Illinois Department of Agriculture

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Illinois' Department of Agriculture published its bi-annual study that looked at how to improve water quality by cutting down on pollutants that runoff into streams and rivers. Runoff has been on the rise lately, and officials say reducing it involves more than just farmers.

Jaclyn Driscoll / NPR Illinois

Politicians spearheading the effort to legalize recreational marijuana say revenue isn’t the driving force. It’s about promoting justice for people of color who have been unfairly targeted by the war on drugs. But, the lack of diversity and transparency in Illinois’ medical marijuana program causes some concern.

The Illinois Department of Agriculture has submitted their final draft of rules for the industrial hemp program. There were a few noteworthy changes made from the initial draft that was posted back in late Dec. 2018. 

Slow internet service can slow a business down, adding up to lost time and money. And often the problem is worse in rural areas.

That’s one reason John Sullivan, acting director of the Illinois Department of Agriculture, said improving internet access is a top priority for him.

“If there isn’t adequate access to high-speed internet, it really drags and holds back the possibility for jobs and opportunities in those areas,” he said.

Jaclyn Driscoll / NPR Illinois

  The Illinois Department of Agriculture heard from the public on Tuesday regarding proposed rules for the state's industrial hemp program

Jaclyn Driscoll / NPR Illinois

John Sullivan was chosen by Gov. J.B. Pritzker to head the Illinois Department of Agriculture, succeeding former director Raymond Poe. 

Luke Runyon/Harvest Public Media

With the recent approval of an industrial hemp program in Illinois, farmers will soon be able to grow the crop as an agriculture commodity. For years, similar measures were introduced in the General Assembly but failed to generate enough support, primarily because of the stigma associated with the plant. 

Farmers in Illinois are getting closer to growing industrial hemp. The Department of Agriculture (IDOA) drafted rules for the program which lay out who can grow it, where and how much it will cost.

Claire Harbage / NPR

Amid talk of possibly legalizing marijuana in Illinois in the near future, farmers will soon be able to grow another type of cannabis plant thanks to a new state law.

Luke Runyon/Harvest Public Media

Corn and soybean fields as far as the eye can see are the typical sights of summer throughout rural areas of Illinois. But next year, 'fields of green' will take on an entirely different meaning as farmers will soon be allowed to grow industrial hemp. 

Katherine Johnson / CC BY 2.0 / FLICKR

Planning for the state fair is in full swing, but Illinois has yet to pay all the costs for last year’s fair.

The state still owes the city of Springfield around $109,000 for the fire protection it provided to the fairgrounds in the fiscal year that ended last summer. The same amount for the current fiscal year is due by June.

Springfield budget director Bill McCarty says the fire department will continue to provide protection regardless, but late payments do present challenges.

Illinois Pork Producers Association

This is a statewide debate about a real rural issue  

ilga.gov

The new Republican state representative for the Springfield area says she won't always agree with the governor.  

ilga.gov

Governor Bruce Rauner has named a longtime Republican state representative -- Raymond Poe of Springfield -- to head the state's agriculture department. 

Illinois Department of Agriculture

Musical acts for the state fair were paid up front while the artist who sculpted the fair’s iconic butter cow is still waiting for her check. Meanwhile, an agency that helps survivors of sexual assault is in danger of closing as it waits for funding. 

Credit Flickr/aka_kath

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner has accepted the resignation of the state's Agriculture Department director and the director of the state fair.  

The resignations of Phil Nelson and Patrick Buchen were announced late Thursday. The reasons for their resignations were not given. 

Food-a-rama at the Illinois State Fairgrounds
Brian Mackey / WUIS

The Illinois State Fair will go on next week. That’s even though the budget stalemate has left officials without the means to fully pay for it.

If you go by the book, state government executives aren’t supposed to spend money unless the legislature specifically authorizes it. But the standoff between the Republican governor and Democratic legislative leaders has meant there is no budget.

Nevertheless, state fair leaders say they’ll find a way to make sure the show goes on.

Philip Nelson
Brian Mackey / WUIS

Illinois officials say the threat of bird flu required limits on poultry at this year’s Illinois State Fair.

This strain of avian influenza entered the U.S. last December. So far it’s infected flocks in all the states surrounding Illinois.

State Department of Agriculture Director Philip Nelson says it’s resulted in 48 million birds either dying or being killed. Because of that, he says bird exhibitions at the state fair will be limited to Illinois birds.

“We’re doing it as a precaution, for the most part just to protect our poultry industry in this state," he says.

flickr/Stephen Woods

The Illinois Department of Agriculture is banning out-of-state birds from exhibitions and fairs around the state to help stem the spread of a deadly bird flu that's hit nearby states.  

The restriction announced Friday includes county fairs, FFA and 4-H fairs and the state fairs in Springfield and DuQuoin.  

The agency says the bird flu hasn't yet been detected in Illinois. Agency director Philip Nelson says the restrictions are meant to protect the Illinois poultry industry and allow youths to show livestock at county and fairs this summer.  

flickr/jmorgan

On this week's Business Report, Bill Wheelhouse talks with Tim Landis about a new effort to collect on-line sales taxes in Illinois; Nudo Products expands & Illinois has a new agriculture director.

Emerald ash borerCredit U.S Department of AgricultureEdit | Remove

Twelve counties have been added to Illinois' emerald ash borer (EAB) quarantine, the state Department of Agriculture announced today.

The new additions to the boundaries include seven counties where the tree-killing beetle was identified for the first time this year and five that are considered to be at risk of infestation.

U.S Department of Agriculture

A beetle that has killed hundreds of millions of ash trees across the country has spread into central Illinois.

The state's agriculture department says the emerald ash border has been confirmed in 14 new counties, including Sangamon, Logan and Menard.  

That brings the total counties infested to 50.  

flickr/Chris H

Gov. Pat Quinn has signed a law allowing universities and the Illinois Department of Agriculture to study industrial hemp.  

The Chicago Democrat signed the measure Tuesday creating a pilot program.  
Industrial hemp is in the same species as marijuana but has a negligible amount of marijuana's active ingredient. Hemp can be used in the production of plastics, fuel, textiles and food.  

Illinois Dept. of Agriculture

Republican candidate for governor Bruce Rauner is criticizing Gov. Pat Quinn's agriculture director.
 
Lee Enterprises Newspapers' Springfield bureau reports that Rauner did not mention Bob Flider by name in outlining his agriculture plans. But he said the agency's director must ``have first-hand farming
experience.''
 
Flider was named director of agriculture after he lost a 2010 re-election race
for the Illinois House. He then voted for Quinn's 67 percent income-tax increase
after earlier opposing it.
 

Wikimedia Commons

  Illinois' two state fairs did not comply with the law last year, according to a recent state audit -- and budget realities mean that'll happen again this summer.

The audit found that both the fairs in Springfield and DuQuoin overcharged entrance fees for horses.

But the Department of Agriculture says it's a consequence of the state contributing 200-thousand dollars $200,000 less toward the purse.

The audit also found that the DuQuoin fair only held three out of the five prescribed days of horse racing.

flickr/Georgebannister

Macon County's fair will not be held this year. It's the first break in almost 160 years and organizers say finances are the cause.

Fair Board Treasurer Teresa Wilson said Wednesday during an Illinois Department of Agriculture hearing that the fair will not be held this year. Instead the board plans a smaller-scale Macon County Fairgrounds Festival to try to generate revenue. The hearing was held to determine if the fair can be reimbursed by the state for prizes.  

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When the "lobbyist" armed with a free basket of treats is a smiling farm kid, what state lawmaker could say no to the gift? 

That was the scene at Ag Lobby Day in the Illinois State Capitol, its rotunda invaded by a veritable army of bushel basket-toting FFA members.

The FFA lunch hour food distribution lent some younger voices to the chorus of voices advocating on behalf of Illinois agribusiness.

But if anyone knows there's "no such thing as a free lunch", it's farmers.

Some of the best Illinois has to offer will be on display this weekend in Springfield.  It's the annual Illinois Products Expo at the Orr Building on the state fairgrounds.  More than 70 companies will be represented.  

Jennifer Tyree,  Bureau Chief of Marketing and Promotions with the Illinois Department of Agriculture, says it's a variety of offerings.

The Capitol
Brian Mackey/WUIS

  Illinois has registries for sex offenders and for those who've harmed children. Now a lawmaker wants to create a registry for people who've hurt animals.

Representative Toni Berrios' proposal would create a registry for animal abusers, to be maintained by the state’s Department of Agriculture. Once on the registry, a person couldn’t buy a companion animal, or be employed in a job involving animals.

Berrios, a Democrat from Chicago, says the current penalty for a first-time offender is too light.

Peter Gray/WUIS

Farmer and philanthropist Howard G. Buffett had several messages for his hometown crowd this week. Among them?  "Everybody who is physically able" can do something to fight hunger.

Buffett spoke Tuesday before signing copies of his latest book, 40 Chances, at a fundraising event for Decatur area charities.  

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