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Cook County Farm Bureau® Policies

001       Philosophy and History of the Cook County Farm Bureau®                                      

Created by farmers in 1920, Cook County Farm Bureau® exists to strengthen the agricultural community and bolster the voices of agriculturists in Cook County.  Our organization embodies a vision in which the people of Cook County recognize and value the importance and necessity of agriculture and agri-industry in our region. 

As a grassroots organization, the strength of our organization is in our members.  Cook County Farm Bureau® members establish our policy, agenda, mission and goals.

Cook County Farm Bureau® strives to educate youth, and in doing so, their families about the connection between the food that they eat and who produces it.  Through fourth grade presentations, teacher seminars and farm tours more than 25,000 students per year interact, on a first-hand basis, with the Cook County agricultural industry through our Ag in the Classroom program.

Our organization strives to bridge the gap between agriculturalists and consumers through programs, marketing materials and informational brochures regarding Cook County producers and products.  This facilitates a direct marketing approach, in which local farmers produce fruits, vegetables and fiber for local consumers. 

Since our inception in 1920, Cook County Farm Bureau® has strived to serve our members through member benefits, programs and tours.  Not only do our members determine the policy and direction of their organization but they determine what additional benefits the organization should offer to fellow members or those individuals interested in becoming a member.  Cook County Farm Bureau® is comprised of both farmer member and non-farmer members. 

Through grassroots lobbying and relationship building with local elected officials, our organization seeks to bridge the gap between our urban neighbors and our agricultural future.  The leading strategic goal of our organization is to ensure that the interests of agriculturalists are protected during local, county, state and national policy decisions.

Cook County Farm Bureau® is a member-orientated, member-driven organization and the policies and recommendations enumerated below solidify our position that our policies and recommendations reflect the thinking of a majority of our members.  

002       Status and Activation of Resolutions                               

Policies of the Cook County Farm Bureau® are subject to review at any official meeting of the Cook County Farm Bureau® Board of Directors (“Board”).

Adopted resolutions and recommendations state the current position of the Cook County Farm Bureau®.

Resolution submittals to the Illinois Farm Bureau® shall be reviewed and approved by the Public Policy Team (“Team”) prior to being reviewed and approved by the Board.  Upon approval of the Board, staff and Public Policy Team Chairman (“Chairman”) shall submit the resolutions to the Illinois Farm Bureau® Resolutions Committee in accordance with the established and published deadlines and in the manner prescribed by the Illinois Farm Bureau®.  Team and Board approval shall require a majority of those present voting in the affirmative. 

Those resolutions approved for submittal to the Illinois Farm Bureau® shall be incorporated into policy of the Cook County Farm Bureau®. 

Other policy concepts, separate from submittals made to the Illinois Farm Bureau® that are local, regional or organizational in nature, may be proposed as a result of the annual Viewpoint survey and otherwise.  Upon the review and approval of the Team, Viewpoint and all new Cook County Farm Bureau® policy recommendations shall be submitted to the Board for review and approval.  Upon approval, these recommendations shall become policy of the Cook County Farm Bureau®.  Team and Board approval shall require a majority of those present voting in the affirmative. 

If a policy recommendation is submitted to the Board or by the Board, the Board may act on it without it first being submitted to the Team.  The Board may refer the recommendation to the Team for further review.

Staff shall be responsible for maintaining and publishing a current copy of Cook County Farm Bureau®’s policy.

State and Local Government

101       Elections                                                                                                                                  

We support:

(1)   Uniform signature requirements, regardless of political party, for candidates seeking public office.

(2)   A transition to a regional primary system in which the country would be divided into four geographical regions that would hold their respective primaries or caucuses within the same block of time.

(3)    Efforts to require that individuals wishing to register to vote present legal identification.

(4)   Prohibiting any person convicted of a felony, bribery, perjury or other infamous crime from seeking any municipal, township, county, state, or federal office.

102       Legislative Bodies                                                                                                                      

We support:

(1)   Prohibiting members of the Illinois General Assembly from holding a position with or receiving remuneration from any taxing body or tax supported entity other than the Illinois General Assembly during their tenure with the Illinois General Assembly.

(2)   Limiting the Governor’s amendatory veto power to only technical corrections and matters of form.

103       Compensation of Public Officials                                                                                           

We support:

(1)   Capping the pension amount that a state legislator can receive regardless of their length of service or the position(s) they hold with the state after leaving the Legislature.

(2)   Requiring newly hired public employees to contribute a greater amount to their pensions than employees already part of the public employee pension system.

(3)   Making it a priority to provide information to individuals regarding Illinois’ various pension systems.

104       Tort Reform and Insurance Liability

We support an amendment to the Recreational Use of Land and Waters Act in order to limit the liability of landowners who voluntarily open their land, farm, farm equipment, and farm buildings for education and recreational activities, including farm tours, at no charge while maintaining the landowner’s ability to determine who to allow on their property.

105       Ethics

We oppose nepotism at all levels of elected government.  We encourage elected officials to declare an anti-nepotism pledge prior to or upon election to office.

We support elected and appointed government officials being held to ethical standards.

Finances

201       State Finance                                                                                                                              

We oppose:

(1)   Creating a gross receipts tax or value-added tax by the State of Illinois.

(2)   Selling or leasing the Illinois State Lottery.

(3)   Creating a one-time tax credit that is politically motivated and inconsistent with a fiscal policy that promotes long-term economic stability and prosperity.

(4)   Enacting a quarter-cent sales tax on purchases throughout the Chicago metropolitan area, as defined by the counties in the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) service area (Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry, and Will Counties). 

We support:

(1)   To require an identified revenue source for each expenditure made by the General Assembly.

(2)   To eliminate the Illinois General Assembly legislative scholarship program.

(3)   The Illinois General Assembly undergoing a more comprehensive and diligent method of prioritizing appropriations to meet current and future needs of its citizens.

During periods of budget shortfalls, an increased emphasis should be placed on:

(1)   Freezing raises and hiring in state government until the budget is balanced.

(2)   Reducing the budget through layoffs, program eliminations, decreasing government services and reducing benefits.

202       Cook County Finance                                                                                                 

Government economic policies should be designed to encourage economic stability, to increase productivity, to improve our competitive advantage and to promote a high level of economic prosperity.  Taxes should encourage, not penalize, success and encourage savings, investment and entrepreneurship.

We support:

(1)   A sound tax system that incorporates fairness, responsiveness, stability and efficiency.

(2)   A balanced budget accomplished through spending restraint and reducing the rate of government growth, rather than by increasing taxes.

(3)   The elimination of the one percent sales tax increase implemented July of 2008 and July of 2015.

(4)   A reduction in the county sales tax levy to a level that is competitive with neighboring counties in order that businesses are not adversely affected.

(5)   The lease of Midway Airport to a private operator.

We oppose increased taxes unless accompanied by significant spending cuts.

203       Gasoline Tax                                                                                                   

Until the elimination of charging state sales tax on motor fuel occurs, we support changing the formula for charging state sales on motor fuel from a percentage (6.25%) on the price per gallon to a set amount per gallon sold based on the average per gall price in 2001. 

204       Estate Tax                                                                                                                                   

We oppose the creation of a State of Illinois Estate Tax.

205       Federal Tax Reform                                                                                                                  

We support:

(1)   The concepts of a Federal Flat Tax or a National Sales Tax (similar to the proposed Fair Tax) to replace the current United States Income Tax System which we consider regressive.

(2)   A permanent rollback of the 4.3 cents per gallon federal tax increase approved in 1993 to provide needed fuel relief to Americans.

206       Commodity Exchanges                                                                                                             

We oppose a state or local tax on a financial transaction, including, but not limited to, the purchase or sale of a stock contract, futures contract, swap contract, credit default swap contract, or options contract at the Chicago Stock Exchange, the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, the Chicago Board of Trade, and the Chicago Board of Options Exchange.

Local Government

301       Local Government                                                                                                                     

We support:

(1)   The dissolution of township government to prevent duplication of services, prevent wasted taxes, and reduce the layers of government, in cases in which the entire township becomes incorporated by municipalities.

(2)   Encouraging local governments to make compensation breakdowns and pension sweetners more readily available to public scrutiny.

(3)   Requiring school districts that maintain a district website, to post the district’s fiscal calendar; findings from any financial reports or audits; and a searchable expenditure and revenue database on their website.

(4)   Requiring local governments to publicly disclose information on tax increment financing districts, including the locations of, funds generated, use of funds, and any contractors.

(5)   Requiring companies that receive tax increment financing funds to disclose the full name of the company; location of project; amount of funds received; deliverables; and project name.

(6)   Prohibiting individuals from serving concurrently as an elected mayor and an elected county board member.

(7)   The consolidation of units of local government where such consolidation is approved by local referendum.

302       Cook County Government                                                                                                       

We support:

(1)   Reducing the number of affirmative votes needed to override a Cook County’s Presidential veto to a three-fifths majority.

(2)   Combining the property and tax functions of the County Recorder, Clerk and Assessor Office, providing that such action is demonstrated to be fiscally prudent and in doing so does not jeopardize customer service.

(3)   Eliminating the elected office of Recorder of Deeds and merge its functions into the Clerk’s office.

(4)   Implementing an independent committee to conduct all county hiring.

(5)   Conducting a complete audit of services and departments to determine which aspects are running efficiently and which aspects should be modified or eliminated.

(6)   Conducting a full county employee audit, including the formalization of job descriptions and qualifications.

(7)   Conducting a review of the county’s contract compliance department in order to identify any irregularities and mismanagement of county funds.

(8)   Eliminating county contingency funds.

(9)   Establishing a set date on which property tax bills are mailed.

We oppose the imposition of an additional tax on homeowners in the unincorporated areas of Cook County to fund county services.

303       Cook County Health and Hospital System                                                             

The Cook County Health and Hospital System (“System”) is one of the nation’s largest public health care systems.  The System delivers integrated health care services, regardless of individuals’ ability to pay.  Approximately one million patients utilize System services making it the largest provider of uncompensated health care in Illinois and the third largest provider in the US.

We support:

(1)     The Cook County Health and Hospital System Board of Directors remaining independent.

(2)     Restructuring the Health and Hospitals System in a manner that promotes reform, reduces waste and maintains quality patient care.  To that end, we will work with like-minded parties to surface potential reforms.

304       Forest Preserve District of Cook County                                                                

We support:

(1)      Farming on unrestored Forest Preserve acres conducive to hay and row crop farming. 

(2)      Additional Forest Preserve parcels being made available for hay or row crop farming.

(3)      A separate governance board for the Forest Preserve District of Cook County.

(4)      The Cook County Sheriff’s department policing the Forest Preserve District of Cook County.

(5)      The focus of the Forest Preserve District of Cook County remaining both public use and preservation.

(6)      Limiting the acres that the Forest Preserve District of Cook County can possess at 68,000 acres as set forth by the Cook County Forest Preserve District Act (70 ILCS 810/21).

(7)      A three-day horse tag.

(8)      The proceeds from the sale of bridle tags being used exclusively to fund projects on horse or multi-use trails.

305       City of Chicago

We support additional food trucks being licensed for high-density neighborhoods.

Education

401       Education                                                                                                                                    

Accountability is the efficient use of taxpayers’ dollars to provide a comprehensive education to achieve goals with measurable outcomes.

We support requiring the State of Illinois to prepare on a timely basis, an annual summary report on the Lottery funds brought in, distributed to winners, used for education funding and spent for administrative expenses to be published in regional newspapers, sent to state school districts and libraries and posted on the Lottery’s website.

Adequacy is financing education at a level sufficient to fund a comprehensive educational program.

We oppose any expansion of the Lottery or other forms of legalized gambling to generate additional revenues earmarked for education.

Energy

501       Biofuels                                                                                                                                        

Our goal is expanding the use of biofuels to the maximum level possible.

We support:

(1)   Annual “baseline budgeting” increases in state and national bio-research initiatives to fund studies in reducing production costs of bio-fuels, improve conversion technology and to broaden the sources of domestic biofuel production.

(2)   Establishing a goal of a minimum 15% of all gasoline consumed in Illinois be pure ethanol by 2012.

(3)   A coalition of organizations, including commodity groups and area County Farm Bureaus, to work in the urban and suburban Chicagoland area to focus efforts to increase biofuels usage in school bus fleets, township government, county government and municipalities.

(4)   Auto manufacturers developing more engines that utilize bio-fuels without adaptation.

502       Utilities

We support limiting pipeline and power projects to existing power routes whenever feasible.

Environment

601       Environmental Protection and Regulation

We oppose the United States Environmental Protection Agency cancelling previously issued permits without cause.

602       Global Climate Change                                                                                                            

We will oppose any regulation of carbon emission by the United States Environmental Protection Agency without first approval from Congress.

Land Use and Ownership

701       Eminent Domain                                                                                                                       

We support:

(1)    A public hearing be held before any land could be optioned or purchased by a public body for any purpose.

(2)   Property owners’ rights being fully explained at the hearing.

(3)   Buyers negotiating in good faith.

(4)   At least 60 days prior to the hearing, the public body proposing the acquisition send written notice via certified mail of its intentions to property owners whose land would be taken or damaged.

(5)   A cause of action and standing for nearby landowners in court cases involving eminent domain.  This should allow landowners in the impacted area the opportunity to seek monetary damages when their property values are adversely affected by such acquisitions.

(6)   ” Eminent domain” being limited to a “stated public purpose” or a “recognized public use” and includes the appropriate plans for such purpose or use.

(7)   Property taken through eminent domain use remains consistent with the land use set forth in its comprehensive redevelopment plan for at least 60 years.

(8)   Restricting the use of eminent domain to acquire property solely for wetlands mitigation, buffer zones, water diversion, or retention as part of a river flood management.

(9)   Restricting the use of eminent domain by a public utility for the installation of pipelines and other utilities.

(10) Legislation in which fair market value compensation of private property taken through eminent domain, or as a result of the threat of eminent domain, which has been owned by the current owners or his immediate family for 10 or more consecutive years is exempt from capital gains taxes on that property.

(11) A buy-back provision whereby the prior owner or heirs of any property taken through eminent domain that is not put to the intended use within five years may purchase the property at the eminent domain sale price.

(12) Narrowly defining what constitutes “public use” that the public benefits of eminent domain do not, by themselves, constitute a public use or public purpose.

(13) Establishing an Office of Ombudsman for property rights in the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity to assist property owners in obtaining information about eminent domain.

(14) Restricting the term “blighted” to emphasize characteristics that are detrimental to public health and safety.

(15) Prohibiting the use of eminent domain to transfer private property to another private entity.

We oppose:

(1)    The granting of quick-take powers to economic development authorities.

(2)   The use of eminent domain to acquire properties intended for future sale.

(3)   The use of eminent domain in the taking of private property for the purpose of economic development by private parties, to generate additional tax revenue or to transfer private property to another private entity. 

(4)   The use of eminent domain to condemn land used for agriculture, fishing or forestry.

(5)   The Army Corps of Engineers partnering with a unit of government in order to use eminent domain authority.

Nothing in this section is intended to prohibit the acquisition of property from willing sellers.

702       Zoning and Planning                                                                                                   

We support requiring 30 days advanced written notification of all landowners and governmental entities whose property or district boundary is within 1.5 miles of any parcel in an unincorporated area for which zoning change is proposed or on which a special use permit is sought.  If a petition of protect from 20 percent of those landowners or a written notice from that governing board opposing the change or permit is presented, the amendment shall not be passed nor the special permit issued except by the favorable vote of three-fourths of all the members of the county board.  Landowners also need to be given 30 days written advanced notice of any new or proposed changes to municipal future planning area of land use.

703       Land Use                                                                                                                                     

We oppose forced annexation, unless a majority of landowners approve the petition to incorporate their land into a municipality.

704       Farmland Preservation                                                                                                             

We support the State of Illinois developing a statewide zoning model that can be used by county boards and municipalities in adopting and amending zoning ordinances for favorable agricultural land treatment.  Such a model should account for current agricultural-related federal and state laws and regulations.

We oppose the use of a tax levy to fund the purchase of easements to protect farmland in Cook County.

Transportation and Infrastructure

801       Vehicle Regulations

We support legislation requiring motorists to provide proof of liability insurance when applying for or renewing vehicle license plates.

802       Toll Highway Authorities                                                                                           

We oppose:

(1)    An increase in toll price structure to fund improvements and the expansion of the toll road system.

(2)    The restructuring of tollway charges in which users are charged at a rate based on the time of day or level of traffic congestion.

(3)    Any proposals to increase the tax on gasoline to eliminate tollway charges.

(4)    The leasing of the tollway.

Labor

1001     Immigration                                                                                                                               

We support:

(1)    The passage of federal legislation to establish an improved program for agricultural guest workers that assist all crop and livestock farmers in finding, retaining, and maintaining an adequate, legal, and cost-competitive labor supply.

(2)    Permanent employment-based immigration visas for those individuals who have a demonstrated work history and can pass an appropriate background screening.

We oppose amnesty, as defined as a general pardon for offenses committed against the laws of the United States.

Inspections and Standards

1101     Inspections                                                                                                                                  

We support full testing and approval of seeds with genetic modification intended for human consumption by the Food and Drug Administration prior to any sale of the seed to producers.

Natural Resources

1201     Alternatives to Landfills                                                                                                           

We support:

(1)   The passage of a State of Illinois beverage container deposit law and will support the concept of a national beverage container program to standardize the myriad of existing state laws.

(2)   The use of paper bags over the use of consumer non-degradable plastic bags.

(3)   Increased efforts to work with the fast food industry to use biodegradable packaging instead of plastic foam or plastic coated paper materials. 

1202     Wildlife Management                                                                                                 

We support year-around season for Illinois residents to hunt, trap or dispatch resident Canada geese.

1203     Water                                                                                                                                           

We oppose granting the Army Corps of Engineers’ (“Corps”) jurisdiction over and regulation of all activities concerning all wet areas within the state, including ground water, ditches, pipes, streets, municipal storm drains and gutters.  We support restricting the Corps’ authority to navigable streams and flowing waterways that have continuous flow 365 days a year.  The jurisdiction of the Corps should be constrained to navigable waterways. 

Animal Agriculture

1300     Animal Agriculture

We support:

(1)   Encouraging the growth and enhancement of animal agriculture in Cook County.  We support the rearing of traditional and non-traditional livestock. 

(2)   Assisting municipalities to draft municipal ordinances supportive of raising bees, if Farm Bureau assistance is requested.

(3)   The rearing of livestock regardless of the number of animals or production type provided that best management practices are adhered to in order to provide for the health and safety of the animals, the environment, and public health.

1302     National Animal Identification System                                                                   

The Animal Identification System should not apply to non-food animals, animals sold directly to consumers and animals raised for personal consumption.

Marketing and Commodity Programs

1401     Development of New Uses and New Markets                                                         

We support:

(1)   The right of restaurants to market and sell agricultural products and prepared menu choices without restrictions by local units of government, provided the product is legally produced using best management practices and industry standards.

(2)   The consumer’s right of food choice provided the product is legally produced, marketed, and sold in the United States.

(3)   Efforts to develop new local marketing points for specialty crops and encourage cooperative, group marketing efforts with an emphasis on the use of local and Illinois produced commodities for sale/use in local restaurants, supermarkets and other retail outlets for food.

1402     Industrial Hemp Production                                                                                     

We support:

(1)   Ending the prohibition law on industrial hemp production to allow farmers to produce this useful commodity in the free-market system.

(2)   Allowing university to research products made from industrial hemp.

(3)   Requiring the Drug Enforcement Agency to issue permits to United States producers allowing for the production of industrial hemp.

1403     Organic Agriculture                                                                                                    

The growth of the organic food and product markets provides new income potential for existing and new Illinois farmers.  Due to the economic potential of organic agriculture, we believe that we must support farmers’ efforts to meet consumer needs and wants while ensuring that consumers are getting the advertised product.

We support:

(1)   A requirement that all producers, handlers and retailers, regardless of income levels, be certified by a United States Department of Agriculture-accredited certifying agent to sell, label or represent their products as organic.

(2)   A requirement that only products containing 100% organic ingredients be labeled as “organic”. 

(3)   A requirement that those products not 100% organic be labeled based on their actual percentage of organic ingredients.

(4)   Requiring that imported organic commodities and products, labeled as “organic” meet the same labeling and certification requirements as domestically produced products.

(5)   Enhanced auditing and enforcement of USDA-certified organic program in line with its increasing economic importance and growth.

(6)   Broad availability of information on the USDA-certified organic program, certification process, and labeling requirements, as well as other unbiased information on organic products or production.

(7)   Using resources from the Illinois Farm Bureau® to help County Farm Bureaus and the Illinois Specialty Growers Association® to provide assistance, guidance and market enhancements for members interested in adapting organic practices into their farming operations.

Public, Political, and Organizational Relations

1501     Farm Bureau Relationship with Affiliated Companies                                  

A Farm Bureau membership should provide individuals using the services of an affiliated company an economic benefit over competing companies.

1502     Advertising and Public Image                                                                                   

We will actively communicate and promote to news outlets and all forms of the media a consistent message that farming professionals are front line, responsible stewards of our environment.

Quality of Life

1601     Health Care                                                                                                                                

We support:

(1)     The passage by Congress, legislation to create a national legal framework for individuals, families and small businesses to enroll in Association Health Plans and Individual Membership Associations.

(2)     The relaxation of state and federal mandates which require that certain provisions be included in all health insurance policies.  Consumers should be given choices as to what provisions are included in their health insurance programs in a Cafeteria Plan approach for coverage and “specialty” health insurance supplements.

(3)     Investigating and determining the feasibility of providing alternative options for health insurance including a Farm Bureau operated Association Health Plan and Health Savings Accounts.

(4)     Developing new ways of informing members about affordable options for health insurance coverage.

1602     Insurance Liability                                                                                                                    

We support Congress enacting medical malpractice reform to subdue escalating judgment awards effectively reducing malpractice insurance expense.  The State of Illinois should enact the same reforms.

1602     Inspections                                                                                                                                  

We support full testing and approval of seeds with genetic modification intended for human consumption by the Food and Drug Administration prior to any sale of the seed to producers.

1603     Labeling                                                                                                                                       

We oppose:

(1)   Labels that state or imply organic food is superior to traditional agri-food products or that imply negative consequence of consuming non-organic foods over organic products.

(2)   The use of “all natural” and “GMO free” synonymously with “organic” as a way to avoid producer certification as an organic grower.

1604   Public Aid

We support:

(1)   Limiting what items can be purchased using Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) funds.  Items such as alcohol, cigarettes, lotto tickets, and similar items should be excluded.