Branson Christmas Trip Preview Planned at Farm Bureau

Preview program scheduled for European River Cruise
With 18 Stephenson County residents already signed up, we’re hosting one final preview program for our September 21-October 1, 2017 European River Cruise with Lindstrom Travel. The preview will be Monday January 30 at 7:00 p.m. at the Farm Bureau, with Tony Caruana from Lindstrom Travel here to share the details on the spectacular excursion. The intimate 180-passenger river boat is filling quickly for this scenic, relaxing cruise down the Rhine and Mosel Rivers through Holland, France, Germany and Switzerland. You can see the details at or call the FB office for more information, and be sure to join us on January 30 at 7:00 p.m. to see and hear the details of this great trip!

Branson Christmas trip preview
We’ll also be holding a preview program for the November 16-20, 2017 Branson Christmas trip being hosted by area Farm Bureaus and Tri-State Travel. This program will take place on Tuesday February 21 at 7:00 p.m. at the Farm Bureau and will be presented by Tri-State’s Jack Wideman. We’ve already had a lot of inquiries about this trip and anticipate a strong response to this popular destination, so join us for the preview and visit our website to see the flyer.

“Socks for Stephenson County” update
I’m happy to report that the final tally for the CAP Foundation’s sock drive was 1494 pairs after some late donations were collected. This was up nearly 500 pairs from last year’s inaugural effort and included $200 in donations from 1st Farm Credit and $100 each from the Lena Veterinary Clinic and Pearl City Elevator. These new socks were delivered to the Salvation Army for distribution to needy individuals, and once again I want to thank everyone for this generous show of compassion. I look forward to raising the bar again next winter when we do the program in December.

The cost of doing business
A recent column by Cyndi Young-Puyear of the Brownfield Network chronicled the changes seen by a southern Missouri dairy farmer in his 40 years of milking cows. Ted Sheppard, Missouri Dairy Association president, said he currently receives 25% more for his milk at the farm gate than he did when he started milking in 1977. Contrast that, however, to the rising costs of various inputs and expenses: Milk hauling up 300%; feed costs up 200%; milk replacer, diesel fuel and bulldozing up 400%; barn boots up 600%; electricity up 50%; fence posts and wire up 450%; pickup truck up 900%; alfalfa seed up 1000%; and health insurance up 1200%. On the consumer side, a McDonald’s Quarter Pounder costs 400% more, and a gallon of milk in the store costs 350% more. That gives perspective to the business of farming and the costs incurred to be in the business!

Summer Program Assistant position
Applications are due by January 31 for our 2017 Summer Program Assistant post, which is a paid position that will run from late May through mid-August depending on the individual’s school schedule. This is our twelfth year employing a college-age student to assist us in coordinating our summer programs and activities and helping out in the FB office. We’re looking for someone with a pleasant personality, good interpersonal skills, and the ability to work independently and collaboratively. Reliable transportation and insurance are a must, and an ag background is helpful but not required. Complete details and application form can be found at or at the Farm Bureau office.

Ag Issues Update planned for February 8
We’re pleased to welcome several excellent presenters for our Ag Issues Update on February 8 at the Farm Bureau. The program starts at 10:30 a.m. with an update on the changes and status of farmland assessments for the ag community, presented by Brenda Matherly, Illinois Farm Bureau Assistant Director of Local Government with assistance from Stephenson County Assessor Ron Kane. Following a catered lunch by Beltline Café, IFB’s Senior Director of Local Government Kevin Rund will present an in-depth “On The Road” session highlighting the latest rules and regulations affecting agricultural equipment and transportation. Reservations are requested by February 3 to assist with planning – call (815) 232-3186 to sign up.

Football frenzy
Fresh off the excitement of one of the best football games I’ve ever watched with Clemson defeating Alabama 35-31 on a last-second touchdown for the national collegiate football championship, I’m now riding the tide of my Green Bay Packers as they continue their march to the Super Bowl. Battling through injuries to key players and their underdog status, the Pack has been playing inspired football and seem to be peaking at the right time. I’m optimistic about their chances against the Atlanta Falcons, and I hope to be planted in front of the TV on February 5 watching them in the Super Bowl.

Summer Ag Institute for teachers
Here’s a heads-up to our area teachers announcing our Summer Ag Institute on June 12-16. This is a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in the world of agriculture in a week filled with hands-on learning experiences and fascinating tours of farms and agribusinesses in Stephenson, Carroll and Jo Daviess counties. Registration information will be available through the Regional Office of Education or you can contact me at (815) 232-3186 to learn more.

Bruce Johnson is the Manager of the Stephenson County Farm Bureau.

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