Livestock numbers are on the rise in Illinois. (Photo by Carrie Muehling/WJBC)
By Carrie Muehling
SPRINGFIELD – The livestock industry is gradually making its way back to Illinois.
Although there has always been livestock production in the state, the numbers are much lower than they were in the past. But that is beginning to change, even with the challenges of high costs of production and the occasional controversy over siting a livestock facility.
In 2012, more than 150 new livestock buildings were constructed in Illinois, which is more than in a typical year. It’s an important statistic for rural America, said Nic Anderson with Illinois Livestock Development Group.
“If I associate construction costs and people investing in the industry, we did over $60 million of new livestock expansion or new buildings in the state of Illinois,” said Anderson. “When you think about economic opportunities, that’s pretty important to rural America when a lot of our income comes from agriculture and really the livestock industry contributes quite a bit to that.”
Over the past 15 years since the implementation of the Livestock Management Facilities Act (LMFA), Illinois has brought in over 800,000 animal units. Anderson conservatively estimates that to be a $620 million contribution from the livestock industry in new construction during that time. While there is sometimes opposition to those farms, statistics show that controversies only occur over about two percent of farms trying to go in and most of those conflicts are eventually resolved.
Anderson said while livestock numbers are growing in Illinois, it really represents a shift in livestock production nationwide as opposed to growth. The cost of production and transportation are major factors as livestock finds its way back to the Midwest.
“We’re really not expanding the livestock industry in the U.S. It’s moving back to better cost of production. Years ago a lot of livestock moved out west or to the southeast, and it went away from traditional livestock locations,” explained Anderson. “Now, the past two or three years, more and more livestock producers are looking at the Midwest – and of course, Illinois is a part of that – closer to our inputs of corn and soybeans that we feed animals.”
The Midwest is seeing a resurgence of livestock production, not only in Illinois but also in places like Iowa, Missouri and Indiana. Those producers are also counting on exports, and Illinois is centrally located in the United States, providing access to both coasts. The Mississippi River is also helpful in moving inputs in and out of the area.
Many livestock producers are also now benefiting from the demand for manure as fertilizer. Manure can contribute more than $100 per acre to crop side of an operation, and other farmers also value the product for the nutrients it can provide to their crops. Indications are that livestock expansion will continue in Illinois.
“That window is still open for us,” said Anderson, who has optimism regarding the future of the livestock industry in Illinois.
Carrie Muehling can be reached at email@example.com.