Stephenson County, Illinois — A group of Stephenson County Farm Bureau leaders joined a large contingent gathered December 2-5 at the Palmer House Hilton in Chicago for the 2017 Illinois Farm Bureau annual meeting. This popular event brings together over 1500 guests for a wide array of activities, including awards presentations, keynote speeches, and the policymaking session involving delegates from county Farm Bureaus statewide. Attending from SCFB were Steve and Kim Fricke, Jon Rosenstiel, Kathy Brenner, Scott Brenner, Ron Fluegel, and my wife Andrea and myself. There was also a group from the Highland College Collegiate FFA chapter including Stephenson County members Nicole Simler and David Hall. Serving as our voting delegates this year were Jon Rosenstiel, Kathy Brenner, Scott Brenner and Ron Fluegel.
The Saturday night awards ceremony saw SCFB earning a Gold star for Membership Quota, Silver for Communications & Promotion efforts, and Bronze stars for Ag Literacy, Commodities & Marketing, Health & Safety, Local Affairs, Member Relations, and Young Leaders programs. We also received the Most Outstanding Project award for Membership Group 4 in Commodities and Marketing for our involvement with our Cheese & Cheers Tour. Keynote speaker John O’Leary shared his inspirational story of overcoming burns over 100% of his body at age 9 (beating the odds of a 1% chance of survival) to become a successful speaker, businessman, husband and father of four children.
The delegate session beginning on Monday was relatively uneventful this year with some of the more discussed topics being solar energy projects, government farm programs, and utility infrastructure and land rights. Tuesday morning was the highlight with the election of president and vice president for 2-year terms. Current vice president David Erickson lost his bid to unseat incumbent president Richard Guebert Jr., who was completing his second 2-year term. In the highly contested race for vice president, former IFB director Dale Hadden from Jacksonville (Morgan County) was bumped after the first ballot, leaving former IFB director Scott Halpin from Gardner (Grundy County) and 14-year Ogle County Farm Bureau president Brian Duncan from Polo on the subsequent ballot. I’m thrilled to report that Brian got the endorsement of the voting delegates and was elected the new IFB vice president. It was a well-run race between three very qualified candidates, and I know that Brian will represent IFB’s members and the agricultural community extremely well. It will be nice to have a local connection in the IFB leadership team, as Brian has been a vocal and passionate advocate for agriculture and Farm Bureau.
One other highlight was our opportunity to have dinner on Monday night with our partner in the IFB Adopt-a-Legislator program, 35th District State Representative Fran Hurley. Fran has been a wonderful partner in this most effective program designed to build relationships between downstate Farm Bureaus and urban legislators, and we always enjoy our interactions with her. We’re exploring plans for several activities for 2018 and we look forward to building on our strong relationship.
Jingle all the way!
While in Chicago, Andrea and I continued our tradition as we ran in the Santa Hustle 5K run on Saturday morning for the fifth consecutive year, starting and ending at Soldier Field and running along Lake Michigan. The weather was perfect in the mid-40’s at race time (much better than the minus 9-degree wind chill a few years ago) as some 4000 jolly runners and walkers enjoyed the festive event complete with live reindeer on display and cookies and M&M’s on the course.
Interest continues strong for our 2018 trip lineup, with reservations coming in for our local trips as well as our regional offerings with Tri-State Travel and Lindstrom Travel. We had around 20 people in attendance for our Colorado’s Historic Trains preview with Lindstrom Travel on November 28, and signup has been good with several other county Farm Bureaus also promoting the trip. We only have a few spots left for our March 17-26 San Antonio and More trip, so don’t delay if you’re interested in that excellent excursion. We’ve submitted our request for our Cubs/Brewers tickets and anticipate those dates being Friday April 6 (night game) and Wednesday June 13 (daytime game). Check out our lineup at www.stephensoncfb.org.
Dicamba training sessions
The use of dicamba herbicides in soybeans has been an evolutionary process that has seen many management challenges and decisions to effectively and safely use the product, and the agricultural industry has been actively addressing concerns and issues as they have arisen. To provide the latest and most pertinent information, a series of training sessions has been planned statewide in the coming months and I encourage any soybean growers associated with this new technology to make it a point to attend. Our nearest locations for the free 90-minute training sessions are January 10 from 3-5 p.m. at the Days Inn in Rock Falls and March 28 from 3-5 p.m. at Giovanni’s in Rockford. Visit https://ifca.com/IllinoisDicambaTraining to see the complete schedule and to sign up for a session.
Last call for socks!
Don’t forget to drop off your donation of a package or more of new socks for the needy in our area as our third annual “Socks for Stephenson County” drive is concluding on December 15th. Donations can be left at the Farm Bureau office at 210 W. Spring Street for delivery to the Salvation Army for distribution during the holiday season – thanks for caring and sharing!
Bruce Johnson is the manager of the Stephenson County Farm Bureau