BY KAY SHIPMAN
Legislators of both parties and chambers not only marked Ag Legislative Day Wednesday, but bipartisanship on agricultural issues is part of the spring session, state officials said.
“In general, we’ve worked very well across the aisle on a number of issues whether it be soil health or pesticide exposure situations,” Illinois Agriculture Director Jerry Costello told FarmWeek. “There have been a number of long-standing bills that have gotten to a point of negotiations where the Farm Bureau, IFCA (Illinois Fertilizer and Chemical Association) and a number of ag groups have worked well across the aisle with Republicans and Democrats.”
State Rep. Charlie Meier, R-Okawville, echoed Costello’s outlook. Meier, minority spokesman on the House Agriculture and Conservation Committee, gestured toward House Agriculture and Conservation Committee Chairperson Rep. Sonya Harper, D-Chicago.
“I’m happy to work with (Rep.) Sonya (Harper). She’s been a guest at my farm,” Meier said. “It’s us working together, making a difference.”
For the Senate Agriculture Committee chairperson, agricultural issues cover the gamut in the spring session. Sen. Doris Turner, D-Springfield, told FarmWeek one of major issues centers around commercial wind energy and solar energy and “how the state also preserves the land and the soil.”
A member of the Senate Education Committee, Turner said she also is working to connect agriculture and education. She is working to again secure state funding to pay FFA membership fees for every Illinois student studying agriculture. Turner proudly noted she sponsored the legislation funding FFA membership last year.
This session, Turner is working with her House counterpart, Harper, to support FFA and 4-H members’ participation in competitions and exhibition. In the Senate, Turner is sponsoring HB 3814 that gained bipartisan sponsors in the House and passed with a 112-0 vote.
The bill proposes that FFA and 4-H members participating in organized competitions and exhibitions would not be considered absent from school.
Looking across a large group of FFA members in blue corduroy jackets and 4-H members in bright green shirts, Rep. Meier told agriculture’s current leaders they were joined by not only by agriculture’s future but also future state representatives and state senators.
This story was provided by FarmWeekNow.com.