Farmweek 04 08 2019 E Edition Page 1

Periodicals: Time Valued Monday, April 8, 2019 Two sections Volume 47, No. 14 Fulton County's Barry Fisher finds a solid market niche pro- ducing spring lambs for Easter. page 3 Plant ecologist David Zaya seeks east-central Illinois farmers to join his monarch habitat study. page 4 FarmWeek CropWatchers file their first reports of the season, noting wet, chilly soil conditions. pages 6-7 Fieldwork on hold as rain, flooding persist BY DANIEL GRANT FarmWeek It appears farmers in Illi- nois and other parts of the Midwest must remain patient when it comes to spring field- work. A couple more rounds of showers and thunderstorms passed through the state late last week and during the week- end, keeping soils at many locations completely saturated. "A persistent, active weath- er pattern along with above- average precipitation were the biggest weather stories in March," the Illinois State Water Survey (ISWS) noted. "Soil moisture profiles across Illinois remain in the 90th per- centile or higher (the first week of April)." Flooding continues along the swollen Mississippi River and its tributaries, including severe flooding along the Rock River in portions of northwest Illinois and the Quad Cities area. Sandbagging efforts contin- ued last week. The flooding resulted from the combination of snowmelt, heavy rains and frozen soils. Precipitation in Illinois for March averaged 4.16 inches, 1.2 inches above average. This follows the sixth-wettest win- ter on record. "Above-average March wet- ness led to precipitation anom- alies over 100 percent of aver- age for the southern two- thirds of the state, with the most impressive anomalies of 200 to 300 percent of average in a large area of central Illi- nois," ISWS reported. Meanwhile, the temperature last month averaged just 36.6 degrees statewide, 4.7 degrees below average. The low tem- perature occurred March 5 in Cook County (minus 12 degrees), while the warmest reading for the month statewide was 76 degrees in Pope County March 13. The Climate Prediction Center's outlook this month favors the probability of above-average temperatures, which would be a welcome relief compared to the second- coldest April on record in Illi- nois last year. But the active weather pattern could persist, based on the outlook. What should farmers do in the meantime? Resist the temptation to plant into unfa- vorable soil conditions, Jason Carr, crop science technology representative for Bayer, noted on ILSoyAdvisor's blog. "Although there is much truth to the hype surrounding the yield advantages derived from planting soybeans much earlier than historic norms, it is critical that soil conditions WHIRRING ALONG An old windmill, pushed by gusty conditions, stirs into action on a Ford County farm. Sun and wind will be needed to dry Illinois fields, with 57 percent containing surplus topsoil moisture, according to the National Ag Statistics Service. (Photo by Catrina Rawson) are favorable before planting," Carr noted. "Planting into wet soils can result in compaction, improper seed spacing and reduced stands." Farmers were rewarded for their patience last year in Illinois as corn and soybean yields set new records despite a late start to plant- ing. Just 4 percent of the corn crop was in the ground statewide as of April 22 last year. The planting mix also remains in question as field- work delays mount. USDA surprised traders last month when it pegged prospective corn plantings at 92.8 million acres nationwide, up 4 per- cent, compared to a 5 percent BY DEANA STROISCH FarmWeek Illinois Farm Bureau continues to ana- lyze the impact of a recent U.S. District Court decision that blocked parts of a Department of Labor (DOL) rule expanding the use of Association Health Plans (AHP). Twelve district attorneys from 11 states, excluding Illinois, and the District of Columbia sued DOL over its final AHP rule, alleging some provi- sions conflict with the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) of 1974. States also argued it would create an "increased regulatory burden" and result in lost tax revenue, among other things. "The final rule was intended and designed to end run the requirements of the Affordable Care Act, but it does so only by ignoring the language and purpose of both ERISA and the ACA," Judge John D. Bates wrote in his 43-page opinion. "DOL unreasonably expands to defi- nition of 'employers' to include groups without any real com- monality of interest and to bring working owners without employees within ERISA's scope despite Congress' clear intent that ERISA cover benefits arising out of employment rela- tionships." The judge's ruling strikes down the sec- tion of the rule that allowed unrelated employers located in the same state to form a "bona fide group" and sponsor an AHP and the ability for self-employed individuals with no employees to partici- pate in an AHP. It does not impact the rules that allow "related" employers in the same industry to form a "bona fide group" and sponsor an AHP. It's unclear what happens next. DOL could appeal the decision. On the recommendation of its Health Care Working Group, IFB has been in dis- cussions with insurance carriers about cre- ating an AHP for Farm Bureau members. "We are evaluating the impact of the court ruling," said Brian Duncan, IFB vice president and chair of the Health Care Court blocks Association Health Plan rule See Court , page 2 See Fieldwork , page 2

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