* I was in southern Illinois over the weekend to visit a county fair, and the farmers were all talking about how their corn crop was basically nothing. But they have yet another worry on the horizon. If they don’t get rain soon, their soybean crop will be the next on the failure list…
Any rain that comes now will be too late to help the corn crop, but it might salvage soybeans, area farmers say. […]
It’s still too early to assess how badly soybeans will be affected, but there’s concern the crop hasn’t received enough moisture to fill out pods.
Many pods may have only one or two beans, rather than the customary three, said Scott Docherty, general manager of Topflight Grain Cooperative at Monticello.
The hay crop is pathetic as well. Several farmers I talked to were preparing to mow their failed corn crop to use as animal feed.
* And then there’s this…
There are concerns aflatoxin may be a problem in corn since this is a dry year, Docherty said.
Drought-related stress can make a plant vulnerable to the toxic fungus. When aflatoxin levels exceed certain thresholds, farmers can’t sell the affected crops for feed.
As for soybeans, Docherty said he has had some reports of spider mites in fields.
* The very real threat of aflatoxin is just one of many reasons why Gov. Pat Quinn has decided to keep the Centralia Animal Disease Lab open for a little while…
Governor Quinn is keeping the Centralia Animal Disease Lab open. The lab was supposed to close at the end of August but because of an increased workload due to extreme drought conditions, the lab will stay in use for an indefinite period of time.
Lab workers don’t know what this recent news means. Workers have been through their share of ups and downs. At the start of June, lawmakers allotted funds to keep the lab open, along with the other state facilities slated for closure. At the end of June, Governor Quinn signed the state budget that removed that funding. City officials look at this as another opportunity to show the value of the lab to the Governor. […]
Governor Quinn’s office says the lab is staying open until further notice because of the drought. The 16 employees there have no idea how much time that buys them. Ashby is working with a coalition of five county boards, mayors, economic development boards, and farmers to keep the lab open for good.
Ashby says the lab costs around $200,000 a year to run. The coalition wants to institute larger fees to keep the lab running and possibly make it self-sufficient. The lab serves more than 200 communities, and Ashby says this drought proves how important and necessary the lab is.
* But it appears that only the crop testing portion of the facility will remain open through the drought…
In an email response Friday evening, Quinn spokesperson Kelly Kraft wrote: “Due to severe drought conditions in the area the Governor is making certain essential crop testing continues at the lab until further notice.”
* As I said, I was in southern Illinois over the weekend and happened to talk with Dr. Ed Schreiber, a highly respected veterinarian who’s passionate about keeping the Centralia Animal Disease Lab open for business. Doc Schreiber was invited to speak to the crowd assembled before the 4-H livestock auction about the pending closure and he mentioned that he had written the governor a letter. I asked him for a copy. Here’s part of it…
The [Centralia Animal Disease Lab] is strategically located in the epicenter of animal agriculture in Southern Illinois. Clinton County has the largest livestock production in our State.
With the CADL gone the time between detection and diagnosis of an animal health problem could be so long as to cost the State many more millions of dollars than we will ever realize in savings.
I will also attach an article concerning the economic impact of a mock Foot and Mouth Disease Virus outbreak in California. In summary, as the diagnostic delay went from 7 days to 22 days the number of slaughtered cattle went from 8,700 to 260, 400 and the median national loss in total agricultural surplus ranged from $2.3 billion to $69 billion. Both the Galesburg and Centralia labs are currently qualified to prepare tissues for diagnostics for Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (Mad Cow Disease). It is critically important to keep this capability in our State near our largest cattle region. Multiple hours or days of shipment time for some tissues especially brain will prevent these samples from being diagnostically useful (aka they will be soup). How would that look in the media if our State government closed the only lab in the southern two-thirds of our State in which the Federal government has accredited to do this work? […]
If just three 100 cow dairies had dramatic mortalities due to inaccurate or absent testing, the total dollars saved by our State would be negated by the losses experienced by these farm families.
* Dr. Schreiber also played into Gov. Quinn’s fondness for touting the state’s agriculture exports…
Without the [Centralia Animal Disease Lab] there also would not be a single animal toxicology lab in our State and this function also would not be transferred to Galesburg. Without the CADL there will be only one lab in the entire United States able test for arsenic. This is a test the Russians require for all poultry meat being shipped to their country.
Without the CADL the Illinois exporters of premium swine genetics around the world will have to look for another lab to do the export testing these countries require. The Chinese will not be happy.
Is it worth jeopardizing millions of dollars of Illinois export?
If you close the Centralia Lab the State’s veterinary community will no longer have a complete laboratory to be a part of their IVERT program designed to mobilize in the event of man-made or natural disasters. Does Illinois really have to stoop so low that we have to depend on other state’s infrastructure in the face of a catastrophic animal or public health emergency? What if these other labs are already overwhelmed?
* Schreiber then mentioned this chilling moment…
If your family discovered a dead bat in your backyard where your small children play, you would no longer have an option here in Southern Illinois to take that bat for rabies testing since there was not a confirmed human bite exposure.
A very timely example that demonstrates the public health importance of the Centralia Lab is the case where a women woke up with a bat attached to her lip. She woke up frantic, ripped off the bat and screamed for her husband. He killed the bat and took her and the bat to St. Mary’s Hospital in Centralia. The hospital directed him to take the bat to the CADL. It was accessed into their system at 7:56 AM and their professional staff went to work, just like they have for the last 65 years. The bat’s testing was completed at 11 AM, and it was rabid!
A piece of State infrastructure like this close to the most populous region in the southern part of our State is of critical life-saving importance.