Farming | WGLT

Farming

Gracie Weinzierl
Ryan Denham / WGLT

2019 was a memorable year for central Illinois farmers—and not in a good way. Trade disputes cut into prices and drove up anxiety. A soggy planting season led to a late harvest. And just as farmers finally were able to get into this fields this fall, it snowed.

John and Bridget
Courtesy

Teacher Katie Buckley needed to show her students in LeRoy the many real-world applications of the STEM concepts they were learning about. That made agriculture a no-brainer.

Sonny Perdue speaks
Ryan Denham / WGLT

Illinois’ two senators are calling on the USDA to rework its massive trade aid program to fix what they see as inequities and a lack of transparency into how payments are doled out.

corn plans sprouting in a field
David Mercer / AP

An environmental sciences instructor at Illinois Wesleyan University is concerned that the Trump administration's rollback of regulations could be making our drinking water less safe.

Pennycress in a field
Maliheh Esfahanian

Illinois State University researchers are part of a team that’s creating a new crop that could help both the environment and farmers' bottom lines.

Industrial hemp growers are still working through some kinks to comply with state rules and have a successful growing season.

This is the second in a four-part series about how the USDA’s trade relief payments are playing out in Central Illinois. It was produced by WCBU and WGLT.

Wes Kingdon poses
Ryan Denham / WGLT

This is the first in a four-part series about how the USDA’s trade relief payments are playing out in Central Illinois. It was produced by WGLT and WCBU.

Breanna Grow / WGLT

Humans and dogs have a bond unlike any other in the animal kingdom. Fostering that special connection has been Tina Zimmerman’s life’s work, first as a veterinary technician, then as the owner of Manestream Training in LeRoy.

Chad Leman
Ryan Denham / WGLT

Want to know farmer Chad Leman’s top concern? It’s not the trade dispute with China.

Rich Guebert speaks
Illinois Farm Bureau / Facebook

An economist with the American Farm Bureau visiting Normal this week said the trade dispute with China has shown how “dangerous” overreliance on one customer can be.

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.

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. 

Doug looks at soybean leaf
Illinois Soybean Association / YouTube

All around Doug Schroeder's farm in Bellflower in southeastern McLean County, there are remnants of a more profitable time.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Carleigh Gray / WGLT

A Democratic candidate for governor and part-time farmer wants Illinois to ban the use of a controversial herbicide that’s damaged crops all over the Midwest.

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.

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

Cows eating
Center for Food Integrity

The public’s increased awareness of food safety has lead to perception problems for some Illinois farmers.