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The big story in Illinois agriculture in 2016 continues to be the 'margin squeeze' faced by crop producers — brought on by low corn, soybean, and wheat prices and costs of production that have yet to fully adjust to the new price realities, according to one U of I agricultural economist. At present prices, further cost of production reductions will be required. Producers and landowners face a series of difficult management challenges as they grapple with how to adjust to the changed environment.

Should cash rents be lowered? If yes, by how much? How much relief will be seen through lower fertilizer and seed prices? What are the prospects for grain prices to recover from current depressed levels? The University of Illinois Extension and members of the farmdoc team from the Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics in the College of ACES is offering a series of five Farm Economics Summit meetings to help producers navigate these difficult times.

Speakers at the summit will explore the farm profitability outlook and management challenges from several perspectives, including the 2017 outlook for prices, farm financial management in tough times, needed changes in farmland leases, updates on the farm program safety net, agricultural credit conditions, and long-term weather and yield trends. The format for the meeting will be fast-paced and allow plenty of time for questions from the audience.

Sponsored by U of I Extension, the farm economics summit will be offered at five different locations during the month of December.

The dates and locations are as follows:

Monday, Dec. 12 -- Champaign, iHotel and Conference Center
Tuesday, Dec. 13 -- Dekalb, Faranda’s Banquet Center
Wednesday, Dec. 14 -- Peoria, Par-A-Dice Hotel Casino
Thursday, Dec. 15 -- Springfield, Crowne Plaza
Friday, Dec. 16 -- Mt. Vernon, Holiday Inn

The sessions will begin at 7:45 a.m. and conclude at 1:30 p.m. The advance registration fee is $70 per person and includes lunch, refreshments, and all meeting materials. Register online at
https://www.regonline.com/registration/Checkin.aspx?EventID=1895758 by Dec. 5, which includes a $5 discount. Registration at the door is $75 per person as space permits.

For questions about registration, contact Nancy Simpson (
nsimp1@illinois.edu; 217-244-9687).

See the website for the complete agenda and list of speakers at
http://www.farmdoc.illinois.edu/ifes/2016/index.html .

For more information on University of Illinois Extension programming in Bond, Clinton, Jefferson, Marion & Washington Counties, visit the U of I Extension website at
http://web.extension.illinois.edu/bcjmw/. For information on Effingham County visit http://web.extension.illinois.edu/cefj/
As snow and ice season approaches, Representative Avery Bourne is teaming up with the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) and the Illinois State Police (ISP) to remind motorists in the 95th District to be prepared. By taking steps to prepare for wintry driving conditions, the motoring public can do their part to make this a safe and successful winter driving season.

"Building some extra time into your driving schedule is important when driving through inclement weather,” says Rep. Bourne. “Extra time and these additional preparations will provide you with peace of mind and help to make your trip safer this winter.”

Travelers are encouraged to follow a few simple rules and tips during the coming months:

• Always wear a seat belt. It’s the law in Illinois. 

• Slow down. You need extra space and time to brake.

• Drop it and drive. Put down the handheld devices – it, too, is the law in Illinois. 

• Don’t crowd the plow. A snow plow operator’s field of vision is restricted.

• Avoid using cruise control in snow and ice.

• Be especially careful approaching intersections, ramps, bridges and shady areas, as they are prone to icing.

• Do not travel during bad weather unless absolutely necessary. If you do have to make a trip, check the forecast and make sure someone is aware of your travel route.

• Prepare an emergency car care kit that contains jumper cables, flares or reflectors, windshield washer fluid, a small ice scraper, traction material, blankets, non-perishable food and a first aid kit.

• Carry a cell phone and a car charger in case of emergency.

“Winter weather can severely impact driving conditions, especially when snow and ice are involved,” said ISP Director Leo Schmitz. “The Illinois State Police urge motorists to ensure their vehicle is prepared for the winter driving season and to adjust driving habits appropriately during poor weather conditions.”

At any time, motorists can check travel conditions by calling 1-800-452-IDOT (4368) or visiting gettingaroundillinois.com. Illinois Tollway information is available at 1-800-TOLL-FYI.
 

Representative Avery Bourne (R-Raymond) has been working with law enforcement and local prevention groups to combat the opioid epidemic here, in central Illinois. Bourne is encouraging constituents to take advantage of prescription drug disposal sites as one way to prevent the addiction. “In 2014, regulations were expanded to allow for more types of locations to accept unwanted medications. As a result, disposing of medications is now easier and more convenient than ever,” said Bourne.

Surveys of prescription drug abusers tell us that a majority of those with opioid addictions started by stealing unused prescription medication from friends and family. A number of organizations and businesses are taking steps to prevent this catalyst to addiction by organizing prescription take-back initiatives nation-wide.

The Illinois Medical Society (ISMS) has taken action to educate Illinois physicians and the public on ways to curb this epidemic. Last week, in partnership with ISMIE Mutual Insurance Company, ISMS distributed more than 11,000 kits promoting the importance of disposing of unused medications. The disposal kit contains information for doctors and patient materials highlighting the importance of proper disposal and what should be done with unused medications. The kit is accessible for free download by anyone at
www.isms.org/Take-Back.

This Take-Back initiative addresses a vital public safety and public health issue. Medicines that languish in home cabinets are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse, and abuse. Studies show that a majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including from the home medicine cabinet. In addition, Americans are now advised that their usual methods for disposing of unused medicines—flushing them down the toilet or throwing them in the trash—both pose potential safety and health hazards.

If you need to find a take-back location, please call Representative Bourne’s district office at (217) 324-5200 or check online at
https://apps.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/pubdispsearch.
Representative Avery Bourne (R-Raymond) joined leaders in the community today as they announced that the City of Litchfield has been awarded a grant from the Illinois Dept. of Transportation. The grant totals over $1.8 million dollars and will be used for transportation improvements citywide.

Litchfield Mayor Steven Dougherty, Chamber of Commerce President Jessica Vickery, Congressman Rodney Davis, and Representative Avery Bourne were in attendance.

“Litchfield and the surrounding area will greatly benefit from the construction and business development that this grant brings,” said Bourne. “This commitment by city leaders to improve our local infrastructure is critical to ensuring Litchfield is a place where businesses and families choose to call home. I especially want to thank Congressman Davis for his work in allowing the City of Litchfield and other local stakeholders to have more control over our tax dollars that are devoted to infrastructure.”

Last year, Congressman Rodney Davis worked to secure this funding through the FAST Act, which gives greater local control over federal transportation dollars. The FAST Act authorizes federal highway, highway safety, transit, and rail programs from federal fiscal years 2016 through 2020. Specifically, it provided the funds for this and other area grants released through IDOT’s Transportation Enhancement Program.


“The City feels it important to have safe means for pedestrians to travel whether it is for leisure or getting to work, or visitors getting around this great community,” said Mayor Dougherty. “The City would not have been able to do the project on this scale without the assistance and support we have received for this project from Representative Bourne, Senator Manar, and Congressman Davis.” He added, “They truly believe in small towns and the opportunities they provide for businesses and visitors. I am grateful to IDOT and our elected officials for the grant and their support.”

A major benefit of this grant is the creation of the infrastructure to grow westward across Interstate 55. The new sidewalks to the west side of the Litchfield will allow a network to connect the furthest west point to the rest of the community. The project includes sidewalks, traffic control, lighting, signage, and pedestrian amenities.
State Representative Avery Bourne (R-Raymond) recently had the opportunity to assist Lydia Johnson, Coordinator of Staunton’s Meals on Wheels Program. Representative Bourne fought to have this program funded through the six-month, bridge funding that passed the Illinois General Assembly. Volunteering with the program gave the Representative the opportunity to see the program’s impact in the community.

Nationwide, Meals on Wheels operates in numerous communities in America through a network of more than 5,000 independently-run local programs. They are committed to assisting their senior neighbors with living healthier and more nourished lives in their own homes.

“’Meals on Wheels’ is a program that serves so many needs in the community,”

said Bourne. “Those that receive the delivery get so much more than a hot meal from the volunteers. Through this program, many senior citizens are able to stay in their home and be more independent.” 

“Meals on Wheels” of Staunton delivers nutritious, hot meals to senior citizens and the disabled. Volunteers are always appreciated and Lydia Johnson encourages volunteers to step up in communities across the district because of the tremendous positive impact it has on the recipients’ quality of life. 

Individuals who would like to volunteer or need more information on qualifying for the meals should call Representative Bourne’s district office at (217) 324-5200 for their community’s contact information.

Representative Avery Bourne (R-Raymond) welcomed colleagues from the Illinois House to join her on a tour of Graham Correctional Center on Monday, October 17th.

“Graham Correctional facility is important to the residents of Hillsboro, Montgomery County and surrounding communities, it serves as a key component in the Illinois Department of Corrections,” said Rep. Bourne. “I often hear concerns from the community and those that work here at Graham; whether it is uniform changes, working conditions, or other various questions.” Bourne added, “I feel that it is important to listen and understand what is happening inside this facility.”

On the tour officials visited several different areas of the facility which included the clinic, industrial arts building, substance abuse counseling center, visitation room, and guard stations. Lawmakers were able to interact with prisoners and converse with correctional officers.

“It’s important that legislators take the time to visit state facilities, listen to correctional officers, and understand what these men and women who serve our community are encountering,” said Rep. Bourne.

Graham Correctional Center is a medium security correctional facility that houses adult male prisoners. It is located two miles southeast of Hillsboro on Route 185 and has 50 buildings housed on over one hundred acres. Graham Correctional Center not only serves general population but houses several special populations, including those who receive substance abuse treatment, sex offender treatment, and inmates in a kidney dialysis program.
Formed in July, the bi-partisan School Funding Reform Commission is tasked with making recommendations to the General Assembly by February 1st, 2017. The end goal is to revise the current school funding formula to ensure fair and equitable funding for Illinois’ public education system.

State Representative Avery Bourne (R-Raymond) was appointed to the bipartisan School Funding Reform Commission and joins 24 other members who attend meetings regularly. The group just wrapped up their sixth meeting and will continue to delve into issues critical to the distribution of education funding in the following months. The meetings and schedule can be found at the commission’s website, www.isbe.net/ISFRC/default.htm.
“I am optimistic that real change will come from our group’s proposals,” said Rep. Bourne. “Illinois has shortchanged our schools for years. We have to revamp the outdated formula so that every child in this state receives a high quality education. ”

The current formula, created in December 1997, is so dependent on property taxes that it creates inequality for school districts with low property wealth. The Education Trust, a nonpartisan advocacy group, found Illinois' school funding system to be the nation's most unfair. It found that poor students receive nearly 20 percent fewer state dollars than students in wealthier districts. Most of those poorer districts are downstate.