Legislative Farm Tour at Kilgus Farmstead brings lawmaker and farmer together to talk local food policy

When lawmakers and farmers come together— magic happens! Legislative farm tours are our way of getting legislators out of the office and into the field where they can learn more about the root issues facing our food system and opportunities for change!

We’re grateful to Representative Dan Brady for joining us with farmer Matt Kilgus of Kilgus Farmstead last week. The farmstead was one of the first in the state to open their own on-farm creamery and begin producing and packaging milk right on the farm! Since then they’ve added beef, pork, and goat production as well.

Rep. Brady visits with Farmer Matt Kilgus of Kilgus Farmstead and Policy Associate, Kathleen Mueller, of Illinois Stewardship to discuss policy that support local farms.
The best part of legislative farm tours is making new friends.

During the tour, we talked about how risky it is to diversify and start a creamery, and how state and federal grant programs can help.

Farmer Matt discussed the benefits of programs like the federal Value-Added Producer Grant, which helped their farm take the leap they needed to get their on-farm processing plant off the ground.

We talked about how the pandemic exacerbated problems with livestock processing bottlenecks and how farmers have come together to explore legislative solutions.

And finally we talked about how important it is for state and federal programs and institutions to prioritize local sourcing in their food procurement and what a difference that can make to small farms.

Matt explained how relief programs like the Federal Food Box program helped keep their farm afloat during the pandemic, but how small producers and distributors eventually stopped winning the contracts and were replaced with large out of state suppliers. Encouraging state and federal programs to prioritize local sourcing can help tackle this issue and insure that taxpayer dollars stay local and support local businesses.

Kilgus farmstead is raising animals humanely, growing crops sustainably, building climate resilience, providing their community with nutritious food, and building economic wealth by keeping food dollars local. We need a landscape full of farms like theirs, and shifting Illinois policy to support small, diverse, regenerative farms is one way we get there.

We look forward to continuing the conversation with Rep. Brady and lawmakers across the state.

Look for Kilgus dairy products at a coffee shop near you— and Springfield friends— you can pick up amazing local ice cream made with their milk at the The Salted Lemon- Market & Creamery.