LEXINGTON, Ill. — Incumbent Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker touted the work his administration has done on behalf of agriculture in remarks during the recent Illinois Agricultural Legislative Roundtable candidate forum.
Pritzker and Republican challenger Darren Bailey spoke separately at the Illinois Farm Bureau-hosted event at the Schuler Farm.
Election day is Nov. 8.
“It’s no secret that farmers have faced challenging obstacles the past few years. You’ve had to deal with a global health crisis and natural disasters, supply chain crisis, increased fertilizer costs, rising fuel prices and setback after setback,” Pritzker said.
“Through it all, I’ve made it my mission to work with you to provide the support that you need to do your jobs. Through it all, I’ve stood with you.”
Pritzker went through the following agricultural-related actions his administration has taken as governor:
• Provided millions in business recovery funding for livestock producers and small meat and poultry plants suffering interruptions as a result of the pandemic.
• Worked to enhance international commitments to purchase Illinois corn and soybeans and other crops because when Illinois agricultural economy thrives, so do working families all across our state.
• Preserved the state’s tax exemption on agricultural equipment and “as long as I’m governor no one is going to repeal it.”
• Taken major steps to grow the agricultural sector with a five-year economic plan that seeks to boost growth in the agricultural sector by facilitating technology adoption, encouraging innovation and boosting connections with global markets.
• Improved Soil and Water Conservation Districts funding.
• Approved a move for the state to pay FFA membership dues for all ag students.
• Launched the Homegrown for Heroes program that allows farmers, ranchers and other producers who have served or are currently serving in the military to use a special logo on the products they sell.
• Supported incentivizing increased biodiesel blends by extending the B10 state sales tax exemption and increasing blend levels subject to the exemption through 2026.
• Included in the new budget funding for Southern Illinois University’s National Corn to Ethanol Research Center and ethanol research grants.
• Supports the year-round sale of E10 and E15 blends.
Pritzker added that in 2020 with partners like ADM, the world’s largest insect protein facility that produces animal feed selected a Decatur site.
The Farmers Business Network, a $300 million agricultural technology business, moved to Illinois from Silicon Valley.
In addition, it was recently announced that a new LG Chem plant that processes plant-based plastics solutions will come to Illinois.
“Fighting for farmers means lifting some of the burdens that have too often been overlooked. Farmers and their families deserve to be able access mental health services like everyone else in Illinois. Too often, the lack of available resources and the stigma associated with seeking them out has left too many farm families feeling alone and without support,” Pritzker said.
“That’s why in 2019 we established the Farm Family Resource Initiatives through Southern Illinois University, to specifically address the mental health needs of farming communities. We expanded that program to all 102 counties in 2021, and we will continue to address behavioral health and build new rural substance abuse treatment centers across rural Illinois because it’s the right thing to do.”
The governor criticized his gubernatorial opponent.
“During Darren Bailey’s time in the General Assembly, he has voted against nearly everything that I just talked about,” Pritzker said.
“He voted no in investing in agricultural education, mental health support in rural communities, prevention of animal disease outbreaks and more. He voted against every balanced budget that allowed us to pay off our overdue bills, get credit upgrades and deliver $1.8 billion in tax relief to working families this year.”