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Urban Agriculture

Urban Agriculture




Cook County Board Approves Resolution Celebrating the Importance of Agriculture in Cook County


WHEREAS, Illinois is home to more than 71,000 farms, 96 percent of which are family-owned; and


WHEREAS, Illinois agriculture and related industries support nearly 482,000 jobs and generates nearly $51 billion; and


WHEREAS, Agriculture includes the growing, raising, and harvesting of crops for both human and animal consumption as well as the raising of livestock; and


WHEREAS, Cook County is home to more than 12,000 acres of farmland; and


WHEREAS, Agriculture contributes nearly $20 million to Cook County economy; and


WHEREAS, Over four percent of Cook County’s total workforce is employed in an agricultural-related job including food handling and processing; and


WHEREAS, Cook County agriculture includes vegetable, floriculture, grain, nursery, and row crop production as well as livestock; and


WHEREAS, Cook County’s agricultural landscape includes horses, ponies, mules, burros, and donkeys; and


WHEREAS, According to the United States Department of Agriculture 2017 Census of Agriculture, Cook County is ranked second in the state for equine production with a sales volume of over $1.5 million; and


WHEREAS, Cook County ranks twelfth in the state for nursery, greenhouse, floriculture, and sod production; and


WHEREAS, Cook County is home to numerous examples of urban agriculture including the raising, cultivation, processing, marketing, and distribution of food in urban and suburban settings; and


WHEREAS, Urban agriculture generally involves outdoor and indoor vertical production, indoor warehouse farms, greenhouses, rooftop farms, hydroponic and aquaponic facilities; and


WHEREAS, Over two percent of Cook County farms are certified organic by the United States Department of Agriculture; and


WHEREAS, Over 15 percent of Cook County farmers sell directly to consumers at farmstands, roadside markets, farmers markets and through community support agriculture; and


WHEREAS, Cook and Illinois farmers grow healthy and nutritious food; and


WHEREAS, Cook County farmers recognize that too many individuals suffer from food insecurity and encourage farmers to partner with food banks, food recovery organizations, and other food distribution organizations; and


WHEREAS, Cook County Farm Bureau developed a program to purchase and deliver food and member donations to partner food pantries; to encourage online engagement to raise awareness of area food pantries, their needs, and service areas; and a grant program for local food pantries to expand their food offerings or facility in light of the unprecedented need due to the pandemic; and


WHEREAS, Farm Bureau volunteers partnered with over 70 community partners to assist over 7,400 individuals with their food needs; and


WHEREAS, Cook and Illinois farmers have made meaningful contributions toward water quality improvements; and


WHEREAS, Through the science-based framework provided by the Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy, Cook County and Illinois farmers are using research, technology and industry experience to assess and reduce nutrient loss to Illinois waters and to the Gulf of Mexico; and


WHEREAS, Using tools and technology to better manage soil nutrients, field time and air quality, farmers are using fewer natural resources and reducing their carbon footprint while producing food; and


WHEREAS, Farmland is a finite resource that is vital to agriculture, food production, and the economic well-being of Cook County; and


NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Cook County Board of Commissioners recognize the value agriculture contributes to the local economy and support agriculture within the county; and


BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that a suitable copy of this resolution be tendered to the Cook County Farm Bureau®.

(Approved at the March 16, 2023 Cook County Board Meeting)




Top Reasons Why an urban Farmer, Innovative Producer or Specialty Grower Should belong to Farm Bureau

Learn more about the top reasons to join Farm Bureau.

(Approved at the March 16, 2023 Cook County Board Meeting)




Food Access

Food insecurity occurs when food is either too distant or too expensive to purchase.  A food desert is one type of food insecurity.


The U.S. Department of Agriculture defines a food desert as any census tract where at least 20 percent of the inhabitants are below the poverty line and 33 percent live over a mile or in rural areas more than 10 miles from the nearest supermarket.


We support:

1. Incentives, including but not limited to, offering tax credits or breaks to grocery stores in underserved areas.

2. Policy development to support grocery stores and neighborhood-based farmers markets.

3. Simplifying the process for permitting and launching grocery stores.

4. Programs to encourage heathy eating, food preparation, and proper food storage.

5. Partnering with the community when selecting food desert measurements, policies, and interventions.

6. Increasing the use of third-party and digital platforms for all approved Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) retailers providing that benefits are not used for service fees or delivery charges.

7. Increasing SNAP approved food sales outlets.

8. Food insecurity networks, like food banks, non-profit grocers, and produce carts.

9. Farmer cooperatives to provide services such as crop marketing, distribution, guidance on partnering with food banks, and farmer training.

10. The aggregation of farm products and partners to connect institutions, municipalities, school districts, hospitals, community-based organization, government agencies, and other groups to provide produce to families living in food deserts.

11. Farms connecting directly with food banks, food recovery organizations, and other distributing nonprofits.

12. Expanding the existing tax deduction for food donations to non-profits.

13. Simplifying food pantry partnerships, expansions, and new development.

Approved by Farm Bureau in 2022.


Urban Agriculture

Urban agriculture encompasses a wide range of activities involving the raising, cultivation, processing, marketing, and distribution of food in urban and suburban settings. Generally urban agriculture involves outdoor and indoor vertical production, indoor warehouse farms, greenhouses, rooftop farms, hydroponic and aquaponic facilities.

Urban agriculture includes community gardens and urban farms. Community gardens are smaller-scale urban agriculture sites, often serving a neighborhood, where  individuals and families grow food primarily for personal consumption or for donation.


Urban farms are larger-scale, more intensive sites where food may be grown by an organization or private enterprise, and often include entrepreneurial opportunities such as growing food for sale. Urban farms include both for and nonprofit enterprises.


We support:
1. Recognizing the importance of urban agriculture and its contribution to the agricultural economy.

2. Urban agriculture providing safe, attractive, and welcoming spaces for neighbors to gather and foster a sense of community.

3. County Farm Bureaus working with units of government to develop agriculture-friendly zoning policies.

4. Using land management tools such as land banks, land trusts, conservation easements, and long-term leases on public and private lands so urban agriculture can flourish.

5. Advocating for new developments to include opportunities for agriculture, including rooftop and home gardens, community gardens, and urban farms where appropriate.

6. Access to services including trash collection, composting, water, and storage opportunities to minimize costs and reduce barriers to entry.

7. Ensuring that urban agricultural sites have access to affordable clean water sources.

8. Diverting organic waste into compost.

9. Using raised beds or hydroponics to address soil-quality concerns.

10. Using season extension tools such as indoor facilities and high tunnels.

11. The keeping of bees and beehives in urban settings providing that best management practices are followed.

12. Urban agriculture sites gaining access to agricultural markets.

13. Developing infrastructure to transport and store food for market.

14. Providing job training and skills development to beginning farmers and garden managers.

Approved by Farm Bureau delegates in 2021.


Organic Agriculture

Organic products are overseen by a United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Organic Program (NOP)-authorized certifying agency (ACA); produced without excluded or prohibited methods; and produced using only allowed substances.  Organic is a production standard set by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Organic Program (NOP) for marketing label use (Title 7, Subtitle B, Chapter I, Subchapter M, Part 205).


We support:

1. All methods of agricultural production and marketing provided they offer opportunities to all farmers who qualify or meet required standards.

2. Broad availability of information on the USDA-certified organic program, certification process, and labeling requirements, as well as other unbiased information on organic products or production.

3. Clarity and integrity of organic standards in the marketplace.

4. Increased funding for organic agriculture, production, education, and technical assistance by non-government organization, land-grant universities, and extension.

5. Enhanced marketing opportunities for producers of organically grown commodities just as we support such efforts for conventionally produced crops.

6. Responsible use of buffer strips or others appropriate measures by organic farmers to protect their crops from pollen drift or other factors affecting the integrity of their crops.


Federal Programs and Support

We support:

1. Research into methods for improving soil health and the development of biological and cultural management of disease, weeds, and pests.

2. Organic farmers using organic prices for all federal farmer support programs.

3. Allowing first-year organic crop insurance applicants to the Organic Crop Insurance Program to receive the organic price for their crop insurance providing that organic inspection occurs by the Risk Management Agency before the crop insurance deadline without final review and the final certificate required at a later date.

4. Assisting farmers meet current and future consumer demand and expand outreach and education opportunities using the National Organic Cost Share Certification Program.


Certification and Enforcement

We support:

1. Third-party certification to verify compliance with NOP standards.

2. Full and equitable enforcement of NOP standards.

3. A certification and accreditation process that is transparent, risk-based and requires producers and certificate holders to uphold high integrity in their organic production practices.

4. Transparency about enforcement actions taken by NOP.

5. Strict consequences for ACA implicated in domestic or foreign fraud and significant non-compliance.

6. Strengthening USDA import inspection, review, and testing protocols to ensure organic label integrity.

7. Requiring farmers selling organic products to display the USDA Certified Organic logo and their certification number.

Approved by Farm Bureau delegates in 2021.



Specialty crops are defined by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) as fruits and vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, and horticulture and nursery crops including floriculture.


We support:

1. Enhancing the specialty crops industry’s image through marketing, promotions, legislative engagement, and programming.

2. Efforts to increase individuals’ access to fresh, healthy, local food through direct marketing outlets.

3. The continued growth of the industry and development of various specialty crops that are not already defined by the USDA.

4. Funding for specialty crop research, Extension services, pathologists, and entomologists to assist with the growth of the industry.

5. The simplification and expansion of the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program to provide financial assistance to producers of non-insurable crops, including those grown for food or horticultural, to protect against natural disasters that prevent crop planting or result in lower yields or losses.

6. Cost-share funding for USDA Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) certification.

7. Reduced cost of Good Handling Practices (GHP) certification for small and very small producers.

8. Standardization and clarity in the food grading system.

9. Adoption of the FDA-State Produce Safety Implementation Cooperative Agreement Program.

10. Implementation of and funding for the Value-Added Producer Working Grant Program for both food safety-only and working capital applicants.

11. Funding for the Food Safety Intervention Technologies Research Unit to develop new processes to improve the safety of the food supply and to determine the efficacy and suitability of new biological, chemical, and non-thermal physical technologies.

12. Development of technologies to reduce, control or eliminate foodborne pathogens from food products and contact surfaces.

13. Simplification of state and federal agency food procurement processes.

14. An indemnification program funded by state/federal sources that provides for losses of plants and nursery stocks must be eradicated to control the spread of serious communicable diseases. The indemnity payments should be based upon current market values.

Approved by Farm Bureau delegates in 2021.

Food Waste and Resource Recovery

We support:

1.  Implementing state-based liability protections for food donors and rescue organizations that expand and strengthen those provided by the federal Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act.  Food rescue includes donation or recovery of surplus food used for feeding hungry people.

2.  The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) offering an education campaign on donation liability protection for potential food donors and food rescue organizations.

3.  Expansion of tax deductions or credits, including the creation of a state tax credit, for food donors to offset the costs associated with food donation, even if the food is sold to families at a reduced cost.

4.  Incentivizing farmers to donate surplus crops and offset the costs associated with the donation.

5.  The USDA and the Food and Drug Administration clarifying food safety donation regulations, for pre-cooked and pre-packaged food items.



We support:

1.  On-farm composting.

2. The use of composted materials on farms, gardens, in landscaping operations.

3.  Updating USDA’s definition of compost so that a greater number of potential buyers, including farms, golf courses, or other operations near waterways, are encouraged to purchase compost.  Compost refers to a mixture of various decaying organic waste substances, such as food scraps, dead leaves, or manure, used as soil fertilizer.

4.  Developing a marketing campaign to build compost demand.


Compost Facilities

We support:

1.  Streamlining and simplify the permitting process for compost facilities, including those that accept landscape waste and food scraps.  Food scraps include pre-consumer food scraps, which includes waste generated during the manufacturing and production of food prior to the item being sold and processed food scraps.

2.  Permitting exemptions for small-scale and/or community composting operations.

3.  Reducing barriers to entry for composting source-separated organics.  Source-separated organics are organic material that has been separated from non-compostable material at the point of generation.

4.  Encouraging local zoning to allow compost facilities as a normal agricultural or commercial operation.


Food Scraps

We support:

1.  Minimizing regulatory constraints for on-farm composted materials, urban food scrap collection and processing facilities.

2.  A separate permitting pathway for anaerobic digestion of source-separated food waste that includes, requirements similar to those imposed on composting source-separated food waste.


Government Assisted Nutrition Programs

We support:
1. Programs to provide a basic nutrition benefit to individuals based on need.
2. Benefit allotments based on a fair value amount that accounts for the true cost of food, geographical food price variation and time costs for food preparation.
3. Incentives for purchasing fruits and vegetables.
4. Education and incentives for participants to purchase food meeting nutrition dietary guidelines.
5. Increasing the use of third-party and digital platforms for all SNAP approved retailers providing that benefits are not used for service or delivery charges.
6. The acceptance of benefits at Community Supported Agriculture (CSAs), farmers markets, food hubs, online grocery stores, and farm stands.
7. Access and funding for charitable food providers to purchase domestically produced United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) commodities for distribution to individuals based on need.
8. Contact by Illinois Health and Human Services staff when nutrition program recipients request a replacement Electronic Benefits (EBT) card more than twice in a 12-month period.
9. Increasing funding for food banks and other food and nutrition assistance programs, cold storage, and distribution costs.
10. Eliminating barriers to access Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) benefits by allowing people who are pursuing education or related job training to qualify for the program.
11. An exemption from Criterion A (staple food stock) and Criterion B (staple food sales) for retailers to the USDA Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) retailer rules to allow seasonal and on-farm businesses to accept SNAP benefits.

We oppose public aid programs so lucrative that there is an economic advantage in becoming a recipient.

Approved by Farm Bureau delegates in 2018.

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