SPRINGFIELD (June 15, 2018) – Gov. Bruce Rauner joined the Director of the Illinois Department of Agriculture Raymond Poe, local officials, and the Stremsterfer family at Stremsterfer Farms in Pleasant Plains today to announce the release of $16M in agriculture grants. The funds being released from the fiscal year 2018 budget will fund soil & water districts, county fairs and agriculture societies, and the University of Illinois Extension services.
“These three entities provide services that are vital for the future of Illinois agriculture,” Rauner said. “From protecting our farmland for future generations to fostering agriculture careers and educating consumers, these organizations support Illinois agriculture, the backbone of our state’s economy.”
“Funding for these organizations comes at a critical time,” said Ag Director Raymond Poe. “We must continue to fund these organizations in order to sustain their key programs. I want to thank our agricultural partners for commitment to Illinois agriculture and for their cooperation in these fiscally challenging times.”
Soil and Water Conservation Districts, which protects our state’s farmland through strategic conservation efforts, will receive $6 million. The 97 districts around the state play a central role in efforts to protect and sustain the viability of Illinois soil and water resources in order to preserve our farmland for future generations. The Department will be issuing more than $61,000 to each of the districts to help fund operations.
“As a result of this funding, the SWCD’s of Illinois will be better positioned to support important conservation efforts such as the statewide Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy,” said Steve Stierwalt, President of the Association of Illinois Soil and Water Conservation Districts. “This funding also ensures that SWCD’s have the resources needed to continue to provide important technical expertise, assistance, and cost-share agreements to not only farmers for the installation of conservation practices such as grassed waterways, filter strips, and cover crops – but also urban, suburban, and other rural landowners.”
More than $54,000 will be sent to each of the 92 county fairs across the state. It will help operations at the fairs and may be used to support critical facility rehabilitation needs. Illinois county fairs are economic drivers for rural Illinois. A study from the University of Illinois shows county fairs generate more than $90 million annually and create more than 1,000 jobs each summer. In addition to providing family friendly entertainment, county fairs provide an outlet for our state’s youth to become involved and engaged in Illinois agriculture.
“County fairs are a big footprint of rural Illinois and a huge part of the economic strength and morale of each county in Illinois,” said Gary Hadden with the Morgan County Fair. “We appreciate Gov. Rauner making these funds available as this will provide a great boost to local counties across the state to help make necessary upgrades so they can increase activities. This will bring more people to their county fairs and with the increase of travel, people will spend more money to help stimulate the Illinois economy.”
More than 1.5 million Illinois residents take part in programs offered by the University of Illinois Extension Service. Extension provides educational assistance in the areas of energy and environmental stewardship, food safety and security, economic development and workforce preparedness, family health, financial security and wellness, and youth development. The Department of Agriculture will disperse $5 million dollars to assist the organization with its core mission.
“Conservation is key to being good stewards of the land,” Travis Stremsterfer said. “Our family has always believed that we should leave the land in a better condition than when we received it, as a way to ensure that we are leaving behind an agricultural legacy for future generations. We have been farming here in Sangamon County since 1910 and I look forward to passing that tradition down to my children.”