This HIA studied a proposed amendment to Ordinance 01-67, the Farmland Protection Program, which has operated for 10 years and resulted in the permanent protection of over 5,500 acres of farmland. The amendment would broaden annual investments to include small and organic farms producing fruits, vegetables, and meat, and is intended in part to increase the availability of fresh produce for schools, farmers markets, corner stores, and other community sites. The HIA examined how the amendment would affect the health of local residents through changes in the availability and price of fresh fruits and vegetables, food safety, and economics, among other impacts, resulting from increased food production in the region.
Based on a literature review, business and resident surveys, and other research, the study found that the “Growing for Kane” ordinance would improve resident health, stimulate local food production, and bolster the local economy. Local data show a demand for fresh produce, and adding 1,000 acres of fruits and vegetables for human consumption is projected to contribute more than $7 million and 103 jobs to the county’s economy each year.
The HIA team issued several recommendations to maximize health benefits, particularly passing a new ordinance rather than amending the existing one. The new ordinance should feature land use provisions to encourage smaller and scattered-site farms to produce fruits and vegetables and should allow participating farms to operate in all parts of the county. Other recommendations included connecting schools and the Northern Illinois Food Bank with local producers to ensure access to fresh produce for economically disadvantaged residents and providing Meet the Buyer events and other support programs for farmers who apply to sell food locally.
The team’s recommendations could also be incorporated into the existing amendment to optimize the health impacts should the county choose not to pass a new ordinance. The Kane County Farmland Protection Commission will review the amendment and proposed revisions, and forward to the County Board for consideration.
The American Farmland Trust and Kane County Farm Bureau have expressed strong support for this HIA.