Bruce Johnson’s Stephenson County Farm Bureau Weekly Update

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We’re pleased to announce a unique opportunity for area families or individuals to gain a better understanding of today’s farming environment through a special partnering initiative. With assistance from a grant from the Illinois Farm Bureau, we are introducing “Growing Together 2016”, a program in which we will pair local farm families with non-farm consumers to spend the entire growing season in a collaborative relationship. We plan to bring the participants together at a kickoff dinner in late March, after which the farm families will open their operations to their seasonal guests and share their experiences with them. We envision the opportunity to ride in the tractor cab during spring planting, watch the crops progress through the summer into the fall, and experience the harvest and even the marketing process in the fall. Livestock farmers will have an additional opportunity to expose their partners to that part of their farming enterprise and the specific elements involved there. The project will conclude with a harvest dinner in late November.

Any interested families or individuals who would like to participate in this program are invited to contact me at (815) 232-3186 or download the application form at Deadline for applications is March 18 and we will notify participants shortly thereafter.

Congrats to the Lawfers!
We want to say congratulations to Ron and Julie Lawfer of Kent on their selection as one of the four Master Farmers for 2016 as selected by Prairie Farmer magazine. This is one of the most noteworthy recognitions in the agriculture industry, and our area has been blessed with a number of winners in recent years. Ron and Julie run an outstanding dairy and crop farming enterprise with their son and daughter-in-law, including installation of a robotic milking and feed management system in 2014. Ron serves as the president of the Jo Daviess County Farm Bureau, and he and Julie are both active on many fronts. Congratulations on this well-deserved honor!

Winding down winter
As the first day of spring approaches in a few weeks, we continue to see the typical variability in weather conditions that March and April can bring. We’ve had one of the warmest and driest winters on record (no complaints from me), but I’ll still maintain that I prefer a winter where temps stays in the 20’s rather than these 40 degree swings that leave people and animals vulnerable to health issues. I’ve only used my snow blower twice and have only built two fires so far – we’ll see what the next few weeks have in store!

Ag Breakfast 2016
The 31st annual Stephenson County Ag Breakfast is planned for Saturday June 25 at the fairgrounds in Freeport, and I encourage everyone to put the date on your calendars now. The delicious local foods breakfast will be served from 6-10 a.m., and we’ll again have a wide array of activities and exhibits for all to enjoy. We’ll again be hosting the Rock River Valley Blood Center blood drive, with all donors getting their breakfast cost reimbursed and all first-time donors getting a free season pass to the Stephenson County Fair July 6-10. Our Young Leaders group is already working on expanded plans for a number of exhibits and activities, and we will be bringing back our Kiddie Pedal Tractor Pull with our newly updated tractor (it’s looking great, with a new adjustable seat and other enhancements).

The coordinating committee for the breakfast will meet on Tuesday March 29 at 7 p.m. at the Farm Bureau, and we invite anyone wishing to be involved in the process to join us – many hands make light work!

Stroke Detection Plus returning
Our ever-popular Stroke Detection Plus screenings will be back at the Farm Bureau on Tuesday May 24 from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., offering their affordable and non-invasive tests to determine your risk of stroke or arterial blockages. Farm Bureau members get a significant discount on the full package of tests, and appointments can be made by calling SDP at (877) 732-8258. These sessions always fill up, so call today to book your spot!

“On The Road”
We’re pleased to be hosting another informative “On The Road” transportation issues program on Tuesday March 15 from 1-3 p.m. at the Farm Bureau in Freeport. The program will feature Kevin Rund, Illinois Farm Bureau Senior Director of Local Government; Randy Seals, Illinois Department of Transportation; and Tim Roush, Illinois State Police, covering a wide range of topics including farm-related topics, driver qualifications and recent changes, interstate carrier and HazMat regulations, on-road enforcement, and your specific questions. Refreshments will be served and no reservations are required – come as you are for this important programs!

Seats available for Shipshewana and Door County trips
Due to a few cancellations, as of March 2 we have four seats available for our June 6-8 Shipshewana Amish Country trips and two seats open for our August 1-4 Door County Adventure VII outing. Details on both trips can be viewed at or you can call (815) 232-3186 for more information.

Bruce Johnson is the manager of the Stephenson County Farm Bureau

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