Stephenson County Farm Bureau News and Views

Last call for Stephenson Scenes photo entries

bruce-johnsonFriday June 16 is the deadline for submitting your entries for our 2017 “Stephenson Scenes” photo contest, open to all amateur photographers in the area. You are invited to submit up to 10 pictures capturing the essence of life in Stephenson County, from scenery and sporting events to wildlife and family. We prefer digital pics in either .jpg or .gif format, but we can accept 8×10 prints (though they will not be returned). Pictures should be e-mailed to by 4:30 p.m. on June 16, and the field will be narrowed down to no more than 30 finalists for public voting. The public can vote for their three favorite pics at the Ag Breakfast on June 24 and in our Farm Fun Zone tent at the Stephenson County Fair July 5-9, as well as in the Farm Bureau office from June 26-30. The top 12 vote getters will receive $20 gift cards, with the top three getting cash prizes of $50, $40 and $30 and all winners being displayed at the FB building. You can download the info at or pick up a copy at the FB office.

Soggy spring blues

The repetitive pattern of rain showers and cloudy days has made for a difficult spring throughout the Midwest as farmers struggle to finish planting and harvest hay and forages. While we’ve dealt with persistent delays locally, our fate is better than many downstate farmers who’ve had to replant corn only to watch it get flooded out again. The cool, cloudy days have limited the heat units needed to help the corn crop get a good start, and wet conditions have made it very difficult to get hay cut and harvested. I’m hopeful that we can get an extended stretch of nice weather so progress can be realized, but that’s been a tall order thus far. As always, please continue to exercise caution on our area roadways as you encounter agricultural traffic – there are many tractors, sprayers, trucks and other equipment sharing the roads, so let’s all be safe out there!

SWCD Scholarship

The Stephenson Soil and Water Conservation District is offering a $500 scholarship for the 2017-2018 school year. The student must be a resident of Stephenson County and have a junior or senior standing in an accredited college or university with a major in agriculture, natural resources, or a related field. For further details and an application form, please call (815) 235-2161, ext. 3. Applications must be received at the SWCD office by 3:00 p.m. on June 9, 2017. Applications are available at or may be picked up at Stephenson SWCD, 1620 South Galena Avenue, Freeport IL 61032.

Trip updates

I’m sorry to report that our Hawkeye Ag Tour to Iowa on June 28-29 has been canceled due to low signup, the same fate that befell the trip last summer. I’m disappointed that such a fun and educational agenda couldn’t generate more interest, as we had a great lineup of tours along with an Iowa Cubs baseball game. I guess it might be due to busy summer schedules to some degree, but sadly I probably won’t try a third time to organize this one as it takes a lot of coordination to work with factory schedules and baseball calendars.

Signup continues for our August 8 trip to the Wisconsin State Fair in Milwaukee for “Crazy Grazin’ Days”, as well as our August 30 journey to Decatur IL for the Farm Progress Show, dubbed “The World’s Fair of Agriculture”. We’re also taking reservations for our November 12 trek to the Fireside Dinner Theatre in Ft. Atkinson Wisconsin to see “Miracle on 34th Street – The Musical”. You can read about all our local and regional trip opportunities at

Give the gift of life

Again this year we’ll be sponsoring a blood drive at the Stephenson County Ag Breakfast on Saturday June 24 at the fairgrounds, and I strongly encourage you to consider donating for the sake of those in need. The drive will run from 6:30-11:30 a.m. and all donors will get reimbursed by the Farm Bureau for their breakfast cost, with all first-time donors getting a free season pass to the Stephenson County Fair July 5-9. The demand for blood is always heightened during the busy summer travel months, so take this opportunity to do your part to help the cause – it’s simple and easy, and I am nearing the 5-gallon club myself and have recently begun donating platelets.

Government frustration

As I’m writing this, we’re anxiously waiting (but not overly optimistic) for news from Springfield on a possible budget resolution for the state of Illinois after operating without a budget since July 2015. After the end of the day on May 31, it will take a greater majority vote to pass anything and that is problematic based on the inability of legislators to agree on anything lately. It’s a total embarrassment to all Illinoisans to see our state floundering and our programs and services eroding before our eyes, and despite my respect for many of our lawmakers I want to tell them how truly disappointed and angry I am with the way our state is operating. Coupled with the bizarre dysfunctionality in Washington D.C. that gets weirder by the day, that deserted island that Andrea and I often refer to is looking better all the time!

Stay in touch with us!

Don’t forget that you can keep up with everything that’s happening with Stephenson County Farm Bureau online at, where you can read this column as well as staying up to date on trips, programs and more.

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

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