SPRINGFIELD – Governor Rod Blagojevich paid lasting tribute today to the memory of a respected northern Illinois lawmaker. Blagojevich signed into law House Bill 4769, creating the David A. Wirsing Food Animal Institute Act in honor of the late Rep. David Wirsing (R-Sycamore). Wirsing, a lifelong farmer and former president of the Illinois Pork Producers Association, was working on legislation to create the institute when he died Nov. 16, 2003.
“The institute will review research and distribute information to help the food animal industry improve and remain a viable part of Illinois agriculture,” the governor said. “It’s a fitting tribute to a man who cared deeply about the industry and who devoted his life to helping others, whether as a local school board member, the president of the Pork Producers Association or a member of the Illinois General Assembly.”
In addition to analyzing research and sharing information, the institute will provide annual assessments of Illinois’ food animal industry and make recommendations to keep it competitive in the global marketplace. The David A. Wirsing Food Animal Institute Act passed unanimously in both chambers of the General Assembly. Sen. Lawrence Walsh (D-Elwood) and Rep. Robert Pritchard (R-Sycamore) sponsored the legislation.
“I am pleased that we are honoring the late Rep. David Wirsing through this legislation. In his efforts to create a Food Animal Institute, he realized the need for one convenient place where objective and factual research could be achieved. He also recognized how the state agricultural industry relates to the food animal industry,” said Rep. Pritchard.
“Representative Wirsing understood the importance of a healthy livestock industry to our state’s agricultural economy,” Agriculture Director Chuck Hartke said. “Livestock not only generates $1.6 billion in sales receipts, but also provides a market for corn and soybeans that are grown here for animal feed.”
A 15-member board appointed by the governor will manage the institute. The appointees must include five representatives of the livestock industry, five representatives of agribusinesses and five, non-agribusiness representatives such as consumers, dietitians and animal welfare groups.
The board also will consist of five, non-voting members representing the University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES), the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine, the Southern Illinois University College of Agriculture, the Western Illinois University Agriculture Department and the Illinois State University Agriculture Department.
Members will serve three-year terms. The institute will finance its activities through federal grants and private sources such as trade associations, industry organizations and not-for-profit foundations.