State Representative Brad Halbrook (R-Shelbyville) along with Director of the Illinois Department of Agriculture Raymond Poe today announced the release of $16 million in agriculture grants at Stremsterfer Farms in Pleasant Plains. The funds being released from the fiscal year 2018 budget will fund soil & water districts, county fairs and agriculture societies, and the University of Illinois Extension services throughout the state. Also in attendance were some of Halbrook’s colleagues in the General Assembly, Governor Rauner, local officials, and the Stremsterfer family.
“I am thrilled to announce the state is making a commitment to preserve and promote agriculture,” said Rep. Halbrook. “One in four jobs in our state is related to agriculture and it is our state’s number one industry. These funds won’t go to waste as this funding is critical to help preserve farmland and educate future generations of Illinois farmers.”
Soil and Water Conservation Districts which protect Illinois farmland through conservation efforts, will receive $6 million. The 97 districts around the state play a central role in efforts to protect and sustain the viability of Illinois soil and water resources in order to preserve our farmland for future generations. The Department will be issuing more than $61,000 to each of the districts to help fund operations. More than $54,000 will be sent to each of the 92 county fairs across the state to help operations at the fairs and may be used to support critical facility rehabilitation needs.
Funding for these organizations comes at a critical time,” said Ag Director Raymond Poe. “We must continue to fund these organizations in order to sustain their key programs. I want to thank our agricultural partners for commitment to Illinois agriculture and for their cooperation in these fiscally challenging times.”
More than 1.5 million Illinois residents take part in programs offered by the University of Illinois Extension Service. Extension provides educational assistance in the areas of energy and environmental stewardship, food safety and security, economic development and workforce preparedness, family health, financial security and wellness, and youth development. The Department of Agriculture will disperse $5 million dollars to assist the organization with its core mission.