Illinois Agribusiness Council



The Illinois Agribusiness Council (IL/ABC) is a nonprofit, voluntary membership association established for the purpose of strengthening the state's agro-food system. IL/ABC is registered  in Springfield with its temporary secretariat divided between Chicago and Monticello. The IL/ABC concept was introduced in 1990 during meetings sponsored by the Mid-America Committee and American Bar Association in Chicago with global marketing issues by Nicholas E. Hollis, and accelerated in downstate meetings with producers and researchers (University of Illinois). IL/ABC is an independent association modeled after similar counterpart associations in other states. IL/ABC is affiliated with The Agribusiness Council (ABC), a tax-exempt/nonprofit organization with offices in Washington, DC. ABC has been in operation for thirty years since it was set up after a White House meeting with President Lyndon Johnson and food executive Henry Heinz, chairman of Heinz Foods (and ABC's first chairman).

IL/ABC assists the state's agro-industry and allied sectors by providing a neutral, nonpartisan forum for representatives of different parts of the agro-food system to engage in practical problem-solving dialogue, information dissemination on major issues/markets and leading edge technologies impacting Illinois' agricultural economy. IL/ABC also improves contacts with counterpart agribusiness associations in other states and abroad, raises the prestige of farmers and strengthens awareness of "agribusiness perspectives from a private sector vantage in all fields of agriculture and allied sectors. IL/ABC also seeks to improve agro-industry's voice with appropriate government agencies and urban Illinois.

Results Expected
IL/ABC will generate benefits for its members, improve the climate for cross-sectoral problem-solving through its specialized committees and facilitate action projects through its board of directors, general assembly (annual meeting) and informal links with other associations operating in the state, regional, county and local levels.

Method of Operation
IL/ABC will achieve its aims working through specialized committees and task forces organized in the annual meeting and action programs (i.e., seminars, trade missions, pilot projects, publications and exhibitions). IL/ABC may also act as an educational lobby vehicle for agribusiness to appropriate authorities. IL/ABC will provide cost-efficient contacts and information utilizing newsletters and its links to counterpart associations in and outside the state. IL/ABC will build gradually, and not all committees will be operational in the first phase.

Future Directions of Activities
IL/ABC has been incorporated as a nonprofit association and is registered in Springfield. IL/ABC's direction will be determined by a steering committee drawn from networking, enrollment petitions and meetings around the state conducted by initial organizers with assistance from ABC. IL/ABC will be refining the organization's bylaws and statutes in cooperation with interested companies and state agencies. An inaugural meeting will formally establish IL/ABC after a number of specialized committees develop into cohesive groups (target early 2001). Specialized committees including International Trade, Agro-Environment/Natural Resources, Food Safety, Ag Transport/Distribution, Ag Technologies/Research, and others are contemplated. It is expected that IL/ABC leaders will be invited to attend ABC events including international programs. IL/ABC has initiated contacts with similar groups and compatible ag networks in Eastern Europe, particularly the Polish Agribusiness Association formed by ABC in 1995. IL/ABC is also expected to benefit from links to counterpart groups in the Baltics. On the heritage preservation front, IL/ABC is cooperating with the William Jennings Bryan Recognition Project (WJBP) to honor a great son of the Land of Lincoln who championed the cause of farmers and rural development. Bryan was born in Salem, Illinois in 1860.

It is anticipated that IL/ABC will be supported in its formation phase by voluntary contributions from leading companies, individuals and organizations interested in the state's food and natural resource-based economy. The University of Illinois, individual farmers, and a Chicago consulting firm have provided logistical and temporary support for IL/ABC, while The Agribusiness Council (ABC) is providing management/training assistance. It is anticipated that ABC support will decline after the IL/ABC becomes fully operational following its inaugural conference.

IL/ABC will neither require nor solicit substantial start-up contributions. Financing will be provided from voluntary support from a wide range of sources identified through local meetings and representatives of Illinois ag sectors and organizations. A final formula, based on annualized turnover and/or total employment may be determined by the board of directors. Grants from foundations, banks and donor agencies will be accepted - either directly to IL/ABC, or ABC (which has set up a separate account earmarked for IL/ABC). Contributions to The Agribusiness Council (ABC) are tax-deductible. IL/ABC also anticipated support from registrations at events and newsletter subscriptions.

Illinois Agribusiness Council

"Strengthening Agro-Industry's Voice in Illinois through Association Action"