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Illinois farmers battle adversity to 2023’s strong crop yield


(The Center Square) – Challenged by a perfect storm intensified by droughts and record input prices, Illinois farmers might not have imagined they’d finish fall 2023 with one of the strongest crops.

According to Illinois Farm Bureau Vice President Evan Hultine, the year proved the power of technology because farmers were helped to compensate for dry spells, one lasting seven weeks.

Summing it up for The Center Square, Hultine said “it wasn’t record yields but it was pretty darn good corn yields.”

While corn remained on an upward trend, soybeans missed the mark a bit, he said of crops used primarily for livestock and biofuel.

“The beans were a slight disappointment in some spots but really nothing bad,” he said. That’s because even soybeans did not dip below average in production levels.

The economy also proved a stress point for farmers in 2023 as inflation spiked input costs like that of seed, and crops met decreased demand with competition from other lands.

Considering the numerous obstacles before farmers in 2023, this measure of success was more than they could have predicted.

“I would say in general overall people were pleasantly surprised with the yields,” Hultine said, adding that even his orchard experienced a sensational year.

As farmers enter 2024 with good moisture levels, he said there’s hope for another year of strong crops. On the legislative front, a major issue facing farmers is expected to be the impact of California’s Proposition 12, which took effect in January with regulations on pig farming.

Additionally, the Illinois Farm Bureau is working to see a new federal Farm Bill enacted with updated policies and programs for farmers. Whether that bill gets enacted in 2024 remains to be seen.

“With everything else going on in DC politically, it’s going to be a hard lift to get a Farm Bill passed this year,” Hultine said.

But despite obstacles, the Illinois Farm Bureau and others are working hard to keep the Farm Bill in the forefront, he said.