I want to personally thank our acting director of the Illinois Department of Agriculture, Jerry Costello, for chatting with me a few moments last week about the status of ag in the state.
During these interesting times of COVID-19, Costello doesn’t feel the outbreak will impact ag as much as other industries. His department has taken steps to help the situation by delaying the renewal of pesticide applicator licenses and the governor’s administration has deemed ag essential for the economy.
“From a planting perspective, I am more concerned about flooding,” Costello said.
Goals Costello has for the department include educating Illinoisans on the impact ag has on the state and expanding broadband to the rural areas.
“One in four jobs in the state are in some way, shape or form ag related and we have just over 2,600 processors in the state,” Costello explained.
We actually lead the country in processing and most of those jobs are located in urban areas.
Costello gives Gov. J.B. Pritzker credit for the large initiative to expand broadband access to rural residents. He believes this has many positive results such as helping farmers conduct business in the modern technology age.
“It helps educate kids in rural areas and gives them some of the advantages kids in the urban areas have had for a long time,” said Costello.
Tele-medicine and education are other game changers thanks to modern technology. Costello feels early intervention is key as catching illness at an early stage is critical from a healthcare aspect.
The former state representative spent several years as chair of the Ag and Conservation Committee and two years as vice-chair of the group. Costello spent quite a bit of time at his grandfather’s orchard as a child. In fact, some of his fondest memories in life include the farm.
(The View from the Cab is sponsored by Petersen Chevy-Buick in Fairbury)