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.

Farmers Feed the Hungry Campaign Kick-off

The Winnebago-Boone Farm Bureau® Young Leaders are kicking off their “Farmers Feed the Hungry” campaign to raise money for the Belvidere-Boone County Food Pantry and the Rock River Valley Food Pantry.  Farmers can lend a hand in helping our Young Leaders raise money for these local food pantries.  Farmers may donate bushels of corn and/or soybeans until the end of November at the following grain elevators: ADM in Seward; DeLong in Clinton, Garden Prairie and Winnebago; Central Grain in Belvidere; DeMeter LP-Seegers Grain Division in Chemung, and Stateline Grain in Caledonia and Poplar Grove.

The donated grain will be sold and donated to the food pantry of their choice.  One hundred percent of all donations will go directly to the food pantry.

With Thanksgiving and Christmas just around the corner, the Young Leaders are asking you to lend a hand in helping those less fortunate in our community.  Currently, 40 percent of Rock River Valley Food Pantry’’s clients are children and 6 percent are over the age of 65.

Additional donations of non-perishable goods or monetary donations may also be dropped off at the Winnebago-Boone Farm Bureau® office located at 1925 S. Meridian Road, Rockford, IL until the end of November.  Please make checks payable to either the Belvidere-Boone County Food Pantry or the Rock River Valley Food Pantry.  For more information, contact the Winnebago-Boone Farm Bureau at 815-962-0653.  

Click here to download and print donation postcards.    


October is ‘Get to Know GMOs’ Month

Consumers are making a conscious effort to get to know more about how their food is grown - planting gardens, going to farmers’ markets, and searching online for answers. This month GMO Answers invites the public to “Get to Know GMOs” - to ask their toughest questions and join the conversation.

“With the coming of October, we welcome a new fall season, a new harvest, and a new opportunity to connect with consumers about their food - from farm to table,” Cathleen Enright, Council for Biotechnology Information executive director and GMO Answers spokesperson, said. “At GMO Answers, we invite you to ask us any questions you might have about GMOs - from how they are created to who is growing them to what ends up on your table.” More than a year ago, GMO Answers created a central online resource for information on GMOs and how our food is grown. Since then, more than 650 questions have been asked and answered by more than 100 independent experts.

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.


Many producers are rediscovering the benefits of planting cover crops.   Modern reasons for considering the use of a cover crop include: reducing soil erosion, breaking up hardpans in no-till/reduced till systems, moisture and nutrient retention, building organic matter and nitrogen fixation. 

If you have an interest in visiting local farms that are currently using a variety of cover crops, mark your calendar for Thursday, October 30th from 9:00am – noon.  The tour will be hosted by the University of Illinois Extension and the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), and will allow participants to:

*  View cover crops under local farmer management systems
* Walk through fields where cover crops have been planted
* Hear local farmers’ experiences with cover crops (Why they are using them, Success rate, Difficulties encountered, etc.
* Learn about the benefits of cover crops from NRCS, SWCD, and Extension representatives
* Learn about resources available to help you with cover crops on your farm
* Hear from local agricultural companies offering cover crop related services

The tour will begin at the farm of Mike Wills (9981 W. Furlong Rd., Galena), and will be followed by visits to the farms of Dennis Redington and Steve Bader.

This program is being offered at no charge, but pre-registration is requested.  To sign up, please call 815-858-2273 or go online to:

Mike Wills @ 9981 W. Furlong Rd., Galena
Cereal Rye & Oats (9/24), drilled into corn silage, harvested

Dennis Redington @ 8587 W. Council Hill Rd., Galena
Cereal Rye, broadcast into corn, harvested

Steve Bader @ 6876 Bowden Rd., Scales Mound
Barley, aerial into corn, standing


The Illinois Council on Best Management Practices (CBMP) will host a cover crop field day at Sugar Grove Nature Center in McLean, Illinois on Tuesday, November 4, 2014 at 1 pm. The event is free and open to the public.

After flying on a mixture of oats, oilseed radish and turnips on 20 acres of standing soybeans in August attendees are now invited to see the latest results of the project. Cover crop specialists, Pete Fandel and Mike Plumer, will deliver presentations on the use and management of cover crops and how they can improve soil health, water quality and farm productivity. Bryon Kirwan, State Economist for NRCS, will also present on the economic considerations of cover crops.

The event is sponsored by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), the Zea Mays Foundation and the Illinois Council on Best Management Practices (CBMP). These projects are intended to educate both the general public and specific agricultural audiences on the benefits of using cover crops to improve soil and water quality and to improve crop yields. With production farmland and educational facilities in close proximity, the Sugar Grove Nature Center provides an ideal location for the establishment of a Cover Crop Demonstration site.

For more information about the field day please contact Caroline Wade at (309) 231-7440 or by email at

IFB, IPPA hosting informational meetings on state CAFO rules- November 19th

Livestock farmers are invited to hear details of the new state rules for Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO) on Wednesday, November 19th at DeKalb County Farm Bureau- 1350 W. Prairie Drive in Sycamore.  This informational meeting is hosted by the Illinois Farm Bureau and Illinois Pork Producers Association (IPPA). It is important to note that portions of the updated rules impact all livestock farms – not just those required to obtain National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency.

This meeting is open to all farmers. There is no charge, but reservations are required by Wednesday, November 12th. Information will be presented from 4 to 6 p.m., followed by a meal at 6:30 p.m.  Call the DeKalb County Farm Bureau at
815-756-6361 to make reservations to attend.

Dates, locations and registration information are:

  • Nov. 10, Pike County Farm Bureau, 1301 E. Washington, Pittsfield, call 217-285-2233 or email
  • Nov. 12, Sangamon County Farm Bureau, 2631 Beechler Court, Springfield, call 217-753-5200 or email
  • Nov. 13, Nashville Community Center, 455 S. Washington St., Nashville, call Washington County Farm Bureau at 618-327-3081
  • Nov. 17, Effingham Knights of Columbus Hall, 1501 W. Fayette Ave., Effingham, call Effingham County Farm Bureau at 217-342-2103 or email
  • Nov. 18, Knox Agri Center, 180 S. Soangetaha Road, Suite 101, Galesburg, call Knox County Farm Bureau at 309-342-2036 or visit
  • Nov. 20, Evergreen FS auditorium, 402 N. Hershey Road, Bloomington, call the McLean County Farm Bureau at 309-663-6497 or email 



The fourth annual Local and Regional Food Summit, which brings farmers and industry together to learn about different food chain projects, will take place Nov. 13, 2014, at Heartland Community College.

The one-day event is hosted by the Illinois Farm Bureau, Illinois Department of Agriculture and Heartland Community College.

“This event is an opportunity for farmers and industry to convene and learn about the different local and regional projects that are taking shape and learn from experts in the industry,” said Cynthia Haskins, manager of business development and compliance, Illinois Farm Bureau. “This year, we’re excited to offer a wide range of speakers and topics that will touch on everything from the demand for local food at grocery stores to how to market your family’s recipe at farmers’ markets, grocery stores, and restaurants.  

A few of the topics will include:

  • Homegrown by Heroes ™ program
  • The demand for local food at grocery stores
  • Getting started selling fresh produce to foodservice distributors
  • What does a micro-food hub project and serving fresh sweet corn in school have in common?
  • How to market your family’s secret recipe at farmers’ markets, grocery stores, and restaurants
  • Forming a local food hub distribution business
  • Meat labeling and raw milk update
  • Assessing barriers to cooperative formation and overall success in Community Supported Agriculture.
  • A special opportunity is being made available for farmers to meet with buyers during the Meet the Buyers networking event held during the conference.

This year, attendees will have opportunity to view the The Portrait of a Soldier exhibit. This is a traveling display of hand-sketched portraits of fallen service members from Illinois who have been killed since Sept. 11, 2001, in the Global War on Terror and will be on display during the summit. Artist Cameron Schilling, a Mattoon native, drew the first portrait in August 2004, after Army SPC Charles Neeley, also of Mattoon, was killed in Iraq. Schilling gave the sketch to SPC Neeley's parents to convey his sympathy for their loss. In October 2005, while a student at Eastern Illinois University, Schilling decided to draw a portrait of every Illinois service member who has fallen during the Global War on Terror. The portraits are copies of the original, which has been given to the fallen soldiers’ next of kin. The exhibit travels throughout Illinois.

The event will be held at Astroth Community Education Center, 1500 West Raab Road, Normal. Doors open at 8:30 a.m., with the summit beginning at 9:00 a.m. and concluding at 5:00 p.m. For more information and online registration, visit the Illinois Farm Bureau website at  and click on the “IFB News and Events” tab. Conference registration fee is $20 per participant and includes all conference materials, lunch, and breaks. A buffet lunch will feature several local and regional foods prepared by Chef Scott Rowan and provided by Heartland Community College. Due to limited seating, registration must be completed by Nov. 10, 2014. Registration is first come, first served.


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.  

Drive Out Hunger Collectable Tractor
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.

Picture Illinois- 2014 Member Photo Contest (June 1- November 1)

The Illinois Farm Bureau (IFB) is once again asking its members to bring rural life into focus by taking and submitting pictures for the annual member photography contest. 

Picture Illinois, the 2014 Member Photo Contest, is open to Winnebago-Boone Farm Bureau/ IFB members and their families.  The contest is limited to photos taken in Illinois in 2012 or after, by amateur photographers.

Entrants can submit their photos to one of three categories, including “Country Kids,” “Rural Routes” and “These Boots Are Made For…”. The grand prize winner will receive $150, while three first place winners will receive $75 each, three second place winners will receive $25 each and the photo selected as “Members’ Choice” at IFB’s 2014 Annual Meeting in December will receive $50. 

The contest runs from June 1 to Nov. 1, 2014. Winners will be announced in the Spring 2015 issue of Partners magazine and in FarmWeek in January, 2015. Employees and immediate family members of Illinois Farm Bureau and its affiliated companies are not eligible. To view previous winning photos, obtain the complete contest rules and to enter online, go to For questions, or to obtain the contest rules and entry form by mail, contact Dawn Heggie at 309-557-2293 or


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.

FARM BUREAU® and FB® are registered service marks owned by the American Farm Bureau Federation. More information regarding the American Farm Bureau Federation can be found at



You are not authorized to use the Winnebago-Boone Farm Bureau® name or mark in any advertising, publicity, or in any other commercial manner without our written consent. All rights in and to the website belong to the Winnebago-Boone Farm Bureau®. The website and its content, aside from user contributions, are protected by copyright, both with respect to individual content and as a collective work and/or compilation, pursuant to U.S. copyright law, international conventions, and other copyright laws. You may not modify, publish, create derivative works from, distribute or otherwise exploit any of the website's protected content without our prior written consent.

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Information provided is for convenience purposes only. You should consult a professional, as applicable, for advice tailored to your particular situation. Any safety information included on this website is not intended as health or engineering advice, and should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional advice on these topics.

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