Champaign, Ill. (WCIA)

Family farming in Illinois: Most people in Illinois don’t realize that the vast majority – 96% – of farms are still family owned and operated. Illinois Farm Families, a group of volunteer farmers and farm organizations dedicated to bridging the gap between urban and rural audiences, is highlighting the fact that while farms may look different than they did years ago, it’s families who make the day-to-day decisions on the farm and support our communities, our state and world with the food and products they grow and raise. The “We are the 96” campaign is meant to draw attention and raise awareness about Illinois’ 69K+ farm families.

Holly Spangler and her husband, John, farm in western Illinois and raise corn, soybeans and beef cattle. They farm with John’s parents and have three children, including Jenna who is a University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign student with a growing ice-cream business.

Farmers love talking about what they do and how they care for the land and animals to produce safe, sustainable food. One example of a frequent question is how tech-forward farms are today. They may also not understand the makeup of farms and how they support multiple generations.

Illinois Farm Families is celebrating 2023 as the year of the Illinois farmer to show appreciation for all that farmers do and to celebrate the families behind our food. The “We are the 96” campaign message is simple – to remind everyone that 96% of the state’s farms are family-owned and operated.

The year-long campaign launched with a :30 ad that aired during February’s Super Bowl game and continues throughout the rest of the year with advertising and in-person activities that connect consumers directly with farmers, from State Fair to local celebrations. A full list of fairs and other activities can be found at You can also submit questions directly to farmers or just share a message of thanks.

Renea Heinrich, Sr. Counselor,
Illinois Farm Families
c/o Illinois Farm Bureau
1701 Towanda Ave.
Bloomington, IL 61701