During the month of August, Congresswoman Cheri Bustos held her annual 21st Century Heartland Tour in which she traveled around Northwest and Central Illinois focusing on the unique challenges facing rural communities and ways to grow our local economy. These events allowed Bustos to hear directly from those involved in the agricultural economy as she prepares to help negotiate the 2018 Farm Bill, a critical piece of legislation to the small towns and rural communities across our region.
From visiting local libraries to touring family farms, Bustos traveled over 2,500 miles and held more than 20 events. She hosted multiple roundtable discussions with farmers from across the region and met with Illinois’ major commodity groups to hear how they have been impacted by President Trump’s trade war. Bustos also worked alongside the men and women of the district by hosting “Cheri on Shifts” at Gold Star, Pacific Ethanol and Consolidated Grain and Barge amongst other local companies in Illinois’ agricultural economy. Additionally, Bustos announced more than $5 million in federal Rural Development funding in the Villages of Joy and Tampico, which were distributed through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development program she has long fought to preserve.
“As our farmers grapple with some of the lowest farm incomes in decades and the impacts of President Trump’s trade wars, it is more important than ever to listen to our Illinois farmers so I can bring their concerns to Washington,” said Cheri Bustos. “I have learned a lot from the people I serve, and I look forward to fighting for a final Farm Bill that strengthens our rural communities and puts food on the tables of families across the nation.”
Throughout her discussions, the largest concerns of our farmers largely remained the same. Bustos heard about the importance of protecting existing crop insurance programs, making sure farmers have the tools they need to adopt conservation strategies and exploring resources to strengthen our rural communities. The agricultural community also expressed grave concern over damage being inflicted on our region from President Trump’s trade war and the need to open new markets for Illinois farmers.