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Rauner Targets Illinois Ag Director

Updated: Monday, August 11 2014, 11:34 AM CDT

Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner is targeting the state's agriculture director, Bob Flider for not having first-hand farming experience.

It's an argument we've heard before, but that was long ago before Flider took on his current position.

We caught up with Flider at the Illinois State Fair today.

He says his experience in both private and public sectors has been an asset to his role as ag director, and he's proud of what he's accomplished.

While some farmers admit they like Flider, they question his level of agriculture experience.

"I like the young man who's ag director, but he has no farm background. If you're going to have an ag director, have one that knows the difference between a cow and pig. Does that make sense?" said Tom Donnell, a farmer from Coles County.

Republican candidate for governor, Bruce Rauner, recently addressed a group of farmers and state agriculture industry leaders in Logan county..

"The Department of Agriculture is not run right," Rauner said.

He suggested the problem lies with the man in charge.

"How about we have farmers and farm families in charge of the Department of Agriculture. How about if we do that? Put competent people in charge of the government who are there for the right reasons," Rauner said.

Flider says he's not only qualified for his job, he's excelling at a job he's held now for years.

"As a legislator, I worked very closely in agriculture and one of the things I'm most proud of is that when I was appointed to this position, I had all the major ag groups support my confirmation," said Flider.

Flider says Illinois' agriculture exports grow 30 percent or more per year, compared to just five percent at the national level.

"I know how to build partnerships and that's what we've done. I think that's what folks in agriculture would tell you. When times were tough during the drought, we worked with FDA to save hundreds of millions of dollars worth of corn that otherwise would have gone wasted," Flider said.

For some farmers, Flider's accomplishments as the state's ag director isn't enough to make up for never living the life of a farmer.

"I know one thing, Rauner has told every farm group he's been in front of that he will have a farmer or a farm industry person as an ag director and that would be a big step forward," Donnell said.

Flider says for every dollar that is invested in the department of agriculture's marketing budget, there's over a $101 return.

That's another reason he believes he's doing his job well.

Rauner has told farmers if elected as governor, he will make infrastructure a priority as well as reducing real estate taxes.

Rauner Targets Illinois Ag Director

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