Illinois farmers and ranchers received nearly $2 billion in federal aid during the federal fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2005, a time marked by depressed grain prices and record corn and soybean supplies.
About $1.3 billion was given to Illinois farmers in the form of direct payments and $562 million in loans were issued during fiscal year 2005.
More than 100 years ago, vineyards and wineries dotted the Illinois landscape, from the driftless northwest to the sunny hills of southern Illinois. Back then, the state ranked among the country's top producers of wine.
But Prohibition changed all that. The number of wineries and vineyards dwindled, and production eventually shifted to states like California.
It's that time of year again for farmers: conference and workshop time.
Here's a roundup of some upcoming meetings growers might want to attend:
– Farm income workshops
More federal money will flow into University of Illinois food and agricultural research projects next year.
U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin stopped by the National Soybean Research Laboratory at the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences on Monday to announce $3.7 million in new funding through fiscal year 2006 appropriations.
It's a piece of land with quite the past.
What is now a fallow field in northeast Urbana was once a solid waste lagoon. Before that, it was farmland. And prior to being farmland, the Saline Branch of the Salt Fork River (before the river was straightened) used to meander through the area.
SIDNEY – The rumble of Chicago's elevated train? Just a memory.
The night air here is punctuated by howls of coyotes as they prowl along the banks of Rush Creek and the nearby Salt Fork River.
A year and a half ago, Andrew and Jennifer Miller called Hyde Park home.
Today they're reading "Raising Meat Goats for Profit."
URBANA – Four University of Illinois ag programs will get $3.7 million in funding from the federal government next fiscal year – basically everything they asked for.
Let's do a little math.
Suppose a farmer's cornfield yields 141 bushels per acre this year. (The USDA's projected average yield for East Central Illinois is 141.) The farmer receives $2 a bushel for it, based on recent Chicago Board of Trade prices for September corn.
That comes to an income of $282 per acre.
URBANA – To hear the landowners' attorney tell it, the farmland south of Urbana is destined for development, worth easily $10,000 an acre.
The attorney for the University of Illinois, which is taking the land, contends that its best use is farming, so it's worth less than half of that.
OAKWOOD – Fifth-grader Elizabeth Gutterridge lives across the street from a farm, but she never knew how important agriculture is in everyday life and football until Tuesday.