July 23, 2024

A Year in the Life of a Farmer: Waiting for rain, working on policy

AgriNews will follow Matt Rush throughout the entire year. Each month, look for updates about the farmer and the decisions he makes on his farm.

FAIRFIELD, Ill. — Matt Rush was waiting for rain, watching his corn crop grow.

“It looks good. Obviously, we’re dry. But it’s held on remarkably well for the lack of rain we’ve had,” he said.

Rush was on his way to the headquarters of the Illinois Corn Growers Association with a busy agenda ahead of him. The agenda for the ICGA president included continuing work on the farm bill and more urgent work on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed emissions standards.

Those proposed standards, which deliberately ignore higher biofuel blends as a bridge to full adoption of electric vehicles, could be devastating to U.S. corn demand.

“We understand what the administration is trying to do and cleaning up the air is one of their priorities,” Rush said.

“We have the means to do that available right now. The infrastructure is in place and ethanol is a homegrown fuel. We are ready to prove our point right now.”

The EPA proposal, released in April, would tighten emissions standards on vehicles, ranging from light-duty and passenger vehicles to medium-duty vehicles.

The proposed emissions standards would require that 67% of new light-duty vehicle sales are electric vehicles by 2032.

According to a Call to Action to members from Illinois Corn Growers Association, the mandate would result in an estimated loss in corn demand of 1 billion bushels from now to 2032.

The Call to Action also voices concerns that rural America lacks the infrastructure for EV charging stations.

“We are not opposed to electric vehicles, but we just don’t feel like that infrastructure is in place to support that,” Rush said.

He said the nearest charging station to his farm is over 50 minutes away in Mount Vernon.

When it comes to the farm bill, the drought situation that many Illinois farmers, like Rush, have found themselves in is making the case for a continuing strong safety net, in the form of crop insurance.

“Peace of mind is the crop insurance. We just conveyed and will continue to convey to our members of Congress that crop insurance is the backbone of what we need to give our creditors, the guarantee that we will make right on our loans,” he said.

One of the bright spots in Rush’s area of southern Illinois was the recently harvested winter wheat crop.

“This was the best wheat crop we have ever harvested. I don’t know what that can be attributed to. The wheat never really went dormant. It was pretty much alive all winter long,” he said.

The May 23 Illinois Winter Wheat Tour, sponsored by the Illinois Wheat Association, projected a statewide average yield of 97.1 bushels per acre.

Following the wheat harvest, most farmers planted double-crop soybeans into their wheat ground.

“We were about a week later than we hoped with double-crop soybean planting, but we hadn’t had a lot of real warm days to mature the wheat. We’re fine. As long as the frost is later, the double-crop beans will be fine,” Rush said.

He said rains will be needed soon for that crop, as well as the corn.

“We planted the double-crop beans into dry dirt. There was definitely not an abundance of moisture to plant into,” he said.

Jeannine Otto

Jeannine Otto

Field Editor