Agriculture | WGLT

Agriculture

Drone hovers off the ground
Jeff Smudde / WGLT

At the edge of the McLean County fairgrounds, a sound like a swarm of bees filled the air.

Two men stand at a podium
John O'Connor / AP

The Illinois Department of Agriculture received nearly 400 applications to grow or process industrial hemp in the first 24 hours after they became available.

Agriculture officials said Wednesday they received 295 applications to grow the plant on 7,100 acres (2,873 hectares). Another 74 applications to process the harvested crop arrived.

A change in state law last summer allowed growing the crop in Illinois for the first time in decades. Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced on Tuesday that applications to grow this season are availabl

John Sullivan was chosen by Gov. J.B. Pritzker to head the Illinois Department of Agriculture, succeeding former director Raymond Poe. 

Durbin with farmers
Jeff Smudde / WGLT

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin visited Bloomington Friday to talk with McLean County farmers about the impacts of last year’s updated farm bill.

Despite a lot of uncertainty and a weak farm economy, 2018 was a good year for sales of farm equipment. Figures from the Association of Equipment Manufacturers show tractor sales in the US rose 7 per cent, and combine sales jumped 18 per cent, compared to the previous year. 

Staff / WGLT

Illinois State University is planning to expand the University Farm by 80 acres.

Combine with corn
Seth Perlman / AP

Nearly 1,000 acres of high-quality farmland are expected to turn into millions of dollars in donations to Illinois Wesleyan University and two other nonprofits during a highly anticipated auction Tuesday.

Combine with corn
ABBY WENDLE / Harvest Public media

The impact of climate change on Illinois is a lot more than switching from hot days to cold days.

Seth Perlman / AP

Congress was unable to pass a new farm bill before the 2014 version expired at midnight on Sunday.

Corn and soybean fields as far as the eye can see are the typical sights of summer throughout rural areas of Illinois. But next year, 'fields of green' will take on an entirely different meaning as farmers will soon be allowed to grow industrial hemp. 

Gov. Bruce Rauner has declared a “harvest emergency” across Illinois.

Gary Smith has worked at the grain elevator at Okaw Farmer’s Co-op in Lovington, Illinois, for forty years. On his desk sit two computer screens, where he tracks corn and soybean prices online at the Chicago Board of Trade.

As he explains, trade moves fast: “Just bam bam bam, and within a few seconds it could change a nickel or a dime against your favor.”

Organic product sales totaled around $50 billion and now account for more than five percent of total food sales in the United States, according to an industry survey. As the demand in Illinois grows, advocates are pushing for more support for organic farmers in the 2018 farm bill. 

JB Pritzker walks at a farm
Ryan Denham / WGLT

Gov. Bruce Rauner and his Democratic challenger J.B. Pritzker were minutes away from crossing paths Wednesday in Normal as they asked a tent full of farmers for their support.

Combine harvests corn in a field
Seth Perlman / AP

In many ways, the history of farming is about its future—how we went from hand tools and horses to self-driving tractors and $10,000-an-acre farmland.

McLean County 4-H Show
Eric Stock / WGLT

If you haven't been to the McLean County Fair's 4-H Show in a few years, you might be surprised.

Pile of soybeans at an elevator
Seth Perlman / AP

Agricultural economist Todd Hubbs had just finished telling a room full of farmers about how all the uncertainty surrounding global trade is affecting U.S. corn growers.

Severe weather ripped through Van Buren County on July 19 with two EF-1 tornadoes touching down near the county seat of Keosauqua. One of the twisters destroyed a piece of the county's history, but not before its image could be captured on canvas.

Ryan Denham / WGLT

In the studio to talk more about small farms producing food grown and generally consumed in central Illinois is Bill Davison. As the local food systems and small farms educator with the University of Illinois Extension, Davison works with hundreds of small organic farms in Illinois and the Midwest.

farm field
Nati Harnik / AP

As Congress gets set to debate a final version of a new farm bill this summer, one of the negotiators wants to ensure job training requirements are included.

President Donald Trump speaks
Evan Vucci / AP

The trade partnership struck between the Trump administration and the EU this week is a “big deal” for Illinois farmers, U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis said Thursday during a visit with the president near St. Louis.

Katie Funk shows off Funks Grove Heritage Fruits and Grains products at the sirup shop.
Ryan Denham / WGLT

On a recent morning Katie and Jonathan Funk and Katie's fiance, Jeff Hake, were showing off through their nine-acre organic farm. There are grapevines, corn stalks, a young orchard.

A field of corn
Randy Wick / Flickr

Farmers across the nation have expressed concern about economic hardship created by Trump tariffs and retaliation by other nations against U.S. agricultural products.

A combine harvesting a field of soybeans
United Soybean Board / Flickr

The Illinois Farm Bureau is calling for the Trump administration to go to the bargaining table with China over tariffs.

Seth Perlman / AP

The Republican-led House has narrowly passed a sweeping farm bill that would toughen work requirements for food stamp recipients.

Congressman Rodney Davis at a microphone.
Staff / WGLT

Editor's note: U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis made his comments Thursday afternoon. The House voted Friday morning against the Farm Bill. The vote was 198 to 213. All Democrats voted against the measure, and were joined by 30 conservative Republicans. The GOP lawmakers, members of the House Freedom Caucus, voted no after failing to get concessions on spending and a future vote on immigration in exchange for their support.

Erin Meyers / Illinois Stewardship Alliance

There is a lot more to Illinois farming than corn and soybeans. Every day, farmers are finding new ways to innovate their techniques.

A field of corn
Randy Wick / Flickr

Illinois is now in year four of fairly low farm income and no turnaround is in sight, according to Farm Bureau Chief Economist Mike Doherty.

Seth Perlman / AP

Gov. Bruce Rauner has declared a harvest emergency as a result of rain-related delays across the state.

Erik Wilcox uses simulator
Carleigh Gray / WGLT

An agricultural cooperative company in Bloomington has used technology to become a pioneer in the industry.

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