Illinois Stewardship Alliance is a statewide non-profit with a mission to cultivate a food and farm system that is economically viable, socially just, and environmentally sustainable. Our membership is farmers, food and farm organizations, and eaters across the state.
Local and Regional Food Systems:
Help farmers reach new markets through outreach, cost-share, and technical assistance programs. Consumer demand for local and regional food is on the rise but existing infrastructure primarily serves the needs of farms and food business in the global market, leaving bottlenecks and gaps in the local food supply chain.
Increase access to fresh, healthy, local food among low-income groups and communities in need. Farm Bill programs connect our nation’s farmers and low-income people, increasing food security, reducing food waste, and putting more dollars in the pockets of family farmers and circulating within communities.
Beginning Farmers and Ranchers:
Expand beginning farmers’ access to farmland, credit, training, and risk management. Significant hurdles, including access to affordable farmland, high upfront startup costs, and saturation of markets, discourage many from pursuing or being successful starting a new farm business. Our nation’s farmers and ranchers are aging and we can do more to support the transfer of skills, knowledge, and land between current and future generations of family farmers.
Provide new funding to the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP). BFRDP funds training programs that help aspiring farmers operate successful, enduring farm businesses.
Improve support for conservation outreach, planning, and implementation. For decades, voluntary conservation programs have helped to produce lasting results for farmers and the public, but funding shortages, insufficient emphasis on high-impact practices, and a lack of program coordination hamper conservation efforts on tens of thousands of acres.
Enhance impact by targeting dollars to the most effective conservation activities. Illinois’ ability to reach voluntary water quality goals detailed in the Illinois Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy (NLRS) depends on federal investment in helping farmers transition to regenerative agriculture practices and conservation cropping systems.
Expand access by ensuring the program serves all types of farmers. Because of the important role farming plays in our lives and in our economy, it is in the public interest to help protect farmers, but specialty crop farmers have been left out.
Promote conservation by removing barriers to sustainable farming practices and link premium subsidies to stewardship. Reward farmers who take steps to manage risk and improve the resilience of their land with approved conservation practices that conserve soil, and protect water and soil health with a premium subsidy support.