Rund leaves behind legacy of driving change in Illinois

Longtime IFB local government specialist served as an important information source for Illinois farmers.

Kevin Rund, who retires from IFB this week, reflects on his long career with RFD Radio Network. (Photo by Jeff Brown)

By Jeff Brown

From local to federal, local government and transportation regulations have changed plenty since Kevin Rund started working for Farm Bureau four decades ago.

During that time, the railroad and trucking industries have been deregulated, mergers pared down the rail sector to just the seven Class I railroads in existence today and Illinois finally adopted the 80,000-pound truck weight limit – 30 years after it was put in place at the federal level.

“Some of the change came rapidly; some of it came slowly,” Rund told the RFD Radio Network® this week. “Speaking of slowly, we’re still waiting on locks and dams. Been approved for a number of years, been working on them for 40 years. Don’t have the funding yet, but we’re hopeful.”

Rund, who retires from Illinois Farm Bureau this week, grew up on a farm and even went back as a partner in that farming operation after college before becoming assistant manager of McLean County Farm Bureau in 1980.

His first task was working with the McLean County Board to remove the year-round weight-limit postings on local roads. That experience introduced him to both transportation and local government issues, the two topic areas that would comprise his professional career.

And helping farmers understand regulations that impact their operation has been a major part of his role with Farm Bureau ever since.

In 2011, he worked with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) on its proposal to classify farm equipment as a commercial motor vehicle. That rule would have subjected farm equipment “to the whole rulebook that trucks are subject to,” Rund said.

“Obviously that would devastate farmers and their ability to move this stuff on a public road.”

Rund led an IFB effort to invite FMCSA Administrator Anne Ferro on a three-day tour of Illinois farms to introduce her to Midwestern agriculture and farmers’ use of machinery.

“Long story short, three months later, FMCSA backed down on that and declared that implements of husbandry were not commercial motor vehicles,” Rund said. “That was kind of a coup for us.”

Related: Go back and read FarmWeek’s coverage of Ferro’s trip to Illinois. Read more here.

As farm equipment continues to grow, transportation regulations remain important for farmers to know. Some of those regulations are implemented by township and road district commissioners Rund has worked with over the years.

“They have pretty much that kind of authority for making decisions on behalf of the road district,” he said. “Over the years, I’ve worked with a lot of them and there are some great guys in that profession.

“We’ve not always seen eye to eye on all the issues, but on the whole, they’ve been a good group to work with.”

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