Environmental advocates applaud passage of urban agriculture areas bill

Last week the Illinois State Senate passed HB 3418 which identifies incentives that local governments may extend to farmers – such as reduced water rates, reduced utilities fees, and property tax abatements – to expand access to urban farming. HB 3418 passed in the Illinois House of Representatives on April 25, 2018 and now awaits the signature of Governor Rauner.

To help local governments expand access to urban farming and local food, HB 3418:

  • Allows local governments to create urban agricultural areas, where beginning, socially-, and economically-disadvantaged farmers are operating urban farms;
  • Allows local governments to abate property taxes on urban agricultural areas;
  • Allows local governments to reduce water and utilities fees and rates to rate payers in urban agricultural areas; and
  • Allows local governments to use TIF revenues to offset the costs of providing incentives to urban agricultural areas.

The following statement was issued by Laura Calvert, Advocates for Urban Agriculture Executive Director:

“We commend the Illinois legislature and in particular Rep. Sonya Harper for lowering barriers to starting and operating urban farm businesses. This bill will further stimulate our local food system by growing businesses, jobs, produce, and our economy.”

The following statement was issued by Rodger Cooley, Executive Director of the Chicago Food Policy Action Council:

“Representative Sonya Harper and Senator Mattie Hunter’s leadership were invaluable for getting this important legislation passed.  HB3418 will help open doors for urban farmers to supply healthy foods, grow valuable jobs, and revitalize land in communities needing extra support.”

The following statement was issued by Jen Walling, Executive Director of the Illinois Environmental Council:

“HB 3418 will encourage urban farmers and bring the benefits of local food economies to communities across Illinois. We’re grateful to Representative Harper for her tireless advocacy on these issues.”

The following statement was issued by Liz Moran Stelk, Illinois Stewardship Alliance Executive Director:

“This bill will make farm dreams a reality for many urban growers. It levels the playing field for producers across the state to access and afford land. This bill reflects Rep. Harper’s vision for a vibrant local food economy. She has an impressive track record of developing and championing policies that support growers and get fresh, local food in communities.”

The following statement was issued by Jerry Adelmann, Openlands President and CEO:

“This is an important step towards improving equity, community health, and economic opportunity for urban farmers in Illinois. Urban farmers face unique challenges and barriers to access, so this bill allows local governments greater flexibility in addressing those needs. We sincerely thank State Representative Sonya Harper and State Senator Mattie Hunter for leading this effort in Springfield, and we urge the Governor to sign this bill.”

About Advocates for Urban Agriculture

Advocates for Urban Agriculture (AUA) empowers urban growers to foster thriving communities through sustainable agriculture and equitable food systems. To pursue this mission in the Chicago region, AUA educates and trains urban agriculture practitioners; endorses best practices for growing operations; connects growers, consumers and resources through an active network; and advocates for urban agriculture policy at all levels.

About Chicago Food Policy Action Council

Chicago Food Policy Action Council is a not-for-profit organization that since 2002 advocates for food and agriculture policy promoting local, sustainable, fair, humane and healthy food for all communities.

About Illinois Environmental Council

Since 1975, IEC has promoted sound environmental laws and policies in Illinois. We encourage decision makers in the private sector to go beyond minimum standards to establish new environmental best practices. We credit those who lead, innovate, and inspire others to follow their example. Visit us at www.ilenviro.org.

About Illinois Stewardship Alliance

Illinois Stewardship Alliance is a statewide membership non-profit organization advocating on behalf of local food and sustainable farming. The Alliance’s mission is to cultivate a local food and farm system that is environmentally sustainable, economically viable, and socially just.

About Openlands

Founded in 1963, Openlands is one of the nation’s oldest and most successful metropolitan conservation organizations, having helped secure, protect, and provide public access to more than 55,000 acres of land for parks, forest preserves, wildlife refuges, land and water greenway corridors, and urban gardens. For more information, please visit www.openlands.org.