Stephenson County Farm Bureau News & Views by Bruce Johnson

Adopted legislator enjoys Stephenson County visit

bruce-johnsonStephenson County Farm Bureau is blessed to have a great partner in the Illinois Farm Bureau’s Adopt-a-Legislator program, and she and her assistant enjoyed an enlightening and fun day in the county on November 4. 35th District State Representative Fran Hurley and her assistant Ellen Youpel made the trek from her diverse district, which runs from blighted parts of Chicago’s south side to the more affluent suburban areas of Palos Park and Palos Heights. It was her second visit here after we brought a busload of her constituents here in September 2013, and this visit included a delicious lunch at Rafter’s Restaurant, a great tour of Lena Brewing Company by brewmaster Andy Lamm, an educational and eye-opening combine ride with SCFB secretary-treasurer Jon Rosenstiel, a drive through the countryside highlighting points of interest, and a stop at Famous Fossil Vineyard and Winery. The visit was capped off by enjoying a tasty Culver’s stop courtesy of our own 89th District State Representative Brian Stewart. Fran and Ellen did a fine job of stimulating our local economy with numerous purchases of our great local products, and they had a terrific time.

The IFB Adopt-a-Legislator Program began in 2001 with the purpose of pairing urban legislators from Cook and the collar counties with downstate county Farm Bureaus in an effort to develop reciprocal relationships and help the urban lawmakers to better understand agricultural issues. With over two-thirds of our state legislators hailing from that region, it is imperative to reach out and communicate with these key individuals. SCFB had a great 8-year relationship with 18th District State Senator Ed Maloney prior to his retirement in 2013, and our alliance with Rep. Hurley is proving to be equally rewarding. We’re looking at additional future opportunities for visits both in her district and here. Currently there are around 77 state legislators in AAL pairings, and great strides have been made to broaden awareness and understanding. When we started with Senator Maloney, he was relatively unaware of ag issues; when he retired, he had a 100% voting record on key FB issues (highest in the state) and earned our Friend of Agriculture Award multiple times. I’m happy to note that Rep. Hurley had an 86% rating this session with only two conflicting votes on minor issues. We’re looking forward to a bright future with her!

Heavy hearts following a tragic passing

Freeport and the broader region lost one of its finest recently with the tragic passing of Pastor Steve Barr at the too-young age of 53 from an apparent heart attack. Steve was a charismatic and widely respected leader in the community as youth pastor at Eastgate Christian Center, and his positive influence on the youth and the general public was noteworthy. While my interactions with Steve were limited to various community functions where we were together, his lasting legacy and residual impact will be widely felt. Our sympathies are extended to his family and friends.

Local foods dinner

You’re invited to participate in an Openfields Local Foods Harvest Dinner on Monday November 30 at 6 p.m. at Main Street Bistro, 109 S. Galena Avenue in downtown Freeport. Chef Craig Perkins will create a delicious 4-course meal featuring three small entrees (lamb, duck, and open-face brisket) plus soup, salad and dessert utilizing as many locally-grown ingredients as possible. Visit or call the Extension office at (815) 235-4125 to reserve your spot as space is limited.

Rep. Bustos visits Freeport

I enjoyed attending a luncheon program sponsored by the Freeport Area Chamber of Commerce on November 10 featuring our 17th District U.S. Congresswoman Cheri Bustos, and her observations and updates were timely and enlightening. Rep. Bustos has been a very proactive advocate for our region since her election, and her stellar voting record and support of ag issues is greatly appreciated. As a member of the House Ag Committee, she has been a great resource for us as we address some critical ag issues in our nation’s capital, and her sincerity and approachability make her easy to engage with. Most notably, I was impressed by her comments regarding two groups with which she has become involved. “No Labels” is a bi-partisan group of legislators working together to address issues and explore mutually-agreeable legislation, and “The New Democrats” is a group of 52 moderate Democrats seeking to find common ground in the legislative process.

Mark your calendar!

Ready for some family fun? The 2016 Northern Illinois Farm Bureau Bowling Tournament will be held on Saturday January 30, 2016 at the Forest Hills Lanes, 7742 Forest Hills Road in Loves Park IL. Registration begins at 1 p.m. and the tournament will commence at 2 p.m. with the following men’s and women’s divisions: Under 12 with bumpers; Under 12 without bumpers; Young Adult 12-18; Young Adult 19-35; Adult 36-54; Senior 55-64; and Senior 65+. Awards will be presented for high score individual in each division as well as high score in the Child (under 12) and Adult (12+) divisions. Reservations are due to the Winnebago-Boone Farm Bureau office by Wednesday, January 27, 2016. The cost per bowler will be $14 (children under twelve will be $12) with free shoe rental. The registration fee will be collected at the bowling alley, and forms are available at or at the Farm Bureau office. Advance registration is preferred.

Bruce Johnson is the manager of the Stephenson County Farm Bureau

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