SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Last week, leadership from IL Pork, IL Beef, IL Corn, IL Soybeans and IL Farm Bureau worked to increase the Illinois State budget request by $750,000 from the General Assembly’s FY23 budget toward the Illinois Department of Agriculture (IDOA). These funds would be used to provide additional field veterinarians and proactive foreign animal disease prevention measures necessary to protect Illinois agriculture in the event of looming foreign animal disease outbreaks.
“With the recent announcement by the United States Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service confirming the presence of highly pathogenic avian influenza in a small backyard flock in Mclean County, the need for these funds is immediate,” says Illinois Pork Producer Association’s Executive Director Jennifer Tirey. “This recent outbreak proves that a foreign animal disease does not discriminate based on the size of a livestock farm. The devastation could impact the smallest backyard hobby farms, farmers that sell their product at a farmers’ market, small meat processors or our larger producers. We’re also concerned about the potential of an African Swine Fever outbreak in Illinois swine herds. The impact of any of these animal disease outbreaks to Illinois agriculture would be detrimental and being underprepared would only worsen the impact.”
Today, IDOA only has one field veterinarian on staff to serve the entire state of Illinois. Adding veterinarians could mean regionally defined service areas, even allowing field staff to support vet work on specific species-related issues.
“We believe the collaborative response from our five groups empowered our request,” says Tirey. “We are incredibly grateful to the legislators who stand for the best interests of Illinois agriculture and Illinois farmers.”
Adds Josh St. Peters, Executive Vice President, Illinois Beef Association, “Earlier this winter the Illinois Department of Agriculture (IDOA) expressed this issue as a concern to our organizations and we are happy to see the funding secured and look forward to working with the department to protect the ag industry from potential foreign animal disease outbreaks,” he says. “Director Costello, IDOA leadership, Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Patrick Joyce (D-Essex), Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) and Senator Bill Cunningham (D-Chicago) are greatly appreciated by the Illinois ag community for their partnership.”
— Illinois Pork Producers Association