Notable Legislation Approved by the General Assembly
Throughout the legislative session there were several mentionable bills that Farm Bureau supported that passed both Houses: Farmers’ Market Retail Permit, liability insurance costs, and FFA License Plate Decals.
Farm Bureau initially had concerns with the Farmers’ Market Retail Permit (SB 3838) when
it was introduced but worked diligently with Senate Sponsor Koehler and House Sponsor Bennett, as well as local health departments, and the Illinois Stewardship Alliance to come to an agreement and create a standard to help local foods.
The Farmers’ Market Retail Permit creates a statewide permitting process, with cost controls, for farmers that wish to sell meat, dairy, poultry, and certain pre-frozen foods at farmers’ markets in counties that require a permit. This permit is separate from a county’s typical retail food license and will be the only permit necessary to participate in farmers’ markets for the sale of meat, dairy, poultry, and certain pre-frozen foods. This was a great opportunity to work together with both a Democrat and Republican sponsor on an issue to put a cap on permit fees and make it easier for local food operations across the state. SB 3838 passed the Senate and the House concurred. Farm Bureau supported SB 3838.
The General Assembly gave Illinois agritourism businesses some relief on liability insurance costs. Lawmakers passed legislation providing agribusinesses a $1,000 state income tax credit for liability insurance premiums and forwarded the provisions along with other tax measures to Gov. J.B. Pritzker.
For years, Illinois Farm Bureau and the Illinois Specialty Growers Association have worked to address agritourism liability issues against stiff opposition from the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association (ITLA). After years of inaction due to ITLA opposition, Sen. Rachel Aud Crowe, D-Glen Carbon, and Senate President Don Harmon’s office, with help from Rep. Katie Stuart in the House, actively partnered with Farm Bureau and lobbied each chamber to deliver aid for agritourism.
Eligible agritourism businesses include those providing historic, cultural, and on-site educational programs, tours, animal exhibitions and petting zoos, crop mazes, U-pick harvesting, horse rides, hayrides, and sleighrides. Under the law, ineligible businesses solely offer hunting, fishing, rodeos, amusement rides, off-road biking or motorized activities, outdoor recreation, and serve as wedding and concert venues.
Another notable bill supported by Farm Bureau that passed both houses with no opposition, is HB 5400 sponsored by Representative Hammond and Senator Joyce. The bill allows the Illinois Department of Agriculture to issue FFA license plate decals and the revenue generated shall be used for grants to the Illinois FFA Association. This bill was approved by both chambers unanimously. Farm Bureau supported HB 5400.