SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — John R. Block is a name many in agriculture know. He served as the Director of the Illinois Department of Agriculture from 1977-1981 and is the only Illinois Director to go on to serve as the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. He held that position from 1981-1985 under President Ronald Reagan, where he played a key role in the development of the 1985 Farm Bill.
Growing up on a farm in Knox County, Ill., Block participated in 4-H and FFA and showed Duroc hogs at the county and Illinois State Fair. His passion for agriculture runs deep in his roots.
In 2012, legislation was passed to rename the Illinois Department of Agriculture (IDOA) administration building the John R. Block building. Former Representatives Raymond Poe and Don Moffitt and Representative Tim Butler were instrumental in helping to get signage on the front of the IDOA building designating it as the “John R. Block” building.
With today’s unveiling, a plaque with his likeness is now located inside the IDOA building where employees and visitors can see it as they enter for meetings in the auditorium.
“John Block played a significant role in agriculture-first in Illinois, then in Washington, DC and ultimately across the entire country,” said John Sullivan, Director, Illinois Department of Agriculture. “Secretary Block set the bar high as a leader, educator, and fighter for agriculture, and I’m honored to a part of the dedication as we present this plaque to him.”
“It’s a privilege to be part of this occasion to recognize Secretary Block for his accomplishments,” said Moffitt, former Representative and former Assistant Director of IDOA. “Mr. Block is from my area of the state and it has been amazing to see his passion for agriculture and the path it has taken him on.”
“I am humbled and appreciative of the effort of all those involved for this recognition,” said Block. “All of my accomplishments have been a labor of love for agriculture, beginning with my roots in the wonderful black soil of Illinois.”
— Illinois Department of Agriculture
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