May 20, 2024

Illinois farmers attend D.C. rally

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Illinois farmers traveled to Washington to tell Congress that the next farm bill must be a climate bill.

Coined “Farmers for Climate Action: Rally for Resilience,” a grassroots alliance of farmers, farmworkers and farmer allies gathered with a singular request for policymakers: make climate change policy a priority in the 2023 farm bill.

Led by the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition and Farm Aid and supported by an alliance of organizations, the event aimed to bring a mass mobilization of producers to the Capitol, reminiscent of the 1979 Tractorcade.

With the next farm bill on the docket for the 118th Congress, farmers, ranchers and advocates want legislators to address the severe challenges facing the farming community due to the climate crisis.

“The next farm bill needs to explicitly empower farmers to tackle climate change by providing resources, assistance and incentives that will allow them to lead the way in implementing proven climate solutions,” according to the Illinois Stewardship Alliance.

A delegation of seven Illinois Stewardship Alliance farmer members participated in the rally and met with Illinois members of Congress, including:

• Chad Wallace of Oak Tree Organics in Ashland and president of the Alliance Board of Directors

• Christine Johnson of Wild Trillium Farm in Richmond and co-chair of the Alliance Local Food Farmer Caucus

• Josh Snedden of Fox at the Fork Farm in Monee

• Kamina Loveless of Food Space Farm in East St. Louis

• Jessica Whiston of Terripin Farms in Quincy

• Andy Hazzard of Hazzard Free Grains in Pecatonica

In addition to drawing attention to the economic, social and environmental dimensions of our climate crisis, farmers called on our nation’s politicians to enact policies that promote racial equity and address the history of discrimination against Black, Indigenous and other communities of color.

“It is critical that the expertise and knowledge of these communities to steward the land be recognized in the farm bill, and as these communities are often the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, that they are engaged in the development of climate-solution policies and programs,” stated the Illinois Stewardship Alliance in a news release.

The Rally for Resilience was held March 6-8 and included a rally and march, as well as an opening ceremony, grazing demonstrations, press events and a lobby day.

The rally included musical performances by John Cougar Mellencamp, Shirlette Ammons and Chicago indie pop duo Lil Idli, as well as a special guest performance via video from Willie Nelson, who founded Farm Aid in 1985.