Farm Bureau from a Glance -  December 12, 2018

This past week, all county farm bureaus were joined together at the Illinois Agricultural Association Annual Meeting in Chicago. Delegates and members attending the 103rd Illinois Farm Bureau (IFB) Annual Meeting capped a frustrating year with some good news: U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jingping agreed to a ceasefire in their escalating trade war.

In addition to the opportunity to listen to keynote speaker Captain Mark Kelly and receive county and Young Leader awards, members also enjoyed a visit from U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and set policy for the coming year.

“I certainly think one of the highlights of this year’s meeting was Secretary Sonny Perdue’s presence and his comments to our delegates about trade,” said Richard Guebert Jr., president, IFB. “We were very fortunate because he wanted to have lunch with a small group of our leaders – members who grow different types of commodities – and they all had an opportunity to ask their questions and talk about what’s most important to them.”

Perdue, who was appointed Secretary of Agriculture in 2017, encouraged IFB members to work with Congressional leaders to urge them to ratify the U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement and pass the 2018 farm bill.

Voting delegates for the meeting, totaling 343, also debated and decided on policy for the coming year. While a full range of topics were discussed, issues including the motor fuel tax, recreational marijuana and school security occupied the majority of delegates’ time.

Delegates also discussed policy which provided support for the medicinal marijuana industry, which is currently being reviewed in a pilot program in Illinois.

“Another issue as our state continues to try to get a handle on its fiscal situation is the motor fuel tax,” Gebhards said. “Our motor fuel tax here in Illinois hasn’t been updated in about 28 years. Our policy, before the delegates amended it Monday, was that we would not exceed a 10-cent increase in motor fuel tax. Delegates changed the policy to allow the organization to support a ‘moderate’ increase in the motor fuel tax, giving us some leeway to work with the new administration as they look at amending this tax.”

Delegates also spent time discussing school safety and security, an issue which may not traditionally be considered a Farm Bureau topic. Delegates crafted policy to underscore the importance of school security but didn’t go so far as to support arming teachers.

Besides the delegate session of the annual meeting, Justin and Ellen Rahn were recognized at the Young Leader awards ceremony for being the 2018 IFB Young Leader Achievement Award winners. I will also say that Chicago was much colder than it has been in the past. Even the years it has snowed were warmer than this year. The wind that whips through the buildings at 30 mph is quite brutal! Not a warm enjoyable weekend by any means!

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