The federal government is distributing $350 billion to government entities across the country to help businesses, communities and families recover from the pandemic.

Illinois farmers can get involved in the state’s distribution process by amplifying their county Farm Bureau’s support of projects that benefit agriculture.

For community initiatives to qualify for federal funding through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), proposals must demonstrate how the improvements will be used to counteract the impacts of the pandemic. Funds can also be used to invest in broadband, water infrastructure, sewer and many other types of projects.

Not everyone will have a direct say in how ARPA funds will be used. But it’s important for Farm Bureau members, staff and leaders to get involved, said Ryan Whitehouse, Illinois Farm Bureau associate director of local government and political engagement. He encourages farmers to:

  1. Find out which project the CFB supports and join its efforts;
  2. Reach out to local officials to advocate for how you’d like to the funds to be used;
  3. Share your story and unique perspective when talking about needed community improvements;
  4. Help your CFB identify coalition partners to advocate for similar interests; and
  5. Reach out to IFB staff for additional resources.

While money has already been allocated to local units of government, each recipient must submit project proposals to demonstrate how the money will be spent. First reporting of projects is due to the U.S. Department of Treasury by Aug. 31.

With local officials getting ready to make decisions, Whitehouse encouraged residents to share their interests and concerns.

“County government is the unit of government that has the power to make a direct impact on our rural communities, so we need to ensure the farmer perspective is represented in the types of projects ARPA funds pay for,” he said.

Farm Bureau members should reach out to their county offices for more information.