IFB awards $30,000 aimed at elevating rural communities


Illinois Farm Bureau announced the 2023-24 recipients of its new grant program supporting rural development efforts.

Grants were awarded to 10 projects, each from a different county. In total, $30,000 was given to meet a specific need in communities, counties or rural areas.

“This program strongly aligns with Illinois Farm Bureau’s policy section on rural development and is one of IFB’s local government priorities,” said Ryan Tate, IFB associate director of local government. “The intent was to create an easily accessible grant program that would provide funding to support impactful projects in rural Illinois.”

Counties receiving grants this year include:

  • Bureau County Farm Bureau’s recipient was Cornerstone Community Wellness, which will expand homemade and protein food options at Royal Super Mart.
  • Clay County Farm Bureau received a grant for Friendship Connection of Clay County to provide community members with transportation to health care, employment readiness classes, life coaching sessions and other programs.
  • Edwards County Farm Bureau plans to support the Roy M. Luthe Park in Albion. The park board created a long-term plan to renovate the park, which has not been updated for 40 years.
  • Hancock County Farm Bureau received a grant for Hancock County Economic Development Corporation’s Taste of Hancock County. The goal of this event is to highlight businesses and organizations in the county.
  • Logan County Farm Bureau’s recipient was Central Illinois FarmFED Cooperative, which plans to purchase needed equipment. FarmFED Cooperative will work with Market on the Hill Co-op to improve food access to the rural communities of Latham, Mt. Pulaski and Elkhart.
  • Macon County Farm Bureau’s grant will help remodel and repair the Macon County 4-H Center.
  • Peoria County Farm Bureau’s grant recipient was the Elmwood Community Foundation, which plans to build a new community wellness center that benefits residents in western Peoria County, southeastern Knox County and northeastern Fulton County.
  • Pike-Scott Farm Bureau received a grant for Grab’N’Grow Greenhouse/The Witty Farmer Store to purchase equipment for a commercial kitchen.
  • Winnebago-Boone Farm Bureau’s recipient was Pecatonica CUSD 321 to support construction of a new greenhouse for the agriculture department.

The Coles County Regional Planning and Development Commission (CCRPDC) received $5,000 to revitalize its comprehensive plan, which has not been fully updated since its completion in 2006.

Kelly Lockhart, executive director of the CCRPDC, recognizes the changes in Coles County since the first plan.

“Especially with wind and solar coming in, the landscape is going to change here,” he said. “I felt the comprehensive plan could guide where those developments go and help steer us in the right direction.”

Coles County Farm Bureau Manager Kristin Iverson worked with Lockhart throughout the grant application process.

“The thing that stuck out to me in all of this was the importance of working toward retaining land for farming practices,” she said. “The land use and zoning issues we discussed seemed to align with IFB policy, so I saw this as a positive when it comes to updating our county regional plan.”

Iverson expressed her gratitude for the support from IFB’s government team.

“They’re more than willing to answer any questions and they have been so incredibly helpful through the entire process,” she said. “To anyone interested in applying in the future, know you have a great resource to contact.”

County Farm Bureaus were able to grow their relationships with other organizations and businesses throughout their counties through this program, Tate said.

“We want the grants to be a catalyst for moving projects forward and get residents excited about what is happening in their community or county,” he said. “This was a very successful pilot and budget permitting, we plan to continue and hopefully grow the program with the next cycle beginning this fall.”

The Rural Development Grant Program was developed by the IFB Local Government Team. They received input for the grants from county Farm Bureau managers and other organizations engaged in rural development. Additionally, the IFB Environmental Team provided insight based on experiences from their existing grant programs.

Other areas of IFB also helped with the development of this grant program including marketing and communications, and field and member services. Both areas helped promote the grant to target audiences.


Content for this story was provided by FarmWeekNow.com.