Manifolds, Manolos, and Manure
Less than a year ago during a conference in Bloomington, County Farm Bureaus were asked to engage with their county boards to build a greater awareness of Farm Bureau and to lobby said county boards to approve a resolution recognizing and celebrating agriculture in the county.
Since joining the Farm Bureau many years ago, a portion of my duties has been building relationships with county board members. Early on in my tenure I identified commissioners who might be receptive to conversations about Cook County agriculture and Farm Bureau policies. Many were recently elected, suburban or located in a district with a strong link to agriculture.
Some initial meetings were easy to schedule. Some took a little longer. Some were held “on the fly” during walks to or from elevators or off to the side in the boardroom. In the end, doors were opened and the foundation for lasting relationships was built.
In January I had the opportunity to sit down with Commissioner Josina Morita in Skokie. During an amazing breakfast at Alexander’s (I strongly suggest the Churro French Toast), I mentioned a draft resolution celebrating Cook County agriculture. Commissioner Morita didn’t miss a beat, she was on board and confident. We talked briefly about co-sponsors. Allies. And opportunities to go beyond a simple, positive resolution.
Shortly thereafter, Farm Bureau’s legislative publication carried a brief article about the resolution and asking for sponsors. Commissioner Scott Britton immediately reached out and asked for a copy of the resolution and to be added as a sponsor. Commissioner Britton grew up on his family farm in Central Illinois and remains an outstanding advocate for agriculture.
Joining Britton and Morita as sponsors on the resolution were nine commissioners: Sean Morrison, Dennis Deer, Bridget Degnen, Bridget Gainer, Brandon Johnson, Donna Miller, Kevin Morrison, Maggie Trevor and Alma Anaya.
Commissioners S. Morrison and Miller, along with Commissioner Monica Gordon, represent most of Cook County’s farmland.
Commissioner Johnson is now Mayor Johnson, and we wish him the best at the helm of the City of Chicago. Commissioner Anaya has a reputation for supporting pro-agriculture, pro-food access initiatives while Commissioner Degnen’s record on environmental issues is unparalleled. Commissioner Deer’s efforts in mental health and on the Health and Hospitals Committee make him an outstanding advocate for mental health issues and especially for Cook County youth. Commissioner Trevor is one of the newest members of the board. She brings a wealth of knowledge, especially in the area of the environment and natural resources. Commissioner K. Morrison joined the Cook County Board at 28, making him the youngest in history. His record on small business development is unmatched.
The Cook County Land Bank Authority was created in 2013 to address Cook County’s inventory of vacant residential, industrial and commercial property. The land bank was spearheaded by Commissioner Gainer.
The above commissioners lent their knowledge. Enthusiasm. And support to Resolution 23-1426, which recognized and celebrated Cook County agriculture – conventional, specialty, livestock and urban. This resolution is just a first step and we’re looking forward to the journey and our tremendous partners, the Cook County Board of Commissioners.