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Conservation Cropping Systems: An Impactful Long-term Strategy for Achieving Illinois' Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy Goals

The following paper from American Farmland Trust (AFT) advocates for promoting the voluntary implementation of Conservation Cropping Systems (CCS) to improve agricultural soils as the first line of defense to protect water quality as Illinois implements its Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy (NLRS).

The Land Connection

The Land Connection trains farmers in resilient, restorative farming techniques; informs the public about the sources of our food and why that matters; and works to protect and enhance farmland so that we, and generations to come, will have clean air and water, fertile soil, and healthy, delicious food.

The Land Connection’s classified section is a place to help find a farmer for your land, or find farmland to launch your farm business. This section can also help you find a mentor or intern. 

Land Link-Up

The Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service offers Land Link-Up, an online list where those seeking land to farm and farmland owners can post descriptions of farmland sought and of farmland for rent/sale along with contact information.

Illinois Young Farmer (Farm Purchase) Guarantee Program

The Illinois Young Farmer Guarantee Program (YFG) is a loan guarantee program designed to enhance credit availability for younger farmers who are purchasing capital assets. Loan funds may be used for new purchases of capital assets such as land, buildings, machinery, equipment, breeding livestock, soil and water conservation projects, etc. In some cases, up to 50 percent of the loan proceeds may be used to refinance existing debt as needed to improve lien positions.

Illinois Beginning Farmer Bond Program

The purpose of the Beginning Farmer Bond Program is to provide affordable financing to new, low net worth farmers for financing capital purchases. The Illinois Finance Authority (IFA) works with the borrower's local lender to provide this financing. IFA issues a tax exempt bond for the amount and with the terms of the loan. Because the interest income to the lender is exempt from federal income tax, the lender is able to charge a lower rate to the borrower.

Promote Sustainable Local Food (excerpt from GO TO 2040 Food Systems Strategy Report)

This chapter addresses local food in two separate but related categories: (1) production of food in the region, and (2) people’s ability to access affordable, nutritious, fresh food. Issues of local food production and access are not mutually exclusive. For example, some particularly effective policies, such as urban agriculture projects in food deserts, can address both production and access. But often these two categories require different policy solutions, as demonstrated by the fact that people need access to fresh, nutritious, affordable food no matter where it is produced.

The Regional Economic Development Potential and Constraints in Local Foods Development in the Midwest

There are no standard definitions of what constitutes "local" food amidst a burgeoning local food promotion and policy-development movement. Nonetheless, government policies are rapidly evolving to promote local food production. For most states, anything produced or processed in-state is considered local. In other instances, a 250 or even a 500 mile perimeter constitutes an acceptable boundary justifying a local food territory for policy making purposes or purchasing preferences.

Illinois Direct Farm Business: A Guide to Laws Affecting Direct Farm Business in Illinois

This Guide was developed to help clarify some of the most important rules pertaining to direct farm businesses and to provide guidance on how and where to get correct information about them. The goal of this Guide is to foster a more vibrant direct farm business environment – not only for the farmers who bring locally-grown food to markets within their communities, but also for the consumers who buy that food.

Building Communities with Farms: Insights from Developers, Architects and Farmers on Integrating Agriculture and Development

This report summarizes findings from workshop on incorporating agriculture into new communities and reviews practices and issues that landowners, developers, design consultants and public officials might find useful as they consider building or encouraging communities with farms.

Ready to Grow: A Plan for Increasing Illinois Fruit and Vegetable Production, Action Plan and Feasibility Study

To address the challenges Illinois growers face with wholesale marketing, the Project Team studied barriers that prevent growers from increasing participation in wholesale markets and proposes an Action Plan to mitigate them. This work is the culmination of a six-month assessment in which 181 growers were surveyed, 14 trade buyers and 20 growers interviewed, and over 60 stakeholders participated in two downstate strategy sessions.

Local Food, Farms and Jobs: Growing the Illinois Economy

This report shows how the state of Illinois can facilitate development of a local food system that complements the existing global farm and food system. It reflects the work of the 32-member Illinois Local and Organic Food and Farm Task Force which was created by the Illinois General Assembly through the Illinois Food, Farms and Jobs Act of 2007. This law authorized formation of the Task Force to develop a plan containing policy and funding recommendations for expanding and supporting a statewide local farm and food system.

Chicago: Eat Local, Live Healthy

Chicago: Eat Local, Live Healthy is a City of Chicago strategy to coordinate aspects of the local and regional food industry in ways that enhance public health and create food-related business opportunities. The strategy identifies food issues that, if restructured locally, could improve food quality, lower its cost and increase its availability for consumers. It also presents examples of public- and private-sector cooperation that could provide new employment and sustainable development opportunities.

Ecolabel Value Assessment: Consumer and Food Business Perceptions of Local Foods

An ecolabel is a seal or a logo indicating that a product has met a certain set of environmental and/or social standards or attributes. Ecolabels offer one avenue to educate consumers about locally grown, sustainably-raised foods.

The Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture partnered in a pilot with the Iowa State University Business Analysis Laboratory to conduct consumer and food business market research related to ecolabels.

Ecolabel Value Assessment Phase II: Consumer Perceptions of Local Foods

An ecolabel is a seal or logo indicating that a product has met a certain set of environmental and/or social standards or attributes. Ecolabels offer one important avenue to educate consumers about locally grown, sustainably raised foods.

The Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture partnered with the Iowa State University Business Analysis Laboratory in the second phase of a pilot project to conduct consumer market research on food ecolabels and perceptions of locally grown foods. The specific objectives for Phase II were as follows:

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) in the Midwest United States: A Regional Characterization

For the past 20 years, we have heard a great deal about Community Supported Agriculture as a novel marketing and community-building concept. The accepted history of Community Supported Agriculture in the United States is that Jan VanderTuin brought the concept from Switzerland in 1984. CSA projects had been sprouting up there and in other parts of Europe since the 1960s. Such enterprises also were found in Japan in the 1960s when women’s neighborhood groups began approaching farmers to develop direct, cooperative relationships between producers and consumers, known as ‘teikei.’

Mitigation of Farmland Loss

American Farmland Trust (AFT) conducted research to provide the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) with information about programs that practice mitigation of farmland loss across the country. This report contains a brief summary and evaluation of the Farmland Protection Policy Act (FPPA) and case studies that describe the approaches and results
of mitigation efforts in some state and local programs.


DeKalb County, Illinois: First in Agriculture

This CAE working paper looks at how well DeKalb County, Illinois is protecting its farmland. DeKalb County, located approximately 50 miles west of downtown Chicago and 25 miles from the rapidly growing suburbs of Aurora, St. Charles and Elgin, has some of the best farmland in the world. It is also a prime target for future development. With only 82,000 people and most of its 249,000 acres in farms, DeKalb County the smallest population of the eight counties in the Chicago region. The county has been a leader in the state in efforts to preserve farmland.

Determinants of Farmland Value

The issue of farmland facing conversion pressures from rapidly expanding suburban areas is increasingly well-documented. In this study, the authors consider the case of DeKalb County, Illinois, near the Chicago metro area. Data in this study were 34 arms-length sales of farmland parcels in 1995. Correlation and ordinary least squares (OLS) regression techniques were used to analyze the influence of large lot land use zoning, production factors, location and various other characteristics, such as buyer and seller location, on dependent variable of sales price per acre.

Farmland Tax Policy: The Case of DeKalb County, Illinois

This CAE working paper looks at the policy context for farmland tax policy, reviews the rationale behind incentive programs and documents the effectiveness of the various differential taxation approaches. The history of differential taxation in Illinois and a unique case study of DeKalb County, Illinois analyzing 1995 farmland sales data are also presented. The results help us better understand the gap between assessed use value and market value.

Cost-Effective Targeting of Land Retirement to Improve Water Quality with Endogenous Sediment Deposition Coefficients

An integrated framework that combines spatial and biophysical attributes of land with a hydrological model and an economic model is developed to identify cropland for enrollment in the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program. Sediment deposition coefficients are determined endogenously depending on the land-use decisions on other land parcels. Application of this framework to a watershed in Illinois demonstrates that highly sloping land adjacent to water bodies should be selected for retirement.

Saving Open Spaces: Public Support for Farmland Protection

In urban areas across the nation, those who wish to protect farmland and other open spaces from scatter development have waged battle against the forces that create urban sprawl. This study attempts to discern precisely what it is that residents living on the fringe of suburbia value about the farmland and open space they are trying to protect. It also seeks to determine how much they would be willing to spend to achieve their goals.


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