“Once in your life, you need a doctor, a lawyer, a policeman, and a preacher. But every day, three times a day, you need a farmer.”
I am fortunate to work on many different issues as your State Senator: aid for first responders and their families, transportation investment, support for our local schools. But one issue is especially close to my heart because it has been such an important part of my family for decades: helping the family farmers.
Agriculture is celebrated at local county fairs throughout Illinois all summer long, culminating each August with the Illinois State Fair in Springfield and the Du Quoin State Fair in southern Illinois. I was proud to join Congresswoman Cheri Bustos for a great conversation about the 2023 federal Farm Bill at Ag Day at the State Fair.
But as I discussed last summer with my colleague on the Illinois Senate Agriculture Committee Scott Bennett, it’s easy to lose sight of just how important it is for our farmers to be successful, in our everyday lives. I thought the quote I found on the Internet in preparing the opener of this column hit the nail on the head.
As Chairman of the Illinois Senate Agriculture Committee, farm issues are front and center for me. I worked closely with soybean farmers this year on legislation to encourage more biodiesel use. I celebrated National Farmers Market Week Aug. 7-13, where Illinois has the third most farmers markets in the country.
I am a lifetime member of Future Farmers of America, and I was proud to work this year with the Illinois Secretary of State to issue special license plates to help support FFA programming.
I joined Illinois Department of Agriculture Director Jerry Costello this spring to promote the state’s Farm Family Resource Initiative, providing farmers and their families with needed mental health support.
In May, I joined President Joe Biden at a local Kankakee farm to discuss the real and painful impact of inflation and the pandemic on farm costs and food supply. Ongoing supply chain shortages and the war in Ukraine – the region where 25 percent of the world’s fertilizer is distributed from – continue to drive up farmers’ high input costs.
In our conversation last year, Sen. Bennett made an important point that will carry over to the new General Assembly that will take over next January. As new legislators come to Springfield and the districts they represent change, fewer legislators are representing large portions of “ag country” anymore. That means I will need to team with other farmers and farm-minded legislators from both sides of the aisle to make agriculture the top priority it must be for our policymaking.
Take a minute to thank a farmer you know next time you run into him or her – our livelihoods depend on their success.
I urge you to contact me anytime I can help: 708-756-0882, or at http://www.senatorpatrickjoyce.com/. I will continue to share the latest news on my website and on my Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/senPatrickjoyce40/.
Sen. Patrick Joyce
D-Essex, 40th State Senate District