R.F.D. NEWS & VIEWS: IFB backs Biden infrastructure plan

By Tim Alexander for Chronicle Media

President Joe Biden’s infrastructure plan, approved last week by the U.S. Senate, has the support of Illinois Farm Bureau president Richard Guebert, Jr. Read more about the plan in this week’s RFD News and Views column. (Illinois Farm Bureau photo)

Much of the truck tailgate talk going around farms last week concerned the Biden administration’s proposed infrastructure package, which could have positive impacts on rural communities and transportation; we have details. Also this week: Illinois ag groups are tackling industry employment shortages, and more and more opportunities are arising for farmers to tap into the estimated $42 billion ag carbon market. Please read on for more information …


IFB backs Biden infrastructure plan

BLOOMINGTON —The Illinois Farm Bureau is backing Democratic President Joe Biden’s $1.2 trillion infrastructure package, known as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which was passed Aug. 10 by the U.S. Senate with the backing of 19 Republican lawmakers.

“Illinois Farm Bureau applauds the Senate passage of the bipartisan infrastructure package. It is a strong step in the right direction to pave the way for Illinois and U.S. farmers to be more competitive within growing global markets. These funds also create jobs for our communities across the state in helping improve infrastructure needs such as rural broadband to help bridge the digital divide,” said Richard Guebert Jr., Illinois Farm Bureau president, in a prepared statement. “This bipartisan agreement includes several provisions designed to boost the resiliency of our farms and rural communities. The strength and efficiency of roads, bridges and improved water infrastructure are key pieces that Illinois farmers especially rely on to transport their crops.”


Vilsack: Infrastructure plan will help rural America

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack released a statement following the Senate’s approval of Biden’s infrastructure plan, saying the legislation would benefit rural Americans in many ways, including the creation of good-paying jobs and a boost in broadband access.

“Rural America stands to benefit from this historic long-term investment in our infrastructure and economic competitiveness. From tackling some of the greatest challenges we face today, to making long-term investments in the rural areas that are the heart of our nation, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will ensure we build back better, stronger, and more resilient and equitable than ever before,” said Vilsack, in a USDA news release.

“For rural communities that lack adequate access to high-speed internet, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act delivers broadband to rural homes, communities and businesses across the country — increasing access to jobs, education, health care, banking, and markets for farmers and rural small businesses. It also upgrades our power infrastructure, improves drinking water, and connects rural communities through upgraded roads and bridges.”

Vilsack added that the Act invests in building resilience to climate change, while creating good-paying jobs to safeguard communities at risk. The bill also helps farmers grappling with intensifying drought and makes the West’s water infrastructure more resilient, he said.

The bill is now in the hands of the U.S. House of Representatives, which must approve the Act before Biden can sign it into law.


Agri-Food Alliance targeting workforce development

BLOOMINGTON — Recent reports indicate a shortage of employees up and down the food chain, including in agriculture-related fields of endeavor. Attracting a qualified, skilled and diverse workforce is the goal behind a new initiative unveiled by the Illinois Agri-Food Alliance, which is surveying businesses and organizations across the state to gain a better understanding of employment opportunities in food and agriculture — along with the limitations that may be restricting full employment in those industries.

Information gleaned during the study, announced Aug. 4, will be used to elevate awareness of educational pathways to food and farm employment opportunities in the state, according to Tyler Strom, managing director for the ILAFA. “Illinois is a world-class destination for all types of agri-food businesses and organizations. Taking a collaborative approach to assess and act on critical workforce needs now will ensure we have a skilled and diverse workforce pipeline for the future.”

“We have to continue working together to showcase the opportunities that exist within our industry if we hope to attract bright, young talent that will push the future of Illinois agriculture forward,” said Guebert Jr.


GROWMARK, Indigo Ag expand carbon opportunities

BLOOMINGTON — Bloomington-based GROWMARK and Memphis-based Indigo Ag are teaming up to spur farmer participation in the burgeoning market of agricultural carbon sequestration. Under the collaboration, participating GROWMARK-FS retailers will help farmers evaluate and enroll in Carbon by Indigo and implement beneficial farming practices proven to sequester carbon and abate greenhouse gas emissions. Indigo will leverage its advanced capabilities for measuring and verifying on-farm environmental impact at scale to translate the effects of farmers’ efforts into a new source of revenue in the form of premium carbon credits.

“The opportunity for farmers to benefit from public demand for high-quality carbon credits is tremendous,” said Mark Orr, vice president Agronomy, GROWMARK. “We’re proud to work with Indigo to provide our farmer partners with a simple and informed path to generate maximum revenue for their efforts.”

According to a news release issued Aug. 10, Carbon by Indigo’s work to generate premium credits has resulted in a network of premium credit buyers — including global brands like JPMorgan Chase, Ralph Lauren Corporation, The North Face, and Barclays — and resulted in a 35 percent increase in the price of Carbon by Indigo credits over the last year. The demand for voluntary ag carbon credits could grow into an estimated $42 billion opportunity for farmers, according to the news release.


Illinois Farm Fact:

The Illinois Farm Bureau has a total membership of more than 378,200 members, with a voting membership of 77,909. This represents three out of four Illinois farmers. (IFB)