Farm City Days 2017 and Farm Safety Grant

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June 10th was a HUGE day in Franklin County and the town on Benton. It was the first time in 21 years that the Franklin County Farm Bureau put on this event.
Rodney Miller from Small Town, Big Deal on RFD-TV was the parade marshal and with several entries and some beautiful horses the parade started the event off at 11:00 a.m.
One of biggest draws was the Inflatables in the Kids Area. We had 10 bounce houses/slides and/or games that we rented from Affordable Bounce Company LLC along with a “Corn Bin” with corn provided by Consolidated Grain and Barge for kids to play in. Melissa Lamczyk, AITC Coordinator from Franklni County brought up 2 cows, 2 goats and a donkey for the petting zoo set up in the Kids Area as well. All of this was FREE to everyone.
Franklin County Farm Bureau’s tent was located on the square where we gave away coloring books and crayons, Official t-shirts and thanks in part from a grant provided by the Illinois Farm Bureau and COUNTRY Financial we had personal first aid kits and provided sun screen. There were several tractors on display and farmers spoke about safety on the roadways.
The Franklin County 4-H was on the square and sponsored a kids pedal car tractor pull.
Franklin County COUNTRY Financial Representatives Krista Menckowski, Adrienne Mason and Mike Brachear had their tents adjacent to ours and gave away green cotton candy. This was big hit along with people registering to win a smoker along with having several items to give away.
There were food vendors, craft vendors, the West City Smoke House, and Extreme Exigency spoke about gun safety and had an indoor shooting range. The Illinois State Police did their “Drive for Life” Course and there was a “Dress Your Pet” Contest. Local music and local kids dance groups performed throughout the day.
The Car and Motor Cycle show had many entries and every loved the location and the weather. Jack Russell Fish Co. set up a Bags Tournament in the street and played from 2 to 4.
Leffler Funeral Home had a toy train display set up in their building and everyone who went said they did an amazing job and really enjoyed it.
Prairie Farms representative Wayne Horstmann brought 500 ice cream bars and had chocolate milk to give away and ran out within a couple of hours. He indicated that he will definitely be better prepared next year. Wayne also braved the heat and walked the parade route in a cow costume.
A special thank you to the committee and the volunteers who made this day possible and helped to make everything run smoothly.
Details to come for Farm City Days 2018.

Tenth Annual Customer Appreciation

The Franklin County Farm Bureau along with Franklin County COUNTRY Financial Representatives Mike Brachear, Krista Menckowski, and Adrienne Mason will be showing their appreciation to Farm Bureau members and COUNTRY Financial clients at the 4-H Fairgrounds adjacent to Rend Lake College on Tuesday, July 11th at 5:00 p.m.
This is the tenth year that the Franklin County Farm Bureau and the Franklin County COUNTRY Financial Representatives have been at the fairgrounds to cook and serve the meal. This year in addition to drinks and chips they will be grilling pork sandwiches and hotdogs and have pasta salad – and let’s not forget the ice cream cups.
The Franklin County Farm Bureau Young Leaders will be selling squares for your chance to win at Cow Chip Bingo. The winner will receive ½ of the money collected and squares will be sold prior to the cookout. They will also be helping out with other activities that take place in conjunction with Family Fun Night.
All Franklin County Farm Bureau members are encouraged to attend this event and enjoy the food and 4-H activities that are planned for the evening.

Emberton to Attend RLC

JAredJared Emberton from Thompsonville High School is planning on attending Rend Lake College with a focus on Diesel Mechanics. Jared joined the Franklin County Farm Bureau Young Leaders Committee in February 2017. He received a total of $1,200 to help in paying for expenses at Rend Lake. We are very proud of Jared and wish him the best in his education and in the future.

Sesser Community Garden

AITC1Franklin County 4-H and Franklin County Ag in the Classroom have teamed up to provide 5 raised beds for community gardens in Sesser. Cindy Bauman, Program Coordinator, 4-H and Youth Development, and Melissa Lamczyk, Franklin County Ag in the Classroom (AITC) Coordinator, have been working with the county schools and FFA chapters the last couple of years to put together some community gardens and/or opportunities to donate produce to local food pantries.
Mrs. Bauman put together a couple of raised beds last year at the Franklin County Extension office with plants from AITC school projects and plants she provided. The produce from these beds was donated to the food pantry in Benton.
Mrs. Lamczyk was able to work with Sesser-Valier’s 2nd grade (Leann Miller’s classroom), and Sesser-Valier’s FFA chapter to provide over 250 plants and produce to the Sesser food pantry. The Ag in the Classroom program was able to do this with an Innovation grant received from the IAA Foundation. This grant, along with grants Mrs. Bauman has written through 4-H, are helping to provide the needed materials for the 5 raised beds in Sesser.
The five raised beds were built on April 2nd, 2017 by the Franklin County 4-H groups, the Mudrunners and the Puddlejumpers. There were around thirty 4-H members, twenty parent volunteers and a few city officials, including Jason Ashmoore, Sesser Mayor, and Travis Zettler, Sesser Alderman.
The 4-H members planted a few seeds that day. Megan Zurliene, S-V Band and After-School teacher, and the After-School program students started six flats of plants, consisting of vegetables and fruit, to be planted in the beds during April and May.
The 4-H groups and some other local groups will be doing the planting and caring for the gardens throughout the growing season. The community is welcome to help and keep an eye on the beds to prevent vandalism. We hope there is plenty of produce for the food pantry and the community to share throughout the summer.
If your community would like to start a community garden or find out more about these programs, contact Cindy Bauman at the U of I Extension office (439-3178) or Melissa Lamczyk at the FC Farm Bureau office (435-3616).

Benton Health Fair

AitcThe Benton Grade School held its annual Health Fair on Thursday April 6th from 4 to 6 pm. Franklin County Ag in the Classroom participated again this year with St. Louis Dairy Council Nutrition information, homemade butter on crackers and with some do-it-yourself planting.
Mrs. Lamczyk, AITC Coordinator, provided lots of materials from the St. Louis Dairy Council on dairy nutrition. To go along with this promotion, Mrs. Lamczyk showed how to make homemade butter with just whipping cream and a seal tight container.
Students had fun shaking up the butter and we even added in a little music for some exercise. We had AITC Dairy Ag Mags and how to adopt-a-cow through the St. Louis Dairy Council for teachers.
Mrs. Lamczyk was also promoting healthy eating through the activity of teaching students how to grow their own food. Students were able to put together a garden in a glove, which provided them with the ingredients for a salad and a fruit for dessert.
Students were also provided a fun activity of growing their own letters. Students wrote their name on a piece of construction paper, then traced their name with Elmer’s glue, and shook on grass seed to cover their name. They took these home and can place them outside or in a flower pot, water them, and watch their name grow.
The health fair had 92 adults, 155 students and several local area businesses and other entities to provide health information and activities.

Manager’s Article April 20, 2017

gayIT IS OFFICIAL – farming season is in full force. Farmers are planting now – even with the rain that we received last Sunday they are still able to get in the fields and have smiles on their faces! But with the rain on Easter Sunday the saying goes that it will rain for the next 7 Sundays. I am not sure exactly how accurate this is but listening to the farmers at the board meeting last week they are saying that it will happen at least for 5 Sundays out of the next 7. Our hopes are that is it not down pours on these days.
Illinois farmers ranked estate tax repeal and interest deduction as their highest tax reform priorities, according to a survey conducted by Illinois Farm Bureau. The results will help IFB advocate for issues that matter most to members. “This is our opportunity, the first time in 30 years, to do tax reform,” said Adam Nielsen, IFB’s director of national legislation and policy development.
In a recent survey of our members on Farm Bureau tax policy, the interest deduction was the single most prioritized policy.  Maintaining that critical provision is a top IFB priority in tax reform.
However, the U.S. House Republican Blueprint for Action takes interest deduction and makes it meaningless for virtually every farm businesses.
“Under this Blueprint, job creators will be allowed to deduct interest expense against any interest income, but no current deduction will be allowed for net interest expense.  Any net interest expense may be carried forward indefinitely and allowed as a deduction against net interest income in future years.”
Does your farm business generate enough interest income – now or in the future – to offset interest expenses on your operating loans or the loans you’ve taken out to purchase land or equipment?
If the answer to that question is “no,” you need to take action NOW!
Please take a moment to send an email to your Congressman, your U.S. Senators and to the Illinois members of the tax writing U.S. House Ways and Means Committee.   Tell them to insist that any tax reform bill allow farmers to deduct their interest expenses regardless of whether they have any interest income.
The Franklin County Farm Bureau is pleased to be award $500 scholarships to three students who are going into an Ag related field of study. Those recipients are: Tara Brown – Sesser-Valier, Jared Emberton – Thompsonville and to Wade Hutchens – Benton. Tara and Jared are both going to attend Rend Lake College and study welding with Tara’s focus on Ag Mechanics as well. Wade will graduate from Rend Lake College and is going to attend the University of Illinois to work on his double major of Animal Sciences and Animal Production. We wish these three the best in furthering their education.
Make plans now to attend the 2017 Farm City Days on June 10th. We have many events planned for the day – Farm Machinery Parade starts at 11:30 from Immanuel Baptist Church. On the square there will be: Farmer’s Market, Craft & Flea Market Booths, Farm Machinery Display, Food Concessions, Car and Motorcycle Show, and more.
The kid’s area will consist of at least 4 inflatables, petting zoo and corn bin. There are other things in the works so stay tuned for more exciting new and events to come.
For more information and for applications for the events go to the website Get your applications in early for booth space as we will not have competing booths.
The Rend Lake Water Festival is fast approaching with the parade to take place on Saturday May 13th. We are looking for entries for the 6th Annual Farmers Memorial Antique Tractor Drive. We will once again be in the front of the parade and then proceed on our route to the Barren Township building for a fish fry then over the lake and back. The fee is $25 per tractor. For more information please call the office at 435-3616.
Remember we are farmers working together. If we can help let us know.

Farmer To Table Program, Year 5












We just completed our 5th year of the Farmer to Table program at Zeigler-Royalton Elementary. Thank you Jim Chamness, Chris Menckowski and Larry Flowers for bringing in equipment to the school. Thank you to the following presenters and volunteers. Eric Green-Southern FS; Marc Lamczyk-U of I Extension; Tony Lamczyk-FSA;  HYPERLINK “” Brad Browning,  HYPERLINK “” Kendall Browning,  HYPERLINK “” Michael Browning, and Chris Walter – Young Leaders; Seth Schlag and Matt Kramer – Consolidated Grain and Barge; Mary Bolen – Benton Farmers Market;  HYPERLINK “” Cindy Bauman – U of I Extension 4H; Jennifer Newbury- U of I Extension Snap-Ed; volunteers Cassie & Sierra Rich – Frankfort FFA; Shelby Hewlett & Camden Kirkpatrick- 4-H Members from Zeigler-Royalton High School;  HYPERLINK “” Lori Robertson – Farmer and the Farm Bureau Board. Thank you to Mrs. Bailey –Z-R Principal, and to the teachers and students who participated on Tuesday for this program. Without these great people, this program would not be possible.


FB Act Appreciation Dinner





Franklin County has a great focus on FB Act and Action Requests. As many of you know we ask for your help when it comes time to making the Action Request Calls to your Legislators. So very many of you have stepped up – that once again I am still praising your efforts in making Franklin County Number 1 in the state for the third year in a row. Our only focus now is that we continue to make Franklin County No. 1.
On Tuesday evening, February 28, 2017, we invited everyone who has made their calls to attend a very special dinner. This years dinner was at the Benton Elks where a meal of Filet Mignon, grilled asparagus, baked potato and cheesecake was served as a seated meal.
We started off the evening by thanking everyone for attending and then introduced the Board . Kendall Browning gave the invocation. Then the waitstaff began to serve meals to – no buffet line – this was the real deal.
COUNTRY Financial reps Mike Brachear and Darla Sloan were on hand with information on insurance needs. They also had a drawing for 3 gift certificates – $50 went to EllaJean McClerren and $25 each to Denise Smith and to Megan Zurliene.
Our special guests for the evening were Adam Nielsen, Director of National Legislation & Policy Development and Lauren Lurkens, Director of Natural & Environmental Resources. Both of them came down Bloomington to share the importance of what Franklin County has been able to accomplish with the help of our members. Lauren also spoke about the Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy and how the Illinos Farm Bureau can be of assistance to those with questions.
Sponsors of this dinner were COUNTRY Financial, Southern FS, Consolidated Grain and Barge, and Farm Credit Services.
We had 85 Franklin County Farm Bureau Members attend this event. We need all of the help that we can get when it comes to the issues that are set before us throughout the year.
We felt that just getting together to discuss how important it is for everyone to make their Action Request Calls has helped enormously for our causes in the future.
Remember, if we don’t already call please call the office and get on the list – it is not painful and the rewards are great. (618) 435-3616.

Senator Fowler Visits Conference

FowlerSenator Dale Fowler stopped to visit with those in attendance from Franklin County during the Governmental Affairs Leadership Conference held at the President Abraham Lincoln Hotel and Conference Center in Springfield on March 1, 2017. Pictured: Brad Browning – Young Leader Chairman, Gay Bowlin – Manager, Dale Fowler, Ivan Berner – Board Member and Leon McClerren – President.

Managers Article by Gay Bowlin

gayWe had 32 in attendance at our meeting with Representative Dave Severin and Senator Dale Fowler last week. They both discussed the main issues that they are working on right now and were very grateful for the opportunity to have them come to our office and meet with the farmers and listen to what we feel is important. Of course, the most important issue right now is the budget and how to finally get one in place in Illinois. They both indicated this was one of their main priorities as well. We look forward to having a close working relationship with both of them.
Last week, NASS released county yields for the 2016 crop year, helping the U of I’s Gardner Agriculture Policy Program create accurate estimates of the 2016 ARC-CO payments. Check out for maps showing estimated payments per base acre for soybeans, corn, and wheat, as well as maps giving 2016 county yields relative to benchmark yields, and estimated payments per Illinois county.
Action to pass Illinois Farm Bureau state legislative priorities set by the IFB Board moves to the Capitol and legislative committees.
Property rights influenced a priority related to utility projects. Through HB 3207, sponsored by Rep. Lindsay Parkhurst, R-Kankakee, and SB 777, sponsored by Sen. Dale Righter, R-Mattoon, IFB seeks to amend the state’s expedited review process of large, complex utility projects.
Some recent utility companies in the state used expedited review procedures for projects that went before the Illinois Commerce Commission.
“The use of expedited review for complicated projects that impact many landowners has created significant concerns and hardships for landowners in the project’s potential path,” said Bill Bodine, IFB associate director of state legislation. “Often, impacted landowners do not have enough time to consider their options and participate in the review process. The proposed changes to the expedited review procedures will help landowners better protect their property rights.”
IFB also seeks to address transportation challenges during a harvest emergency. Under HB 2580, sponsored by Rep. Brandon Phelps, D-Harrisburg, and SB 1576, sponsored by Sen. Neil Anderson, R-Moline, the governor would gain the authority to increase gross vehicle weight limits by 10 percent for divisible loads of agriculture commodities during a declared harvest emergency.
“This will allow farmers to transport agricultural commodities from fields to local grain bins more efficiently, reducing overhead costs, saving time and allowing a more expedient harvest during an emergency,” said Russell Orrill, IFB assistant director of state legislation. Neighboring states, including Iowa, have similar provisions, Orrill noted.
Another IFB priority bill focuses on traffic and conviction surcharges on truck overweight fines. HB 3343, sponsored by Rep. Elgie Sims Jr., D-Chicago, and SB 1581, sponsored by Sen. Anderson, would reduce the surcharges that create a significant burden on farmers and truckers in Illinois.
Bodine explained 2015 legislation created a funding mechanism for police body cameras by raising the surcharge for traffic violations and criminal convictions. Truck overweight fines are considered traffic violations.
Under the law, a speeding ticket with a $120 fine would come with a $45 surcharge, a $15 increase compared to the previous amount. A driver of a truck that is 5,000 pounds overweight would receive a $950 fine and a $356 surcharge, an increase of $118.
“As the truck increases in weight, so does the fine. This leads to even more substantial increases in overweight fine surcharges,” Bodine said.
IFB also plans to again oppose legislation that would allow landowners’ property to be taken without just compensation.
HB 2557, sponsored by Rep. Emanuel “Chris” Welch, D-Westchester, and SB 1388, sponsored by Sen. Don Harmon, D-Oak Park, would allow telecommunications companies to install their equipment in road rights-of-way without negotiating an easement with the underlying landowner. Currently, telecommunication companies are required to obtain an easement from landowners before installing cable or equipment in these road rights-of-way.
Remember we are farmers working together. If we can help let us know.