The Illinois State Fair isn’t just about the concerts, amusement rides and cotton candy.
A number of Illinois lawmakers have made their way to the state fairgrounds this week, along with Governor Bruce Rauner.
On Tuesday, the State Fair dedicated the entire day to the heart and soul of Illinois’ economy: agriculture. And as part of Ag Day at the State Fair, Governor Rauner signed a series of agriculture-related pieces of legislation, including House Bill 470.
Local State Representative C.D. Davidsmeyer served as the primary sponsor of House Bill 470, which designates corn as the official state grain of Illinois.
Davidsmeyer says the idea behind House Bill 470 was developed by an FFA group out of Pike County.
“The bill actually was an initiative of the Pittsfield FFA students, it was an Ag Leadership class that they have, so they wanted to get involved and make corn the state grain of Illinois. A lot of people say ‘without a budget, why are you doing something like this?’ but I think it was a great opportunity for the kids to get involved in the process, and see how the process is actually supposed to work,” says Davidsmeyer.
Davidsmeyer explains how he got in touch with the FFA group, and says House Bill 470 provides an ideal avenue for getting younger people involved.
“They reached out to me originally, and I went over there and they put on a really well put together program and explained to me the reason why we should do that and the effect that agriculture in general, but more importantly corn, has on the economy for the state of Illinois. So I think it was a no-brainer and a great way to get them involved,” Davidsmeyer says.
As a lifelong resident of west central Illinois, Davidsmeyer has experienced first-hand the importance of agriculture, especially corn. He explains how the agricultural industry plays a tremendous role in influencing the economy of the entire state.
“When you represent all or part of nine counties, one of the largest districts in the state of Illinois, obviously you’re going to be surrounded by corn. Our local economies, our family farmers and large-production farmers are a huge part of that throughout the state. A lot of even the economy in the city of Chicago is based on the ag economy that happens throughout the rest of the state, so I think we all need to realize how important it is to all of us,” Davidsmeyer says.
Gov. Rauner also signed several other bills that were initiatives of the Department of Agriculture. The bills, many of which seek to cut red tape, are aimed at reducing regulations and agency costs within the department.