R.F.D. NEWS & VIEWS: Bost earns praise from Illinois ag groups

By Tim Alexander for Chronicle Media

Illinois Rep. Mike Bost, R-12th, recently reappointed to the House Committee on Agriculture, is earning praise from Illinois farmer-leaders for his actions to promote biofuel production and usage. (Bost website photo)

In this week’s farm and rural news digest: An Illinois lawmaker is standing up to a bill that would outlaw fuel combustion engines by 2035 by encouraging the continued use of renewable biofuels as the nation transitions to electric vehicles. We also have the initial results of a year-long study into public perception of agricultural issues. For this and more, please read on …


Proposed law would preserve transportation fuel options

BLOOMINGTON — A proposed law in California would ban the sale of new internal combustion engines by the year 2035. However, an Illinois lawmaker is co-sponsoring a bill that would protect Americans’ freedom of choice when purchasing vehicles.

The Preserving Choice in Vehicle Purchases Act, co-sponsored by Illinois Congressman Mike Bost, was introduced last week. The bill is a response to the California Air Resources Board’s move to ban the sale of new internal combustion engine vehicles, which would require a waiver from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

California’s proposal would not only impact California but also 17 other states bound to follow California’s regulations, according to the Illinois Corn Growers Association. This would reportedly constitute around 40 percent of the entire nation’s new car sales.

“It’s alarming that a state would take actions to remove Americans’ options for affordable and reliable transportation without concern for practicality,” Matt Rush, President of ICGA said. “While we support all technologies that can help the U.S. reach our climate goals, we know that ethanol blends at the pump are a common-sense solution that is available now.”

ICGA cites corn ethanol as an effective, low carbon fuel that provides the greatest efficiency gains — at the least cost to drivers — while reducing greenhouse gas and tailpipe emissions.


Bost greeted by Illinois ag groups

BLOOMINGTON — Illinois Rep. Mike Bost, R-12th, is a newly reappointed member of the House Committee on Agriculture. In addition to earning praise from Illinois Corn for his sponsorship of the Preserving Choice Act (see previous news item), Bost was visited in Washington last week by farmer-leaders representing the Illinois Soybean Association. The contingent visited Capitol Hill to express to lawmakers their positions on the upcoming farm bill, biofuels, and the overall importance of agriculture to our state and country. Along with Bost, ISA leaders visited with Illinois Reps. Eric Sorensen, Darin LaHood, Sean Casten and Mary Miller.

“With the help of the American Soybean Association, we had the opportunity to talk through ways we can advance soy in the 2023 Farm Bill and improve the Renewable Fuel Standard to better represent soy-based biofuels to ensure it remains an eligible feedstock in renewable fuel opportunities,” said Brad Daugherty, ISA Board Director and Government Relations Committee Chairman.

To learn more about ISA’s legislative and federal priorities, visit https://www.ilsoy.org/focus-areas/government-relations/. (ISA news)


Farm kids: Show us your work boots

BLOOMINGTON — The Illinois Farm Bureau is celebrating the release of a new children’s book and National Agriculture Day on March 21 with a book-themed contest geared to 4-H, FFA and other Illinois farm kids. IFB’s “Show Us Your Boots” campaign celebrates the release of the new children’s book “Farm Boots” by Lisl Detlefsen from Feeding Minds Press. The joyful, rhyming tale shows the many boots needed throughout the seasons on the farm, according to IFB director of agricultural engagement Kevin Daugherty.

“Farmers have many roles in their day-to-day lives, just like the many types and styles of boots they wear,” said Daugherty, in an IFB news release. “Whether they are agronomists, working with livestock or investigating soil and water, farmers pull up their boots to get their job done. In honor of the diverse needs around the farm, we are encouraging those involved in the diversity of agriculture to proudly share their boots.”

For more information about the campaign or to submit a video, email Chris Wyant, Illinois Ag in the Classroom education manager, at cwyant@ilfb.org.


Public perceptions of agriculture studied

URBANA — With Congress scheduled to debate and potentially reauthorize a farm bill in 2023, the University of Illinois Gardner Food and Agricultural Policy Survey, launched in May 2022, has provided a year of relevant perspectives. Last week, authors of the study issued their initial summary of public perception of and priorities for government financial support for farmers. Survey respondents held relatively stable views about farm policy and consistently indicated that the top priority was for government support to farmers when natural disasters harm their crops, according to the summary.

“We also found high levels of support for farmers in a variety of situations, including adoption of sustainable production practices and making crop insurance affordable,” the summary reads, in part. “We find the lowest levels of public support for providing farmers assistance when prices were low.”

The survey also tracked public perception of the food system and its major participants. “Across the year, we find that most participants believe the food system produces food that is tasty, safe, and accessible, and that over half of participants believe the food system produces food in a sustainable manner, that is healthy, and that is affordable. Additionally, we have consistently found high levels of trust in farmers by consumers, providing further backdrop for public support as Congress begins a farm bill effort,” the authors reported.

To provide more information for the 2023 Farm Bill debate, future summaries will review the survey’s findings regarding public perception of climate change and how to encourage adoption of sustainable farm practices, continuing impacts from inflation and a deeper dive into public perceptions about farms, including size and income.

(“One Year of Perspectives from the Gardner Food and Agricultural Policy Survey.” farmdoc daily; Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, March 9, 2023.)


Illinois Farm Fact:

A bill currently before the Illinois General Assembly, HB 3627, would declare the first week of March as a yearly celebration dedicated to educating the public and raising awareness of the importance of soil health. (Illinois Stewardship Alliance)