With the weather getting chillier and snow increasing in the forecast, I thought it would be appropriate to share tips for safer and easier winter fuel delivery from Stephenson Service Co. If you utilize Facebook, please give both the Stephenson County Farm Bureau and Stephenson Service Co. a like. Their tips include marking your tanks, as fuel tanks can often become covered in snow; use an indicator that makes it easier for your delivery driver to find and fill your tank. Keep an eye on your tank levels. Keep your regulator clear of snow as this could impact the tank reading and safety. Be sure to clear a path to your tank; this will help the delivery drive maneuver equipment easier. Plow, salt and sand driveways, sidewalks and walkways to prevent and/or reduce slippery conditions.
From my family to yours, we wish you a very merry and safe Christmas.
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Stephenson County Farm Bureau holiday hours: The SCFB will be closed at noon Dec. 24 and will remain closed until 8 a.m. Jan. 4. If you need assistance during this time, please contact manager Victoria Hansen at email@example.com.
Give the gift of a bus trip: Are you looking for a gift for that hard to buy for loved one? Have you considered gifting them a SCFB gift certificate that they can use on a future bus trip registration? The Stephenson County Farm Bureau will be hosting several trips during 2021 and we want you to join.
• Shipshewana Amish Country, from June 7-9
• Door County, from June 14-1
• Saturday Night Fever, on Aug. 29
• Cubs Vs. Brewers at Milwaukee on a date to be determined
For complete trip details please visit stephensoncfb.org, or stop by our office to pick up a flyer.
Deadline for program assistant applicants: We are excited to open the application period for our summer program assistant position. Our summer program assistant assists with various summer programs including Stephenson County Ag Breakfast, Stephenson County Fair and our membership value program. Applications are due on or before Jan. 5. For a complete position description and application, please visit our website at stephensoncfb.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Virtual field trip with Pro Football Hall of Fame: Join Illinois Agriculture in the Classroom and the Youth and Education Team from the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, to learn about the great history of the game. You will not only learn the importance of the agricultural industry to the game itself, but the Hall of Fame will take it one step further and show you a historical perspective on each of those items! Sign up here for webinar links to this field trip: iaitc.co/fieldtrips.
Environmental policy, stewardship, collaboration detailed in Illinois Farm Bureau’s 2020 Environmental Report: In a year of uncertainty, the Illinois Farm Bureau remained certain of its commitment to environmental stewardship in Illinois agriculture. The organization kept a steady stride in its ongoing efforts in the environmental sphere, ranging from nutrient stewardship activity to climate work.
“Our organization spent a great deal of time over 2020 and the past several years building a track record and a reputation for benefiting the environment,” said Richard Guebert Jr., IFB president. “That track record will continue to be important in the coming years as we continue to establish our role in the discussions on environmental solutions alongside our board of directors, county Farm Bureau leadership and Illinois farmers.” The year’s efforts have culminated in the creation of IFB’s 2020 Environmental Report, a 24-page document showcasing efforts across environmental policy and stewardship.
“As demonstrated in this report, we work on many aspects of environmental policy including water quality, fertilizer and pesticide use, pollinators and the Monarch butterfly,” said Lauren Lurkins, IFB director of environmental policy. “We deal with changes that come at the state level, at the federal level and sometimes both at the same time.”
Concerted efforts to strengthen relationships with national agencies, such as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and its Region 5 Chicago office, help keep communication lines open and Illinois farmers at the table.
In 2020, IFB continued this collaboration despite COVID-19 restrictions. In addition to regular phone calls, its farmer leaders, environmental advisory team and environmental staff engaged in several virtual visits with USEPA headquarters and Region 5 staff. These virtual opportunities helped to set the stage for socially-distanced farm visits through the summer and fall.
Additionally, during an October farm visit, IFB and the USEPA Region 5 signed a memorandum of understanding to formalize a voluntary partnership to continue to build upon the existing communication, education, outreach and information sharing between the two entities.
IFB continues to set environmental action as an organizational priority, following through by committing resources to do the job. Since 2015, IFB has contributed to the Illinois nutrient loss reduction strategy.
From 2015 to 2021, IFB has committed over $2,000,000 on progress in four NLRS areas:
•Outreach and education
• Supporting research
• Supporting implementation
• Documenting progress
IFB reports these efforts to the NLRS every year in order to document its progress in these areas.
“We make the extra effort to document each speech, article and field day to demonstrate progress for our members, fellow environmental or agricultural stakeholders, regulators, lawmakers and sometimes even people who are completely unfamiliar with agriculture in Illinois,” said Lurkins.
Earlier this month, IFB announced the recipients of its Nutrient Stewardship Grant Program. The program, now in its sixth consecutive year, is a cornerstone of IFB’s work to implement the NLRS.
Grant funding helps promote local nutrient stewardship, soil health and water quality projects in counties across the state. More than $150,000 will be distributed to support 21 different projects across the state in 2021. Twenty-eight Illinois county Farm Bureaus will collaborate with local farmers and partners on their respective county projects.
All projects will be conducted with the ultimate goal of achieving nutrient loss reduction under the Illinois NLRS.
The NLRS, which was released by the Illinois Department of Agriculture and the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency in July 2015, calls for wastewater treatment plants, urban areas and agricultural areas to reduce the state’s phosphorus load by 25% and its nitrate-nitrogen load by 15% by 2025. The eventual target is a 45% reduction in the loss of these nutrients to the Mississippi River.
In addition to work in nutrient loss reduction, IFB was active in several pollinator and monarch initiatives in 2020. Since 2016, IFB has been a leading member of the Illinois Monarch Project. IMP was established with a mission to help monarch butterflies thrive throughout Illinois by collaborating on conservation activities and encouraging engagement by public and private landowners across diverse urban and rural landscapes.
IFB has played a pivotal role in several key IMP initiatives, including the Illinois Monarch Action Plan Signing in September, Route 66 Monarch Flyway project and the submission of over 200 individual efforts to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Monarch Conservation Database.
After IFB’s approval of a more robust global climate policy in December 2019, IFB increasingly engaged in the area of climate change. This work encompasses several areas including corporate sustainability, regenerative agriculture, weather, carbon sequestration in soils and ecosystem service market trading platforms. IFB’s work focuses primarily on exploring and shaping federal legislative and regulatory efforts, scientific research and industry initiatives.
“Our 2019 global climate change policy was later proposed to American Farm Bureau Federation, and largely accepted by its delegate body in January 2020,” said Guebert. “This work set the stage for AFBF to engage in climate change policy discussions in a variety of avenues, and is a great example of the Illinois Farm Bureau engaging in grassroots development and implementation of policy that is relevant and impactful for our members. We are ready and eager to discuss science-based solutions that are consistent with our policy.”
For a full summary of IFB’s work across the environmental landscape, please view the online 2021 Environmental Report at ilfb.org.
Victoria Hansen is manager of the Stephenson County Farm Bureau
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