Thursday, September 26, 2013
Illinois recently welcomed several out-of-state guests to the
central part of the state to talk about the importance of rural
development, not only in Illinois, but also around the
nation. On September 10-12, 2013, the American Farm Bureau
Federation® in partnership with the Illinois Farm Bureau hosted an
information-packed rural development conference in Bloomington,
Several state Farm Bureau staff from around the country had an
opportunity to attend the conference and learn about proven rural
development programs happening all around us. The attendees
also learned that many of these programs can be adapted for use in
their own states, counties and communities.
The conference included educational presentations, a tour of
innovative community projects and time for other state Farm Bureaus
to share their successful programs.
Highlights of the agenda included community development
programs, creating value-added ventures and Craig Lindvahl's
"Creating Entrepreneurial Opportunities Program" for youth.
The final day focused on local and regional food initiatives,
including key legislation to encourage local production, Food Hub
networks, the role of community colleges, and beginning farmer
In addition to reports from Illinois, other states were
encouraged to contribute a short presentation on rural development
initiatives happening around the country. The purpose of this
session was to assist state and county Farm Bureaus in replicating
these successful projects.
On the second day of the conference, attendees were treated to a
full-day tour of rural development and value-added operations
around central Illinois. Tour stops included Twin Groves Wind Farm,
Ropp Jersey Cheese, Mackinaw Valley Vineyard, Rader Family Farms
and Sugar Grove Nature Center.
A packed agenda full of rural development initiatives and
eventful tour just proved that Illinois has a lot to be proud of
and a lot to offer their rural residents.
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