GROWING YOUR ROOTS • Visiting Farms During Harvest

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Snack bags, field visits, and friendly conversations do a great job of summarizing what we (Farm Bureau) have been up to the past month. 

Dry weather has allowed great progress to be made with harvest across the county. Reports vary by township as far as completion rates and yields, but the county as a whole is somewhere between 50 to 75 percent finished with harvest 2020. Most farmers we’ve talked to have said they are happy with how the crops are yielding. 

Field visits provide a chance for us to check in with farmers across the county and drop off meals and snacks to help break up the monotony that sometimes occurs with long harvest days and nights. We were fortunate to partner with our local Country Financial reps and make deliveries, or provide drive-through lunches in every corner of the county. This is a favorite time of year for us! 

Some farmers were greeted by an unfamiliar face during our field visits, as Emily Vahlkamp, an Illinois Farm Bureau Manager Trainee spent two weeks training in the county with me. Emily is from Freeburg, where she grew up on her family’s grain farm and she has a degree in plant sciences from the University of Wyoming.  Besides field visits, Emily also helped with the Farm Bureau Facebook page and learned essential operations of the office. Her next stop for training is unknown, but she will continue visiting counties across the state. We enjoyed introducing Emily to Montgomery County. 

For our member spotlight this month, we take you to Witt in Rountree Township. Dave Schweizer has been a Farm Bureau member since 1983. He lives and works on the farm where he was raised and where he has raised his own children.

“Well I’ve lived on this farm all my life. My dad started the milking operation and his parents had started the farming operation. A few years ago, I moved here with my wife and we raised our kids here. We farm 500 acres of corn and soybeans and milk sixty milk cows and have about 60 heifers running around on the farm.” 

Dave is a producer for Prairie Farms Dairy. The approximate one million pounds of milk produced on his farm every year is delivered to the local plant in Carlinville. A gallon of milk weighs 8.6 pounds. We’ll let you do the math…that’s a lot of gallons! 

“As most people know with dairy, it’s a 24/7 job. It keeps us busy. Luckily, I have my son-in-law, Chris Payne, helping me and we can get a little break once in a while.” 

Dave was sure to give credit to his wife and daughter for their help on the farm as well. Even though they work off the farm, they still play a vital role in the operation. Harvest is going well for the family. The dry weather has helped move things along and he is happy with the yields of both his corn and soybeans. When asked if he has a favorite memory of the farm, Dave gave an answer that we think will ring true with many farm families. 

“Well, I really like the cattle but just knowing that my dad and I have built this farm and we also repair everything and do as much as we can ourselves, when you look around it’s like, he and I did it.” – Just one of many reasons family farms are so special to many. 

In other news, COVID-19 has changed our plans for our annual meeting. Unfortunately, we are unable to host a meal and large gathering for our members. Our November annual meeting will still take place, but there will be no meal and it will be a business only format. Meeting notices were included with voting member dues at the beginning of the month. If you have questions, please call the office. We hope to be back to normal by next November. 

Our last item of business this month is to remind you to get to the polls on Nov. 3! The following was written by Drew DeSutter, Chairman of the Illinois Farm Bureau Young Leader Committee; “Sometimes politics feels like a chore, like hauling manure...it stinks. Voting, however, is a lot like looking out at your beautiful herd of cattle and knowing all those chores are worth it. If we look past the politics, we can see policy, and voting influences policy whether your candidate wins or loses. Policy ultimately impacts your farm and your family. Voting is an opportunity to feel the freedom that was bestowed on us from the sacrifices of so many people and that is a great feeling regardless of politics.” 

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