Agriculture Task Force | Legislative Summit 2016


Sunday, Aug. 7, 2016

NCSL's Agriculture Task Force held a preconference meeting at the 2016 Legislative Summit in Chicago from Aug. 7-8, 2016. A copy of the task force's agenda and list of attendees can be found here

Visit to Rooftop Garden at McCormick Place 

2016 NCSL Legislative Summit logo.The meeting began on Aug. 7 with lunch and a visit to the Rooftop Gardens at McCormick Place. Windy City Harvest runs the 20,000-square-foot rooftop garden at McCormick Place in collaboration with Savor…Chicago, the food service operation for McCormick Place. This experimental and commercial production location is testing the feasibility of growing herbs and greens in raised beds with a lightweight soil mix that formerly supported only sedum plants. The farm includes a microgreens operation, beekeeping, and vermicomposting. 

  • Angela Mason, associate vice president, Windy City Harvest, Chicago Botanic Garden | Presentation

Visit to Windy City Harvest’s Legends Farm 

The next stop on the tour was a visit to Windy City Harvest’s Legends Farm for a discussion on statewide and local agricultural planning efforts. Legends South is a 2-plus acre site that serves as an incubator for six small farm businesses independently run by graduates of both the Apprenticeship program and Business and Entrepreneurship for Local Foods course. Accepted farm businesses receive a two-year maximum term lease, ready-to-farm land, mentoring support and technical assistance, access to tools and equipment, and shared access to markets. 

Visit to Farm on Ogden

This food hub and training facility is underdevelopment and located near a busy transportation hub. The facility will offer large-scale commercial operation training in aquaponics/hydroponics and micro-processing and provide workforce development capacity in this growing industry. The neighboring healthcare provider will further collaborate on this project for food and nutritional opportunities for its patients and the surrounding community. 

Discussion on Statewide and Local Agricultural Planning Efforts

  • Leland Strom, CEO, Food and Agriculture Roadmap (FARM) Illinois 
  • Brad Leibov, president and CEO, Liberty Prairie Foundation 

Monday, Aug. 8, 2016

Federal Update

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) provided updates on the latest agency news as well as participated in a question and answer session on pressing state-federal issues in the agriculture world.

  • Ron Carleton, counselor to the administrator for agricultural policy, EPA, United States Department of Agriculture | Presentation

Future of Fuel: Increased Octane

Currently, automobile manufacturers are facing a tremendous challenge in meeting the coming demands for emission reductions and fuel economy improvements. While electric vehicles are forecast to increase market share, the majority of vehicles will continue to be spark ignition engine driven for the foreseeable future. Experts in both the private and public sector are researching methods to achieve emission reductions. This panel discussed how high octane, renewable fuels can help meet and possibly exceed these requirements.

  • John Farrell, laboratory program manager, Vehicle Technologies, National Renewable Energy Laboratory | Presentation
  • Dean Drake, president, Defour Group LLC | Presentation
  • Dominic DiCicco, manager, Environmental Policy and Fuel Quality, Sustainability and Vehicle Environmental Matters, Ford Motor Company | Presentation

 Agricultural Inspection: Protecting from Pests and Disease Outbreaks

Pests and diseases continue to present a challenge to the agricultural industry that require new regulatory and policy approaches. Additionally, globalization and the rise in international trade have brought countries both closer together, but also more at risk from outbreaks. A discussion followed on how the USDA and the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol work to ensure a safe and secure supply of agricultural products.

  • Mark Grzeszkowiak, chief agriculture specialist, Customs and Border Protection Agriculture Cargo Inspection, Port of Chicago 
  • Dr. John Clifford, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service chief veterinary officer, U.S. Department of Agriculture | Presentation

Legislative Roundtable and Future Planning for the Task Force

A discussion was held on NCSL resolutions and directives up for consideration, trending agricultural policy topics happening in the states, and potential topics for future Agriculture Task Force meetings.

Union Pacific Rail Yard Tour

Task Force members took the METRA to Union Pacific's Proviso rail yard where committee members receive a rail safety, engineering and hazmat briefing. A tour the rail equipment and hump yard followed the briefing.