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Report for America is a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms to report on under-covered issues and communities.

Underwood Proposes New Climate Change Related Funds for Farmers

Juanpablo Ramirez-Franco
Rep. Lauren Underwood with Mark Tuttle

 A new proposal in Congress could promise additional resources to Illinois farmers on the frontlines of climate change. 


Northern Illinois congresswoman Lauren Underwood said the Farmers Fighting Climate Change Act she introduced will help farmers and ranchers deal with increased flooding and delayed planting seasons. Both are blamed on the warming climate.


Underwood said that northern Illinois farmers are the region's first line of defenese against climate change. She said that if they’re going to be expected to pick up the fight with a warming climate, they’re going to have to receive the appropriate funding. She said that her new legislation would “provide Illinois farmers with more resources to expand their climate stewardship practices and to ensure farmers are fairly compensated for their contribution to our nation’s climate solutions.” 


 Mark Tuttle is a Somonauk  farmer and DeKalb County Farm Bureau President. He said farmers want to make these changes and federal support will help get the ball rolling. 


“Some of these get very, very expensive because you have to bring in some heavy equipment," he said, "and so if the farmers have some funding and some cost-sharing on [that], a lot of this will happen quicker, and it'll clean up the water and environment even faster.”


The legislation builds on the USDA's Conservation Stewardship Program which provides technical and financial assistance to agricultural producers who adopt conservation practices. The new climate change legislation expands the options available to farmers by establishing region-specific activities intended to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase carbon sequestration. 


The bipartisan legislation is endorsed by the Illinois Farm Bureau, Illinois Corn Growers Association and  Illinois Soybean Association. 


  • Juanpablo Ramirez-Franco is a current corps member for Report for America, an initiative of the GroundTruth Project. It's a national service program that places talented journalists in local newsrooms like WNIJ. You can learn more about Report for America at wnij.org.
Juanpablo covers environmental, substandard housing and police-community relations. He’s been a bilingual facilitator at the StoryCorps office in Chicago. As a civic reporting fellow at City Bureau, a non-profit news organization that focuses on Chicago’s South Side, Ramirez-Franco produced print and audio stories about the Pilsen neighborhood. Before that, he was a production intern at the Third Coast International Audio Festival and the rural America editorial intern at In These Times magazine. Ramirez-Franco grew up in northern Illinois. He is a graduate of Knox College.