Ever wondered about the logistics of Illinois agriculture? Prairie Farmer gathered the most recent data from the USDA, Illinois Department of Agriculture and Illinois Farm Bureau to show you where the state ranks.
Singlehandedly, agriculture is the No. 1 industry in the state, says Jerry Costello II, Illinois director of agriculture. Agricultural commodity sales account for $19 billion of the state’s economic impact from agriculture and agriculture-related industries, which is $121 billion.
He adds that Illinois food processing sales bring in more than $150 billion annually, which puts the state first in the nation.
But Illinois agriculture has more to show than economic contributions.
“About 75% of the state is actually farmland-type area, so it’s approximately 27 million acres,” Costello says. “And there are approximately 72,000 farms in the state of Illinois.”
And commodity ranks? See for yourself:
- First in soybean production, which is 15% of all U.S. soybeans
- First in pumpkin production, with 95% of all canned pumpkin originating in Illinois
- First in horseradish production
- Second in corn production, which is 13% of all U.S. soybeans
- Fourth in pork production
But the farm population continues to age, and Costello says recruitment is the next challenge.
“The average age of an Illinois farmer is 55 years old,” he says. “I think it’s more important than ever for us to really be harnessing and working with youth in agriculture education right now, because of the ever-changing technology.”
He applauds agricultural colleges in Illinois such as the University of Illinois, Illinois State University, Western Illinois University and Southern Illinois University, as well as organizations such as 4-H and FFA, for providing opportunities to prepare the next generation of agriculturists.