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Demand that Illinois Passes the Partners for Nutrient Loss Reduction Act
Illinois farmer plants soybeans into cereal rye, Spring 2021.

When the Partners for Conservation Fund was established in 2008, it continued a legacy of investment in conservation for Illinois that has enjoyed widespread bipartisan and public support. In fact, when its precursor was passed in 1995, Conservation 2000, it set an ambitious goal of investing $100 million in conservation efforts over an initial six-year period and passed the General Assembly without a single dissenting vote!

That’s why you might have heard AFT on the radio or seen us in your newspaper in recent weeks. It’s essential that folks know the urgency and what’s on the line. Without action from the General Assembly, the Partners for Conservation Fund is set to expire this June, breaking a crucial lifeline to farmers who rely on the program for cost-share support to adopt conservation practices and stakeholders across the state who rely on the program for grant funding that goes to protecting our natural resources and community wellbeing.

AFT in the Media

If this crucial funding is not extended, organizations like the Soil and Water Conservation Districts will lose access to critical resources for helping farmers achieve their stewardship goals and we will fall farther behind on our nutrient loss reduction targets.

And that is not all.

The Fall Covers for Spring Savings Program, which for the past two years has been an enormously effective incentive to encourage farmers to plant cover crops, will also expire without new funding. That hurts not only our efforts to protect soil health but also our ability to use agriculture as a key tool in the fight against climate change.

What can the General Assembly do?

First, it can pass SB2474, the Illinois Partners for Nutrient Loss Reduction Act. This bill would extend the Partners for Conservation Fund until 2027, and for the first time, dedicate resources to achieving the nutrient loss reduction targets. It would also recognize the Fall Covers for Spring Savings as an essential part of the suite of tools the state can deploy to protect farm field’s soil health and water quality.

Secondly, it can make sure that these programs get funded at adequate levels to make progress on the targets and goals that the state set for itself. Simply put, there is no way that Illinois can reach its goals for reducing nutrient loss and protecting the climate without investing in conservation on farms. This state funding is so important not only because it goes a long way on its own, but it is essential to leverage additional support from the federal government and the private sector. This will show that Illinois takes these issues seriously and is invested in making a difference.

We need your help to get this message through.

In this last week before the legislative session convenes, please reach out to your legislator and let them know that we need these programs and we need this funding to ensure that we have a healthy and resilient future in Illinois.

About the Author
Max Webster

Midwest Policy Manager

mwebster@farmland.org

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