, D-Oak Park, said there is actually agreement between Democrats and Republicans on a lot of the problems facing the state. He said the disagreements are over how ...

States Ask Applicators About Dicamba

As the industry searches for the right solution for in-season dicamba some states are turning back to the users and applicators to find what they think is happening.   In Illinois 124 retailers responded to a lengthy survey from the Illinois Fertilizer & Chemical Association about this year’s dicamba applications.   Click Here to read more.

States Develop New Strategies to Reduce Nutrient Levels

The 12 states of the Hypoxia Task Force have devised new strategies to speed up reduction of nutrient levels in waterways in the Mississippi/Atchafalaya River Basin. High nutrients levels are a key contributor each summer to the large area of low oxygen in the Gulf of Mexico known as a dead zone. Each state has outlined specific actions it will take to reduce nitrogen and phosphorus in the Mississippi/Atchafalaya River Basin from wastewater plants, industries, agriculture, and stormwater runoff. The Task Force has decided to extend the target date for shrinking the dead zone from its current average size ...

States need more say in ESA implementation, wildlife agency heads tell EPW

States need to have a larger role in implementing the Endangered Species Act, three heads of state wildlife agencies told the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee at a hearing today.   “State fish and wildlife directors generally believe the ESA is not performing as it should and is not sufficiently leveraging state agency expertise and cooperation,” Nick Wiley, executive director of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and president of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, told the EPW committee.   He was joined by Larry Voyles, director of the Arizona Game and Fish Department ...

States to Pruitt: Don’t Reverse Course on Insect-Killer

Seven states want the EPA to ban most uses of the pesticide chlorpyrifos, challenging the agency’s decision not to further regulate the chemical.   Attorneys general for California, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Vermont, and Washington filed objections June 5 asking Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt to make a safety determination on the use of chlorpyrifos.   Pruitt on March 29 declined to further regulate the insect-killer, which is linked to neurodevelopmental effects, until Oct. 1, 2022. The move was a U-turn from the EPA’s work to revoke the legal tolerances for the pesticide on food under President Barack ...

States Untangle Dicamba Rules

So complex that the three new dicamba labels released by EPA last week are each around 40 pages long and accompanied by nearly 200 pages of documents detailing the herbicides' registration requirements and their potential impacts on the general population, farmers and endangered species. States are working overtime to interpret the new XtendiMax, Engenia and FeXapan labels and struggling to take the proper first steps to prepare for 2019. Indiana's pesticide regulators decided to drop all state-mandated dicamba training for its applicators in an effort to cut down on the state dollars and resources devoted to dicamba. Illinois agencies are knocking on ...

Statewide capital bill unlikely to come by construction season

The Illinois Department of Transportation was one among a variety of related local and state groups to talk about its funding needs for Illinois’ next major capital bill, which some lawmakers say they want by the end of the legislative session.   These discussions took place in a House subcommittee on capital needs Thursday morning, one of many gatherings held recently where all industries relying on sound infrastructure in the nation’s central transportation hub could explain their requests to lawmakers.   While the assortment of statistics proving it varied, every group at Thursday’s two-hour hearing ...

Still no state budget, but it’s there if you look

Lost in the disgust over another epic fail by Gov. Bruce Rauner and the Illinois General Assembly to pass a budget is that we now have a pretty good idea of what a budget deal will look like, should we ever get one.   The budget will include spending in the neighborhood of $37.3 billion, compared to $35.7 billion in fiscal 2015, the last time Illinois had a complete budget.   It will include an income tax hike that will probably increase the individual tax rate to just below the temporary 5 percent rate that was allowed to expire at the end of 2014.   ...

Strong U.S. Dollar to Challenge Global Fertilizer Demand

The relative strength for the U.S. economy - and thus the U.S. dollar verses other currencies around the world - presents a head wind for global demand for agricultural fertilizers, which are traded in U.S. dollars.   That will be one of the major market drivers in 2015, marketing things more challenging for buyers, said Neil Fleishman, senior industry analyst for Green Markets, which specializes in fertilizer market research.   Click Here to read more.

Study examines nutrient management in Illinois cropland.(AUDIO)

A study from an Illinois crop advisor shows nitrogen loss through drainage tile is happening at lower rates than initially thought.   Click Here to listen.

Study of Pesticides and Autism is Junk Science.

Last week, CropLife America announced it is dismayed by the alleged connection that researchers with the University of California, Davis have made between pesticide applications and neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism among children.   CropLife America condemns the repeated use of junk science that draws questionable asscioations from cherry-picked data.  CLA encourages the public to review all scientific literature with a crictical eye and consider criteria such as wheather the raw data or if the study underwent sufficiently rigorous and comprehensive peer-review process.   Click Here to read more.

Study says neonicotinoid ban not the answer

A study into the presence of neonicotinoids in Canadian waterways suggests a ban or restriction of neonicotinoid seed treatments is not necessary.   The Environmental Monitoring Working Group (EMWG) was set up to monitor the presence of imidacloprid, clothianidin and thiamethoxam in waterways after Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) 2016 decision to phase out imidacloprid in three to five years.   The PMRA cited acute and chronic risks to aquatic invertebrates as reasons for the ban, and its final decision on whether to ban imidacloprid is expected in December.   The PMRA is also reviewing and may ...

Study shows most farmers are in compliance with fertilizer recommendations in Western Lake Erie region

As farmers prepare for their 2018 crop, newly released research shows that a large majority of those whose fields drain into western Lake Erie are adhering to ag experts’ guidelines for fertilizer rates and application practices. The study concludes, however, that the recommendations themselves should be re-examined to better protect western Lake Erie from pollution resulting from agricultural runoff.   The findings are presented in a special issue of the Journal of Soil and Water Conservation published by the Soil and Water Conservation Society (SWCS).   “Our surveys found that up to 80% of farmers are following the most up-to-date ...

Stung by trade wars, U.S. farmers hope for quick progress on Farm Bill

U.S. soybean farmer Mike Schlosser does not expect President Donald Trump’s trade war with China, the single biggest headwind to his business, to end any time soon. But he is among many in farm country who expect at least some good news this year - in the form of a new Farm Bill. Congress comes back on Tuesday for the lame-duck session after Democrats in last week's mid-term elections gained control of the U.S. House of Representatives. Lawmakers have said passing the critical piece of agricultural legislation is their highest priority. That would provide some ...

Sullivan: IDOA to announce new dicamba restriction

Acting Agriculture Director John Sullivan said the Illinois Department of Agriculture (IDOA) will announce a state restriction on dicamba use, possibly by Feb. 28.   Speaking to the Illinois Farm Bureau Governmental Affairs Leadership Conference Tuesday, Sullivan stressed action is needed to reduce pesticide misuse complaints that reached about 550 in 2018.   IDOA is considering a cut-off date for dicamba applications, Sullivan told reporters, but declined to specify a date. “If you’re going to do something (with dicamba restrictions), it has to be done right away,” and the ag industry needs to be informed, the acting director said. &...

Supermajority Fissures May be on on Full Display this Session

On paper, the number of Democrats in Illinois' General Assembly looks formidable, holding "supermajorities" in both chambers that would allow them to override any veto by Gov. Bruce Rauner. When it comes time to vote, however, that strength is tempered by a number of independent-voting lawmakers, especially in the House, who have the ability to make life difficult for party leaders. The fissures, evident last spring during failed negotiations over extending an income tax increase, could prove problematic at times this year as tense budget negotiations play out between the new Republican governor and Democrats, led by House Speaker Michael ...

Supreme Court asked to stop EPA abuse of Clean Water Act powers

The American Farm Bureau Federation and a coalition of agricultural and builder groups Friday asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review a lower court ruling that allows the Environmental Protection Agency to micromanage local land use and development decisions under the guise of implementing the federal Clean Water Act. The lower court’s ruling, according to the petition, “opens the door for a dramatic expansion of federal power” and must be overturned.   The lawsuit arose in the context of EPA’s so-called “blueprint” for restoring the Chesapeake Bay, but Farm Bureau points ...

Supreme Court case is key to recouping damages from nitrate pollution

In its water quality lawsuit, Des Moines Water Works is fighting a longstanding precedent protecting drainage districts from lawsuits.   Arguments in front of the Iowa Supreme Court on Wednesday could determine whether Des Moines Water Works can win financial damages for nitrate pollution flowing into the Raccoon River.   A ruling in favor of the central Iowa utility could significantly alter a century of legal precedent. For decades, agricultural drainage districts created to turn swampy, wet ground into valuable Iowa farmland have been protected from most lawsuits.   Unlike cities or counties, these quasi-governmental entities are set up at ...

Supreme Court rejects case challenging EPA water regulation

The Supreme Court declined Monday to hear a case challenging an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rule that allows governments to transfer water between water bodies with few restrictions.   The decision leaves in place a ruling from the Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit, which last year upheld the 2008 rule.   The Clean Water Act usually prohibits dumping pollutants into waterways regulated by the federal government. But under the so-called Water Transfers Rule, cities and states can move water between lakes, rivers and other water bodies without getting a discharge permit.   Environmentalists and some Democratic states sued to ...

Supreme Court sends WOTUS rule to district courts

The Supreme Court of the United States ruled Jan. 22 that the proper jurisdiction for challenges to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Waters of the United States or Clean Water Rule is in federal district court, not the circuit court level.   Environmentalists consider the ruling an initial blow to the Trump administration, but the Obama era rule won’t go into effect because EPA intends to release a rewritten rule within a month, E&E News reported. Justices rebuffed arguments by the administration that a federal appeals court should instead hear the litigation.   In her unanimous ...

Surface Transportation Board Testimony Shows Little Hope for Timely Fix

The U.S. Transportation Board made history in North Dakota September 4, holding its first field hearing there, and packing in a crowd of testifiers and onlookers concerned about whether railroads can make the trains run on time.    STB Chairman Daniel R. Elliott II, a former transportation union lawyer, presided before a cramped meeting room and told the audience some problems in the railroad have gotten worse since an April 10, hearing in Washington abut fertilizer shipping.  He said he is looking for solutions to allow the shipping of the 2014 crop, even as the agricultural industry ships the 2013 crop. &...

Syngenta Seeds To Establish New Office In Illinois

Syngenta is in the process of establishing a global and North America seeds office in the western suburbs of Chicago. Approximately 50 business managers and employees will relocate from other U.S. locations, beginning in 2019.   “The U.S. Is the most important seeds market in the world, and we believe the addition of a Chicago office positions us well to support our long-term growth strategy,” says Jeff Rowe, Syngenta president of global seeds, North America and China. Rowe says the company is opening an office in Chicago for three reasons.   Click Here to read more.  

Tackling Water Quality Challenges. Farmers, Fertilizer Companies, Groups Working to Address Water Quality Issues

All stakeholders need to be involved and work together to tackle water quality challenges, speakers at a roundtable discussion here at the 2018 Fertilizer Outlook and Technology Conference said on Wednesday. While there are no easy solutions to water quality issues, the speakers said, there are several different ways to approach the daunting subject. The discussion focused on the Western Lake Erie Basin (WLEB) and the toxic algae blooms, which shut down the water source to the city of Toledo in the summer of 2014. Since that year, several groups in northwest Ohio have worked together to limit the factors that form ...

Take holistic approach to nutrient management

Organizations representing the fertilizer and drainage industry have teamed up to promote best management practices this fall.   The Illinois Fertilizer and Chemical Association and the Illinois Land Improvement Contractors Association urge farmers to take steps this fall to improve nutrient utilization and protect water quality by following recommended fertilizer application and drainage practices.   “Nitrogen moves with water and, in some cases, phosphorous, as well. Installing drainage systems correctly and managing water that leaves your field can help reduce nutrient losses,” said Ryan Arch, executive director of the contractors group.   Click Here to read more.  

Talk to Neighbors, Avoid Drift

Farmers need to plan ahead and communicate to avoid damaging crops, especially when using dicamba herbicides. Before spraying know the area, communicate with neighbors and take advantage of online resources to ensure you’re taking appropriate precautions for downwind sensitive areas.   “If you damage your neighbor’s field, you can’t take it back, so it’s vital you understand the area where you are applying, identify the sensitive areas and sensitive crops and adhere to the downwind buffer as the label requires,” says Jean Payne, president of the Illinois Fertilizer and Chemical ...

Tax Hike Still Possible as Illinois Lawmakers Tackle Budget

Gov. Bruce Rauner's first shot at an Illinois budget didn't involve new taxes, but residents could still be asked to open their wallets in the future as part of an ultimate solution to the state's budget crisis. Top Democrats who control the Illinois Legislature say they'll continue to push for a tax increase to avoid some of the huge cuts Rauner proposed Wednesday. Though Rauner has opposed restoring the state's now-expired income tax hike, he and other Republicans are leaving the door open to new revenue in some form as they try to close a ...

Tax issue hangs over Illinois governor race

J.B. Pritzker was recently endorsed by Crain’s Chicago Business. Yes, you read that right. The state’s premiere business magazine endorsed a candidate whose biggest promise is to raise taxes on the publication’s well-off subscriber base.   Gov. Bruce Rauner has called Pritzker’s graduated income tax proposal “a green light to raise taxes on everyone.”   Pritzker has infamously dodged hundreds if not thousands of questions about what the graduated rates will be and where the cutoff will be between a middle-class tax cut and tax hike on the wealthy. &...

Tax reform dominates as Congress takes a Thanksgiving break

Congressional Republicans left Capitol Hill late last week excited about the prospects for sweeping legislation which would deliver tax cuts and tax reform, as with approval of a House tax bill, the focus has shifted to the Senate, and whether GOP leaders can muster the needed votes to approve a slightly different GOP tax measure after Thanksgiving.   “This bill gives Americans more take home pay by cutting taxes and preserving deductions for home mortgage interest and charitable contributions,” said Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) – while he’s on board, only a handful of GOP Senators are ...

Term Limits and Redistricting Measure won't Make it on November Ballot.

On Friday afternoon, Cook County Circuit Court Judge Mary Mikva ruled against the Committee for Legislative Reform and Term Limits, saying that both constitutional amendments were unconstitutional.  The first amendment would change the state redistricting process and the other would impose term limits on legislators.   Judge Mikva ruled that "any term limits initiative appears to be outside what is permissible" under the state constitution and previous court rulings.  She said term limits by themselves have been found not to affect "structural or procedural" change in the legislature.&