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In recent decades and with the support of programs like SARE, as well as the increase in organic crop and animal production, cover crops have begun to make a comeback. The most recent Census of Agriculture revealed that “cover crop acreage increased 50% nationally from 2012 to 2017.”

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One of the most significant issues of 2019 continues to loom large over the beef industry — action on trade. There’s the on-again, off-again haggling with certain foreign markets, the U.S.-Mexico-Canada agreement that still must pass congressional muster and the lack of a trade agreement with one of our lead export markets.

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Writers write and readers read and, always to this writer’s pleasant surprise, readers often write. Most letters and emails are either complimentary or inquisitive. More than a few, however, come nowhere near complimentary and some, in fact, are quite, ah, declarative.

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My husband and I raise Simmental cattle. We sell breeding stock to other farmers and beef to restaurants and individuals. We also raise laying hens and a variety of vegetables and herbs that we also sell to restaurants and individuals. 

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Delayed corn planting due to excessive spring rains is creating many challenges for farmers. The extended planting window, which has delayed growth and maturity well beyond where the corn crop would be in a more “typical” year, will likely increase the incidence of yield-inhibiting foliar diseases.

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One of my all-time favorite songs is a saddle song entitled “The Strawberry Roan” composed by Curley Fletcher, an American composer of cowboy songs and cowboy poetry.

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Most of us grew up hearing that family should always come first. In the day-to-day rush to get everything done, though, family can slip down on the priority list.

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A historic alteration, reshuffling or evolution is settling upon the cattle market. I have dubbed the metamorphosis as a sea change. One writer described the reworking of the cattle market as an “alternative meat arms race.”

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We all make choices. Some good and some not-so-good choices have made us who we are today.

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Take care of your land and animals, and they will take care of you. Farmers and ranchers live by these words, and we take our role as caretakers seriously. That’s why it pains the whole community to hear of any kind of mistreatment within the farm gate.

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When it comes to troubleshooting and problem solving, farmers generally get quite an education during the very first years of their farming career.

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U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue doesn’t need to hit the road this summer to find more than enough messy problems to keep him busy through harvest. There’s the Chinese trade mess, the NAFTA 2.0 trade mess, the European Union trade mess and the Japanese trade mess.

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For many of us, certain years are permanently imprinted in the brain: 1983, 1993, 1995. While rainfall in generally welcomed, there are those years when one wishes that it would just hold off long enough to get the crop in the ground.

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During the month of June, the corn crop is getting ready for key reproductive milestones that can have a significant impact on yield potential. With crop health at stake, it’s extremely important to know the growth stage of each cornfield before applying crop protection inputs or sidedressing nitrogen.

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In recent weeks I’ve received emails, texts and phone calls inquiring about my interest in sponsoring banners, trophies and offering cash donations for prize money for various competitions at county and state fairs and other events.

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During the month of June, the corn crop is getting ready for key reproductive milestones that can have a significant impact on yield potential. With crop health at stake, it’s extremely important to know the growth stage of each cornfield before applying crop protection inputs or sidedressing nitrogen.

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More than 140 Farm Bureau grassroots leaders from around the country are flying in to Washington, D.C., to advocate for agriculture. They will swarm Capitol Hill to push for passage of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada agreement, solutions to our shortage of agricultural labor and high-speed Internet access for more rural areas.

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In recent weeks, there has been a growing — and needed — discussion about the emotional health of farmers during this very challenging time in agriculture. Sadly, I pen this column today having just learned of a suicide death of a farmer in Minnesota.

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There’s an interesting paradox occurring in today’s commodity and financial markets. Maybe you’ve noticed it; market watchers certainly have.

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Most American farmers spent the last week of May and the first week of June either driving through mud or stuck in it. Their two farming partners, Mother Nature and Uncle Sam, were little help; one brought threats of more rain and mud, the other threats of more tariffs and bailouts.

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Records obtained under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act confirmed what we already have known about the market facilitation payments made to compensate farmers for the loss of soybean sales to China as the result of the current trade dispute: a large portion of the funds went to a very narrow slice of farming operations.

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Farm and ranch families know how to stretch every dollar, and we take that same care here at Farm Bureau with every dollar that comes our way. We want you all to get the best value from your membership.

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For those fortunate enough to have corn in the ground, it may be worthwhile to reevaluate your nitrogen management plans for the season. Assessment of weather and field conditions following N application can help determine if supplemental nitrogen may be necessary.

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There is a lot of talk these days about the dismal state of the rural economy. Low commodity prices, extreme weather and uncertainty in key foreign markets continue to plague agricultural producers across the country, including producers here in Illinois.

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The critics are calling the HBO series “Chernobyl” possibly the greatest television show ever. Consider the following critique posted on MarketWatch, a website normally devoted to the markets rather than movies: “‘Game of Thrones’ may have attracted a record number of viewers to its finale in April, but its HBO’s latest hit that’s getting all the critical love.”

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On June 11, our state capital will experience a three-day flood of blue corduroy jackets. Yes, the 91st annual Illinois FFA State Convention will be taking place, and members from all across Illinois will come to Springfield to celebrate a successful year in the blue jacket and share their love of the FFA to the city’s citizens.

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There is no doubt the 2019 planting season will be one for the history books. The May 28 U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Crop Progress Report showed only 35% of corn had been planted as of May 26.

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It’s been a rough year. Every day in my career as director of Brownfield Ag News, I talk to people who are negatively impacted by low commodity prices and rising production expenses. They are overwhelmed by regulations and weed and insect resistance.

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The month of May left as it arrived: riding in a rowboat from flooded farm field to flooded farm field across the Midwest. Worse, June is sloshing in with more rain, more mud and more worry.

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As farmers and ranchers, we talk a good deal about the importance of having a seat at the table, and for good reason — it’s critical to making our voices heard on the issues impacting our businesses and livelihoods.

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“I wear black for melanoma awareness.” I proudly wear a T-shirt with those words emblazoned across the front in honor of a dear friend of mine who died five years ago from this most serious type of skin cancers.

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You don’t have to travel far into America’s heartland to see how much we love this country. For many of us, that patriotism stretches back generations from sacrifices our fathers and grandfathers and great-grandfathers made to build a livelihood to the sense of pride and ownership in the rural communities we have continued to build and develop across this country.

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If I could handpick a scenario leading to higher commodity prices, it would be an economy with full employment amid robust job creation. Historically, there is a strong correlation between job growth and rising inflationary pressures.

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The negative impact of the Trump tariffs and trade war with China has weighed heavily on American farmers since March, 2018. But only over the past few weeks have the tariffs and trade war been a concern to Wall Street and the stock market.

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The United States on May 10 increased to 25% the tariff on $200 billion in U.S. imports from China. It didn’t take long for China to respond with higher tariffs on $60 billion of U.S. exports, including farm goods. China’s new retaliatory action will take effect June 1.

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No one I know has ever witnessed a train wreck as it happened. As such, when a friend or colleague says or writes that an event “was like watching a train wreck happen,” I’m pretty sure it wasn’t like watching a train wreck happen.

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Despite the early May hope that the United States and China would come to an agreement on trade that would end China’s retaliatory tariffs on agricultural imports from the United States, nothing is on tap as we write this column.

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On the farm, as in any business or organization, there are times when despite all our best planning, something just doesn’t go the way we thought or hoped.

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Just a few weeks ago, a good friend of mine in Georgia, a longtime dairy farmer, took his own life. I don’t really know what led him to such a dark and desperate place; it could have been several things that have happened in his life.

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It’s become customary this time of year for me to share some advice in this column with soon-to-be-newly-minted high school and college graduates. Sometimes, the simple and seemingly insignificant thought or action can have the most significant impact on one’s future.

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Though the 2018 mid-term elections are still in the rearview mirror, the 2020 presidential election campaign is in full swing. President Donald Trump is holding campaign-style rallies while more than 20 Democrats are vying for their party’s nod.

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Sanford Bishop and Sonny Perdue go way back. So far back that Bishop, now a 14-term, Democratic congressman from south Georgia, remembers when Perdue, now the secretary of agriculture under President Donald Trump, was a Democrat.

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Although tar spot has been observed to some degree in Illinois since 2015, 2018 was the year the disease made its mark, in terms of both incidence and severity. Some farmers in northern Illinois, especially, can attest to the damage the disease caused last season.

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Six years ago, due to robust job creation in the U.S. economy and based on the historical accuracy of the Phillips curve, I predicted that inflation would rise and commodity prices increase in value. But I was wrong.

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Do you remember the first time you had the wind knocked out of you? I fell out of a tree at my cousins’ house when I was a kid. I remember the “pack” of kids looking down on me and my sister running off to find an adult.

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