Discuss Agricultural Benefits of Trade, RFS, Infrastructure Investment; Honor Grundy County Farmer as Kirk’s “Farmer of the Year”
CHICAGO – December 08, 2015 – (RealEstateRama) — U.S. Senator Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) today discussed his efforts to expand Illinois agricultural exports and honored Donna Jeschke of Grundy County with his Farmer of the Year Award at the Illinois Farm Bureau’s annual meeting, which marked the IFB’s 100th anniversary.
“As the nation’s top producer of soybeans and corn, Illinois relies on our hardworking farmers as the backbone of our economy,” Senator Kirk. “I stand with the Illinois Farm Bureau in support of boosting agricultural exports, maintaining a fair RFS, and protecting farmers from regulatory overreach.”
Senator Kirk’s Farmer of the Year: Donna Jeschke of Grundy County
Donna Jeschke, who farms corn and soybeans in Grundy County, received Senator Kirk’s Farmer of the Year Award in recognition of her work in support of Illinois agriculture and her community.
Jeschke is the past chairwoman of the Illinois Corn Marketing Board and serves as chairwoman of the Mission and Outreach Committee for the Park Street Congregational Church. She is also a host farmer for the Illinois Farm Families Field Moms Program, which gives farmers the opportunity to host families from all over the world to educate them on the importance of agriculture and on best farming practices.
Expanding Agricultural Exports
Illinois ranks second in corn production nationwide, with 2.35 billion bushels produced in 2014, and more than half of the corn produced in the state is exported throughout the country and abroad. Trade supports 1.7 million jobs in Illinois and provides new markets to increase demand for Illinois exports.
Senator Kirk discussed his vote in support of the trade promotion authority (TPA) bill to allow the Administration to negotiate the strongest possible trade agreements that will boost American exports and benefit Illinois farmers. In the coming year, Congress will have the chance to vote on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which would be the largest regional trade agreement in history.
Supporting a Fair RFS
Illinois’ agricultural commodities generate more than $19 billion annually, with more than $10 billion coming from our state’s corn farms. Senator Kirk reaffirmed his support for a strong Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), which is key to our state’s agricultural production and our nation’s energy independence. In October, Senator Kirk voted against an attempt to repeal the RFS, and he is opposed to the EPA’s reduction of the total renewable fuel volume below Congressional requirements.
Stopping Regulatory Overreach
Senator Kirk spoke about his efforts to protect Illinois farmers from regulatory overreach. In November, Senator Kirk voted for S.J. Res. 22 to disapprove of the EPA’s Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule, which expands federal authority under the Clean Water Act to regulate and fine landowners. The makeup of farmland is too unique for the unclear definitions provided in this rule, potentially subjecting farmers, ranchers and businesses to years of litigation and uncertainty.
Investing in Infrastructure
Congress last week sent the President a long-term transportation bill for the first time in a decade. The Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, which on Thursday passed the Senate with Senator Kirk’s support, invests more than $10 billion in Illinois infrastructure over five years. Providing long-term certainty in transportation planning and much needed growth in road funding is critical to ensuring Illinois agricultural exports can be shipped efficiently to markets around the world.
Protecting Crop Insurance
The FAST Act also restored $3 billion in cuts to the federal crop insurance program that were part of a budget agreement this fall. This fix maintains the strong crop insurance levels agreed upon in the 2014 Farm Bill, ensuring farmers are able to effectively manage risk.