Illinois Farm Bureau Combine

SPRINGFIELD – A new law sponsored by State Senator Mattie Hunter (D-Chicago) will help address the challenges minority farmers face by expanding access to state and federal resources.

House Bill 4234 defines farmers who will benefit from the new law as people who have been subjected to racial, ethnic or gender prejudice because of their identity as members of a group without regard to their individual qualities. These groups include people who are African American, American Indian, Alaskan native, Hispanic, Asian-American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander.

The Farmer Equity Act directs the Illinois Department of Agriculture to ensure that such farmers, including those in urban areas, are included in the development, implementation and enforcement of agriculture laws, policies and programs.

“The Farmer Equity Act gives farmers from the many minority communities of our state a voice and decision-making power,” Hunter said. “It ensures that farmers of color can be represented in state policy-making, so they can advocate for their needs and gain access to resources.”

For years, farmers of color have faced an additional set of barriers when it comes to entering and sustaining successful careers in agriculture. Historically, farmers of color have received less government funding and access to resources to the same extent as other farmers, due in part to a combination of inadequate outreach and assistance and discrimination towards these communities.

“Farmers of color have been overlooked and ignored for far too long,” Hunter said. “The future of agriculture in our state will only be successful once it becomes more equitable and inclusive for all.”

The governor signed House Bill 4234 into law last week. It takes effect immediately.

Category: News

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