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Peasley: Farmers say new farm bill is essential

In a significant development concerning the price of milk, Congress extended the farm policy until September. Current policy guarantees farmers a minimum of 80 cents per gallon of milk. The current price farmers receive in the open market is about $1.75 per gallon.

Linnea Kooistra, a local dairy farmer, follows the market closely. She said if the farm bill had not been extended, government policy would have reverted back to a law signed by President Truman in 1949 that would guarantee farmers $3.50 per gallon. Reverting to the 1949 numbers would have nearly doubled the cost of a gallon of milk.

Kooistra said farmers and cows have become much more efficient since the days of President Truman. The U.S. dairy industry produces a gallon of milk using 90 percent less land, 60 percent less water, 70 percent less manure and 60 percent less carbon footprint. The average U.S. cow produces more than four times more milk than the average cow worldwide.

James Fraley, Illinois Farm Bureau livestock program director, said extending the old farm bill is only a Band-Aid approach. He said Congress “has a lot of work to do” to get a farm bill passed.

“Dairy farmers are left dealing with the same programs and policies in place for the last five years. The new farm bill is going to focus on more insurance-based risk management-type programs. They only kick in when a disaster comes and farmers need assistance,” he said.

In 1949, McHenry County was a leading county in the country for milk production. That is why Harvard was referred to as the “Milk Center of the World.”

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Hospice & Palliative Care of Northeastern Illinois is sponsoring Hospice Patient & Family Care volunteer training sessions Feb. 2 and 9 at 527 W. South St., Woodstock.

This training will teach prospective volunteers to provide companionship, emotional support, respite for caregivers and, above all, offer a presence, an ear to listen and an understanding smile for hospice patients and their families.

I know firsthand of the valuable contributions these volunteers offer. My wife, Fran, received hospice care from this organization for several weeks before her death in March. To RSVP, call Jan at 224-770-2477.

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Woodstock’s Groundhog Day festivities begin with a pancake breakfast hosted by the Woodstock Lions Club at the Woodstock Moose from 8 a.m. to noon Jan. 27. A free event takes place at 6 p.m. Jan. 31 when Woodstock Willie appears in front of the Opera House on the Square for the Awakening of the groundhog. Woodstock’s furry mascot will pose for photos. A trivia contest will be held at the Stage Left Café.

• Don Peasley has been editor, columnist and historian in McHenry County since 1947. He began his association with Shaw Publications in 1950.

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