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Quick Take: New soybean CEO, more broadband, data science courses

Illinois Soybean Association chooses new CEO

The Illinois Soybean Association board of directors chose John Lumpe as the organization’s new CEO in early February.

“Illinois is consistently the No. 1 soybean state in the nation, and I look forward to working with Illinois farmers to continue that legacy,” Lumpe says.

Lumpe will be responsible for leading the state’s soybean checkoff programs and being an activist for Illinois soybean growers when talking to policymakers.

“Agriculture policy is dynamic and ever-evolving. We look forward to Lumpe being an advocate for us in both state and federal issues where a strong voice is needed,” says Doug Schroeder, ISA chairman and a Mahomet, Ill., farmer.

Lumpe’s resume includes more than 30 years of experience in association management, public relations, strategic thinking, communications and market development. His most recent role was as senior vice president of FLM Harvest. Prior to that, he was the executive director of the Ohio Soybean Association, Ohio Soybean Council and the Ohio Soybean Council Foundation.

Lumpe, an Ohio native, graduated from Walsh College with a bachelor’s degree in communications and journalism. He and his wife, Lisa, have two sons. 

Illinois commits $50 million to expanding broadband

In early February, Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced $50 million in funding for expanding broadband. It’s the first round of matching grants in Connect Illinois, a four-year plan to spend $420 million in a statewide broadband expansion.

“In short, this is about the right of all our communities to access health care, education and economic opportunity,” Pritzker says.

The application program is open to broadband providers, nonprofits and Illinois municipalities, and requires 50% of funding to be from sources other than the state — doubling the total broadband investment to up to $820 million by 2024.

Applicants for the first round of funding will be accepted through April 3. Up to $5 million per project will be available during the first round, and subsequent rounds will follow over the course of the next several years.

“Broadband grants will help extend quality, high-speed service to hard-to-reach areas of the state,” says Josh Shallenberger, CEO of the Shelby Electric Cooperative. “Like rural electrification a century before, Connect Illinois will drive progress throughout meaningful partnership.”

U of I offers data science crash course 

University of Illinois researchers are bringing the basics of data science as it applies to central Illinois agriculture to a two-day-long workshop offered to agronomists, farmers and certified crop advisers.

It’s free and teaches attendants about free tools they can use with their own farm’s data to do things such as improve fertilizer application rates. Attendants will need to bring their own laptops and will be guided through installing and using the free R Studio software and analysis scripts.

Two workshops are open for registration, Feb. 20-21 and March 5-6. Both will take place in Room 1030 at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications, 1205 W. Clark St., Urbana, Ill.

For up to $250 lodging and meal scholarships, as well as registration, visit the Center for Digital Agriculture event webpage.

Webinar for ARC, PLC payments planned for Feb. 24

The National Agricultural Statistics Service will release 2019 county yields for corn and soybeans on Feb 20. These county yields, along with more up-to-date price information, will be used to refine Agriculture Risk Coverage and Price Loss Coverage insurance decisions for 2019 and 2020. 

Those counties that likely will make county yields will be identified in a webinar led by Gary Schnitkey and Jonathan Coppess, professors in the University of Illinois Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics.

The webinar, “Impact of Updated Yield and Price Information on ARC/PLC Decisions,” is planned for Feb. 24, 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. Register on the department’s FarmDoc website.

Compeer Financial launches organic bridge loan

Compeer Financial has announced the launch of a new loan product that provides financing options for farmers transitioning their conventional grain operations to certified organic. Compeer’s organic bridge loan provides built-in flexibility that meets the unique needs of producers who are making the switch.

“When farmers transition all or part of their operation from conventional production to certified organic, they are more likely to experience an initial decline in cash flow due to changing yields and increased costs related to the adoption of new organic farming practices,” says Paul Dietmann, senior lending specialist at Compeer Financial. “Our organic bridge loan addresses these specific needs.”

With Compeer’s organic bridge loan, clients only pay interest on their loan for the first two to three years. The loan converts to a standard five-year intermediate term loan with fully amortized principal and interest payments after a client has achieved organic certification.

Farm Credit offers scholarships, grants

High school seniors pursuing a career in agriculture are invited by Farm Credit Illinois to apply for a $2,000 scholarship. Thirty scholarships will be given in 2020, with two recipients designated as diversity in agriculture scholars.

Recipients are selected based on a combination of academic achievement, participation and leadership in school and community organizations, and the applicant’s commitment to an agricultural career. Applicants must be high school seniors enrolling in a college or university during the 2020 fall semester.

Applicants must reside in — or immediate family must farm in — one of 60 central and southern counties in Illinois served by Farm Credit Illinois. Recipients will receive $1,000 for the fall 2020 semester and $1,000 for fall 2022 semester.

Farm Credit Illinois also is inviting 4-H clubs and FFA chapters organizing projects to apply for a $500 Community Improvement Grant. Fifty $500 grants will be awarded to assist youth members in bringing positive change to their local community.

Online applications for the scholarship and grant programs are available at Farm Credit Illinois’ website and must be submitted by Feb. 28. Questions or requests for additional information may be sent to [email protected].

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