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CCFB News» July 2024

Manifolds, Manolos, and Manure

For nearly a year, Cook County Farm Bureau Governmental Affairs Committee members have been researching and drafting three resolutions for submittal to the Resolutions Committee.


The fist submittal strives to create a working definition of ‘regenerative agriculture.’ At this time, no one legal or regulatory definition of the term ‘regenerative agriculture’ exists nor has a widely accepted definition emerged from within the agricultural industry. The absence of clarity around the term ‘regenerative agriculture’ creates challenges for researchers who seek to study practices and strategies and creates confusion among consumers who may not understand the term. A poorly defined or poorly understood term could also become diluted or corrupted over time.


Generally, the policy provides that Farm Bureau supports:

  • Regenerative agriculture referring to maintaining the health of soil by rebuilding organic soil matter and restoring degraded soil biodiversity.
  • Regenerative agriculture practices including but not limited to minimal tillage, diversified crop rotation, cover crops, green manure, precision application of biological and chemical inputs, and natural fertilizers, including compost and inoculants to ensure soil micronutrients are kept in top condition.
  • Farmers having a menu of regenerative agriculture practices rather than a prescriptive list when qualifying for incentives.
  • Farm policy supporting regenerative practices.
  • Reducing barriers to implementing regenerative agriculture practices including cost-sharing, incentives, and low-cost loan programs.
  • Access to technical assistance for farmers considering incorporating regenerative agricultural practices into their farming operation.


The second topic the committee addressed was food labeling. Each year in the United States, more than one-third of food goes to waste. This waste is the single largest category of material sent to municipal landfills. Date labels contribute to this problem by confusing consumers and prompting them to dispose of food that is still safe to eat. A 2016 Harvard study found that more than 80% of consumers throw away food that is at or near the “date” label at least some of the time.


With the exception of baby formula, date labels on food are not federally regulated or standardized. Standardizing the language on food labels would reduce confusion and improve understanding among consumers who are bombarded with many types of expiration date formats – up to 50 different phrases nationwide. This language means different things to different brands and some dates have no explanation at all.


Generally, the policy provides that Farm Bureau supports:

  • Science-based nutrition information on food labels.
  • Concise and easy to understand food labels that provide consumers with information that differentiates safety from quality.
  • Standardizing food date labels including the use of “best used by” or “best if used by or frozen by” to indicate quality and “use by” to indicate safety.
  • Eliminating “sell by” dates on individual packages. “Sell by” dates are intended for grocers as an indicator to rotate stock, not an indicator of quality or safety.
  • A voluntary “Product of the U.S.” label for meat, poultry, and egg products born, raised, slaughtered, and processed in the U.S.
  • Standardization of allergen labels for common food allergies.
  • Including information on the source of protein (animal or plant-based) on labels.


The final topic considered by the committee was local government debt. Generally, higher local government debt leads to higher tax levies – the amount of money local governments seek through property tax collections. One example is the city of Chicago where since 2016 property taxes have more than doubled, to $1.73 billion, in large part to ramp up the city’s pension contributions.


The resolution generally opposes local governments incurring additional debt if 40 percent of their existing debt is unfunded pension liability.


Farm Bureau’s policy process starts with the members. Members bring forth concerns or issues. Members on the Governmental Affairs Committee discuss the issue and decide if a policy or policy change is needed. If it’s needed, they draft the policy and forward it to the board of directors. Board members discuss and approve the changes. The policy is then submitted to the Illinois Farm Bureau® Resolutions Committee which is made up of county presidents who discuss the issue and decide whether or not to forward the change to the full Farm Bureau delegation.


Members are encouraged to reach out to discuss policy topics, questions, or issues.

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