Jerry Costello II will head Illinois Department of Agriculture

JERRY COSTELLO II, a longtime legislator and steadfast supporter of Metro East working families, has been appointed by Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker as director of law enforcement for the Department of Natural Resources. – Belleville News Democrat photo

Springfield, IL – Jerry Costello II, a longtime state legislator and steadfast Labor supporter from the Metro East, has been appointed to one of the top positions in state government as director of the Illinois Department of Agriculture.

Costello, 51, of Smithton in St. Clair County, represented the 116th District in the Illinois House from 2011 to May of 2019, when Gov. J.B. Pritzker named him director of law enforcement for the Department of Natural Resources.

In naming Costello to the Agriculture vacancy, Pritzker noted that farming is a part of Costello’s family history – in addition to politics, considering that his father Jerry Costello represented the region in Congress from 1988 to 2013.

“With farming playing an important role in his family’s history and a career of public service, there’s no better person to lead the Illinois Department of Agriculture at this time than Jerry Costello,” Pritzker said.

“Our agriculture sector drives our state’s economy to the tune of $19 billion every year, and I’m confident that Jerry’s deep experience will bring a steady hand to the department and continue the impressive growth of this vital industry.”

Illinois Farm Bureau President Richard Guebert Jr. applauded Pritzker’s decision.

“Jerry Costello has a proven record in supporting agriculture,” Guebert said. “In his time serving in the General Assembly, he not only supported agriculture by his votes on key legislation important to agriculture, but he also championed many supportive efforts.”

When Pritzker named Costello to the Natural Resources position last year, Costello was replaced in the House by former Steeleville trustee Nathan Reitz, who is now running as a Democrat for election to the position.

Costello will carry the “acting” director title until the Senate Executive Appointments Committee votes to confirm him.

A major part of Costello’s work in the Legislature was to oversee the Department of Agriculture as chairman of the Agriculture and Conservation Committee.

“As a leading producer of soybeans, corn and swine, Illinois is home to the most dedicated farmers in the world, and I look forward to partnering with them to grow our state’s agricultural economy,” Costello said.

The department also oversees the state’s newly legalized cannabis sales program.

Costello served on Pritzker’s agriculture transition committee. A graduate of Southern Illinois University Carbondale, he previously worked as a police officer and served in the Army 82nd Airborne Division during Operation Desert Storm.


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