By RICHARD GUEBERT JR.
Illinois Farm Bureau President
This summer growing season has brought a whirlwind of challenges for Illinois farmers, from severe drought to a devastating derecho and flash flooding. When it comes to how farmers are faring under such conditions, my friend and colleague said it the best: “It depends on what cloud you’re under.”
Every farmer’s situation is different. How drought affects profitability and yield depends on numerous variables, including crop variety and location, making it difficult to generalize how farmers will end up after this rollercoaster ride of weather patterns.
In a single county one farmer’s field of corn or soybeans might look completely different from another’s 5 miles down the road.
Illinois closed July with some of the warmest temperatures so far this year with drought conditions spottily disrupted by pop-up thunderstorms across the state. While some areas were lucky enough to see rain, we’re not out of the woods yet. To quote the Illinois State Climatologist office, “drought is a complex physical and social phenomenon, usually with no clear beginning or end.”
At the end of the day, farmers want to produce a good crop. Drought and unpredictable weather are discouraging for farmers planning for a bountiful harvest, but we are still a long way from the bin. We are hopeful for good, timely rains in the coming weeks.
While we wait for the upcoming harvest, now is a good time to remind consumers to take full advantage of their local farmers markets. Illinois ranks second in the nation for the number of farmers markets, which offer fresh, locally produced vegetables, meat and other food products at affordable prices.
Sweet corn, a summertime favorite, is now available so be sure to grab a few ears to grill on your next farmers market visit.
It’s hard to believe the dog days of summer are nearly over. I am eagerly looking forward to another lively Illinois State Fair. Some of my favorite memories are the years I spent showing dairy cattle owned by family friends. Now as a spectator, I am energized watching the youth exhibitors take to the ring during the Master Showmanship competition, which Illinois Farm Bureau proudly sponsors.
Ag Day at the Illinois State Fair is an annual event celebrating all that Illinois agriculture has to offer. This year’s celebration will take place on Aug. 11 and is a great opportunity for Illinoisians to connect with agriculture at every level, whether it’s stopping by the commodity pavilion for a pork chop sandwich or grabbing a refreshing cup of frozen apple cider and other fresh produce from the Illinois Specialty Growers tent.
Amid the excitement of fair activities, however, Ag Day is also an opportunity for farm leaders to work collaboratively on agricultural issues. Such conversations are increasingly important as lawmakers hammer out the details of the next Farm Bill, which extends beyond the farm by protecting our nation’s food supply, access to nutrition and advancing conservation efforts.
Later this August hundreds of farmers and agribusinesses from across the globe will travel to Decatur for the 70th annual Farm Progress Show. This event will showcase the latest agricultural innovations and emerging technologies.
There is no better way to end a busy summer than celebrating Illinois agriculture, whether it is at the State Fair or Farm Progress Show. I encourage everyone to take a day or two to spend at the fair and learn more about how Illinois agriculture touches their everyday life.
This op-ed was distributed through a cooperative project between Illinois Farm Bureau and the Illinois Press Association. For more food and farming news, visit FarmWeekNow.com.