Lindsay Mitchell

Mar 29, 2013  |  Today's News

Nationally, livestock is nearly tied for the largest market for corn, sharing the stage with recent (comparatively) newcomer, ethanol. Together, the two markets make up 76 percent of corn demand for the U.S.

(In this graph, the dotted red section includes corn demand for ethanol production, but shows that eight percent goes back into feeding livestock. Farmers have gotten so efficient that eight percent of your crop is actually used twice!)

In Illinois, our proximity to the Mississippi, Illinois, and Ohio Rivers creates a different story. Only four percent of the 2011Illinois crop feed livestock, a number that Illinois Corn, and others in the industry are interested in increasing.

(In Illinois specifically, 48 percent of the corn crop was used for ethanol and 45 percent was exported in 2011-2012.)

Thus, the Illinois Corn Marketing Board commitment to the Illinois Livestock Development Group (ILDG) which seeks to help producers site new livestock facilities and expand current facilities in order to grow the number of livestock in Illinois. Yes, this seems like an uphill battle because we’ve seen the headlines in the news. Yes, it appears that we’re fighting citizen groups, neighbors, and even the Illinois leadership to site each and every facility. But that simply isn’t true.

In fact, numbers of livestock in Illinois have actually increased in past years. According to the USDA National Ag Statistics Service, dairy cattle numbers in Illinois have seen their third straight year of growth with 100,000 head in 2012. Illinois hogs are at their highest numbers since 1998 with 4,600,000 hogs.

ILDG Business Developer Nic Anderson pays attention to the numbers of “Notices of Intent to Construct,” a formal notice filed with the Illinois Department of Agriculture required under the Livestock Management Facilities Act for farmers planning to build or expand their livestock facilities. According to Nic, Notices of Intent have been steadily growing since 2009 and are at their highest point now with 150 Notices already filed in 2013.

The future of the Illinois livestock industry is probably looking better than you’d think. Many farmers are expanding and siting new farms without problems – but we don’t see success stories in the news.

In the meantime, IL Corn will continue to invest in the livestock industry, making an effort to grow numbers of livestock and improve the business climate for livestock within the state. We believe the Illinois Livestock Development Group has been a good start.