May 22, 2022

Johnson looks ahead to challenges, opportunities

PEORIA, Ill. — The Illinois Fertilizer and Chemical Association’s convention returned after a one-year hiatus due to the pandemic.

Kevin Johnson, IFCA president, looked back at the challenges of the past year and ahead toward 2022 during an interview with AgriNews.

The IFCA convention kicked off Jan. 18 with general sessions throughout the day and regulatory sessions in the afternoon, all for continuing education units. Training and general sessions for CEUs continued through Jan. 20. The 2021 convention was limited to a virtual business meeting.

Johnson: “We’ve have a good turnout for the conference. I know COVID is going to affect it a little bit, but turnout is good and we’ll keep moving forward and go from there.”

As with most trade groups in 2021, IFCA was able to shift from remote to in-person activities as the year progressed, including hosting the well-attended 40th Midwest Ag Industries Exposition in late August. How is the organization doing with all of the challenges with the pandemic?

Johnson: “COVID has been a challenge even though we’re somewhat back to normal. We’re finally began some in-person training. The organization is doing well. We have a good membership base. We haven’t had to dig into the reserves or anything like that. We kind of went barebones for a little bit, but everything has been going well. It’s nice to have the conference back again and seeing people.”

What are some issues IFCA is focusing on moving into 2022?

Johnson: “There are a lot of legislative issues in Springfield and Washington, D.C. The one in D.C. is the carbon markets. There are also the pesticide-related issues, dicamba, bans on glyphosate and other issues we’re going to have to work on this spring in Springfield.

“There are definitely challenges, but it’s great getting back and seeing people and also expanding on the nutrient loss reduction work that we have to do.

“There’s an opportunity with carbon markets. I think that will help us move the needle even more on the nutrient issues.

“Working on some of the budget issues in Illinois, I can’t always say this, but I think we’re in a decent position on the budget and where that moves with the Illinois Department of Agriculture, but also some research dollars that might come along the way.”

A new requirement that farmers undergo free anhydrous ammonia safety training begins in 2022. In addition, commercial and private applicators of dicamba must also under training as was the case last year. How are plans for the training this year progressing?

Johnson: “Dicamba training is still coming. The pesticide manufacturers are working on that. They’re still waiting on a few last details from U.S. EPA, but we will see that. There will be some in-person training, but I think the vast majority of that is going to be online training.

“If you are a private applicator putting on dicamba, you will have to go through dicamba training like they have in the past.

“Farmer ammonia training can be done online, but a lot of our ag retailers are doing personal training. If you’re a farmer who applies any ammonia or handles ammonia in the springtime, you need to be trained by April 1.

“If you don’t apply ammonia until the fall, you have more time, but if you’re applying anhydrous ammonia this coming spring, you need to go through training before April 1.”

The first in-person anhydrous ammonia certified grower training is Feb. 21 at the Asmark Agricenter in Bloomington. Eight others will be held throughout the state through March 14.

Details are online at www.ifca.com.

Tom Doran

Tom Doran

Field Editor