During their August board meeting, the Illinois Corn Marketing Board voted once again to support the Illinois Livestock Development Group (ILDG). The partnership, a joint effort of the Illinois Beef Association, Illinois Corn Marketing Board, Illinois Farm Bureau, Illinois Milk Producers’ Association, Illinois Pork Producers Association, and Illinois Soybean Association, began in 2002 with the goal of growing the number of livestock in Illinois.
Today, the ILDG continues its work. Nic Anderson, the ILDG Business Developer, spends every day working with producers who want to expand their livestock facilities or build new facilities within the state. ILDG hoped to help producers navigate the regulations within the Livestock Management Facilities Act (LMFA) and the whims of non-farmers in their area by hiring Nic to guide farmers through the process.
ILDG has also invested in pro-livestock media in key areas, helping non-farmers and grain farmers understand the interconnectedness between the general public and livestock farmers. Even grain farmers often forget that without a booming livestock industry, corn and soybean prices barely maintain break-even prices.
The Illinois Corn Marketing Board also voted to continue funding a grant program operated by ILDG that provides funds to help small livestock farmers secure professional engineering plans for their expansions. These professionally developed plans are required by the Illinois Department of Agriculture and can be cost prohibitive for smaller farmers. Recent interest in these funds has been enormous!
All in all, ILDG has accomplished its goal. Although negative media makes Illinois seem like a very livestock unfriendly state, Illinois has actually seen growth in livestock numbers. 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.
As a member of the Illinois agricultural industry, you can support livestock too! Livestock farms offer a significant opportunity for jobs and tax income in your county, not to mention a local market for your product. When you have the opportunity, make sure your county board understands this value. And if you are willing to get more involved speaking in favor of livestock farms to your county leaders, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. We can use you!