Manager’s Article September 26, 2017

gayWe are aware that solar energy developers have been contacting landowners in Franklin county seeking leases for possible utility-scale solar farms.  If you have been contacted by a company seeking to lease land from you, please contact the Franklin County Farm Bureau office.  If you think you have any interest in such a lease, we strongly encourage you to contact a qualified, experienced attorney to help you fully understand the terms and conditions of the lease agreement before you sign anything.   Contact this office at 618/435-3616 for additional information.
We have received word that Volkert, Inc., on behalf of Ameren, is in the process of re-negotiating some easements in Franklin County.  (See Letter Below).
Large supplies of crops and livestock likely will weigh on commodity prices through this year and possibly into 2018.
That’s the outlook provided by Chris Hurt, Purdue University Extension ag economist, who advises farmers to “hunker down” in the wake of the latest USDA world supply and demand estimates report.
USDA this month raised ending stocks of corn to 2.335 billion bushels. Ending stocks of soybeans, 475 million bushels, and wheat, 933 million bushels, also came in above trade expectations.
“We’re in a supply-driven market right now,” Hurt told FarmWeek. “It gives concern for the financial position of farmers. Cash flows will be extremely tight again this year as it looks like the revenue situation will be a little weaker than last year.”
USDA projects farmers will harvest the largest soybean crop and third-largest corn crop on record this fall.
The Ag Department subsequently lowered its season average price projections by a dime for corn and beans (to ranges of $2.80 to $3.60 for corn and $8.35 to $10.05 for beans) and by 20 cents for wheat to a range of $4.30 to $4.90.
The ample supplies and lower prices for the feed crops should lower feed costs for livestock farmers. But livestock farmers, just as their crop-producing counterparts, face an issue with large supplies heading into 2018.
“For the livestock sector, we’re going to see around a 2 percent expansion of animal numbers in general,” Hurt said. “It looks like we could feed more corn than what’s in the current balance sheet.”
Livestock farmers should consider locking in feed prices later this month or in October. The soybean fall low often occurs around Columbus Day (Oct. 9) while December corn retested its low this week, Hurt noted.
But livestock production margins likely will tighten. The portion of meat available per person in the U.S. could reach 222 pounds by 2018, a level last seen in 2007 before crop prices spiked.
“We’re building animal production,” Hurt added. “It looks like margins will be narrow (for livestock farmers), even with low feed prices.”
The benefactor of the supply and price trends appears to be consumers as Hurt foresees limited food price inflation next year based on current production estimates.
The benefactor of the supply and price trends appears to be consumers as Hurt foresees limited food price inflation next year based on current production estimates.
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Just a reminder that Farmer’s Markets are still going on until the last week in October.
Remember we are farmers working together. If we can help let us know.


Dear Farm Bureau Members and other Franklin County Landowners,
We have received word that Volkert, Inc., on behalf of Ameren, is in the process of re-negotiating some easements in Franklin County. Since 2010, Ameren has sought to re-negotiate easements for existing transmission lines in several Illinois counties.
Illinois Farm Bureau® has reviewed easements proposed by Ameren in several counties, and the terms were much broader than the rights granted to Ameren in the existing easements with landowners. Additionally, compensation offered by the company was not commensurate with rights given up by landowners.
Ameren’s letter to landowners’ states that it is “seeking to expand the right-of-way easement by up to 150 feet so that we can prevent trees and vegetation for compromising existing transmission lines”. Ameren already has the right to maintain vegetation and does NOT need to expand the existing right-of-way in order to prevent trees and vegetation from compromising the existing transmission lines.
Contrary to the assertion in Ameren’s letter, the additional easement does NOT “simply increase the protected space around these lines so that reliability of the lines can be improved.” For example, the easement would expand the width of the right-of-way to 150 feet, and allow Ameren to install new upgraded transmission lines which they would not be able to install within the existing right-of-way. An easement with an expanded 150- foot right-of-way would also allow Ameren to install new poles (any type) for electric energy or any other power, and telecommunications lines along with the right to access the new easement area from anywhere on all of your adjoining property at any time Ameren deems it necessary under Ameren’s proposed easement.
Please keep in mind: You do not have to enter into a new easement with Ameren.  You do not have to amend your existing easement with Ameren. If Ameren wishes to expand the width of the existing right-of-way then Ameren will have to file a petition for approval with the Illinois Commerce Commission and negotiate an Agricultural Impact Mitigation Agreement (AIMA) with the Illinois Department of Agriculture to ensure that land impact by the construction of transmission lines is restored to its pre-construction activity. If you sign Ameren’s proposed easement, you would not have the protections afforded by an AIMA. The AIMA was developed after the electric transmission line on your property was installed and the Illinois Farm Bureau® recommends that landowners incorporate the provisions of an AIMA into their easement and improve upon those terms where needed for your farming operations. Templates for the AIMA for electric transmission lines are available on this link:  HYPERLINK “”
You should not sign any easement until you have consulted with legal counsel. Though the Illinois Farm Bureau® may provide some legal information to you as a member, they cannot serve as your attorney. However, they have provided me with a list of attorneys that have a great deal of experience with Ameren’s utility easements, not all attorneys have this knowledge base.
If you don’t have a copy of your current easement, you can and should request a copy of it from Ameren or Volkert, Inc.
The Franklin County Farm Bureau wants to make sure your investment is protected, and we thank you for being a member. If you should have any questions, please feel free to contact me at 618-435-3636.
Thank you, Gay Bowlin, Manager

Manager’s Article September 19, 2017

gayNot much rain was received in Franklin County this past week but those who did receive some were grateful. Harvesting has begun with many farmers shelling corn and harvesting beans.
New 4-H Year Kick-off Party will be held on Sunday, September 24 from 4-7 p.m. at the Franklin County Extension Office at 1212 Route 14 West (directly behind the Farm Bureau office). Computers will be set up to enroll on-site. Dues for new members are $20 and for re-enrolling members $10 – payable when you enroll. Parents will need to be there to fill out medical and risk release forms also. There will be food, games and prizes. 4-H is a great way to get your kids involved in many activities. For more information please call 439-3178.
Here are some great facts about the Economic Impact of the Benton Farmer’s Market for 2017 provided by Kathleen Logan with – she attended the Farmer’s Market twice during the year and surveyed 15% of the customer count.
Last year our market averaged 400 customers each week for 26 weeks. Her survey revealed the average week purchase was $16.19.
400 customers per week spending an average of $16.19 = $6,476 each week. 26 weeks of the market = $6,476 x 26 weeks = $168,376 for the year.
Kathleen used a multiplier of 2.5 (a conservative number) for economic impact because money spent with farmers and local producers stays in the local economy longer – $169,379 x 2.5 = $420,940
This equals the living wage all year for about 9 families. This is the impact that the Benton Farmers Market has on the economy during a 26 week period – we bring the dollars back into the community which is out goal.
With the devastating effects of Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma and with Hurricane Maria threatening the already devastated islands in the Caribbean we have to wonder what else is coming. Then on Tuesday of this week there was a 3.8 magnitude earthquake with epicenter showing in Edwards and Wabash Counties and on September 9 a 3.1 magnitude earthquake epicenter was in Mt Carmel in Wabash County. With so much going on in the weather these days I think that it is even more necessary that we say a prayer daily for everyone involved.
Farm injuries increase by 50 percent during harvest due to working longer hours, dealing with equipment breakdowns and handling weather-related issues.
According to USDA, Illinois farmers started on corn harvest last week. (Photo by Catrina Rawson)
During the fall harvest season, farmers spend countless hours in combines, tractors, trucks and other equipment. They also transport large equipment on our roads and highways.
“Some workers may be young, new or inexperienced, so it’s always a good suggestion to go over safety considerations with all workers to teach or reinforce the importance of safety on the farm,” said Dan Schlipmann, Illinois Farm Bureau field support manager.
Agriculture ranks among the nation’s most hazardous industries. Farmers are at very high risk for fatal and nonfatal injuries. And farming is one of the few industries in which family members, who often share the work and live on the farm, are also at risk.
This time of year poses the highest risk of injury for farmers who experience fatigue and stress, under pressure to spend as much time as they can in the fields.
According to Robert Aherin, Ph.D., professor and ag safety and health program leader at the University of Illinois, sleep deprivation is a big problem, especially during harvest.
Try to get seven to eight hours of sleep each night. If you’re really tired, he advises shutting down for a few minutes and taking a nap. A 20-minute break with a short nap can really help improve alertness. A short walk every hour might do the same.
Staying safe during harvest is challenging. Contact with machinery presents the biggest risk for both injuries and fatalities, but there are ways to avoid them and stay sharp. Consider these tips:
– Inspect all machinery before beginning and have repair tools at the ready.
– Eat balanced meals.
– Stay hydrated to maintain awareness.
– Keep your phone on you, not on a dashboard.
– Keep SMV emblems and other markings maintained and clean of dirt and mud, so they can be seen.
– Replace faded reflectors. They fade faster if stored outdoors and constantly exposed to sunlight.
– Make sure everyone operating equipment is well trained.
– Keep extra riders off equipment.
Using good, common safety sense on the road and in the field will keep everyone safer during harvest.
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Just a reminder that Farmer’s Markets are still going on until the last week in October.
Remember we are farmers working together. If we can help let us know.