Ag economist promotes peer advisory groups for farmers

URBANA – Some independent family farmers are turning to peer advisory groups to help their farming operations to thrive in today's uncertain economy, according to an ag economist.

Danny Klinefelter, a professor of ag economics at Texas A&M University, said independent farmers need the advice and support of fellow farmers to stay on the cutting edge of financial success in an era of rapid changes in the farm economy.

UI Extension offering primer for nonfarmers online

Area residents who know little or nothing about farming can get a crash course in agriculture through an online class being produced by the University of Illinois Extension.

The class, called "Agronomy 101 for Landowners," targets landowners who do not have a farming background, according to instructor Dennis Bowman, a UI Extension crops system educator.

UI agricultural economist says prices reflect possible recession

CHAMPAIGN – Just as the rise of ethanol prices helped to fuel increased income for farmers over the past two years, a University of Illinois economist said the recent drop in ethanol prices may be leading to an agricultural recession that has already cut the prices of crops in half.

UI Professor of Agricultural and Consumer Economics Scott Irwin said his studies indicate that the fortunes of farmers are now more closely connected to the prices paid at the gas pumps than to changes in prices paid at the grocery stores.

Lanman Oil selling parts of business to two farm cooperatives

MATTOON – Two area farm cooperatives have agreed to buy Lanman Oil's farm-fuel delivery, lube oil and nonbranded-transport fuel businesses.

Illini FS is acquiring Lanman's locations in Tilton, Allerton and Kansas as well as a 24-hour key-pump operation in Paris, said Mike Lanman, president of Lanman Oil.

Effingham-Clay Service Co. is acquiring Lanman Oil's farm-fuel delivery business in Mattoon, he added.

UI study-abroad students learning to reduce carbon footprint

PHILO – The Vienna Woods it isn't, but Jim Evans' walnut grove gave participants in the Austria Illinois Exchange Program a lesson in conservation.

Seven students and two University of Illinois faculty members pedaled bikes from campus to the Evans' home near Philo on Sunday to get ideas of how to make Champaign-Urbana a greener place.

Appeals court upholds judge's decision on Salt Fork

SPRINGFIELD – An Illinois Appellate Court ruling in favor of St. Joseph-area landowners could have an effect on drainage districts statewide.

Last December, Judge Holly Clemons denied a request by the Upper Salt Fork Drainage District to raise the annual tax levy permanently from $1.15 to $5 an acre for landowners. She allowed a one-year increase for the district to pay consultants, Midwest Streams Inc., to study the best way to maintain the flow of the river, then for any actions to adjust its course.

Economic downturn yields decrease in area crop prices

URBANA – Uncertainties caused by the nation's recent economic downturn have begun to cause corn and soybean prices to fall in the United States, according to a University of Illinois marketing specialist.

Darrel Good said the current meltdown of the U.S. credit markets, combined with a sharp decline in stock prices, falling housing prices and increased unemployment rates have hurt ag commodity prices.

Report predicts lower yields for corn, soybeans in area fields

A report released over the weekend indicates that corn and soybean yields in East Central Illinois are expected to be lower than a year ago.

According to a new crop-production report released by the Illinois Department of Agriculture's national statistics service on Friday afternoon, corn yields are expected to be as much as 18 bushels an acre below a year ago, while soybean yields have fallen as much as 9 bushels an acre below 2007.

Candidates field environmental queries

URBANA – Local politicians had to answer some interesting questions relating to the environment – including why the federal government doesn't urge its citizens to become vegetarians and the environmental effect of war.

Audience participants at a Tuesday political forum submitted these questions to those seeking election and re-election this fall, as did the Prairie Group of the Sierra Club. Participants also fielded questions from moderator Kirstin Replogle that included topics such as offshore drilling.

Tuscola begins growing biocrops to lure biofuel industry

TUSCOLA – There's more than grass growing by the Tuscola sewer plant.

If city officials are successful, that grass could someday sprout into the foundation for a new energy-fueled economy.