Bruce Johnson’s Stephenson County Farm Bureau News & Views

FFA students enjoy Titan Tire tour
bruce-johnsonA group of 24 FFA students and chaperones from Dakota, Lena-Winslow, Orangeville and Pearl City enjoyed an in-depth tour of Freeport’s Titan Tire plant as part of the Stephenson County Farm Bureau’s Acquaintance Day program on March 10. This annual program typically involves a tour or program hosted by the SCFB providing an educational opportunity for the students, and past programs have included John Deere Harvester and Tractor Works, Chicago High School for Agricultural Science, O’Hare International Airport’s Agricultural Inspection Service, and career showcase panels. The program is a prerequisite for chapters to send participants to the annual Illinois Farm Bureau & Affiliates Youth Conference in April, and this year we’ll have five area students traveling with me to the conference in East Peoria.

The Titan tour was a fascinating look inside the massive plant that produces over 1500 different sizes and types of agricultural and ATV tires, and our guides and the plant employees were informative and congenial. Titan has extended the offer to us to organize more tours of this type with area farmers and interested individuals, and I will pass along that offer to invite anyone interested in seeing what goes on in this operation. We will start a list of those interested and look into feasible dates (the tour runs from 9:45-11:30 a.m. on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday), and Titan will even provide lunch for adult groups. Call (815) 232-3186 to get your name on the list, and we thank Tracy Kaiser and the Titan staff for their hospitality.

Welcome Miranda!
After interviewing five quality candidates, I’m pleased to announce the hiring of Miranda Grisham of Lanark as our 2016 Summer Program Assistant. Miranda has an extensive list of accomplishments and involvement and is completing her sophomore year at Highland College, where she is involved in the Highland Ag Club and Collegiate Farm Bureau as well as playing on the women’s basketball team. Miranda will be starting full-time on May 16 and may be working on some projects on a limited basis prior to that. We look forward to another great summer with another talented young person assisting us on a variety of projects – be sure to welcome her when you get the chance!

Water testing now available
We now have our nitrate testing equipment in house, compliments of a grant from the Illinois Farm Bureau, and we’re ready to begin testing surface and tile water for area farmers to help determine nitrate levels. We would like to work with farmers on an ongoing basis to perform regular tests to help determine nutrient loss patterns and concerns, and we will attempt to perform tests once a week at the FB office as samples are received. I will also be available to come to the farm for onsite testing as needed. Information regarding sampling procedures is posted on our website at or you can call us at (815) 232-3186 – testing is free for SCFB members with a nominal fee for non-members.

Trip preview program
Area Farm Bureaus and Tri-State Travel are planning an outstanding Panama Canal Cruise January 27 – February 12, 2017, and we will hold a preview program here on Thursday April 14 at 7 p.m. Tri-State’s Jack Wideman will be here with the pictures and details on this exciting excursion, and refreshments will be provided.

Future trips being developed by FB and Tri-State in the next three years include Branson; Louisville, Kentucky; Iceland; French Lick, Indiana; and Utah with various national parks – watch for more details as plans emerge!

Welcome new MVP partners!
We’re pleased to welcome two great local businesses to the SCFB Membership Value Program, offering great discounts to our members. Hilldale Dairy in downtown Freeport is offering Farm Bureau members 10% off in-store purchases (excluding pre-ordered bulk dairy products). Nate and Sarah Thompson recently opened their wonderful deli at 30 W. Stephenson Street (just east of the courthouse) with great sandwiches, soups, sides and more including hot soft pretzels.

We also welcome Next Generation Wireless (US Cellular) to the program offering SCFB members a 20% discount on any accessory purchase (excluding Bluetooth devices). Manager Jose Ortiz welcomes you to their store at 1603 S. West Avenue, adjacent to Sherwin-Williams and JoAnn Fabrics, to take advantage of this great discount. As a satisfied long-time U.S. Cellular customer, I look forward to utilizing this discount. We thank these two new MVP partners for their support, and we urge you to check out the more than 100 local MVP partners offering Farm Bureau discounts at

Save the date!
Our Young Leaders group had an excellent meeting recently hosted by Becca Moest in the office of their High Plains Pork farm near Winslow, and plans were discussed for a number of upcoming events. A new undertaking that I’m excited about is a farm-focused 5K run/walk being planned for Saturday September 24, utilizing a route that showcases a number of prominent Stephenson County farms in the same neighborhood that will hopefully welcome guests following the event. We’re working on details and will discuss the event further at the next meeting – watch for more news to follow!

Bruce Johnson is the manager of the Stephenson County Farm Bureau

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