Illinois is home to some of the world’s most productive farmers and farmland. In fact, nearly 75% of our state’s total land area is farmland. The hardworking men and women of Illinois’ agriculture industry make our state a leading producer of corn, soybeans, and swine.
According to the Illinois Department of Agriculture, marketing of Illinois’ agricultural products generates more than $19 billion annually. Without question, farmers, food processors, and farm machinery manufacturing are significant drivers of the Illinois economy.
Understanding the vital role that farmers and others in the agriculture industry play in Illinois’ 16th District, I’ve convened an Agriculture Advisory Committee to meet regularly since 2013. Comprised of farmers and producers from every county in the District, meeting with my Agriculture Advisory Committee has deepened my understanding and appreciation for the challenges and opportunities facing our farmers.
Above all, our farmers need support and some degree of certainty from the federal government. Decisions on planting, purchasing, and strategy must all be made months (if not years) ahead of time for operations to stay afloat. For these reasons, I have fought during my time in Congress to pass legislation to ensure the policies and regulations coming out of Washington, D.C. work for the average farmer.
Some of the legislative issues I have been proud to support include:
Passed the House with my support on December 19, 2019
This historic legislation, among other things, supports American farmers, ranchers, and agribusinesses by streamlining and modernizing agricultural trade to reduce inefficiencies and get U.S. products to the market faster.
I urged the administration for swift enactment of the USMCA trade deal to provide support for our nation’s farmers. While there were delays in ratification, the USMCA was ratified on March 13, 2020.
You can read more about my thoughts on the USMCA Trade deal here.
Passed the U.S. House with my support on June 21, 2018.
This legislation supports rural America through rural development loans, nutrition assistance for low-income families, support for land conservation and sustainability programs, and programs to export our agricultural goods to new markets around the world.
Also provides certainty to farmers by reauthorizing farm safety net programs, including Crop Insurance.
Read more of my thoughts on the 2018 Farm Bill through my press release here.
Renewable Fuel Standard
I’ve long supported the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) which provides certainty to farmers in the 16th District and around the country, and reduces our reliance on foreign-oil and supports domestic fuel suppliers.
I have been concerned with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) expanded use of Small Refinery Exemptions (SREs) under the RFS. After first leading a letter with my Republican colleagues from Illinois, I have kept up the pressure on the EPA to change their course:
At the end of 2019, I joined with my colleagues in requesting the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to examine the review and approval process of SREs.
The GAO accepted our request and opened a case on January 10, 2020.
On June 18, 2020, I joined my colleagues on sending a letter to President Trump raising concerns with certain retroactive blending waivers that would undermine the RFS.
On September 14, 2020, the Trump Administration agreed with our concerns and announced they would deny the retroactive blending waivers in question.
I have been a consistent advocate for ethanol fuel blends and I was especially pleased with the Administration’s decision in October 2018 to allow for year-round sale of E-15.
Following that announcement, I penned an op-ed with my colleague from Illinois, Congressman Rodney Davis, to celebrate the news and share more ways we can help our farmers – you can read that op-ed here.
This legislation is part of Congress’ continued investment in America’s waterways. Vital to transporting agricultural commodities and thousands of other goods, maintaining our nation’s locks, dams, and waterways – including the Illinois Waterway which runs through the Sixteenth District – is essential to our economy.