Kankakee CFB helps urban lawmaker gain ag perspective

Representing a diverse district, Sims says understanding his rural constituency is important.

Kankakee _cfb _helps _urban _lawmaker _gain _ag _perspective _1_636459209163496000

Kankakee County Farm Bureau President Keith Mussman, left, discusses agricultural issues with state Rep. Elgie Sims, D-Chicago, following a combine ride in Mussman's cornfield near Grant Park. Sim’s legislative district includes a portion of the county. (Photos by Chad Miller)

By Chad Miller

On a recent windy, chilly fall day, the Kankakee County Farm Bureau hosted its urban state representative for a farm tour of his legislative district.

State Rep. Elgie Sims Jr., D-Chicago, represents portions of the south side of Chicago, Chicago's south suburbs and parts of Will and Kankakee counties. His district includes a primarily rural area in northeast Kankakee County.

Kankakee County Farm Bureau President Keith Mussman hosted Sims on his farm near Grant Park. While riding in Mussman’s combine, the farmer and legislator made several passes through a cornfield, chatting about the growing season and this year’s crop. They also talked about several issues of importance to farmers, especially the movement and delivery of grain and private property rights. After his harvest experience, the representative took the opportunity to see a recently completed field tile project in an adjacent farm field.

Grant Park Co-op Grain Elevator Manager Dan Stadt, left, and Sims talk about the volume of commodities handled at the facility and the basics of how an elevator operates during the legislator’s district visit.
Grant Park Co-op Grain Elevator Manager Dan Stadt, left, and Sims talk about the volume of commodities handled at the facility and the basics of how an elevator operates during the legislator’s district visit.

During lunch at a Grant Park restaurant, county Farm Bureau Vice President Paula Karlock, who farms in rural Momence in the eastern part of the county, joined the group discussion.

The restaurant’s location next to the Grant Park Co-op Grain Co. proved beneficial. Wagonloads and truckloads of grain continuously passed by the restaurant’s window while the group broke bread and continued talking. The agricultural commerce taking place outside the restaurant gave Sims a perspective on the volume of grain farmers deliver to their local grain elevators.

The grain industry was next on the agenda. Dan Stadt, Grant Park Co-op manager, gave the visitors a tour of the grain handling facilities and discussed how a grain elevator operates and basic farm economics.

Mussman found it valuable to connect with Sims. Reflecting on their time together, Mussman said, “Sometimes we think we are all so different – coming from different communities, different backgrounds and political parties, but at the end of the day we all want the same thing: a good quality of life and to be able to provide the best for our kids.”

Mussman and Sims clearly found themselves on the same page as they discussed working towards those common goals. 

With a mix of rural, suburban and urban areas, Sims’ district arguably could be called one of most diverse legislative districts in Illinois. Understanding his rural constituency is important to Sims. Farm Bureau was pleased to assist him gain a perspective of the agriculture community within his legislative district.

Chad Miller serves as Kankakee County Farm Bureau manager.

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