SPRINGFIELD – August 14, 2012. Governor Pat Quinn today celebrated Illinois’ agriculture heritage by signing five new laws to support the state’s agriculture industry, which is currently facing record drought conditions. The governor signed the new laws on Agriculture Day at the Illinois State Fair in Springfield, where agriculture producers from throughout the state are gathered to showcase livestock and other products made and grown in Illinois.
“As Illinois faces the worst drought in recent history, it is important that we do everything possible to support our farmers and support our agriculture industry,” Governor Quinn said.
House Bill 5540, sponsored by Rep. Donald Moffitt (R-Gilson) and Sen. Darin LaHood (R-Dunlap), formally names the Illinois Department of Agriculture’s (Ag) administration building the John. R. Block building in honor of the Illinois native's distinguished service. It passed the General Assembly unanimously.
Block, a Galesburg-area native and West Point graduate, served as Illinois agriculture director from 1977 to 1981. He was appointed U.S. secretary of Agriculture in 1981 by President Ronald Reagan and played an instrumental role in the development of the 1985 Farm Bill, legislation credited with restoring economic stability to the American farming industry. Governor Quinn recently urged Congress to renew the Farm Bill, which would provide vital aid to farmers in drought-stricken areas.
The governor also signed House Bill 5539, sponsored by Rep. Lisa Dugan (D-Bradley) and Sen. Michael Frerichs (D-Champaign). The law creates the Illinois Nutrient Research and Education Council (NREC), a program dedicated to enhancing the use of fertilizers and protecting water quality from losing nutrients. The new law will support important fertilizer regulatory programs and is designed to revitalize nutrient research through Illinois' universities and apply this knowledge in the farm field.
Governor Quinn also signed House Bill 5115, sponsored by Rep. Kay Hatcher (R-Yorkville) and Sen. Pamela Althoff (R-Crystal Lake). The law is designed to protect cattle pastures from damage caused by wildlife. The new law amends the Wildlife Code to include cattle pastures specifically as a type of property that the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) may investigate. In addition, it allows DNR to determine whether the wildlife causing the damage needs to be removed, and clarifies that DNR will issue a permit to address the species responsible for causing the damage.
In order to prevent the pollution of Illinois waterways, Governor Quinn signed House Bill 5642, sponsored by Rep. Michael Tryon (R-Crystal Lake) and Sen. Michael Frerichs (D-Champaign). The legislation establishes fees on livestock producers that will help the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency administer the federally-mandated National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System program for Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations. The law is supported by the Illinois Farm Bureau, the Illinois Pork Producers Association, the Illinois Beef Association and the Illinois Dairyman’s Association.
House Bill 4598, sponsored by Rep. Patrick Verschoore (D-Rock Island) and Sen. David Koehler (D-Pekin), was also signed today. The law is designed to increase traffic safety by requiring certain vehicles to display a slow-moving vehicle emblem before traveling on Illinois roadways. The new law requires all farm implements and tractors, non-highway vehicles, and special mobile equipment or animal-drawn vehicles to display the slow-moving vehicle emblem.
All of the laws signed today are effective immediately. Following the signings, Governor Quinn will preside over the annual Governor’s Sale of Champions taking place at the State Fair, during which champion livestock raised by youths interested in the agriculture industry will be auctioned. Proceeds will benefit agriculture education programs as well as the young producers.
For more information about the Illinois State Fair, please visit StateFair.Illinois.gov. To learn more about the state’s efforts to combat drought conditions, visit Drought.Illinois.gov.