As we head into the new year, I am excited for efforts to make 2023 the “Year of the Farmer.”
Illinois Farm Families, a coalition composed of Illinois Farm Bureau and the Illinois beef, corn, pork, soybean and Midwest dairy associations, is also launching a major campaign to build trust in family farmers.
One major message we want to amplify is that 96% of Illinois farms are family-owned. In the coming months, our members will start to see such messages shared with a broader audience, including Super Bowl commercials and other activities throughout the year.
I recognize that there is much work to be done. Our farmers and leaders are building support from both sides of the political aisle amid a tumultuous political landscape.
Farmers are working tirelessly to assure American families that agriculture is stronger than ever.
Being bipartisan has served Farm Bureau well. ACTIVATOR, IFB’s political action committee, helps us elect candidates who work for our best interests in Washington and Springfield.
It also helps us build strong relationships with legislators, who in turn help us achieve our legislative priorities.
We endorse local candidates regardless of political party, and 93% of ACTIVATOR-endorsed candidates have been elected over the past four-year election cycle.
In the coming months, Congress will begin drafting the 2023 farm bill, which will guide U.S. agriculture and food policy over the next five years.
For decades, agriculture policy has remained one of the few areas of true bipartisanship in Springfield and Washington, D.C.
It is critical that we as farmers continue to develop strong relationships with our state and federal elected officials as they lay the groundwork for the next farm bill, advocate for international trade agreements and promote biofuels in our energy policy.
In December, IFB launched its first documentary, “Sustaining Our Future: A Farm Family Story.”
The documentary utilizes an empathetic and creative storytelling approach to share the story of a multi-generational farming family at the forefront of Illinois Nutrient Loss Reduction efforts.
It also includes the IFB environmental team and agriculture researchers from the University of Illinois. The documentary can be viewed on the IL Farm Bureau YouTube page.
As we look ahead in the new year to continue sharing our messages, whether it be farm bill priorities, bipartisanship or environmental efforts, we cannot ignore the changing demographics among our members.
There are more IFB members who are older than 90 years old than younger than 35. Additionally, the number of American farms is expected to decline by 42% by 2040.
It is hard to believe that it has been nine years since I was first elected as IFB president. It has been an incredible honor to serve Illinois farmers and our members.
I am proud of our work this past year, but our job is not done yet. We have a lot more to accomplish in the coming months.
With these educational efforts, new membership programming and bipartisan acts, I know we can make 2023 a great year for farmers and agriculture.