Illinois Farm Bureau outlines current state legislative priorities


Illinois Farm Bureau outlines current state legislative priorities

Budgets, nutrient loss reduction, agritourism liability and grants for minority farmers are all bill topics Illinois Farm Bureau is keeping an eye on at the state capitol.

Mark Gebhards tells Brownfield with a condensed legislative session, he’s not sure how many items will get through, but the state budget is top of mind and IFB is asking for an additional $750,000 to the Illinois Department of Agriculture’s budget for animal disease preparedness.

“We need to get some additional field veterinarians on staff at the Department of Agriculture in the event of a catastrophic animal disease outbreak like foot and mouth disease or African Swine Fever.”

Another priority item that IFB initiated are bills in both the house (HB 5487) and senate (SB 3107) addressing agritourism liability.

“If someone comes to the farm and inadvertently falls on something that is not a willful and wanton act of negligence, we are trying to say that liability should not rest on the farmer. “

He says there are some other bills they are working with sponsors to get clarification on, to ensure the best interest of Illinois farmers. One of those is SB 3471 regarding nutrient loss reduction strategy legislation.

“We have seen some language from the environmental community, saying voluntary efforts through the Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy are not meeting goals, that I think takes us down a road of making things mandatory. We want to clarify the language to know what is trying to be done and are we mandating that certain things have to be done by our farmers to achieve those goals.”

And the other is HB 3501 regarding grant money for socially disadvantaged farmers to buy land.  

“Again, we are trying to clarify what is the definition of a socially disadvantaged farmer? How are they going to pay for this? What is it they have to do with the land once they get it?  Can they resell it? Just a whole host of questions.”

More than 350 Illinois Farm Bureau members discussed these topics and others with members of the General Assembly during the Governmental Affairs Leadership Conference in Springfield this week.

Interview with Mark Gebhards