HomeTop StoriesAgriculture Advisory Committee works to secure the future of agriculture in Illinois

Agriculture Advisory Committee works to secure the future of agriculture in Illinois

Northwestern Illinois is home to some of the most fertile lands in the state, the country and the world, and the farmers who work this land are critical to this state’s main economic engine: agriculture.

Knowing this, when I was elected to the Illinois General Assembly in 2018, one of the first things I did was establish an Agriculture Advisory Committee.

I grew up in this region, so I recognized from an early age the impact that agriculture and agribusiness have had on people’s livelihoods. Because I grew up in the sector, I have a considerable knowledge of agriculture.

However, this knowledge base pales in comparison to those who have been lifelong farmers or farmers for generations.

Their expertise is valuable as I prepare annual legislative agendas that represent the residents of the seven counties that comprise Illinois’ 45th Senate District.

In forming the initial committee, I selected Lanark farmer Lou Lamoreux as chairman. He and his wife Sue, their son Nathan, nephew Dan, and Lou’s brother, John, raise 2,250 head of fat cattle, run a 250-head cow herd, and grow 1,900 acres of corn, soybeans, pasture, wheat, and rye.

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Lou has served on the boards of the Illinois Corn Association and the Illinois Beef Association and is a former member of the Carroll County Board. He is a respected leader in this region and was the perfect choice to lead the Agricultural Advisory Committee.

I joined Lou in Bloomington in late March when he was recognized as a Master Farmer by Prairie Farmer Magazine. Of the thousands of farmers in this state, only four are chosen each year for this prestigious award.

It was an honor to be with Lou as he was honored for exceptional agricultural production skills, dedication to family and service to the community.

Lou’s leadership on the Agriculture Advisory Committee has been extremely valuable.

When I founded the committee as a member of the House of Representatives, he helped recruit agricultural leaders from the five counties in my former House District.

When I was elected to the Illinois Senate in 2022, he helped expand the committee to recruit members from the additional counties I now represent.

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This year the committee was formalized so I could enlist the help of Senate staff and use state resources to take this committee to the next level. We held our first meeting of 2024 on March 26 at the Stephenson County Farm Bureau building.

Farm Bureau President Steve Fricke hosted the group, and Illinois Agriculture Director Jerry Costello joined us as keynote speaker. The director provided a brief update on Illinois’ agriculture industry and his department’s role, but more importantly, he participated in an hour-long question-and-answer session with the more than 60 agriculture and agriculture leaders in the room.

Regional leaders were able to direct their questions, comments and concerns to Illinois’ top state agriculture leader. They discussed inheritance taxes and the damage they cause to farm families, the prevention and control of animal-borne diseases, biosecurity, the use of ethanol and many other topics.

No doubt, Costello left the committee meeting with a better understanding of the issues important to Northwestern Illinois farmers.

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My Agriculture Advisory Committee will meet three to four times a year, and I look forward to our continued conversations about how we can ensure agriculture remains Illinois’ top economic engine and how the state can enact policies that support our farm families.

Sen. Andrew Chesney, R-Freeport, represents Illinois’ 45th Senate District, an area that includes much of northwestern Illinois from the Mississippi River to Genoa, including Freeport, parts of Rockford, Machesney Park, Rockton, Roscoe and South Beloit.

This article originally appeared on Rockford Register Star: Your turn: Illinois Agriculture Advisory Committee has an impact

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