Rural and Agriculture
As one of the top agriculture states in the nation, Illinois and its farmers have an important role to play in many elements of American life from the economy to the environment. Corn is Illinois’ leading crop, followed closely by soybeans. Livestock, dairy and poultry also contribute to farming’s $9 billion in economic impact each year. Illinois also enjoys a strong market in farm machinery manufacturing and biofuels production. To help maintain the agricultural strength of our state and our nation, I have supported tax fairness for farmers, improvements in crop insurance, expanded use of clean-burning and environmentally safe biofuels, increased support for local food production, and increased trade opportunities for agricultural commodities. I have advanced initiatives to strengthen this crucial sector of our economy because boosting the vitality of our nation's rural regions boosts the vitality of our nation as a whole.
Illinois farmers are helping to reduce dependence on foreign oil. Senator Durbin has been a longstanding champion of biofuels as the first Member of Congress to introduce legislation requiring ethanol to be blended into gasoline. He has consistently supported important biofuels research in Illinois. Replacing imported oil with home-grown biofuels such as ethanol and biodiesel leads to improved air quality, greater farmer profitability, and the creation of jobs and economic development in rural areas.
Rural communities face unique health care challenges, including workforce recruitment, limited funding for hospitals and health clinics, and geographic barriers to accessing care. But, they also bring great opportunities to improve care coordination and deliver innovative treatment approaches. Critical access hospitals and rural health care professionals are the backbones of health care delivery in rural Illinois. To support these essential providers and ensure patients can access their services, it’s important to protect public programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, and the Affordable Care Act. Senator Durbin supports federal programs to recruit and retain health care professionals in rural and underserved areas of Illinois and will continue to fight to expand access to care through telemedicine. Senator Durbin’s bill, the Supporting and Improving Rural EMS Needs (SIREN) Act, was signed into law as part of the 2018 farm bill. It provides new funding to support rural EMS agencies as they train and recruit staff and purchase equipment.
Illinois is one of the top producing agriculture states in the nation. Its farmers play an important role in Illinois’ economy, communities, and environment. As a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, Senator Durbin is committed to supporting Illinois farmers so that rural communities remain vibrant and the food supply is safe, affordable, and abundant. Senator Durbin has been a strong supporter of the 2018 farm bill, improvements to crop insurance, expanded use of clean-burning and environmentally safe biofuels, increased support for local food production, increased trade opportunities for agricultural commodities, and disaster assistance programs.