For several years, Illinois agribusinesses and organizations hosted Illinois and Mississippi River barge tours. The tours give the public an opportunity to get a first-hand look at the rivers’ navigation system, and its importance to Illinois commerce. Local businesses explain how they utilize the river, and presentations are given on watershed management and environmental restoration. It’s a great time to sit back, relax, and experience the interconnection between the river, the economy, and people.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is conducting a study of the upper Mississippi and Illinois rivers. The study includes navigation and ecosystem planning that will define the needs of the river system for the next 50 years. Due to population growth and the demand for goods, the locks and dams established throughout the river system in the 1930s are in need of expansion. Updating these facilities will allow the traffic demands on the river to be met efficiently.
A normal tow traveling on the Mississippi and Illinois rivers consists of 15 barges and is approximately 1,200 feet long. However, the majority of the locks on the river are only 600 feet long, requiring the tow to separate in half to pass through the lock. As a result, traffic on the river is backed up, leading to delays and resulting in large financial losses to the shipping, agricultural, and industrial sectors.
The energy efficiency of transporting products via barge is impressive. With each gallon of fuel, a river barge can carry one ton of cargo 514 miles. This compares to 202 miles by rail and only 59 miles by truck.
Locations for the Illinois barge tours are: August 6—LaSalle/Ottawa; August 7—Peoria/Pekin; and August 8—Beardstown/Meredosia.
Study Indicates Engineered Crops Safe
The Society of Toxicology, an established organization of scientists from more than 44 countries, reported genetically engineered crops pose no special health risks. The safety of biotech foods can be determined with reasonable certainty using current methods of analytical, nutritional, and toxicological research, their new report indicated.
The society’s study concluded insect-resistant (Bt) crops are safe because mammals and non-Bt-targeted insects don’t have the biological receptors necessary to bind with the Bt protein. As to concerns about possible allergic reactions to foods from biotech crops, the study said current methods allow scientists to accurately assess the allergic potential.
Grassroots Picnic Keeps Members Informed
The Peoria County Farm Bureau Viewpoint Committee hosts a Grassroots Picnic August 15 at the Farm Bureau Park south of Kickapoo. The gathering is an opportunity for members to voice their opinion on Farm Bureau policy and other current agricultural issues, such as the 2002 farm bill.
Legislators and government officials are invited to share in the discussion and keep the doors open for good communication and understanding of rural topics. IBI