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Local Farmers Share Concerns and Hopes For The Future

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Commodity prices and crop loss are just a couple of things farmers worry about every year. Buying less expensive seed or cutting back on fertilizer purchases are also lessons local farmers said they learned from 2016's crop.

Scot Benson, a recently retired farmer said this year he's focusing on his startup business -- one he thinks will help the Agriculture business.

“This product is actually being used to reduce nitrate discharge because we know the exact amount that needs to be added for corn growth,” Benson said. “And as a result of that, we help manage the loss side of the situations which ends up in a river or a stream so it's got production and it's got an environmental side to it.”

The weather was also another main concern for many farmers last year.

“Overall, it was a really challenging year,” Jeff Dust, a local farmer, said. “We had an adequate amount of water, but we also had a lot of winds so there was a lot of green snapping and a lot of corn fields which is obviously an issue to deal with. In the growing season, you never know what you'll end up with in the fall, you just always be optimistic and hope for the best."

So far this winter, there hasn't been a lot of snow, but because of last summer's rain some farmers said the soil is still in good shape.

“We been getting regular moisture,” Benson said. “We been in the same pattern that we have since probably about the first or middle of June -- rain events coming along in a weekly cycle; little bits, nothing excessive, so as long as that stays intact we should be in good shape to raise some crops.”

Illinois State Treasurer Michael W. Frerichs attends the Midwest Ag Expo almost every year. He said as state treasurer, he is working to invest in agriculture through a program with local farmers.

“I think one of the things I hear [farmers] are concerned about is rising interest rates,” Frerichs said. “We want to make sure that farmers have access to capital and we offer them good interest rates so they can be profitable in their businesses.”

During the expo, many companies showed off new equipment that aims to help the agriculture business in the future.

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