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New Law Will Put More Locally-Grown Food on Illinois Tables
Illinois Ag Connection - 08/19/2009

Governor Pat Quinn Tuesday signed into law legislation that will help put more Illinois-grown food on Illinois tables. House Bill 3990, sponsored by Sen. Jacqueline Collins (D-Chicago) and Rep. Julie Hamos (D-Evanston) is designed to increase demand for locally-grown food by building a reliable market for it at state agencies and facilities that receive significant state support.

"I salute Illinois farmers and business leaders who work hard every day to boost our state's economy." Governor Quinn said. "They have made Illinois one of the largest food-producing states in the nation. This legislation helps make sure that more of the food they produce is eaten in Illinois."

Key elements of the legislation include:

- Formation of the Illinois Local Food, Farms, and Jobs Council, which will work with state agencies, Illinois businesses, organizations and Illinoisans to build an active local farm and food market.

- Establishment of local food procurement goals for state agencies to purchase 20 percent of their food locally by 2020. State-funded institutions such as schools would have a goal of 10 percent by 2020.

- Creation of a local food purchase preference for state-owned food buyers that allows them to pay a premium of up to 10 percent above the lowest bid in order to purchase locally grown goods.

"The fact that an estimated 96 percent of the fruits, vegetables, and meats that Illinoisans eat are produced in other states or countries is an astonishing imbalance and presents us with an enormous opportunity," said Sen. Collins. "This legislation is an important step forward that will enable farmers in the state to produce and sell fresh food."

The legislation caps an effort by the Illinois Local and Organic Food and Farm Task Force to determine the potential for Illinois to grow and distribute food within Illinois and in neighboring states. A study released by the Task Force earlier this year revealed that only a tiny fraction of the approximately $48 billion spent by Illinoisans on food each year is grown in Illinois.

"This legislation is the first step in creating a fresh farm and food system in Illinois that will bring important benefits to every corner of our state," said Rep. Hamos. "New jobs will be created as the system to process and transport the food to local markets is developed. Those who live in Illinois and in adjacent states will benefit from the increased supply of fresh, locally-produced food."

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