SPRINGFIELD – Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich today announced the appointment of long-time state Rep. Charles “Chuck” A. Hartke as director of the Illinois Department of Agriculture.
Though the position requires confirmation by the state Senate, Hartke will begin serving as acting director on Monday, April 28.
“Chuck Hartke has been a farmer for most of his life and -- even more important -- for the last 18 years he’s been an advocate in state government for people whose livelihood depends on agriculture,” said Blagojevich. “At this time of unprecedented budget pressure, Chuck’s experience will be critical to my administration as we look for new ways to improve and promote Illinois’ vast agriculture industry.”
Hartke, 58, has served in the Illinois House since 1985, and has held a seat on the House Agriculture Committee just as long. Much of his legislative work has focused on helping Illinois’ agriculture community. He sponsored legislation to improve standards for “mega hog farms,” to invest in value-added products, to promote ethanol use and to provide technical and financial assistance to independent farmers. He also is a member of both the Illinois Farm Bureau and the Farmers Union.
Hartke grew up on a farm in Teutopolis in southern Illinois. After a tour of duty with the U.S. Army in Vietnam, he and his wife, Kathy, bought a farm a mile from the one on which he was raised. His son, Chris, now manages the 800-acre operation. Before his election to the Illinois House, Hartke was involved in Effingham County government and served on the county board from 1971 to 1974.
“Chuck Hartke knows the challenges our farmers face,” Blagojevich said. “He’ll do an outstanding job of making sure the state’s agriculture policies and programs do what they are intended to do.”
Hartke will earn $113,200 in his new post.