Candidates for U.S. Senate attend agricultural forum to talk ag issues

(The Center Square) – Two candidates for one of Illinois’ U.S. Senate seats took part in an agricultural legislative forum Wednesday, taking on issues affecting the state’s farming community.

Democratic Sen. Tammy Duckworth and Republican candidate Kathy Salvi attended the event separately, which was hosted by the Illinois Farm Bureau at a farm near Lexington.

Renewable energy was addressed by the candidates. Duckworth said biofuels have to be in the same conversation as wind and solar energy.

“We just can’t be supporting wind and solar, and not supporting biofuels,” Duckworth said. “That’s not right because that leads to an imbalance in the system and we’re not going to get to carbon neutral faster.”

Salvi said putting up windmills all over Illinois may not be profitable if you make $250,000 over 25 years.

“It takes about $250,000 to disassemble one aged, obsolete wind turbine,” Salvi said. “This is a net zero gain, so based upon the productivity of the land, long term it doesn’t make sense.”

According to the American Wind Energy Association, Illinois ranks sixth nationwide with nearly 2,800 operational wind turbines.

Agricultural groups are closely watching a U.S. Supreme Court case involving Waters of the U.S., or WOTUS.

The case centers on homeowners who were ordered to stop building on a piece of property they owned in Idaho because the wetlands on the property were determined to fall under waters of the U.S. and were protected by the Clean Water Act.

Duckworth urged protecting the environment from farm chemical runoff, but she said there must be trust in farmers.

“Half of them use well water for their own homes, if they poison the ground, they are poisoning their own water. They’re not going to do that,” Duckworth said.

Salvi said water does not need to fall under federal regulation.

“To expand the definition of a field that can be EPA regulated to that particular farm parcel, it puts a vice over that farmer’s ability to run their business,” Salvi said.

Oral arguments in the case are set for Oct. 3, with a court ruling coming possibly in the first half of next year.

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