Last week, I joined partner organizations from across the Illinois at the state capitol in Springfield to show support for several important initiatives moving through the legislature that would have a positive impact on the state's farmers, communities, and the environment.
It was an exciting day and we saw important progress pass through committees, including:
- The Senate Environment and Conservation committee passed Senate Resolution 52. SR52 supports the Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy, NRLS, and the work of stakeholders on the continued implementation of the Strategy. This bill is important for educating legislative leaders about the vital role farmers can play in meeting the goals of the NLRS by voluntarily adopting conservation practices.
- HB2737 also passed the House Agriculture and Conservation Committee 13-0. HB2737 provides that the purposes of Soil and Water Conservation Districts, SWCD, include the conservation of soil health, organic matter in soil and plants, and water quality (rather than just water); and the improvement of resilience to droughts, floods, and other extreme weather. AFT welcomes this passage because it affirms the great work SWCDs have always done helping farmers adopt conservation practices.
On another positive note for the state, new Governor, J.B Pritzker, announced earlier this year that Illinois will join the U.S. Climate Alliance recently, affirming the state's commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions consistent with the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement.
All of this is a win for agriculture in the state of Illinois and I am proud to be representing not only American Farmland Trust, but myself as an Illinois farmer. These items still need a final pass through legislature, but these are small steps towards a brighter future of agriculture in Illinois.
Moving forward, AFT will continue its policy push as we work with the Illinois Department of Agriculture to secure funding for a crop insurance reward program for cover crops.