Illinois Farms

CHAMPAIGN – Illinois farmers should take advantage of an innovative program to help protect their farmland and our environment, said Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Scott Bennett.

The S.T.A.R. program (Saving Tomorrow’s Agriculture Resources), provides free instruction on how to ensure Illinois feeds the world while reducing their environmental footprint.

“This program helps farmers lose less to runoff, earn more from their land, and preserve the state’s natural resources for the next generation,” said Bennett (D-Champaign).

The S.T.A.R. program ranks a farmer’s field according to how well it practices conservation, all with the foal of safeguarding local waterways and maximizing productivity per acre. Participants determine their S.T.A.R. ranking by completing a field form, which is scored by a local reviewer on a five-star scale.

“Our experience with S.T.A.R. farmers is they never realized how easy it can be to prevent runoff and protect our water supplies, and how important it is to take the extra time to plan for and execute a sustainable farming strategy on their acreage,” said Bruce Henrikson, S.T.A.R. Program Coordinator through Champaign County Soil and Water Conservation District. “With more than 40 counties now participating in S.T.A.R., and state legislators making soil and water conservation a priority at the Capitol, we believe 2019 will show even more growth – and that will pay big dividends for our agricultural economy and our environment for many years to come.

Agriculture experts rank field on, what cover crops they use, the types of fertilizers used at different times of the year, and conservation practices used on the field to avoid runoff.

Last year, 180 farmers on 438 fields participated in the program, for a total of 27,418 acres. Of the 438 fields, 382 of the fields that participated received a ranking of three-stars or higher.

“I passed legislation this past session in support of the soil and water conservation districts and will continue to advocate for programs like S.T.A.R. to benefit farming families across Illinois,” Bennett said.

Champaign County is joined by 42 other Illinois counties licensed to offer S.T.A.R. with a global commitment to reach 1 million farmers and workers by 2030.