Written by Laurie Ouding for Bronzeville Energy Collaborative
On May 24th bill HB 3418 passed in the senate and is now awaiting Governor Rauner’s signature, bringing applause from environmental advocates as it is a positive step in the right direction for urban farmers and local food businesses.
To help local governments expand access to urban farming and local food, HB 3418 :
-Allows local governments to create urban agricultural areas, where beginning, socially- and economically-disadvantaged farmers are operating urban farms;
-Allows local governments to abate property taxes on urban agricultural areas; -Allows local governments to reduce water and utilities fees and rates to rate payers in urban agricultural areas - Allows local governments to use TIF revenues to offset the costs of providing incentives to urban agricultural areas.
The following statement was issued by Laura Calvert, Advocates for Urban Agriculture Executive Director: “We commend the Illinois legislature and in particular Rep. Sonya Harper for lowering barriers to starting and operating urban farm businesses. This bill will further stimulate our local food system by growing businesses, jobs, produce, and our economy.”
Representative Sonya Harper and Senator Mattie Hunter provided support for this bill and many other projects and programs, as well as supporting the people who also work tirelessly in advancing progress in urban farming, sustainable food systems and equitable access to healthy food.
The urban agriculture and food business communities are thriving and continuing to grow in Chicago, in part due to political support and organizations like Advocates for Urban Agriculture who rally for these causes and create collaborative relationships throughout Chicagoland.
The future of Chicago is looking greener by the day.