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Scott Bennett expresses concerns over state budget cuts on agricultural programs

bennett 052517CHAMPAIGN – Last week, Gov. Bruce Rauner and the Office of Management and Budget outlined more than $200 million in suggested cuts to Illinois’ 2018 budget, including reducing funding to several agriculture programs.

“The governor’s cuts would slash funding for key agricultural research and conservation, undermining the ability of our famers to sustain their land and their livelihoods,” said State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign), Vice-Chairman of the Senate’s Committee on Agriculture. “I am all for helping Illinois achieve long-term fiscal stability, but I wonder how much more funding to agricultural programs can be reduced without causing harm.”

The governor’s proposed cuts are expected to reduce the budget for the Department of Agriculture by about $21 million. This will affect operations, promotions, export marketing and contractual staff.

Under the plan, funding for Soil and Water Conservation Districts remains at $5 million, equal to the previous year; however, the $2.5 million of cost-share funds was reduced, and an additional $6 million in new appropriations will not be funded.

“I definitely support a balanced budget and spending within your means,” Bennett said. “At the same time, I will continue to advocate for efficient levels of funding for these essential programs because agriculture is the backbone of our state’s economy, and we need to do whatever we can to keep Illinois’ agribusiness growing.”

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