From the monthly archives:

July, 2014

Farm Bureau Supports Local 4-H Members During the Lake County Fair

This weekend, Cook CFB purchased a hog and lamb during the Lake County Fair 4-H Auction.  Pictured with Cook CFB President, Jim Gutzmer is Julia O'Brien.  Both the hog and lamb will be donated to the Greater Chicagoland Food Depository.

Downwind by Bob Rohrer, CAE, FBCM, Manager

“Sweat Equity” There is just something about the dog days of summer in Illinois that makes me feel connected to the farm. The temperatures are high and the humidity is higher. Exiting air-conditioning feels like a blast in the face. My body begins sweating at the thought of rolling out of bed in taking on the day… I am one of those people in which physical labor generates perspiration in buckets.  A very attractive trait, I’m sure.  Strangely, this makes me feel great. On the farm, physical labor is every day. Baling hay, walking beans, picking produce, cultivation, managing livestock, building fence, de-tasseling corn, repairs and maintenance, fixing equipment…opportunities to sweat are never in a drought situation.  Much of this labor could be labeled menial (In today’s society) and is certainly not glamorous. However, I still find it immensely satisfying to work to the point where my clothing is sopping wet from hat to socks. It really does ...

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Cultivating Master Farmers: Master Farmers see farm-to-city connections

Chicago’s Daley Plaza has been home to a farmers’ market for 35 years, marking it as the oldest in the city. Members of the 2015 Cultivating Master Farmers class experienced the weekly market last week, and got the inside story from farmer Carl Smits of Chicago Heights. Cultivating Master Farmers links young farmers with Prairie Farmer Master Farmers. Sponsors include 1st Farm Credit Services, Farm Credit Services of Illinois, GROWMARK, Illinois Farm Bureau, Monsanto and Prairie Farmer. Smits, who owns and operates Smits Farms, had no farming background when he started his operation in 1991. Yet, he has become highly successful. Smits noted transportation comprises one of his biggest challenges as a producer wanting to sell in the city. In order to get produce to the market location, Smits and other family members park several blocks away and haul their produce to the plaza on carts. This activity takes place before the sun rises to get ahead of city traffic.  Despite the challenges, S ...

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New IFB Brochure Answers Consumers' GMO Questions

Illinois Farm Bureau recently launched a new resource to answer consumers’ questions about biotechnology and GMOs (genetically modified organisms).

The brochure offers answers to common questions, including safety and uses. Two QR codes allow consumers to link to find additional information and hear interviews.

The brochure also provides four resources and their websites.

Entitled “On GMOs,” the brochure was developed by staff of the Governmental Affairs and Commodities Division and the Promotion and Graphic Arts Department. This week copies will be distributed at several Farm Bureau events, including the County Presidents Conference and the Commodities Conference.

Brochures are available both in hard copy and electronically. To view online, visit and go to the Resources section on the upper right side. Click on “Resources,” then “Consumer Education” and then “On GMOs.”

Big Hopes for Kalettes, a Kale, Brussels Sprouts Hybrid

Kale has gotten big.  And now it's getting small.  Kalettes, the first new vegetable to reach the U.S. market since broccolini joined produce departments in 1998, are set to debut this fall.  The compact clusters of frilly green leaves are a cross between Brussels sprouts and kale, a vegetable whose reputation has soared since scientists a decade ago sought its help in making a maligned brassica more appealing.  (George H.W. Bush famously classified Brussels sprouts avoidance as a valuable presidential perk.)  Brussels sprouts were slumping, recalls Lisa Friedrich, marketing specialist for British vegetable seed breeder Tozer Seeds.  She adds that the hybridization was initially designed to lessen the bitterness that bothers Brussels sprouts detractors. 

Action Request!

Illinois Farm Bureau has activated a call to action urging members to call the White House before 4 p.m. on Thursday, to urge President Barack Obama to “ditch the rule” defining “waters of the U.S.” “If the drains and ditches that cross between, among and within farm fields and pastures are regulated as ‘navigable waters,’ the implications for farmers and ranchers will be disastrous,” according to the action request. Calls to the White House, 202-456-1111, should be made between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. CST Tuesday through Thursday. Here is a suggested script of what to say: My name is ______________________ and I’m calling from __________ in the President’s home state of Illinois.   I am strongly opposed to the EPA’s new definition of waters of the United States.   EPA’s rule ignores the will of Congress and flies in the face of two U.S. Supreme Court decisions.   As a farmer who does NOT want the EPA looking over my s ...

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Food Truck Policy being considered by Farm Bureau Members

Chicago ordinance allows food trucks throughout the City.  Many of the food trucks are in the Loop and River North neighborhoods and feature a variety of food offerings, including sandwiches, tamales, donuts, ice cream, tacos, bar-b-que, pot pies, sliders, and fried chicken.

City ordinance limits the number of food trucks in an area, the length of time that they can park, and the number of food truck licenses issued.

Members responding to the 2014 Viewpoint Survey support the City issuing additional food truck licenses for high-density neighborhoods. 

Cook County Farm Bureau is a grassroots policy organization meaning that farmer members establish the policy and the direction of the organization.

To comment on this policy, please contact Bona Heinsohn at (708) 354-3276 or via email at

Ag Lit Bit

We are pleased to have Kendall Herren as our Summer Intern this year.  Enjoy Kendall's column featured as our Ag Lit Bit this summer. Kendall’s Korner Application. That is the best thing about internships: being able to apply the things I have learned in the classroom.  I grew up just west of Sandwich, in the small town of Somonauk, Illinois. I was not raised on a farm, but grew up in the middle of a field that we cash-rent to a local farmer. I was a 4-H member for 11 years and watched friends show their livestock. My sister and I have shown rabbits and sheep for the past few years, and I occasionally helped hold the grand champion chickens at the 4-H livestock auction. We also took photos during the summer in the fields surrounding my house when the corn quickly grew over my five-foot frame. Despite all of this, I never knew much about agriculture until I went to college. At school I live in 4-H House, a very ‘farm oriented’ sorority. Within my first few weeks, I realized ...

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Over 300 Cook County schools see Ag in the Classroom

By the end of May, over 23,000 4th grade students had a visitor at their school this year to learn about how farmers produce their food, fuel and fiber.  Our Ag in the Classroom Presentations expanded to two programs this year.  Our first program, wrapping up its 27th year, is a general agriculture presentation teaching children about the importance of Illinois agriculture including the production, processing, manufacturing and distribution of agriculture products. The new Part Two program titled, “There’s Ag on My Plate” takes a more hands-on approach to reviewing the USDA MyPlate and its connection to the farm.  Students discussed their food choices, learned about the importance of a balanced, healthy diet including whole grains which were examined by all participants.  Students were amazed at what they learned, especially when it came to the sugar content in their beverage choices. From analyzing the ingredients on food labels to threshing and winnowing wheat, students ...

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Need Answers? Try New Farm Facts Brochure

"Facts from the Farm" offers succinct responses to several common misconceptions about raising livestock, growing crops and Illinois farms.  Linda Olson, Illinois Farm Bureau manager of consumer communications, envisioned the brochure being distributed at fairs and events attended by nonfarm people.  

The brochure also provides 17 resources and their websites where people may find more information.  "The resources are largely neutral resources," Olson added.

Please contact the Cook County Farm Bureau if you are interested in a hard copy of the brochure.

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