Governor-elect JB Pritzker made the announcement Thursday
By Diego Flammini
An Illinois farmer, former state senator and agribusiness manager will oversee the state’s $19-billion agricultural portfolio.
On Thursday, Governor-elect JB Pritzker appointed John Sullivan as the next director of the Illinois Department of Agriculture.
Pritzker brings extensive ag knowledge to the position.
He served as a state senator of the 47th district from 2003 to 2016 and chaired the Senate Agriculture and Conservation Committee. He also managed Sullivan Auctioneers, his family’s farm real estate and equipment auction business.
But he will still have a learning curve, Sullivan said.
“For a while I’m sure it will be like drinking from a fire hose,” he told the Herald-Whig. “One of my biggest challenges will be learning about all the Department of Agriculture does.”
Producers have suggestions of issues that may require Sullivan’s attention once he assumes his position in January.
The state needs infrastructure repairs to help get grain to market, said Ted Mottaz, president of the Illinois Corn Growers Association.
“We have to maintain our vigilance on our transportation systems to get our crops where they need to be,” he told Farms.com. “Especially with locks and dams. We can’t depend on our state too much as far as money to put into (these projects), but (state representatives) can at least support us on a federal level to help us get what we need in terms of repairs or replacements.”
Another issue facing Illinois’ ag industry is the state of its fairgrounds in Springfield, Ill.
The State Fair brought in more than US$1.5 million over the 11-day event in 2018.
That number could be higher if facilities were in better shape, Mottaz said.
“A majority of the facilities are in very poor condition,” he said. “The coliseum didn’t allow people inside this year because it was structurally unfit.”
Low commodity prices, tariffs and decreased demands should be part of incoming director’s agenda, Mottaz added.
John Sullivan may also have to navigate issues related to marijuana.
Governor-elect Pritzker included marijuana legalization as part of his gubernatorial platform.
John Sullivan photo