By Sen. Patrick Joyce
D-Essex, 40th State Senate District
ENEWSPF – The Illinois State Fair brings back many fond memories. The great smells of hot and sweet fair food, the not-as-great smells of the animal barns, and the many hours we spent getting our livestock ready to show on the fair circuit and at the grand State Fair.
After the 2020 event was canceled because of COVID-19, I was proud to see this year’s Fair go on as scheduled. I hope everyone who made it to Springfield enjoyed the sights, smells, and entertainment extra this year. And for every slice of pizza they ate, I hope they thought about all our Illinois farmers put into making it at the ultimate agritourism showcase.
I recently joined the Illinois Senate Democratic Caucus and my colleague on the Illinois Senate Agriculture Committee, Sen. Scott Bennett, for an in-depth discussion about our work in Springfield to support our state’s No. 1 industry. Sen. Bennett and I are both the product of multi-generation farm families in downstate Illinois. When we are not working on legislation and meeting with constituents, we help tend fields and prepare for next year’s crop.
We worked on a number of important initiatives together at the Capitol this year. We helped provide millions more dollars to encourage farmers to plant cover crops and take other steps to protect the nutrients on their land and ultimately reduce their costs.
Another one of our priorities is to encourage more Illinoisans to understand and appreciate all of the challenges our farmers face, and all of the ways agriculture affects our daily lives. We are expanding opportunities for young people to go into agriculture education at our public colleges and universities because we simply have too many ag instructors retiring and not enough of our next generation ready to take their place. We are working with our colleagues in the House to encourage more urban farming opportunities on open lots.
“Even though ag is the No. 1 industry in this state, fewer and fewer legislators have a large amount of agriculture in their districts,” Sen. Bennett rightly notes in our podcast interview. We have work to do ahead to promote ag’s importance in all parts of our state.
I was proud to sponsor two bills addressing important issues in our district and state that have now become Illinois law: to lower license fees for small trailers through Senate Bill 58 and to make it easier for retired teachers to return to the classroom to fight teacher shortages through Senate Bill 1989.
We had the pleasure of recently touring Kankakee River State Park and Mazonia-Braidwood Fish and Wildlife Area. I have worked hard with our state and local officials to get campgrounds reopened and improve facilities at both locations, because I know how important our open lands and spaces are in our region. I am also encouraging anyone interested to take advantage of new Open Space Lands Acquisition and Development (OSLAD) state grants for public park improvements by the Sept. 1 deadline.
I happily joined with New Lenox Park District for the exciting opening of its new fully accessible, multi-million dollar outdoor fitness court, which will serve that community and our region for generations to come in promoting healthy lives.
Please continue to be vigilant as we fight the delta variant. If you’re a small business owner who needs help recovering, take advantage of these state small business grants.
I urge you to contact me anytime I can help: 708-756-0882, or at http://www.senatorpatrickjoyce.com/. I will continue to share the latest news on my website and on my Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/senPatrickjoyce40/.