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black farming 110620EAST ST. LOUIS – In order to remove the growing concerns of procedural fairness in all industries for people of color, State Senator Christopher Belt (D-Centreville) says equity in food access, agriculture, cannabis and technology needs to further addressed. 

“Accessing healthy food is still a challenge for many families, particularly those living in low-income neighborhoods, communities of color and rural areas,” Belt said. “Food insecurity has heavily increased during the COVID-19 pandemic and the issue needs to be further addressed.” 

On Friday, the Senate Executive, Commerce and Economic Development, and Agriculture Committees held a joint hearing on equity in food access, agriculture, cannabis and technology. The discussion focused on increasing access to healthier foods in food deserts, threats to agricultural lands, equity in rural, suburban and urban farming, and equity in the cannabis industry.

“We can pass laws and implement monitoring systems to ensure that all industries are being equitable and promoting diversity. However, we need to start questioning if we are really creating equity in our rulemaking,” Belt said. “We have continued to pass laws to increase fairness, inclusion and diversity for years, and I’m pleased my colleagues on both sides of the aisle have dedicated time to continue these discussions.” 

Friday’s hearing was part of a series of discussions prompted by the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus on eliminating systemic racism in the state. The next hearing is scheduled for Nov. 9 at 9:30 a.m. and will cover health disparities, access to health care, behavioral health, and diversity in health care. 

To view virtual committee proceedings, visit https://ilga.gov/senateaudvid.asp and click "Watch Live Virtual Committee Video." The link will become available when proceedings begin.