farming / Farming Simulator YouTube channel

(Please note: This radio feature was originally broadcast on WVIK FM on 6/29/2018 but was not posted on the web at the time.)

This month (June, 2018), a group of gamers collectively held their breath, waiting to find out what'll be new in their favorite videogame.

Michelle O'Neill reports players from all over the world were thrilled with the big reveal in a YouTube trailer for the next version of "Farming Simulator."

Michelle O'Neill / WVIK News

This spring, John Deere has been showing off next year's new product lines, which include a new, S-700 combine series. This morning at the Harvester Works in East Moline, company employees hosted dozens of reporters from all over the country for Deere Media Day.

Deere & Company

As expected, sales and profits fell in the third quarter for Deere and Company. Today it reported sales for May through July dropped 11 per cent, and net income fell to 489 million dollars, compared with 511 million for the same quarter last year - a drop of 4 1/2 per cent.

Spokesman Ken Golden says sales of Deere farm and landscape equipment decreased eleven percent in the third quarter, year over year. And the company predicts they'll drop eight per cent for the full year.

Adjusting to lower demand, the company will lay off 120 workers at the Deere Harvester combine factory in East Moline. The layoffs will take effect right after Labor Day.

map of iowa with Des Moines & Raccoon rivers highlighted
Bill Stowe / Des Moines Water Works

"Doing nothing is just simply not acceptable." That's what US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says about reducing water pollution in Iowa and helping farmers with nutrient management and soil conservation. A new initiative will provide $660 million over ten years for a coordinated, watershed-based strategy.

Bill James speaks during a lunch meeting at the Farmer 2 Farmer conference in Bettendorf, IA.
submitted / Farmer's Business Network

Just like Major League Baseball, farmers can improve the bottom line by using statistics. That's according to a speaker at this week's Farmer 2 Farmer conference in Bettendorf. Today's lunch speaker was Bill James, an author, analyst, and founder of sabermetrics, in other words, moneyball.

An Iowa soybean field adjacent to wetlands / Iowa State Univ., Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy

Should farming continue to be exempt from the Clean Water Act? That's a major question being debated in Iowa and the Midwest due to a court case. Last spring, the Des Moines Water Works filed a complaint against three counties, asking a federal judge to make agriculture subject to the same rules and penalties as factories.

Dixon Telegraph

Residents of Mount Carroll, Illinois will honor two teenagers who were killed in a grain bin accident five years ago. Today, the Illinois Farm Bureau and the Grain Handling Safety Coalition will hold a memorial service and discuss safety procedures at the Carroll County Farm Bureau. Catherine Rylatt is the aunt of Alex Pacas, who was 19 when he, and 14-year-old Wyatt Whitebread, were killed in the 2010 accident, after becoming trapped in a Mount Carroll grain elevator filled with corn that was more than 30 feet deep. Rylatt says the workers didn't have proper training.

Rylatt says the Occupational Safety and Health Administration sets safety regulations for grain bin operations, but don't have a way to enforce the rules for most family farms. And, a few dozen people are killed or injured every year in grain bin accidents.  

After the incident, Rylatt co-founded the Grain Handling Safety Coalition, to examine safety procedures and train workers at family farms. The group has been working to provide task-based safety training to grain bin operators and farmers.