Mission Statement

Be the voice, resource, and advocate for farm families and agriculture,
while promoting stewardship for today and future generations.

Now seeking a part-time Ag Literacy Educator! 
Click on Ag In The Classroom for more information.

Raffle to raise money for Rock River Valley Food Pantry

Looking for a way to help raise money for the hungry in the Rockford area and possibly fill your freezer at the same time?

The Winnebago-Boone Farm Bureau Young Leaders are selling raffle tickets to raise funds to help out the Rock River Valley Food Pantry.  The Young Leaders will raffle off two quarter sides of beef and two half hogs at the Winnebago-Boone Farm Bureau’s 95th Annual Meeting on March 18, 2015.  Tickets cost $5 each or three for $10.  (You need not be present to win.)

Tickets are now available at the Winnebago-Boone Farm Bureau office located at 1925 S Meridian Road, Rockford, IL.  (Tickets are limited and all proceeds will benefit the Rock River Valley Food Panty.) Stop in today and pick up your ticket.

Key Dates for Farm Programs

USDA announced key dates for farm owners and producers to keep in mind regarding the new 2014 Farm Bill established programs, Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC).  The new programs, designed to help producers better manage risk, usher in one of the most significant reforms to U.S. farm programs in decades.  Farmers may begin visiting their local Farm Service Agency (FSA) offices in Freeport, IL if they want to update their yield history and/or reallocate base acres, the first step before choosing which new program best serves their risk management needs. Letters sent this summer enabled farm owners and producers to analyze their crop planting history in order to decide whether to keep their base acres or reallocate them according to recent plantings

Dates associated with ARC and PLC that farm owners and producers need to know:

·         Sept. 29, 2014 to Feb. 27, 2015: Land owners may visit their Freeport Farm Service Agency office to update yield history and/or reallocate base acres.  (Must bring completed PLC Yield worksheet to the meeting.)

·         Nov. 17, 2014 to March 31, 2015: Producers make a one-time election of either ARC or PLC for the 2014 through 2018 crop years.

·         Mid-April 2015 through summer 2015: Producers sign contracts for 2014 and 2015 crop years.

·         October 2015: Payments for 2014 crop year, if needed.  

USDA helped create online tools to assist in the decision process, allowing farm owners and producers to enter information about their operation and see projections that show what ARC and/or PLC will mean for them under possible future scenarios.  The new tools are now available at    Farm owners and producers can access the online resources from the convenience of their home computer or mobile device at any time.


Additional decision assistance is available at farmdoc: and Agriculture Policy Analysis System (APAS):


Key Date for Margin Protection Program (MPP-DAIRY)

A key date for dairy producers to keep in mind regarding the Margin Protection Program (MPP-DAIRY) is November 28th.  Producers participating in the MPP-Dairy program need to submit their Production History Establishment and Premium Calculation worksheet by Friday, November 28th.

2014 Farm Bill Meetings

Got questions about the 2014 Farm Bill?  Need to update your program yields or reallocate your base acres?  Don’t worry; there are a number of opportunities in the local area to find the answers.

Tuesday, December 2nd from 1-3 p.m. at the Belvidere Township Building located at 8200 Fairgrounds Rd., Belvidere, IL  (visit to register or for more information)

Monday, December 8th from 10 a.m.-Noon at the Belvidere Township Building located at 8200 Fairgrounds Rd., Belvidere, IL (visit to register or for more information)

Wednesday, December 10th from 1-3 p.m. at the U of I Extension located at 421 W. Pines Rd., Oregon, IL (visit to register or for more information)

Wednesday, December 10th from 6-8 p.m. at the U of I Extension located at 421 W. Pines Rd., Oregon, IL (visit to register or for more information)

Tuesday, December 16th from 1-4 p.m. at the Stephenson County Farm Bureau located at 210 W. Spring St., Freeport, IL (call FSA at 815.235.2141 extension 2 for more information)

Wednesday, December 17th from 1-3 p.m. at the U of I Extension located at 421 W. Pines Rd., Oregon, IL (visit to register or for more information)

Wednesday, December 17th at 6 p.m. at the Illinois Conservation Foundation located at  13735 Cook Rd., Pecatonica, IL (Federal Crop Insurance sponsored by COUNTRY Financial and Farm Bill provided by Illinois Farm Bureau- to register contact your agent:  Tyler Hoffman at 815-248-2188, Scott Julius at 815-335-3328, John Peterson at 815-239-2110, Jeff Young at 815-624-8411, or the Agency office at 815.633.9313)

Thursday, December 18th from 9 a.m.-Noon at the Winnebago-Boone Farm Bureau located at 1925 S Meridian Rd., Rockford, IL (call FSA at 815.235.2141 extension 2 for more information)

Wednesday, January 21st at 6 p.m. at the Apollo Theater located at State St., Belvidere, IL (Federal Crop Insurance & Farm Bill sponsored by COUNTRY Financial to register contact your agent: Dana Farina and Bruce Nelson at 815-547-3912 or the Agency office at 815.633.9313)

Friday, January 30th from 1:30-4:30 p.m. at the NIU Conference Center, Rockford, IL (hosted by: Illinois Farm Bureau, University of Illinois Extension, and Farm Service Agency- more info to come)

Additional resources may be found on the Farm Bill page of the Illinois Farm Bureau website at

Start Putting Small Acreage to Work as a Hobby or Enterprise- Dec. 6th

Do you have a few extra acres you’d like to put to good use?  Whether it’s an old farmstead, a fallow green space, or a great big yard you’d rather not mow, you probably have some ideas about what it could become.  “How to get started is the question,” said Andy Larson, local foods and small farms educator for University of Illinois Extension in Boone, DeKalb, and Ogle counties.  “That’s why our Local Food Systems and Small Farms Extension team is hosting a workshop in Rockford called Putting Small Acres to Work.”

“Putting a few extra acres into plant or animal production can start a new interest or hobby, or it can be the first step towards a new farm business,” added Grant McCarty, local foods and small farms educator in JoDaviess, Stephenson, and Winnebago counties.  “Either way, we want to help folks start off on the right foot, pursuing both sustainability and productivity.”

Putting Small Acres to Work will take place Saturday, December 6th, at the NIU Rockford Meeting and Conference Center located at 8500 E. State St., just one mile east of I-90.  The registration desk will open at 8:00am, and the program will last from 9:00am to 4:00pm.  There will be general sessions on building soil health and choosing scale-appropriate equipment, as well as numerous breakout sessions on both plant and animal topics, including perennial vegetables, berry fruits, root cellars, season extension, chickens, hogs, beekeeping, and grazing.  Outreach professionals from both Illinois and Wisconsin will provide the expertise.

 “You don’t have to own hundreds of acres to create a profitable business,” said Connie Echaiz, local foods and small farms educator in Lake and McHenry counties. “We developed these workshops to help people realize the possibilities that a few acres can provide.”

To register for Putting Small Acres to Work at NIU-Rockford, please visit our website at and go to “Register Online” on the right-hand side.  You can also contact University of Illinois Extension-Boone County at 815-544-3710 for more information or to register.  The program fee is $40 per person, which includes all program materials and lunch.  Please register by Monday, December 1st to guarantee a space and a meal.

If you need a reasonable accommodation to participate in this program, please contact the Boone County Extension office.


The Illinois Specialty Crops, Agritourism and Organic Conference will be held Jan. 7-9, 2015, at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Springfield. The conference, which features nearly 100 speakers and 70 trade show exhibitors, will again host four concurrent preconference workshops, general sessions and breakout sessions aimed at helping Illinois specialty growers cultivate their operations.

Wednesday, Jan. 8, participants may attend one of the preconference workshops, including pollination, pollinators, and specialty crop production; high tunnel and greenhouse production; wholesale marketing from the farmers and buyers perspective; and underground vegetable treasurers:  roots and tubers.

Thursday, Jan. 9, keynote speaker, Stacy Pasoni, “The Healthy Hippie Chef,” author and healthy living coach, will provide growers with the necessary tools to better understand health-conscious consumers.

Participants also are invited to attend breakout sessions Thursday, Jan. 8, and Friday, Jan. 9, featuring:

  • Agritourism
  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Herbs
  • Organic Foods
  • Emerging Issues and Opportunities

 Following Thursday’s breakout sessions, the annual banquet will include a keynote speech titled, Passing the Torch:  Generations of Diversification and Transitions Over 142 Years, by Ren, Betty, Wayne, and Michelle Sirles of Rendleman Orchards in Alto Pass. The 26th annual Apple Cider Contest and 13th annual Hard Cider Contest will again be held in conjunction with the conference, with winners being announced during Thursday evening’s festivities.                

To receive registration materials or to obtain exhibitor information, please contact Diane Handley at 309-557-2107 or A detailed conference agenda and cider contest details can be viewed at A block of rooms has been reserved at the Crowne Plaza Hotel at a rate of $92 per night. Please call the hotel directly at 217-529-7777 and ask for the Illinois Specialty Crops, Agritourism and Organic Conference room block to make reservations at the conference rate.  

2015 N IL Farm Bureau Bowling Tournament- Saturday, January 17th

Ready for some family fun?   The 2015 N IL Farm Bureau Bowling Tournament will begin with Registration at 1 p.m. and the tournament will begin at 2 p.m. on Saturday, January 17th at the Forest Hills Lanes in Loves Park, IL.  The tournament will consist of the following men and women divisions: under 12 with bumpers; under 12 without bumpers; Young Adult 12-18; Young Adult 19-35; Adult 36-54; Senior 55-64; and Senior 65+.  Awards will be presented for high score individual in each division as well as high score in the Child (under 12) and Adult (12+) divisions. 

Reservations are due to the Winnebago-Boone Farm Bureau Office by Wednesday, January 14, 2015.  The cost per bowler will be $14.00 (children under twelve will be $12.00) with free shoe rental.  (The registration fee will be collected at the bowling alley.) 

Registration Form

Drive Out Hunger Collectable Tractor- Only 90 left!
The Illinois Farm Bureau Young Leaders have teamed up with Feeding America, the nation’s largest food bank to help reduce the number of households in Illinois that faces hunger this year.  You can start a “collection” that will not only help area families, but also increase in value over time.  When you purchase the limited-edition tractor collectable, 100% of the profits will go to Harvest for All!

The1:32 scale metal die-cast, Illinois Farm Bureau, Steiger® 450 RowTrac TM is fully equipped with an opening cab door, opening hood, articulated body, detailed engine, movable 3-point hitch with draw bar, movable mirrors, a detailed interior, and a GPS dome.  The tractors are available for $60.00 through the Illinois Farm Bureau Young Leader Department at 1701 Towanda Avenue, Bloomington, IL  61701.  For details contact the Young Leader Department at 309-557-2536 or download an ORDER FORM.  This is a limited edition of 276 tractors, so order yours today.


Do you have questions about agriculture and wish to know the answer?  Here is your chance! 

Q: How many hours a day does a farmer work?
A: Depends on the farm operation.  I raise beef cattle as well as produce corn, soybeans, wheat, oats, and hay.  In the summer months, I typically work 16 days.-David

Q: Can there be more than one queen bee in a hive?
A: No, there is only one queen bee in each hive.- Phillip, Raines Honey Farm

Q: How many honey bees does it take to make enough honey to fill a 12 oz. bear?
A: It takes 12 honey bees make one tablespoon of honey.  Therefore, it will take 864 honeybees to make enough honey to fill a 12 oz. bear bottle.- Phillip, Raines Honey Farm

Q: When a farmer does crop dusting, does he do it or does his brother/hired guy?
A: The Farmer generally hires an outside source or company to spray (crop dusting) for them due to requirements for licenses, insurance and experience.- Cody

Q: What percentage of crops grown and sold in Boone County are organic? GMOs and non-GMOs?
A: "Short answer is no one knows... The most recent USDA Ag Census data lists Boone county as having 137,000 acres in farmland in 2007.  While it may look like it, not all acres are corn and soybean fields.  Of the acres planted in 2007, 59% were planted to field corn, 24% to soybeans, 3.5% to alfalfa and other forage (mainly used to feed cows, horses, and other ruminants), and 2% to wheat.  The remaining acres are a diverse mix such as nursery trees, fruits, vegetables, and pasture for animals.  

Seed that has been developed with a genetically modified organism (GMO) is most often found in corn and soybean seed varieties.  Farmers do not have any wheat GMO seed varieties that they can buy.  Most of the fruit and vegetable production is produced for local food markets and is mainly organic and non-GMO. 

So that leaves corn and soybeans.  I have grown both GMO and non-GMO varieties.  What I plant depends on; seed variety yield, the weeds and insects that I find in my fields, and market prices.  I sell my grain to two local elevators.  One contracts directly with farmers to raise specific varieties of corn and soybeans depending on what a buyer such as a food processor wants.  The grain buyer at that elevator estimated about 90% of the soybean seed varieties grown in the local area are GMO and 80% of the corn.  

Working through the math, a good estimate would be about 70% of the farm land acres in Boone County are grown using a GMO seed variety."- Ken

Q: Why do honeybees make honey?
A: Honey bees make honey to feed the hive and store enough to get through the winter.  If there is extra, that is what the beekeeper. -Phillip, Raines Honey Farm

Q: What starts their (honey bees) honeycomb?
A: When honey bees eat nectar and honey, they secrete wax on their abdomen (same as people grow hair).  They use this wax to build the honeycomb.  TRIVIA: 1 pound of honeycomb will support 24 pounds of honey. -Phillip, Raines Honey Farm

Agricultural Security & Terrorism Awareness

In January 2013, the Winnebago Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) in partnership with Win-Bur-Sew Fire Department hosted an information meeting on “Agricultural Security & Terrorism”.  The presentation was given by Steffan Nass, Weapons of Mass Destruction Coordinator- FBI’s Springfield Division. 

Agro-Terrorism is defined as the deliberate introduction, use, or threatened use, of a chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, or explosive agent against one or more components of the food or agriculture sectors, with the goal of causing mortality or morbidity, generating fee, precipitating economic loss, or undermining sector stability and confidence in government.

Here are a few indicators of Agro-Terrorism.

  • Suspicious persons asking specific questions about a facility or process.
  • Unauthorized photography of processes in or around facilities or farms.
  • Possessions of chemicals, biological agents, vaccines, or medication with no apparent purpose
  • Manuals, communications, or websites pertaining to chemicals or biological agents
  • Attempts to rent or borrow ag-related equipment for no logical reason or purpose
  • Thefts of anhydrous ammonia or other fertilizer products
  • Thefts of livestock

 Agricultural Retail Facilities should report any of the following:

  • Any attempted purchases of pesticides by those not authorized or those without need
  • ALL security breaches if applicable
  • Suspicious activity around anhydrous ammonia storage facilities
  • Suspicious attempts to purchase fertilizer (such as ammonium nitrate, or agricultural use pesticides) by unfamiliar or suspicious persons

Producers and Auction Markets should report any of the following:

  • Suspicious behavior around farms or ranch operations
  • Theft of nurse tanks containing agricultural use pesticides or hazardous materials (Report Immediately)
  • Unusual symptoms or behavior in livestock
  • Sudden unexplained death or loss in livestock
  • Severe illness in large numbers of animals
  • Suspicious illnesses among employees

Aerial Applicators should report any tampering or attempts to purchase or rent aircraft or chemicals. 

Suspicious signs and symptoms of illnesses in employees should be reported to your local health department.  Health officials should be made aware of the emergency, normal duties and any contact with sick animals that may have led to the illness.  Details of contact with feed products, medical supplies, or chemicals that the employee may have had contact with should also be noted.

Suspicious signs and symptoms of illnesses in animals (such as blistering or ruptured blisters around the mouth, nose, teats, or hooves; central nervous system disorders that prevent the animal from rising or walking normally; loss of appetite and conditioning; swelling around the eyes and neck in poultry; dramatic drop in egg or milk production; large number of dead insects, rodents or wildlife; and unusual ticks or maggots) should be reported to your veterinarian.

If a crime is in progress, CALL 9-1-1 immediately.  If you have information about a crime, or to report suspicious activity, please contact the Federal Bureau of Investigation at (217) 522-9675.  The following information is needed: 

  • Your location
  • What activity is occurring
  • If a weapon is involved
  • Location of the activity
  • Description and license plates of any vehicles involved (make, model, color and direction of travel)
  • Description of persons (race, age, height, weight)
  • Your contact information

This information was provided by the Illinois Agro-Security Working Group.  The Illinois Agro-Security Working group is a partnership between frontline agricultural industry personnel and local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies for the purpose of preventing criminal and terrorist activities in and around Illinois agriculture and food systems.  The Federal Bureau of Investigation, Illinois Department of Agriculture, Illinois Fertilizer Chemical Association, Illinois Pork Producers, Illinois Soybean Association, Illinois Corn Growers Association, Illinois Farm Bureau, Illinois Beef Association, and the United States Department of Agriculture form the Illinois Agro-Security Working Group.

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Winnebago-Boone Farm Bureau® is affiliated with the Illinois Farm Bureau®. Illinois Farm Bureau® is a member of the
American Farm Bureau Federation®, a national organization of farmers and ranchers including Farm Bureaus in all 50 states and Puerto Rico, and is responsible for Farm Bureau® membership and programs within Illinois.

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