The animal population of the Illinois Quad Cities area benefits more pocketbooks than many realize. For example, both Henry and Whiteside Counties rank among the top 10 in Illinois in livestock sales, according to a study by Peter Goldsmith, associate professor of agribusiness management at the University of Illinois.
The study, which was commissioned by the Illinois Livestock Development Group (ILDG) and funded in part from the Illinois soybean checkoff, finds that animal agriculture contributes $173.6 million to the local economy.
"Hogs, cattle, poultry and other livestock make up one of the least appreciated industries in Illinois," says Rowen Ziegler, LaHarpe, Ill., farmer and Illinois Soybean Association (ISA) director. "But the Illinois side of the Quad Cities region reaps the benefits of $229.9 million in total economic activity from these farms, plus $17 million in total taxes. And this doesn't include actual processing and meat production by local small and large facilities."
Based on this study, the Quad Cities area is among the top contributors to the $3.5 billion in economic activity, the 25,000 jobs and the nearly $292 million in local, state and federal taxes provided by the Illinois animal agriculture industry. This industry has an output multiplier of 1.88, meaning that for every $100 of direct output or sales, another $88 is created outside the industry, and many of those dollars stay local.
"Farmers tend to purchase inputs, sell goods and spend profits and wages locally," explains Ziegler. "Supporting agriculture, including animal production, helps our rural economy, and our area exemplifies this."
Although Quad Cities-area counties have embraced the value of animal agriculture, the study indicates room for growth in the local animal agriculture industry. Meat consumption continues to increase. Global demand for meat and poultry products is expanding rapidly. Low costs of producing livestock in Illinois and access to export markets means the area can take advantage of even more growth potential. Plus, the study notes that Illinois meat and dairy processing plants import about 75 percent of their raw materials from other states.
"Livestock farmers are the No.1 customer for Illinois soybeans," Ziegler says. "Thriving animal farms ensure a market for local corn and soybeans and a supply of locally raised meat. When existing operations want to expand, we should support that growth."
The Illinois Soybean Association (ISA) represents more than 45,000 soybean farmers in Illinois through the state soybean checkoff and membership efforts. The checkoff funds market development, soybean production and profitability research, promotion, issues management and analysis, communications and education. Membership and advocacy efforts support Illinois soybean farmer interests in local areas, Springfield and Washington, D.C. ISA programs are designed to ensure Illinois soy is the highest quality, most dependable, sustainable and competitive in the global marketplace. For more information, visit the website www.ilsoy.org.