April showers bring May flowers…and wet fields. Farmers were able to make good progress with field work earlier in the month as we saw everything from anhydrous ammonia being applied to planters rolling across the county. The second full week of April started off wet and cool and slowed down field work for a few days, so we will just have to see what Mother Nature has in store for the rest of planting season.
Planting season means tractors, tillage tools, planters, and other pieces of farm equipment are on the roadways. Farm tractors generally travel at top speeds of 15-30 mph and a vehicle traveling at normal speed will overtake tractors quickly. Be sure to keep your eyes open for slow moving vehicles and allow plenty of space for stopping and passing.
We would like to say thank you to everyone who participated in our household hazardous waste collection last month. We had just under 200 participants which made the day a huge success! It was great to see smiling faces and provide a much-needed service to the county. We kicked off the spring collection season for the Illinois EPA and were proud to show them what a great county we live and work in.
For our member spotlight this month, I’ll be introducing you to our newly elected Montgomery CFB President, Dennis Hand. Dennis is a lifelong resident of Fillmore and has been active in the farming community his entire life.
“I grew up on a grain and livestock farm and started farming with my father and my brother. Now my brother and I and my nephew farm here in the Fillmore and Witt area south of Nokomis. We farm grain and cattle right now; we got out of the hog business in the 90s. We farm about 1,300 acres and around one third of it is certified organic by the request of a land lady.”
Switching acres over to organic farming was quite a change for their operation. Dennis says he gives a lot of credit to his brother for making that transition successful.
“I’ve got to give a lot of credit to my brother. He’s the one that really took over the organic and went to the Moses Organic Conference out east. Before that, we were farming mostly no-till. We were about as close to 100 percent no-till as you could get before we switched to organic. Organic means no chemicals and we had to go back to the cultivator and the older ways of farming where you plowed everything and rotary hoed everything for your weed control. It was quite a change for us and still is today.”
Dennis has been an active member of his church and other organizations for several years. Serving as Montgomery County Farm Bureau president is not his first leadership role and he is settling into the position quite nicely.
“Before I was married, I was on the Livestock Feeders Board comprised mainly of cattle feeders in Montgomery, Christian and Macoupin counties. I served as secretary-treasurer for a few years and president for a few years. After that, I met my wife and we had five healthy daughters who are now ranging in age from 29 to 18. I got on the Montgomery County Soil and Water Conservation District Board and am still presently serving. I’ve been active in the church and Knights of Columbus in Nokomis and then I was asked to serve on the MCFB board. My father served on it years ago and enjoyed it, so I thought I’d give it a try and I’m pleased to be nominated and elected as president.”
My final question for Dennis was if he had any goals or things he was looking forward to during his time as president. His response is something that remains important year after year, and one of the key objectives of Farm Bureau employees and members across the country.
“Hopefully, we can maintain our relationship with the county board and our elected officials to keep our voice out there so they know what we’re thinking and keep them educated on what our concerns are. We try to be good stewards of the land and be good neighbors to our urban followers also. I don’t think people realize how many hats a farmer has to wear. They think we just drive tractors up and down the road but there are several challenges out here we compete with. I think we need to keep in front and be a positive role model for farming and farmers.”
As always, thanks for reading and growing your roots in local agriculture. If you have a recommendation for a member spotlight, give us a call at the office or send an email to email@example.com. Take care.