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Serving: IL

Quick Take: Beef awards, biodiesel support and more

Holly Spangler John Spangler feeding angus/simmental calves
NOMINATE: The Illinois Beef Association is looking for a few good cattle producers. Check out the categories and how to nominate below.
Illinois Beef honors cattlemen, soybean growers say no biodiesel cuts, IL Corn shares legislative goals, land values conference online, Agri-Women offer money.

Nominate a cattleman

Know an outstanding cattle producer? The Illinois Beef Association wants to hear from you by March 8. It’s now accepting nominations for its 2021 awards, including:

• Farm Family of the Year. To recognize a beef family in Illinois who has done an outstanding job in the production and promotion of beef, and exemplified leadership skills on the county and state level. Farm Family of the Year will be awarded at the IBA Summer Conference and presented at the Illinois State Fair.

• Seedstock Breeder of the Year. To recognize a beef producer in Illinois who exemplifies integrity, leadership and success in the production and promotion of the purebred cattle industry

• Commercial Producer of the Year. To recognize a beef producer in Illinois who exemplifies integrity, leadership and success in the production and promotion of the commercial cattle industry

• Environmental Steward of the Year. To recognize a beef producer in Illinois whose natural resource stewardship practices protect the environment and contribute to productivity and profitability

• Outstanding Junior of the Year: To recognize a member of the Illinois Junior Beef Association who exemplifies integrity, leadership and commitment to being active in Illinois’ beef cattle industry. Applicants must be between the ages of 8 and 22 as of Jan. 1, 2021.

Winners will be recognized at the IBA Summer Conference June 8-9 in East Peoria, Ill. Only current IBA members are eligible.

What about biodiesel?

Illinois soybean growers are concerned about a new state budget proposal from Gov. J.B. Pritzker that would eliminate the fuel sales tax exemption for biodiesel, which has existed since 2003. They say the policy has supported a homegrown Illinois product and made Illinois a national leader in using clean-burning fuels and improving air quality.

“Biodiesel adds value to my farm, my community, and my state,” says Doug Schroeder, Mahomet, Ill., a farmer and the chairman of the Illinois Soybean Growers. “Sustaining our use of B11 at a minimum, and moving to B20 and higher biodiesel blends helps in promoting an Illinois product, all while reducing our dependence on fossil fuels.”

ISG says its members support HB229, which continues the statewide use of B20 and higher blends, and they plan to continue discussion with Pritzker and cleaner fuel advocates to “reconcile the proposals in a way that enhances the use of biodiesel in Illinois for improved air quality outcomes.”

ISG says biodiesel is a direct alternative to petroleum-based diesel and is cleaner-burning, with up to 80% lower carbon emissions per gallon. In addition, Illinois uses 180 million gallons of biodiesel each year, returning an estimated value of $600 million to Illinois’ family farms annually.

Three legislative priorities for corn growers

IL Corn leaders have outlined three legislative priorities that the organization will push for in 2021. What do all three have in common? Each would make significant progress toward addressing climate change.

1. New lock and dam start on the Illinois or Mississippi rivers. IL Corn says barges have the smallest carbon footprint among freight transporters; moving an identical amount by rail generates 30% more carbon emissions, and trucks generate 1,000% more. Upgrading locks and dams to allow for even more efficient barge transportation will result in more industries choosing to ship products by barge and will lessen the amount of greenhouse gases produced. Already, Illinois farmers export nearly half their corn crop out of the state, making a river upgrade a big advantage for the state.

2. Low carbon, high octane fuel standard enacted. Using ethanol in vehicles helps reduce greenhouse gases, and IL Corn hopes to see legislation passed that encourages the transition to even higher ethanol blends. The organization supports the Next Generation Fuels Act or a similar bill.

3. Help elected officials know that Illinois farmers implement conservation. IL Corn wants everyone to know soils store two to three times as much carbon as the air in the atmosphere, that no-till practices help keep that carbon there, and that crops growing in the Midwest have more photosynthetic activity than anywhere on Earth. Coupled with the photosynthetic activity during the growing season, farmers have a unique opportunity to offset carbon increases that other industries do not.

A separate Illinois initiative has created a $5-per-acre crop insurance discount for planting cover crops, and farmer demand for the program outpaced the dollars allotted.

Illinois FSA offers beginning farmer webinar

Tune in from 1 to 3 p.m. this Friday (Feb. 26) for “The New and Beginning Farmer and Socially Disadvantaged Farmer Webinar.” USDA’s Farm Service Agency is sponsoring this event along with the Illinois Department of Agriculture, Illinois State Treasurer’s office, and Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton. Click here to register for the event.

Illinois Land Values Conference goes virtual

Another conference is headed to a virtual format, but that also means you can tune in from anywhere — like the 2021 Illinois Land Values Conference, sponsored by the Illinois Society for Professional Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers.

Scheduled for 9 a.m. to noon March 18, the conference is $70 for members and $80 for nonmembers.

Look for Steve Johnson, Iowa State University Extension, to share information on crop marketing; and Luke Worrell, Worrell Land Services, and Gary Schnitkey, University of Illinois, will present ISPFMRA’s annual Land Values Report. Everyone who’s registered will received a PDF of the report prior to the conference. Register online by March 16.

Scholarships for young women in agriculture

The Illinois Agri-Women and the Women Changing the Face of Agriculture program are offering four scholarships for the next school year.

• The $1,500 Illinois Agri-Women Agricultural Education Scholarship is for an ag education major who is finishing their degree in the next year. To fill out the application, click here.

• Three $1,000 WCFA Agent of Change Scholarships are offered to a high school senior, a current college student and a current graduate student. Look for that application here.

Says Callie McClay, a 2020 scholarship recipient, “Being a part of WCFA as a student and volunteer has allowed me to make connections I value tremendously. Along with receiving a scholarship, I am grateful to be a part of this industry surrounded by successful women who continue to support each other in all endeavors.

The deadline for application is March 31.

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