Wednesday, September 23, 2009

"Illinois Local Food Act Signed into Law”

Illinois passes an expansive Local Food, Farms and Jobs bill. This bill creates great opportunities for family farmers throughout the state by developing an integrated system that meets the needs of the farms and the consumers. Movement like this showcases the growing demand of local foods.

Check out the article below for full details of the bill.

Governor Signs Legislation Putting Illinois on Track to Vastly Expanded Local Farm Economy
Governor Patrick Quinn today signed landmark legislation that will put the state on the road to a vastly expanded supply of Illinois-grown food for Illinois tables. During a ceremony held on the front lawn of the home of Department of Agriculture Director Tom Jennings located on the Illinois State Fairgrounds, Quinn said the legislation represents an important first step in a process that could ultimately bring as much as $30 billion a year to the state’s economy.
“Agriculture is a diverse, multi-billion dollar industry that employs nearly one-quarter of the state’s workforce. Simply stated, agriculture is the largest industry in the state and vital to our economy,” said Quinn at the “Ag Day” event. “Standing in sharp contrast is the fact that nearly 96 percent of the food eaten in Illinois is grown in other states or nations. The legislation I signed today will stimulate the rapidly growing efforts across Illinois to grow food for local consumption. As traditional Illinois farmers, local food organizations, and others respond to demand for locally-grown food, there will be an enormous amount of new economic activity in our agricultural sector and thousands of new jobs across the state.”
The new law is designed to greatly increase demand for locally grown food by starting the process of building a reliable market for local food at facilities and institutions, like public schools, that receive significant state support. Also, the legislation establishes the Illinois Local Food, Farms, and Jobs Council, which will encourage farmers to grow food for local markets and facilitate the building of the systems needed to get it there.
The legislation caps almost two year’s effort by the Illinois Local and Organic Food and Farm Task Force to determine the potential for Illinois to grow and produce food for consumption within the state and in neighboring states. A study released by the Task Force earlier this year, Local Food, Farms & Jobs: Growing the Illinois Economy, revealed that of the approximately $48 billion spent by Illinoisans on food each year, only a tiny fraction is grown in Illinois. A set of straightforward measures to encourage Illinois farmers to grow food for local consumption, coupled with a system for processing and transporting the food to Illinois markets could bring an estimated $30 billion to the state’s economy each year.

“I believe economic development begins in the kitchen,” said Illinois Agriculture Director Tom Jennings. “There is no question we can produce locally grown fruits, nuts, and vegetables. We also have the processing and packaging capabilities right here in our own backyard. Setting up a distribution system that moves items at reasonable cost from tree or vine to the table is the big challenge and this legislation is an important step toward realizing that goal.”
“This legislation is the first step in creating a fresh farm and food system in Illinois that will bring important benefits to every corner of our state,” said Julie Hamos (D-Evanston), lead sponsor of the bill in the House of Representatives. “As Illinoisans meet the increased demand for fresh food grown within the state, every community’s economy will see the benefits. New jobs will be created as the system to process and transport the food to local markets is developed. Those who live in Illinois and in adjacent states will benefit from the increased supply of fresh, locally-produced food.”
Hamos said that one result of the expanded local food system will be the growth of rural communities through expanded numbers of small and mid-size farmers and larger numbers of people working in agriculture.
“The fact that all but a tiny percentage of the fruits, vegetables, and meats that Illinoisans eat are produced in other states or countries is an astonishing imbalance and presents us with an enormous opportunity,” said State Senate by Senator Jacqueline Collins (D-Chicago), Senate sponsor of the bill. “This legislation is an important step forward that will enable farmers in the state to produce and sell fresh food in underserved communities.”

Key elements of the legislation include:

Formation of the Illinois Local Food, Farms, and Jobs Council, which will work with state agencies, Illinois businesses, organizations and citizens to build a fully functioning local farm and food system in the state.

Establishment of local food procurement goals for state agencies such as prisons and other places where the state provides food service to purchase 20 percent of their food locally by 2020. State-funded institutions such as schools and mental health centers would have a goal of 10 percent by 2020. The Council would work with the organizations and agencies to develop strategies for local purchasing.

· Creation of a local food purchase preference for state-owned food buyers in which they could pay a premium of up to 10 percent above the lowest bid in order to purchase locally grown goods.

· Implementation of a system for gathering baseline data about local food purchases that would be updated annually.

· Development of a new Illinois label and certification program to support farmers and businesses who want to be part of an Illinois-based farm and food economy.

“This legislation opens the door to a vast expansion of the local farm and food networks in Illinois’ already world-renowned agricultural infrastructure. It encourages Illinois farmers to respond directly to consumers’ demand for fresh, tasty, locally-produced foods, and shows how to do it,” said Wes Jarrell, chairman of the 32-member Task Force.” Jarrell is Professor of Sustainable Agriculture and Natural Resources at the University of Illinois, and a farmer himself.
Jarrell noted that food production in Illinois has become a year-round industry as farmers and others adopt techniques for growing food in the winter months as well as the traditional growing seasons. “We don’t have to ship in all our fresh food from warm regions when the weather is cold,” he said, “and with a much greater diversity of cold-season fruits and vegetables, eating what's locally in season isn't nearly as boring as it used to be.”

Key findings from the task force report that led to the new legislation include:

· The market for local food is growing. The number of farmers markets in Illinois grew from 97 in 1999 to 270 in 2008. The number of community-supported agriculture organizations, which allow consumers to “subscribe” to a variety of Illinois-grown food products throughout the season, grew from 14 to 68 in the past eight years.

· Demand extends into wholesale markets. Illinois colleges and universities, as well as corporate kitchens, schools, hospitals, prisons, restaurants, and grocery stores want to buy farm products from nearby sources. Inadequate local food production and delivery channels pinch supply. Illinois’ predominant farm and food systems is designed to serve distant markets, not link farm production with in-state markets.

· Local food system development is a nationwide phenomenon. Many states are taking steps to satisfy consumer demand to know how food is produced, where, and by whom. State government’s role is to help jumpstart job creation, lending, and investment in the local food system so that entrepreneurs can grow the economy. By participating in this effort, Illinois is helping to create a new form of interstate commerce.

The legislation, HB3990: Illinois Food, Farms, and Jobs Act of 2009, the report of the Illinois Local and Organic Food and Farm Task Force, and other information is available at