SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Agriculture is the top source of employment in Illinois with over 1.5 million workers and is responsible for pumping over $9 billion annually into the state’s economy.
Prairie State lawmakers were reminded of those facts by agricultural, legislative and youth leaders during at Illinois Agricultural Legislative Day.
Here are some of the comments during the virtual event.
“On behalf of all of the growers and makers and raisers of livestock and all of the components that make up the vital agricultural economy of Illinois, we want to thank you for keeping us in mind as you’re setting rules and regulations for our state.”
Lisa Ellis, executive director
Illinois Grape Growers and Vintners Alliance
“As the General Assembly considers the thousands of bills before them and as they craft a state operating budget, we call upon them to make sure that they make decisions that reflect a healthy climate that encourages a growing agricultural economy and enriching rural life. We know the state budget continues to be a significant focal point and the pandemic has put more stress on the budget through unexpected expenditures and decreasing state collections. We encourage our policymakers to keep the necessary tax incentives that are vital and crucial to supporting agriculture. As we know, agriculture is a wide range of products and it’s not just corn, soybeans, cattle and pigs. It is much more. It is the horseradish, apples, pumpkins, asparagus, dairy and the list goes on and on. All of agriculture must continue to encourage our legislators to stand up and advocate for a viable agriculture throughout the state.”
Richard Guebert Jr., president
Illinois Farm Bureau
“Agriculture is our No. 1 industry and as a chairperson of the Senate Agricultural Committee supporting its progress is one of my top priorities. Illinois is an integral part of a global agricultural community. We want to do all we can to support all of our farmers, especially our family farmers who are out there every day making a difference.”
Sen. Patrick Joyce, Senate Ag Committee chair
“Today and every day we celebrate agriculture and the men and women that put in long hard hours to put the food on your plate. Friends, what we do here is responsible for our survival. Agriculture is more than just farming the soil. The technology and the many advancements and the many jobs that our universities and our colleges are teaching today, much are derived from agriculture.”
Sen. Darren Bailey
“I’ve been all over this state visiting farms and local communities and finding ways to support the industry that not only feeds us, but also provides the largest number of jobs in Illinois. I am truly impressed and inspired by the work that you do. We’ve seen firsthand this past year the importance of our local food system, farmers and farm workers protecting our farmland and paving the way for a new generation of farmers. As your chairperson and partner in agriculture, I look forward to finding ways to grow, support and innovate in our local food system and the entire agricultural industry.”
Rep. Sonya M. Harper, House Ag and Conservation Committee chair
“I’m happy to say we have a few more farmers in the House now, but it’s very important for us to keep talking about the agriculture industry. It is the largest industry in the state of Illinois and we need to educate people on how we are there for them to have good healthy reliable food. We are here trying to protect our environment, make the environment a better place for the next generation as we leave our family farms to the next generation, and just trying to ensure that people understand that we give up an awful lot to be farmers. When it’s farming season, you don’t have weddings, you book around everything, you work your buns off, you’ve got to get a crop in, you’ve got to get a crop out, and there are deadlines to it.”
Rep. Charles Meier, House Agriculture Committee minority chair
“In 2017, Mr. Miller, my ag adviser, asked our sophomore ag class who would like to attend Ag Legislative Day. I had no understanding of this event. Mr. Miller explained that Ag Legislative Day was a way for FFA members from all around the state to gather and share their stories, to encourage their leaders to support our organization. He then went on to explain the ag education line item which funds ag programs, gives opportunities to teachers and members alike, and educates the public and youth about the entire agriculture industry.
“When Mr. Miller was explaining this I thought how in the world can I, a 16-year-old girl from the village of Valmeyer, impact a $5 million piece of legislation. Mr. Miller convinced me to go and I realized that members and teachers are some of the people who are directly impacted by this line item. Not everyone gets to sit in the classroom and compete in the events that over 20,000 FFA are impacted by. I also realized that in that first visit we were able to share our story and impact our legislators to help them support our organization. So, members, tell your story, embrace your nerves and show these legislators what FFA means to you. I am certain that if our members’ stories are heard, Illinois will see the importance of supporting agricultural education.”
Lexi Mueller, president
“I’m honored and humbled by this role as it presents me with the opportunity to not only act as the hostess for both state fairs in Illinois, but it also gives me a platform to serve as an advocate for agriculture and ag education initiatives. Regardless of the region of Illinois you represent, agriculture profoundly impacts your constituents, making this day not just relevant to those of you from rural Illinois communities where crop and livestock production shape the local economies, but also those of you from urban areas of Illinois where economic landscapes are strengthened by agricultural processing and manufacturing.
“The various agriculture-affiliated organizations represented here today will provide us all with better understanding of the scientific and technological advancement that are yielding progress, as well as the economic and environmental challenges that could potentially adversely affect growth for our farmers and ultimately our state.”
Kelsi Kessler, Miss Illinois County Fair Queen