Simmons AG Floor rSPRINGFIELD – To better recognize the historic injustices that Black farmers face in the agriculture industry, State Senator Mike Simmons (D-Chicago) is leading a measure to create the Agriculture Equity Commission.

“For far too long, our Black famers have been systemically pushed out of the agriculture sector of Illinois,” Simmons said. “My goal is to see this commission address the root issues and find actionable solutions to give Black farmers justice in the largest job producing sector in Illinois.”

The commission would reflect representation of socially disadvantaged communities, businesses, and farmers, and include academics, policy experts, and legislators who are experienced in agriculture and related matters.

In 1920, Illinois had 892 Black farmers, and Black Americans owned 14% of the nation's farmland.  As of the 2017 Agricultural Census, there are 188 individually Black-owned farms which make up a combined 40,412 acres. Out of the 116,417 agricultural producers in Illinois, 267 are Black and 115,896 are Caucasian. Farming is Illinois’ top job producing industry.

“I want to thank the stakeholders who worked with Rep. Sonja Harper and me on this timely legislation,” Simmons said. “I appreciate the bipartisan nature of the passage and look forward to righting the wrongs of previous generations.”

House Bill 5201 passed the Senate and awaits further consideration.

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