SPRINGFIELD - Governor Rod Blagojevich and Agriculture Director Chuck Hartke today unveiled the Illinois Livestock Development Initiative as part of the Agriculture Legislative Day breakfast on the Illinois State Fairgrounds. This initiative, which was developed with the help of various industry groups, is designed to encourage livestock producers in Illinois to start new or expand existing businesses through a number of financial and regulatory incentives.
“Livestock is a $3.4 billion dollar industry in Illinois, but at a time when other agriculture heavy states are growing their livestock industries, Illinois is experiencing a steady decline,” Gov. Blagojevich said. “This initiative will help us to retain and create good jobs in Illinois. Not only the on-the-farm jobs needed to raise the livestock, but veterinary, transportation and construction jobs, along with a number of other service positions, that will all contribute to a stronger Illinois economy.”
The Illinois Livestock Development Initiative is made up of several components including: expanded use of designated agricultural areas, streamlining regulatory functions which includes minor changes to the Livestock Management Facilities Act, reinstating a tax exemption for pollution control equipment, creating a sales tax exemption on building and construction materials and creating additional inducements for operators to reclaim and restore pasture areas. The proposal also helps producers access financing needed for intended projects.
“What the Governor is proposing is a more aggressive approach to help stabilize and reverse the decline of livestock production in Illinois,” Agriculture Director Chuck Hartke said. “We have the resources to build a successful livestock industry; ample grain supply for feed, land, environmental conditions, and the Governor is maximizing the use of those resources.”
Illinois produced more soybeans than any other state in the nation and ranks second in the production of corn behind Iowa. Today, 15%-20% of Illinois corn is used to feed livestock and 22% is exported to other states or countries. Of the 500 million bushels of soybeans produced in Illinois, less than 1% is used to feed livestock and about 50% is exported.
“We applaud the Governor’s strong support of the agriculture industry,” said Illinois Livestock Development Group Chairman Curt Rincker. “The Livestock Development package unveiled today sends a clear message to Illinois farmers: Agriculture is crucial to the economic health of Illinois, and the Governor not only understands but supports us in our daily efforts to keep the agriculture industry viable for future generations.”