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DANVILLE, Ill – Master Gardener Mary Stonecipher will lead a holiday wreath class at 6 p.m. Dec. 3 at International Greenhouse Supply, 70 Eastgate, Danville. This is a great opportunity to learn how to make a live wreath. The $15 fee includes a variety of fresh greenery, a metal wreath ring, floral wire, ribbon for a bow and pine cones. Attendees can bring decorations to add their personal style.

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – The Hoosier Beef Congress will be Dec. 6-8 at the Indiana State Fairgrounds, 1202 E. 38th St., Indianapolis. The judging contest features six classes of beef cattle and includes four divisions: juniors, senior non reasons, senior reasons and jackpot (for college age contestants). This contest is sponsored jointly by Purdue Extension, the Purdue Block and Bridle Club, and the Indiana Beef Cattle Association.

FULTON, Ill. — At the end of October, it might have looked like combines, tractors and grain carts should have been fitted with skis. They weren’t, but there is one transportation tool that is gaining popularity with farmers during the 2019 harvest.

We’re a granola-eating family. When the tall jar in our pantry reads almost empty, it’s time to stir up and bake a new batch. It’s never a chore, because the fresh homemade taste of heart-healthy oats with nuts and dried fruit always satisfies, whether combined with yogurt and berries at breakfast, or sprinkled over a scoop of ice cream for an evening dessert.

Gardeners often ask, “When is the best time to cut back the dead tops of herbaceous perennials? Should we cut them in fall as the tops fade? Or, wait until spring, just before new growth begins?” The answers depend, in part, on the specific plant and whether disease or insect pests are a factor.

Farmers and ranchers are anxiously awaiting the news that the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement is on its way to Congress for a vote of ratification and that Congress will get it done quickly.

Several years ago, when Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Tom Friedman was asked to choose which rising Asian nation, China or India, he’d bet the farm on, Friedman didn’t hesitate to pick India.

About 85% of U.S. beef today comes from Beef Quality Assurance-certified farmers or ranchers. But do American consumers know that? Just as important, do they know what BQA is — and what it stands for?

As with any appliance that works with high heat, regular maintenance of both the appliance and chimney is necessary for proper operation and to make sure there are no potential fire hazards.

The process of molting laying hens is done in order to extend the productive life of your laying hen flock. Molting is a natural physiological process of all birds and it occurs throughout the life of your flock.

Even though it is getting cold outside and snow may soon be covering our gardens, we can still exercise our little ones’ (and own!) green thumbs. Bring the garden inside this winter with fun activities and experiments! Winter is the perfect time for kids to learn basic plant concepts.

STEVENS POINT, Wis. — The Black Hawk College Soil Judging Team won first place at the American Society of Agronomy 2019 Region 3 Collegiate Soils Contest in Stevens Point. BHC team members competed against students from Eastern Oklahoma State College and Vincennes University.

How often do you think or talk about your local watershed? For most, it is probably not a standard topic of conversation. The reality is, we all live, work and play in watersheds, and our actions can impact water quality locally and downstream.

ELIZABETH, Ill. — Join the Jo Daviess County Master Gardeners on Nov. 18 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. at the Jo Daviess County Extension office, 204 Vine St., Elizabeth, for a program on how to make herb bundles. The cost of this program is $10 per person. All of the materials needed will be provided.

URBANA, Ill. – Each year, the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine opens its doors to the public for an in-depth experience in the world of veterinary medicine. This free event, put on by roughly 400 veterinary students, is perfect for all ages.

DECATUR, Ill. — Horticulture has been a recurring theme in Maria Christian’s life. Christian has always had a love of vegetables and flowers, and this year celebrates her 30th anniversary as a Macon County Master Gardener.

SNAP-Education Educator Kaitlyn Streitmatter worked with Beverly Manor Junior High in Washington, Illinois, to research and apply ways to reduce school food waste and increase the amount of healthy foods students eat.

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OPINION  Representatives of a national coalition representing almost 10,000 U.S. farmers and ranchers held a press conference earlier this fall in Washington, D.C., to announce the delivery of a letter to Congress urging support for the Green New Deal. They called on lawmakers to make agriculture policy reform a priority for addressing the climate crisis and the economic crisis facing independent family farms.

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The second set of 2019 Market Facilitation Program payments is now scheduled to be released. U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said the payments will begin the week before Thanksgiving. Producers of Market Facilitation Program-eligible commodities will now be eligible to receive 25 percent of the total payment expected, in addition to the 50 percent they have already received. Registration at USDA-Farm Service Agency offices will be open through Dec. 6.

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Trade agreements, as critical as they are, do not in themselves create trade. Trade happens when people connect with people, a reality five Dairy Management Inc. board members – all dairy farmers – witnessed during an Oct. 20-25 governance mission to Mexico. It was organized by the U.S. Dairy Export Council.

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MADISON, Wis. – Brad Pfaff accepted a new position with the Wisconsin government a week after being fired by the Wisconsin Senate. He was formerly the Agriculture Secretary-designee of the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection.

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Craig Hill has seen it happen. He has seen the breakdown in the middle of harvest, the delay as he tries to figure out what happened, the frustration as he twiddles his thumbs as the wheels do not move in the field.

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WABASHA, Minn. – Starting on a conventional Illinois farm followed by 20 years in the food industry led Mike Hunter of southeastern Minnesota to return to the farm in a very different way. He now has an organic grass-fed-beef operation that supplies quarters of Shorthorn beef to upscale Metro restaurants.

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Crop residue serves an important role in physically protecting soil from erosion during rain events or high winds, as well as enhancing soil biological activity by providing sources of organic carbon and nitrogen for its energy needs.

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Even a fresh white coating of snow could not put much of a shine on the grain markets this week, as traders reacted to the Nov. 8 USDA World Ag Supply and Demand Estimate (WASDE) report and to continued export issues.

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SPRING GREEN, Wis. – The grassland Dick Cates manages at his family farm near Spring Green is vastly different from that of smallholders in Ethiopia. But some grassland-management concepts and tools are universal.

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After the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the White House announced the 2019 Market Facilitation program, we noted that direct government payments were set to soar in 2019. The USDA’s most recent estimate of $19.5 billion in total direct farm payments is more than $5.5 billion more than 2018. The USDA’s initial estimated 2019 direct payments were $2.5 billion less than 2018 levels. This week’s post is an updated look at direct-payment trends and farm-level implications.

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OPINION  Let there be no doubt – climate change is a real, immediate and growing threat to national security, public health and our economy. But this past week the Trump administration decided to turn our back on the rest of the world by starting the process of withdrawing the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement.