The Illinois Department of Agriculture (IDOA) would receive similar funding as in the last two budgets under Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s fiscal year 2022 budget. The governor recommended a $117.3 million IDOA budget that includes $17.8 million in general revenue funds, $13.9 million in federal funds and $85.57 million in other state funds.

“The governor's proposed budget recognizes the department's important role in regulating Illinois' No. 1 industry, while specifically ensuring the stability of the food supply chain. This budget allows this essential work to continue to meet the needs of Illinois, the nation and the world,” Acting Agriculture Director Jerry Costello II said in a prepared statement.

While the budget proposes no changes to existing programs and accounts for minimum wage increases, IDOA is in the process of filling existing vacancies and authorized for 404 employees in fiscal year 2022.

The Cannabis Regulation Division, which oversees industrial hemp and certain aspects of medical and adult use marijuana, currently has 15 employees with plans to expand to meet the programs’ regulatory needs. The division’s proposed budget is consistent with the current one. The division’s budget comes from operation of the Medical Cannabis Program; operation, implementation and enforcement of the Industrial Hemp Act; and operational expenses for the Adult Use Cannabis Program.

Soil and Water Conservation Districts are slated to again receive $3 million for cost-share funding and $4.5 million for operations. Those remain level with fiscal year 2021 funding. However, IDOA’s cover crop incentive program that offers a crop insurance premium discount for enrolled acres is proposed to double from $300,000 to $600,000 in fiscal year 2022. This year’s acre enrollment cap was filled within 24 hours after online applications opened.

All IDOA regulatory functions “are fully funded” at similar levels in the introduced budget, according to the department. This includes $697,000 for the Pesticide Control Act and $7.7 million for administration of the Pesticide Control Act. Other functions include $352,500 for administration of the Livestock Management Facilities Act and $200,000 for a Food Safety Modernization Initiative.

The state fairgrounds are slated for additional upgrades. In addition to existing projects underway at the Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield and the Du Quoin State Fairgrounds in Du Quoin, the governor’s proposed budget would begin phase two upgrades to the Coliseum and other capital improvements at the Springfield fairgrounds, and roof replacements and other capital improvements at Du Quoin. County fair rehabilitation is proposed to receive a slight increase to $1.314 million, while County Fairs and Agricultural Societies also would receive a slight increase to $1.818 million. County Fair and Exposition Authorities would receive level funding of $900,000. The proposed budget allows for an increase to accommodate the potential addition of a county fair, according to IDOA.

University of Illinois Extension funding, which passes through IDOA’s budget, would receive level funding of $10.994 million as does the Cook County Extension at $2.449 million and agriculture Extension 4-H at $786,400. The line item for agriculture education would again receive $5 million in the proposed budget.