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IFB Brings Together Members and Legislators at GALC

By Tammie Sloup

The five most gratifying words an Illinois Farm Bureau member can hear are “I know who you are.”

As IFB President Brian Duncan introduces himself to people, especially in the legislative arena, he loves to hear those words in response.

“We have the kind of relationships with the decision- makers that we don’t need to introduce ourselves,” Duncan said Feb. 20 to about 400 attendees of the Governmental Affairs Leadership Conference.

The daylong event in Springfield was themed “Building for Success” and featured speakers, breakout sessions and a legislative reception, where members had the opportunity to meet their respective legislators, discuss concerns and most importantly, share their personal stories.

Members could choose from breakout sessions ranging in topics from transportation regulations to navigating the H-2A visa program to building relationships through urban agriculture.

Looking inward, IFB staff also talked with members about the Organizational Member Strategy, which will serve as a roadmap for IFB to deliver effective and efficient advocacy for the future of Illinois farmers. Member engagement throughout the process will be critical to its success.

Building for success as an organization requires giving thoughtful study to complex issues. That’s what gives IFB credibility, Duncan said.

“Without it, we will fail to move our agenda forward,” he said. “How are we going to build for success? It’s not just knowing the issues and studying them. It’s crafting solutions.”

Farm profitability is always top of mind as IFB looks for opportunities for members. The organization is focused on helping get a farm bill passed this year, fixing the “absolute disaster” of the newly-implemented Proposition 12, seeking affordable and available labor and expanding and improving trade agreements, while enforcing ones already on the books, Duncan said.

Much of IFB’s efforts come down to the future of the farm.

“We want our farms to outlive us,” Duncan said.

On the state front, IFB is advocating for improving the discrepancy between escalating farm estate valuations and annual farm income by calling for passage of the Family Farm Preservation Act.

“I’m so proud of the legislative work we’re doing in the area of estate tax,” Duncan said. “The Family Farm Preservation Act is a hugely important piece of legislation that we will be moving through Springfield this year. And I’m sure we’re going to call on you all to help because it’s a big lift for us as an organization.”

Concerning to IFB is House Bill 1634, which would force the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency to adopt and maintain rules implementing “the motor vehicle emissions standards of the State of California” in Illinois. This automatically puts in place the regulations run by the California Air Resources Board in Illinois that severely restricts emissions requirements on Illinois diesel vehicles and bans the sales of diesel trucks starting in 2036.

IFB Director of State Legislation Chris Davis said the General Assembly is off to a slow start and has only been in session nine days in two months, and only a handful of days are scheduled in March, meaning there’s not much legislating happening leading up to the March 19 primary election. This will force the General Assembly to push all their legislation into a very concentrated and packed schedule in April and May.

Building for success as an organization also means building relationships between members, Duncan noted.

“And the relationship bonds that we have cannot be underestimated,” he said. “We are not a group of disparate strangers who come together and then leave. We are a lot like family in this organization.”

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