Sen. Dave Koehler

State Senator Dave Koehler joined the Illinois Stewardship Alliance and rural farmers today to discuss his latest measure, Senate Bill 3077, which would strengthen local food production and distribution.

“We should be supporting our farmers here in Illinois rather than purchasing products across the country,” said Koehler (D-Peoria). “Farming is more than just sticking a seed in the ground. You must also have the infrastructure to be able to harvest and process food for people.”

Senate Bill 3077 would create the Local Food Infrastructure Grant Act. This measure would require the Illinois Department of Agriculture to amplify local food processing, collection and distribution within the state through grants. Eligible applicants would include farms, co-ops, process facilities, food businesses and hubs with fewer than 50 employees, as well as Illinois nonprofit organizations and local governments.

Koehler, the Illinois Stewardship Alliance and farmers rallied behind the measure, highlighting the importance of having locally sourced food in stores and the impact it would have on the economy.

“The recipients of this grant program are dedicated to the mission of local food,” said Illinois Stewardship Alliance Grant Program Coordinator Joshua Snedden. “They are creative and innovative. They are local growers and food distributors who wake up every day thinking about how they can and will feed Illinois more efficiently and more effectively.”

Koehler’s bill creates a two-tiered grant system for both individual and collaborative projects. Individual projects may receive grants between $1,000 and $75,000, where collaborative projects may be awarded $1,000 up to $250,000. These grants may be used toward production, grading and packaging equipment, as well as refrigerated trucks, milling equipment, local fish processing and milk processing.

According to the Illinois Stewardship Alliance, a 10% shift in the average grocery budget toward local food purchasing could generate billions in economic growth for the state. By incentivizing the expansion and collaboration of local food providers, Senate Bill 3077 will reinforce Illinois’ food industry, grow local economies and provide access to locally sourced food to residents across the state.

Senate Bill 3077 awaits further discussion in the Senate.