Andrew Chesney


Andrew Chesney


Chesney’s Agriculture Advisory Committee Ensures NW Illinois Farmers’ Priorities are Heard

Northwest Illinois is home to some of the most fertile soil in the state, nation, and world, and the farmers who work this land are vital to this state’s top economic driver- agriculture. Knowing this, when I was elected to the Illinois General Assembly in 2018, one of the first things I did was form an Agriculture Advisory Committee.

I was raised in this region, so I recognized at an early age the impact farming and agribusiness have had on people’s livelihoods. Having grown up around the industry, I have a decent understanding of farming. However, this knowledge base pales in comparison to those who are lifelong or generational farmers. Their expertise is valuable when I set annual legislative agendas that represent the people of the seven counties comprising the 45th Senate District.

When forming the initial committee, I chose Lanark farmer Lou Lamoreux as Chairman. He and his wife Sue, their son Nathan, nephew Dan, and Lou’s brother John feed 2,250 head of fat cattle, run a 250-head cow herd, and farm 1,900 acres of corn, soybeans, pasture, wheat, and rye. Lou has served on the Illinois Corn and Illinois Beef Association boards and is a former member of the Carroll County Board. He is a respected leader in this region and was the perfect pick to lead the Agriculture Advisory Committee.

At the end of March, I joined Lou in Bloomington as he was recognized as a Master Farmer by Prairie Farmer Magazine. Of the thousands of farmers in this state, only four are chosen annually for this prestigious award. It was an honor to be with Lou as he was honored for exceptional agricultural production skills, commitment to family, and service to the community.

Lou’s leadership on the Agriculture Advisory Committee has been extremely valuable. When I launched the committee as a member of the House of Representatives, he helped recruit agriculture leaders from the five counties in my former House District. When I was elected to the Illinois Senate in 2022, he assisted with expanding the committee to enlist membership from the additional counties I now represent.

This year, the committee was formalized so I could enlist assistance from Senate staff and utilize state resources to take this committee to the next level. We held our first meeting of 2024 on March 26 at the Stephenson County Farm Bureau building. Farm Bureau President Steve Fricke hosted the group, and Illinois Director of Agriculture Jerry Costello joined us as the keynote speaker. The Director provided a brief update on the agriculture industry in Illinois and the role of his department, but more importantly, he engaged in an hour-long question-and-answer session with the more than 60 farming and agriculture leaders in the room.

Regional leaders could direct their questions, comments, and concerns to Illinois’s top state agriculture leader. They spoke about the estate tax and its harm to farming families, animal-borne disease prevention and response, biosecurity, ethanol usage, and many other topics.

Undoubtedly, Director Costello left the committee meeting with a greater understanding of the issues important to Northwest Illinois farmers. My Agriculture Advisory Committee will meet 3-4 times annually, and I look forward to our ongoing conversations about how we can ensure agriculture remains Illinois’ top economic engine and how the State can enact policies that support our farming families.

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