State Senator Sam McCann (R-Plainview) has filed legislation to allow voters to turn the Illinois Director of Agriculture into a statewide elected position.
“The Director of Agriculture is tasked with overseeing our state’s largest and most important industry,” said Senator McCann. “This would make sure that our Ag Director, just like all elected officials, is held accountable to the voters at the ballot box.”
Senate Joint Resolution Constitutional Amendment 14, if passed by the General Assembly, would place a question on the ballot to let voters decide whether the Director of Agriculture should be an elected constitutional officer.
The Department of Agriculture is currently overseen by a director who is appointed by the Governor. McCann’s proposal would turn that administrative position into an independent, statewide advocate for agriculture.
“Having an elected person solely focused on agriculture could help grow the industry, providing a much needed boost to the state’s sluggish economy,” said Senator McCann.
According to the Illinois Department of Agriculture, the state’s agriculture industry generates more than $19 billion annually, including $8.2 billion worth of exports.
“Agriculture is one of the few cylinders of our economic engine that has been firing reliably,” said Senator McCann. “This would make sure the industry gets the attention and focus that it deserves at the Capitol.”
Currently, only the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Treasurer, Comptroller, Secretary of State and Attorney General are elected constitutional officers in Illinois.
Twelve other states have elected Directors, Secretaries, or Commissioners of Agriculture, including two of Illinois’ neighbors, Iowa and Kentucky.
“The successes and struggles of Illinois agriculture affect everyone residing in this state,” said Senator McCann. “I believe the people of Illinois deserve to choose the person who holds such an important role.”
If SJRCA14 passes the Illinois General Assembly, the question would appear on the ballot for the 2018 general election.