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Livestock a strong player in local economy

Published: Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2013 11:19 a.m. CST

The animal population of DeKalb County benefits more pocketbooks than many realize. DeKalb County ranks second in Illinois in livestock production, according to a study by Peter Goldsmith, associate professor of agribusiness management at the University of Illinois.

The study, which was commissioned by the Illinois Livestock Development Group (ILDG) and funded in part from the Illinois soybean checkoff, finds that animal agriculture contributes $75 million to the county's local economy.

“Hogs, cattle, poultry and other livestock make up one of the least-appreciated industries in Illinois,” Genoa farmer Paul Rasmussen Jr. said. Rasmussen is an area director at the Illinois Soybean Association. “But DeKalb County reaps the benefits of $99 million in total economic activity from these farms, plus $7.3 million in total taxes.”

The study found DeKalb County is among the top contributors to the $3.5 billion in economic activity, 25,000 jobs and nearly $292 million in local, state and federal taxes generated by animal agriculture in Illinois.

The study indicates there is still room for growth in the local animal agriculture industry. Meat consumption continues to increase, and global demand for meat and poultry is expanding rapidly. Strong in-state demand and access to export markets means DeKalb County can take advantage of even more growth potential.

“Livestock farmers are the No. 1 customer for Illinois soybeans,” Rasmussen said. “Thriving animal farms ensure a market for local corn and soybeans, and when existing operations want to expand, we should support that growth.”

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