Philip Nelson, immediate past Illinois Farm Bureau president, plans to transition toward a new job this week -- Illinois Department of Agriculture (IDOA) director.

     Gov. Bruce Rauner nominated the Seneca farmer to the post to succeed Bob Flider. Nelson said he plans to put a “new face” on the department of agriculture.

     “The department is not just about agriculture but also food. We can reach out to consumers in the same way Illinois Farm Families does,” said Nelson, referring to an Illinois agriculture coalition, including IFB, aimed at sharing information with consumers.

     IFB President Richard Guebert Jr. expressed his support for Nelson’s nomination. He said Nelson possesses the necessary qualifications as a working farmer and agricultural leader to serve in the role.

Philip Nelson, newly-named director of the Illinois Department of Agriculture.
Philip Nelson, newly-named director of the Illinois Department of Agriculture.

     “This decision is important for the state’s largest industry. Nelson’s most recent experience serving as the president of the IFB will allow him to take a unique skill set to IDOA. He has a long history of supporting farming and rural life, which will help him lead the department. We look forward to working with Nelson in his new role.”

     Nelson served as IFB president from 2003-13. He led the organization as vice president from 1999-2003. Prior to those roles, he served as Illinois Soybean Association and LaSalle County Farm Bureau, and vice president of the American Soybean Association.

    “The budget will certainly be something that will be under scrutiny very shortly as the governor is going to make a budget address in February. He knows, and I know the challenges facing our state,” Nelson told the RFD Radio Network. “The governor said, ‘Philip, if you come on board, I’ll give you the resources you need to truly make an impact on the department.’”

    Nelson listed Rauner’s agricultural priorities as upgrading infrastructure, assessing agriculture and business regulations, expanding export markets and improving Illinois’ business climate.

    “To grow our business, we’re going to have to address a number of these items. I truly believe this administration can turn the challenges into opportunities,” Nelson said.