The Illinois Stewardship Alliance successfully advocates for state programs

The Illinois Stewardship Alliance was a founding member of the National Healthy Soils Policy Network in 2018 and has received financial support through our mini-grant program every year since. In 2019, the Alliance successfully advocated for a state program to give farmers voluntarily adopting cover crops a $5 per acre reward on their crop insurance. State lawmakers passed a resolution in 2022 declaring the first full week of March each year as “Illinois Soil Health Week,” boosting visibility of the issue greatly. In 2023, after 3 years of organizing, they saw the passage of a bill to create the Illinois Healthy Soils Initiative and direct state agencies to collaborate on an accelerated soil health framework. A successful push on the FY2024 budget provided up to $4 million for the new initiative.

Some of the activities used by the Alliance and supported with funding from NHSPN include organizing three annual Soil Health Weeks of education and advocacy, establishing a farmer-led Soil Health Caucus, and organizing farmer listening sessions focused on soil health, water quality, and climate. They were also able to craft farmer-authored op-eds to be published in local papers, which proved critical to their campaign.