Last call for SCFB Foundation scholarships
May 29 is the deadline for applications for our Stephenson County Farm Bureau Foundation scholarships for students who have earned 30 or more college credit hours. Depending on the volume of applicants, we plan to offer up to six $500 General Studies scholarships, up to nine $500 Ag Studies grants (three provided by the Stephenson County Pork Producers), and up to two $500 Non-Traditional Student stipends (for those going back to school after an absence or job displacement or pursuing an advanced degree).
We typically see a late rush of applications coming in at the deadline, but so far we only have six General apps, one Non-Traditional, and no Ag applications submitted. Previous winners are eligible for consideration again, so please spread the word and don’t miss this opportunity if you are an SCFB member or dependent. Information is online at www.stephensoncfb.org or at the FB office.
Hawkeye Ag Tour cancelled
I’m sorry to report that we’ve had to cancel our June 9-10 Hawkeye Ag Tour to Iowa due to low signup. We were pressed to book hotel rooms as that is World Pork Expo week in Des Moines, and it was obvious that our numbers were not going to be sufficient to proceed. We looked for alternate dates to reschedule later in the summer, but the 3-week August shutdown at the Deere plant and the end of the horse racing and baseball seasons in Des Moines in late August made it impossible to find a conducive date. I apologize to those who were signed up, and I hope you will reconnect when we put this trip back in the schedule for summer 2017.
You call this spring!
After two nights of frost in mid-May and lingering cool temps, everyone is getting anxious for more seasonal temperatures to arrive. The frost in the early morning hours of Sunday May 15 caused widespread damage in the vineyards of northern Illinois and throughout Wisconsin, and there will likely be some field crop damage as well. Assessments will be made to determine if replanting will be necessary or whether the crops can rebound. We are all ready for a spike in temps and more spring-like conditions!
The May 16 Illinois Crop Progress Report showed statewide corn plantings at 83%, up from 78% last week but slightly behind last year’s 92% but ahead of the 76% five-year average. Soybeans are slowly gaining momentum at 29% but lag behind last year’s 43% and the five-year average of 31%. Recent market swings may dictate acreage shifts from corn to soybeans in areas affected by adverse weather.
Study validates the relevance of GM crops
A recently concluded study by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine have determined that genetically engineered crops are safe to eat and do not harm the environment, contrary to the claims of many detractors of the widely-used technologies. The new report was written by a committee of 20, mostly from academia, with no representation from biotechnology companies like Monsanto or DuPont to create any concerns of misrepresentation. The group examined more than 1000 studies, heard testimony from 80 witnesses in a series of public meetings and webinars, and analyzed over 700 comments submitted by the public.
The committee also looked at the incidence of certain diseases, in some cases comparing rates in North America, where genetically modified crops have been part of the diet since 1996, and Western Europe, where food from biotech crops is not eaten much. It said it found no evidence that the crops had contributed to an increase in the incidence of cancer, obesity, diabetes, kidney disease, autism, celiac disease or food allergies.
The committee concludes that the use of crops has generally provided economic benefits for the farmers and can increase their output in certain cases, for instance, by protecting crops from insect damage. Nonetheless, it says that nationwide, the introduction of the crops does not appear to have accelerated the rate at which corn, soybean and cotton yields were already improving. Wayne Parrott, a professor of crop and soil sciences at the University of Georgia and a proponent of biotechnology, said in a statement distributed through the Genetic Expert News Service: “The inescapable conclusion, after reading the report, is the G.E. crops are pretty much just crops. They are not the panacea that some proponents claim, nor the dreaded monsters that others claim.”
The Stephenson County Farm Bureau building will be closed on Monday May 30 in observance of Memorial Day. We say thanks to all who have given unselfishly to defend and preserve the freedoms we enjoy in this country, and we wish everyone a safe and enjoyable holiday.
Cubs game full
As expected, our block of tickets for the September 6 Cubs/Brewers game at Miller Park in Milwaukee vanished quickly, so we’ve started a standby list for that game in the event of a cancellation. Cubs fever is spreading!
Bruce Johnson is the manager of the Stephenson County Farm Bureau.