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CCFB News» February 2023

Manifolds, Manolos, and Manure

02/08/2023 @ 9:00 am | By Bona Heinsohn, CAE

Earlier this year, Farm Bureau leaders from throughout Illinois discussed and approved Farm Bureau’s 2023 State Legislative Priorities. Priorities are based off of Farm Bureau policies. Policies are recommended by members through Farm Bureau’s grassroots policy process.


Farm Bureau’s State Legislative Priorities include efforts on the estate tax. In order to keep farm families and small businesses together, Farm Bureau is working to increase the Illinois Estate and Generation-Skipping Transfer Tax Act exemption level to an amount equivalent to the Federal Estate Tax and Credit level of $12.06 million per individual. The current state level was established in January of 2013 and has not been adjusted to reflect current inflationary trends in farm estate values. 


Illinois family farms and small businesses are unique in that the vast majority of estate value is not in liquid assets. Value comes from land, machinery, livestock, and grain in storage, which means that to pay Illinois Estate Taxes, families must sell of parts of the family farm or some of the assets that they need to produce a product.


Another priority is maintaining a balanced process for siting livestock farms through the Livestock Management Facilities Act (LMFA) that protects both the environment and farmers’ ability to raise livestock. Data proves that environmental issues on livestock farms are very rare.


The LMFA provides a balanced approach in protecting the environment and allowing farmers the ability to raise livestock on their farms. The LMFA provides consistent, statewide standards that ensure livestock farms are sited on scientific, objective criteria, and that the rules are applied uniformly throughout the state.


Publicly available data proves that the LMFA is working to protect the environment. The number of livestock related violation notices issued by the Environmental Protection Agency has been falling since 1997, the year following the implementation of the LMFA. In fact, 2018 set a record for the lowest number of violation notices for livestock farms with only 10 and recently in 2021 there were only 11.


A final priority of note is Farm Bureau’s intention of continuing to advocate for a balanced approach to the protection of private property rights. As someone who grew up with a city lot or larger sized yard and married a farmer, I’ve often struggled to understand why there’s even a discussion about private property rights. After a conversation with a volunteer who grew up in Chicago and now resides in a heavily suburban area, I’ve realized that not everyone thinks about who owns the land that they’re walking on.


As renewable energy and carbon capture programs increase, it’s important that Illinois farmland is protected. Comprehensive agricultural drainage plans and Agricultural Impact Mitigation Agreements offer property owners a balanced approach to protecting their land and being able to farm, sequester carbon, and generate renewable energy.


Balancing the protection of private property rights with appropriate development of projects will help maintain Illinois’ standing as a leading agricultural state and help reduce conflict that sometimes occurs when projects are proposed.


Through Farm Bureau’s grassroots process, all members have a voice in policy development and priority identification.

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