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The Farm Gate Blog Opens

URBANA--Agricultural decision-makers have a new place to start their day--"The Farm Gate," an Internet blog updated daily by University of Illinois Extension.

"The Farm Gate is a place to go to find integrated information across a variety of disciplines, including crop and animal sciences, ag economics, ag engineering, and veterinary medicine," explained U of I Extension marketing specialist Darrel Good. "These disciplines will be addressed as they meet, intersect and often intertwine to shape the environment in which the ag community lives and work." The Farm Gate is located at: http://www.farmgate.uiuc.edu/ .

Good noted that the "blogger," Stu Ellis, brings unique qualifications and insights to the task.

"Stu has been a presence in Illinois agriculture for more than 30 years," said Good. "The key to setting up this blog was finding someone who can write, is interested in the subject matter, and has the broad experience necessary to see connections among seemingly unrelated items."

Raised on an Illinois grain and livestock farm, Ellis began his career as a broadcast journalist in Decatur in the 1970s. He later served as director of marketing for the American Soybean Association. Later at the Illinois Farm Bureau, he developed its educational program for farmers in such areas as marketing, financial management, contract production, and risk management.

In 1998, Ellis joined U of I Extension as a farm business and marketing educator in Macon County, where he created the USDA's national educational curriculum for risk management. He has also served as Extension's unit leader in Macon County and as the U of I's liaison to the 2005 Farm Progress Show.

"Stu has a resource base from land-grant universities, governmental agricultural agencies, and other information sources," said Good. "He will serve as a filter for the most valid, timely, and relevant information found on these sites. He'll synthesize and summarize this information, and provide links to the original articles, as well as other blog sites."

The Farm Gate, Good noted, is a response to a recommendation from farmdoc's (Farm Decision Outreach Central) advisory board.

"They told us they'd like to have something on the Web that addressed agriculture matters across subject lines," said Good. "We believe that this blog can focus on current information, regardless of subject matter, and broaden the spectrum of information topically and geographically."

Recent postings on the blog by Ellis include such topics as 2006 cropping decisions, the recent federal budget reconciliation legislations, tax planning, and ethanol.

The site also includes links to farmdoc and U of I sites focused on integrated pest management, livestock, and agronomy and links to Extension programs in several other states as well.

Comments are also invited from users.

"Today, agricultural producers are in a highly competitive, low-margin business," said Good. "We think the information provided by this blog will help them make the decisions that will keep their businesses successful."

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