GIBSON CITY — The Illinois Farm Bureau’s Adopt-A-Legislator Program made a stop at Gibson City’s One Earth Energy ethanol plant and two Ford County farms on Thursday.
The Adopt-A-Legislator Program matches legislators in a district containing few, if any, constituents interested in or knowledgeable about agriculture with a rural, agricultural-based county Farm Bureau. The program allows Farm Bureau members to serve as a resource for the “adopted” legislator on agricultural issues and how proposed legislation will impact their farm operations. The program also gives Farm Bureau members the opportunity to learn more about the legislator’s district and urban issues.
The Ford-Iroquois Farm Bureau first joined the program in 2003 by “adopting” state Rep. Will Guzzardi’s predecessor in the 39th House District — Toni Berrios.
Guzzardi, D-Chicago, was the “adopted” legislator present Thursday in Ford County. Guzzardi was joined by Farm Bureau members and other officials.
The group first took a tour of the ethanol plant, as coordinated by Christina Nourie, Illinois Farm Bureau Northeast legislative coordinator, and state Rep. Tom Bennett, R-Gibson City.
Ford-Iroquois Farm Bureau volunteers taking the tour were John Zumwalt of Sheldon, Bob Lindgren of rural Loda and Don Ulfers of Melvin. The One Earth Energy tour coordinator was Barb Kirkpatrick.
Guzzardi serves on the House Renewable Energy and Sustainability Committee, so touring the ethanol plant was of interest to him.
After the tour, Guzzardi visited the Miller Swine Farm near Melvin, owned by Bob and Carla Miller. Guzzardi is interested in farmers’ markets, so the Millers’ retail meat business was a good place to go on a tour of the local area.
Guzzardi then toured the Bennett Farm in rural Gibson City, owned by Doug Bennett, brother of Tom Bennett. As freshman legislators, Bennett and Guzzardi have visited with each other frequently, and Bennett has described his family farm numerous times. It was important for Guzzardi to walk around the Bennett farm.
Guzzardi was elected to the Illinois House in 2014. He is in his late 20s, is a native of North Carolina, is a graduate of Brown University and is a former reporter for the Huffington Post. He sits on several House committees, including the Renewable Energy and Sustainability Committee
Future plans include Farm Bureau members visiting the 39th District and inviting Guzzardi back in the spring for a farm tour during planting season.