Mercer County FB hosts adopted legislator for harvest tour

Senator rides in a combine, learns about seed technology and more.

Mercer County Farm Bureau President Michael Zecher, left, discusses harvest with state Sen. Laura Murphy, D-Des Plaines, right, as county Farm Bureau Director Justin Ewing looks on. Murphy rode a combine on Ewing’s farm as part of her harvest tour hosted by her adopted county Farm Bureau. (Photo by Christina Nourie)
Mercer County Farm Bureau President Michael Zecher, left, discusses harvest with state Sen. Laura Murphy, D-Des Plaines, right, as county Farm Bureau Director Justin Ewing looks on. Murphy rode a combine on Ewing’s farm as part of her harvest tour hosted by her adopted county Farm Bureau. (Photo by Christina Nourie).
By Christina Nourie

The Mercer County Farm Bureau kicked off harvest by hosting adopted legislator state Sen. Laura Murphy, D-Des Plaines, along with staff members, Marty McAlpin and Andrew Gomberg. Murphy and Mercer County Farm Bureau were matched in 2016. The senator hosted her adopted farmers for a district tour last summer. 

“Our county Farm Bureau participates in the adopted legislator program because rural Illinois and agriculture is so under-represented in the Illinois General Assembly that it is imperative we teach our urban legislators about life in rural Illinois and the challenges we face,” said Kendra Anderson, Mercer County Farm Bureau manager.

The tour started at the Biddle Feed Mill. Murphy learned how a feed mill operates, how the business has grown and its significant role in the local agriculture community. Discussion also covered the importance of foreign exports and strong trade agreements to grow the agricultural marketplace.

On Justin Ewing’s farm, the senator rode in a combine, harvesting a few rows of corn and learning about the technology. While walking in the field, the farmers explained how the seeds were selected and planted and the process used to grow the crop.

At lunch on the McCaw family farm, the visitors were joined by local state Rep. Dan Swanson, R-Alpha. The group toured farm machinery and learned the equipment roles in planting or harvest. During lunch conversation, farmers and lawmakers talked about the main concerns of rural and urban districts. 

Livestock was next on the agenda with a visit to the DeBlock family’s new hog building. The DeBlocks explained the rigorous process they followed to site and build the facility according to state Livestock Management Facility Act regulations (LMFA). The senator and her staff saw hogs and cattle, learned about livestock care and how animals are marketed.

“During the recent tour with our adopted legislator, we wanted to let her know the importance of leaving the LMFA alone,” Anderson said. “We tried to illustrate how the LMFA is working for the livestock farmers of Illinois as well as how it is helping them expand their operations. We explained why having a statewide standard for confined livestock facilities was beneficial to farmers.”

“Through the Adopt-A-Legislator program I had the chance to visit Mercer County, and see feed and livestock operations,” Murphy said. “It was a great opportunity to learn about the agriculture industry and discuss some of the challenges farmers face. As an elected official in suburban Cook and DuPage counties, I don’t have farmland in my communities. I am grateful to have had this opportunity.”

Thank you to Senator Murphy and her staff for spending their day with us, and thank you to the Mercer County farmers who hosted them. Plans are under way to connect during the Illinois Farm Bureau Annual Meeting in Chicago and for the farmers to visit Senator Murphy's district again next year.

Christina Nourie serves as IFB northeast legislative coordinator.

Content for this story was provided by FarmWeekNow.com.

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