CARMI - Gov. Bruce Rauner met today with farmers at a southern Illinois roundtable to learn more about efforts to thwart nutrient loss and advanced agriculture production and management, and to hear about the effects of policy decisions on agri-business.

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“Agriculture is not just our largest industry; it is Illinois’ most important legacy,” Rauner said. “That is why it is so important that we remain responsive to the people who own the state’s 72,200 farms. We need their businesses to thrive and we need to help them grow by encouraging innovation and education.”

The farmers and Rauner gathered at Big Prairie Farms, a 5,000-acre operation in Carmi owned by Kent and Melissa Williams. Carmi is located along the Little Wabash River in southeastern Illinois.

“It is exciting to see Governor Rauner reaching out to learn more about what is going on in agriculture in southern Illinois,” Kent Williams said. “As with most farmers, I see the governor’s agenda as a sense of hope for improvement and better things to come for Illinois.”

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About 26.7 million acres, or roughly 75 percent of the state’s land total, are farmed in Illinois. The state is a leading producer of soybeans, corn and swine. And Illinois ranks third nationally in the export of agricultural commodities, with $8.2 billion worth of goods shipped to other countries annually, according to the Illinois Department of Agriculture.

Those gathered at Big Prairie Farms heard from White and Wayne County Farm Bureau Director Doug Anderson and Michael Wilson from Wabash Valley Service Co., who showcased a recent study of nutrient loss in field tile.

The governor toured the Big Prairie Farms operation, where the Williamses use state-of-the-art technology and equipment to manage their crops and their business. The farm is White County’s largest producer of soft red wheat.

Farmers in attendance at today’s roundtable ran the gamut from smaller-scale operators with side businesses to members of multigenerational farm families, a female farmer, a turkey producer and more.

“Agriculture is at the heart of our economy,” said Rauner, who earlier this year declared a harvest emergency to help speed crop transportation after rain delays affected both planting and harvest. “My administration will continue to fight for a business climate that supports farmers and bolsters Illinois’ economy.”

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