As a result of the Farm Bill passed by Congress a year ago, efforts to increase wildlife habitats and natural areas that filter fertilizer run-off will receive less funding and result in fewer acres of conserved land. As of December, there were 9,770 acres set aside in Champaign County for a program in which the federal government rents land from farmers for conservation purposes.
Robert “Chip” Petrea was trying to feed damp yellow hay into a red baler on a wet Sunday afternoon in 1978, but the machine refused to pick it up. Petrea was working in a low-lying field that frequently flooded. A storm was headed toward the 89-acre dairy farm located just outside Iuka in south-central Illinois, and he knew that the already soggy hay would be ruined by the coming rain if he could not find a way to get it to bale.
In July, a 55-year-old man working for Premier Cooperative in Sidney, Ill., suffocated and died after becoming trapped in a grain bin filled with corn.
Each day, more than 200 agriculture workers suffer an injury severe enough to miss work, according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and…