The Illinois Milk Producers Association is calling for nominations for the Dairy Industry Service Award and the Dairy Sustainability Award through Sept. 30.
The service award recognizes an Illinois individual who has shown exemplary service to the state’s dairy industry. Eligibility spans from the production side of the milk industry to research and promotion. In 2019, this award went to Gordon Ropp of McLean County.
The sustainability award recognizes an Illinois dairy farm or dairy farmer who has made outstanding contributions toward innovative technologies to improve environmental stewardship and economic viability. In 2019, this award went to Paul Meyer of Clinton County.
Anyone may submit nominations for these awards through illinoismilk.org. Membership in a dairy organization is not required. Both industry awards are offered annually, and winners will be recognized at the 2020 November IMPA board meeting.
STAR releases report highlights
The Saving Tomorrow’s Agriculture Resources program recently released a report on 2019. STAR is a free tool that gives a 1- to 5-star rating for the conservation practices used on a field.
“The STAR field form underwent substantial revisions in 2019, assigning more points to practices with higher nutrient and sediment reduction efficiencies than practices with lower or unknown efficiencies,” says Emily Bruner, chair of the STAR Science Advisory Committee and Midwest science director for American Farmland Trust
In 2019, over 200 farmers used the tool on more than 80,000 acres. Outside of Illinois, organizations in Iowa and Missouri plan to offer the tool as well.
The use of no-till and strip till by STAR farmers accounted for 3,374 truckloads of sediment kept out of Illinois waterways, over 15,000 pounds of phosphorus kept in the field, and the carbon dioxide equivalent of removing 6,730 passenger cars from the road for a full year.
The use of cover crops by STAR farmers accounted for 1,168 truckloads of sediment kept out of Illinois waterways, over 4,000 pounds of phosphorus kept in the field, over 73,000 pounds of nitrate-nitrogen kept in the field, and the carbon dioxide equivalent of removing 1,175 passenger cars from the road for a full year.
To read the full report and learn more about the practices supported by STAR, visit starfreetool.com. Farmers interested in enrolling their acres can fill out a 2020 field form there.
IFCA anhydrous ammonia classes go online
The Illinois Fertilizer and Chemical Association has canceled in-person fall anhydrous ammonia training.
To help prevent essential workers from being exposed to the coronavirus, the Competent Attendant Training for people working with anhydrous ammonia at retail and farm storage facilities will be online this fall. The training is optional for farmers who apply ammonia themselves.
Available on IFCA’s website starting Sept. 1, the program will meet the requirements for anyone who is seeking recertification and for new hires who need first-time certification. But because classroom training is the preferred method for the three-year certification, those who use the online program to become certified for the upcoming fall ammonia season will only receive a certificate that is good until Dec. 31, 2020.
IFCA and the Illinois Department of Agriculture will continue to assess the pandemic situation and hope to return to classroom events for the spring 2021 ammonia season. The cost per person for the training is $15. Questions can be directed to John Rebholz at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Compeer offers grants
Compeer Financial is now accepting grant applications for its new Emergency Response Equipment Grant Program. In this round of the grant program, priority will be given to departments with equipment needs related to COVID-19 response.
The fund has up to $450,000 available for grants to rural emergency-response departments in the 144-county Compeer territory. Applications for grants will be accepted through Aug. 31.
Each emergency response department will be eligible to receive up to $3,000, which can be used for emergency response equipment for rural volunteer fire, rescue or ambulance departments. Agencies that received grants in 2018 and 2019 will not be eligible to apply this year.
In addition to offering the emergency response grants, Compeer Financial is awarding a $300,000 gift to jump-start construction on a new multipurpose agricultural facility at Orr Research Center in Baylis, Ill. More funds for the $2 million facility will be raised from other sources. Construction of the 24,000-square-foot facility will begin in 2021.