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Agriculture

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.

Charlie Schlenker / WGLT

U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth said Wednesday she will fight proposed Trump administration cuts to agriculture.

During comments to reporters at the Illinois Farm Bureau in Bloomington, the Illinois Democrat singled out crop insurance as something that needs to be preserved.

Ryan Denham / WGLT

President Donald Trump’s top agriculture official stopped in Central Illinois on Monday to talk with farmers about the next farm bill and other federal programs.

When Steph Davidson and Jennifer Swartout heard talk that the local food trend in Bloomington-Normal had maxed out, they decided to take action.

Several people at outdoor table eating a meal in Cuba.
Photo courtesy of Linda Stockton via Facebook

Former State Senator and Treasurer Dan Rutherford says his travel business to Cuba won’t be hurt by President Trump’s plans to reverse Obama-era easing of restrictions on travel and trade.  But,  Rutherford thinks the president’s policy is a mistake.

Prairerth Farm

A farmer and an extension agent agree there are a number of issues hurting small organic farmers in Illinois and one of them is that a growing number of people don't know how to cook. 

Laura Kennedy / WGLT

The McLean County Museum of History explores local agriculture history in their newest exhibition.

Ron Frazier / Flickr

The Agriculture sector is among many U.S. interest groups carefully watching and weighing the young Trump administration in Washington. Candidate Trump staked out ground on the North American Free Trade Agreement that could harm Ag producers.

Illinois Farm Bureau Vice President David Erickson Erickson farms  3,400 acres in Knox and Henry Counties near Altona.

Forest and Kim Star / Flickr

Many couples celebrated Valentine's Day with gifts of chocolate. But, the sweet has a sometimes bitter and complex history.

Illinois State University Anthropologist Katie Sampeck looks at the genesis of taste and how chocolate came to be.

A field of corn
Randy Wick / Flickr

Illinois Agriculture groups are starting to show concern about the Trump administration direction in trade policy.

During the campaign, Trump focused on manufacturing jobs. But, agriculture has been a big winner under NAFTA and other regional and global trade deals.

More than half of Illinois corn and soybeans go to Mexico and Canada. Illinois Farm Bureau Vice President David Erickson of Altona, Illinois said nervous Mexican firms are starting to look for suppliers in Brazil and Argentina.

Lance Cheung / U.S. Department of Agriculture

The chief lobbyist at the Illinois Farm Bureau still thinks the nation will see comprehensive immigration reform.

But, it may take several more years because the incoming Trump administration may not take on the entire question right away.

Andrew Malone / Flickr via Creative Commons

Uptown Normal hosts not-your-average harvest festival, Saturday and Sunday, August 27 & 28.  It's the Sweet Corn Blues Festival, featuring over 20 tons of fresh sweet corn and two days of live blues on the CEFCU stage.

Kelly's Bakery And Cafe Hosts Local Flavors Event

Jul 20, 2016
Woman cutting tomato
Colleen Reynolds / WGLT

The Local Flavors farm-to-table restaurant series continues tomorrow at Kelly’s Bakery and Café where the menu will feature roasted chicken salad on a pretzel roll, a roasted veggie pita, applesauce and sweet peach tea, all made with ingredients from Central Illinois farms.  Owner Kelly Mathy says farms who supply her use practices associated with organic farming but ingredients are not certified as organic.

Ron Frazier / Flickr

Several teenage detasslers were among 60 or so farm workers treated Tuesday after being exposed to a pesticide in a field near McLean.

Officials report the field was sprayed Monday night, and the workers were exposed as they went about their duties Tuesday morning. Many experienced skin irritation and were treated inside a tent next to a farm field.

After being scrubbed with soap and water, they were allowed to leave. None were apparently hospitalized.
 

Chef shows off stuffed tomatoes
Colleen Reynolds / WGLT

The local foods movement has come a long way in a short time with a bigger network of suppliers, making it easier for restaurants to source food within a 100-mile radius.  Now in its ninth year, a local flavors farm-to-fork series kicks off this month at The Garlic Press,  an Uptown Normal restaurant that was on the forefront of keeping it local.

Creative Commons

How Americans view agriculture is not necessarily how the rest of the world sees farming practices. A British agriculture journalist recently stopped by the GLT studios during her trip across the U.S. as part of a fellowship studying U.S. farming practices and perceptions.

Workbench/Green Top Grocery

Bloomington-Normal's start-up food co-op Green Top Grocery has set a construction timeline.

Expect to see earth-moving equipment on the site at 921 E. Washington Street in Bloomington beginning in July. General Manager Michael Pennington says most of the work then will be installing underground utilities with the bulk of construction occurring late in the year.

Midwest To Be Used As Model For Conservation Efforts

Feb 12, 2016
Michael Hill / WGLT

Illinois, Iowa, and Kentucky will be the proving ground for land and water conservation across the United States. The efforts aim to reduce the amount of chemical runoff to keep the land fertile and increase water quality.

The Land Connection

A central Illinois farmer is this year's Sustainable Agriculture Award winner in Illinois. Harold Wilken farms more than 2,000 acres near Danforth in Iroquois County.

The Drones Are Coming

Dec 15, 2015
Bob Carroll / TV 10

The drones are coming, and so are the rules for the unmanned flying machines. Randy Aberle  of Flying Ag in Gibson city says he welcomes the new rules, for the most part. One rule that does bother him is a requirement anyone flying for hire must obtain a pilot's license. Aberle says that is standing in the way of farmers who want to use drones to get a better picture of conditions of the fields.

A third consecutive overall index drop in a monthly rural bankers survey suggests an economic slowdown is ahead for rural parts of 10 Western and Plains states. The Rural Mainstreet Index sank to 44.4 this month from 49.0 in September and 50.0 in August. The overall index is computed from various economic category scores, and survey organizers say any score below 50 suggests that factor will decline.

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