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Costello named Illinois director of ag

Former 9-year Illinois house representative Jerry Costello is the new director for the Illinois Department of Agriculture

Austin Keating, Associate Editor, Prairie Farmer

February 29, 2020

2 Min Read
READY TO SERVE: Jerry Costello II served in the Illinois House of Representatives for eight years, serving as chair of the Agriculture and Conservation committee. Illinois House Democrats

Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker appointed Jerry Costello II to serve as the director of the Illinois Department of Agriculture at the end of February.

“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 says. He asked for predecessor John Sullivan’s resignation in early January after Sullivan acknowledged he received a controversial email from a lobbyist eight years ago.

He joins the Governor’s cabinet from his position as the director of law enforcement for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, which he had held since May 2019. Costello represented the 116th district in the Illinois House of Representatives from 2011 to 2019, during which he served as chair of the Agriculture and Conservation committee.

“I’m honored to continue serving the people of Illinois and excited to take the helm at the department I once oversaw in the state legislature,” Costello says. He’s “acting director” until he’s confirmed by the senate.

A graduate of Southern Illinois University Carbondale, Costello joined the U.S. Army's 82nd Airborne Division. Following his military service in Iraq in Operation Desert Storm, Costello returned to Illinois, where he became a police officer and started a family. Initially a patrolman, he would rise through the ranks and become assistant chief of police.

Related:Sullivan resigns amid email scandal

His family has a small farm in Franklin County, producing crops and raising cattle. Costello lives in Smithton with his wife Lori and their three children.

Illinois Farm Bureau President Richard Guebert, Jr., says Costello has a proven record in supporting agriculture from his time serving in the legislature.

He accomplished “items like enhancing tax incentives for biofuels, grant programs for agricultural education teachers, increasing access to highways for agricultural commodities and advocating for key items in the state budget for agriculture, to mention a few,” Guebert says.

“We look forward to working with Director Costello in his new role,” he concludes.

About the Author(s)

Austin Keating

Associate Editor, Prairie Farmer

Austin Keating is the newest addition to the Farm Progress editorial team working as an associate editor for Prairie Farmer magazine. Austin was born and raised in Mattoon and graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a degree in journalism. Following graduation in 2016, he worked as a science writer and videographer for the university’s supercomputing center. In June 2018, Austin obtained a master’s degree from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, where he was the campus correspondent for Planet Forward and a Comer scholar.

Austin is passionate about distilling agricultural science as a service for readers and creating engaging content for viewers. During his time at UI, he won two best feature story awards from the student organization JAMS — Journalism Advertising and Media Students — as well as a best news story award.

Austin lives in Charleston. He can sometimes be found at his family’s restaurant the Alamo Steakhouse and Saloon in Mattoon, or on the Embarrass River kayaking. Austin is also a 3D printing and modeling hobbyist.

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