IL LFIG winners push for permanency

There’s a push within the state to make the Illinois Local Food Infrastructure Grants permanent. 

State Senator Dave Koehler, of Peoria, says this year’s two-million-dollar pilot program shows the diversification of Illinois agriculture makes sense…

“We’ve got the richest farmland in the world.”  He says, “There’s no reason why we should be flying food in or trucking it in from thousands of miles away. We can grow it right here. And so, this is what this is trying to do is help support those entrepreneurial farmers. And that helps the farmer; that helps the local community.”

Sharon and Tony Pferschy, owners of Garlic Breath Farms in northern Illinois, one of nineteen grant recipients, tell Brownfield their nearly $17,000 award brings better access to their fresh produce stand…

“So, we’ll have the parking lot put in and that’ll have an area for people to jump off of the road and get produce and garlic easy,” says Tony.  “And we do have a number of partnerships with local food pantries, and this will help allow them to pick up more,” says Sharon.

Jeff Hake, at Funks Grove Heritage Fruits & Grains in central Illinois, says their $72,000 award for a grain processing facility will have a regional impact…

This is an effort not just to make our small farms more viable and feed our communities better, but it’s really kind of a historic investment in the idea that food is a fundamental piece of our economy in the state,” he says.

Koehler says there’s a demonstrated need for the program as over 250 applicants requested nearly 23 million dollars in funding.

Senator Koehler’s bill making the program permanent awaits action in the full Illinois Senate.  He says the program has good bipartisan support, but he says the state appropriations process is uncertain in a tight fiscal year. 

AUDIO: IL State Senator Dave Koehler

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