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Illinois State Agriculture Director visits WIU

Published: Apr. 27, 2022 at 5:48 PM CDT
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MACOMB (WGEM) - A key player in the agriculture industry paid Western Illinois University a visit on Wednesday. Faculty said the goal was to bring attention to one of the university’s top programs.

Illinois Department of Agriculture Director Jerry Costello and other state representatives toured the school’s agriculture and research programming facilities.

They saw the university’s new agronomy shed, which holds a brand new combine, and the widespread farmland across campus.

Costello has been on the job for about two years, marking Wednesday’s visit as his first to WIU. Costello said his take on the campus’s agriculture program was nothing short of impressive.

“It’s absolutely amazing,” Costello said. “A lot of the new facilities. And one of the reasons I’m here with three state legislators: Rep. Hoppin, Rep. Swanson and Rep. Hammond is to look at ways that the state can help. "

Plant Breeding and Genetics professor Win Phippen said Costello’s visit is a way to showcase all the hard work the agriculture department has been doing and the recent grants which have helped them obtain updated equipment.

“He had an opportunity to see some of the newer equipment we just purchased,” Phippen said. “(The) new (equipment storage) building and the new combine that allows us to harvest these new crops.”

WIU agriculture science alumna Lori Jackson, said this was a great opportunity to meet Costello today as she continues to work at the WIU agriculture facilities post-graduation.

“I have a huge passion for agriculture,” Jackson said. “I really wanted to be an advocate for agriculture issues so that’s why I chose ag communications. I want to speak to producers, consumers and kind of show that divide.”

Costello said the agriculture is Illinois’ number one industry with a $19 billion annual economic impact.

He said WIU can bring jobs and dollars to the state making it a big economic drive.

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