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Local Editorials

Leaders know beans about ag

Illinois soybean farmers were the most productive in the nation. Gov. Pat Quinn is correct to recognize their achievement.

Final 2013 harvest figures are in from the National Agricultural Statistics Service, and Illinois’ governor was so pleased that he issued a news release Sunday about the results.

Gov. Pat Quinn saluted Illinois farmers for leading the nation in soybean production.

Illinois is No. 1 by virtue of the 462 million bushels of soybeans that were harvested last fall. Our farmers outdistanced the No. 2 state, Iowa, by 51 million bushels.

Quinn also singled out Illinois corn farmers, whose 2.1 billion bushels harvested finished second only to Iowa (2.16 billion bushels) as far as total production is concerned. The crop was the third largest in Illinois history.

The 2013 crop year followed a drought year, with Illinois’ soybean production up 20 percent and corn production up 63 percent vs. 2012. Quinn pointed to last year’s rebound as proof that state farmers are resilient.

Bob Flider, state ag department director, said that better weather and intelligent management practices aided the rebound.

The governor is correct to pay tribute to Illinois farmers. Their efforts to produce corn, soybeans, sorghum, wheat, oats, hay, potatoes, pumpkins and other crops – not to mention livestock – are crucial to the state’s economy, if not to the continued evolution of civilization itself. After all, without agriculture, people would be have to spend more time finding and producing food themselves. Hunters and gatherers, we’d rather not be.

All this talk about agriculture coincides nicely with Sauk Valley Media’s first Today’s Farm issue of 2014.

The section includes stories about how one company, headquartered in Rock Falls, processes corn cobs into useful products; how another company helps farmers adopt technology in haying and conservation; and how a third company sells enzyme products to help farmers boost yields.

We encourage you to read it.

We also encourage the governor and all state leaders, when considering laws and regulations, to keep the needs of agriculture firmly in mind.

Sometimes, it seems as if government bureaucrats don’t know beans about farming.

If farmers are to prosper, such attitudes must be countered by informed leaders who set the bureaucrats straight.

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