About FARM Illinois

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Darius Jones of Windy City Harvest at the 20,000 square foot McCormick Place Rooftop Farm in Chicago

FARM Illinois is an independent, multi-stakeholder initiative working to harness the strengths of Illinois’ food and agriculture sector. As a neutral third-party convener and connector, FARM Illinois is building a platform for non-partisan collaboration that convenes government, NGOs, and industry members. Through a collaborative network, FARM Illinois partners are joining forces to align strategic priorities, spark innovation, improve coordination, catalyze new collaborations, increase visibility, and build trust. In short, FARM Illinois is creating the enabling environment to ensure Illinois’ food and agriculture sector continues to be a driver of the state’s economy while also addressing environmental and societal challenges.

Mission

The mission of FARM Illinois is to position Illinois as the global leader in food and agriculture system innovation by convening and connecting stakeholders to catalyze and champion actions that will grow the economy, support community health, and sustain the environment.

Goals

The Food and Agriculture RoadMap for Illinois (FARM Illinois) has six overarching goals:

1. Leadership for Innovation: Develop an integrated, statewide, long-term, public-private strategy for achieving the goals of the FARM Illinois strategic plan.

2. Business Development and Entrepreneurship: Spur business growth and investment by making Illinois the preferred destination for food and agriculture companies of all sizes.

3. Workforce and Education: Develop a high-quality workforce for food and agriculture and educate Illinois policy makers and the general public on sector innovation.

4. Resource Management: Ensure that Illinois is sustainably protecting and managing its natural resources.

5. Infrastructure: Ensure Illinois’ infrastructure is capable of supporting the state’s ability to sustainably meet its own needs while being a global leader in food and agriculture.

6. Branding and Market Development: Develop larger and more diverse local, regional, national, and international markets for Illinois’ agriculture and food products by raising Illinois’ profile.

Role

To achieve these goals, FARM Illinois serves as a neutral convener, connector, catalyst, and champion of Illinois’ food and agriculture sector:

  • FARM Illinois acts as a CONVENER by enabling system-wide collaboration among actors in the food and agriculture system. Through a high-level roundtable series, FARM Illinois convenes engaged stakeholders to address challenges and opportunities related to topics that address the six goals of the FARM Illinois roadmap.
  • FARM Illinois acts as a CONNECTOR by establishing linkages with various organizations in the local, national, and international arena in both the public and private sectors to promote and develop programs for the food and agriculture sector.
  • FARM Illinois acts as a CATALYZER through its role as a convener and connector. It helps foster strong public-private partnerships with local and national government units and agencies and non-government organizations for the creation and implementation of viable programs and strategies that address the six goals of the FARM Illinois roadmap.
  • FARM Illinois acts as a CHAMPION of Illinois’ food and agriculture sector by helping disseminate information that creates understanding and appreciation of the importance of the sector and advocating for programs and strategies that will enhance sector achievements.

Background

The Food and Agriculture RoadMap for Illinois (FARM Illinois) was established in 2014 to develop a comprehensive strategic plan to enable Illinois and the Chicago region to become the leading global hub for food and agriculture system innovation and ensure their leadership in sustainably meeting the 21st-century challenge of global and local food security.

Released in May 2015, the FARM Illinois roadmap outlines strategic recommendations that will set the national and international standard for how the food and agriculture system can improve health, contribute to the economy, create jobs, employ new technologies, preserve the environment, adapt to a changing climate, and help underserved communities.

FARM Illinois has since organized as a statewide association to coordinate efforts across the food and agriculture system and implement the recommendations in the strategic roadmap. The association is chaired by Dr. Robert Easter, president emeritus of the University of Illinois, and is composed of distinguished leaders with renowned experience in agriculture, international markets, global food security, sustainability, community development, and related issues. 

Lead funding for FARM Illinois has been provided by the Searle Funds at The Chicago Community Trust.  Additional funding support has been provided by 1st Farm Credit Services, AgriBank, Archer Daniels Midland Company, CoBank, CME Group, CSX Transportation, Farm Credit Illinois, Fresh Taste, GROWMARK, Inc., Illinois Biotechnology Industry Organization—iBIO®, Illinois Corn Marketing Board, Illinois Farm Bureau, Illinois Soybean Association, Ingredion, Renew Moline, Inc., The Chicago Community Trust, and United Airlines.