On China tariffs, farm groups say no

Earlier this month, the U.S. and China both announced billions of dollars in taxes on billions of dollars worth of imported goods – China is seeking tariffs on $50 billion worth of U.S. products that include soybeans and pork while the U.S. announced taxes on $150 billion worth of 1,300 Chinese products, including electronics. Here’s a look at what farm organizations in the Midwest have to say.

Long-time housing for migrant farmworkers closes

Since 2001, the former hospital on Nightingale Court in Rantoul, Ilinois housed as many as 450 migrant farmworkers and their families to work in the fields in central Illinois.
But this year, its owner – Unique Storage Inc. – did not submit a migrant labor camp application for the site, known as Nightingale, according to the state public health department.
Instead, housing for the farmworkers was moved elsewhere.

Damage from dicamba spurs confusion, questions

In 2016, Monsanto released its dicamba-resistant soybeans in the company’s largest ever rollout of a new biotechnology.
But its accompanying herbicide – XtendiMaxTM herbicide with VaporGripTM Technology – was not approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency until several months later, leading some farmers to use other versions of the herbicide on their soybeans.

In wake of new Monsanto seed, Illinois sees more crop damage

The Illinois Department of Agriculture has received 368 complaints so far in 2017, which are more alleged pesticide misuse complaints than in the previous three years combined, according to a review of a statewide database of complaints by the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting.

Irrigation playing role in water issues across Illinois

While Illinois is not currently facing a water crisis, highly populated areas with high growth — namely Chicagoland and Champaign County — are undergoing some levels of water conflict, partly because of agricultural irrigation. The State Water Survey projects that in the coming decades, Illinois will require 20 to 50 percent more water. But planning for the increase has been inadequate, largely due to a halt in planning because of the ongoing state budget crisis, government water experts say. In 2006, then-Governor Rod Blagojevich issued an executive order that the water survey and Illinois Department of Natural Resources would develop state and regional water supply plans for 10 regions of the state. However, only three of those plans were completed, and two were being developed when the Illinois Department of Natural Resources suspended all regional water supply planning activities in March 2015 because of a lack of funding from the state legislature.

Delays at proposed Tuscola fertilizer plant put tax breaks at risk

Cronus Chemicals will start losing part of its nearly $40 million in state tax incentives if its proposed $1.9 billion ammonia fertilizer plant in Tuscola is not operating by July 2, according to tax credit agreements.

A review of company filings with the state of Illinois shows the project must be “in service” within 24 months of July 2, 2015. According to the documents, “in service” means “the state or condition of readiness and availability for specifically assigned functions.”

And if the plant is not complete and operating within five years of July 2, 2015, the company will lose out on all $40 million of its tax incentives from the Illinois Department of Commerce, said department spokeswoman Jacquelyn Reineke.