By RICHARD GUEBERT JR.
Illinois Farm Bureau President
Illinois farmers have wrapped up planting the #1 and # 2 crops Illinois is known for, soybean and corn. While farmers’ markets and u-pick operations pick up their production, corn and soybean farmers wait for timely rains to grow the crops.
For Illinois Farm Bureau (IFB), summer is an extremely busy time for farmers, university researchers and members of the community who engage one another through our many educational events.
Americans are more curious than ever about where and how their food is grown. They want to know whether the meat, fruits, vegetables and other food products are sustainably grown, and about farmers’ efforts to preserve and care for the land.
We are proud to work with those family farmers, and the fact that 96% of farms in Illinois are family owned.
That’s why IFB and its partners continue to invite our friends and neighbors to events, such as our upcoming summer Nutrient Stewardship Field Days. These state events, funded through IFB’s Nutrient Stewardship Grant Program, demonstrate ongoing research and agricultural conservation practices. They are opportunities for farmers to network with agribusinesses and university researchers, and for consumers to learn more about agriculture’s role in the environment.
As weather heats up, you might notice more insects buzzing around. Butterflies, honeybees and even wasps play an important role in our environment, pollinating the many fruits and vegetables farmers grow. June 19 marks the start of National Pollinator Week when we celebrate pollinators and find new ways to protect them.
This year, Cook County Farm Bureau (CFB) and IFB are partnering with Lincoln Park Zoo on June 23 for a fun-filled day of pollinator education. Zoo attendees will have the chance to interact and meet with Cook County farmers, master gardeners and other agricultural representatives while learning more about farmers’ efforts to protect pollinators.
In addition to putting a focus on sustainability and pollinators, IFB partners with many organizations to find solutions to address hunger and nutrition.
Illinois dairy farmers and Illinois Milk Producers Association recently donated 9,936 pounds of milk, including lactose-free, to two local food banks to help communities experiencing food insecurity. The donation is in partnership with Prairie Farms, Illinois Corn Growers Association and Illinois Soybean Association.
We know that more families are struggling with higher sticker prices at the grocery store. While farmers are price takers and not price makers, we can and should help our communities struggling during these challenging times.
Creative solutions such as the Farm to Food Bank Initiative seek to connect farmers, food banks, and our most vulnerable communities with fresh fruit, vegetables, cheese, milk, eggs and other food products while cutting food waste.
IFB partnered with Feeding Illinois, Illinois Farmers Market Association, Illinois Specialty Growers Association, University of Illinois Extension and the Prairie Research Institute’s Illinois Sustainable Technology Center on the Farm to Food Bank pilot program, which officially launched in 2021.
We are pleased to see that program has paved a path to trim food waste and build food bank inventories with fresh, healthy food directly from farmers, and a new bill establishing the official program within the Department of Human Services awaits Gov. JB Pritzker’s signature.
Summer is an exciting and busy time of year for many people, not just for farmers. I encourage and invite you all to join us during one of our many educational events and learn more about Illinois agriculture.
This story was distributed through a cooperative project between Illinois Farm Bureau and the Illinois Press Association. For more food and farming news, visit FarmWeekNow.com.