County board approves local foods council

URBANA — County board members approved the establishment of a Champaign County Local Foods Policy Council to encourage the establishment of small businesses including those producing fresh fruits and vegetables, and to urge large institutional entities to commit to the use of 10 percent locally produced foods.

The council was approved 16-9 with all "no" votes coming from Republicans Jon Schroeder, Ron Bensyl, Aaron Esry, Stan James, John Jay, Jeff Kibler, Max Mitchell, Steve Moser and Steve O'Connor.

The advisory council has a sunset provision that says it would end in March 2014 when the county board would review and assess continuing the need for the group.

Several Republican board members argued the council would be another layer of local government and is unneeded.

"I have yet to see anything a government entity starts that doesn't turn into a boondoggle," said Rantoul Republican Stan James.

But Democrats said it would be good for local economic development, would encourage healthy food options and that the cost to taxpayers — to establish and maintain a website — would be minimal.

"Anything that expands local food production is beneficial," said Champaign Democrat Alan Kurtz.

The board approved the appointment of Jermaine Raymer, a Champaign Republican, to the Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District board and Raymond Cunningham to the Lincoln Legacy Committee, and approved the purchase of an $81,000 prison transport bus from Midwest Transit Equipment Inc., for the sheriff's department.

Two board members were absent from Thursday's meeting: Democrats Brendan McGinty and C. Pius Weibel.

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rsp wrote on March 22, 2012 at 11:03 pm

I think it would be helpful just knowing what is available locally. If this makes everything more visible it's a good idea. They may end up finding out something else about the community to promote.

buylocalurbana wrote on March 23, 2012 at 8:03 am

Good to see that at least some of our elected officials listen to their constituents, and are pro-small business and pro-local.

increvable wrote on March 23, 2012 at 8:03 am

 

Several Republican board members argued the council would be another layer of local government and is unneeded.

"I have yet to see anything a government entity starts that doesn't turn into a boondoggle," said Rantoul Republican Stan James.

Boy, it must be nice to know what to think about everything before you even know what's been proposed. In what sense is this another layer of local government? Can the foods council levy taxes? Will it exercise eminent domain against small farms for a road we don't need? No. It's an advisory body, filled by volunteers, which will be reviewed in 2 years to see if it's worth a damn.

Why we elect these people who reflexively and automatically distrust government to oversee  government is utterly beyond me. It's a great con, when you think about it: "Government can't do anything right, so elect me to office and I'll make sure of it!" Think. Consider each proposal on its merits. Exercise strict oversight and make sure we're getting value for our tax dollars, of course, but don't automatically reject good ideas just because the public sector carries them out.

pattsi wrote on March 23, 2012 at 8:03 am

Since I introduced this resolution, I would like to publically thank each and every resident who supported the concept and spoke out either publically at the board meetings or sent . electronic letters of support. Without these expressions of how important local foods are to our local economy, the resolution might not have passed.

I encourage county residents to submit an application to be considered for appointment to the council. One will be able to do this online via the county board web site by the end of next week. It will take several days to get the information posted on the web site.

If you would like to read more about the resolution go to  https://sites.google.com/site/p2district6/news/champaigncountylocalfoodp...