Members learn of mental health initiative, planned office expansion
PRINCETON — Two state legislators from both sides of the aisle attended the annual Bureau County Farm Bureau meeting held Monday in the Prouty Building, downtown Princeton.
State Rep. Dan Swanson (R-Alpha) and state Rep. Lance Yednock (D-Ottawa) had a chance to share a few thoughts with the local Farm Bureau members before regular business was conducted.
Bureau County Farm Bureau President Evan Hultine gave an annual president’s report where he highlighted notable happenings in 2019.
One was partnering with Arukah Institute of Healing on a mental health initiative. The two organizations plan to bring more professional support in the area. It was just announced Arukah received a federal grant this year to help bring in telehealth opportunities to Farm Bureau members and the ag community.
Farm Bureau Director Jill Frueh and Hultine also worked this past year with the Bureau County Board’s zoning committee to implement environmental impact litigation agreements for wind energy projects to ensure they were beneficial for landowners and farmers.
Hultine also highlighted the number of local people who made it into mainstream media this past year to help spread the word on the importance of ag issues. He made mention of local young leader Gracelynn Dale’s opportunity in November to give testimony to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on the importance of biofuels.
Looking ahead, the Farm Bureau is planning to build an addition onto its new location in the former Midland States Bank building, located at 1407 N. Main St. in Princeton. The addition will house a board room. Construction is expected to begin this spring, weather permitting. Once construction is complete, the Farm Bureau is planning to host an open house by late summer for all to see the new location.
Monday happened to be the day the state’s Department of Ag Director John Sullivan turned in his resignation at the request of the governor. Swanson called it “a sad day in agriculture.”
Swanson said he wouldn’t get into detail as to what prompted the resignation, but mentioned Sullivan had got caught up in some emails and it was unfortunate.
“I had a great deal of respect for Director John Sullivan, and I’m sure a lot of you met him and had a great deal of respect for him, too,” he said.
Swanson said the Livestock Facility Management Act was reopened and was being tweaked to give more say to counties.
Swanson warned of Senate Bill 1407, which requires refineries and ethanol plants to pay prevailing wages.
“That’s pretty scary stuff,” he said. “We were able to put a brick on that for a year, but there will be more to follow. We know how tight it is in the margins now. To add those additional costs to ethanol plants, we kind of look at them to help keep these grain prices up, but if they start getting into a bigger pinch, … it’s going to be tough.”
Swanson said there will be a lot of talk about consolidation this year in Springfield. Also ethics is going to be a big focus.
“We need to clean it up,” he said. “People see opportunity to rake in money under the table, and it’s certainly wrong, and we need to clean it up down there.”
Yednock just finished his first year in the Legislature having taken office in January 2019. He said it’s been a pleasure getting to know the people and hearing the concerns. He’s hoping to continue that in the new year and welcomes Farm Bureau members to reach out to him on issues that arise. He’s also pushing for ethics reform this year.
“It’s embarrassing to watch the news at night and think I’m a part of a legislature body for my first time and the most prominent things have been scandals and problems. I hope that goes away fast,” he said.
Six directors were elected Monday to serve two-year terms. The following directors were seated: William Anderson, District 1, Seat 2; Ray Cheline, District 2, Seat 2; Rex Elmore, District 3, Seat 3; Tony Stirling, District 4, Seat 2; Evan Hultine, At Large, Seat 2; and Brian Carlson, At Large, Seat 4.