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Picture this: Biden on the farm

Slideshow: What’s it like when the president of the United States swings by your farm? Here’s a look behind the scenes with Jeff and Gena O’Connor, the Illinois farmers who hosted POTUS this week.

Holly Spangler, Prairie Farmer Senior Editor

May 13, 2022

28 Slides

How does the president of the United States wind up on your farm? Jeff O’Connor says it has a lot to do with farm organizations.

O’Connor, a Kankakee, Ill., farmer and member of the board of directors for the Illinois Soybean Association, says he’s long had questions about why his double-crop soybean acres in northern Illinois aren’t eligible for crop insurance the way acres in the southern two-thirds of the state are.

So when the White House reached out to ISA asking for Illinois farmers who double-crop, O’Connor’s name was on a short list of three farms throughout the state. The president ended up flying into Chicago O’Hare International Airport, so O’Connor’s farm was chosen as the site for a farm tour and an announcement on fertilizer incentives and double-crop insurance changes.

“This only came up late last Wednesday,” O’Connor says, adding it took the White House two days after that to commit. But he says they’ve had an inkling that someone could visit for a while now — which means they cleaned up the shop a month ago and kept it that way.

Click through this slideshow for a behind-the-scenes look at what happens when the president comes to your farm.

About the Author(s)

Holly Spangler

Prairie Farmer Senior Editor, Farm Progress

Holly Spangler has covered Illinois agriculture for more than two decades, bringing meaningful production agriculture experience to the magazine’s coverage. She currently serves as editor of Prairie Farmer magazine and Executive Editor for Farm Progress, managing editorial staff at six magazines throughout the eastern Corn Belt. She began her career with Prairie Farmer just before graduating from the University of Illinois in agricultural communications.

An award-winning writer and photographer, Holly is past president of the American Agricultural Editors Association. In 2015, she became only the 10th U.S. agricultural journalist to earn the Writer of Merit designation and is a five-time winner of the top writing award for editorial opinion in U.S. agriculture. She was named an AAEA Master Writer in 2005. In 2011, Holly was one of 10 recipients worldwide to receive the IFAJ-Alltech Young Leaders in Ag Journalism award. She currently serves on the Illinois Fairgrounds Foundation, the U of I Agricultural Communications Advisory committee, and is an advisory board member for the U of I College of ACES Research Station at Monmouth. Her work in agricultural media has been recognized by the Illinois Soybean Association, Illinois Corn, Illinois Council on Agricultural Education and MidAmerica Croplife Association.

Holly and her husband, John, farm in western Illinois where they raise corn, soybeans and beef cattle on 2,500 acres. Their operation includes 125 head of commercial cows in a cow/calf operation. The family farm includes John’s parents and their three children.

Holly frequently speaks to a variety of groups and organizations, sharing the heart, soul and science of agriculture. She and her husband are active in state and local farm organizations. They serve with their local 4-H and FFA programs, their school district, and are active in their church's youth and music ministries.

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