Raising animals makes sense for Stephenson County

Staff Report

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. — The animal population of Stephenson County benefits more pocketbooks than many realize. Stephenson County ranks third in Illinois in livestock production, 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 nearly $72 million to the local economy.

Hogs, cattle, poultry and other livestock make up one of the least appreciated industries in Illinois,” said Paul Rasmussen Jr., Genoa, Ill., farmer and area Illinois Soybean Association (ISA) director. “But Stephenson County reaps the benefits of $94 million in total economic activity from these farms, plus $5.2 million in total taxes.”

Based on this study, Stephenson County 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,” Rasmussen said. “Supporting agriculture, including animal production, helps our rural economy, and Stephenson County exemplifies this.”

Although Stephenson County has embraced the value of animal agriculture, the study indicates room for growth in the local animal agriculture industry. Meat consumption continues to increase, and global demand for meat and poultry products is expanding rapidly.

Strong in-state demand and access to export markets means Stephenson County 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,” Rasmussen said. “Thriving animal farms ensure a market for local corn and soybeans, and when existing operations want to expand, we should support that growth.”

From the Dec. 26, 2012-Jan. 1, 2013, issue

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