Strong Relationships Ease Passage of Pro-Ag Resolution in Cook County
Originally printed in LINK, May- June 2023
Pro-Agriculture Resolutions, once considered a long shot for passage in Cook County, could now set the stage for additional support for ag in the state’s most populated county.
With support from strong relationships previously built with members of the Cook County Board of Commissioners, Cook County Farm Bureau (CCFB) pursued the resolution and ultimately got it passed this spring, one of 43 counties to achieve passage so far this year.
“When IFB came up with the idea of having that resolution and having counties involved, I think they were, to be honest, skeptical that Cook County could get something like this passed,” said CCFB President Janet McCabe. “We’ve worked really hard to keep a relationship with the Cook County commissioners. … I honestly don’t think it was as hard as a lot of people thought.”
CCFB recently welcomed six Cook County commissioners to a community youth garden in Evergreen Park, where teaching youth how to grow fresh produce is among the uses for the space. It was the latest chance for CCFB leaders and staff to interact and educate county commissioners on the state’s biggest industry.
Cook County’s agricultural landscape includes traditional row crop and dairy production as well as plant nurseries, equine and food processing. Altogether, that’s worth nearly $20 million to the county economy and accounts for more than 4% of its workforce. For Monica Gordon, a commissioner representing the 5th District in the southern part of Cook County, urban farms represent agriculture.
“What comes to mind when I think about Cook County Farm Bureau is diversity,” Gordon said at the event. “Why that's very important is because that allows everyone to know that there is an opportunity for them to embrace agriculture. It's not just for rural areas.”
Commissioner Josina Morita, one of the sponsors of the Pro-Agriculture Resolution, said she hopes it sets the stage for the Cook County Board to better support agriculture in the future.
“The first resolution was about education and committing Cook County to the value of the role of agriculture,” said Morita, who represents the 13th District in northeastern Cook County. “The next step is finding opportunities for partnership, finding opportunities to make sure that our farmers are getting the resources they deserve from Cook County and continuing to set goals.
“How are we supporting the existing farms? How are we expanding farming? How are we redefining farming and city life in a way that can be more dynamic?” McCabe said she considers attendance by the six commissioners at the garden visit to be an indicator of the strong relationships CCFB has built.
“They do appreciate the connection they have with Cook County Farm Bureau,” she said. “We’re just trying to keep agriculture in the forefront of their mind and realize that there’s opportunities for them with agriculture in their districts.”